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“Love it or loathe it – the festive and often ferocious holiday season is upon us …”



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I am being gripped by a new and exciting wave of shop-o-mania … Read more

Happy New Year! Obviously I blinked and missed the entire 365 days! 2010 has been a runaway train of events, Oprah visits, elections, wiki leaks, restaurant openings and new beginnings, and it has fled as speedily as it arrived! It is hard to process just how busy it has actually been while suffering from the after effects of a mild to worrisome case of fruit mince pie overload. I am certainly set to explode should I attempt to force in one more morsel of festive food! I had to have something to substitute my beloved bubbles – food was an unnaturally keen focus for me this year! For the first time in my adult life, I am not suffering from the after effect of a New Year sauced with sparkling wine! Thankfully, I shared my Las Vegas New Year’s table with a fellow mummy to be, and we were able to give each other moral support as the vodka, whisky and increasingly bad jokes flowed to the other 130 guests. The total lack of sparkles did not inhibit my attempts at a NYE boogie, with careful effort not to fall over and do myself (and the bump!) some serious and permanent harm! Zebu bar + grill opened with a bang on Xmas Eve, with locals and tourists coming to check the newest bar on the block. Guests were treated to cocktails by resident master mixer Brent Tozer and some tunes by Ollie Brooke and special guest Damion Pell on electric trumpet. It was great to see locals enjoying the waterfront views and the mellow surroundings, as they welcomed in another Port Macquarie Christmas. Plenty of Champagne no. 5 and Electric Lemonade cocktails were passed over the bar, with the boys digging into the ten beers on tap – including Oprah’s beer of choice, Wicked Elf. I busied myself with a beautifully crafted mocktail and a wood fired pizza while Steve got stuck into an Asahi and serving of local oysters. Boxing Day continued the cruisy theme, with regular afternoon chill out session Lazy Sundaze kicking off at 2pm with cruisy tunes and Bloody Marys and Caprioskas over the water. Kelli and Jason Dragos tied the knot at Harry’s Lookout on Saturday 4 Dec, despite clouds and some serious rain showers. Harry’s Lookout was spared the showers, and the couple were able to say, “I do” in front of 80 friends and family. Guests hurried back to Flynns Beach Surf Club, which was adorned in white and soft pink, with candles and delicate white Chinese lanterns. Guests enjoyed SilverSpoon canapés and main course followed by a decadent Profiterole tower from BitterSweet Café, adorned with tiny pink roses. The family paid tribute to the couple, including Jason’s two children, who were clearly over the moon to have Kelli join their family. Not a dry eye in the house after that speech! Congratulations to Kelli and Jason, who make their home in Port Macquarie. The team from First National celebrated Christmas in style, with a trip out to Roses Vineyard at Innes View. Belinda and Ron Fischer organised a special family day at the vineyard, including wine tasting, canapés, Christmas punch (absolutely lethal, I may say … a secret recipe of course!) and gourmet SilverSpoon BBQ followed by miniature handcrafted desserts. Sales agent Wayne Carver played a jolly Santa, as kids big and small ran amok across the vineyard, playing cricket and opening their gifts. The weather was divine, as duo Matt & Liz crooned to the party of 30 as they sat and sipped on the terrace overlooking the vines and Innes Lake. A huge day that didn’t end there, with various members of the team heading back to a pool party and a few more bevvies! Cassegrain Wines held their Christmas party on a balmy evening on the verandah of their restaurant, with 60 of their team along to celebrate another big year. John & Eva Cassegrain and board member John Laurie addressed and thanked the team for the efforts and cracked a few bottles of their award winning sparkling and chardonnay to kick off the night. Guests enjoyed a selection of cheeses, prawns and oysters followed by Christmas ham and salads, whipped up by chef extraordinaire and all round handyman Chris Hall. (P.S. His potato salad was to die for!) Guests finished off the night with chocolate mud cake and a few more drops of their finest. Sales and Marketing Manager Leanne had a fabulous night, except for a minor whoopsy as she dropped the cheese cake on the floor! Mudcake all round from that point on! Merry Christmas to you! Jenny and Duncan MacArthur threw a massive fancy dress bash for Duncan’s 60th birthday celebration at their Narran River Road property in King Creek. Duncan proved a dashing Hugh Hefner, while Jenny looked fabulous in a chartreuse green fifties inspired gown. One hundred guests, including family from Scotland, enjoyed the balmy evening, with Duncan’s brother playing a Scottish birthday tune on the bag pipes. Guests enjoyed a series of SilverSpoon canapés followed by some luscious birthday cake from Burkhart’s Bakery. We slipped out the door as the party ramped up, with a four piece band rocking into the summer night. Duncan’s brother was last heard bag piping down the paddock close to midnight! Happy birthday Duncan! So a new year it is, and what a year it will be. A New Year resolution … spend more time at the beach (yeah right!), try and stay sane as the delightful designated driver and endeavour to see my toes again! Wishing you all a fabulous 2011!
Cheers Kate.

The sun is back and life is good, but who has time to sunbake? The freakish reality is that we are all on the out of control treadmill of life, hurtling straight towards Christmas at a frenetic pace, that seems only to increase with all the events on the ever growing calendar! Does it ever stop? No … and that’s just how we like it!

September marks the true beginning of the social season with some key events on the Port Macquarie schedule, bringing even more reasons to frock up and get out there. The Business Awards on Sept 4 always seem to draw a sell-out crowd – corporate schmoozing and of course the underlying, yet undeniable competitive streak will be at the fore, with local businesses vying for the top gong in their industry.

K-Rudd must have heard the social scene was heating up and has decided to join in the fun, with a special visit to our little city. I am hoping he will receive my subliminal messages and continue his dubious yet fabulous stimulus packages. Just a small donation of say … $2K would get me that Thai shopping expedition I’ve been needing!

I had a long awaited vehicular epiphany on Sunday when my 11 year old car decided to conk out in a rather embarrassing refuelling/dead battery incident. I had to finally admit to myself that one day I might actually have to say goodbye to my little silver rice bubble.

To add to the humiliation of not being able to start my little tin can – the ageing sticky tape holding in my right front indicator was hanging dangerously low. I have to say it really is hard to feel glamorous while driving around with your indicator flapping in the wind!

Much higher up on the glam stakes was the recent Masquerade Charity Ball at Rydges, raising $5,000 for local charity Mid Coast Care. Guests arrived on the red carpet to enjoy canapés and paparazzi shots followed by a live performance from Nathan Brown and his gorgeous girls from Dynasty Dance Studio.

The gals at the masquerade ball

The gals at the masquerade ball

Guests dined on an elegant banquet table adorned with tea lights and golden candelabra. Two delicious courses and lots of lovely Cassegrain wine later, guests including David and Trish Relf, Mark Wilson and the team from Holden, Jane Howland, Lisa and Drew Briscoe, were all up on the dance floor getting down to duo the Jesters.

Items including the Heath Ledger Archibald Prize winning print drew some fabulous bids, with a private dance performance reaching a staggering bid of $3,000!

The night also served as a farewell for the lovely Jo Love who has left the position of manager of Mid Coast Care to return to boutique recruitment agency Men At Work with long time friend Chandra Armstrong. I am sure the girls will continue the fabulous work they do. A welcome must also go to John Parer, the new Manager of Mid Coast Care, who is already doing a stellar job!

The circus came to town with a FABULOUS performance at the Glasshouse in late August. The crowd, including myself, literally sat in awe and hysterics as the dynamic troupe wove a wonderful web of illusion, comedy and acrobatics. The night sponsored by Focus was a huge success, with the Glasshouse team receiving rave reviews for nabbing such a fantastic show.

The cast seemed to enjoy themselves as much as we did, kicking on with a few local vinos at the after party with sponsors and guests. To pick a favourite from the cast would almost be impossible – the strong woman and her hideously harsh bed of nails, the cheeky little ballerina or the batty bride/event coordinator ‘Tiffany’. Overall, the entire cast were an absolute hoot – a show not to miss!

Red carpet seems to be the accessory de jour, with the recent Tourism Awards adding another jewel to the social crown. The theme was ‘A Night at the Oscars’, with guests arriving to a swarm of paparazzi on the red carpet and Focus TV presenters quizzing guests with fashion and award nomination titbits. Canapés and bubbles did follow, with awards being presented in the main Glasshouse Theatre.

Port Macquarie again came away with a swag of awards to include: The Observatory – Hall of Fame in Deluxe Accommodation, Macquarie Waters – Winner Deluxe Accommodation, The Corner – Winner Restaurant and Catering, Telegraph Retreat – Winner Hosted Accommodation and a Distinction to Rydges Port Macquarie for Meetings and Business Tourism.

Mark Ennor from Bellrowan, Mark & Annabel Warren at the Tourism Awards.

Mark Ennor from Bellrowan, Mark & Annabel Warren at the Tourism Awards

The night was an excellent excuse to frock up, with Nicole Marzan and Belinda Novicky putting on a fabulous show for tourism operators in the North Coast Region. Congratulations to all involved!

The Journey of Flavour is on the rise, with the second successful networking trade night being held in the CWA waterfront function rooms at the end of August. Over 90 guests were in attendance, including restaurateurs, waiters, chefs, brewers, wine makers, producers and farmers of fine local produce.

This eclectic group of foodies got together to celebrate all that is delicious and local. This movement promotes the concept of eat, support and shop locally, endorsing business who grow, create or serve fabulous local produce. Guests dined on canapés developed by SilverSpoon Catering utilising a selection of local yummies, including cheese from Comboyne Culture, preserves and jams from The Other Chef and Company Farm, fresh local oysters, Yarras Olives, Hastings cheeses and Lorne Valley Macadamias. Guests also enjoyed a selection of local wines, including Cassegrain and Douglas Vale with, of course, a little help from the Wicked Elf!

As I sign off this month, I am gearing up for a long awaited gals’ weekend in Sydney town. A well trained team of dedicated retail and party enthusiasts are booked in for PINK’s Funhouse concert, followed by a serious session of retail therapy (with a precision focus on footwear and accessories!)

I can see that this week will drag hideously, as I dream of one of the largest Westfield Shopping Centres in existence! Ruddles, any update on that stimulus payment? Happy to accept cash, credit or direct deposit!

Cheers, Kate

Fashion has never been so deadly. You think that I would actually learn something and realise that we are in the middle of a bitterly cold winter here! Instead, I have succeeded in giving myself a case of near pneumonia, by giving my little black dress two outings in the one week in sub zero temperatures! Seasonally challenged! Not me! I fear the next event will be the death of me and instead, I will have to invest in a little black doona and a killer pair of trackies!

Honestly, there is nothing less attractive than nearly coughing up a lung!

Well, what a lively little month it has been. Jetsetting up and down the coast, welcoming theatrical performers to our city, attending awards ceremonies and happy snapping at food and wine events. Life is cold but truly good … and extremely busy! The Glasshouse, of course has been the headlining act in recent months with the first show ‘Taming the Shrew’ drawing out local theatre buffs. The all girl cast certainly turned the traditional Shakespearean performance on its head, with a humorous and provocative depiction of the taming of the head strong Kate, AKA, the Shrew! Congrats to the hard working team behind the scenes who pulled the night off without a hitch.

Sandy Gore, Helen Ross and Robyn Birrell at Taming the Shrew

Sandy Gore, Helen Ross and Robyn Birrell at Taming the Shrew

The crowds continue to flow to this cultural hub, with a 300 strong crowd of expectant art lovers enjoying the official opening of the gallery in mid July. Lots of bubbles and delicious cheeses kicked off this long awaited evening. An indigenous dance troupe gave the guests a private performance, filling the gallery with the haunting sounds of the didgeridoo. This fabulous space was literally bursting at the seams, with hundreds of people there to celebrate and enjoy the eclectic mix of local artworks. The lead exhibition curated by Liz Gilroy included striking black and white photographs taken by the late Thomas Dick of the indigenous people in the greater Port Macquarie region from the early 1900s. Congrats to all involved – certainly a future hotspot for all culture vultures!

Central West Community College (CWCC) recently celebrated the opening of their new premises in Short St. Port Macquarie. Seventy guests were on hand to celebrate, with Senior Business Development Manager Graham Draffin and their new team. Kathy Pearce & Rob Moorehead gathered a stellar corporate crowd, including Rob Oakeshott and Peter Besseling for a great night of SilverSpoon Canapés and Cassegrain Wines. Manager Kathy, Rob and the team will be offering training, apprenticeship and recruitment services to businesses in the Hastings. Congratulations and good luck!

Paul Eammes recently threw a surprise birthday bash for his beautiful wife Leanne, with a party at the Observatory Apartments. Guests including Suzie Bell, Kristen Crossingham, Georgina Bowland, Jackie Faddy, Kylie Cross and Nola Woodall were all on hand with their men to party on with the birthday girl. Drinks and nibbles at the Observatory were followed by many more drinks and dancing at Finnians Irish Tavern. The slightly wacky but very funky band got everyone in the party mood, with the birthday girl being stolen for a few dubious and wine infused tangos with my hubby! Thankfully Leanne survived to dance another day! Happy Birthday Ms Eammes – a super fit, glam mum of three who probably wasn’t up to her marathon-running self the following day! Cheers!

Jade and Russell Cooper, David Capper.

Jade and Russell Cooper, David Capper.

Westpac recently held an exclusive client event at their branch, celebrating the return of their Bank Manager role at a local level. Bank Manager Kelly Lamb hosted a ninety guest event to celebrate this renewed local focus for valued clients of both the branch and the business sector. Bronwyn Smart, the State Risk Manager and Steve Hannan, the General Manager for Commercial and Agri-business were also on hand to celebrate enjoying SilverSpoon Canapés and Cassegrain wines. Congratulations to Kelly and the Westpac team for a wonderful evening.

Marijke Walker of J&H Tours recently celebrated a very special birthday at Rydges Port Macquarie, with a Spanish twist. Guests enjoyed traditional Sangria and tapas followed by a Spanish buffet designed by Head Chef Mick Schubert. Marijke’s friends and family travelled from interstate and the UK to be a part of the festivities. Marijke opened the night with a Flamenco performance, setting the scene for the spicy Spanish celebration! Happy birthday Marijke!

The opening of the Ross Family Studio was another exciting event for the Glasshouse, with family and friends of the Ross Family enjoying a sneak preview and private performance in this wonderful space. Helen prepared a fabulous display of local dance and musical talent for her guests to enjoy including an ensemble piece from daughter Katherine, hot off the plane from Bollywood.

Guests then joined the family for a private dinner at Rydges in the waterfront function rooms. Guests, including Candice Rose, Bronwyn Jameson, Gordon McKirdy, Elizabeth Polson-Galloway, Mandy Miller, and Robyn and Mike Birrell enjoyed fabulous food, lots of the local vino and a rather delicious birthday cake in honour of John Ross’ birthday.

Guests really got into this dual celebration and the Scottish family heritage, with a surprise performance from Andrew Roach on the bagpipes! Yes folks – the stories are true – this man really can play! I was convinced his lively rendition was going to inspire John to break into a highland fling! Happy birthday, John! Congratulations to the entire Ross family for their generosity and support of the cultural community. A fabulous night full of fun and friends!

Life is full of crazy little surprises – some naughty and some nice, or a lovely combination of the two! August is set to bring more of the same, with tourism awards, charity balls, farewells and birthdays in the mix! In between all the hype you really can’t beat a glass of bubbles with the gals, a boogie, and catch up.

‘Til next month!


Sue Faulkner, Christie Battishall, Kate Byrne & Allison Massey at the Rydges Poolside Party

Sue Faulkner, Christie Battishall, Kate Byrne & Allison Massey at the Rydges Poolside Party

What an extraordinary couple of weeks we have had – extraordinarily sad with bushfires in rural Victoria and the unexpected torrential downpour of rain in Port Macquarie for us. Life would seem a little more fair if the rains had transported themselves further south, rather than drenching us all in the north. 

I have recently returned from a trip to Melbourne and do declare that Melbournites are highly resilient, delightful people who have an absolutely stunning city. It’s got a little more soul than its edgier sister Sydney, and the people seem to be just more down to earth and a little more genuine. Melbourne is also home to my favourite DFO shopping spots, and despite earlier vows to stay away from them, their allure was just too strong! I soon found myself hightailing it up the street in seriously unsuitable stilettos, dodging trams and passersby – my natural homing device zooming in on DFO heaven. Despite a busy schedule, I managed to squeeze in the essential hour of power post conference retail session!

Geoff Whitecross, Jacqui Eller, Kate Hutten & Jo Love at the Rydges Pool party

Geoff Whitecross, Jacqui Eller, Kate Hutten & Jo Love at the Rydges Pool party

While I was away I was lucky enough to enjoy a fabulous meal at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant Fifteen in Melbourne – despite obvious plusses on arrival (a rather gorgeous waiter, reminiscent of Prince Will prior to premature balding, with a very alluring foreign accent!) the atmosphere and food were just divine. Rather than an overspiced, overdressed meal, the food was simple, elegant and the flavour combinations just delicious. The service was not only pleasing on the eye, but on the spirit. The waitstaff took genuine interest in us as guests but weren’t so intrusive with pompous descriptions and flourishes that you couldn’t enjoy your meal. Sadly, the lovable Londoner Jamie was not in sight, but his kitchen brigade certainly did him proud.

Leo Hawker, Stuart Bates & Grant Frecklington get Back to Business

Leo Hawker, Stuart Bates & Grant Frecklington get Back to Business

Rydges Port Macquarie held its annual Back to Business Event poolside in mid Feb, with corporate guests enjoying a welcome back to the New Year in relaxed style. Hosted by the executive team, guests enjoyed canapés, drinks and the launch of the new conference season. Duo Matt & Elizabeth entertained the relaxed guests as they enjoyed the waterfront venue. Thanks to the ever generous Ashleigh Trouncer of Qantas for her sponsorship of two return flights from Sydney – Marc Stortenbeker was certainly chuffed with the prize, being the lucky winner of the much sought after flights. Marc Minor of Sovereign Hills also stepped away with a dinner for two in Rydges waterfront restaurant. 

Vue Cafe’s Malinda Sherrard & Meg Mitchell with Scott Blanch, winner of the Dig for a Diamond

Vue Cafe’s Malinda Sherrard & Meg Mitchell with Scott Blanch, winner of the Dig for a Diamond

Congrats to Scott Blanch, winner of the Dig for a Diamond promotion outside Vue Café & Bar. Over 100 guests braved strong winds and torrential rain to dive for the sparkly trinket. Well done to Claire, Hugh, Steve and the rest of the Star FM team for putting up with such wild and woolly conditions. Hot chocolate and a raincoat anyone!

Good friends Mr Tracy Goss and beautiful fiancée Ellen Howell celebrated their Australian wedding party on Saturday 14 February at their new home on the canals. Tracy, a native of New Zealand and Ellen from Arizona chose a wild, wild west theme for their pre wedding celebration. Guests donned Stetsons, corsets, leather and plenty of gingham to congratulate the happy couple on their impending wedding. 

Tracy Goss & Ellen Howell at their Pre wedding celebration

Tracy Goss & Ellen Howell at their Pre wedding celebration

“Howdy partner” seemed to be the flavour of the night, with plenty of guests chowing down on south of the border cuisine and Budweiser beer. Guests, including Gemma & Jason Clifton, Louise & Jay Beaumont, Chris Kelly and gorgeous gal Fiona Dodd all got into the western theme, with some guys taking their cowboy roles a little more seriously than others! The happy couple cut their ‘pre’ wedding cake and did a very sexy salsa number for their bridal dance, leaving us all feeling slightly uncoordinated and inadequate, wishing we could book in fairly swiftly for salsa lessons! Tracy and Ellen head over to the US to celebrate their real wedding in early March with family and friends from abroad. I am super excited that we will be there to join in with all the fun! 

As a new home owner, I am seriously concerned at the amount of time I am spending at Bunnings. Previously an uneventful once a month trip to get essential items, I am now finding myself there every weekend scouring the shelves for handy home items and garden paraphernalia. Who knew that I needed a reverse cycle dishwasher double hose fixture or a pitch fork with extra grip and slow release organic fertiliser? 

This sad but enjoyable shopping practice keeps me strangely happy in gumboots and scruffies all weekend. I understand the true depth of our issue when Steve goes into serious withdrawals if he hasn’t had his weekly fix of Bunnings fundraising sausage sandwich! Scary!

Next time I write to you all I will be in sunny Mexico lapping up the sunshine on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship on the Mexican Riviera. Bring on the Mohitos and the nachos, baby! I am ready for a wind down! I am sure a little bit of R & R will be in order after the wedding celebrations in Arizona and our little stop over in Vegas. Having never been on a cruise before, I am a little concerned about the vomitus el seasickness issue! I will be loading us all up with a good dose of travel calm prior to embarking! One small hindrance to a successful OS trip is a current passport – I am currently waiting with bated breath to see if my last minute order arrives! I will not be a happy camper if I am the only amigo left behind! Adios!

Cheers, Kate.