Monthly Archives: April 2019

LIVING GREEN: On Transition Street

TOGETHERNESS: Neighbours can help each other form happier, greener communities. Picture: Tricia HogbinTHERE are few opportunities to connect with neighbours these days. Children play in backyards or are busy with after-school activities. Families arrive and leave in cars, rarely bumping into their neighbours.

But in Newcastle there are exceptions – they are called ‘‘Transition Streets’’. Neighbours in transition streets know each other. They work together to build their community and help each other make positive environmental change.

I really like the idea of change happening at the street level. Attempts to influence change at a city, state or national level often fail. The problem seems too big and complicated. But if we consider the changes we can make within our own homes and our own streets, change seems less overwhelming. Success seems possible – partially if households come together and support each other.

Eleven streets and more than 80 households have already participated in the Transition Streets program. Co-ordinated by Transition Newcastle, the program helps neighbours support each other to reduce their energy and water bills, learn how to grow food, reduce waste, and build a more connected neighbourhood.

I recently visited one of the transition streets – Fitzroy Road in Lambton.

Julie Harding moved into Fitzroy Street just a few weeks before signing herself up as ‘‘street contact’’ for the Transition Streets program.

‘‘It was a great way to get to know the neighbours. I met people who I would not have otherwise gotten to know,’’ Julie said.

‘‘It’s incredible what a difference it makes when you know your neighbours. To be able to say hello to a familiar face. The program has changed the street for the families involved. The street feels safer for the kids.

‘‘We used a letter box drop to connect with neighbours initially. Seven households signed up. We hold regular get-togethers, involve the kids, and make it fun. Our ages range from 10 to 88.’’

A practical workbook, developed by Transition Newcastle, guides participants through the program. The workbook includes chapters on water, energy, food, waste, consumption and transport.

‘‘Each month we focus on a different chapter in the manual,’’ Julie said.

She especially enjoyed the transport chapter.

‘‘A few of us got panniers for our bikes and are riding to the supermarket and farmers markets.’’

For Fitzroy Street, the Transition Streets program is about to end.

‘‘But we’ll definitely continue to do things together beyond this year. We’re about to start a healthy cooking group, and will continue riding our bikes together,’’ Julie said.

Are you interested in helping your street become a Transition Street? Transition Newcastle are on the look-out for ‘‘street contacts’’ for the 2015 program. You’ll be supported by the Transition Newcastle team and be trained as a facilitator. For more information visit transitionnewcastle杭州龙凤 or phone William Vorobioff on 49673231.

You don’t need to live in Newcastle to create your own Transition Street. The program was initially inspired by the successful UK Transition Together program. Contact Transition Newcastle for more information.

Tricia shares tips for living better with less at littleecofootprints杭州龙凤419m and on Instagram (TriciaEco)

HEALTH: The new super foods

GOOD GRAINS: Freekeh, or green wheat grain, has four times the fibre of rice and is a good source of protein, iron, calcium and zinc.EACH and every year there are a couple of new foods that become part of our diet repertoire – a few years back it was chia, more recently kale and here a few that you may see a lot more of in 2015.


A fermented drink made by mixing the kefir grain with milk, which has been consumed for thousands of years and is known for its significant gastrointestinal benefits. To make kefir, milk (any milk) is combined with the kefir grain, which combines bacteria and yeast with casein protein, fat and lactose to produce a drink rich in micro-organisms that have a powerful probiotic effect in the gut. Kefir can be consumed as a milk drink or as a yoghurt and can even be made at home combining a kefir-starting culture with milk. Nutritionally kefir is low in calories and is rich in vitamin B12, B1, and vitamin K and may be a great daily addition for anyone dealing with irritable bowel syndrome or other gut dysfunction.


A German dairy product with almost half the calories of Greek yoghurt and no added sugar, quark has been used by dieters as a food that supports weight loss for some time. Quark is traditionally made without the use of rennet and in production the curd is stirred to give a thick creamy texture similar to that of cottage cheese. Available in both full-fat and low-fat varieties, quark has a mild tangy taste and can be used to cook in both sweet and savoury recipes and is a good source of protein and calcium.


Forget kale, now there is something even better – kalettes. The mix of kale and brussels sprouts gives you a new nutrient packed vegetable with a mild flavour and is much softer than a tough brussels sprout. With a serve offering 30per cent of your daily vitamin C requirement and a massive dose of vitamin K, kalettes just became a whole lot more super than its parents. Cook in a little olive oil to maximise nutrient absorption.


Freekeh is an ancient grain that originated from the Eastern Mediterranean. Freekeh is green wheat that is picked before maturity and then roasted and dried. Freekeh can be considered a super grain with four times the fibre of rice and a good source of protein, iron, calcium and zinc and even though it is a relatively high-carb food with 26grams total carbs per 45g serve, a significant amount of this carbohydrate is fibre.


Visit any health food store or cafe and you will notice that buckwheat is being seen on menus more than ever before. Often thought of as a cereal grain, buckwheat is actually a fruit seed and makes a great substitute for grains for individuals who need to avoid gluten. The regular consumption of buckwheat is linked to both reductions in blood cholesterol and blood pressure, a benefit thought to come from the flavonoids or phytonutrients found in buckwheat. Also rich in magnesium and fibre, buckwheat flour can be used to make bread, pancakes and even pasta, while the seed itself can be used as a base for salads.

Black rice

Originally it was white rice only, then we saw a brown rice as a common option and now it is not uncommon to see black rice sushi when you are buying your lunch. Rice that looks purpler in colour than it does black, especially when cooked, black rice can be found across a range of rice types and was traditionally considered a special type of rice based on the proposed health benefits it offered. Black rice contains a little more protein and fibre than brown rice, as well as the powerful anthocyanin antioxidants linked to reductions in cancer risk. As is the case with all rice, black rice is still an energy dense food so needs to be consumed in controlled amounts, but a nutrient-rich one nevertheless.


Forget white, green and even oolong, now the tea of the moment is matcha. Matcha is finely milled green tea powder and is thought to offer extra health benefits as you consume the entire tea leaf when you drink it, not just the water and as such are consuming significantly more antioxidants than you would usually get from a cup of tea. Matcha is also thought to have a stimulatory, and possibly fat-burning effect thanks to its relatively high caffeine content. So next time you are enjoying a cuppa at your local cafe, don’t be surprised if matcha is also on the menu.

Tony Abbott cabinet reshuffle: winners and losers

David Johnston has been demoted from cabinet.Morrison lands new super-sized portfolioJacqueline Maley: women in cabinet – the power of two


Sussan Ley Assistant minister of education – Health and Sport

Ley will become the second woman to enter the Abbott government’s cabinet as Health and Sport Minister. Ley, who has worked as a farmer, air traffic controller and public servant, has performed well as assistant minister of education when she took on childcare.


Scott Morrison  Immigration – Social Services

Morrison has been one of the highest-performing ministers in cabinet as immigration minister who effectively “stopped the boats”. Morrison has being promoted to Social Services as the Abbott government looks to focus on family welfare next year. Morrison is labelling Social Services as a portfolio for “economic participation”.

Kevin Andrews Social Services – Defence

Andrews’ move from social services has come as a surprise to many who were expecting Morrison to take the portfolio given his militarisation of the immigration round. Andrews has previously been workplace relations and immigration minister and is considered a “safe pair of hands”.

Peter Dutton Health – Immigration

Dutton will lead the Immigration department and the Australian Border Force. Dutton has not had a great year as the health minister as he struggled to make a case for the GP co-payment. He will continue to oversee Australia’s offshore processing of asylum seekers in Nauru and Manus Island.


David Johnston DefenceJohnston was heavily criticised for his lacklustre performance as defence minister, which was further damaged when he said he would not trust Australia’s shipbuilder ASC to “build a canoe”. He will move to the backbench.


Josh Frydenberg Parliamentary secretary to PM – Assistant Treasurer

Frydenberg excelled as a key figure in the government’s red-tape repeal policies. He is seen as politically close to Greg Hunt, Scott Morrison and Christopher Pyne. He will replace Arthur Sinodinos who resigned last week.

Simon Birmingham Parliamentary secretary for environment – Assistant Minister of Education

Birmingham, or “Birmo”, is considered as a rising star in the party and is one of the few Coalition MPs who have publicly voiced support for same-sex marriage. This is considered a “sideways” movement.

Brad Haddin needs to make runs, says Darren Lehmann

Brad Haddin’s leadership and wicketkeeping have been deemed more important than his form with the bat, but coach Darren Lehmann has said the veteran’s alarming batting slump must end.

The 37-year-old started the year hailed as one of the key players for Australia but approaches Christmas in the midst of a poor run with the bat that has taken the gloss off his contribution to the side.

Haddin has long viewed his role as a wicketkeeper first and batsman second, but knows the rules have been rewritten in the post-Adam Gilchrist era.

The consummate team man, Haddin has never cared much for numbers. When quick runs are needed, he is always prepared to sacrifice his wicket for the team rather than chase red ink.

The Australian hierarchy also appreciate his input in the dressing room, particularly with a rookie captain in place and Michael Clarke facing a lengthy stretch out injured.

Haddin starred in Australia’s 5-0 whitewash of England but, while his glovework has remained of a high standard, his runs have dried up.

With 92 runs in his past seven Tests at an average of 8.36, Haddin knows he needs a big score soon to silence the chatter about his future.

“We need Brad to make runs, he knows that,” Lehmann said on Sunday. “He’s been working really hard behind the scenes. He’d be disappointed with a couple of Test matches so far. He does offer a lot behind the scenes, which we really love, and his keeping has been exceptional.

“But still he’s got to make some runs. We can’t have our No.7 not making any runs, he knows that. He’s working really hard on it, so hopefully he’ll get some runs in Melbourne.”

A big knock in Melbourne or Sydney will book him a ticket to the Caribbean and the Ashes, but selectors face a difficult call if his lean run continues.

In Haddin’s favour is the lack of a clear heir apparent as only Matthew Wade and Peter Nevill head the list of possible replacements.

Lehmann has also publicly challenged Shane Watson to come good with the bat. Worrying for a No.3, he is averaging 24 this year and is yet to pass 50 in eight innings.

The all-rounder, however, played a vital role with his lively seamers in Brisbane that will continue in Melbourne with Mitchell Marsh sidelined. That may lead to a move down the order to No.6 after the selection of uncapped Queenslander Joe Burns.

“We think Shane Watson did a really good job for us with the ball,” Lehmann said. “Obviously we’d like him to make more runs but he did a good job with the ball and he can do that all-rounder role for us. That’s why we went with a batter.”

Watson’s 27.4 overs in Brisbane were the most he had bowled in a Test since Hobart in 2012, where he bowled 47.4 overs and broke down the following Test.

“Watson bowled really well, he was one of our best bowlers,” Lehmann said. “Didn’t get the wickets he’d like, but he certainly did the job we needed at the time. [He had] very good control. Bowled a lot more overs than normal, which was great to see. Expect him to do the same in Melbourne.”

Selectors expect David Warner to have suffered no worse than a bruised thumb and did not pick a shadow batsman in the 13-man squad.

“The initial signs were good,” Lehmann said. “I’m pretty confident he’s going to be fine.”

Marsh could not be considered because of a hamstring strain, but has not been ruled out for the fourth Test, starting January 6.

Ryan Harris, who missed the second Test with a slight quadriceps strain, bowled in the nets on Sunday and is expected to play in Melbourne, though a final call will be made later in the week.

Former Test bowler Ian Callen plays a straight bat to an ancient English craft

Ian Callen in his bat-making workshop in Tarrawarra. Photo: Eddie Jim Ian Callen in his bat-making workshop in Tarrawarra. Photo: Eddie Jim

Ian Callen in his bat-making workshop in Tarrawarra. Photo: Eddie Jim

Ian Callen in his bat-making workshop in Tarrawarra. Photo: Eddie Jim

Jess Moss: ‘Not sure if they know I played’When Peter Toohey was swept off his dancing feetPhil Carlson remembers, and that’s enough

Ian Callen’s body reminds him of his one Test for Australia so often it hurts – literally. When the pain in his back returns — sometimes so acute all he can do is lie down for days — he remembers where it all began.

He was 22 and reckoned he might have already been given a go – perhaps in the Centenary Test, or on the 1977 tour of England, certainly in the first outing for the establishment Australians following the World Series split.

Sam Gannon and Wayne Clark got in ahead of him against the touring Indians, but Callen kept taking wickets and was one of four changes for the Adelaide Oval decider of a series locked at two-all.

Already picked to tour West Indies the following month, he was given five innoculation injections the day before making his Test debut. One, yellow fever, had a slow-burn effect. “I was feeling terrible as the game went on,” he says.

This was a six-day Test, and on the fifth, as India made steady inroads chasing a mammoth 493 for victory, Callen went wicketless. He retreated to the team hotel with captain Bob Simpson, and collapsed in the foyer. “They put me on a drip, a nurse was in the room through the night.”

He awoke feeling better and eager to play his part, and in an eight-over spell removed Karsan Ghavri and Bishan Bedi to finish with six wickets for the match before Simpson brought himself on to wrap up the Test and the series. He is immensely proud, not least because of the personal rider.

“I reckon I hurt myself in that Test match – I was fighting against the way I was feeling, pushing through. That’s when I hurt my back. You wouldn’t think about giving a bloke five innoculations the day before a Test match these days, would you? But we got over the line.”

Being a fast bowler with the nickname “Mad Dog” points to a certain personality after stepping “over the line”, and Callen admits he was “a bit of a ratbag” who probably played up to the lunatic fast bowler tag. He says he didn’t like it. And just then, wife Susan appears with tea and cake and affectionately calls him “Doggy”.

He doesn’t know if batsmen were scared of him, but always believed he could put them on the back foot and get them out. “There weren’t too many blokes who could hook me. I learnt how to bowl a bouncer, how to control that space.”

This sporting life is what he always wanted. As a boy he’d raced home from school to watch the last session of Victorian games beamed live by a pre-Mark Scott ABC.

Cowper, Connolly, Sheahan, Stackpole, Bedford – these were the names he yearned to follow into the state team, and beyond. When a mate at Croydon High asked his ambition, Callen answered, “Play cricket for Australia.”

He began with Heathmont, missed the Dowling Shield pathway but got experience against “tough, hard men; you learned quickly”. He went to Carlton, progressed through the thirds, seconds, firsts, state seconds, firsts and into the Test team in the space of five years.

“I could take the ball away from the bat, take it off the wicket or jag one back. I knew I had a leg-cutter, that’s the hardest ball to play.”

He rates Ryan Harris’ ability to do likewise, but reckons Dennis Lillee was the only other bowler who’d mastered the art in his early days.

His Shield debut came with the instruction to “fix” Lillee up at the WACA in November 1976, payback after Lillee had hit Max Walker or Alan Hurst (he can’t recall which) in a previous encounter at the MCG. “I never got to bowl to him. Wasn’t that comfortable with it anyway.”

Memories of his early first class days are vivid. Richie Robinson made hundreds in Callen’s first four matches, “an unbelievable cricketer, could hook, pull, cut, drive on the up both sides of the wicket”.

In his fourth game he bowled David Hookes for nine. It was the only time in a six-innings stretch over 20 days that South Australia’s incredible young batsman failed to make a century.

“I got wickets. Then eight against Queensland, a five-for against New South Wales,” he says of the run in to the Centenary Test in March, 1977. “I thought I could have been selected, felt I’d done enough. I didn’t feel there was anyone I couldn’t bowl to.”

When eventually he lived that high school dream it was against what Callen thought “a wonderful team”. He pays credit to Bedi and Simpson for the great spirit of the contest, runs through the opposition with an almost misty eye.

His victims included Dilip Vengsarkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Gundappa Viswanath, “one of the best batsmen India’s ever had”. He fondly recalls Mohinder Armanath, the spin wizards Bedi, Erapalli Prasanna, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, “a terrific keeper” in Syed Kirmani.

He made 22 in a first-innings stand of 47 with Jeff Thomson, can still see the ball running down the path outside the Victor Richardson Gates, children in pursuit, after he’d slog-swept Bedi for six. His highest score in 53 first class games was only a dozen better.

Having bowled his heart (and ultimately his back) out, he sat in the rooms thinking a good night lay ahead. “We’d beaten a strong Test nation at full strength, us the minnows, the second-raters …” Don Bradman shook his hand, sat down for a chat. Then everyone packed their bags and left. “It felt empty.”

Barely a fortnight later he was in the Caribbean, struggling through a trial game in St Kitts. He played a one-day international in Antigua, remembers the pain of each follow-through. “They had me on the stretch rack at one stage,” Callen says of the years of treatment that followed. “With a fractured vertebrae!”

It restricted him to one first class game in two years; at Carlton he played as a batsman. When he returned for Victoria, Walker, Hurst et al were gone, Merv Hughes and Rod McCurdy charging through their footmarks. He fought his way back into national calculations, and toured Pakistan in 1982.

“I learnt to bowl within myself, was more like a stock bowler drying things up. But I could still let the odd one go.” A tour game in Multan was the first time Rod Marsh had kept wicket to him. “The first couple he got a bit of a shock.”

Lillee, Greg Chappell and Len Pascoe opted out of that tour, and there are many of their vintage happy to avoid a country Ian Botham famously thought a good place to send your mother-in-law. Callen suffered dysentry and hurt his knee, the tourists didn’t win even one of their nine matches, but he loved the experience.

The West Indies had planted a traveller’s seed. An airline strike during a stopover in Puerto Rico put Simpson’s tourists on a charter flight. Callen remembers gaps in the floor, broken windows, being able to see the pilot through what looked like saloon doors. “You could hear the steel band through the floor even before we landed!”

Two years ago he took Susan to Pakistan. In Lahore, their hotel lights gone and gunfire cracking through the night air, he said to his wife, “I hope our side’s winning!” The next morning the desk clerk insisted it was merely fireworks; they later heard that several people had been shot dead.

“We had a driver take us to Sialkot. There were kids on the back of bikes, a whole team on a tractor going off to play cricket. They were playing up alleyways, in fields … It was fantastic.”  He feels for Pakistani cricketers who have played many Test matches but none in their home country.

Susan is proud that her husband sent a consignment of bats to refugee camps in Pakistan, a window not just on his compassion but the other arm of his cricket story. His name appears in Test history but once, but for 30 years has featured on the back of the game’s most fundamental tool.

Photo galleries of Phillip Hughes in the wake of his death included the batsman as a 12-year-old, sporting that beautiful smile, a Callen cricket bat resting on his shoulder.

“We had about 50 agents up and down the coast selling bats into the local cricket clubs,” its maker says. “They came across a young Phillip Hughes, gave him a bat. He used it to make his first hundred.”

Bat-making has deepened Callen’s connection with the game’s past. He was taught by the Warsop family during the earliest of many winters spent playing in England’s Lancashire League, and two decades ago acted on the conviction of former England captain Archie MacLaren that the Yarra River flats near Healesville racecourse replicated the conditions where English willow had for centuries been grown.

“MacLaren honeymooned at Healesville in 1895, married into the Dalgety family, was a great friend of Dame Nellie Melba,” Callen says. “That’s where we started to grow 20 years ago, and I think he’d be pretty happy to see the trees are doing well and the willow’s producing bats.”

The pure satisfaction of crafting a bat by hand was soured in 2005 when he was forced into bankruptcy, with little more than his bat-making tools to his name. He admits he was scarred, was the victim of misinformation, listened to people he shouldn’t have.

“I virtually stopped making bats.” Yet he was able to keep his trees, and with Susan’s support has “dusted myself off” and carried on.

Each morning he wanders down the hill at Tarrawarra to the barn, and goes to work turning willow clefts into batting wands. When the first of the trees matured five years ago he made a bat, took it up to Toolangi and tried it out in the fifths.

Up the mountain, out behind where the poet C. J. Dennis crafted his prose, he made 80 with his new “stick”, and was moved as only a sentimental bloke could be.

“It sounded like a gunshot every time I hit it, the ball was coming off like a cannon. I thought, ‘You beauty’!”

The next chapter could be the Ashes series he never got to play. Next year, the barn will host bat junkies from around Australia for the first courses in the craft, taught by Callen, after which he’ll send them off armed with clefts from his trees to make bats to sell into their own cricket communities.

They will carry his Willow Blue brand, but feature whatever name the maker chooses.

“The English have had 300 years’ head start on us, but they’re not the monopoly any more,” he says. “We’re going to take them on.”