HillsFest Horror

Post by Amy Middleton.
Earlier this year, Burrinja and Tecoma Primary School partnered to develop ‘HillsFest’, a short film competition designed to encourage students at Tecoma Primary School to develop their creative movie making skills by producing a short film related to a given topic. All entries were judged and the best fifteen films, in the opinion of the judging panel, qualified as ‘finalists’.
Wren Gillett’s film ‘The Chain’ caused much debate with the judging panel. Whilst there is no doubt that this is a fine piece of film making, this horror film was deemed a little too jumpy to be awarded a ‘G’ rating as outlined by the selection criteria.
When I met with her to chat about the film she seemed undeterred that her film had not been selected as one of the fifteen finalists. She had chosen to make a horror film hoping it would set her apart from her peers. I can’t help but admire her bold approach and feel a little excited about what else she might come up with in years to come. Wren’s easy going confidence is backed up by smart ideas and what seems to be an instinctive creativity. She is already developing ideas for her next film “The Lucky Charm”. I for one can’t wait to check it out!
Click below to view The Chain. To see the other 15 HillsFest 2013 finalists, head to the Burrinja YouTube page.

Making Christmas

Because at the hillscene we just love celebrating the creative spirit and making things, we’ve included some great inspiration for making your own Christmas cheer. Whether it be with craft activities or food you can always add your own touch to Christmas and continue a great tradition or start a new one.


Christmas Wreaths

by Adriana Alvarez

I’m always looking for things to make and do with my kids so I thought these simple, yet beautiful paper wreaths would be a great activity you can make with your kids (or for yourself!). All you need are some beautiful papers cut in a square, and some quick drying glue. I used a hot glue gun which means it sticks very quickly and makes it a lot easier but be careful to supervise this if you are doing the activity with young kids. I’ve used two different papers for each wreath but you could use the same paper to get a more uniform effect.

Start by folding  a thin strip along one edge of the paper about 2cm wide. Then fold in a concertina fold back into the paper. Repeat folding in 2cm wide concertina folds until you have folded all the paper and you have one long thin strip. Fold the strip in half and glue the two edges of the paper together, you may have to hold it together for a few minutes until it sticks (a few seconds if you’re using a hot glue gun). You should have a fan when you open it up.

Do the same with the other bit of paper. When you have the two fans opened up you can glue the two flat edges together and there you have a wreath. You can make as many as you like with different coloured and sized papers, if you want to be more creative you could get the kids to paint or colour some paper to use first. Now just put a small hole at the top and tie some ribbon through it.

Hang it on your door or they look great hanging on a window as well.

Christmas Cocktail

by Amy Middleton

When contemplating my Christmas menu for this year, I felt a little disorientated by Melbourne’s shifting weather patterns. To me the warm weather represents BBQ’s and bubbles, the cold weather ignites a yearning for roast turkey and mulled wine.  The recent climatic corruptions have inspired me to prepare for each and every atmospheric deviation that might present itself this December. I present to you… the ‘Whatever the Weather’ cocktail.

One cup of Dark Rum… yes, a full cup!
90 ml Lemon Juice… freshly squeezed is best!
120 ml Thyme Syrup
360 ml Apple Cider
120 ml Club Soda
8 dashes of Bitters

To make thyme syrup combine two cups of sugar, one and a half cups of sugar and eight thyme springs in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer.  When all the sugar has fully dissolved, remove the saucepan from the heat and place the syrup in the fridge to cool.

Place all the contents in a large pitcher. If the sun is shining serve chilled, in a mason jar with a fancy straw and add a few fresh thyme leaves. If the weather is a little gloomy, warm the contents in saucepan and serve in a mug with a wheel of apple… and a stick of cinnamon if you feel so inclined.



Chutney Swap!

by Zac Exner

My friendships revolve around a general love of food! We tend to Interact around food, talk about food, share ideas about food and generally eat too much food…..

So this year I was wondering what to do with my friends to celebrate Christmas, and I thought hey, instead of a Secret Santa why don’t we all make a food item to share amongst the group, and I couldn’t think of anything better than my favourite condiment Chutney!

We organised a group to all make a big pot of their favourite Chutney, Kasundi, Pickle or Savoury Jam to share with the group! We all had a couple of weeks to decide and create our jars of gold before we all gathered around my coffee table with a loaf of bread, crackers and delved into our collection, which included Mango Chutney, Chilli Jam, Tomato Kasundi and an array of others.

Everyone that participated thought ‘Hey – this is a lot easier than I thought!’ and now we have many different jars or delicious goodies all for the price of a few spices, some raw ingredients and a couple hours in the kitchen!

So get out there, pick a few recipes and swap with your mates!

Mango Chutneycollage

The editorial team at the Hillscene would like to wish everyone a safe and Happy Christmas! We hope you celebrate it in your own special way with the people you love.

Reflections of this past week


With the recent passing of Nelson Mandela, Hillscene invited Geraldine Coy, Author of Brave Truth to reflect on the legacy of Nelson Mandela and the future for South Africa. Brave Truth reveals a first-hand experience of what it was like to live in an apartheid world, and the aftermath that followed it. Geraldine now lives in Seville, her family had to flee South Africa in 1998 as a result of her activist work against apartheid.

Reflections on this past week by Geraldine Coy.

I have pondered the nuances of the Memorial Service held for Nelson Mandela on the 10th December, and I find myself wondering what he would have felt about some of the events that came to pass.

I know that he would have smiled on his beloved Graca, wife and companion to him for the last 15 years of his life. He would have thought how beautifully graceful she was, how wonderfully at peace at last she would have been, grateful that they had finally let him go. And he would have been proud of her dignified silence and restraint in the face of what must have been for her, some of the most difficult months in her own life.

This son of Africa, father to a nation, and a man of the world, or as Barack Obama correctly points out a “giant of our times”, would have been both pleased and pained by the way in which his life was exalted, and by those who exalted it. I think he would have been profoundly grateful to his comrades in arms, to those with whom he served his prison term and with those who fought so valiantly in their various ways and places of exile around the world, to have him freed.

I am sure that he would have loved to sign his name to many of the aspirational sentiments expressed by Obama, toward forgiveness, peace and reconciliation, for courage, honour and truthful recognition of humanity, and all its current and continuing failings. He would have been delighted to see the hand shake of this man with an adversary of a lifetime’s separation, with Raoul Castro of Cuba, and there may have been a twinkle in his eye at aparhte the prospect that even in his death, some forgiveness and reconciliation may still come to pass.

He would have been pleased, I think with the recognition he received from across the globe from leaders who had travelled far and wide to honour his life and mark his passing. Most of all, he would have rejoiced in the love of his people of South Africa, as they joined in harmony and such overwhelming love to thank him for his work, for his contribution to their salvation and dignity at least in the name of freedom.

But I really do believe that he would have been desperately saddened by the assumption of the podium by those he could not possibly have shared any ideal with. Robert Mugabe should not have been allowed entry into such a place of freedom. In Mandela’s oft-quoted statement spoken from the dock in his Rivonia trial in 1963, he made his sentiments clear. “During my lifetime, I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die”.  Mugabe’s reign of terror and suppression continues to contaminate the African continent, and Mandela would have angrily defended the democracy of Zimbabwe, had he not been silenced, I think, in his latter years.

So who was this man Nelson Mandela? For me, significantly aside from all of his amazing gifts so much in the press this week, what stands out was his ability as a remarkable strategist. There is a wonderful story, prior to his inauguration as State President in 1994. He was doing the rounds, making speeches all over the country and meeting his people, and regularly he was heckled by the far right and conservative extremists. One such heckler had become a bit of a serial pest and the security detail was preparing to have him ousted from the hall. Stopping his speech, Madiba raised his hand to stop them and asked the heckler, who was at the time in full steam, “Sir, may I ask what is your name?” The man spluttered out his name and Madiba responded, whilst coming down the steps at the side of the stage, “ Ah, Mr, xyz, I have heard so much about you. “ Grasping his hand with his left hand, and covering the grasp with his right, he said, “ I am so very pleased to meet you”.

I have felt the Madiba hand shake and looked into his eyes, and I have felt the warmth and the strength that this man would have felt, but the world has felt the impact which he had. Indeed, he knew strategically how to magnificently change the way we with think through gestures and restraint in the overuse of power.

When Jacob Zuma attempted to take the podium, and he was so resoundingly booed by the people he governs currently, I think of their disappointment and the breadth of the divide between these two leaders. South Africa must face a future with the lesser leader, the one so lacking in all the virtues of the other. Somehow, South Africa must dig deep into its resources of courage and tenacity, to fight the slander of corruption, of leadership with self interest. The people must find and recognize leadership which has the courage to reflect on the greatness of the person who has shown them how it’s done. They must find someone who can pick up the mantle in the long walk to true freedom.

“ I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom, come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended”. (Nelson Mandela)

His walk on earth has indeed ended, and South Africa  must find confidence in a new guard, one who is worthy of the honour. They need not look too far, but they will need the collective voices they have used before to facilitate the changing of the guard. I am sure that the wonderfully truthful, brave and courageous voice of his friend and comrade, the ex Archbishop Desmond Tutu will soon be heard resoundingly echoing from the mountains of the Transkei, beseeching the people to vote again for freedom.


To find out more about Geraldine Coy click here.

End of the Line festival

Main-Stage-Cameo-Cinema Otto & Hazel Zagala

Post by guest blogger Anna Zalga


Owing to my hectic weekly schedule – nothing special, just work and ferrying the monkeys around – I try and spend my weekends local. Need to find me? Try the the back garden or pushing the pram around the ‘hood’. But in a break from routine I headed for the hills, the Yarra Ranges to be precise, to attend the End of the Line Festival at Belgrave. The event promised 70 bands, a makers market, workshops and art exhibits over one massive day.

Aside from an excursion to Puffing Billy in my youth and a few weekends in Upwey as a teenager riding my skateboard on the ageing basketball court at the local high school, I have not been a regular visitor to these parts. Driving into the town, I felt immediately charmed. It wasn’t just the steep, bushy walkways though they were lovely, or the puffs of chimney smoke drifting lazily over the town. The Cameo Cinema sits on the main drag like a stately monolith, a dark cave of visceral excitements and solitary pleasures. Everyone has a touchstone for what constitutes civilisation. For some that’s a public library, in my case, it’s a cinema.

We didn’t have a plan, other than to hear some music and head home when we tired. Sometimes being on foot with the pram is not too different to a mobile shanty town: drinks, snacks, warm clothes, toys. Heading into town with my pre-schooler and pre-teen in tow I was hoping we could make the day work. When they started asking if we could go home in the first half hour I began to have my doubts. But kids are not that different from grown-ups. Faced with a new environment their instincts is to get back to familiar turf. I was having none of it. Guys, I reminded them, we are here to hear music. Let’s go find it.



What did we hear first? The pounding of drums. Turning the corner in the the Station we happened upon a dozen local kids channeling Africa. Is anyone doing Aussie bush ballads on that vast continent?

We got a kick out of seeing the garbage bins pasted over with artwork – what a good idea. And toodled along the train track stopping every now and again to watch the graffiti artists shake their cans between drags of cigarettes. At tbC stage, where a few turned over milk crates made for seats, Harmony Byrne sang a sweet set. She had the small crowd enthralled with her strong voice in perfect pitch. I felt moved in equal measure by the vulnerability and courage of her performance and the fortitude it takes to stand alone on a stage.



We pushed on through the excellent maker’s market where we found ourselves in tie-dye heaven. In a stall that might have been made by elves, the kids picked up a necklace each: a sparkling unicorn’s horn and multi-coloured mushroom. With these talismans around their necks the monkeys seemed re-energised.

At the very end we reached the Green. Here we settled on the lawn on soft cushions under a billowing silk canopy to watch the belly dancers, chow down some bliss balls and have our faces painted. I had the opportunity to do some people watching. It was a colourful parade. There were some good Alt Country outfits, a family of medievalists. But the day belonged to the Rakia Gypsy dancers. With their fingerless gloves, silver jewellery and felt hats, those ladies brought Frida Kahlo flair to the occasion.

On Sunday over brunch at my local cafe – wedged between chino and sports wear brigade – I thought: I have to get out more.

Photos by Anna Zalga and Amy Middleton.


A hills Christmas

Bethany Claire cakes

Bethany Claire Cakes at Grassroots markets

Post by guest blogger Sandi Sieger.

This year, like the past couple of years, I’ll be doing all my Christmas shopping in the hills. I find no reason to venture off the hill; after all, we have some of the best shopping, produce and wine in all of Victoria. We’re truly spoiled for choice. And here’s the thing; I’d much rather support local traders and small businesses – my neighbours – than get frazzled spending forty-five minutes trying to find a car park at a big shopping centre only to leave with a headache.

So here’s a few of my favourite shopping haunts – for Christmas (and everyday) – I hope they inspire you to discover some of the wonderful treats we have on our doorstep.

Hugs for Kids: I’m so happy this gorgeous store opened in Belgrave over a year ago. With clothes, accessories and toys for babies, toddlers and children, I honestly have to restrain myself from buying half the store when I’m in there.

Soak Bathecary at Sassafras: One word – divine. Perfumes, candles, balms, soaps, scrubs…this store is heaven scent (see what I did there?) You’ll likely want to eat a candle or munch on some soap so enticing are the smells. They have some wonderful gift packs at this time of year. I don’t know a woman who wouldn’t love one.

Cream at Sassafras: A foodie’s heaven. Jams, pickles, nougats, ice-creams, cheeses, marinades, gourmet treats of all sorts…pick up a few things for the table at Christmas or create hampers for loved ones. I guarantee that no one could possibly be disappointed with a treat from Cream.

Tea Leaves at Sassafras: The destination for tea lovers. With over 300 luscious teas and infusions from all over the world, not to mention delicious flavoured coffees, hit up Tea Leaves for the one that likes a brew in your life. They also stock a gorgeous array of teapots, cups and accessories.

The Confectory at Belgrave: Merchants of all things sweet for those big and small in your life. I absolutely love the selection at The Confectory, and they also stock a great range of vegan, gluten free and sugar free treats. An essential stop before Christmas.

Cameo Cinemas at Belgrave: Christmas shopping is never completed before a few Cameo gift cards are purchased – they make a wonderful present, for all ages.

Smits & Bits: This Sassafras based treasure trove is always a winner – full to the brim of gorgeous homewares.

Belgrave Book Barn: Great prices, great selection. No more words needed.

Olinda Cellars: This family business is probably one of the last true wine cellars; boutique wine specialists, selecting wine on taste, not value. Pick up a few bottles for Christmas lunch (and dinner) or their incredible range is sure to make a perfect gift.


Market stalls at Kallista, Big Dreams and Grassrroots markets.

I also like to hit up the local arts, craft and produce markets before Christmas. Here’s some of my favourites:

Kallista Community Market: First Saturday of the month, 9am-1pm

Emerald Craft & Produce Market: Third Sunday of the month, 9am-3pm

Belgrave Big Dreams Market: Second Sunday of the month, 9am-2pm

Grassroots Markets: Next market March 29, 9am-2pm at Upwey

Have a wonderful Christmas and a very happy New Year.

See you in 2014 for my next blog.

x Sandi

Photos by Miro Anderson and Adriana Alvarez.