The RISE Canberra Podcast

Keren Huggett and Marg Wade - Podcast 7

August 24, 2020 Jen Seyderhelm
The RISE Canberra Podcast
Keren Huggett and Marg Wade - Podcast 7
Chapters
The RISE Canberra Podcast
Keren Huggett and Marg Wade - Podcast 7
Aug 24, 2020
Jen Seyderhelm

Welcome to the seventh RISE Canberra Podcast!

In this episode Jen Seyderhelm is in conversation with early childhood educator and creator of Bush Play Connections, Keren Huggett and author of Canberra Secrets and operator of Canberra Secrets Tours, Marg Wade. Both are passionate about the experience, understanding and enjoyment of where we live, plus sharing our home with others. Bush Play Connections is part of the Where You Are Festival.

Produced by Events ACT, RISE Canberra is your new home for experiencing local events and to find new ways to connect audiences with experiences made in the ACT by local makers, creators, artists and businesses.

You can find out more here.

Each fortnight Jen talks to Canberra creators, getting to know more about the approaches they're using to deliver events during these times. Check out the rest of the RISE Calendar online at www.risecanberra.com - where you can find out more about other innovative offerings from Canberra creators on the RISE News page and keep up to date with the Where You Are Festival, on now.

The RISE Canberra Podcast is produced by Events ACT. The music is Three Times by Dawn by The Screaming Zucchinis.

Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to the seventh RISE Canberra Podcast!

In this episode Jen Seyderhelm is in conversation with early childhood educator and creator of Bush Play Connections, Keren Huggett and author of Canberra Secrets and operator of Canberra Secrets Tours, Marg Wade. Both are passionate about the experience, understanding and enjoyment of where we live, plus sharing our home with others. Bush Play Connections is part of the Where You Are Festival.

Produced by Events ACT, RISE Canberra is your new home for experiencing local events and to find new ways to connect audiences with experiences made in the ACT by local makers, creators, artists and businesses.

You can find out more here.

Each fortnight Jen talks to Canberra creators, getting to know more about the approaches they're using to deliver events during these times. Check out the rest of the RISE Calendar online at www.risecanberra.com - where you can find out more about other innovative offerings from Canberra creators on the RISE News page and keep up to date with the Where You Are Festival, on now.

The RISE Canberra Podcast is produced by Events ACT. The music is Three Times by Dawn by The Screaming Zucchinis.

Jen Seyderhelm:

Welcome to the RISE Canberra podcast produced by events act rise. Canberra is your new home for experiencing local events. Finding new ways to connect audiences with experiences made right here in the act by local makers, creators, artists, and businesses. You can find out more at rise , canberra.com. Each fortnight will be in conversation with Canberra creators and getting to know more about the approaches they're using to deliver events during these times. I'm Jen cider at home. And in this episode, we'll be speaking with Karen Huggett bell , childhood educator, and creator of Bush, play connections and Mark Wade , author of canvas secrets and operator of Canberra secrets tours

Keren Huggett:

Hi, my name is Karen Huggett . I'm an early childhood educator, a early childhood consultant and an energy healer.

Speaker 2:

When did you want to be when you grew up? Okay .

Jen Seyderhelm:

Oh, that was a few things when I wanted to grow up, but by the time I was eight, I knew very clearly that I wanted to work with children. And actually I think my direct words to my mum when my little sister was born was mom. I know I'm on the earth for the children.

Speaker 2:

Oh my goodness. Because often, I mean, eight, I suppose the thought is that maybe you want to be a mum one day, but it's not normally that I want to work with children one day. It's right. Yeah. And funnily enough, again, I've had a previous interview with Fiona Harris who I understand, you know, as well. And Fiona said much the same thing. What is it about children that draws you to working with them?

Jen Seyderhelm:

I believe that children are divine beings who are fresh on the earth. So when a child is born, they are their divine self and they're here to learn and to love and to be here. And I think when you engage with children and you're really present with the child, you see their divinity and all the things that they know in their innate wisdom within them.

Speaker 2:

I have a girlfriend who also works in early childcare herself. And I said to her the other day, one of the perks of your job must just be that you get more, I love you's than most people would in their normal lives. And she said, you have no idea. She said, I get hugs, kisses and abundant . I love use every day . And I was thinking of how marvelous is that? When do we grow out of it ?

Jen Seyderhelm:

Yeah. Well, I don't know when we grow out of it, but I know that a lot of like the systems that we have with us on earth at the moment , uh, about modifying who we really are. And so I think that we grow out of being open hearted, playful, curious beings. At some point as we go into the schooling system, I'm not sure when it is. And I think it probably depends on each child because the first and most important teacher that have is their family members.

Speaker 2:

Mm . Do you think that working with children for all this time has kept you in a child alive?

Jen Seyderhelm:

I am very playful and I think that that's one of the qualities that makes me come alive. I learned how to not be playful. And then my first ever role in the sector, I had just moved out of home. I was 18 years old and I was working in a 22 place toddler room and it was madness, but it was fun. And I learned how to read stories out loud, make stories up and engage and play. And it was like a remembering for me. And so I was, I was 18. So 10 years after I knew that I wanted to work with children. So one of the things

Speaker 2:

Difficult things in these current covert times is that we have to be apart from each other and try telling a two year old to do social distancing. It's just, it doesn't happen. So how has your work been affected by covert

Jen Seyderhelm:

My work at the beginning of the year, I was still in a part time role working with children directly. And when educators became frontline workers, my intuition was telling me that it was time for me to step away from being a frontline worker, which felt double-edged in a way, because I was like, okay, I need to do this because my intuition is telling me very clearly that I'm not to be working directly with the children, but I also felt that I was running a wellness program. I wanted to be there for the children. Bush play connections was the project that I was launching in January. I did one session and the smoke was on that one session. It was pretty good day, but I was waiting until the fire was out around Canberra until I felt like our society was going back from to be settled into the year after we all had tricky time. And then COVID came very quickly after that. And so I, I put off doing Bush play and I stood myself down from my role. And then I learnt about the, where you are festival. And I was like, wow, this is Bush play. And the philosophy behind the festival and the reason what the festival is all about, which is about connection and community. I was like, this fits so well in, I'm going to have to put an expression of interesting to see. So what is Bush play connection? Bush play connection is an opportunity for families to be together in the Bush. In Canberra. We are so blessed in our Bush Capitol to have so many incredible nature parks surrounding our city and Bush play is about children's first and most important teacher, their families and children being out in the Bush, connecting to country, connecting to earth , connecting to each other through play through the festival, through the sessions we're doing with the festival. We have a beautiful indigenous man called Daniel Williams, who will be with us in our session. And he's going to be doing a welcome to country. And he's going to be taking us on a walk on the land, on the four different sites and sharing some of his stories. His family's stories about those lands . Daniel says to be connected to country means that you've always got a sense of belonging. And I love the concept. I love the idea of belonging. I think it's fundamental to the human existence, the early years learning framework, which is the document that we use in the early childhood sector, talks about belonging, being fundamental to our humanness. And I love how we can pull that together, because if we connected to the land that we live on, and we know what food there is out there, and we know the animals that are on the land and we pay honor and respect to the land that we live on, we have a full heart and the sense of belonging comes from being connected to their land.

Speaker 2:

I wish people could have seen your face as you just did that. It is within you, the desire to pass that message on. Absolutely. When did you come to Canberra? Are you here ?

Jen Seyderhelm:

Born and bred? No. So I was born in Cooma . Oh yeah. Canberra and I have had this crazy little relationship. I do have a bit of a gypsy soul and this is my seventh time of living in Canberra. And I've always come back to Canberra. Like I went to England and lived there for a little while and then brought my family back. Had my daughter in England, brought her back to Canberra. Canberra seems to pull me back. And for a long time I was going, what is this about? Is it cause it's close to my parents down in, or is my, my big sister lives here? And is it family that keeps bringing me back? And I think that it is. And I think it's also that I meant to be a meant to be here in Canberra. I truly believe that I follow my intuition and my gut. And it keeps leading me back in .

Speaker 2:

Well, let's go back to your intuition when you were saying with leaving your part time job in January to follow a dream. And now where you are with the way you are festival. So you've got a series of events for the way you are festival. Right . Does it feel like that step in January from leaving the job? This was where it was going to head to now, like the way you are festival was what the destination was or is there still more to come from that?

Jen Seyderhelm:

There's definitely more to come. I felt like the way you are festival was this. I felt like it was a gift. I felt like I was just at the point where I was going, what am I going to do? That the festival came and the opportunity to put in an expression of interest that was then successful was just what my heart needed to go. Oh , okay. This is the right direction. The four sessions with the way you are festival is almost like my soft launch. And then I've got dates ready for term four in the school holidays. I'm going to do a couple of sessions. So in the term three school holidays, and then launching into a eight week series of sessions across Canberra for term fall. So let's

Speaker 2:

Go back to, for the way you are festival, how can people get

Jen Seyderhelm:

Involved? People can get involved by going on the way you are festival website and clicking onto the Bush play sessions. You'll see four of them. And following the link through to book a ticket, it is a free event, which I'm also really excited about because I think families need to have these free events that help just to help because life can be pretty tricky, fine , financially, pretty tricky too . And yeah. Book yourself on your cell phone, the sessions. What ages is it for ? It is for I'm going birth to 12 or 13, and I will have a range of quite open experiences. I definitely will have space for the baby in arms and for families to sit around on some cushions and have their babes being hopefully in the sun and the lovely spring sun. And there will be what I've called for the festival Bush play creation stations. So located, scattered around the land so we can make sure we're, you know, there's going to be plenty of opportunity for connection, but also honoring the social distancing that we need to follow. And there's going to be things like making some potions. So having soar spins and bits of water, and we can collect some leaves and some bits of dirt, and there's nothing like putting it in a mortal and pestle pestle, [inaudible] bang them all up. There's also going to be collecting some sticks and I've got lots of materials and resources where we can be making them more pretty. So making some mobiles or making some magic ones, things like that. Daniel is bringing with him some of his traditional tools and he's going to have his own creation station after I walk around the lab and be able to share some of the techniques and ways of making his traditional tools. And I think I'm just going to have big sheets for people to make cubbies thinking about the age group is huge. And my early childhood brain goes, how do I plan for that age group? But really the main focus of the event is being out connected to country and having fun and play. So that can be not actually at a creation station that can be finding that cool looking log and exploring it.

Speaker 2:

Well, one of the things that I've really noticed over the last 12 months, firstly, we're talking about children here, but the parents are going to come down and there's a little part in all of us that wants to make it cubby. Let's be honest. So you were catering to the grownups as well. Think so . And in all of these open spaces, every reserve, every area I've walked around in Canberra at the moment, people have been picking up the logs and making them

Jen Seyderhelm:

Shelters, have you seen? Yeah . I've seen them, you know exactly what I mean. Yeah . And yeah ,

Speaker 2:

The one that's behind my house, I've never seen the people doing, but they keep growing and growing and going. It's amazing.

Jen Seyderhelm:

This knee

Speaker 2:

Need to build things into open spaces that we have here at the moment. And they're clearly not the work of toddlers mum and dad, family members have all been involved and there's some almost primal need to do these things. And funny, you should just talk about getting the mortar and pestle in my car at the moment I bought an old test tube, which I'm going to take home to my son tonight so we can make our own little potion at home. Right. But isn't, it I'm a grownup, but at the same time I bought it, I thought, Oh my God, I can't wait to do this together. So yeah,

Jen Seyderhelm:

I think, I think our playful nature is something that all grownups are really benefit from. So my healing work in the energy healing work that I do.

Speaker 2:

A lot of the work is

Jen Seyderhelm:

Going back into a person's early childhood in order to be able to see the beliefs that were formed. So we all form our own beliefs. They're formed by the people in our early years, the environment and the way that the environment responds to us. So very early on, we forming beliefs about self based on who we are in that environment. And sometimes we need to go back and we really need to have a think about those beliefs. They often sit in our subconscious and we know in children's brain development that the first three years of life, the brain is at its most malleable . And that it's also where all of our subconscious thoughts and beliefs get formed. And then they become just part of our subconscious. And we live our life based on the beliefs that we formed when we were little. And a lot of the work that, as I said, that I'm doing with healing work is to take people back to that little person inside that we all still have inside of ourselves to mend and to remove some of the beliefs that we have to form new beliefs, but also to , to connect back to that inner child, that playful, joyful, innocent, pure person that we are, we are that we've just been taught different ways of being that as we become an adult. And I think what I'm really hoping for Bush plan , the opportunity for play and connection and togetherness is that as a community group, we can celebrate each other for who we are, who we've become, but who we are in our beingness in that place when we are just very present. And for me, I learn how to be very present because I love the earth. And I love being out in the Bush. And I have mates, I'm mates with trees and I'm the crazy person when you're driving past Hindmarsh at sunset. That's no good up against a big gum, rubbing my back up against the Gumtree and , and being connecting with that tree with the earth and being present. And presence is easy in nature because there is beauty everywhere.

Speaker 2:

Karen, the last question I would normally ask people is what they see for themselves in a post covert future. And I almost feel like I can answer this question for you, which is most bizarre because your intuition is taking you probably. I mean, in January, I, well, this is pre COVID, but when you took the step away from that job, many people would have over thought that or found that daunting. But you just knew, you just knew your guts . Your intuition had said, that's what I'm going to do. And it's led you to in these difficult times, creating this opportunity that has like, you'd light up every time you talk about it, you literally buy time . So I feel like if I'm going to ask you this question, you just see it as being the next step in the intuition. That's leading you on a really positive journey.

Jen Seyderhelm:

Absolutely. I know that this is going to be Bush. Play connections is going to be wonderful for the communities in Canberra, because we are going to have a chance to be together. It's going to be quite a conscious space to be able to come and be welcomed to no matter how many times as Mummers, you know, I'm a mother too. How many times to have we gone? I just can't get my stuff together today. I'm just not going to get out of the house. Like Bush plays about rocking up being there. It takes a community to raise a child. We know this, we've seen it in every indigenous culture that's ever existed on the planet. It is been weaved out of our existence so much, and it's really time for community to come back together in a really conscious way. And to go as you are right here today, I see you. I support you. You want a cup of tea, you've got a baby in arms and you need to breastfeed. And your three year old wants to go for a one duck . Yeah , come with me. Let's go together. There really is an importance for community to come together and for us, or to look after the children. And I feel this in every part of me that children are our future. We know this. We need to share the love of the earth with the children. The children love the earth. So we need to teach them ways of being sustainable and loving the earth. And you can't possibly expect to save the earth if you don't love the earth. And a real foundation step in that is by being on the earth, being connected to country, to understand the importance of what that is for our hearts and to have opportunity to do it, to be able to just play. How many times do we want to just play as an adult, lots of God to do lists. That's a massive, and I know lots of moms and dads and parents out there that have got their to do list and got to make sure the car payments done and that this and that , that, but we can make our lives fundamentally better. If we inject some playing connection and fun and earthing into

Speaker 3:

It, and then everything else will feel better. I could not agree more. Karen, it has been joy, love and light sharing this space with you today. I've really enjoyed it. And can't wait to watch the evolution of push play. Thank you so much. Thank you for having me. Karen Huggett I'm Mark Wade. I'm the author of Canberra secrets and I'm also the owner operator of Canberra secrets, personalized tours. Mark , what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be an air hostess, right ? Do you ever live that dream? I got to the final interview for answered and just didn't make it to the top, which was such a shame. But then that was fine. I was a teacher. So it was a choice between a teacher and an air hostess. And my parents said, we think that teaching is probably better. And so I was sort of pushed in that way. So when you became a teacher, what were you teaching? I was teaching primary school. I really loved teaching, but I must admit as I went to Mitchell college in Bathurst and I must admit that as I was looking at my friends in the communications degree, I thought, gee, that's what I really want to do. But in those days you didn't actually change courses. You sort of stuck with it. And I thought my mother would go ballistic if she knew that I wanted to change courses. So I started with teaching really loved it. And what did I do later on? I went on and did do things in the communications field. So I've done media and marketing and I did what I really wanted to do. This is something that has evolved so much now that I don't think the younger generation realizes when we were growing up, when we finished school and went to university, you just didn't change. You kind of followed a trajectory and you kind of had to decide your trajectory when you were 17 or 18 years old. And the days of my generation, your father, because often it was the dad who worked would do the same job for 40 years. And that's just unheard of almost now, isn't it? It is. So my mother was widowed and she was in the same job and she was very stressed about the job she was doing. And yet looking back, why didn't she change? But they didn't, they didn't, they stayed put. And when I announced that I was going to leave teaching to follow my passion and write my first book, the silence was a little bit deafening to begin with with family because you just didn't do that. And so it was a big brave move really, but one that I certainly haven't regretted. And I'm so pleased to hear that. So what brought you to Canberra and when did you come here? So I came as a young teacher. I had done my teacher training in Bathurst , as I said, and I backpacked around Europe and had great fun was living in the blue mountains. That's where I grew up. I think I survived six weeks back at home doing relief teaching. And I thought I could be doing this in Canberra. And I had visited my brother here and it was the parties, the parties, the parties, there were parties. There were so many parties because in those days, Canberra was a really young person's town and it was the group houses. And there were parties. And I remember going to work on a Monday to have a rest because I'd been to three parties over the weekend. Couldn't have been better. It was fantastic. I love it .

Speaker 2:

Oh my goodness. And people think that this place is stayed and what's the three PS politicians, police and public servants. But no, we have a university culture, like you would not believe. And certainly that was my experience when I was younger as well.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Well these were all young public servants who were graduates and yeah, it was great. It was so much fun. So I guess the fourth P is parties.

Speaker 2:

Yeah , apparently. So, so heading into writing your book and you were talking about what you were doing beforehand, but clearly to head towards writing it, you'd already built up a bounty of stories. How did the desire to know, I want to say the underground, but it's not, that's not what I mean. You just have stories about Canberra that you've picked up that come from an angle that, I mean, we all know the stories about certain objects that are here and why they got to be there, but you have the additional things about why it has a scratch on its left arm, or these are the things that you have got. How did that start looking at ?

Speaker 3:

I usually say I work on a need to know basis and I need to know, I just love finding out why, why is this here? What's that what's happening here. Look at that. I drive past it every day . What is it like the Bogong moth on Drake for drive in CAMBA ? So I actually went to the person who had actually sculpted that to get the backstory. And basically he took photos of a Bogong moth from all different angles. And so it's of the wings flapping and it's the different positions of the wings and the moth, that sort of thing really intrigues me. I'm just really interested in my environment and things to see and do. And also I had friends visit me in Canberra and I'd show them around. And I was very proud of my new city . I had an aunt that came from the Netherlands to visit, and that really started me on a trail of showing people around and being able to provide informed comment, going up to Mount Ainslie and being able to say, well, this is this, this, this, and this, and this is here because blah, blah, blah, rather than it's nice views , isn't it ? You know? Yeah . It's a bit. Yeah. So it started by showing friends and family around and then one day somebody said to me, Oh , you should write a book. And I was, that person I'd have interest. It was some friends that I had made who came from Adelaide. And by this stage, we'd gone into the dinner parties and it was over a nice wine and a nice meal at one of our many dinner parties. And I just laughed. I thought me write a book. Ha . But it was funny because she touched a nerve because I actually like writing. I've liked it since I was in primary school. I love it. And then I tried to research to write a book when I was on maternity leave and when my kids were little and it was really impossible with preschoolers and school aged children, young school. Was it on the canvas? Yes. Yes. Yes. And it was always going to be Canberra secrets, always. That was the title from the word go. And then I had an opportunity to take the big step in 1997 to leave teaching, to go and do something else. And I thought, right, I'm going to write my book. So that's what I did. And the first book was published in 1999. I tell you, there's nothing more scary than producing a book. When you've said I'm going to write a book and then everyone else goes back to work for the new term. You have to put your money where your mouth is. You have to do it. So I had to get stuck in. I had no idea how to start, no idea how to write a book. I just knew I wanted to ride . So I just researched. And it was in the days really before the internet. So it was really researching by talking to people and I had a little recorder and I'd record our conversations. And then that would be a springboard for something else. So my first book was published in 1999 and then I thought, Oh, well, I'll do another one in two years, but

Speaker 4:

Are you kidding?

Speaker 3:

That's so much work. In the meantime, I got a job marketing for a company that was establishing choirs around the country. So I did a lot of traveling and then I left there to see there's a pattern here, resign, write a book. So then I did the second book in 2003, and then I vowed and declared. That was it. I couldn't possibly do another one because I self published huge financial outlay. But each time I covered my costs really quickly, but I learned a very salient lesson as well with the second book don't ever think that just because it worked the first time it's going to work exactly the same second time, it was more expensive. And it took longer to cover costs because people would say, Oh no, I've got the first edition. Why do I need this?

Speaker 4:

Yeah .

Speaker 3:

Second edition was double the word count. You have to rule a line under it and say, okay, that's enough. I can't put any more in or I'll be here for years and years and years. And then as I said, I vowed and declared. I wouldn't do another one. So I did another one. Right. But it was 15 years in the making. So it was 2018. And that one took me three years to ride .

Speaker 2:

See, I imagine firstly, has it been easy to get people's stories like once you've found the right person and they've made or done or created on have this, I imagine that they probably get so excited to have someone like you say, tell me about your knowledge on this specific object or thing.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. It's really easy. Well, yes and no. Certainly when I started doing it, like for example, my mother in law, I would say now tell me about X, Y, Z. And she'd say, Oh no, I don't, I don't know anything. I don't know much. And then you start your poke . No, no, give me a bit about blah . And then they start talking. People think that they don't know anything, but they do

Speaker 2:

Well. People also think that their stories are boring, but it is

Speaker 3:

Interesting is it is. And the people's stories are just fantastic. And the backstories behind things are just, I find so fascinating. Why is that piece of furniture there? Why is that desk sitting there in parliament house? A French Louie , the 15th desk sitting there. Oh, well it was a gift from queen Victoria. She gave it to Edmund Barton after she'd signed the commission of ascent in 1900, which even in effect gave approval to the Australian constitution. So it means that because of that signing on that desk, we've got the democracy that we've got. It's significant. It's a lovely story. And not only did she give the desk, but she gave the ink stand and the pen as well. And there on that desk in parliament house and people just walk past it and, Oh, that's nice. But it's really significant. And it's brought out to be used when royalty come and royalty sign the visitor's book. So it was last used in 2014 when William and Kate came well . Yeah. Hmm .

Speaker 2:

This brings me to getting to edition three. The one that you weren't going to write, because I also feel like you're established in what you're doing now. People know Mark Wade, canvas secrets. So you would probably be out doing the grocery shopping. Someone comes over to you and goes mug. I heard this story of this person about this thing that happened. So you can't not keep updating it because you're gonna always have people coming up with you with totally new unexpected stories. Right.

Speaker 3:

It is really nice when people come and tap me on the shoulder and say, look, there's this and that. I just love it. There is so much. And so just highlights that there's so much to see and do and explore and learn in Canberra for residents and visitors. So Canberra secrets is actually not designed as a tourist book. It's designed as a book for locals. And it's also really great for locals. When they have visitors coming, I was chatting with somebody the other day and she said, Oh, I've grown up here. But when I have visitors, I never know where to take them. And we do the same old things. And I said, well, that's when you need the book, you give them the book and say tab, all the things you want to see and do. And then I had one lady say that she had done that with a visiting friend from Canada. She came to thank me. Actually, I was selling my book at the bus Depot markets late last year. And she said, I bought your book a couple of months ago, had this friend from Canada. And I got her to tab all the things she wanted to do. And we spent two weeks going to places I never knew existed in Canberra. And I've lived here for 40 years.

Speaker 2:

Oh my God. Yeah . So having lived in Sydney and in Brisbane that , uh , a lot more spread out, a lot more people and the potential of having a Sydney secrets or something like that just doesn't seem to, it would be too hard. Whereas when I came to Canberra five years ago and you can get from one side of Belconnen to the other side of Tuggeranong and about 35 minutes on a bad day, it feels like that you can do everything well, you can potentially do everything. And you can do several things in one day, which you could never do with Sydney, traffic or conditions. And that's the lovely thing about it.

Speaker 3:

It is. It's really nice that it's easy to access. You can. And as you say, you can do several things in one day. So when I take people on tour, we cover so many things in one day and people are really amazed at how close everything is. And everything's got a different story. If you go past the embassies and you look at the different architecture of the embassies and they all have to incorporate something that's of their traditional culture or architecture, and you highlight the various things, you can be there. And then you go to the Royal Australian mint. And sadly, it's not producing coins really at the moment, but he's producing other things, but it's a fabulous place to visit and see the workings of where our coins come from. And then you go to old parliament house and you could be in the prime minister's suite where Bob Hawk was. And it's set up as it was in 1988, before they left that building to go to the new building. And then what about our parks and reserves? We've got so many parks and reserves that you can go for Bush walks and see beautiful view and really enjoy our nature and our wildlife, which is really special. And I don't think we really appreciate how special that is in Canberra. I've got a theory that I think kids at school need to learn a lot more about our plants and animals. And then we'd have more responsibility, I guess, through our parks and reserves, but there's so many fabulous places to visit red rocks Gorge in the South, along the Murrumbidgee river shepherds , look out on the Northern side, on the Belconnen side. That's really nice. And the pinnacle at Hawker, it's just lovely. And it's easy as you say, it's easy. You could go for a Bush walk in the morning and then go and visit any one of our galleries that are tucked in the suburbs nearby, or one of the major ones as well. But also the concept of Canberra's secrets was to really delve out the things that are behind the scenes to promote the obvious things as well, highlight the sort of secret things in there, but really highlight the little people. So there's a fabulous little gallery in Watson. That's in the backyard of somebody's house and it's called the gallery of small things. And it's a gallery that has items that are no bigger than a three piece of paper. Yeah. So much there's so much so strengthen , then gallery tucked away in Holt . That's also a beautiful gallery and you see the blue wrens hop hop, hopping around as you're driving . It's just gorgeous. It is.

Speaker 2:

So when you were doing the tours, roughly how many were outside Canberrans and how many were Canberrans of tours that you were doing?

Speaker 3:

I had around 54% were internationals going on the Canberra secrets tours. The rest were domestic of the domestic, maybe 20% were Canberrans. I also did some foodie, walking tours and cafe culture, walking tour, and a funky city walking tour. And those ones really appeal to the locals. Canberrans would also come on my Canberra highlights tours where we take in the national attractions, but more often when they had visiting friends and relatives and wanted to show them around, but didn't know where to start, but they'd come along to . And the comments I got were just so positive about gee, I didn't know we had this in our beautiful city and gee, I'm glad that you've been able to share all these wonderful things because yeah, the , as we say, there is so much to see and do

Speaker 2:

COVID though COVID would have put a kibosh, not only on what you're doing, but on various, the places that you would take, people being actually open. So how's it impacted you?

Speaker 3:

Oh , dreadfully. So my last tour was the 23rd of March. That was quite funny on that day because it seemed like everywhere we were going or just as we were leaving, they were closing doors. Everything was shutting down. So I haven't let the grass grow under my feet though, because I've been very involved in the tourism industry. I started a collective of act, small tour operators. I felt that it was really important to have a bit of outreach and get people connecting. I was worried about people's mental health mine too, because when you go from being gregarious and out with people and doing something you really love to being confined to home, it is a, it's a big thing. So we've been as a collective, we've been able to make representation to the act government on a number of issues that we we've been concerned about. And we've had a few wins, which is good. And also working with a friend dot Barclay from forest hotel and apartments to do a mini tourism expo, which is basically we started this before COVID, but even more important in COVID where anyone in tourism is welcome to attend and able to talk about what's happening in their neck of the woods. So it's an opportunity to collaborate. So we've kept that going during covert. And we, of course, we've done that via zoom, but that's a really important thing as well, and also planning for when we can get out and well, when I can do tours again. So we throw a guard, the attractions and the product to take people, things are opening and time visits at the attractions and so on, but it's a case of just waiting to relaunch for me, because it has to be viable to start back and just working through how the product will look perhaps shorter tours rather than full day tours. I think people will feel safer on a shorter tour rather than a full day tour, but you still get so much in when you go sightseeing and there's so much opportunity as well. I mean the national Arboretum out and about the Botanic gardens out and about walking along Anzac parade, looking at the memorials, there's a lot of option there for tours .

Speaker 2:

There is, there's a lot of option there for tours and going back to the writing of the book. So the book came first, the book came before the tour. It's definitely. Yeah .

Speaker 3:

How then did the tours come about? It was a natural progression. I had been thinking for some time that it would be really great to put my money where my mouth was and really verbally share the secrets and really highlight Canberra. So in 2016, I left my public service job. So in between all this, I've had some really great jobs. Also too. There were dots that were joining. So I was marketing manager for environment act. So marketing our parks and reserves. Then I went to work at the national archives marketing, the wonderful collection there and doing quite a bit on radio and television promoting what was in the collection. Then I was working for Oz trade marketing, international education. So there were dots joining here. Yeah. And so in 2016, September, 2016, I decided to once again, leave my job and buy an eight seat of vehicle and take people on tour. And so that took a little while to get up and running. And January, 2017, I took my first official tour and haven't looked back since and 2019 was a year of amazing acknowledgement and success. I won three significant awards for tourism. 2020 has been an absolute debacle. So you just never know, do you, it's just, yeah, it's a journey.

Speaker 2:

I know . But even sitting here today, across from each other, I have to ask this question. Cause if you went today and I never asked it, I'd regret it. Do you have real secrets that you've never been able to? You're either waiting because someone said, no, I can't, you can't publish this or something like that. Do you have real canvas sequence that you're holding inside that you , uh , just doing what I would say

Speaker 3:

I do. I do. Nobody's asked me that question, but it's true. So I can't tell you because it's a secret.

Speaker 2:

I knew it. I knew it knew it knew it knew it because, well, by the way, are you going to write your fourth book?

Speaker 3:

Funny? You mentioned that , um, what I'm going to do, I'm going to do an ebook on the third edition. I've also, this week actually started writing a history of Canberra and the history of the history book, the title yet to be determined, we'll have really nice little snapshots of backstories of things and people so stay tuned. Yeah. I'm looking forward to writing that one. Cause I've done over the I've had radio segments and , and I've done so much other research that isn't in canvas secrets that is just waiting for the right channel. So yeah, it'll be lovely to put that together. So I don't sit idly by,

Speaker 2:

Oh no, I know you don't. And I feel like two things, one camera for me is like Kevin bacon, everyone is separated by less than six degrees. And even in meeting you for the first time, we've probably met what about three or four years ago for the first time now. But I had a friend not so long ago who said, you've got to meet Mark Wade , blah, blah, blah. And I went, well, actually I know Mark. And , and it's really funny how, what I love about the city that we live in is that people do work to facilitate you with people who have things in common with you. The other thing I find in this incredible city, we live in where people are transient and have come from all over the world in different places. I too will contact someone for an interview about one specific topic. And in the middle of the conversation, they will drop something that has nothing to do with what we're talking about. And I'll in my mind, I think I must follow that up at a later date. And I bet you have that too. Okay .

Speaker 3:

Oh , absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. There's a trigger. Somebody says something and you think, aha, there's a trigger there. I have to follow up. I need to know more about that. Yeah. It happens all the time. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yes. And that in the history side of things is so fascinating because all of these things often are someone's normal life and they don't think it's a relevance to a story, a broader story, but people who've lived in Canberra for a long period of time, a highly unusual for the 40, 50, 60 year veterans. And there's so much in that that pops up and I sit there and think, Oh my God, how can they not see how incredible a story that is in the broader context of our community?

Speaker 3:

Totally, totally. I love the surnames of people because when you've been here for a while , you pick up the surnames of those who were pioneers in the district, they've certainly got stories to tell. So the South walls , the Kilby's and so on, you start getting tuned into, who's been here for awhile and you'll hear something. Oh, so, and so started that and you'll say, Oh, is that person related to that person? Because that person was my second down the street, next door neighbor type five times removed sort of thing. Yeah . Yeah. It happens. That's a lovely thing about Canberra. And I really like the fact that we're not a huge city and when people compare Canberra with Sydney or Melbourne, well, how can you be compared with a city that's four or 5 million and we're not half a million yet. And that was one of the triggers for writing the book. I was fed up with people, bagging Canberra. And I went to a reunion and somebody said to me, where are you living? And what are you doing? And I said, Oh , I was teaching in Canberra. And she said, Oh, well, you can't help bad luck. And I thought, how insulting, how insulting? I would never say that to somebody else about where they live, but people seem to think they have license to do that about people who live in Canberra. And I'd like to think that's getting better. And the old concept of camera's boring. Well, if somebody says that they haven't been here for 30 years or they haven't been here at all, I feel

Speaker 2:

As defensive of Canberra, as I do have a loved one and I have become staunchly on that. But I too, like you feel like the feeling has changed and changed almost radically via some of the shows we've got here and unexpected beauty that people just haven't realized. I want to ask you what your hope is for the future post COVID how you think your business might look in a hopeful 12 months time.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Well hopefully, hopefully we'll all be back in and running and really highlighting fabulous things within Canberra. We've got our wineries that are just so wonderful. Hopefully it will be one where people feel safe to travel, where people are really keen to engage and really explore their backyard. We obviously won't have the international travelers. So it's really wonderful for us all to explore the region Canberra and the region. And I'd like to see, Canberrans really challenge themselves to discover things about the city that they just didn't know. Often when I'm speaking to community groups, I say, I challenge you to do something different. Don't go to the same place that you go shopping at this week or next week go somewhere else, go to a gallery you've never been to or go somewhere and visit something you haven't done. And there's a really good book that you could refer to on that and really just get out and explore your own backyard. And I think we're all in here together. We're all working together. So it's about us all helping each other to get through it. And I do think tourism, I think we'll have bundles of, and certainly I'm trying to promote this bundles of things to see and do and packages staycations in your own city, that sort of thing. So tourism will have a different face, but ultimately it's about getting out and enjoying what there is to see and do because there is so much, and really we've got to do it. We've got to keep this industry thriving. And so it will be a different, different concept, but we've got the product there and we need to really enjoy it. Margaret , thank you so much for your time today. You're very welcome, Margaret , make sure you check out the rest of the rise calendar online at rise, canberra.com, where you can find out more about other innovative offerings from Canberra creators on the rise news page and keep up to date with the way you are festival, which is on until September. The rise Cambra podcast is produced by events, act with support from talking Canberra to WC .