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Richard Branson Loves Byron Bay

When Richard visited Byron Bay he used us to organise his accommodation. He stayed at Watego's the first time and then we organised a bigger house for him and the family when he returned. We were pretty chuffed that he chose us and we know that he's being sincere when he says that he "loves Byron". We organised a beachfront villa at Belongil for his kids on another visit. It's pretty cool that someone like Richard Branson, who among other things owns his own Island, still manages to enjoy a surf trip to Byron.

Byron Bay Surf Festival

Byron Bay Surf Festival 'surf culture now' Oct 21-23 2011

The Byron Bay Surf Festival is about 'Surf Culture Now'. It's gonna be rad, it's gonna be diverse and fun, and like the blond kid with the dripping wet hair said, 'it's gonna be cool.' On the weekend of 21-23 of October 2011 history will be created when the town of Byron Bay hosts it's first ever, dedicated Surf Festival. The wholesome focus is on the creative culture within surfing, including live music, filmmaking, original art, photography, and the shaping and riding of handmade surfboards.

Opening the festival will be none other than international surfing icon, Byron Bay local Bob McTavish, presenting a live surfboard shaping demonstration whilst sharing an historic look at his first trip to Byron Bay. Events over the weekend include, Surf markets, Surf Swap Meet, 'freestyle&stoke' surf sessions, surf related clinics, Surf World Museum, live music by Dan Hannaford, Josh Hamilton, The Grains, and film collaboration/live music event by Andrew Kidman and The Windy Hills. Original art from James McMillan, Mark Sutherland (Sutho), Hanai Yusuke (Japan), Luke Taffe, Rusty Miller, Vanessa Janss (USA) and others, including photography from surf filmmaking legends George Greenough and Albe Falzon.

Just one of the inspiring events is 'stART me up', a new art exhibition and mentoring program for kids, developed by local artist James McMillan, in conjunction with Retrospect Galleries and the Byron Bay Surf Festival. The purpose of 'stART me up' is to give new and emerging young art kids (some very young!) a valuable and real opportunity to hang and expose their art, in a well known and established art gallery. There are prizes in each age category from 4-16 years with the winner of the 13-16yrs group receiving a 6-month artist mentorship program.

Another exciting event being held on the Sunday morning between 8am and 12 noon is the Surf Swap Meet, open to one and all, and the 'freestyle&stoke' surf sessions. The idea behind this Surf Swap Meet is quite basic, even old age, in that you can actually swap one thing for another and no money is exchanged. Although anyone is welcome to just browse or even buy. Shapers attending and showing boards on the day include, Tom Wegener, Sage and Paul Joske, Simon Jones, Gary Burden and Thomas Bexon, all well known and respected craftsmen who practice the art of hand-shaping surfboards. And the 'freestyle&stoke' surf sessions; an expression session format surf event from 10am-12noon with 4 categories of 10 registered surfers in each, for half hour per category; Log (incl old mal), Fish (incl stub, hull), Finless (incl alaia), and Vintage (pre1980). It's about fun as well as being a display of surfboard riding on these particularly chosen mix of surfcraft.

At a glance the purpose and intention of this event is about creating a sustainable surfbent event for the local community to build on, and at large it's for everyone that surfs. 'The simple motivation behind The Byron Bay Surf Festival is to have a killer weekend in Byron Bay immersed in Surf Culture as we know it right now.'

See website for all full program, locations and images. Enjoy most of the events for free, just like surfing is! See you there.

Kelly Sullivan - August Artist of the Month at Retrospect Gallery

Interview by Rachelle Slater,

Kelly's work is largely based on circumstances that surrounded her when she was young, as she was born to a family of great iconic imagery and pop culture of the 20th Century. Her work is fundamentally grounded in graphic pop culture.

Kelly has worked extensively in the Arts, Theatre & Music Industry for the last 20 years along the East Coast of Australia. She now resides in Byron Bay and when she isn't crafting and painting, she works seasonally on the Splendour In The Grass music and arts festival.

I popped in for a cuppa and a chat with Kelly to get the lowdown on her latest work.

How did the map thing come up?

The map thing just came up I guess because I'm into visual graphic stuff so I started just looking around at old books and Mr Google and just lucked onto all these cool old retro maps and then I became fascinated with them and I started collecting them in a folder. I've always been fascinated by the graphic nature of art and that's what drew me to the maps.

What do mean by graphic nature of art?

Well just really flat colour. Graphics is making a bit more of a comeback in art now, as opposed to realistic kind of painting. They're sort of like a visual diagram I guess of what's going on around here and in my head...

Your first map seemed like it was more about the physical environment, literally, the newer works, especially Friday on My Mind, are more internal? Is that like a step further?

I guess it is a step further, um; I'm interested in visualising ideas that don't necessarily have a geographical landscape basis to them, so they are bridging art and design and demented geography.

What does that mean?

Well I'm taking elements of art and I'm putting them together to make up this made up kind of world, like a demented geography. They are less social comment, more of a fictional state of mind thing. With the mind map one (Friday on My Mind) it's just about how many thoughts you can have in one day, how they just all link up. You know you could take any topic and do that with it, how it just sprouts out into something far beyond where you started.

They could be endless pieces of work, and they were hard to paint, they looked great on paper, but when I actually started to paint it I thought “what am I doing?" It was laborious, and difficult to know where to end it and where to fit it all in and trying to link it all up. But that's just the thing, you're always striving to make something, when you see it in your head it doesn't always come out exactly the same way when you paint it.

What about the painting Who are the People in Your Neighbourhood, is the text from things people have said to you or..?

That's from an obsession with personal ads. That I've collected in the local paper and off the internet. It does relate to a lot of stuff that is going on around here and there's lots of personal ads I guess. I guess I'm at the age where my friends are either getting vasectomies or divorces. They're all on e-harmony and their telling me about these experiences of putting in ads and funny quips about who answers them and I just find it fascinating I guess. Advertising love.

It s based around people around here, there's a comment in there about wanting a woman to make booby traps and skin rabbits. They're funny, you can get drawn into it, working out all the little codes DTE, GSOH, it's a different language altogether.

And it's almost like a secret code which I kind of like.

(Vinnie (Kelly's son): "What's your favourite colour mum?", "Red Darl..")

Thanks Vinnie.

I guess there's states of mind and states of places and identity as well, like that's all attached to them. People's identities are in those ads, and that's something that I'm drawn to, especially around here because it's such a melting pot of identities.

That's one way to get a whole picture from little parts, putting it all together.

Yes that's it, you've got the yoga practising vegetarian next door and on the other side you've got the crack head psychopath that drives a Ute at 100 miles an hour. And I don't think it's just relative to Byron I think it's um, pretty much any seaside town.

So it's your reaction to where you live?

Yeah I guess so. It's more of a collection of identities and how I see it too, and how they put themselves out there, like in the newspaper,

So it's not necessarily your personal opinion?

No, it's just a statement really.

Can we talk about the Wild West work, which are a little bit different, the maps seem very ordered in comparison, are they related at all?

Yeah I do see them as related; they're landscapes, chaotic landscapes. I know the other ones have more of a rigid structure to them but I do see them as related I guess. In the cowboy and Indian ones there's an element of us vs. them, again I think that nostalgia thing of playing cowboys and Indians and it was us vs. them and in a sense I still see a lot of that around the Byron shire, as well.

As a counter voice against some of the people that are around here, I guess that's on a more personal level of you know, if you don't go the farmers market and vote greens and do yoga and wear hemp clothing then you can be seen to be out on the fringe and out of the loop.


And as much as they espouse to be people that are inviting and ah, they can be very closed minded groups of people. I don't think they are accepting as they would like to think they are at all.

I think they're quite the opposite and I guess that those paintings are related to that, whether I'm the cowboy or the Indian, it's still the great division I guess with the gentrification of this shire, of people moving here from the city and you're never going to be seen as a local. As well you've also got the older people who have been here for generations, it can be a bit of a gated community.

So you feel like an outsider?

Yeah I do, very much so. I don't know what the old Byron is, they use to cut down timber here, and then they were a whaling station and a meatworks station and I don't know why people say they want the old Byron Bay, I think there's an element of being stuck in time, when it was a quiet little hippy town when everybody came and surfed and smoked heaps of pot. And I'm sure it was a beautiful, idyllic place then but you know, time moves on.

It's based on tourism and always has been.

Yes, my first job in Byron, when I was 14 (25 yrs ago) was selling t-shirts to tourists.

I think the sooner they get their head around it which I think is unfortunate, that it's taken this long. On one of my paintings it says, "if its tourist season, how come we can't shoot them?"

It's that gated community. You go into Byron now and there's shops closing everywhere and it's sad I mean I know it's the sign of the times but you know.

Do you have a particular piece that you feel especially connected to?

Probably the first one I ever sold which was the You Are Here one. I guess that was the start of it all really. A friend ended up buying that one so I get to see it. The maps are all interlinked but they are different, about different topics. I mean I don't want to be stuck painting maps for the rest of my life but I do feel like it's making a progression somewhere else and I am drawn to the graphic side of stuff. And I love type, I like words on paintings. Words can make a picture comical or serious.

Well that's what is so interesting about your work is its all text!

Yeah, a friend described my paintings as great for dinner parties like you could just sit there and there's all the elements. Hopefully they are pieces that you don't get bored of easily.

Are you happy painting with acrylics?

I love acrylics mainly because I'm a mum and its quick drying and there's so many different brands of acrylics now that look like oils anyway.

I really love gouache as well, it's great to do text with but you can't actually varnish it so um which is okay but I do like to varnish the paintings at some point.

And what of the future, what's coming up for you?

I'm doing a miniature show, which is 25 by 25(cm), of 9 paintings coming up at the end of the year. I'm thinking about some childhood maps. They are kind of going to be about revenge, as in you know walking past Mrs. Mc gillihunnies house and I picked off all the flowers on her bush, it's sort of like a path home from school, chased the red-headed kid up the rd and throw rocks at him.

Are these things you thought you would have liked to have done or things you actually did?

Oh yeah I probably did them all, throwing eggs, you know I was a bit naughty. And there's other things that other kids did that I would include in there as well, so it's just about um, growing up I guess. I would follow a certain map home from school every day and then change it, and then you'd have a fight with somebody so you wouldn't walk past their house, you'd have to cross the rd, or someone had germs. All that kind of stuff.

Where will that exhibition be?

Retrospect again, but maybe in the Gold Coast gallery at the end of the year.

Thanks so much Kelly!

Check out Kelly's paintings in person at the opening, this Friday, August 5 between 6:00pm - 8:00pm, Retrospect Gallery, 52 Jonson Street, Byron Bay. See you there!

Visit for further information.

Visit for further information on Kelly K Sullivan.

2010 Writers' Festival Re-Cap

The Byron Bay Writers' Festival is just days away, here's a re-cap of last years festival via David Young's images.

David Young has shot an enormous variety of photos, but is best known for his specialist work in architecture, interiors, food, products, people and stock. For further information visit;

The Byron Bay Writers' Festival is one of the major annual festival in Byron, the 2011 festival dates are 5-7 August. For further information visit;

Byron Bay Writers’ Festival – a treat for film enthusiasts

Movie buffs can look forward to a small but powerful film program featuring the great works of John Pilger, Louis de Bernières and Paul Cox as part of the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival offsite events line-up.

Acclaimed film-making Paul Cox will participate in the In Search of Soul Festival series in the session The transformational power of trauma. Paul Cox’s book Tales from the Cancer Ward chronicles the moving portrayal of his own personal journey through liver cancer.  Festival Director Candida Baker says it is very special to have Cox present his film Innocence in a one-off screening. “Both Cox’s book and films seem to contain a quintessential European quality of dark and light sometimes missing from mainstream Australian film,” says Baker. “Cox will discuss the film after the screening which presents a rare chance to speak to one of the Australia’s most respected film makers.” Innocence will play at 5.00pm, Thursday, August 4, at the Dendy Byron Bay.

The Festival team is proud to present the Byron premiere of Louis de Bernières’ film Red Dog at the Dendy Cinema at 7.00pm, Friday, August 5.  De Bernières will be on hand after the film to explore further the story of the charismatic, hitch-hiking kelpie from the 70’s. “With the Observer describing the film as particular treat, Red Dog is for lovers of dogs and the Australian outback or just those who enjoy a good Aussie yarn,” says Baker. The screening is sponsored by Dendy Byron Bay Cinemas and Screen NSW.

Treats for film-enthusiasts don’t stop there.  A special screening of John Pilger’s controversial documentary The War You Don’t See will screen at the Byron Community Centre Theatre at 7.00pm Sunday, August 7. “We are thrilled that John will be available after the screening for a Q&A session, chaired by Mick O’Regan,” says Baker.

Baker believes adding film to the Festival program was an important aspect of the Passion theme: “All these filmmakers have created incredibly passionate works.  It is a great privilege to be able to present such a powerful line-up of films as part of the Festival program.”

Baker advises those wishing to attend film sessions to contact the Dendy and the Byron Community Centre.  Tickets for John Pilger are already on sale, and tickets for the Dendy shows will be available soon.

To purchase tickets visit or call 1300 368 552.

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 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

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 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

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.


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