Oils on the Road

It’s night two for us on the road with the band affectionately known world-wide as ‘the Oils’. The crowd has poured in with the insistent rain soaking through to their skins, into a Brissy-green amphitheatre right on the rivers edge. Below them the stage is alive. Around them nearly 10,000 peoples veins are pumping with rock’n’roll. For some, it’s their first oils gig in 30, 25, 20, or 15 years. For others, their first ever. Beams of desert-red light illuminate the falling atmospheric rinse, as a harmonica washes over our heads towards the city behind, instigating an essential Oils hit.


I cannot recall what led my 11 year old self to permanently borrow the Oils greatest hits from my folks’s music collection. It’s still there on my shelf, with the red $20 ‘Brashes’ sticker on the front sleeve the only physical reminder I have of the now deceased record store. The band occupy the full front cover, with a centralised Garret in a lengthy blue t-shirt with ‘What’s your excuse?’ emblazoned over it. Maybe that’s what drew me to the music, the idea that maybe the world I pictured as a primary school kid wasn’t exactly as I thought it was. The idea that outside our front living room in eastern Melbourne, some adults weren’t too keen on something.

‘What’s my excuse?’ Excuse for what?? I dunno, do I need one? Most lyrics went over my head those days – fair enough for a Grade 5 kid, but others didn’t. Beds are burning? Even the limited/zero exposure I had on the treatment of indigenous peoples that we received in the suburbs was enough to join the dots there. With a desire to increase my ever-expanding view of what actually occurred outside the front door, the Oils offered – I was hooked on them instantly.

Many years and events later, we meet on the Great Circle tour. The crowd sways and yells in and out of tune to favourites, b-sides and covers, all with the infamous corrugated water tank rusting away stage right of the drum kit. From our stall at the very back of the crowd I dissect the tunes embedded in my sonic memory – the drums beaten to half-death cut through yet meld together so bloody smoothly with bass and guitar it’s perfect. When the rising and rolling riffs of Truganini take shape over the steaming masses, I literally laugh I’m that happy to hear it in the flesh. And of course, there’s the frontman pacing around, elbows stapled to his waist, lanky arms flailing around and all of us clasped in the palm of his hand forever. It’s seriously just how I imagined it would be. In a word: Solid!

To me, the Oils embody Australian rock’n’roll like no other – music that sounds like the landscape that shapes us all. Choruses and words we all know, topics we can all understand, and above all – an over riding sense of the all-inclusive, the potential of a positive future for everyone, not just a select few. It’s wholesome music.


We dance into the evening, see out the rain, embrace the double encore, and close our five our stint informing a stream of concert-goers about the plight of our greatest barrier reef, exposing people to the Fight For Our Reef campaign, and how they can get on board and help.

With smiles our faces and a mass of conversations and petition signatures under our belts, we remain fully energised to continue to empower the Australian community towards a cleaner, healthier, and environmentally sound future for this grand landmass.

That’s the power of great music. The power of quality, tasteful songwriting that captures the urgency of the moment whilst keeping you dancing and singing along the way.


One vision, one people, one landmass, one ocean, one policy, one passion, one movement, one instant, one difference, one lifetime, one understanding.

One country. 

Where’d we be without the Oils?!

Have you signed up to the Making Tracks newsletter yet? It hits inboxes randomly every couple of months – my blend of photography, writing, and content I won’t share elsewhere (exclusive content, if you will). Sign up here!

It goes on and on

The craft of storytelling, in music. A fine concoction of experience, a twist and play on words, a tune to itself or part of the greater journey (or record). It’s a sweet moment when the mix of instruments and lyrics can reach you, penetrating thoughts and describing just exactly how you’re feeling and just what you’re thinking. Or maybe you’re no longing worried about what had you stuck. Beautiful storytelling becomes a journey when the listener surpasses instrument and lyrics to a time and place where the wine’s a little cheaper and the smiles last a little longer. The room isn’t so cold anymore, even in the darkness of winter. It’s not just music, its describes your part in time.

Rattling surrounds me as I sway and close one eye to focus on the one-hundred-and-sixty characters in front of me and hold tight hoping not to fall. At a slow and steady pace, I make my way back home no longer aware of tomorrows stupidly early start, instead lost in the increasing cool breeze from the Melbourne dark beyond. There’s a place where my bed is, in a tight expensive room trying to strangle the joy of life out of me. The isolation, the price, the proximity to debt, the long hours commuting to work and family – instead becomes a reason to share a story, to build around what it was like to live in a scene of people in town, and to be an observer that just so happens to keep diaries and enjoys writing.

I ended up surviving that tram ride up Lygon Street, and as an outsider who wore lyrics on his sleeve without turning them to permanent ink, I saw the scene grow. Six years on, formative memories visit over a glass of quality red and tonight I realise something special.

My memories of living in the thick of things are vivid – never a day goes past where I don’t think of the bands and artists of that time growing up in Melbourne. Walking my Brisbane mate around town recently, and in pointing out all the venues, recalling the late nights, later cab rides and trying to find the best hot chips at ridiculous o’clock, the adventures on the street were flooding back to mind. I couldn’t shut up, and the stories kept coming as I was reminded how much went down through those many doors off streets like Lygon, Gertrude, Brunswick, Johnston and Queensbury.

The beautiful places for the dirty types. Patchy floors, patchy clothes, and beat up broken bathrooms. Graffiti, stickers, handwritten band posters and broken windows. Punks (whatever that means) dressed for the cold (or over dressed for the warm). Upcoming gigs and shouts of cheap beer, mostly Coopers Pale. Yelling until you’re sore in a pit of temporary heat, body busted and alive, then pouring out into the frosty cold, awaiting the next one.

In places you’ve never heard of, or won’t hear of again, a small (yet actually pretty large) group of people lived in the music we heard. We became regulars in a community. All the faces were recognisable, and most I never met. Everyone was searching for something, whether they knew it or not, and the music gave them the answer.

That was why the scene changed for me. I found what I was looking for, what we’d all dreamed of – the chance to make my mark on the world – and my passion for the coast and underwater world surpassed that for music. I changed, and in turn so did my perception of the scene, literally overnight. I took a long time to come to turn with this. Years. I tried all the regular things, but nothing worked, and despite returning continually for gigs and sweet nights out, the fun was there but the buzz and excitement of the music just wasn’t there for me anymore.

I was equally sad and angry that things had changed for me, and along the way I forgot something. My music wasn’t hijaked by trendy newcomers, or wasted by near commercial success like I thought. It’s still there hanging around the same dimly lit venues filled with black jeans and hoodies, still written by the artists you haven’t heard of yet, and still in the brilliant songs maybe destined to fade away onto an older mp3 player, or into a dusty record sleeve in a bottom draw somewhere.

I was wrong, but glad I’ve come to learn this. The music never left, it’s still there doing it’s thing. It’s not the old friend I can’t connect with anymore. We’ve rekindled an older and wiser flame, and despite the lengthy gaps between hanging out properly at a gig, we get along oh-so-sweetly once more.

“Immersed in a poisoned city we sang for a better world, and whatever happens in my life I owe a lot to those that gave us all the chance to dream of something awesome.”


Last weekend we were Making Tracks in world class rainforest only ninety minutes from Brisbane. It’s an awesome place Lamington National Park, have a look at my collection of photos here.

A Long Weekend Thinking

There’s a breeze in the air and I’m surrounded by the tune of once great buildings. A curtain dances in a window propped open by a small off-cut of wood, hiding yet offering wind blown glimpses of the lengthy renovations preceding inside. The planks of weathered wood and blistered paint persevere. The patchy, rusty corrugation lifts at its corners. Scenes I related strongly to once; championing their battered unique and shambled beauty.

On an intermittent blue sky backdrop an inner-city Brisbane summer faded seemingly overnight, from blistering hot sunshine to rummaging through lower shelves for something resembling a jumper. A welcome and comfortable change.

Today’s a good Friday, as far as Friday’s go, and I’m planning for the greater outdoors. To explore a new patch or learn something else about another I’ve encountered in the past twelve months. Despite the incredibly inviting smell of Indian curry filling the air at lunch, and the empty house and room stacked with to-be-read books and an out of tune guitar screaming out for a play, I’m hanging for the dense underneath sensation of a dimly lit rainforest, the open warmth of an undisturbed grassy woodland on a west facing slope, or of course, the total immersion and liberation found under pumping waves fresh off the pacific ocean.

The quiet of nature, the counterbalance needed to hours of weekday punk music powering me through office weekdays. “All I know is that I don’t know nothing”, on which a foundation of expectation can be built.


Here we’re walking a line between tradition and progression. Celebrating a long past event, one now resembling a mere shadow of its former self. But whilst the celebratory holiday is more likely to mean family adventure, the non-secular connotations are still harmlessly abound – on the bread that we eat and in the fish that we don’t. Instead of paying homage to a crucified martyr, we pay exorbitant prices for alfoil wrapped chocolate eggs.

There’s a unique comfort in traditions – the ability to forecast events, settle into daily/annual/lifelong routine, and even base our world views on them being maintained. The counterpoint of your future shared with those around you, complimenting intergenerational connectivity through the common ground it grants.

What happens when tradition becomes stale like days old bread? It’s chucked in the bin by most, and some clasp onto the taste-memory of ‘what was’, refusing to change and embrace the new flavour of accepted, collective perspective. Change can be utterly painful; image basing your life on or around something, then having your friends, family, and fellow publicans abandon you for something new you just don’t understand? Your social circle contracts, and the pockets of surviving believers evaporate rapidly like muddied water in regional dams caught in the coarse, increasingly warmer, summer heat.

It must feel threatening, isolating; down right terrible.


How importance is the need for education!? Not specific, specialised education like the need to have a masters in soil ecology or TAFE certification in web design. Neither the need a ‘complete education’ consisting of a heavy dosage of periodic curriculum for twelve intense years, herded into lots marked from A to F.

Instead, what of the propagation and nurturing of expectations among everybody. An education of how to be content and yet driven to achieve. How to embrace real purpose in any task. How to better yourself continually for all of life, and abandon the intent of just being ‘smarter’ for strengthening your standards, your values, and becoming invaluable to the world around you. To expect a better life, even if that means changing or challenging traditions.

I see examples of where we’re struggling together and fighting out-dated traditions everywhere, everyday. Between the limited yet regular traditional newspaper and radio options to a beyond-flooded news-scape of internet news satisfying every superfluous opinion, leaving you with no idea what to believe. I see a few deeply frightened individuals and a mass of others not built for accepting adoption of change, from those that insist on not recycling, those continuing to buy and eat fast food, or to those insisting on spending Saturday nights pissed and Sunday mornings hungover from the ages of 16 to 30 (or beyond) instead of realising the amount of fucking money we’ve wasted, your damaged health, or that you just wasted large portions of your never returning youth. I see examples of breakdowns in communication leading to unreasonable stresses, blaming, and elongated problems causing a wealth of pain. From the incorrect grammar in text messages, to the stripping back of essential human rights by fascist politicians adamant about being ‘right’ in complimenting their own argument for a few, rather than enriching the lives of many (see: the ideologically stale current Australian Federal Governments attitude towards indigenous rights, their attitude to immigration, their stripping back of workers rights such as penalty rates on weekends, and not least of all their terrible and pathetic stance on environmental issues).

And most importantly, I see the same excuse – “what can just one person do?” – everywhere. The dominating attitude of accepting a lack of desire to challenge, not necessarily oppose, but truly challenge and question traditional ways is drenched in low expectations of ourselves and for everyone around us. Tradition cannot serve us well if we’re not prepared to adapt when necessary – and we cant know when that’s necessary unless we question it with a ‘why?’

Our actions are our overriding thoughts come to life – if we have a strong quality thought, strong quality actions will follow.


Now “traditions’ are broad. It could be deeply entrenched in your life, such as a families approach to marriage and family name retention, the sports clubs you follow, or what religion you abide by, down to the simple task of how you set the dinner table for guests. I had the same breakfast of five wheat-bix with a banana on top for eons, literally every day for a solid decade. They were  great, but I found diversifying to musli, toast, eggs, yogurt, and fruit on a regular rotation offered a wider variety of nutritional benefits and a broader pallet to enjoy. I didn’t just think this up, I was challenged and had to search for a broader option, driven by the expectation that there is no absolute. There is no settling on perfection. There is always an alternative, and that alternative can be extremely beneficial to you and those around you (no I’m not suggesting switching to musli or that even making your bed every day will save the world, although some would).

Remember: “Tradition is rules enforced by the dead”.

Look at the technological, mathematical, social, political, astrological, physiological, medical findings and implications from the past ninety years. They’ve resulted in massive changes in how the world is perceived!

Arguments can be justly shaped by tradition (a historical reference is utterly necessary), but current day arguments cannot be defined by it. For what justice and hope do we offer our collective future if we possess beliefs and ideologies held by those pre-1927? If our actions don’t embrace the actualities of the now, how can anyone expect a richer life for everyone into the future when expired ideologies are your foundation? Can you ignore the discovery that the world is round and not flat? Can you uphold a repressive governmental institution over one who’s constitution is founded on fairness for everyone? Can you ignore the benefits of simple sanitation on your health?

Tradition once said otherwise. But we found a way beyond that, by not only believing in change for the better, but in educating ourselves to expect such.


Pump up your tyres of expectation:

  • Give ‘The Seven habits of highly effective people’ a read.
  • Ask for the magazine ‘New Philosopher’ at your newsagent.
  • Subscribe to a half-decent news website/app, like The Guardian

Another cup of tea

A fan spins away slightly inconsistently in the corner of the room. Propped up on its end in the draw, it lives on without standing upright. The metal and plastic base was smashed when it tumbled over one day, and got caught in the curtains then wedged between the door and door frame. Leaning it against the wall creates this very dull, almost unnoticeable vibration, just almost beyond the limits of your hearing. Life rolls on and the fan remains ignored, spinning away in inanimate servitude.

If you’ve survived reading, making it through the foundational and yet mundane life of a broken fan, I have an ask for you: can you think about what you’ve inherited during your life, from birth or somewhere along the way.

What attitudes, memories, family, geography, environment, tradition, heritage, expectations?

After you’ve done this find out why this piece is called ‘Another cup of tea’.


Earl Grey tea – standard. No coffee. No sweetness (actually, maybe a little honey). Just tea and simple. In the same cup every day – one emblazoned with a West Australian eucalyptus branch painted on the side. Stunning plant, with pin-cushion-hakea-esk crimson flowers.

The final dregs drain from the bottom of the cup as the clock ticks ever closer to knock off time. Tonight is special in that it’s the first time I’ve been able to pick up the pen and contribute to the book I set out to write six months ago. The mini-book of sojourn observations and photographs of my favourite patch.

It’s back on track, and focusing on a shared inheritance.

Inheritance, what’s around us and built us, is essentially what drives us each and every day, even if (like the fan in the corner), I don’t make a point to recognise or acknowledge it.

We’ve inherited a fantastic patch of world, one of beautiful land-and-sea-scapes with incredibly unique plants and animals throughout. I’ve inherited a safe place, an easy going place, and are surrounded by intelligent, inspiring and loving people. You can explore on your own without crowds. Put up a tent almost anywhere (if you’re careful) and feel right at home.

We’ve also inherited a mess – climate choking on heat, ironic plastic pollution, subtle (and obvious) racism and sexism, a disgusting history of white domination, widespread land degradation, environmental arrogance, faulty democracy, in-balance, and a heavy dependance on alcohol. That’s just how it is remains a pathetic excuse I deplore.

Even if (and sometimes especially if) we ignore these, they shape us. In writing our future, we must think about and delve into the past, the ‘what actually happened to get us to where we are now’, so as to learn from the successes and failures alike. So we don’t have to spend our whole generation learning what a previous generation spent a whole generation learning. So when people lie and make up stories about the grandeur of the past, we have a safe and anchored understanding of actuality, guiding us through perpetual bullshit.

An understood past with a common future in mind – it’s time to begin with the end in mind and strive collectively for something incredible, for a place where the inherent positives drown out and strangle the negatives.

That’s what I’ve inherited, what I write about, what I photograph. The most beautiful patch of land, water and everything on it.

Here’s to a new years burst of energy, and the bound concoction of photos and words once again writing itself!

From Little Things..

Darkness. I’m consumed by sand. In every direction I hear the sound of beating hearts. This multiplies as time ticks on by slowly. I know where I am, somehow. I have no memory otherwise and don’t know if I’ll even remember this. For some indescribable reason, I’m possessed to wait. Something is coming today and when it does I’ll just know what to do and how to do it. I’ll be awesome and I’ll just know how.

For now though, i wait..


Who knows how much time passes, but the beating hearts are anticipating movement. All of a sudden, there’s a scramble upwards. Digging digging digging – together. I’m gaining strength by the second, and just as quickly as it began the moment ceases. More waiting.

Here I notice a power reducing, causing our dark sandy space to reduce in temperature. Since the darkness began, and the journey upwards, I’ve been anticipating things cooling down so I can continue safely.


Like piercing through a weakened dam, the heartbeats thrash into an erratic scramble ever upwards. I push, many times the length of my body and BANG! No time to waste I’m into the night and completely exposed. The heartbeats are popping out of the sand in every direction, their bodies shaped just like mine – four curved appendages made for swimming in water (yet surprisingly capable for the job of scrambling) and a top casing circular in shape with a symmetrical pattern through it and to the edge.

My destination – it awaits.

I scramble. I’m moving towards the dim horizon light before me away from the deeper darkness of towering, swaying silhouette figures. I know that my purpose is towards the light and towards the crashing noise, waves of never ending energy pounding the coast and guarding my destination.

Each movement I make with my body the swaying of appendages propels me forward. I make ground on the sound, hurrying intensely stopping only briefly to catch my breath.

Forward. Forward. Forward. We’re spread out now in a rough line, all intent. The sand below me becomes damp and compact and I sped across this fresher surface with relative ease. The sound has become a roar. Whatever it is is crashing and getting closer and looming larger. I arrive, and in in a moment, I’m gone.

The current takes me. My fins, designed and powered to propel me  through the water, do so effortlessly.

From sand pit to ocean in a matter of minutes.


The first few moments of a turtles life are well known to many. These moments are incredible. It is a joy to experience the presence of such small beings being thrown straight into the deep end of life without a grain of parental guidance to send them on their way. It’s almost humbling.

Humans are fascinated in animals void of parental nurture. We struggle to comprehend the ‘how??’. ‘How does it do that, without going to school!?

It blows our minds.

There are places you can go to witness fresh turtles leaving the nest and making their hurried way to the shore and the big blue. I did this recently, and here’s what I learnt about the endangered Loggerhead turtle, and what you and I can do to help them.


For every female that makes her way up out of the water to the sand dunes, she will lay on average 120 eggs. The females, extremely exposed on land (being quite sizeable, weighty, and mostly aquatic beings), will not begin to dig the nest and lay if there’s any activity or disturbance, such as the presence of humans nearby. If the coast is clear, she’ll take around an hour to see the job through. Each female can lay up to five times (maybe six!) per season that stretches from October to March. Once the season is over, it’ll be another two to three years before she’ll return, the time needed to build up her fat reserves to be able to withstand the whole ordeal once again.

At the largest rookery of Loggerhead turtles in the southern hemisphere, 350 or 400 females can come in each season to lay. This means tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of turtles hatch each season.

The eggs incubate under the sand for a few months, with the sex of the turtle being determined by the temperature of the sand. The warmer the sand, the more likely the egg will produce a female hatchling. Too warm, and the egg will cook (occasionally the mother turtles lay their eggs too close to the surface, and, to help alleviate the already mounting pressure on the species, rangers shift the clutch to ‘cooler’ and safer sand).

After hatching they make their way across the sand at night – without any guidance. It’s amazing. The crossing of the beach to the water is like the GPS positioning of a new satellite navigation device, with the hurried scamper to the ocean programs them to know exactly which beach they came from, and allows them to return to the exact same place to lay in thirty or so years. Without this shuffle to the shore (for example, if someone saw a baby turtle and ‘helped’ it across the sand and straight into the water), it would essentially be lost forever, with no bearings to its beginnings.

For every 1000 eggs, only 1 survives to sexual maturity. Naturally, the sheer size of offspring numbers accounts for their difficult and highly predated life ahead of them.

1 in 1000 – crazy odds!

What’s more, is they now have the increased (and ever increasing) presence of humans in their lifecycle. Plastic pollution, boat strikes, increased visitation of beaches, coastal development and industrialisation – it’s intense, the human turtle relationship..


I’ll explore things further, next time..

Into the New Year

I don’t have to try and write or attempt to be creative, it just flows. No writers block, it just means it’s time to experience something somewhere that will drive my motivation again, like fuel to the flame of inspiration driving me to scrawl across a page void of any friction. A trip away or chasing a quality thought can do this.

But like all sources of fuel you can run low if you aren’t careful to replenish – no bushfire can burn forever (that I know of anyhow)! I’ve learnt the hard way these past six months when it comes to keeping mental stimulation constant and independently creative, and have learnt that as my life shifts and changes so to must my focuses on the pages I carry around with me everywhere. I cannot go searching for motivation from the past continually without refreshing the experiences in the present.

I must explore more of my motivation – the great outdoors.

Last year, weeks turned into months at the blink of the eye as I ran around the country fighting for marine environmental protection. My focus on activism was unrelenting and utterly intense, dedicating huge swathes of my time and life to it. I was creative, but on the clock and for an organisation. The personalised words of my own dried up, and come December I was hanging for a wet spell to beat off the creative drought I was in.

I can now appreciate how people loose their craft, and opt to pack it in rather than beat there head against the machine they’re tied to. It’s a difficult scenario to find yourself in, void of those creative priorities and flat out otherwise, your instruments gathering dust, desks and benches strewn with unimportant mess, sent to the back of rooms, cupboards and garages.

And still, this could be me one day.

It’s the New Year. I’ve travelled for three weeks through coastal scrub, forest and gutted agricultural land along the Newell Highway, refuelling constantly along the way. On the road I’d wake up without an alarm, and say to myself “let’s do this – todays hanging to be explored”.

Now I’m refuelled and hanging to continue to write on a future worth living in – one filled with experiences, void of boredom, charged by motivation, and of course, one with our fair share of time in the great outdoors!

When you’re faced on a daily basis with the end of the world – with the continued destruction of dwindling reefs, forests, grasslands, and ecosystems – it’s imperative you remember and recall the good things in life. Those things that are unspoilt and still standing, the intact beautiful things. Because without them and without the good memories, we are nothing.

And when we’re nothing, we’re….

It’s great to be back, let’s see where 2017 takes us!