I've been in Sydney nearly nine years now, and I still feel like I'm settling into it; finding new places, new things to marvel at, new friends. One of the nicest things about writing here on Sugar Mountain is making connections. A comment from a reader makes me over-the-moon happy. It is always wonderful when someone responds to your writing, when something resonates or they just want to say 'thanks' or 'hey'. Writing in a medium like this often feels distant and anonymous, so it's a real dream when like-minded folks find you and you find them.

In the last six months this writing has lead me to two very talented, inspiring and damn fine ladies whose work I have loved for some time. A comment here and there on Elize's beautiful photographs or Ngaio's amazing illustrations and before you know it you're going for dinner, going for walks, going to gigs and having ciders on the couch together. You're friends. It's pretty wonderful.

I found this post from Stevie really compelling; it made me think about how fulfilling and important these kinds of female friendships are to me. An email from my friend who is moonlighting as a curator in NYC at the moment, who I am so proud of, who I can be so real with. Text messages with my cousin that are just so sharp and completely hilarious, nightly talks with my sister who gives me strength and support just by being her. Friends that I work with and go for pho dates with, who know me inside and out, know my daily habits and probably all my worries. Long overdue and rambling emails from friends in Adelaide, friends in London. Morning cups of tea and kitchen talks with my housemate that are so easy and aligned we are, increasingly, pretty much the same person.

It's a blessing, really, to have so many babes in my life.

* Pictures from Olive and Oak.


IMG_5677.JPGI'm running behind on things here. Too busy with life to pay mind to old Sugar Mountain, much as I love to write. I know I need to make more tie to write, but it's hard when there are exhibitions and drinks and dinners and beach walks and yoga and lectures and picnics to be had. Last SUNDAY was special though. Started out early in a most spectacular way with a Nathi Crying Country Ceremony in the Botanic Gardens, just after sunrise. I cried and laughed at the stories, then we all shared breakfast in the Utzon Room at the Opera House, where little Rosie and I pressed our heads against the window taking in the grey harbour (above).

The All About Women festival at the Sydney Opera House was a pretty wonderful program of speakers and events. I went down with a few of my lovely aunties and my cousins Mabel, Tess and Lucy, saw friends and inspiring ladies who I know, had champagne and soaked in a lot of interesting ideas. I was impressed and in awe of Anita Sarkeesian and Tara Moss in the morning session, who spoke so eloquently and powerfully and passionately about harassment and violence against women - I feel that there is no more pertinent issue for feminists, for our society, at the moment. Germaine Greer reminded us what she's so important and funny, talking about aged care and the women it leaves behind (being both aged and those caring for the aged), Clementine Ford and Celeste Liddle spoke about Australian media and Roxane Gay was quiet, nuanced and terribly good at shaking things up. I heard the spectacular Elizabeth Gilbert, who stood barefoot on stage and had the whole room enthralled, telling us how to be creative, how to get out of our own way and have courage. She is such a gift, so intelligent, articulate, compassionate, funny as hell and so engaged with life, I just loved hearing her speak.

You can watch and listen to the sessions here.




CYGOh man, do I have a thing or two to say about Call Your Girlfriend. Call your Girlfriend is 'a podcast for long distance besties everywhere' that my cuz Lucy put me onto. I always knew she was smarter than me, but this really hit it home. I spent a good week back-listening to all their previous podcasts which was totally hilarious, informative, entertaining and inspiring all at once. Walking to Bronte, on the train, cooking dinner, at my desk, folding washing, all with these top of the pops amazing ladies in my ears. Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman got me down with a whole range of important issues, including low maintenance ladyswagger, athelisure, shine theory, laptovulating, the importance of pie-charts, referring to Ruth Bader Ginsberg as Notorious RBG, and just a whole heap of smart talk about interesting ideas. They are the kind of women you want to be BFFs with, and listening to CYG is the next best thing to sitting down with a glass of wine and your bestie and talking about what matters. Sometimes it's political, it's online harassment and Hilary and changing your name, and sometimes it's menstruation news and dudes in leggings and that's all OK. It's all important talk.

Much like my young cuz Lucy, these women make me feel good about the world. That yes, it's messy and oh, so depressing in parts, but that there are amazing, strong, talented and kind as hell women out there that are doing good things. It makes me want to fist pump and give high-fives all day long…

Don't be a fool, get on it.


QUESTIONSI'm a HUGE fan of the Q&A section of The Guardian. I love what you can glean about a person from just a few sharp questions. And, being the Guardian, they get to Q&A their way all around town, chatting to the most interesting and intelligent people. Five of my favourite women below - favourites for their life and work and humour and heart and, now, some of their answers. Since I can't sit down to a cup of tea with them directly, I get to defer to the Guardian. And as if I didn't already love Caitlin Moran, she just went ahead and took the words right out of my mouth when she said: 'I owe everything I am to Jo March in Little Women and Anne Shirley in Anne Of Green Gables'. Amen.

So, here are some of the more inspiring dames you could hope to know a bit about:

  • Donna Tartt Because if ever a woman could write, Donna can write - I am in awe of her prose and the strength in the stories she tells.
  • Bjork Because what a true artist - she continues to grow and inspire and still be amazing and relevant.
  • Allison Janney Because if I could be anyone in the world I'd probably be CJ Cregg from the West Wing and I believe that is entirely bcuase Allison Janney is so damn cool. Also, she kills me as the step-mother in Juno.
  • Julie Delpy Because her performance and writing and directing in works like Two Days in Paris and the Before series (oh, the Before series) is probably the most raw, honest, outstanding, humorous, perceptive and beautiful thing a woman in her twenties and thirties can experience.
  • Caitlin Moran Because Caitlin Moran's very existence makes me happy and calm and feel like things in the world might just be OK. Her How To Be A Woman made me laugh out loud more than is appropriate on the train, and gave me some of the better and most grounded descriptions of and arguments for feminism I've read (not that I've ever needed convincing). Her voice is pertinent and warm and amazingly on the money.

* Image of tea and Jennie Kwon jewels by Honestly WTF.