Gareth Hart hillsceneLIVE

hillsceneLIVE is born

Gareth Hart hillsceneLIVE

Post by Amy Middleton.

What can be achieved in the name of the unknown?

If you were to have asked me to describe ‘Hillscene’ six months ago, I would have responded simply, clearly and concisely by quoting the first line on the Hillscene website… “Hillscene, is a Maga’zine’ about all the interesting people and things happening in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges”. Asked the same question today, I may give you a cheeky smile and giggle excitedly.

There is a joyful tension that exists when you know something great is about to happen, but you are not exactly sure how to explain it. The fortunate folk who have read the Autumn Issue would have had a little introduction to HillsceneLIVE, a quarterly performance and live art event that will take the form of a mini festival. The head honcho behind the HillsceneLive concept is Gareth Hart. A Melbourne based independent artist with strong interests in Choreography, Theatre and Photography.


To describe Gareth as anything other than an artist would be limiting. His creative practice is wide-ranging as it is thoughtful and personal. Gareth holds a Masters of Choreography from the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne and his resume is littered with creative accomplishments. Beyond the impressive resume, he presents a compassionate character, with a gritty confidence.  Gareth describes himself as having a “natural inkling to be offbeat” and he seems to find a deep comfort in the ambiguity of the creative process.  He seems to revel in the unknown, in abstract concepts that can’t be defined easily. Over the past 8 years, Gareth has moved away from traditional choreography and finds that improvising movement allows him to be more responsive to the creative experience of performing. “I think it’s not so much that I want people to be confused, but I like for them to leave a performance different to when they arrived. This means that an audience is actually engaging with your work, and perhaps on some level getting a sense of the complexity of this strange thing I like to call ‘dance’.”

Whilst HillsceneLIVE can’t be explained in a single phrase, there is no doubt in my mind that something wonderful is about to bloom. I sense Gareth approaches his creative practice with strong self-awareness. His insights are well integrated, most likely hard-won at the hands of many who might have doubted him along the way, and whom he has proven wrong. It’s difficult to escape a sense of questioning around what HillsceneLIVE may or may not become, but I get the sense that this unknowing is exactly what is intended.


Photos by Gareth Hart.


Coranderrk Festival 2014

Post by Kathryn.

Eighteen months ago sisters Jacqui Wandin and Brooke Collins, descendants of Coranderrk, had a dream. They dreamed of finding a way for everyone, indigenous and non-indigenous, to share with them the beauty and history of Coranderrk Station. With their father, Allan Wandin, they expanded that dream to celebrate the strength and resilience of the original Coranderrk community.

Their dream evolved into the 2013 Festival which commemorated the 150th Anniversary of the founding of the station.  The festival would be built around the celebration of pride and cultural identity.  Even though the people had been forcibly dispersed, 75 years later their spirits remain strong in the hearts of their descendants. A gap in Victorian history had closed when 200 acres of the original 4,850 acres were returned to indigenous ownership.

Barak and other elders wanted a place where Kulin people could feel safe. Imagine the impact of being dispossessed over and over again. Allan, Jacqui and Brooke showed the world that Barak’s dream lives on. For them now, in the 21st century, Coranderrk means having a place where you can feel connected to country and be proud of who you are, a place where both triumphs and tragedies can be commemorated and celebrated.

What a great day the 2013 Festival was! Pride and cultural identity were celebrated.  Descendants, their families and friends were united and reunited and for some it was their first visit to Coranderrk. Families were brought together; extended families were united and reunited. People were able to connect with their history in ways that brought the past to life. It was wonderful a day for all festival-goers – a day of music, stories, laughter and tears.

Barbara Oehring-3.Festival2013 Barbara Oehring-1.Festival2013 Barbara Oehring--2.Festival2013

The 2014 Coranderrk Festival will once again give tribute to the dignity and resilience of Victoria’s indigenous people. A warm invitation is extended to everyone, indigenous and non-indigenous, to join descendants of the Coranderrk community in a family day of music, culture and dance, shared photos and stories in the Yarn tent, art and traditional crafts such as basket weaving, ochre-making, children’s activities, food and market stalls.

The music line-up includes singer, musician and artist June Mills from Darwin, Coloured Stone, The Shane Howard Trio, Telecom Joe, Alesa Lajana. The dance program will include The Djirri Djirri Dance Group who are the only Wurundjeri women and girls’ dance group open to all Aboriginal women.  Also dancing will be the Dardee Balagamdail Aboriginal Dance Group, a united group of Aboriginal men and youth who celebrate their strong cultural heritage through the expression of interactive dance.

Everyone is invited to the festival, to contribute to the continuing Coranderrk journey as plans for property restoration and rejuvenation proceed.

Brooke and Jacqui want us all to know that ‘Everyone, indigenous and non-indigenous, is very welcome to attend events at Coranderrk unless otherwise specified.’

They say: ‘Our history is a shared history, let’s celebrate it together!

PS. Mark the 15th in your diaries. It’s gonna be big!’
Facebook – 2014 Coranderrk Festival

Photos by Barbara Oehring

Culture Tracks?

culture tracks program cover

Post by Ross Farnell.

What are, and what is, Culture Tracks?

We all know about tracks in their various guises – journeys, pathways, connections, stories that interconnect places, events, people and things. Culture is interwoven within all of these tracks, the things that we do, who we do them with, and where we frequent – they’re all integral to forming the shape of our diverse cultures.

The Hills and the wider Yarra Ranges has developed unique cultural impressions and enclaves through its people, its places, environment and importantly, its creativity. This creativity and cultural vitality is visible everywhere in the streets of our local community; one need only look at events like the Belgrave Lantern Parade, Belgrave Survival Day, End of the Line Festival, the Buskers Festival and so much more.

There is also a wealth of creativity emanating from the fabulous arts and cultural venues in our region. Yes, that includes Burrinja (and OK, I’m a bit biased there!), yet encompasses too the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum, Memorial Hall Healesville, Montrose Town Centre, Mooroolbark Community Centre and the Upper Yarra Arts Centre in Warburton. All of these places not only present a whole range of arts and cultural events and activities, but engage throughout their wider communities to help make great arts and culture happen all around them.

So… (the thought went)… what if we put together a combined program of all the activities happening at all these vibrant places, and mapped those tracks and trails between those spaces and those communities – what would it look like if we forgot about the bricks and mortar and physical locations, and combined all of those activities into just one (amazing) program?

Since early 2013 the coordinators of all these centres and others from arts, culture and heritage at Yarra Ranges, including the manager Greg Box, regularly sat around the table with various formats of their 2014 programs in development: touring and local exhibitions, theatre shows, dance, film, family performances and more. As coffees grew cold, dates were wrangled to coordinate programs, tours, formats, images, booking processes, web sites, logos and so much more.

And what did we end up with?

Culture Tracks – Program 2014, an action-packed program of events across all art forms. Everyone involved is really pleased with the final result – a program to rival any bustling arts metropolis, right here in the hills and the Yarra Ranges. This is so much more than 60 glossy pages of fabulous arts and culture to get stuck into  – although it definitely is that! To quote the program introduction by Mayor Cr Fiona McAllister, Culture Tracks “reflects and expresses our community’s desire to access meaningful arts and heritage experiences. It provides inspiration for our community to actively engage and participate in local culture.”

Culture Tracks program

Culture Tracks program

We work hard to make arts and culture happen because, as Greg Box says, “cultural communities are strong communities. Engaging in cultural activity brings economy a sense of community, creativity, inspiration and above all else… meaning”.  It helps to shape who we are and where we live. As we say at Burrinja, it is about ‘building community through arts’.

Culture Tracks has already made such a strong impression on the wider world of arts and culture – journeying from the hills – that the Minister for the Arts The Hon Heidi Victoria came and launched the program at Burrinja on February 21. In the company of Jarmbi members, volunteers, board members, guests, friends and staff aplenty Culture Tracks was launched from the stage of our theatre to the accompaniment of video excerpts from upcoming shows and a live performance – situated within the seats – by Chris Howlett on cello. Literally turning the theatre around with the audience on stage created a unique environment for the launch, one befitting such an inspiring program.

You can check out the full Culture Tracks program online or pick up a hard copy at Burrinja or lots of other great locations throughout the hills. Enjoy!

Minister for the Arts The Hon Heidi Victoria at the Culture Tracks launch.

Minister for the Arts The Hon Heidi Victoria at the Culture Tracks launch.


Greg Box manager Arts, Culture & Heritage at Yarra Ranges speaking at the launch.

Culture Tracks launch party at Burrinja.

Culture Tracks launch party at Burrinja.

Photos of the launch party by Barbara Oehring and Zac Exner. Photos of Culture Tracks Program by Adriana Alvarez.