Fun Times at Work with The Illawarra Flame: Stories about Stories

This is going to seem off-topic, but my blog is such a weird little space. There’s really nothing else that I’ve done as long as this – and there’s not really an overall point to it, and never really has been. I suppose it will be weird and fun to look at it when I’m old. I had the idea to start writing and posting silly things so long ago that I don’t remember where the idea came from. But I really like the fact that it cannot be limited to any particular objective or level of achievement. In our content-overloaded short-span attention entertainment era, it’s really special to make something without feeling the pressure of achievement or approval in a big way.

I don’t really re-read old posts, but I’m sure there are countless posts full of unwarranted opinions that I’d no longer stand behind. There’s full lists of things I love and things I hate that I don’t necessarily love or hate anymore. There’s a bunch of album reviews of albums that I don’t listen to anymore. There’re stories about events in my life that I don’t even remember happening, there’s a bunch of stuff I wrote about during lockdown purely because I had too much time on my hands, as well as the last 5 years of uni work.

When I was in highschool, I’m sure I was a bit embarrassed at the thought that anyone I knew might read my posts, but I think it was mostly my family reading at that point. Now, there are posts that randomly climb to hundreds of views, and others that, like, 4 people read – which isn’t discouraging or anything, just weird and interesting. I do not know who reads it and why, but it’s a really extensive body of work (albeit questionable in terms of quality sometimes) for friends and family and potential employers to look at, for good or ill. And it’s a pretty relaxing and creative outlet for me, which is lovely.

Anyway, my point is, the blogs been through a lot of change, and recently my feed has developed into a storage ground for a million RSS feed links to my stories for The Illawarra Flame, which is really cool, fun and great for me. I don’t want to brag too much, but I think I’m really lucky to get to do work that I like and that I am proud of, and it’s great that I’ve landed here for the time being.

I’ve really been enjoying freelancing for The Illawarra Flame for the last month or two. Some stories are the result of a 20 minute phonecall and a quick write-up, and others allow me to get involved with people, events and initiatives that wind up being really interesting and fun to experience. Of course, fitting this work into the rest of my life can be tricky sometimes, and I get tired, but it’s important to me that I make space to enjoy these experiences and keep in mind how lucky I am to have the chances that I do before I’ve even finished university. So, at the risk of bragging, I want to share some of my favourite recent stories – or rather, the story about making the story. Obviously, journalism is one of those things where you don’t see the hours of life that go into writing the 3 minute long read, and journalists rarely get to publish their own thoughts and feelings… but fuck it, I’ll bite!

A tiny hike around Tumbling Waters

This is one I was really excited about! The Flame has really shown appreciation and value for my skill set as a photographer, aside from my writing pieces. In this case, I didn’t write a word! I got to shoot the front cover of the most recent print version of the community magazine. If you look at the digital version, you can see that I took a whole bunch of photos that morning. The Illawarra Ramblers, a group of elderly adventurers, had their president write a magazine piece that required accompanying pictures. My boss emails me. We arrive near Tumbling Waters at 8.30am. We search for a suitable spot to capture a group picture for the cover, and then trail them for about 20 minutes during their morning hike. The group members that I chatted to were really interesting folk, and I got to spend some time in nature, which is always great. But I got my socks and shoes wet. I really like the pictures I took, and I got to see them printed on paper the other day, which (for whatever reason I haven’t put my finger on) really excites me.

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Rambling Free: Join the Illawarra club for bushwalking adventures

The Illawarra Ramblers was founded under the auspices of the WEA in 1991. Bushwalking was a course subject at the college. Over the years, cycling and paddling were added to regular activities.

Solstice Swims

This was a last-minute story that turned out to be really fun! I got sent the details the morning of a moonlight swim meetup for a group called the Winter Wonder Women – who were doing a cold water dip at Austinmer Pool on winter solstice night. I thought they’d be really cool photos, and a fun, relaxing night trip to the beach. I got to bring my partner along, which is always a treat to be able to do. She makes everything more fun and when it’s already a fun thing; it makes bring your girlfriend to work day the best time possible. So we went out to the pool, met the huge group of energetic and fun-loving women, hung out, interviewed them, drank their wine, and they offered snacks, which convinced us to get in the cold water. It was cold, but not too cold. We had a fun time, and it was really great to be around the energy of that wonderful group of ladies. They had a whole little spread of food and drinks, which you can see in the feature image for this post, and they were all so friendly and willing to chat. We had a bunch of fun and the photos and article turned out nice!

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Solstice Swim: Winter Wonder Women gather at Austinmer ocean pool

The Winter Wonder Women share their thoughts at Austinmer Pool for a sunset swim to mark the winter solstice.

Eric Avery NAIDOC Concert

I primarily write arts & culture stories, so a lot of my more fun pieces involve attending some sort of concert or show that I might never have considered going to in any other context. It’s not always the greatest time ever, but it is always interesting and it is usually more fun that I expect it to be. Last week, they sent me to Eric Avery’s NAIDOC week concert at the Wollongong Art Gallery. It was really cool. He played this beautiful and impressive arrangement of violin and traditional vocalisation, which he seemingly mixed and layered live. It was really moving and a great space to be in. I wanted to gush about the concert in my article, which isn’t out yet, but of course, it’s not my place to push my opinion so much as to report the opinions and experiences of the community. But, my blog, my rules, right?!

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Eric Avery wows full house at NAIDOC Week concert

Concert goers gave Eric Avery rave reviews after a special NAIDOC Week concert at Wollongong Art Gallery last week.
On Thursday, July 4, the First Nations violinist treated an audience of more than 150 people to a captivating mix of music and song, predominantly in Ngiyampaa language.

Anyway, I might come back to this idea and write about this sort of thing when something particularly cool happens to me in the future, at least to reflect and vent and stay excited when I am stressed. We’ll see. Thanks for reading this, whoever you are!