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Byron Bay Writers' Festival Foodie's Feast

2010 Australian MasterChef winner Adam Liaw, former Vogue and Cosmopolitan fashion editor turned restaurateur turned author Victoria Alexander and local Byron chef, food writer and restaurant reviewer, Belinda Jeffery are just a taste of the foodie line-up featuring at the Byron Bay Writers' Festival.

Festival Director Candida Baker advises that the foodie events are amongst the most popular and tickets go quickly. 

"The Festival foodie events are always a sell out," says Baker.  "Our Foodie Fodder lunch with Belinda Jeffery and Adam Liaw, hosted by Janella Purcell at the Italian at the Pacific restaurant, will be no exception. Guests will be treated to a great meal and a wonderful presentation by three consummate professionals in a setting that captures the essence of our laidback North Coast lifestyle."

Belinda Jeffery (The Country Cookbook: Seasonal Jottings and Recipes) is especially looking forward to the session Beautiful books – turning books into art, with Victoria Alexander (One) and Adam Liaw (Two Asian Kitchens) chaired by Victoria Cosford (Amore and Amaretti: A tale of love and food in Tuscany).

"There is almost a new genre of cookbook that is more like a work of art.  Some of the books coming out now are just exquisite," says Jeffery.  "I have worked with the brilliant photographer Rodney Weidland for over 25 years and often readers write to me just about their love of the images in my books."

Jeffery believes the session Eat My Words – Why We Love Food Books taps into another growing reader phenomenon. "There has been an increasing interest in food and cooking over the past 25 years, but now readers seem more inclined to take their cookbooks to bed to read, almost like a novel…a form of escape," she says.  "Sometimes my readers confess that they don't even really cook. They just love reading about cooking, almost as though they are cooking vicariously by reading through their favourite chef's or cook's recipes."

The growth in the narrative cookbook is also an interesting development in the genre. "I have always loved cookbooks that tell stories," says Jeffery. 

"Food is a part of life and weaving cooking into travel, history or just everyday life is a wonderful way to enjoy the process of sourcing, preparing, cooking and presenting food."

Baker believes the increase in the appeal of cookbooks is driven by many factors.  "Cooking shows such as Masterchef have certainly encouraged people to get back to the kitchen, but a renewed focus on home cooking is also driven by economic pressures with people wanting to cook at home rather than eat out," Baker says. "However, overall I believe cook books continue to increase in popularity as there is something warm and appealing about creating wonderful meals in your own kitchen to share with friends and family." 

Foodie Fodder, sponsored by Ferment, is being held at the Italian at the Pacific Beach, 12.00pm – 3.00pm Friday, August 5.  Tickets are available now for $125.

To purchase Festival or event tickets or to view the full Festival program visit www.byronbaywritersfestival.com.au or call 1300 368 552.

Circus Jam

We offer return bus from Jonson Street to Circus Arts. 2.5 hours on the training floor doing a whole mixture of circus skills such as juggling, staff twirling, mini tramp, silks, tight wire, static trapeze plus they get to swing on the high flying trapeze!

After the workshop they can choose a snack and a drink (beer, wine or soft drink) from the Big Top Cafe and then stay for happy hour from 4pm to 5pm! 17 Centennial Circuit Arts and Industry Estate Ph. 02 6685 6566 www.circusarts.com.au

The Byron Bay Writers’ Festival Youth Day

 

ABC3 TV Personalities – Amberley and Kayne - Headline at The Byron Bay Writers’ Festival Youth Day

Popular television personalities Amberley Lobo and Kayne Tremills from ABC3 will host the new Youth Day at the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival on Sunday, 7 August, the final day of the three day Festival.

Festival Director Candida Baker has been working hard to develop an entertaining and motivating program designed specifically to capture the imagination of children aged between six and sixteen. “We are thrilled that Amberley and Kayne have accepted our invitation to headline the Youth Day which will be held in the ABC3 marquee. They are wonderful entertainers who are looking forward to MC’ing the Youth Tent for the day,” said Ms Baker. Amberley and Kayne will introduce a variety of international and Australian writers including America YA writer Maria V Snyder; Australian writers and illustrators Alison Lester and Martine Murray; actor, presenter and writer Tristan Bancks of Nitboy and Mac Slater fame; picture book writer, Tony Wilson and the Gold Inky, Teenage Choice Award winning writer, James Roy, Charlie Pickering from TV’s Your Generation and Wendy Harmer with her delightful Pearlie series of books. Bryon local and Festival veteran Tristan Bancks says being part of the Festival is one of the highlights of his year. “What I love are the thoughtful, and often hilarious, questions the kids throw at you. Sometimes they really have you thinking.”

The Youth Day will be packed with readings, panels and performances interspersed with the opportunity to participate in book signings, enjoy fabulous food, listen to a variety of live music and stroll amongst the incredible sculpture show. “I have a personal passion for children’s literacy.

Capturing your child’s enthusiasm early introduces children to a life-time of reading pleasure. I have ambitious plans to grow the Youth Day year-on-year,” said Ms Baker. “This is a unique opportunity for the children and young people of the Byron Shire and its surrounds to get up close and personal with some incredible writing talent. If you want to inspire your children to understand that words are more than just spelling on a piece of paper, this is the place to be. I would encourage all parents to book now for a thought-provoking and entertaining family day out.”

To purchase early bird tickets for the Youth Day or a three-day Festival pass visit www.byronbaywritersfestival.com.au or call 1300 368 552.

Byron Bay Film Festival 2011

A touch of Hollywood glamour graced Byron Bay this weekend as the Byron Bay Film Festival once again rolled out the red carpet in the foyer of the Community Centre for its opening night extravaganza.

The Community Centre was transformed for Friday night’s opening party as local media producers wined, dined and mingled with international directors, producers and actors, including Australia’s own acting stalwart, Jack Thompson and his brother, film critic Peter Thompson. So impressed was Thompson by the Festival and the hospitality of its organisers and the town that he has discussed returning to next years’ festival to run a Master Class with his brother Peter. There was barely a dry-eye in the audience after Saturday afternoon’s presentation of ‘The Telegram Man’,

Thompson’s first short film which he stars in alongside Gary Sweet and Sigrid Thornton, set in rural New South Wales during World War II. The presence of the charming icon of Australian cinema attracted what was to be the first of numerous full capacity audiences over the weekend. In its 6th year, the festival is going from strength to strength, something which was evident over the weekend with many sold out sessions and prospective audiences having to be turned away at the door.

The screenings will continue for the rest of the week with a large number of sessions on offer showcasing a variety of genre films such as surf films, documentaries, short films, environmental films and dramatic features including the Best Dramatic Feature & Best Film Nominee ‘Nauta’, screening on Thursday night with the films Italian filmmakers present. With Sunday the final night of the festival, it will begin to wind down on Saturday night with a red carpet Gala Party which will include the Byron premiere of Australian romantic comedy ‘The Wedding Party’ with the filmmakers also in attendance. The nights’ festivities will also include the presentation of numerous awards, including the big one, for Best Film. With tickets selling fast, festival organisers recommend interested audiences buy tickets in advance or online to avoid disappointment at the box office. Session times and ticket information can be viewed online at www.bbff.com.au.

2010 Byron Bay Writers’ Festival

The 2010 Byron Bay Writers' Festival will now be held at Belongil Fields and takes place over several days from the 6th to the 8th of August in Byron Bay and includes literary lunches, film screenings, theatre, book launches, interviews and panel discussions. This year’s festival will be held between the 6th & 8th of August 2010.

Lucky Wonders launch their first single ‘Happy Pills’

The Lucky Wonders are set to launch their first single ‘Happy Pills’, taking their loved live show on the road to wrap up 2009. Renowned for their intensely honest lyrics and mature songwriting, the duo of Emma Royle and Jessie Vintila create tunes that touch on personal themes, but where you’re welcomely invited to share in “the real bits.”

A theme runs through The Lucky Wonders’ songs reflecting the good fortune of those able to face their demons and live their dreams. Their home of Byron Bay is a place where lucky people flock to do both.

Splendour in the Grass 2009 – SOLD OUT

Splendour in the Grass is one of our favorite festival, great bands, exciting atmosphere – and easy (parking, plenty of room, variety of food, and everyone’s having fun). Clearly, I’m not the only person who feels this way with the festival selling out in under 2 hours. Here’s what their press release had to say;

Organisers would like to advise that at 10.15am today 14 May, Splendour In The Grass weekend and camping tickets to the 2009 event, taking place Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th July at Belongil Fields in Byron Bay, have completely sold out. “’We are yet again in awe of the interest in Splendour, thanks to everyone for your support and embracing our ticketing process with its anti scalping features and carbon offsetting option.” said Event Producers – Jessica Ducrou and Paul Piticco

From the feedback I’ve had and lurking on forums, it looks like the ticketing went smoothly too.

World Premiere of David Hannan’s new film Coral Sea Dreaming in HD at UF09

We are proud to have Dave Hannan personally introduce his new film Coral Sea Dreaming in HD as a World Premiere on Saturday 2nd of May at Byron Bay’s Lounge Cinema – all part of the Saturday night Underwater Party at the Buddha Bar next door.

Coral Sea Dreaming HD is the story of coral; the world’s greatest natural architect, and the ancient ancestor of humankind itself. Coral is the immortal sea God of our oceans, responsible for the building of massive limestone citadels which house the most exotic and specialized creatures on earth. 8 years in the making, Coral Sea Dreaming HD brings together the world-class cinematography of Emmy Award Winner, David Hannan, with an original musical score by Australian composer Tania Rose. Shot on State-of-the-Art High Definition technology, it chronicles over 2000 dives on the last three great coral reef ecosystems on earth: the Great Barrier Reef, Ningaloo Reef, and Papua New Guinea. Over 84 extraordinary minutes, Coral Sea Dreaming HD enters the very heart of life – and death – on a coral reef. Amongst the thousands of marine creatures represented, there are courting manta rays, oceanic sharks, turtles, cuttlefish, alien sea slugs, and massive fish schools reminiscent of a bygone age. But due to global warming, and ocean acidification, the limestone citadels built by corals are literally dissolving. And when the reefs die, everything dies with them. This means the extinction of millions of marine animals. There is much to be done to safe-guard these precious ecosystems for future generations. And very little time to do it.

David Hannan is renowned not only for his filmmaking, but more importantly the conservation that is activated by his films. This is the driving force behind his work. Coral Sea Dreaming is designed as a multi-platform product, which will place coral into modern consciousness as never before. It will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray Disc in Australia & New Zealand through Roadshow and niche distributors during 2009 and in the USA & world wide during 2010. Audiences can select to have a music-only experience, and enjoy the film as the ultimate relaxation video. Because of its superior format, it can also serve as animated ‘wallpaper’, turning a screen or even an entire wall into a virtual fish tank. For a more classic documentary experience, ‘switch on’ an emotive and informative narration track, or a ‘making-of’ interview with David Hannan. Other features such as pop-up factoids or creature identification tabs can be activated, turning the film into a powerful Field Guide and educational resource. Through the web, Coral Sea Dreaming also becomes as a high tech porthole into other related programming, with links to key marine conservation organizations worldwide. Coral Sea Dreaming is about coral. And the sea. And their dreaming. With her days now numbered, Coral Sea Dreaming is how coral – our once great and enduring ancestor – will forever want to be remembered.

Byron’s over $20,000 rich Photo Shoot-Out draws international interest

International media correspondents from prestigious dive magazine Scuba Diver Australasia are flying out a team from Singapore to cover the 2009 Byron Underwater Festival to be held in Byron Bay from Monday 27th April to Sunday 3rd May. With nearly $25,000 in prizes up for grabs, the Byron Underwater Photo and Video Shoot-Out is now the richest event of it’s type in Australia and offers one of the richest prize pools internationally. This year’s Underwater Shoot-out promises to be the best yet as organisers extend the festival by adding an extra 2 days.

Tim Hochgrebe, event organiser, says “Extending the festival in 2009, has allowed us to provide underwater photographers and videographers greater flexibility and time to capture that elusive award winning shot and video footage.” Tim also added “To help contestants in the 2009 shoot-out, once again we are bringing back to Australia renowned international underwater photographer Mr. Matthieu Meur to conduct beginners and advanced photo clinics early during the festival. This will allow photographers the opportunity to utilise their newly acquired skills during the competition.” Mr. Meur is a co-author of 2 books – An Essential Guide to Digital Underwater Photography and An Advanced Guide to Digital Underwater Photography and has his own underwater photography bible on the verge of being published in early 2009. Pre-release copies will be available at the festival. Inductee to the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame, Neville Coleman of Queensland, has also confirmed a third appearance at the 2009 Underwater Festival.

Organisers of the festival are proud to have Neville Coleman back next year. Neville is the author of over 50 books – his latest the massive Nudibranchs Encyclopedia – and well known for his passion for the underwater world and the small and unusual critters it contains.

As an Honorary Fellow of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography, Neville has once again been invited as a guest judge in the 2009 Underwater Photo and Video Shoot-out and he will also be conducting a full Underwater Naturalist course over the first two days of the festival. We all know, Byron Bay is one of Australia’s most popular holiday destinations and everyone knows about its beautiful beaches, the great surf and famous festivals. However, not many realise what beauty lies beneath the water’s surface or that Julian Rocks, located only 3 kms off the beach, and is one of Australia’s top 10 dive sites. This is where tropical and temperate currents meet, resulting in a unique mixture and incredible abundance of marine life including 3 species of turtles various rays, friendly sharks and over 500 other species of fish. Macro life is abundant with nudibranchs, crabs and snails, various coral and sponge species as well as sea stars, feather stars and urchins. In May water temperatures are still up (21 to 24C) and it is a quieter time of the year in Byron Bay, a great time to visit! The Byron Underwater Festival is aimed at everyone wanting to experience, for themselves, the wonderful marine environment of Cape Byron Marine Park – whether it be to learn more about it, dive it, snorkel it, kayak it, photograph it … or even paint it. Other activities and events include marine wildlife presentations by a number of reputable speakers, snorkeling, introductory dives, kayaking with dolphins and an Underwater Art competition. The Marine Visions art competition & exhibition, held in association with Retrospect Galleries, is a celebrated forum open to photographers, painters and sculptures of all ages.

This is a fantastic opportunity to display and sell their work over the course of the festival and be in the running to win over $5000 of great prizes including cash, a full PADI Open Water Course, framing and printing and much more.

There will be something for everyone and fun for the whole family with many FREE events and activities. For more info and bookings go to www.underwaterfestival.com.au

The Weather and Us

Like many parts of Australia right now, the Byron Shire is experiencing its worst drought in many years. Recently, the local community organised a raindance ceremony in Mullumbimby. Various shire identities spoke to the public gathering and everyone participated in ceremonies and rituals led by Sol Farina. Below is the text of a talk I gave at the raindance. Forty-eight hours later, we did receive a generous but brief fall of rain. Coincidence? Read the text and decide for yourself.


As acknowledged in the text below, my views on the link between human consciousness and the weather have been informed and inspired by a number of the Seth/Jane Roberts' books, and most of the concepts presented below have been derived and paraphrased from several of these books, including, for those who may wish to explore further, Seth Speaks: The Eternal Validity of the Soul; The Nature of Personal Reality and The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events, available from all good metaphysical bookshops.]

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. It's a beautiful night for a raindance. Yet I wonder: Do we really, at the levels where it most matters, believe that we can manifest the weather?

The other night in Suffolk Park when we enjoyed a welcome downpour, a friend of mine claimed it was because she had been invoking precipitation by playing her didjeridoo; I claimed it was because intuitively I had mulched my garden the day before, and a bloke I know insisted it was because he'd just put his soft top down. Or maybe it rained because Sol Farina appeared on the front page of "The Byron News", arms akimbo, invoking the rain.

So we jokingly parlay the idea that we can affect the weather, but do we really believe we can? And if we don't believe, why don't we?

I turned to my friend Seth for a few insights into our relationship with the weather and I'd like to share some of his ideas with you.

In Western culture since the Industrial Revolution, around 1760, we've grown to believe that there is little connection between the objects of the world and the individual. Before that time, when we still retained our nature-based agrarian rhythms and identification, we did believe that we could affect matter and the environment through our thoughts.

Today, however, in our highly industrialised societies, our human thoughts no longer seem to have any effect upon nature because in our minds we see ourselves as apart from it. In an ambiguous fashion, while we've concentrated upon nature's exterior aspects in a very conscious manner, we have still ended up denying the conscious powers of our own minds. We've become quite blind to the connection between our thoughts and our physical environment and experience.

These days we think of rain or earthquakes as natural events, yet we don't consider our thoughts or emotions as natural events. Therefore it's difficult for us to see how there can be any valid interactions between our inner emotional states and our outer physical ones.

We might say: "Of course, I realise that the weather affects my mood," yet it will occur to few of us that our moods have any effect on the weather. We have so concentrated upon the categorisation, delineation, and exploration of the objective world that it surely seems to be "the only real one." It seems to exert force or pressure against us, or to impinge upon us, or at least almost to happen by itself, so that we sometimes feel powerless against it. Our contemporary belief systems have given great energy to the outsideness of things.

In exasperation some of us see nature as good and enduring, filled with an innocence and joy, while on the other hand we envision ourselves as a bastard species, a blight upon the face of the earth, as creatures bound to do everything wrong regardless, of our strong and good intent.

This myth we've evolved assigns great value to the larger processes of nature in general, yet sees humankind alone as the villains of an otherwise edifying tale. As long as we believe in this myth, we cannot allow ourselves to trust our own human natures.

Psychically, mentally and physically, I believe we are as much a part of an event such as a drought or flood, as say, the plants that wither on the vine or the water that sweeps through a town. We can utilise the physical catastrophe, as an individual might use a symptom for purposes of challenge, growth or understanding -- but I don't doubt that we will individually and collectively continue to choose our disasters just as we choose our symptoms of physical illness.

A severe illness may be used by a person to put him or her into the most intimate contact with the powers of life and death, to initiate a crisis in order to mobilise buried survival instincts, to vividly portray great points of contact and to summon all of his or her strength.

Similarly, a climatic catastrophe can be used consciously or unconsciously, according to each individual.

We could reason that, just like the floods in previous years in Byron Shire, this drought is physically materialising the inner problems of the region. Each individual involved has his or her own reasons for participating, and through our mass-created framework, each of us works out our private purposes and dilemmas.

So-called natural disasters actually serve many positive purposes. For a start, they remind us that we can't ignore our planet or our creaturehood.

Disasters, such as the current drought, possess the great rousing energy of powers unleashed, of nature escaping humanity's discipline, and by their very characteristics they also remind us of our own psyches; for in their way such profound events always involve creativity being born, rising even from the bowels of the parched or flooded earth, reshaping the land and the lives of women and men.

During times of weather calamities, our taken-for-granted patterns of existence can be effectively ripped away and we can sense our kinship with our local community.

The crisis of our current drought can catalyse our realisation that any permanency of form is an illusion, since all consciousness is in a constant state of change.

More than this, however, each of us can feel the enduring energy of nature. We can be reminded of the great permanent stability upon which normal life is based and the incredible potency from which we spring.

Because we're here at this community rain dance, I'm assuming that many of us believe, on deeper and deeper levels, that we do indeed create our own reality.

And if you're tired of hearing that phrase -- you create your own reality, you create your own reality -- in cafe conversations, workshops, and counselling sessions, in books, Van Morrison lyrics and at Mullumbimby raindances -- I can only say that I personally count on this repetition -- you create your own reality -- to reaffirm my understanding that this underlying spiritual principle applies to the most minute and the most important of the events that I experience.

In my understanding, we do not simply react to the weather. We help form it, even as we breathe the air and then send it outward again. To some extent or another, our human desires and emotions merge with the physical aspects of nature, so that our great storms or droughts are as much the result of psychological activity as they are of weather conditions.

The brain is a nest of electromagnetic relationships that scientists admit we do not yet understand. From our brains spring ideas that are quite as natural as lightning. When lightning strikes the earth, it changes it. There are also changes that come about through the impact of our thoughts upon the atmosphere.

The notion of collective weather-conjuring may be confirmed by the more enlightened of our scientists and quantum physicists, for they are finally learning what philosophers and mystics have known for centuries -- that mind can influence matter. Still, the scientists have yet to discover that mind creates and forms matter.

As certain indigenous people do rain dances and consciously bring about rain through deliberately directing the unconscious forces, so too people like us in different places on the planet do the same thing quite automatically, but mostly we do it with no awareness of the processes involved.

Most of the time, we don't realise that we create our larger environment by propelling our thoughts and emotions into matter. Mostly we don't recognise that the inner self, individually and en masse, sends its psychic energy out, forming tentacles that coalesce into form.

Yet sometimes we do recognise and harness this creative power. For here we are in Mullumbimby, having a go at co-creating a new atmospheric reality.

Here we are, trying to heal the drought, that mass psychic symptom we've projected upon our patch of earth.

Here we stand as a community, participating in our own collective healing process, for we can no more separate ourselves from the body of the earth and its condition than we can from our own bodies.

Here we are, deliberately, mindfully, congregated, learning to be co-creators; learning the responsibility of any individualised consciousness; learning to handle the energy that is ourselves, for creative purposes.

If a thunderstorm is the exteriorised local materialisation of the inner emotional state of the people experiencing the storm, and I believe it is, then how, exactly, will we incite the rain to fall?

As far as I can gather, the overall emotional tone or feeling-level of masses of people, through our body connections with the environment, can create the exterior physical conditions that initiate the onslaught of natural energy we're wanting. According to the mass emotional conditions, various excesses are built up physically; these are then thrown off into the atmosphere in a different form.

The electromagnetic propreties of our emotions will play a big part in our ceremonies today, so if there are any aura readers amongst us, you're likely to see some interesting etherics.

OK, so let's begin now, in our minds and in our hearts, to seed the rain-clouds through our collective conscious intent. Let's focus, let's imagine, let's call on all the higher powers as we prepare to participate in our rituals and ceremonies.

Let's invoke the collective power of the gods and goddesses within ourselves to materialise the blessed physical rain, the rain which, literally and symbolically, will help us to wash away the old and to give birth to the new times for which we are all yearning.

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