Meet our Summer guest editor

Post by Adriana Alvarez.

Our Summer guest editor and talented wordsmith, Stephanie Lightfoot, has graced us with her quiet, calm demeanour this issue. Stephanie is a recent graduate who has joined us this season to edit and write articles for the hillscene. She has worked with other hills’ publications so she understands our local community’s fondness for showcasing stories that are like little hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Here she shares her experiences of editing, writing and her passion for words.

Why did you want to become an editor?

I’ve been an avid reader from the tender age of four, at which I convinced myself (but not my parents) that I had learnt to read the picture book ‘Dear Zoo’ by Rod Campbell – as many kids do, I had simply memorised the tale, word for word. This appetite continued – albeit slightly less fraudulently – into primary school, when I would consume the material on the back of milk cartons and Vegemite jars along with my breakfast. In my teen years, I became enamoured of the dictionary, and would look up and transcribe the meaning of any word I encountered that I did not know. By this time, I had also reached peak spelling confidence and would inappropriately point out teachers’ errors on the whiteboard. I took this voracity into an English degree, and then an interim period of volunteering to proofread friends’ essays and theses. But it was writing for fellow hills publication, The Local Voice, and the experience of working with and being edited by the wonderful Gülsen Öser, that led me to give writing and editing a real crack. I enrolled in the Master of Publishing and Communications at the University of Melbourne, which I’ve just completed. Editing, for me, is the perfect marriage of building and navigating relationships and immersion in the written word and world.

Tell us a little bit about your writing journey?

I’ve had several flirtations with writing, however, find that I am much more comfortable with the role and responsibilities of editing – not least because it is necessarily collaborative. Reflecting on my writing last year, I realised the joy that I find in the medium of cultural criticism and other nonfiction. Most recently, I had the opportunity to contribute to this issue of the hillscene, and interview a number of impressive people: CJ Baxter, Jordan Crook, Pia Nesvara and our cover artist, Georgia Steele. Hearing from or talking to and writing about these locals and their work was an absolute pleasure.

What is an editor’s role in this era of fake news and alternative facts?

The opportunities for publishing are increasingly wide and accessible, and on many counts, this is a good thing – certainly, barriers to entry are often there for less-than-just reasons. The role of the editor is shifting, and sometimes out of the equation altogether, in tandem with sensationalist, fast-paced production schedules. I see an editor’s role as ensuring that truth and impact are given equal weight. Though easy to proliferate, words are extremely powerful, and should be handled with care.

Stephanie Lightfoot

How did you become involved with the hillscene?

The opportunity to guest-edit an issue of the hillscene was passed onto me by my friend, Gareth Hart. Having written for The Local Voice a couple of years ago, as well as being generally charmed with the hills’ cultural scene and community, I felt compelled to throw my hat in the ring. I’m beyond appreciative to Adriana and the team at Burrinja, as well as Amelia, for their support, mentorship and encouragement as we put the issue together. It’s been a team effort through and through, and a privilege to work with such passionate people. I’m especially grateful to have worked closely with Amelia on this issue. and am really proud of what we’ve achieved together.

In what ways, if any, do you engage with the hills community?

For now, my engagement with the hills community is twofold: social, and creative, and I hope that the friendships and connections I have fostered at the hillscene can continue to thrive.

What do you wish you knew about being a writer/editor before you got started?

Every single writing and editing experience is different. Whatever the genre, whether you’re dealing with fiction or nonfiction, it’s always ultimately a creative and human process and your ability to navigate relationships is key. This year has dealt me a number of diverse, steep learning curves – and all of them have reinforced the importance of communicating kindly and respectfully.

Who are your creative heros?

A couple of years ago, hearing from one of the Stella Prize founders, Aviva Tuffield, I resolved to read more writing by women or non-binary folk. Growing up, my favourite writers were probably Charles Dickens and Haruki Murakami, and a good look at my bookshelf and high school and undergraduate reading lists was sobering. I’m infatuated with Isabel Allende, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Mel Campbell, Nayuka Gorrie, Eileen Myles, Alexis Wright, Fiona Wright … the list goes on!

What do you enjoy about living in the Dandenong Ranges?

For now, I live in Coburg, in Melbourne’s north, but I dream of one day settling down in the hills.

What are your plans for the future (immediate or long term)?

Having just finished my degree, the future is suddenly somewhat of an overwhelming concept. At the moment, I’m working in community engagement. In the not-too-distant future I hope to find work in editorial, hopefully in-house, and ideally at one of Melbourne’s small or mid-sized independent publishers. In the longer term, I have my sights set on literary agenting – that’s the dream!

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Meet our Summer guest designer

Post by Adriana Alvarez.

Meet our Summer guest designer who has put her talented spin on the hillscene. Amelia Campbell is a freelance designer who has worked with us this season to add her flair not only to the design of the magazine but also to writing and using her photography skills to help add the finishing touches to our new issue.

On her website is a quote by Margaret Mead. “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has,” which coincidentally I have on my fridge. Perhaps it sums up the spirit of the hillscene perfectly. Here she tells us about her love for design and the beauty of the hills.

Tell us a little bit about your creative journey?

Growing up with creative parents I was exposed to beautiful art & design throughout my whole childhood. When I got to high school studying studio arts and vis comm was a productive outlet for my angsty teenage self. I never thought about a career in design until I got accepted into the BA of Communication Design at RMIT. It opened up my little world to the big, big world of art & design. It was at RMIT where I really felt like I’d found my groove. Learning about human-centred design was when my focus shifted from graphic design to wanting to help change people’s lives. Working for the past two years as a freelance graphic designer has taught me a lot about my own creative processes, what I love about design & what I don’t. It’s a crazy journey that’s for sure! 

Why did you want to become a designer?

It just kind of happened! I’m one of the lucky ones that has managed to turn my passion into a job. I knew I wanted to be a designer when I realised the impact it can have, it really can inspire, captivate and motivate audiences to think about themes in a way they never have before.

Amelia Campbell

Did you study art/design?

I completed my BA of Communication Design at RMIT in 2016. 

How did you become involved with the hillscene?

I was on the look out for projects that would give me some more industry experience. My freelance work had been really lacking in collaborative work which I love doing, so when the design role for hillscene came up it really was the perfect marriage… gaining experience whilst also interacting and collaborating with a great team of people. 

In what ways, if any, do you engage with the hills community?

My relationship with the Dandenong ranges is a special one. I grew up in Sassafras, attended school in Belgrave & now work in part-time in Olinda! The hills are where my roots are.
Some would say supporting local businesses is what I do best….Christmas shopping done in half the time?… Without the crowds? Amazing! 

What do you wish you knew about being a designer/artist before you got started?

Breaking into a creative industry is always hard, design is extra competitive. I wish someone had prepared me for the grind. Also you’re going to need a life time supply of post-it notes!

Who are your creative heroes?

John Bielenberg – designer, entrepreneur and imaginative advocate for a better world.
Rachel Burke (aka mum) – lighting designer, the most intelligent & creative mind I know.
Frida Kahlo – Painter, feminist, a fabulous, fierce woman who just embraced weirdness. 

What do you enjoy about living in the Dandenong Ranges?

Since working in the CBD I appreciate the peacefulness that the Dandenong Ranges has. Whilst writing the 4 gardens article for this issue I really got to appreciate and absorb how beautiful the environment we live in truly is. The air so fresh, the people so lovely and creative juices flowing almost everywhere you turn, whats not to enjoy? 

Where can people find more information about you?

I have a website, it’s a work in progress but feel free to visit,

What are your plans for the future?

To be a working for a creative studio that appreciates and encourages their team. I’m currently completing a 12 week internship as an Experience Designer so will just have to wait & see where that wave takes me…stay tuned.  

Something else you want us to know? Here is your chance!

A lot of time and hard work went into creating this publication, I really do hope you all enjoying reading it.

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More than just a LIVE arts festival: discover hillsceneLIVE

Words by Bluzal Field. Images courtesy the artists and Burrinja Cultural Centre.

HillsceneLIVE is a unique nine-month artist gestation program that culminates in a two-day festival on 17 and 18 November, set in the beauty of the Dandenong Ranges.

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Since 2014, hillsceneLIVE has been supporting artists to create bold new work that explores all facets of live experimental art, including sound, dance, installation, audiovisual and especially work that doesn’t fit into these categories. This year, there are 15 new intriguing works being presented at the festival as part of the program. hillsceneLIVE Festival Director, Toni Main, says:
‘We ask artists that apply to our program to come to us with an idea, or a question that needs to be explored, and not a finished piece of work. We create a space to delve into that exploration, with a series of incubators, professional development sessions and experimental art workshops over a nine-month period. Throughout that time the hillsceneLIVE team are there to support, provoke and converse with each artist as they make their new work. Take local musician Edward Willoughby for example, through this program he has explored not just sound-making but the experience of stage fright and created an experiential work that is part-theatre and part-sound that places stage fright at centrestage in a cumulative revelation of a private, inner song.’

Edward Willoughby

Edward Willoughby

The result of this process is depth. The strength and integrity of the work presented at hillsceneLIVE is achieved because of the opportunity and support provided by the program. This year sees the inclusion of local, Melbourne and interstate-based artists heading to the Dandenong Ranges, enticed by the quality of the program.

hillsceneLIVE aims to bring new life to disused or underused spaces throughout the Dandenong Ranges. The festival is set in unconventional spaces; in the past it has been staged in an old office, in empty shopfronts and even the main street of Belgrave, with its hidden alleyways and secret corners. This year, the festival will inhabit the beautiful natural landscape of Birdsland Reserve in Belgrave Heights. Main says:
‘What sets hillsceneLIVE apart from other art festivals based in the city is the inspirational natural landscape. Many artists have chosen to make their work in response to the landscape, incorporating the wetlands, sloping hills, fields and vegetation into the work. They have spent time investigating the surrounds and embedding the natural environment into their performative offerings.’

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There are many examples of this, but highlights include local performer, Dani-Ela Kayler’s ‘Desquamate’, a dance with the tall grasses as she sheds her layers, or ‘…pieces of silver’, developed and presented by Louise Morris and Kirsten Prins who are creating an installation and performative response to the Birdsland site. Drawing upon the theme of violence against women, the installation responds to two specific areas on the site – the old heritage cottage and the hidden and forgotten walkway down near the swamplands. They have collated research to reflect the number of women who have been affected by violence since the land was cleared for grazing and crop production 150 years ago.

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Pieces of silver by Louise Morris and Kirsten Prins

The festival is designed to be an experience, offering ticketholders a variety of workshops such as Bush Poetry with Leo Lazaurus, where you can use the power of writing and the energy of the bush to tap into internal and external worlds; or learn how to juggle with French juggler Anso. If participating isn’t for you, then get deep into conversation with our extensive critical conversation series that discusses the challenges, insights and obsessions of the artists engaged in the hillsceneLIVE program. All packed into two days in Birdlsand reserve.

hillsceneLIVE is a festival supported by Burrinja since 2014. This year saw the festival expand its scope thanks to funding received from Yarra Ranges Council and Creative Victoria.

hillsceneLIVE Festival
When: 17–18 November
Where: Birdsland Reserve – 271 Mt Morton Rd, Belgrave Heights
For tickets and to find out more go to

Yarra Ranges Council HOR RGB     Print

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PatchFest 2018: ‘It takes a village’

Post by Stephanie Lightfoot. 

This Saturday 27 October, The Patch Primary School community comes together for the first ever PatchFest. I spoke with The Patch School parent and festival committee member, CJ Baxter, for her insider’s tips for the day.


Over the last several months, kids, parents, teachers, alumnae and the wider hills community have been working towards whole-school fundraiser, PatchFest; its theme: ‘It takes a village’, a proverbial nod to these efforts, as well as its aims. Given the small scale of both the school and the town, pulling the event together has meant seeking support beyond these bounds – among the event’s major sponsors are winery Helen & Joey Estate, in Gruyere, and vintage retailer, Fleetwood Collection, in Belgrave. The breadth of the day’s program, too – spanning live music, arts activities and workshops, a Marketplace, chai tent, beer garden and community bonfire – speaks to diverse ages, interests and curiosities. The idea, CJ says, is to create a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere in which both those within and outside of the school community feel involved and welcome; to affirm that ‘we’re all here to support one another’.

Patch vegi patch

This allusion to wellbeing is pertinent. Though not geared toward one particular cause or project, CJ tells me that some of the funds raised will be allocated to the development of a Wellbeing Centre at the school. This will provide a space for both students and parents to support themselves, and one another.

CJ and her partner, Kathleen Snowball, or Snowy – who has headed the PatchFest music committee – have been running businesses and events in the area for a number of years – notably, the End of the Line Festival in Belgrave (which ran from 2012–2015), and the Skylark Room in Upwey. Following their departure from Skylark earlier this year, PatchFest has been in the works. So, what can we expect from the Fest?

Right off the bat, CJ mentions The Bean Project – whose members include past Patch student, Ben Langdon; and the more recent Patch alum, the ‘ridiculously talented’ Sadie, performing on the day. They’re in good company; with Spiritus, Eddie Cole, Miller, and the Chops also playing sets. These diverse, ‘top-notch’ acts, among others, will perform across three stages, one of which will also be graced by current Patch students. Together with a buskers’ area, there’s no shortage of musical delights on offer. And, though the line-up may give some of the better known arts and music festivals a run for their money, entry is free!

Music at Patch Fest

Clockwise from top left: Miller; Spiritus; and The Bean Project.

This amalgamation of talent from both inside and beyond the school community is consistent throughout PatchFest. The Marketplace, curated by Danielle De Valence, of the Fleetwood Collection, will peddle the wares of Patch students, professional artisans, and local vintage collectors. The school’s emphasis on the environment is highlighted here – with sustainability being one of the key criteria upon which Year 5 and 6 students’ pilot Marketplace products were judged. In line with this, PatchFest is plastic bag-free, and there will be no balloons, or disposable plates, cups, or cutlery on site.

When it comes to fuelling up, CJ tells me the school’s woodfire pizza oven will be ‘cranking all day’, among other goodies homemade and homebaked by Patch students and families. And, for some more mature refreshment, there’s beautiful, Yarra Valley wines from Helen & Joey Estate.

For those keen to fit in some learning, there’s also a Workshop Hub, with a number of ‘Pay as you feel’ classes. Here, you can flex your dramatic muscles with The Patch-based Storey Players, learn the basics of the ukelele with Patch School ukelele teacher Jess Dunn, or discover the joy of communal singing with Jessica McNabb and the Sweet Sassafras Choir.

The day concludes with a community bonfire on the school oval. When I asked what will fuel the fire, CJ tells me that the home of one of the parents on the PatchFest committee backs onto the oval; having recently had to chop down a tree, they will provide the goods. Not to mention, the dozens of local businesses that have donated products, services and vouchers towards fundraising via a silent auction and raffles on the day.

This patent sense of generosity and collaboration is by no means anomalous in the hills – where, CJ corroborates, many people move to, to immerse themselves in community. Certainly, the Patch Primary community seems to be thriving.

Patch Primary school

For more information, check out PatchFest on Facebook.

PatchFest 2018: ‘It takes a village’
Cost: Free entry
When: Saturday 27 October, 2pm–9pm
Where: The Patch Primary School
53 Kallista-Emerald Road, The Patch

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From Forest Haiku to Spring Poem

Haiku collage 3

Post by Cameron Semmens

As editor and designer of the 2018 Winter edition of the hillscene ‘zine I decided to open it up to all those aspiring writers out there – to write a haiku for the forest! ‘Cause I love the forest, and I know a lot of other people out there do too.

Haiku holds a unique place in many people’s story. They are one of the few poetic forms taught in school that don’t rhyme, and that can be deliberately open and ambiguous. Which I think is a healthy acknowledgment of the mystery and ‘poetry’ of reality, rather than the spreadsheets and certainty we are sometimes sold.

The tight constraints of haiku: allowing only 5 syllables for the first line; 7 for the second and 5 for the third – act like a focussing lens; like a magnifying glass – cutting out all that isn’t needed, utilising just the most effective and evocative words.

I think this form of poem is at its best when simply capturing a single suggestive moment; an emotive word-photo of a landscape; or a fragment of a scene that is emblematic of a whole world. And so many people did this really well.

I got about 40 haiku submissions – which was great. But it wasn’t easy to whittle them down to the final ones published in the ‘zine.

My selection criteria was pretty simple: it had to be in and around the forest; to be original and fresh; to be vivid and evocative. And on top of that I was looking for both ‘heart’ and ‘craft’ – words that felt honest and emotional that also showed precision and deliberate crafting.

After making the selection, I paired them with an appropriate photo, and then tried to match them with a space or story in the ‘zine.

A big shout out to Katie Cremean at Ferny Creek Primary School – she got her whole grade 3 class writing haiku and producing complimentary art – which was just delightful.

Ferny Creek Haiku

So, I hope you enjoy the haiku selected… 

But before that – the next poetry challenge! Since the last call out went so well, I’ve made a new poetry challenge for the Spring issue.

Write a Spring poem for Hillscene!

For potential publication in the Spring/Summer edition of Hillscene. To qualify, your poem must mention: 

– 1 colour

– 1 type of plant or tree, and

– 1 place name from The Dandenong ranges.

5 lines MAXIMUM.

Send in by Oct 10, 2018.

Have a go. Let the inspiration flow. Put pen to paper. 

Send it through to me, Cameron, at

An example:

Stepping away
from grey-skied, tourist-busy Sassafras
wet ferns kiss me with ancient love
and fog-lavished forest rehydrates
my data-parched soul

The key words being: grey, fern, Sassafras.

I look forward to reading your entires. And of course, sadly, we won’t be able to publish every entry. But good luck.

In the meantime, enjoy these haiku!!!!

Haiku collage 1

Haiku collage 2

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Halloween on the Green

Halloween blue face
Tell us a bit about your event?

With big crowds and amazing costumes being the main feast for the eyes, expect the unexpected!

The growing popularity of Halloween is a wonderful vehicle to set as the theme for our fundraiser. It has become evident over the past couple of years that there is no real central gathering point on the mountain to celebrate this occasion. Pockets of fun have begun to appear locally, however families mostly leave the mountain. We would like to draw on this momentum by providing a child safe and family-friendly environment for all our community to celebrate.

What music and activities will be held on the day?

We have a fully packed program of activities these include:

We will have an amazing array of entertainment this year at Halloween on the Green. Our Master of Ceremonies the wonderful Rosalind Mackay will commence the day with a ‘welcome to country’ and introduce Mayor, Cr Len Cox with an opening speech.

Local musicians, The Bean Project, with their vibrant French horn clad quintet will be stopping by to play their jazz/folk set on the main stage at 12.40 – 2:30pm. Parkville the band will be entertaining the crowds on the main stage from 3.00 pm – 5.00 pm.

The Bean Project

Join the crowd at the main stage in the final hour of the day with ‘Name that Tune’ music competition. It’s free to enter and loads of fun. The first person to guess all tunes wins a prize. A stunning musical landscape in sound of popular culture will be brought to you by the masterful talents of art teacher Rod Price and supported by student Harrison Lawrence. Come guess and come dance good bye to Halloween for another year.

As well as this, we will have roving Wizard story teller Sim Salla Bim 12:30 – 3:30 pm. Performers and musicians Los Trios and stilt walkers will delight by roving the green from 1:00 – 4:00pm.

Join in the conga line at 1:45 – 2:30 pm and the Best Dressed prize parade and announcement at 3:45pm.

Watch our business identities, school principals, Bendigo Bank manager and Fire Captain be dunked in our dunking machine throughout the day. Free carnival rides, face painting, CFA Fire Brigade truck, Scouts rope bridge, hair braiding and trick or treat for the kids and surprise music sets in the main Hall (trick or treat includes free lollies and apples.

Halloween Rides

What to eat

A variety of taste sensations from different cultures will be on offer from our food stall vendors’ tents and food trucks. These include: The Spud Shack, Raithai Traditional Thai Food Van, D’LISH Turkish Street Food, Golden Poffertjes and Bring Braai South African Food.

Our four schools and the home-schooling network will also be offering food at reasonable prices for all to enjoy such as: sausage sizzle tent, healthy homemade soups, fairy floss, fresh homemade lemonade, lemon deserts, popcorn and Melba Coffee expertly prepared by local baristas.

What to buy

Around the green a variety of stall vendors will be showcasing the best of their wares for you to purchase. Vendor stalls include: Corkies Creations, Little Lucy’s Garden, Sues Laughing Clowns, Pretty Strange Crafts, Kiddies Food Kutters, Farrahs Cakes, Dreams to Creations, Cabochon Harmony, Luna Co, Artful Splodgers, T is for Treehouse, Beauty Stayz All Day, Kongas Kreations

Plus Tarot Readings – Our team of Tarot Readers will be in tents and providing 15-minute Tarot Readings for $25.00, with all proceeds going back to our schools.

Why did you decide to have a Halloween celebration?

It was evident that Halloween was becoming more and more celebrated each year and adopted as a fun vehicle for our Hills families. We wanted a means to gather the community which brought all sectors together to help and support each other while having fun. Who doesn’t like to dress up!

Halloween faces

Why do you think Halloween has become so popular?

We feel Halloween is so popular because it enables a means of self-expression and exploration of all that Halloween encompasses. This year we have gone to great lengths to produce information pillars at this year’s event to show how Halloween is expressed through different cultures. From the Christian celebration of All Saints Day to the Mexican celebration of the Day-of-the-Dead. So much more to Halloween than people first understand.

What/Who will the money raised go towards?

The monies raised on the day are divided between our participating schools and the Philanthropic Collective to stage the following years Event. Last year the Philanthropic Collective raised almost 17 thousand dollars, and this was divided up and donated back in the same way.

Halloween wolf

Who are the Philanthropic Collective and what do they want to achieve for the community?

The Philanthropic Collective are a group of parent volunteers which offer their time, services and expertise to support our schools, students and community. We have a focus on supporting families facing hardship whether that be via our free food program or simply providing free tickets to the Royal Melbourne Show.

The Philanthropic Collective is committed to creating child safe environments within all our projects where children and young people are safe and feel safe.

Anything else you’d like to add?

This year we are working towards a cultural celebration of Halloween and to bring our community together once again. Through this Festival, The Philanthropic Collective is focused on creating beautiful and lasting memories for our families and our community by having a wonderful time with each other once a year.

Scary mask

It remains our intention to once again offer as many free activities to children as possible, including some rides. Our aim is to eliminate the disparity between families who can afford to pay for rides and activities for their children and those who cannot. This is the spirit that we would like to spread. Our success on the day cannot be measured by how much money is raised, rather should be judged by the joy that will be generated.

Last year our call to ‘good will’ in order to bring this event to life, reached many people from our immediate three schools, from our local community but also and surprisingly from outside of our hills. Many volunteers unrelated to our schools as well as artists sensitive to our aim offered to perform for free and help on the day. This in itself was a wonderful achievement in ‘good will’ and a great reward for our efforts to this aim.

Halloween costumes

When & Where

Saturday 27th October 2018
Start time 12:00 noon – concluding at 6:00 pm
Ferny Creek Recreational Reserve Hall
16 Clarkmont Road, Sassafras 3787, Victoria


Limited online tickets available
$6.00 per person – children three years of age and under free of charge
Ticket purchases online at with a two hundred dollar value early bird prizes for purchases before the 1st of October.

For more information go to halloween on the green facebook page.

Halloween on the green Festival

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Meet the Winter editor and designer

Post by Adriana Alvarez.

Now it’s over to our second editor and designer who will be putting their own touches to the hillscene. Cameron has contributed to the hillcene in the past giving us a series of poetry workshop ideas for people to try out for themselves. With his ususal wit, he tells us a bit about his writing and what he has in store for our readers.

Tell us a little bit about your writing journey?

Age 1 – couldn’t write.

Age 10 – poor writer, bad speller.

Age 15 – loved writing fun little poems to entertain myself and my friends.

Age 19 – published my first book of poetry called Splat. Not classy, but fun… and you have to start somewhere.

Age 29 – only at this age did I actually start using poetry as a form of self-expression, thought clarification and emotional catharsis. And the publishing of Through The Lover’s Window represents this change.

Age 40 – at this age I felt a change in myself – moving away from the thrill of performing my own poems towards the joy of helping others find their way into considered words through writing workshops.

Age 44 – the present – I’m loving writing and sharing quieter, more meditative, poems; and I’m trying to write a long-form prose memoir called My Lemon-moon in Norway; and I’m loving running poetry workshops for students and adults and teachers and ESL students.

Cameron Semmens

Cameron with his daughter Mieka.

Why did you want to become an writer/poet?

The power.

The power to guide people into new worlds.

The power to bring beauty into others’ brains.

I’m all about the power.

What is an editor’s role in this era of fake news and alternative facts?

I do have a deep intolerance for fear-mongering and thoughtless living. I believe a commitment to truthfulness needs to be consciously chosen. And I believe that hard truths can still be said with gentleness and generosity.


I see my role as the editor of hillscene as hope-mongering, pro-thinking, and nodding enthusiastically towards inclusivity and generosity.

How did you become involved with the hillscene?

I’ve read hillscene for years – had a number of bits and pieces in published within it – and I think it does a great service for the arts and community in the Hills. So, naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to put my stamp on it as a wordsmith and a designer.

What do you wish you knew about being a writer/editor before you got started?

That people like to be asked to help.

Who are your creative hero’s?

At this moment:

Poet and philosopher – JOHN O’DONOHUE – his deep insights on being and his powerfully unique way with words are a beacon to me.


Pulitzer-prize winning poet – MARY OLIVER – her exquisite, precise observations of nature intermingled with pungent realisations and revelations are lighthouses to my panicy paddlings along the dark coastlines of creativity.

But next week, maybe, I’ll have two new heros.

What do you enjoy about living in the Dandenong Ranges?

I moved to the Hills six years ago, and I just love it up here. Its truly where my heart is. I live in Upwey. I frequent many of the local cafes… frequently. I regularly walk the paths of Sherbrooke Forest. And I love being part of the general milieu: the markets and all the special events.

Where can people find more information about you?

You can check out my website:
Facebook: just search for Cameron Semmens
Instagram: for my arty alter ego, you could check out: The_Crappy_Artists_Campanion

What are your plans for the future?

To make a living.

To keep being nice.

To try a few new weird hairstyles.

To make some beautiful things.

To be a good dad.

Something else you want us to know? Here is your chance!

Sometimes I write poems in my dreams.


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Meet Autumn’s editor and designer

Post by Adriana Alvarez.

I don’t know if you’ve heard but this year we’ve decided to hand the ball over to our talented community and let them have a go at steering the hillscene ship. We put a call out for editors and designers who would be interested in putting the hillscene together and gaining some experience working in publishing.

Local editor Anna James is our first guest editor and designer for the hillscene. She has worked on the hillscene in previous issues, helping to refine and polish our articles and doing such a great job it was a no brainer to invite her to be the guest editor for the Autumn issue. She has lived in the Hills for over a decade.

Her love of writing began as a child, and developed more technically throughout her education culminating in a Master of Publishing and Communication from the University of Melbourne. We asked her a few questions about herself, the hillscene and why she loves living in the hills.


What do you wish you knew about being an editor before you got started?

 I wish I knew that writing is about so much more than the rules.

A good writer doesn’t have to be a perfect grammarian, or even a good one. I have known authors to use their editor as a word processor – sending through pages of text without a second look at what they’ve written. This way of working allows for the author’s strengths to shine, and while I can’t help but pity that editor, it’s a great example of how editors can work with writing – not always correcting or restricting, but shaping and polishing.

From an editor’s perspective, there are two elements that make writing worth reading: an interesting subject and a passionate author. Hillscene magazine exists for this reason – there is a lot going on in the Hills, and a lot to be passionate about. 

What do you enjoy about living in the Dandenong Ranges?

My family moved to Australia when I was six years old. We continued to shift houses every few years after that, sampling the surrounding suburbs of Melbourne for much of my childhood until we settled into Belgrave. I formed a special relationship with the Hills; travelling to the city for school meant that the Hills became a special haven for me, and I still find relief as I retreat back here after a long day.

I love being surrounded by green; I love watching the family of King Parrots who live in the gumtree outside my bedroom window; and I love the people and culture unique to this place. The Hills are home to me.

How did you become involved with the hillscene?

When I decided to volunteer for Burrinja, I was welcomed warmly as part of the team. With so many talented people orbiting Burrinja, there are always a handful of fascinating projects bubbling under the surface. It was only a matter of time before I discovered something special like Hillscene where I could apply my editorial skills.

While representing any community completely is an immense challenge, I found that Hillscene managed to celebrate the core of what makes this place so special. There is a sense of discovery to the magazine that is uncannily similar to walking around the Hills and finding a new artist, a new café or a new hiking trail.

Being a part of Hillscene is also a process of discovery. For me, at least, editorial meetings are an experience of surprise and delight as we discuss potential articles – there are always events, projects and people I haven’t heard of, always something new to get excited about.

What is an editor’s perspective of this era of fake news and alternative facts?

There has always been a lot of fear about the future of publishing. The running joke from publishers would have it that the Gutenberg press itself was seen as the death of the industry. A more recent doomsday prediction was thwarted when people began to realise that eBooks and online publishing have opened doors to new authors – not closed them for publishers.

The era of fake news and alternative facts presents a different kind of threat. News reportage now moves at ridiculous speeds, and every so often a manipulative or malicious article will slip by unnoticed, taken as the truth. It’s hard enough to keep up with the news without fact checking your sources as well.

This shadowy side of publishing poses a huge threat to us as readers, and it’s a sad time for those of us working in the industry. In a time of such doubt, it’s refreshing to work with a community-focused publication like Hillscene. We need to focus back on the local perspective once in a while – taking the time to celebrate what’s good in your community is incredibly important.

What are your plans for the future (immediate or long term)?

My experiences at university have taught me that there is always more you can learn. Language conventions and writing are always changing and developing as time moves forward, and it is integral for an editor to be flexible and adaptable. I think this is well applied to the rest of life too.

I am just now moving into my career, and in doing so I plan to continue to learn, grow and discover

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Parallax choroegraphed



Post by Hannah Raisin.

Parallax is one of the shows I’m most excited about seeing in our 2018 season. Created and performed by one of Australia’s most innovative performance artists Megan Beckwith, the show combines science, dance and 3d animation to create a portal to new worlds. I was lucky enough to catch up with Megan to find out more about her creative process.

You describe yourself as ‘a geek girl who animates and dances’, can you tell me a bit more about your creative processes and how the digital and physical inform one another in the development of new work?

When I was training in dance at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), I was also going home and gaming (mainly first person shooter). So I was immersed in digital environments for long periods of time, I just loved it. I was also dancing all day and training to become a contemporary dancer, I also was loving my time in the studios at VCA. I wanted to mash the two things I loved together, I wanted to dance in the game and game when I danced.

I primarily see my artistic process as a choreographic one in which I use dance and technology to explore ideas. I use animation in the same way I create dance, it is a choreographic approach. Although, with animations there is no limitations to size, shape, movement, which for a choreographer is really exciting. I sometimes use animation to extend the dancers bodies, or give them an environment to be in. Animation of movement is only limited by time and budget, where as a real body does have strict parameters.

You describe your work as exploring ‘the idea of physicality and technology through the figure of the cyborg and augmented reality’, what a fascinating framework, can you tell me a bit about how you came to work in this space?

So while I was dancing at the VCA and gaming at home, I was also reading sci-fi and digital cyber culture that focused on cyborgs and the post-human. There is a famous essay called A Cyborg Manifesto that was written by Donna Haraway (1984). A Cyborg Manifesto blew my mind. Haraway’s cyborg represents the combination of physicality and technology which really resonated with me. I thought “wow” I am a cyborg! I am still exploring these ideas through my work, now. As new technologies emerge it gives me a whole new series of ideas to explore. I think these notions are important as we are increasing to live in a digital world.


I see you have worked with a range of different creatives including Jude Anderson, Alison Bennett and Jacques Soddell, do you often work in partnership with other makers and what do you look for in a collaborator?

I love to collaborate. As a dancer and animator I often spend hours working alone in a studio or at a computer. So I really gain so much from collaborating. It has been the collaborations I have worked in that have helped me move into my current artistic practice. It is always great to get a new perspective on what you create. My collaborators often inspire new directions or a different perspective on my work and I hope I do the same for them.

You present your work in a diverse range of contexts from galleries and theatres to public street scapes, are your works generally site specific or can they easily translate between different spaces? I’m also interested in how the different environments inform the works?

It isn’t the physical space I am actually interested in, my focus is on the virtual space and how we as humans can be in it. How does virtual reality affect how a dancer moves? That is something I am really interested in.

Presenting work in different cultural contexts can offer a range of new challenges, opportunities and considerations, did any of your recent international experiences impact on the way you consider and frame your works?

I performed a very early version of Parallax in Vancouver, and after the showing I had a very experienced and well known dance technology artist run up to me after the performance. He was so excited about what I was doing but suggested what I was doing was similar to work that was emerging in the 1970s and 80s, experimental, pushing boundaries and edgy. I have never thought about my work in parallel with artists of this time. In Australia we are isolated and it is sometimes difficult to see the connections and threads that artistically joins my work historically and culturally. For me it took someone with a different cultural context to highlight where my work sits and to draw connections with other choreographers’ work.


When audiences come to see a show like Parallax, is there a particular consideration or inquiry you’d like them to take away with them?

I really like to entertain an audience so I hope that the audience enjoys the work and has a great time watching Parallax. When I speak to audience members after the show, they often say they feel like they have been on a journey. The audience often feel like they have been somewhere or have had a different experience that is other-worldly. I think people feel this because of the combination of the body and the stereoscopic imagery. It really affects the audience differently than 2D imagery.

Parallax by Megan Beckwith is on Saturday 24 February at 8pm at Burrinja.
Save up your questions and join Megan and Dr Ross Farnell in a Q&A after the show.

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Gawurra at Survival Day

Belgrave Survival Day is thrilled to announce acclaimed Gawurra Gaykamangu as the headline performer at this year’s Belgrave Survival Day Friday 26 January!

Gawurra is a Yolngu professional performing artist hailing from Milingimbi (Yurrwi), North East Arnhem Land. With an emotional and resonant voice, Gawurra’s performances deliver a masterful musical sensitivity.


Yolngu people feel the spirit of Gawurra’s music in their hearts. The emotion in his voice touches people to build and refresh their spirit, making them stronger through the vine of love. Gawurra is a genuine young leader in his community, a respected song man with knowledge and power. It is important for Gawurra to connect his culture through his music to all peoples, sharing the love from small communities of the Northern Territory to the major mainstream international music markets of the world.

In 2016, Gawurra won the NT Song of the Year in the Pop category, for ‘Mulunda’. He received four NIMA Awards and gained national recognition throughout the music industry and mainstream media, including an ARIA nomination and a 4.5-star review in Rolling Stone magazine who stated “Gawurra commands attention regardless of backdrop.”

Gawurra’s star has continued to rise in 2017, mounting his first national tour of Australia with SOLD OUT appearances in mainstream music venues throughout the country and as a featured performer at major music festivals. Gawurra has established himself as a “must see” live act, gathering a mainstream following and captivating his audiences across the country. “Gawurra celebrates the natural wonders of his homeland in Gupapuyngu language across his debut album.” – The West Australian

2017 was a big year for Gawurra as he started his own professional music and artist services business. Gawurra Catfish Corporation was formed and operates out of Melbourne to deliver artist representation, music production, music licensing and recording label services.

With Gawurra Gaykamangu headlining the day festival goers will be also enjoy performances by The Deans of Soul, Eskatology, Mullum Mullum Choir, Gnarnaryarrahe – Didge Meditation, Djirri Djirri Dance Group, Mullum Mullum Hip Hop Dance Group as well as contributions from Aunty Dot Peters and SEED Indigenous Youth Climate Network.

Belgrave Survival Day will be held this Friday 26 January in Borthwick Park, Benson Street, Belgrave from 12.00 – 4.30pm. Join in for another day of music, stalls, children’s activities, food and fun and to celebrate the survival of Australia’s First Nations people. Find out more on the Belgrave Survival Day Facebook page.

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