Some thoughts on this ‘I don’t need feminism because…’ trend. 

Some thoughts on this ‘I don’t need feminism because…’ trend. 

101 things that make the Hunter great

I recently wrote this list of the 101 best things about the Hunter region, nestled on the east coast of Australia - my home.

"TELLING people you’re writing a list of the 101 best things about the Hunter Region is a great conversation starter. The great thing about it is that everyone has a different favourite – a restaurant, an event, a vantage point, even a time of day. For some people it’s that unexplainable vibe of the place itself.

Regional, but with a delicate balance of city traits – wine bars,  concerts, fine dining destinations, a world-class university and multiple art galleries.

For others, it’s the people that make the place – rock bands like Silverchair and the Screaming Jets, our mighty Knights and Jets, the legacy of world-renown artists like Margaret Olley or John Earle, and talents like Abbie Cornish or Jennifer Hawkins.

Or maybe it’s the lollypop man who makes sure kids get to school safe, the cafe owner who allows ‘‘suspended’’ coffees for those in need, or the local conservation volunteers.

No list can be definitive, but paired with recommendations from everyone and anyone I’ve come across since I began writing this list, here are the 101 best things about the Hunter Region.

The Fernleigh Track:  A relaxing bike ride along the 15-kilometre track from Adamstown to Belmont surrounded by the fragrant bushland is a serene experience. (Until you come across a crying kid with grazed knees and a mangled bicycle).

The Obelisk:  Located on the highest point of The Hill, it provides a stunning 360-degree vista of Newcastle from the coastline to the suburbs and beyond.

Cardboard sliding at the Foreshore:  Many people can remember sliding down the hill as kids, usually ending up with a scold from mum about the unshakable grass stains on the seat of their pants.

Coffee: We can be very picky when it comes to our caffeine, which is why the Hunter boasts some spectacular coffee. Lines of bleary-eyed caffeine addicts regularly pour out of One Penny Black in Newcastle, Dark Horse Espresso in Wickham, Double Shot Espresso in Belmont and Cafe Enzo in Glen Oak…

Swimming at the Bogey Hole: Created by convict labour for Commandant Morisset’s personal use in 1819, the Bogey Hole swimming pool is a secluded spot to enjoy a cool dip. Bonus points if you have ever held onto the chain facing the ocean as a wave breaks over the top of you. 

Yelling ‘Taxi!’ when someone breaks a glass at the pub: The joke has broken the tension of many glass smashes throughout the region, typical of the camaraderie for our fellow drinker in the Hunter.

One schnitzel please, Harry: Harry’s Schnitzels at The Junction have long been renown in the region, even before their funky branding facelift. Find hordes of salty teenagers fresh from the surf, businesspeople ducking out for a quick lunch and everyone in between getting their fix from this bustling takeaway shop.

Jim’s Ice-creamery: Many folks have memories of foraging through pockets for change to get a handful of lollies from Jim’s as a child. Now located in Hamilton, Jim’s also provide great milkshakes and ice-cream.

Newcastle City Farmers Markets: This sprawling market sells mounds of fresh, local produce every Sunday, as well as an artesian collection of homemade relishes, desserts, homewares.  Streetfood from every corner of the globe also sells out. The line for a spinach and fetta gozleme is long, but drizzled with lemon and piping hot, it’s worth the wait.

Newcastle Museum: Located in a former railway workshop in Honeysuckle, it showcases the city’s past, present and future in an extensive collection of artefacts and  exhibitions. 

Fishing at the Harbour: On any evening you can find a handful of fishers dotted along the foreshore, fishing rod in hand,  admiring the lights of the dockyard against the inky waterfront.

Rowie’s Bottle Shop deliveries:  Just arrived at a restaurant and forgot your wine? No worries, call Rowie’s on Hunter Street and describe what you like – maybe a Tasmanian Pinot Noir, or a bottle of bubbly. Expect your bottle to be hand delivered within 20 minutes.

Morpeth sourdough: This salty, crunchy sourdough baked daily out of Morpeth appears in scores of restaurant and food stores across the region.

The sticky date pudding at Goldbergs: Served absolutely soaked in butterscotch syrup and with a generous serving of ice cream or cream on the side – or both.”

Read more…

Forever ago

Forever ago

Beware desensitising the term “rape”

"…But the casual, flippant use of the term "rape" in instances that do not involve sexual violence is highly problematic in that it trivialises one of the most despicable invasions of a human being.

Desensitising the masses to the term “rape” is just another way the conversation surrounding sexual assault is derailed or diluted in society.”

Avoid the rape simile - read more…

Afternoon by the harbour with icecream

You’ll Learn.

You’ll learn how to walk,
You’ll learn how to write,
You’ll learn how to read,
You’ll brush your own hair
You’ll master a sport,
You’ll make your own lunch,
You’ll explore your first kiss,
You’ll learn how to study,
You’ll learn how to be a friend,
You’ll learn how to drive,
You’ll explore making love,
You’ll understand bills,
You’ll learn how to write a résumé,
You’ll understand your alcohol limit,
You’ll die of your first heartbreak,
You’ll experience travelling,
You’ll get that great job,
You’ll experience that one person,
You’ll learn how to be a parent,
You’ll experience a promotion,
You’ll lose your parents,
You’ll experience worry for children,
You’ll experience your first wrinkle,
You’ll master a hobby,
You’ll enjoy your first greys,
You’ll understand your health limits,
You’ll hold hands as you drift away,

And you’ll know.
The most important thing you’ll ever do,

Is fall inlove with yourself.

Ola! Saluna on King Street is my new favourite nesting spot. The menu boasts flavoursome, light meals, the coffee is smooth and strong, and the atmosphere is all about relaxation and comfort. Naice

Ola! Saluna on King Street is my new favourite nesting spot. The menu boasts flavoursome, light meals, the coffee is smooth and strong, and the atmosphere is all about relaxation and comfort. Naice

The front of us was made to be awkward and defensive.

When I was young and invincible,
I fell.
Quite badly
Onto my back,
Against timber stairs.

The white-hot shock
Was the sort of pain
That nearly fills me again
When the vivid memory orbits
Into my consciousness.

This could be why

My skeleton seems to fit better
When I am cuddled
From the back,
Not the front.

The front of a skeleton is defensive,
Dipping valleys and jaded peaks.
Shoulder bones smeared with thin skin
knock against the other’s,

Oddly placed hip bones
Laid with fine sheets of flesh
Jar outward.
They sit like the locked jaw
of a defiant youth.

With two arms
That can only function forward,
The front of us was made
To be awkward
And defensive. 

But in the evenings I observe how,

Skin is drawn softly across
the slight rivets of my back;
the back of my ribcage,
the back of my pelvis.

And my spine.

The spine, 


I think my fall, onto my back,
Is why 
I prefer a person filling
The anti-space 
My body leaves
As I lie curled and cosy

An extra defense between
The world
And my back,
With skin pulled gently,
Over unassuming bones.

Things I thought I’d know at 23


"I RECENTLY turned 23. It’s a horrible nondescript birthday that means nothing and matters less.

At 23, you’ve probably finished your education in a degree that sounded about right when you were enjoying non-stop partying in year 12.

At 23, you’ve probably moved out of home into a charming yet derelict sharehouse and are forming some pretty serious bonds with the daddy long-leg spiders in your room.

At 23, you’re probably staring upward at the steep incline of a career ladder with trepidation, or putting off thinking about it until a More Sensible Age (hint: it doesn’t exist).

At 23, there are no excuses for not organising your own healthcare, or misunderstanding the difference between a quality car and a tin can, or not being able to prepare a meal without a microwave (though you’re entitled to one phone call to mum until you’re at least 30).

But this isn’t meant to be my 20s. Ten years ago, at 13, I thought I had forecast my future self quite succinctly. I was one of those kids who wrote a lot of lists, arranged my stuffed toys by height and worked really hard to get my Sims characters promoted. You can imagine….”

Read more:

Saturday morning

I sit on the slightly slanting balcony of this century old terrace in Newcastle. Geographically, I live in The Hill, but my rickety old terrace sits at the far end of the suburb amongst the grandiose towering structures from yesteryear, perched high and proud and double glazed overlooking the coastline. The ocean is just a headturn glance away from my place too, and it gleams today in that way that makes you question if you’ve ever properly understood the colour blue before now.

My terrace is just one of a slew of similar structures on this street, the duplication varying only if you look twice; an extra balcony added here, a different paint job there, a couple chimneys poking out the top cheekily. Attics converted into an extra floor like a game of structural duplo; precarious, but stable.

People dressed in exercise gear with steaming lattes in hand, businessmen shifting uncomfortably in the glaring winter sun and teenagers with guitar cases in hand come and go, slamming their front doors. Each door shouts a different sound - the ching of the screen door, the thud of the wooden door, the clang of the iron doors. All is still once again.

A balding man walks by with his tiny daughter, her corkscrew blonde curls bouncing playfully on top of her head. She squeals delightedly as she comes across the neighbour’s cat, lolling luxuriously in the sun. The cat is gorgeous by anyone’s judgement - brown, with flecks of gold, and a fuzzy tail that whips curiously to counter the small hand now rubbing it’s head. Giving into the pleasure, the cat shuts its eyes and basks in the affection momentarily. The father is already two letterboxes down the street and continues to saunter along, so the little girl abandons the cat and scampers after him. The cat sits up, startled, its bell chiming indignantly. 

The breeze winds it’s way between each leaf on each towering tree on the street, the rustling being the sort of thing you don’t hear when lamenting an impending deadline or a hefty bill. But today it sounds lazy and relaxed, like the trees are yawning and stretching on this unusually warm Saturday morning. 

Ding! goes my mobile. What am I doing, a friend asked. I look around from my spot on my terrace balcony, running my eyes across the glorious blue ocean vista, the Saturday morning foot commuters and the gold-flecked cat, now climbing the nearest oak tree. Nothing much.

Friday dusk/Saturday morning

There are reasons to stay alive

There are reasons to stay alive

The first bite of your favourite meal
After a day that was too long.

The hug you have when the other person
Doesn’t let go quickly.

The warm glow of the sunshine
On a chilly autumn morning.

The first kiss
With someone you’re starting to care for.

The joy and wonderment small children
Approach their daily life with.

The last page of the book
That changed your life.

There are reasons to stay alive

Early morning air
Filling your lungs and flushing your face.

A late night text message
That makes your heart beat hard.

Remembering something funny
And laughing out loud.

Sitting with your grandmother
Listening to the story of her life.

Making love beneath the sheets
With a person who holds you closely.

There are reasons to stay alive

Finding a crumpled fifty
In last winter’s coat pockets.

Getting a smile and a nod
From your stern boss.

Having a wonderful dream
And waking up smiling.

Wondering who you’ll be
In ten, twenty, fifty years.

Watching a bird tend to her young
And realising life is precious.


Anonymous said: Emma, do you have somewhere (besides the herald) where you put all your writing. It'd be good to read more of it.

You can read a muddled amalgamation of my writing over the past five years by following this link:


A tiny girl with heavy-set dimples on milky skin darts out of a dusty brick home onto a cobbled cold street. Her parents are enjoying a pot of tea and delicately-named pastries a few doors down with a woman with a twitchy nose, and her older brother with hair that is never neat is supposed to be watching over her. She evades him easily - hardly necessary as he sits engrossed in a hardbound leather book about the dark arts that is roughly half the size of his small body. 

She takes a moment to drink in the rare glow of the winter sun until her cheeks feel a little pink, then skips on. A small cat with a bushy gold tail tiptoes out of a nearby alley way, it’s feminine features turning to survey her critically. She sticks her tongue out and dances on, a glacial wind cutting through the warmth of her cheeks. The cat disappears with a swish of it’s bright tail. 

A plump baker with eyes that reflect the colour of a clear sky wrinkles his nose at her, standing five foot nothing on the steps of his cosy bakery. Reaching inside a moment, he tosses her a croissant. The freshly baked pastry encases a warm strawberry jam that oozes generously onto the small girl’s fingers as she tears at it with her baby teeth. She cries out a high-pitched thank you over her shoulder and she skips on down the street. She can see the clouds are pregnant with snow, and stuffs her tiny hands into her pockets as the temperature trickles down another degree. The cat reappears from nowhere, darts up a crinkly bare tree with branches as spindly as a witch’s nails and watches on. 

Her dimples resurface shyly when she sees him, a small boy drawing a figure eight in the frost on a door step of a white tiled manor. He looks up from infinity, and grins back at her. His cheeks are smattered with a light dusting of brown freckles, like he might have stood too close when the blue-eyed baker dusted cocoa on the pastries. He jumps up and their hands encase. With a wink and a toss of her short brown hair, she pulls him onward. Before they disappear into a speck, the cat with the gold tail stalks on, eying them.

The boy with the cocoa cheeks and the girl with the heavy-set dimples dash off the cobbled street down an embankment. They dodge all manner of silver buds, blossoming in the dewy frosted incline with vigour and catching the sunlight like tiny mirrors. Suddenly a small creek appears, shimmering luxuriously. Each droplet of water in the creek seems to move in unison, like a cluster of horses galloping across a valley in warmer months. The two peer closer, enamoured. Tiny speckles of transparent fish dance through the water, with ruby red eyes glimmering upwards. Suddenly, cocoa-cheeks drops the hand of the girl with the heavy-set dimples, and squats next to the creek. The cat with the gold tail curls itself around a particularly frail treetrunk, inquisitively.

Cocoa-cheeks scoops a handful of the transparent fish with the ruby eyes from the creek. Their tiny transparent bodies immediately disappear upon leaving the water, leaving only a handful of gleaming red ruby eyes in hand. They roll around in his hand, hard and vibrant against his pale shaking hand. The small girl gasps as he tips the rubies into her tiny hand, and she pockets them quickly, guiltily. Suddenly, her hand knocks against something cold in her pocket, a small gold filigree chain strung through a porcelain face with two cast iron hands. She’s late, she realises. Turning to him, she knows she must dart onward. She leans in and presses her pink lips against his cocoa-cheeks. She darts upward back to the road, giggling a little as the silver blossoms underfoot scoot out of her way indignantly. Looking back fleetingly, she sees his face still staring in wonderment after her dimples. See you tomorrow, she cries. She skips quickly back down the cobbled street, a cat with a bushy gold tail unknowingly in her wake.

Arriving at her faded bronze door, she steadies her breathing and quietly slips back inside. She walks down the hall, sneaking a glance into the warm sitting room, where her brother sits where she left him, by the crackling fire, bound book on lap. She climbs the stairs two at a time, and slips into her bedroom. The force of her slamming the wooden door makes the dusty old chandelier that hangs above creak and rock precariously. She sits on her bed, and scoops the rubies out, surveying their opulence against her own dusty, cosy room. She deposits them into a tiny silver tin, listening to the quiet smatter as they hit the bottom. The cat with the bushy gold tail leaps onto her windowsill, curling its tail around it’s body and watching on. She stares, startled for a moment, but is diverted by her mother’s coo up the stairs for dinner. She skips out of the room, led by the smell of rich roast beef simmering ripely.

The cat with the bushy gold tail silently patters into the now empty room, and takes the tiny silver tin in mouth. The cat makes it’s way towards the window, intending to return to the creek and release the rubies in the water so they might return to their lucid transparent state and swim forth. Everything beautiful deserves to be free.


On reverse sexism

An article was published in 12/4’s Weekender in which I explored the difficulties female tradespeople can face when trying to break what I dubbed the ‘blue collar glass ceiling’. The article primarily focused on a small female budding electrician named Ella Hepplewhite. It was, as per the rapidly changing journalistic environment, published on the Herald’s website as well as in print.

Ah, the Internet. A platform that affords seemingly endless possibilities to haphazardly declare opinions under the guise of anonymity. Freedom of speech is widely considered as the unsanitised right for a person to declare what they think to whomever they may want to declare it, and the freedom of speech muscle (likely located somewhere in the fist) is never better exercised than when online.

An interesting comment was left on the article online. Someone calling themselves simply ‘Tradie’, presumably mono-named from birth by hopeful tradespeople parents who had a great admiration for Madonna, posted the following.

‘‘This article is down right sexist and demeaning towards male tradies. It is this sort of attitude that is where the problems starts from. I thought the whole idea was that no gender possessed a greater skill, and that we were all equal as we bring our own unique talents to the job. To blatantly state that one person is better at doing something then [sic] the other due to their gender, contradicts the entire equal opportunities argument.’’

But is it possible to be sexist towards males, and moreso, can it actually affect their performance in male-dominated industries?

Let’s traverse momentarily. Recently, catalysed by the somewhat acerbic commentator Andrew Bolt and, to a lesser extent, the ultra-Libertarian Institute of Public Affairs, our slow-talking PM was quick to defend Senator George Brandis’ comments that ‘‘people have a right to be bigots’’. His comment was in relation to Bolt’s 2011 breach of the Racial Discrimination Act where a Federal Court judge found a pair of articles written by Bolt were not in good faith and contained factual errors. I would dare to venture that conceptually, sexism and racism find their roots in the same tendency of ‘discrimination’ towards an oppressed group. However, an interesting point of difference between these siblings of discrimination is the typical stance of the dominant group.

If a Caucasian person declared that the discontent many people expressed with the repeal of the bill was ‘racist towards whites’, it’s likely that many would dismiss that person as some sort of deluded Neo-Nazi. I can already hear the titter of the Q&A crowd as a faceless suit sits comfortably at the panel basking in the deluded glow of the entitled declaration.

So why then has ‘Tradie’ lept to the conclusion that it is possible to oppress the oppressor in the realm of gender? This is largely referred to as reverse-sexism - being ‘sexist’ towards men.

It seems problematic that ‘Tradie’ extrapolated that the article is demeaning towards male tradespeople when Hepplewhite discussed going entire working days without having access to a toilet. It also seems difficult to comprehend that the article was sexist when Lady Tradies support group founder Wendy Pinch spoke of female tradespeople being forced to change their names on their resume to sound masculine in order to get an interview. However, I respect the right to be bigoted, as per my Prime Minister’s sparkling example.

It goes without saying that male tradespeople bring a skillset that can be just as valuable as a female’s in a trade (or perhaps it doesn’t, judging on ‘Tradie’s comment). In that article I hoped to explore what females could potentially bring to a trade, because with less than 2% female representation in the trades industry largely, ‘Tradie’, they aren’t.

Perhaps ‘Tradie’ found greater concern to be worried about male tradespeople than female tradespeople because he was uncomfortable with females receiving (relatively small) media attention for their struggle in trade. Maybe he feels too much attention might kick male tradespeople off their perch as the dominating gender in trade, and that big, sweaty hoards of female tradespeople might take over the industry and demean males right back.

Highly doubtful, but you would survive, ‘Tradie’. Trust me, I should know - I’m female.