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From the Jungle to the Vines – an update

From the Jungle to the Vines – an update

I am so delighted to share an update with you about Melissa and Clint’s adventurous move to their vineyard and farm in the South West of Western Australia. They have exciting news to share with us:

It brought a tear to our eyes as, together, we fixed the very first label to our first product, a Chardonnay.  After two long years we were ready to officially launch our small family business.

In March 2015 we made a decision to move from Perth’s concrete Jungle, and to give up a fifo mining salary, in order to chase a dream of establishing a small family vineyard in the country.  Our chosen property consisted of two messy vineyards, old machinery, a wine shed and a liveable shed.  We have called this shed home for two years while we build our new family home on site.

Three key things quickly became apparent when we moved.  Firstly our vineyard needed work, a lot of work!  Without having love nor care for close to six years, our vineyard was overgrown and filled with (thankfully treatable) disease.  Secondly, we identified why many vineyard owners enter the industry with a significant amount of capital backing… We entered with one salary and minimal capital.  Lastly, we were in over our heads working with a challenging crop, lacking the knowledge or experience required to provide our vineyard with the love and care needed to bring it back to its former glory.  Although these challenges appeared significant, they only fuelled our passion and desire for building our business and offering quality wine.

It is fair to say that the last two years have been rather hectic.  We have both kept our business moving in a positive direction by generating income working for an employer situated over 100km’s from home. We launched our honey and olive oil product lines, however that proved to be more of a hobby rather than an income stream.

In addition to working, we are completing the rehabilitation effort on our vineyard.  We provided our friends, family and the public with an opportunity to sponsor a row of vines, in order to assist with the rehabilitation effort.  We are so very thankful for the amount of support received with this offering.

Clint and I have both taken up study in viticulture and agriculture respectively, in order to develop the key knowledge required to provide our vines and land with what they need in order to grow and thrive.  In addition to this study, we were keen to launch our wine as soon as possible, without compromising on quality.  This is where our neighbour joins our journey.  When he first met us, he did not see potential competition, he saw a young couple with a dream.  We could never thank this well respected winemaker enough for giving us his time and sharing his experience with us.  Without him, we would not have had the opportunity to release such a high quality product to the market in 2017.  It is our goal to work together in order to showcase the quality of wine offered in the Manjimup and surrounding areas.  We are also passionate about proving how collaboration and working together will result in taking our industry to the next level.

Although this seems like a significant couple of years, we saved our greatest achievement for the end of this chapter.  In December 2016, we welcomed our first child, a daughter, into this world.  Even at just 5 months, Piper is thriving, surrounded by too many farmyard pets, including our ‘cellar dog’ Paris, her future family business (should she choose it) and two adoring parents.  We know that she will grow up all too soon and will love nothing more than to explore our land, with Paris at her side.  

On reflection, we have travelled far in our journey, but the truth is we have really only just begun.  The next couple of years will see Chateau June-Jerome continue to deliver quality wine, and we are seeking opportunities to stock our products in restaurants and boutique bottle shops across Perth. All of our vine rows will be rehabilitated and producing chemical free fruit, and we will start the expansion into new and exciting varieties.  We will also start planning to open our land up to the public, with the development of a cellar door.

If you would like to continue following us on our journey, or even check out our wine, please visit our website, or on our facebook page


Here are the links to Melissa and Clint’s earlier adventures and journey:

Fabian the Star Gazer

Fabian the Star Gazer


remarkablefiles1Meet Fabian, a remarkable man who has turned his passion for astrophotography into a wonderful hobby that he shares with others all over the world. This is the story of how Fabian’s  love of the starry skies developed into beautiful images of the world above us.  Be inspired as you read Fabian’s story – wonders can be revealed when you pursue the passions that make you happy.

Tell us about your passion for astrophotography…. how did it all come about?

One of the most vivid memories I have from my childhood, when I was around 9 years old, is telling my father to accompany me to buy a telescope. That scope was a 2″ refractor mounted in a wooden tripod. It was then that I  started to understand the mechanics of the skies: having a look at the Moon, Mars, Jupiter and the fascinating Saturn. During my teen ages, I learnt about the constellations and deep sky objects, being able to locate some of them from the highly polluted skies in Ramos Mejia, Argentina.

My interest in astronomy was so big that I was ready to start a serious Astronomy career at University, but, I changed my mind at the very last minute and decided to keep it as a hobby. In my mid-twenties, I joined the Asociacion Argentina Amigos de la Astronomia where I was able to improve my knowledge and to build up an 8″ reflector from head to toe. It was at that time, with a couple of astro friends, that we started an astrophotography adventure with reflex cameras and film !! Yes, we were still in the early ’90s.

I arrived in Perth, Australia in 2012, knowing that this city has 200+ clear nights per year. I decided this was the right place and the right time to start digital astrophotography.

 What’s the philosophy behind it?

When I look up at the night sky my heart becomes paralyzed, I feel the immensity of Nature. I feel very small, insignificant and privileged at the same time because I am able to admire it.

I get transported to the vastness of the Universe and that makes me put in perspective my minor daily earthly problems

 What’s your background?

I consider myself a bit of a hybrid person… I have an Accounting diploma from University but I have always worked as an Engineer. I guess this suits my passion for Astronomy very well – I barely remember how to put a balance sheet together.

How do you find the time to do it all?

I often asked myself that question. I need 36 hour days… I guess the secret is good planning and routines that work well.

One of my biggest steps in making time for astrophotography was the time invested in the knowledge of my equipment (telescope, camera, accessories and software). Now I am able to program the data acquisition sessions and leave the equipment working alone for hours while I spend time with my family.

Another advantage is that this activity can only be done at night when everyone else is asleep.  You will often find me awake at 1 or 2 am. Many nights I don’t get much sleep.

You took a leap of faith…  Did you ever wonder if you were doing the right thing?

I am always confident I am doing the right thing, everything in my life has arrived at the perfect moment. When I decided not to start an Astronomy career and go for Accounting, it was the right decision. When I decided to change jobs,  it was the right decision. When I decided to commence digital astrophotography, it was also the right decision.

How did you make it happen?

It just happened. I have a lot of faith that the Universe will put in front of me the right things at the right moment.

The Journey

What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

This is a very technical and complex activity. It requires knowledge and skills in Astronomy, Engineering, Photography, Computing and Meteorology, and on top of that some Artistic abilities are also welcome.

My biggest challenge was and still is the data processing. This step is done with the help of software like Photoshop, StarTools or Pixinsight. The learning curve here is very steep – every image is different and requires a variety of processing techniques, the artistic part also plays a big role at this stage.

Why is it important to be brave when you decide to do something like astrophotography?

The objects to be imaged are very faint, sometimes even for the special cameras I am using.  I point my telescope, take an image and cannot see anything.  I keep imaging with the ‘hope’ it will be there at the end.  Most objects require several hours of exposure, mainly over one hour.  My longest exposure time on the same object, so far, is 18 hours.

Then, while doing the processing I might encounter gradients from the Moon,  street, my house or even my computer light. These gradients are very difficult to get rid of. I sometimes need to spend several computer hours to eliminate them.

All in all, you have to be really brave for this hobby. It will test your patience and perseverance without any instant reward.

 What are the tough aspects of astrophotography?

I guess that you now can realize that the data processing, in order to get a nice final image, is the toughest part of it.

Why do you do what you do?

Because I love Astronomy, I love to be connected with the Universe and the night sky.

I have found that imaging the skies and being able to share it with others, gives me a sense of size. It allows me to be conscious of what our real place in the Universe and the majesty of Nature is.

 What lessons have you learnt along the way?

As mentioned at the very beginning, I started at the age of 9 and almost 40 years later I am achieving my goals. I have learnt many things along the way, when put together, all contribute to where I am today.

But, again, the biggest lesson I’ve learnt is that if I have the necessary courage and patience, then the results will certainly arrive.  What discoveries have allowed you to realize your passion for astrophotography?

Most of the colors of the objects, especially the nebulas are not 100% defined. Hydrogen emission is mainly red, sulphur is mainly green and oxygen is mainly blue, but nothing forbids you from using a different palette… So, this is where your inside artist comes to the fore – I didn’t know I had one !!

Copyright Fabian Rodriguez

 Who is your role model and why?

I do not have one, I think I have many. All of them are adding a grain of sand to my life. They are all special people because they are successful in being happy, pursuing and achieving their objectives.

 How has pursuing astrophotography changed your life?

Well, I had never thought that I would be able to share my passion with so many people around the world. I publish my images on an Astrophotography dedicated website where many other astrophotographers can comment and help to improve the Imaging techniques. I exchange emails with many fellow Astrophotographers from different places and I have made many Astro friends.

I have also started my own website: (This was not even in my wildest, deepest dreams).

 Wisdom for others:

What’s the secret of your success?

Perseverance, many hours under the skies and also in front of the computer.

What’s next for you? What does the future hold?

The future is a big unknown surprise, but for the time being, I would like to continue imaging the wonders of the Southern Hemisphere in order to share them with our friends above the Equator.

We are really privileged to be in Australia, I would say that more that 95% of the astro community resides in the Northern Hemisphere and they have no access to those objects. They are delighted to see what we can show them.What advice would you give anyone who dreams of pursuing their artistic passion and talents?

Firstly you need to know what you want and what makes you feel happy.

Secondly, just go for it with all your strength.

What advice would you give anyone who isn’t doing what they love?

The only way to feel complete and happy is to pursue what mobilizes you and what you love, so stop what you are doing and put yourself in motion !!!

What is the best advice you have received?

Be patient !!!

How do you think each of us can live the fullest life possible?  

Pay a lot of attention to the ‘little voice’ inside you and do not hesitate in following it’s words.

A Bit of Fun:

Tell me 3 things about you that I would never expect just by looking at you:

  • I used to write Formula One articles for a couple of Argentinian newspapers.
  • My family says I am a good cook.
  • I like Fancy Dress parties and I also like to dress up for them.


Favourite Quote:

“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” Albert Einstein

Happiest places:

Anywhere under the stars.

Biggest passions in life:

Astronomy, Formula One, Cycling.

Most inspiring film you’ve seen:

Not a particular film but the series ‘Cosmos’ by Carl Sagan.  

Most inspiring book you’ve read:

‘Contact’ by Carl Sagan. 

 Best light-bulb moment:

Asking my wife to marry me.  My wife and I met when we were 18, starting university – we were always close friends. When I was 26, I got married (not to her), she came to my wedding, and then 6 years later I divorced. By that time, she was preparing her wedding (not to me) and I was also invited. She then decided not to go ahead with it.

A year later we were having dinner, as old friends, and I suddenly asked her: “Why don’t we try now?”

We got married the following year and we have a wonderful family with three lovely kids.

Anything is possible… what’s your wish?

Wow, what a proposal !!! Remember the Star Trek TV series? Well, I wish I was able be to travel around the Universe and contemplate the wonders I try to image from close up and… perhaps to ‘talk’ to someone out there.

Philosophy you live by:

Nothing in life is to feared; it is only to be understood.

Born to Play

Born to Play

Tell us about your passion for music…… how did it all come about?

Well, when I was about three years old I asked my parents for a violin. I had actually never seen a violin and my parents, not being musical in the slightest, had no idea where I had got this idea from! According to my parents, the only time they think I may have had exposure to classical music was at the crèche I went to. So after much pestering on my end they bought me a plastic violin. I was disgusted! I knew it wasn’t the real deal and I was only about four years old. An uncle of mine had an old guitar and so he gave it to my parents to see if I liked it, but I was having none of it. I went to the kitchen, found a chopstick and thought ‘this would make a great bow’. I somehow lifted the guitar and propped it up on my shoulder, grabbed my ‘bow’ and began moving it across the strings. To my disappointment it didn’t make the prettiest sound…

Quite soon after that my parents thought they should enrol me in some music lessons, but they had no idea where to begin looking. They knew no one who had ever done classical music, so they opened the phonebook and eventually stumbled on a music school who just so happened to be having an open night for potential new students. Within a few weeks I was enrolled in one of the best music schools in Ireland, Leeson Park School of Music.

What’s your background?

I grew up in Lucan, which is a suburb on the outskirts of Dublin. I was very fortunate that the majority of my family lived there, including both sets of grandparents. I was an only child until I was eight years old and then my sister Isabelle was born, which made me quite upset because I didn’t have a brother! Just before she was born my dad jokingly said that if it was a girl that he and I would move up to the mountains and live in a tent. I didn’t think it was a joke…But when I met Izzy for the first time I changed my mind and was glad I had a sister.

I attended the local Irish speaking primary school, which I am thankful for. The Irish language ‘Gaeilge’ is a dying language with roughly 3-5% of the population that choose to speak it as their first language. My parents drove me to the city for private music classes 3 times a week for 13 years – unfortunately, the public music education system in Ireland is non-existent.

After finishing primary school I went to the Irish speaking Secondary School next door and was there for 4 years, until my life changed. We were moving to Australia! Within 6 months of finding out our visa had been approved, we were on a one way ticket to Perth.

How do you find the time to do it all? What’s your secret to ‘making time’ for everything?

This is by far one of the most challenging things as a musician. The key is to be organised and focused. You need to be realistic with your goals and you must make sacrifices in order to be able to make the time. A trap that many people, including myself fall into is the inability to say NO. It is never rude to say no! You must remember that you’ll never be able to please everyone. It is difficult to balance all aspects of life and it’s easy for someone to become a workaholic. What I find helps is if I dedicate 100% of my focus to a task in short bursts I will be more productive.

What does a typical day look like for you?

My days right now…and for most of my life have consisted of a lot of time isolated in a room practicing my instrument. I usually try to fit in 3-4 hours of practise into a day, 7 days a week, which can come as a shock to non musical people.

This allocated time does not include rehearsals, so my typical day starts around 9am. I only ever do practise blocks of 45 minutes maximum, with 15 minute rest intervals in between. After 45 minutes the body begins to struggle. It is the stage where people begin to lose focus on the task at hand, start making sloppy mistakes, and are more prone to injury.

I am attending the Australian National Academy of Music in Melbourne at the moment and they really go to great lengths to educate us on our physical and mental wellbeing, because believe it or not most professional musicians suffer pain at some point in their careers.

I also try to get to the gym or go for a run at least 3 times a week.

You took a creative leap of faith choosing music as a career.  Did you ever wonder if you were doing the right thing?

I don’t think anyone ever knows if they are doing the right thing. Music is a particularly difficult industry to have a sustainable career in, but it is not impossible. In a lot of aspects it is far more rewarding as a career due to the flexibility and creative freedom. At the same time it can be the scariest because there can be months with an empty calendar. I personally love this and have learned to find it exciting.

Eventually though I want to play in a professional orchestra here in Australia. Many people ask if I want to study in Europe, but my answer to that is that I think it is over rated. Many fellow students have a romanticised view of Europe, thinking they’ll go and come back as a changed person with a unique perspective on music. They soon find out that many things are the same as Australia, there are excellent musicians but there are also lazy ones who aren’t giving 100%.

How did you make it happen?

Hard work, great support from my family and friends, and excellent teachers.

What were the costs of choosing to follow your passion?

Almost 18 years of music lessons. Thankfully my parents always supported me and continue to.

What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

When I first auditioned for WAAPA it was on violin and I was sure I would get in no problem. I soon found out that other people had received their offers and I hadn’t. It was then that I received a phone call from the head of strings saying he wanted to give me a lesson and have a chat, so we arranged a time the following week. It was probably one of the most intimidating experiences of my life, and after I played for him and another tutor they suggested I should try the viola … this is every violinist’s worst nightmare.

When someone says that you should transition to the viola it is simply a nice way of saying “you are not going to make it playing the violin.” At the time I found it quite difficult to accept that I would not make it as a violinist. It would have been easy to ignore this suggestion and simply go to a different university, after all, I had an offer from another university that would take me as a violinist!

So I thought long and hard about the options I had and I came to the conclusion to give the viola a shot. To my surprise I instantly fell in love with the instrument’s sonority, and felt it was just meant to be. I persisted and had soon built my confidence back up. Before I knew it I had a bachelor of music!

Why is it important to be brave when you decide to do something like create music? Can you give us some examples of when you’ve had to dig deep and be brave?

Everyone I have spoken to has at some point felt like they weren’t good enough to be performing music. What is important to remember is that the musicians are there to serve a purpose, and that is to honour the composer and the piece that they’ve written.

I went through an awful period of self consciousness and doubt whilst onstage. It gets no easier and the feeling never goes away, but it becomes manageable the more you perform. I constantly have to remind myself that the music is not about me and that if I have prepared well then there’s no need to worry. Obviously people are there to hear me play, but they want me to succeed because they are there to enjoy themselves, not to watch me fail!

What are the tough aspects of creating music?

Working with other people in an ensemble can be particularly tough. Each person has a different view on the piece, and also have different personalities and personal experiences that can influence their view of a piece. For me, a tough thing to accept is that your view is not always the one that others will like, and in an ensemble the majority wins, no matter how emotionally attached your view is.

Who is your role model and why?

I have many role models in all sorts of different fields. In terms of music, Jascha Heifetz is someone who I admire because of his technical excellence and control of the violin.

Steve Jobs, founder of Apple has made me feel like anything is possible if I put my mind to it. He was also one of the best presenters onstage and was able to get the best out of people and encouraged them to achieve what they thought was impossible.

UFC fighter Conor Mcgregor has an unshakable confidence and I love when he speaks about how the body moves and how to believe in yourself.

Finally, Richard Gill is an inspirational man and a person who is making a huge change in musical education in schools in Australia. Not only that, but he has a unique talent where he can remember everyone’s name in a room, even if he’s just met them for the first time.

What is the best advice you have received?

In your ongoing adventures with our beloved art which we spend a lifetime trying to reconcile with what can be a brutal profession, choose quality over quantity whenever possible when the two prove to be incompatible, as it is the former which gives the greater satisfaction to both artist and listener – William

Hennessey (violinist)

Why do you do what you do?

There are a few reasons.  Music is fun and you get to interact with people, including fellow musicians but also the audience. I recently did a regional residency in a small town called Bermagui, NSW with my string quartet: Penny Quartet. It was such an amazing experience surrounded by inspirational people and beautiful scenery. We had the opportunity to do educational workshops at schools there and this helped me realise how important it is to inspire young kids.

What lessons have you learnt along the way?

Never to accept anything sub-par from yourself. Only you will know if you have given it your best shot.

What discoveries about yourself have allowed you to realise your passion for music?

I have realised over time that I can be quite impatient with myself. I just want things to happen there and then, particularly when it comes to fixing technical aspects of my playing. These things take time and won’t just happen over night.

What keeps you awake at night?

Not much. I usually get a good sleep.

What gets you up in the morning?

Guilt! I feel guilty if I am lazy. There always room to improve in my playing, so that usually gets me out of bed pretty quickly.

How has pursuing your art changed your life?

It has helped me to accept nothing but the best standard of playing in myself. I am very harsh on myself if I don’t perform to my optimum capability, or if I am badly prepared. I’ve also learned how to communicate with many different people and different personality types.

What’s next for you? What does the future hold?

Penny Quartet travelled to America in mid June to take part in a summer seminar run by the St. Lawrence String Quartet at Stanford University. We then have a few concerts in Brisbane, and later in the year we play at Quartethaus, as part of the Melbourne Festival.

In the future I hope to have a job in a professional orchestra.

What’s the secret of your success?

I firmly believe that you must dedicate your entire focus to one thing at a time.

What advice would you give anyone who dreams of pursuing their artistic passion and talents?

Do it! But be warned that sometimes people like the idea of pursuing the Arts, but are not dedicated enough to make it a career, or soon find out that it is not for them. If you are willing to work hard for it then DO IT.

What advice would you give anyone who isn’t doing what they love?

If you’re not able to do something you love as a career that is understandable, but make time to do it as a hobby. There is a great TED talk that the cellist Michael Goldschlager presented, explaining about the difference between interests and passions.

How do you think each of us can live the fullest life possible?

I think Steve Jobs summed it up pretty well:

A Bit of Fun:

People who inspire you:  Eminem

Happiest place:   On stage 

Biggest passion in life: Music

Most inspiring film you’ve seen:  Once

Most inspiring book you’ve read: Inner Game of MusicBest light-bulb moment: Don’t think I’ve had one yet!

Anything is possible… what’s your wish? That children are exposed to proper music education, even if they don’t pursue it. Sticking on a Lady Gaga song is not music education!(yes that actually has happened)

Philosophy you live by: “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” Steve Jobs

InnerGameofMusicQuote you live by:

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.


Staying young through having fun!

Staying young through having fun!

Photographer Vladimir Yakovlev has created a photo project that dispels all rumors about getting older. Age Of Happiness is a collection of 35 stories including portraits of people that continue to enjoy their favourite pursuits, despite being 60, 70, 80, or even 100-years-old. These seniors are challenging age stereotypes.

Vladimir describes “Age of Happiness” on Amazon as follows:

  • To run a marathon on the North Pole at 70.
  • To take up ballet at 79 and to dance professionally by 90.
  • At 75, to enjoy surfing huge ocean waves — in winter, in ice-cold water.
  • To become a financial broker at 77 and make millions.
  • To celebrate your 80th birthday by skydiving 80 times in a row.
  • To become a professional, globe-trotting DJ – at 71.
  • To swim across the La Manche at 70.
  • At 78, to zoom on your skateboard through city streets.
  • To begin a successful career of a young actress in Hollywood, at 71
  • To cross Atlantic solo at 73 and then to sail around the world on a mini-yacht you built yourself.
  • To be the top sensation at New York Fashion Week at 80.
  • To become a porn-star at 68, participate in more than 350 porno-films by 79, and to just keep going.
  • At 83, to complete the Ironman triathlon, which includes a four-kilometer swim, 180-kilometer bike ride, and 42-kilometer run, all in a row with no breaks.
  • At 100 to climb skyscrapers.
  • At 102, to ride 50 kilometers a day on your bike.
  • At 103 to run the London marathon.

If today you are 30, 40 or 50, then living past 70 and into your late 80s and 90s is no longer just a possibility. It’s practically an inevitability. So at some point, you just ought to ask yourself: “How would I like to be when I am 70?”

Because you will be.

For some reason we still believe those who really mastered the secrets to longevity and youthfulness can only be found in hermit caves or monasteries somewhere high in the mountains or deep in exotic forests. This isn’t true.Such people live among us: in the neighboring house, one street over, in cities that we frequent. We just don’t know about them, and because of that, lose an incredible opportunity to learn from them a way of life that just yesterday seemed like absolute fantasy.

Such people live among us: in the neighboring house, one street over, in cities that we frequent. We just don’t know about them, and because of that, lose an incredible opportunity to learn from them a way of life that just yesterday seemed like absolute fantasy.

I spent the last four years traveling in search of such people; people who refused to age “appropriately” and instead, continued to live – joyfully and brightly, often with more exuberance than they had in their youth. What I saw and learned completely changed my life and ideas about what humans are now capable of during what was formerly known as “old age.”

I am a writer, not a scientist. I don’t have a scientific explanation for the enormous age-related social changes that are taking place around the world right now. What are they caused by? Some sort of civilization’s genetic code? A historically unprecedented improvement in quality of life and health care?

I doubt anyone can really answer these question. But, the fact that such radical changes are happening is hard for anyone to deny.  This book contains real stories of real people. Read them and your perception of life after 70 will never be the same. by Vladimir Yakovlev

Why is it that one person runs marathons at 61, while another person of the same age can’t run down the block? Perhaps the secret to aging well is to ignore those age-based stereotypes and keep doing things that make you happy and keep you young at heart!  What’s your plan for getting older? What are your pursuits of happiness?


Meet passionate Chef Glen

Meet passionate Chef Glen

Tell us about your passion for food and cooking? How did it all come about?

I had a real sweet tooth as a kid and after spending the morning surfing; I would have a real appetite to feed! So at age 11-12 I started baking simple cakes and pastries on the weekends. Then when I started high school my favorite class quickly became home economics. I was soon top of my class and loved cooking. I continued baking on the weekends and started making dinners during the week for my family. My parents were stoked – beside the mess I would make! So by the end of year 10 it was time to decide what path I wanted to take and after little thought I decided I wanted to become a chef.

My parents and teachers really encouraged me, as they knew I had a flair for food. There really was nothing else I wanted to do. I loved it! The cooking, the eating, the opportunity to travel and every morning to go surfing! I was determined to become the best I could be. So the journey began.

I chose the hospitality course for my final two years at high school, enabling me to do work experience one day a week. I chose a big resort as my first placement. I loved the rush of service. I was a sponge learning as much as I could. The head chef offered me an apprenticeship but I insisted I wanted to complete school, so the chef asked me if I could work weekends instead. I said, “sure!” If someone wanted to pay me to cook that was great!! For the next two years I worked every Friday and Saturday night and eventually one night during the week. While the rest of my friends were off partying, I was learning as much as I could and loving it. Food started to become my life and I was happy with that!

I finally finished high school and started my apprenticeship at the resort. That was really time to learn. I went to college once a week and worked long hours. It was great. I was fully immersed in the chef world and progressing well. By the end of my 2nd year I was running the pass/grill in the 5 star brasserie restaurant during the week. I ran the Café on a busy Saturday night, wrote up staff rosters and assisted in massive functions of 700 people and more. I lived with some of the other apprentices so we surfed, ate, worked and talked about food! I managed to complete my apprenticeship 6 months early and that was great – I now had my wings.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”30″]I was ready to work, surf and snowboard the world, but it was then that I was unexpectedly swept off my feet by the love of my life and my wife today, Carly. I was head over heels and followed my heart. Carly introduced me to the chef at the winery she was working at. A few weeks later I started there as a sous chef and it was there I really honed my skills. I learnt how to lead a brigade and learnt about local seasonal produce.

  After only a year it was time to move to Perth with Carly and I started at a local café that was organized through a friend from the winery. It was a lot different to what I had ever done, but I was enjoying the lifestyle. Not working nights was a bonus as I could be home with Carly. Eventually the café changed hands – I wasn’t sure how things would pan out but gave it a shot. It turned out great! I was in charge of my own kitchen leading my own team.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”30″]Three years later I felt unsure of my future. I needed a new challenge so I decided I would hand my resume to one of Perth’s best restaurants that I loved. To my surprise I got a trial interview. The trial consisted of a 14 hour unpaid day of work. I doubted whether I would be good enough to work there but I kept up with the other chefs. I learnt a lot that day but decided that that line of work wasn’t for me and turned down the job and decided to stay put for the time being. A week later I was told we were opening another café. That was great news and a new challenge! I relished being involved in setting up a café from scratch. I became executive chef of both cafes, writing menus and recipes for two places and most of all training a lot of new staff. It was hard work but I loved it.

[/vc_column_text][mk_image src=”” image_width=”800″ image_height=”350″ crop=”false” svg=”false” lightbox=”false” group=”_general” frame_style=”simple” target=”_self” caption_location=”inside-image” align=”center” margin_bottom=”30″ desc=”Chef Glen Hagger”][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”30″]During this time I completed a personal training course and learnt about the nutrition side of food. I wanted to teach people the joy of food and cooking and how food can really nourish the body. We also bought our own house. (Something I was desperate for so I could grow my own food). I love nothing more than picking my dinner from the garden. There’s something special about starting something from a few seeds then nurturing it for 3 to 6 months and eating fresh from the garden. It makes you really respect food, which is so easy not to do these days with so much processed food and vegetable imports.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”30″]Growing your own food really makes you learn the seasons of food. Take asparagus for example, it’s only available for 4 to 6 weeks. I also love fishing – eating a fish that you have just caught is amazing; there’s no better tasting fish.

Chef Glen’s home grown produce”][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”30″]Foraging is another love of mine. The foraged figs I picked this year were just amazing! Two kilograms of fresh black figs picked in half an hour would cost $80 in the shops – it’s surprising just how much free fresh food is around. Eating a fig warm straight off the tree is just awesome. So sweet like eating jam! For me food is my life. If I’m not cooking at work, I’m cooking at home coming up with new recipes or I’m growing, catching or foraging for food. When I’m not doing that, I’m reading about food or eating amazing food!

During this time I completed a personal training course and learnt about the nutrition side of food. I wanted to teach people the joy of food and cooking and how food can really nourish the body. We also bought our own house. (Something I was desperate for so I could grow my own food). I love nothing more than picking my dinner from the garden. There’s something special about starting something from a few seeds then nurturing it for 3 to 6 months and eating fresh from the garden. It makes you really respect food, which is so easy not to do these days with so much processed food and vegetable imports. Growing your own food really makes you learn the seasons of food. Take asparagus for example, it’s only available for 4 to 6 weeks. I also love fishing – eating a fish that you have just caught is amazing; there’s no better tasting fish.  Foraging is another love of mine. The foraged figs I picked this year were just amazing! Two kilograms of fresh black figs picked in half an hour would cost $80 in the shops – it’s surprising just how much free fresh food is around. Eating a fig warm straight off the tree is just awesome. So sweet like eating jam! For

Foraging is another love of mine. The foraged figs I picked this year were just amazing! Two kilograms of fresh black figs picked in half an hour would cost $80 in the shops – it’s surprising just how much free fresh food is around. Eating a fig warm straight off the tree is just awesome. So sweet like eating jam! For me food is my life. If I’m not cooking at work, I’m cooking at home coming up with new recipes or I’m growing, catching or foraging for food. When I’m not doing that, I’m reading about food or eating amazing food!

What has been your biggest challenge in following your passion and how did you overcome it?

I had to sacrifice a lot of my social life in the early days. I would work every Friday and Saturday so I lost a few friends but gained many more, socializing a lot with my work friends. I have also missed a lot of family occasions like birthdays and Christmas. I decided to change from working nights to days to have more time with family and friends. I still have to work weekends but I know no different so I don’t mind.

What lessons have you learnt along the way?

Always believe in yourself. Be confident in your decisions and don’t give up. Sacrifices will have to be made, but if you want it bad enough it’s worth it.

What discoveries about yourself have allowed you to realize your passion for food and cooking?

I have discovered that I have a real green thumb!

What have you enjoyed most about your career?

Probably the summers down south surfing everyday, working hard and hanging with Carly and friends. Creating dishes, always eating amazing food, progressing and overcoming new challenges.

What’s next for you? What does the future hold?  

I recently started providing cook classes to the public and I plan to keep on building my cooking class business. Another goal is to release a paleo food line including condiments, granolas and pre-pack desserts. I want to set up a website with cooking videos and blog about growing food, etc. Eventually I’d love a food van and cooking school. I’ve got a lot of work to do!

What advice would you give anyone who has a passion for food and cooking?

You have to really love it. It’s a hard industry but the rewards are worth it. Choose a path that suits your lifestyle. Many chefs I’ve known have done something else after their apprenticeship because it didn’t agree with their lifestyle. Immerse yourself in it, live and breath it. Learn where the food comes from and do you best to share that knowledge. The world’s full of junk food. Show people what real food is! 

How do you think each of us can live the fullest life possible?  

Do things that make you happy.

If you’re not happy make a change.

Don’t be scared to fail.

Don’t waste your time with people who mess you around and don’t accept you for who you are.


Get outdoors – nature is truly amazing. With all the technology these days it’s easy to lock yourself away and not appreciate your surroundings.

Something as simple as a sunset on a summer’s evening can bring great joy and stress relief. Best of all its free!

People who inspire you:                                                   

My wife Carly, she’s amazing, so talented and is my rock. Matt Moran’s always been my favorite chef. He’s all about produce. His food is simple but always so good.

Happiest place:

Augusta camping with the family, Smiths beach surfing, my garden and bbq out the back with the family.

Biggest passions in life:

Family, food and surfing.

Best bit of advice you have ever received:

Don’t give up and be confident in your decisions.

Most inspiring film you’ve seen:

“Chef” it inspired me to take the leap and do what I really love.

Most inspiring book you’ve read:

Quay Restaurant cookbook. Peter Gilmore’s food is so complex and unique. He has worked so hard to become one of world’s best chefs.

Anything is possible… what’s your wish?

My own island with perfect surf, where I can live off the land with just the family.

Best light-bulb moment:

Paleo gnocchi.

Philosophy you live by:

Steph’s Triathlon Journey all the way to the World Championships in Austria 2015

Steph’s Triathlon Journey all the way to the World Championships in Austria 2015

I’ve known Steph for many years and it’s been so inspiring to watch her grow and flourish. Steph’s energy and enthusiasm is contagious. She has a knack of making you believe you can do anything you set your mind to. Maybe that’s because she is living proof that you can do anything if you’re prepared to invest your time and energy and do the hard work that’s required. I hope you are as inspired as I am by Steph’s journey from not being able to swim to now competing in a Triathlon World Championship in Austria later this year.

When did you know that you wanted to do 70.3 triathlons – how did it all come about?

In Aug 2011 my son Graham, husband Pete and I did the City to Surf 12K walk.

A couple of months later Graham entered the local Telstra Tri series at Hillarys and I thought, “I would love to be able to do that.” (It was a 750m swim, 20K bike ride and a 5K run). I went home and thought no more of it.

The following year in May 2012 Graham and my very dear friends Phil and Allan completed their first 70.3 Ironman and again I thought, “wow I would love to do that,” but again I did nothing. In December 2012, Graham did an individual Ironman: 3.8K swim, 180K Bike ride and a 42K run. Watching participants run down the finishing chute and hearing the words “You are an Ironman!” over the PA, I thought “I have to do this,” but I really meant it this time. All the hard work they had put into their training all year and bringing all this together on the day was truly inspiring.

We had just moved into our new home and so I started running. I would walk/run around the block (1.5K). Gradually I continued to run without stopping, and in May 2013 I entered my first ever timed 10K run.

In August that year, my wonderful son walked into our house with a beautiful Italian road bike, a Bianchi 928 and said to me, “I’ve bought you a pressie Mum.” Our youngest daughter Faye also purchased a bike the same week and we began riding together. That was the start.

What’s your background?

I am 55 years old and have been married to my best friend Pete for 31 years.

We were blessed with 3 beautiful children Marie, Graham and Faye.

Pete and I run our own building Company (Highgrove Developments) and have always worked together. We moved to Australia just over 15 years ago from the UK. I am one of 8 children with 6 of us all live in the nearby area. Fortunately, my parents live at our home with us too.

How do you find the time to do it all? What’s your secret to ‘making time’?

I get up early! I arrange to meet up with a friend or join a group – I think that‘s the secret to making time. Once you commit to a date, meeting or event it is hard to back out. Exercise makes me feel great so once I’d developed a routine I felt like I was missing out on something if I “took a day off”.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I get up early, have breakfast and take our dog Woody for his walk. During the winter months I go to the Arena Sports Centre for 7.30am, swim 1 to 2K followed by having a coffee, a banana and a good chat with my “Bestie”. We then do a 1 hour spin class and up to a 5K run on the treadmill. In the Spring/Summer we swim, ride our bikes and run more outdoors. Being self-employed is a great help. I can plan my work schedule around my training schedule. I train 5-6 days a week.

You took a leap of faith… how did it feel? Did you ever wonder if you were doing the right thing?

I feel this is a free ticket to good health. It is the best thing I’ve ever done, and I have my family to thank for getting me started, and now more importantly, for keeping me going. At first I thought I’m too old to start learning to swim and ride so maybe I should just run! But I knew I wanted to complete a triathlon so I just had to go out and learn those new skills.

How did you make it happen?

Making the decision is probably the hardest part.

I think you have to have a reason why you want to do something and then the “how” becomes easy. It is all in your mind. You just need to believe you can. Once I got started I was hooked.

As I said earlier: join a group, make a commitment and then stick with it. I try to ride with Bike Force each Saturday at 6.30am. They are a great bunch of people who have really helped me gain confidence on the road, pushed me beyond my limits and mostly taught me that riding is fun. My new motto is NEGU. (Never Ever Give Up) taken from the Jessie Rees Foundation. (The fight against childhood Cancer)

What’s your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge is open water swimming. Coming from the UK, I didn’t swim much. When I was eleven and on holiday in Spain I got well and truly dunked in the waves with my Dad. I thought I was going to die as it took forever for me to resurface.

I have to be brave to overcome the fear each time I step into the ocean. When I did the Mandurah 70.3 it was 39 degrees and very windy. By the time I got to the run I cramped up so bad I had to walk the 21K. That was so tough; I really had to dig deep to keep going.

I get so nervous swimming in the ocean but I get through this fear by telling myself that it is the shortest part of the race and it will be over in no time. As my daughter Faye always tells me, “just keep swimming!” She always says, “if you panic just put your hand up and someone will come and get you.” Also, having all the wonderful volunteers helping on the day is incredible. They make you feel so much more at ease.

What’s the toughest aspect of doing a 70.3 triathlon?

If you haven’t put in the training and your mind is not in the right place, then all of it will be tough. The biggest hurdle is believing you can do it.

I believe that thoughts become things and if you think you can do it you are 90% there. Obviously there are certain things beyond your control, such as your bike breaking down, or not feeling too well on the day, etc. Also nutrition and not enough liquids can play a big part on how you perform on the day. Get that wrong and you are in big trouble. Heat exhaustion is one of the toughest things to get through.

Who is your role model and why?

My kids are my role models. They work and play hard and enjoy every minute.

They have achieved so much in their short lives. I am in awe of them.

What is the best advice you have received?

The best advice I received during the start of my training for a 70.3 IM was to slow it down and learn how to pace myself. The speed and distance will

happen gradually. To me, triathlons are mainly about endurance, not speed.

Why do you do what you do?

Because I can – it’s my free ticket to good health. I am fit and healthy and I feel it would be a sin to sit and do nothing when I am able bodied. I would dread the thought of saying one day “I wish I had done that when I was younger”.

For many years I only ever worked and rarely went out. Since training I have become a lot more active, and far healthier, which makes me happier. I socialize a lot more and enjoy the company of friends and family who share the same passion of cycling, running and swimming.

What lessons have you learnt along the way?

You can learn something new every day and you are never too old to learn.

Being a newcomer to triathlons I take advice from family and friends. I also read when I can. My favourite book at present is Your Best Triathlon by Joel Friel.

“I can do this” has been my biggest discovery.

What keeps you awake at night?

Thinking about triathlons, bikes, and training. All good things!

What gets you up in the morning?

The Same! Thinking about triathlons, bikes, and training.

What’s the secret of your success?

With regards to triathlons, I don’t feel I am successful. I just do what I enjoy and what lots of other like-minded people do. There is no secret.

With life itself I have a beautiful loving family. I live in the most beautiful part of the world and I get to work with my best friend every day, my husband Pete.

What’s next for you? What does the future hold?

I’ve just completed my second year of the Telstra Tri Series and I’m doing another 70.3 Iron man on 2 May 2015 – that’s just a week away!  I was also lucky enough to get 2nd place in Mandurah 70.3 last year, which qualified me to enter the World Championships this August 2015 in Austria.

Finally, if I can get through this year’s hard training I will compete in my first Iron Man in Busso this December 2015. Just maybe, I will get to hear “You are an Ironman!” above the applause of the crowd. Now that would be nice.

What advice would you give anyone who dreams of pursuing triathlons?

Just do it. Get up and give it a go. You have nothing to lose.

Seriously, if I can do it then anyone can.

What advice would you give anyone who isn’t doing what they love?

Life is too short, do what you love.

How do you think each of us can live the fullest life possible?  

Do as much as you can, work, play, love.

But, everything in moderation.

People who inspire you:

My Mum and Dad. They have brought up 8 children, worked hard all their life and have never asked for anything. They are truly amazing.

Happiest place:

At home with my family.

Biggest passion in life:

Redefining where I thought my limits were. I took part in the last Rove ride to Bunbury, with the Bike Force Joondalup crowd. It was tough, and the weather was lousy, but we did it! It’s a great feeling of achievement. It’s something that until only quite recently, I never thought was possible.

Best bits of advice you have ever received:

When I was young Mum always said, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” That has always stayed with me.

Later in life a very special friend of mine said, “You know what? Stress: It doesn’t help.” That was the best advice I have ever received from a young girl in her late teens. (We say that to ourselves a lot when we think things are getting on top of us).

Most inspiring film you’ve seen: 

Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.”

Most inspiring book you’ve read:

I don’t read books a lot, but two books that will always stay with me are The Secret and We are their Heaven.


Best light-bulb moment:

Would be 1986 in the living room at home. I gave Pete his dinner on a serving platter with a lid on. As he opened it up there was a pair of baby booties. One of the best moments ever – apart from the fact that he was so stunned he couldn’t breathe.

Shortly after our precious daughter Marie was born.

Anything is possible… what’s your wish? 

For my daughter and I to complete the Full Iron Man in December 2015:   3.8K swim, 180K Bike ride and 42K run.

Philosophy you live by: 

To thine own self be true.

(William Shakespeare, I believe.)


Quote you live by: