There is no such thing as a formula for success. All we can do is to strive to get things right by putting in as much effort as we can, choosing the right people to help us – and not spend way too much money in the process.
OK so winter’s over – freezing nights and cold windy days are gone … Exactly! Crisp, not frigid, mornings in Australia’s alpine resorts are ideal for leaping out of bed early and hitting the slopes.
From the world of computers, Justyn made a tree change to beautiful Lorne, and in addition to Alpacas and cattle, Toastmasters still figures greatly in his retirement. As Toastmaster’s Division Governor for Oxley this year, Justyn is a passionate advocate for good communication skills.
Craig Maltman from Custom Design Bathroom Renovations had his hands full at the recent HIA Awards at Coffs Harbour, accepting no fewer than 5 awards on the night. Chrissy Jones has a chat with Craig about his local business and its many achievements.
Tony and Michelle Gibson have a love of life and a thirst for adventure. Michelle tells us about one of their creative projects – the renovation of a 1950s Sunliner caravan, fondly christened ‘Hoot’ …
Please tell us a little about yourselves …
Tony and I are an outgoing, fun loving and adventurous couple who embrace life and enjoy it. We were both born in country Victoria and moved to Port Macquarie in 2000. We are both employed by the Government in Kempsey and have commuted to and from work for many years.
On weekends we love to renovate and have successfully renovated two heritage homes in Victoria, followed by a major renovation in Port Macquarie. In 2010 we relocated to Kempsey because of Michelle’s new employment in the welfare industry, which involves shift work. We then purchased a beautiful red mahogany home on the banks of the Macleay River. We are kept busy every weekend with our renovations and at present are building an outdoor summer kitchen. We often relax after a big day of renovation gliding down the Macleay River in our kayak.
What prompted you to decide to buy an old caravan?
Because of our interest in bringing life back to heritage homes and our lifetime spent renovating, we decided to look for a vintage caravan to do up as a hobby. After researching several varieties of vintage caravans, we decided to purchase a 1950s teardrop fiberglass van that we found on eBay and organised for the van to be transported from Brisbane to Port Macquarie.
Interestingly, the caravan brand was a Sunliner and originally manufactured at a factory in Forster.
When the caravan arrived, it certainly was a shock to us acknowledging the work that needed to be done, but at the same time it was exciting to take on the challenge. The inside was truly dilapidated, and unfortunately we could not salvage anything. It had to be rebuilt from scratch.
What did you have to do to renovate your caravan … it must have been a very labour-intensive process?
Our caravan was a labour of love; although, at times we were disappointed with the progress, as nothing was straightforward due to the age, manufacture and design of the caravan with its rounded corners.
Over some two years, we saw our efforts evolving in a positive manner, which produced so much inspiration for us that we were determined to keep going until such time as we ‘got it right’.
Now our van is very modern, with black and white flooring, a pressed tin splash back and a black curved couch with white studded buttons. We have high quality bedding with a crisp white and black dooner. And the décor is finished with some unique art work and white Venetian blinds.
What was your ultimate goal upon overhauling the caravan?
Our goal was to have our van finished within 12 months but that goal was long gone, as the two year period comes around so quickly. Given our spirit and love of life, our dream was to enjoy our lifestyle and experience travelling around this beautiful country – our aim being short 1 to 2 hour trips up and down the east coast.
What trips have you been on so far?
Our maiden journey was to Bellingen. My daughter was home from the Northern Territory and we decided to have a quick overnight trip and spend the Saturday at the Bellingen Markets.
I had never towed a caravan, little less backed a caravan, and we both left Kempsey after I had finished work late afternoon. We arrived at the Council Caravan Park at Bellingen. It was so dark, and we’d had a lot of rain. We were determined not to get bogged and ended up parking on the track for the night.
After celebrating our first journey with a lovely bottle of champagne, we decided to find the amenity block; however, to our surprise, all was locked up and there was no overnight manager. Hence, we had to find alternative means! My daughter had cooked lentil curry and we were feeling hungry, so decided to heat our dinner up on our new gas stove. We went outside and turned on the gas, then tried to light the stove – not knowing that there was a special button to turn on first, before gas would come through. Ummm … after lots of rolling around with laughter, we decided to go with plan B: cashew nuts, more champagne, finished by chocolate. So decadent! The music was playing and the scented candle was burning and the LED lights were actually working, so all was not lost.
Around 11pm we hopped into the cozy bed. We both were woken at 8am by roosters crowing and live chickens clucking. We both sat up and looked out the window, to find that we were actually parked at the horse stable area and right under our nose an organic fowl, fruit and vegetable market had started – cars and people everywhere!
More laughter occurring, we decided to leave the showgrounds and get some coffee and a hot breakfast before attending the Bellingen Markets … A memory mother and daughter will tell to friends and family forever.
What have your friends and family thought of your renovation project?
Our family thinks it is a great project and images our personalities. Renovating teardrop caravans is becoming very popular, and I accessed many web sites of other people’s experiences doing the same thing as us for ideas.
Our caravan is definitely a conversation piece, and many people stop and ask us if they can look through our van. When the van is unattended, people take photos and leave notes on our windscreen to tell us they are putting it on Facebook etc.
What’s the process behind taking off on a trip – is it a very planned process, or more a case of last minute load up, call the dogs, jump in and set sail?
Most weekends we are renovating our home, but we need to take some time off now and again to enjoy life. We often just take the van up and down the east coast on short trips, just to get away. We have two puppies that go everywhere we go, and they love the van. Being spontaneous is the way we usually organise to go away.
Where do you plan to travel next?
We have travelled to the Fringe Festival in Adelaide, the Hunter Valley vineyards and our next trip will be to Seal Rocks.
Our gorgeous van is self sufficient, environmentally friendly and provides us with a sense of freedom, tranquility, space and fun.
We are so impressed with our end result that we purchased another tear drop van from Wauchope recently. It’s not fiberglass, but an old vintage bond wood van. We are currently doing it up for our daughter as a wedding present.
Interview by Jo Atkins.
Robyn and Tony Frost at Habitat Antiques and Gallery present two large and wondrous floor areas of Australia’s most quirky, unusual and unique items. Furniture, collectables, Australiana and contemporary artworks are just some of the amazing items you will find in this amazing treasure trove.
The Wauchope Lions Club are holding their annual Antique and Collectables Fair, with the weekend set to deliver an interesting and entertaining event for everyone! Jim Munro and Greg Cavanagh from the Wauchope Lions Club fill us in …
Forests NSW are responsible for managing one of our most precious natural resources: timber. Staff from Forests NSW Central Region were excited to discuss some of the latest techniques and technology used to aid this process …
Artist Janet Laurence presents a stunning exhibition, In Memory of Nature, at the Glasshouse throughout September and early October. Janet’s work explores the “meeting places of art, science, imagination and memory” …
Body Bar Australia is a collaboration between artist Steve McLauchlan and designer Vivienne Lapham, who have created a range of natural body products that nurture your skin.
What is Body Bar Australia?
Body Bar Australia is a collaboration between artist Steve McLauchlan and designer Vivienne Lapham. We are a family based business on the Mid North Coast. We design, develop and hand make a range of distinctive natural body products that nurture your skin.
Tell us about the colourful range of different Body Bar products …
The range consists of eight body bars, flavours including vanilla addiction, lemon sorbet and the irresistible musk have. Three scrub bars – passionfruit crush, coconut rough and wakeup call, all guaranteed to enliven your senses. Two shampoo bars – one is deliciously scented with little green apples and the other with lavender and lemon.
Our aim is to constantly grow and develop the range, keeping them vibrant and exciting in look, feel and smell while being natural and gentle to use every day.
What are your backgrounds, and what gave you the inspiration for Body Bar Australia?
I had been working as an interior designer and visual merchandiser and Steve as a horticulturalist and florist. We had a dream to create a business where we could be innovative, passionate about it every day and give to others.
We realised to live our dream we needed to produce a range of unique quality products, keeping the focus on local. This combined both our desires to make beautiful things and share our passion with others.
We started travelling from town to town with our wares, attending markets and festivals and getting to know the locals in each place. There were so many people with skin problems needing quality products that actually worked. One time Steve asked a crowd of school children how many of them had Eczema or knew someone who had it. We were totally astounded by these 12 or so kids; if they didn’t have Eczema themselves, their brothers or sisters did!
We spent ages researching, learning, and creating our bars, basing them on a combination of farm fresh goat’s milk, natural oils and botanicals, producing long lasting, effective bars.
We are so confident of our products when we see someone who could benefit from our bars, we give them samples to try. In rural NSW we had a really sweet elderly lady with terrible Psoriasis on her legs come over and talk to us about it – she had tried so many products and had given up. We gave her a bar to try and within days she was back with her husband, and they bought all their children and grandchildren body bars for Christmas.
What was your approach when creating Body Bar Australia?
It was simple. We wanted it to reflect our philosophy to living – be creative, be passionate and give … to make a difference to the people we met, friends, family and the environment. We started out at the local weekend markets with a small range of products; they were an instant success.
One of our first endeavours was to produce a carry bag made entirely of recycled newspaper. We met some local school kids at the markets and talked to them about the possibility of making newspaper bags for us as part of their commerce studies for school. These students have since graduated, and we still continue the tradition of hand making our signature newspaper bags.
What are the health benefits of the range, and what types of important natural ingredients do you use?
All our bars are made with farm fresh goat’s milk, natural oils, essential oils and plant botanicals. They are handmade using a cold process method. This means the beneficial properties of the goat’s milk and pure oils have been kept, producing very calming, healing and moisturising bars.
Each batch is hand mixed, milled and cut individually, producing no two bars alike. We take the greatest care in sourcing the finest fresh and natural ingredients – our customers tell us they really do work. One time we had a lady who had purchased bars a couple of days before come running in to the shopping centre shouting at the top of her lungs. We couldn’t understand her at first, but she was so excited; she had worked in a child care centre, hand rinsing nappies for 25 years and had developed dermatitis. This lady was so ecstatic, she had to rush back in to tell us the dermatitis had cleared. It’s moments like these, and there are lots of them that make us so grateful we are lucky enough to be living our dream.
Some of the flavours of the Body Bar products are quite unique. What are some of the most popular?
The shampoo bars are so easy to use – simply rub in your hands to make a rich, creamy lather and then massage into scalp and hair. They are really popular; we think it’s because they help with Psoriasis, dandruff and itchy scalp – conditions that can be really uncomfortable and persistent.
Our lemon sorbet body bar and wake-up call scrub bars are really loved by teenagers (and their parents), as they are naturally anti bacterial, anti fungal and anti viral, proving to be great on troubled skin.
Our customers tell us the bars look good enough to eat … well, almost!
How long have you been attending different markets with the Body Bar range?
We have been really fortunate to be based on the Mid North Coast, with so many people from all over the world passing through the local markets each week. We have been attending markets and festivals for several years, and we still love doing them.
This has enabled Body Bar Australia to grow while working with beautiful people and families who share the same passion.
What direction do you see Body Bar Australia taking?
With a growing demand for our products, we are constantly developing new ways to enable more people to try our bars. We have come up with some great retail options where we can customise orders to suit store sizes and individual needs. We spend a lot of time each week developing the look of our website. Customers use it to browse other products they may not have seen or to place orders for products they have come to love. Ideally, we would love people in each area where our customers could have that specialised face to face contact with a Body Bar person. We have been producing and supplying a range of guest bars to several local hotels. This has proved to be successful, and we are now working on unique shape bars and packaging that we can offer exclusively to individual hotels.
We believe if you truly do something with love, when it’s the right thing, it always works out.
What do you enjoy about the Foreshore Market in Port Macquarie?
Necia and Sonia, who operate the Foreshore Markets, are incredible ladies. They put so much planning into the layout and flow of stalls and customers at each market – you can see them looking at ways to improve an already great market.
We have made so many friends in fellow marketeers and customers, with lots of new business opportunities appearing. When we pack up at the end of the market, our car has more goodies in it than when we came. The freshest local fruit and veg, caramel tarts, tomato soup and delicious coffee … yum!
Quaid Munson, Young local with a big passion for skateboarding. Quaid has achieved a lot in his journey so far in skateboarding.
A world traveller, observer of human nature and possessing an entrepreneurial spirit, Anthony Beringen has taken the lessons learned as an employee of an international airline and developed an intriguing new business idea. Read on and be inspired …
Softly spoken Dean Bourne has been performing as Roy Orbison for the past 14 years. Dubbed the ‘World’s Number 1’, he takes the accolades humbly, citing it is just a pleasure to make the sell out crowds happy. Dean tells us more about the show.
Rydges’ new function centre has been created to cater to every event, with its glorious views, comfortable amenities and inspired menus. We offer a full range of menus, from breakfast to light breaks, executive lunches and three-course meals from our state of the art kitchen and bar …
The new conference and events space looks amazing, Kate. What prompted the expansion and refurbishment?
The space was created to address the immediate need for a premium venue of a substantial size located in the CBD. Our team has been working on an expansion plan for a number of years and with the support and foresight of our GM and owners, we have been able to create a new space that serves as a meeting and event hub for locals, as well as draw new business to the region.
We have maximised the views to the ocean by opening up the room from all angles, giving it a real feeling of depth and space. We are hoping to offer an attractive option to conference organisers wishing to showcase the best of Port Macquarie.
It must be a relief to have removed the previously L-shaped conference room to allow for larger functions – allowing a significant increase in capacity?
Yes, we have thankfully removed the old L-shape conference space and replaced it with a square conference/events room, to seat 300 for a formal dinner or over 600 for a cocktail event. We are ideally placed to cater for large corporate or community events, including school formals, awards nights, charity events, weddings and of course, attract substantial conference, association and sporting groups – not only from this region, but from metropolitan centres.
What feature of the new space do you feel will be the most appealing to potential clients?
Without doubt, the uninterrupted views to the ocean and the Hastings River revealed through our ceiling to floor windows on three sides of the function room. We have also managed to retain three balcony spaces, which provide relief from a day of conferencing and amazing water vistas. These two features, combined with our convenient CBD location, will really appeal to both corporate event and special event organisers.
Does the space have its own kitchen and bar?
Yes, we have invested a significant amount of time and resources into the creation of a fully functional bar and kitchen. Both areas have been fully redesigned to the highest standard. The new design allows service of food and beverages into the function room swiftly and seamlessly. David Capper, along with Brent Tozer, our Zebu Bar Operations Manager, had significant input into the bar space.
The design of the exterior of the bar is reminiscent of the style found in Zebu itself. Perfect for a cocktail after the conference, or for serving 600 thirsty cocktail guests prior to a movie premiere!
Tell us about the new function menus that have been released to coincide with the opening of the new function centre.
The menus reflect our commitment to fresh produce and contemporary flavours, encompassing all that is good about a coastal venue – including an abundance of fresh seafood, quality meats and seasonal fruit and vegetables.
We have a full range of menus, from breakfast to light breaks, executive luncheons and three- course meals. Our canapé range has been totally revamped, featuring a new deluxe range – with one of my personal favourites being the crisp pork belly on ginger pear puree and cress. Another favourite is the duck and pork sang choy bow served in witlof leaf.
We also offer three levels of Day Delegate Packages, including our standard, premium and executive packages. We are currently tasting our way through the menu!
The Masquerade Charity Ball was the first hotel event in the new space. How did it all go?
We had a fabulous night – over 230 guests were able to enjoy the night, with canapés on arrival, followed by a sample of the new mains and desserts. The room looked quite amazing, with feathers and finery. We were able to raise $15K for the Mid Coast Care Charity, which was really gratifying.
So many locals lent their support to the night and kicked up their heels on the waterside dance floor.
Along with the new space, you have introduced some new faces to your team?
Grant Melville has joined us in a newly created position of Food and Beverage Manager, overseeing the operational aspects of the restaurant, bar and function space.
Amanda Perrin-Sumner is our new Wedding Co-ordinator, with Jackie Lawlor taking on the additional role as Conference Co-ordinator for corporate meetings and conferences.
Walter Niall joined us earlier this year and is our Banquets Manager, who looks after the day to day running of the functions.
We have also taken on at least 20 new floor staff, who are currently completing training in the new functions space. The new management team are really enjoying the opportunity to work on larger events and a brand new facility.
An Ammunition Supplier Advanced with the Royal Australian Army, has had more than his share of adventures. He tells us about his latest tour in Afghanistan …