HighCast 040 – Laurence Manser

Laurence is a stick insect enthusiast and martial arts instructor.

What a great discussion. Apart from the fact that we had a few technical difficulties and I could barely talk this discussion was informative and fun.

Laurence is a quirky, funny and thoughtful man. If I hadn’t of started HighCast I probably would never have discovered his interests and learnt about the interesting world of stick insects and bugs. I might have watched a documentary about them but it wouldn’t be the same.

It really goes to show that we don’t interact enough as humans anymore. We see someone, judge them based on superficial grounds and then move on like ships in the night, but if we don’t connect over conversation, how are we to learn the intricacies of talents, hobbies and joys.

I don’t know why I’m surprised anymore. Each conversation opens up a realm of discovery and engagement I didn’t have previously. This one was no different. Thanks Laurence.


HighCast 039 – Charlotte Pointeaux

Charlotte is a highlands local and founder at Sister Souls Mentoring.

Charlotte came to HighCast prepared. She had a book of notes full of facts and points she wanted to cover off in our discussion. We got through most of them, but like most of my podcast discussions, we meandered and muddled away across broad and varied topics in doing so.

Charlotte is one of those rare people that want to talk about meaningful things. She isn’t satisfied to go through life without pondering what is important, what motivates us and what the bloody hell are we doing here?

It’s not often that I get to meet people like Charlotte but when I do I can tell straight away that we’re going to get along. She gets it. I can’t really explain what it is, rather to say that she is able to converse about spirituality and life beyond what most are willing or able.

I’m really keen to watch Sister Souls Mentoring grow and evolve. You can tell Charlotte has founded it for deeply personal and passionate reasons. In our conversation we pondered whether helping individuals was the way to build community resilience. I think it is and I think Charlotte is helping our community become stronger with every young woman she mentors.

I feel like the world is a better place having Charlotte in it and I’m a better person for knowing her.

Thanks Charlotte.


HighCast 038 – Carolyn Smee + Joseph Lyons

Carolyn is a DJ and owner of Smeebiz does good things. Joseph is Marketing Manager, Interchange Australia.

In a time where everything is commercialised and meaning is disparate, music, primal and heady is a beacon for hippy’s and marketers alike. It was within this realm that I conversed with Carolyn and Joseph about music, life and community and how music is a means of creativity, passion and unity.

Whether or not we love Prince and Kanye, we can all bond over music. We can come together through lyrics, melody and beat. It’s like our hearts pound at different rhythms but in the end they’re all beating and that’s what matters.

This is particularly true of the Rockcan initiative Carloyn and Joseph support. It’s people of all abilities rocking, dancing and playing together. If this isn’t what community is about I don’t know what is.

In the wake of a (at the time of writing this too close to call Whentworth by-election) that proved decisive in it’s message to our leaders, the vision of those that bring us together couldn’t be brighter.

Thanks Carolyn and Joseph shining through music.


I got a bee hive and bees

I blogged a while back about wanting bees and I’d ordered a bee hive, it turned up…

I opened the box and to my, *insert sarcastic eye roll*, I purchased a really expensive piece of ikea furniture, complete with obligatory construction tool…

I’m not the most patient or precise of people at the best of times so I took the hives production as an exercise in exactly those things. I did OK but could have been better.

Last week John Scott from Eezy Beez called me to collect a swarm, so off we went, and we did…

Now the bees are just chillin in front yard…

Can’t wait to put hive together properly and start collecting honey..!

HighCast 037 – Judy Hannan

Judy is a Wollondilly local, Mayor of Wollondilly Shire Council and independent candidate for seat of Wollondilly in 2019 NSW state election.

I’m glad to have conversed with Judy today. She comes across as warm, friendly and with a kind heart. You can tell she has a keen intelligence and wit, and is genuine about her desire to make a difference.

Our conversation ranged across a number of topics but with a central theme of authenticity and accountability in politics. We bemoaned the lack of authenticity in current political debate and culture and the need for grass roots, local and real political activism.

Judy is current Mayor of Wollondilly Shire Council and has been involved in local council for a long period, you get glimpses of “politician” you see on the television and hear on the radio, but mostly she is just a mum who wants to make sure her community can put food on the table and might have enough for a well earned trip to Disney World, I like that, we need more of Judy and less career politician in politics.

I’m sure if Judy and I got into the ins and outs of her politics we’d find lots that we disagree on however today we saw eye to eye. Two people, of different communities and world views who come together to talk about reasonable people, displaying common sense whilst achieving balanced outcomes across economy, environment and community.

I welcome a discussion with any politician, local, state or federal from our community, but you better be as personable and reasonable as Judy 😛

Thanks Judy.


HighCast 036 – Susan Conroy

Susan is a Southern Tablelands local and Executive Director of Southern Tablelands Arts.

When I met Susan she was limping and using a crutch to support herself when walking after a leg injury…

I thought to myself, I might need to push this discussion a bit, but I was not prepared for the dynamo that is Susan. I should have realised that the fact she’d come to the Wingecarribee from Goulburn with only one leg meant that Susan is a woman of action and one prepared to discover the world around her.

Discover she has, a one time social practitioner, Susan is now an arts administrator who uses her role to build stronger and more resilient communities through creativity. It’s funny how as a person who’s profession it is to prevent catastrophe I feel that in many ways, through her work to build social connections, engagement and empowerment, Susan is doing more to mitigate disaster than most emergency service workers.

I was delighted to hear Susan muse on the role of the creative process and creative people. We take our lives so seriously these days, we’re in such a rush to complete all the mundane tasks, that sometimes we don’t appreciate the beauty in our world and take the time to explore meaning and purpose. Susan facilitates us all to do this and I feel better knowing that she is…

I recently read a quote about career. It went along the lines of don’t focus on jobs rather on building relationships with like minded people who have positive, can do,  attitudes and you’ll find really fulfilling opportunities. After meeting Susan I feel like she embodies this and I’m slowly learning from people like her…

Another fantastic conversation – Thanks Susan.


HighCast 035 – Tony Pycroft

Tony is a highlands local and owner of Pure Jiu Jitsu Southern Highlands.

What a story..!

I was sooooo not expecting it. I mention to most guests that I try not to prepare too much. I prepare enough to know what I can converse about if the conversation isn’t really going anywhere but not enough that I loose elements of discovery and intrigue. In this conversation it would never have mattered.

From the outset Tony was incredibly honest and sincere. He told his story with bravery and integrity and with a contentment that only comes from people who have faced their adversity and conquered it.

Tony found martial arts after struggles with drugs and alcohol. Through martial arts he found passion and love and a meaning for life he didn’t have before.

I can see a lot of myself in Tony. I haven’t been to the depths that he has but I know people who have, and I’ve given the party life a fairly good shake, so I have a certain understanding about his trials and tribulations.

Since the podcast went live I’ve had a couple of people tell me that this is my most interesting podcast so far. Whether or not it is, I’ll leave to you, but I can tell you that I’m a better person for having the conversation and doing this podcast.

If anything, through telling Tony’s story, my redemption becomes clearer.

Thanks Tony!


HighCast 034 – Hamish Ta-mé

Hamish is a highlands local and visual artist.

I’m almost a week behind on my blogging. Life has kind of gotten in the way. It’s ironic because a lot of what Hamish and I discussed was about the different ways to do life and the role creativity and art plays.

Hamish is an articulate and funny man. You can tell that he has enjoyed his life and has embraced beauty in the world. His perspective, both in front and behind the camera is nuanced and intelligent, and for want of a better word, unique.

I said on the podcast that I needed to have the conversation. After a tough couple of weeks at work I was in need of inspiration. I needed to hear from, and relate to, creative people and I left the conversation with Hamish feeling reinvigorated.

Creativity, the creative process, creating things, things that others appreciate, is hard. It takes effort and dedication. From time to time, in the administration and logistics of organising the podcast I forget that it should be hard, it all can’t be fun and it’s only through difficulty that creativity really shines. Hamish reminded me of that.

Thanks Hamish.


HighCast 033 – Tim Wyszynski

Tim is a highlands local and arborist.

I need to get more young folks on the podcast.

Tim’s story and point of view is refreshing, invigorating and funny. He has a voice and tone I often hear on the pages of reddit (shout out to r/australia), that get’s drowned out by others, outside of the web, that seek to speak on his behalf, but don’t understand where he comes from or why he feels and thinks the way he does.

I really enjoyed this conversation because we were able to relate on our hopes and ambitions but also on our anxieties. We both want to live in a regional area that is open, fair and embraces its regionalism. We are both perplexed at decisions about development and infrastructure that don’t make sense to us. We’re both trying to figure out our place and trying to make the most of our challenges and opportunities.

I’m so fortunate to have had another great conversation and get another valuable and different perspective on the world. If I hadn’t of started HighCast, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to hear Tim’s perspective, let alone bring it to a wider audience.

Thanks Tim!


Something bigger than ourselves

We look to our leaders for purpose and direction, we look to those with responsibility for inspiration and motivation, and we crave inclusion in something bigger than ourselves.

It’s why we get so disappointed when we witness such poor actions from parliamentarians in Canberra and why we find hope in organisations like NSW State Emergency Service.

Everyone at NSW SES has a leadership role, I know because I witness it week in and week out.

Whether it’s during training, when we’re helping you in storms or when we’re responding to road crashes, every single one of our members is providing leadership to our community and within our own ranks.

I notice it in our meetings when we’re briefed on safety, when we’re performing preparedness tasks on our vehicles and everyone is lending a hand, and when we’re debriefing after a tough job and your team really cares about your welfare.

I know SES is full of leaders, even though it’s often unspoken, but you just know that a task will be completed because individuals care enough and are willing to contribute despite difficulty or misgiving.

We can trust that SES is full of leaders, it mightn’t be said, but it’s always at forefront of mind.

You can tell because ordinary people are willing to share a burden much too heavy for most and give their personal time freely and without expectation of reward.

Leadership at SES is never forgotten because it’s about trust, accountability and respect. 

Respect for your fellow volunteers, for community and for the roundel.

It is professionalism and integrity we display to, and with our rank, and about the safety we entrust when providing our service.

In SES we know that leadership is more than just a position it’s who we are.

If only our parliamentarians were the same.