‘The Office’



This was my base for about the last four years and it was a space where I spent varying amounts of time along the way depending on projects, energy levels, the staff team mix and opportunities to collaborate and to form a base for our activities!! I liked the ‘permission giving culture and ethos’ that allowed and encouraged me to get in at the start and paint the rooms and to be adventurous with colour. The posters, agendas and spaces are my image of ‘what could have been’ with some more consistent resourcing decisions in the period between my first and second stints fostering ministry and mission with young people in the Hunter.

We plotted, evaluated, dreamed, envisaged, networked and laughed in these spaces and the meeting room [which I always did intend to give similar treatment but never go to]!!  There was time to reflect, to read, to pray and to look for answers to the question of ‘who God is calling us to be in this time and place.’ Beyond this there are some wonderful people around the Hunter seeking the best for young people, their communities of faith and the future and those who understand how we don’t need to connect with young people for their benefit, but for ours… IT’s in the faces of these young people, we will see God. Almost everyone I encountered was great to work with and supportive of so many things we were doing… others, never mind!!

I move on to the next opportunity gladly with a sense it’s time to do so and a weird feeling of being on the right track… ‘catching pictures’ indeed!!



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So I’m in town early Saturday morning with time to spare between breakfast at ‘The Edwards’ and ‘Dangerous Conversations’ morning session at ‘The Treehouse Cafe’ at Tighes Hill. Why not stop and take a low traffic photo of the street art I had seen months ago but always drove past about 2pm on a weekday with no chance of a car free picture.

There’s something quite lively about this artwork, a look of adventure or is it wonder in the eyes and just the clever use of a cream ‘canvas’ in the side of the building… the wonderful creation of art representing the wonderful emergence of human life!!



Having seen the pics I finally got the chance to spend time in/with the installation at North Parramatta last week. This is Ellie E’s assignment about the Trinity and it’s a space to dwell with the images and ideas and to immerse yourself in a conundrum!!

‘Simple things done well’ are always inspiring in a way ‘black and white’ can rarely explore… I loved the the additional elements of newspapers and beverages and the ‘living room’ feel… life explored well!!

BHP Steelworks Newcastle 100 years

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It’s a hundred years tomorrow since the BHP Newcastle Steelworks opened. Alongside the stories of trades and labourers who spent their entire working lives there are other stories of engineers, accountants, managers and admin staff who learnt the ropes, ran the place or went on to small business or other management endeavours. Then there are those who lived through the rationalisation from just over 12,000 employees to 4,500 then 1800 [golden handcuffs] and the eventual closure of the Plant [16 years ago].

I count my years as a ‘Trainee’ and then Office Worker finishing University part time as formative, a false start, and a grounding in dealing with things when your life isn’t going all your own way!! I started on 5th December 1979 and in what should have been a sign, was involved in a car accident just outside the main entrance on day one. I was stuck in the right lane and needed to turn right to go up and do a u-turn and come back, but couldn’t see the panel van coming down Maryville Bridge obscured by the truck opposite and it side swiped me as I turned right at the lights, did a 360 degree spin and ended on the footpath under the shade of the Moreton Bay fig tree now framed in the background by a McDonald’s.

Struggling at Uni I switched to Economics from Accounting and went sideways into an office job until I left to pursue my ‘vocation’ as a Youth Worker. A Bachelor of Economics was followed   by a Dip Ed [S Sc] a few years later and again later some Uni Chaplaincy and now I swim laps at the Forum and have just joined the gym… I cannot escape the place…

I glossed over my leaving the Steelworks, for Normanhurst UCA to take a punt on me as Parish Assistant combining Youth Work and Pastoral Visiting at Bowden Brae Retirement Village. For many months I felt trapped, unmotivated and wondering how I’d ever be able to take the leap into the unknown of Youth Work and short term low paid ‘ministry.’ A months free home delivery of the Sydney Morning Herald meant I saw the Normo job ad and was successful in applying. I’ve managed to stay in that until the age so far of 53, while the “it’ll always be there” Steelworks is no more… funny what we see as security in a changing world.

No1 Bloom Mill Office, the Sinter Plant, Time Office and then the Stores Dept. Office… Seven years of 3 steps forward 2 steps back learning to work, to stick at things, to be next out the door but rally to next in line for promotion. All the while ‘waiting’ to know when and how to jump!!

Anyhow, I just felt a should go and take some photos this morning while I had the chance:              – ‘The old grey building’ or head office is looking run down, empty and cream and caramel. I don’t think the staff dining room is serving $2.80 roast meals anymore

– The ‘Time Office’ also housed Personnel so I had the best of times and the worst of times there… a year growing up, learning about life, having hopes dashed, being shifted sideways and yet enjoying a social life

– The main gate looks like something from an old western movie with no canteen and no credit union. I thought this where the ‘Muster Point’ sculpture was and discovered it on the way back out.

– The Muster Point celebrates all things steelmaking and the people making it

I enjoyed the sense of being away from the place, reminiscing and thinking about all the faces and names of people I worked with and whose stories I knew. I laughed about my stuff ups [one was about $22 million on paper until it was picked up and the cheque not sent] others were just embarrassing moments in a sea of humanity… good times looking back, hard times, growing up times…

‘The Making of Midnight Oil’


So I looked back and saw this…

And here’s what I wrote on the Newcastle Museum Facebook Page:

“Thanks Newcastle Museum for hosting the brilliant ‘The Making of Midnight Oil’ these many weeks… It’s been wonderful to relive lots of memories and soak up the sounds and emotions evoked by artefacts… it was the second time today that I didn’t want to leave as I turned around to scan the best twenty plus years of my music journey, growing up, being inspired and cajoled and knowing just how ‘at home’ it always felt to see the Oils live… whether upfront in the sweat soaked blokey frenzy, a chilled distance back swaying to the rhythms or crammed in anywhere at Selina’s at Coogee counting through your top ten favourite tracks of all time. We have had “The Best of Both Worlds.” I won’t be surprised to see the determined curator of ‘Bluesfest’ convince the band to dust off the PA by booking ‘Backsliders’ and ‘Electric Guitar Orchestra’ for the same weekend… finish that book Peter Garrett!! If not, I’ll just have to find a reason to visit Melbourne in a few months!!”

I don’t really think it’ll happen and that’s OK, but wow if it did!!

The Centenary of ANZAC


Having gone to my first ever ‘Dawn Service’ to go with family and introduce the topic to the girls, I was later walking along Hunter St in Newcastle and came across this slightly rained out display on a drain barrier fence… which has since sported purple and white ‘flower shapes’ the same style…

I think ANZAC day is fraught with complicated issues but it certainly was an historic 100 years anniversary since the much maligned, overly interpreted and sad events at Gallipoli… this simple display seemed an appropriately understated tribute or remembrance!!

Part of shaping Australia’s identity as a nation? I’m not buying it… Worth remembering the cost of war, the futility and the way young boys did go to be killed in the name of protecting our national freedom and all they felt was right in the world, sure…

“Before I Die…”





Read how this collaborative community art project started here and you’ll notice these images are from the same project, placed on the front fence of Cooks Hill Galleries in Newcastle!! It’s a great idea!! It’s inspiring and insightful to stand for a time and read the chalk dreams and aspirations, the questions and hopes of all the punters who come and make a contribution.

It’s also sobering to note that when full, these boards can be washed and started again… I especially liked the dotted lines right to the ground so this artwork was open to little tackers as well as block circling retired fast walkers!!

Before I die I want to… see faith communities collaborating in these kinds of community art projects, but not only that, also activities that meet the hurts and hopes of those in their community. It’s a repositioning and re imagining of what church is and how we bring the story and our ‘following’ and relationship to the centre of the life we offer to people. It’s what the story asks of us and ‘more of the same’ is not…