The Stories Behind our Stories: Favel Parrett

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Behind every issue of GOQ is our search for contributors. Sometimes they come to us, sometimes we search them out, and sometimes we’€™ve been directed towards them by mutual friends who thought they ‘might be a good fit’.

This was the case when, in the lead up to Great Ocean Quarterly‘€™s launch, we were alerted to the work of Favel Parrett, author of the acclaimed Past the Shallows, her first novel.

That she lives in coastal Torquay, down the road and around the corner from GOQ‘€™s Creative Director Mick Sowry came as a happy coincidence, and Mick wasted no time in contacting Favel for a coffee and a chat. This began a happy alliance, and friendship, that has seen her contribute work to our Launch edition, and in the wonderful Tarbrush Hickey in the Frozen South from Volume 1.2, a prose poem narrative that fell out of the sharing of images over another coffee in a local cafe.

They’€™d just arrived in Jock’€™s in-box, these fifty year old transparencies found by Phil Hickey, of his long lost Dad’€™s adventures in the Antarctic, a Dad who died far too young not long after his return in the early sixties. There was a poignancy in just the thought, but a layer was added as Favel cast her eyes over this first set of images we received.

‘€œIt’€™s the Thala Dan!’€ gasped Favel as she spied the red hulled bulk of the freighter looming over the bearded man with an unlikely nickname standing on sea ice just near the bow.

It turned out Favel’€™s new book was set around the very family of Danish freighters that Maurice ‘€˜Tarbrush’ Hickey had voyaged to the deep south aboard, all those years ago. On top of that Favel had just been to Antarctica as part of a trip to research her as yet untitled second novel. She knew the nooks and crannies of almost every slide we had.

Leaping at the chance to write the captions to the shots, Favel added another, poetic layer to these memories. They became alive again. You’€™ll have to read them to see what we mean.

That we chose Favel to be our first featured writer is no coincidence. This month, her second novel, When the Night Comes, is released. We hope it is as successful as her first, and we know who we want back gracing the pages of Great Ocean Quarterly.

If she can find the time.

Celebration at Framlingham


Framlingham Aboriginal Reserve occupies a unique and important place in Victorian history, a locus of remembrance for Koori people from far and wide, and a home to prominent activists, artists and identities.

Fram these days is a modern community – celebrating its heritage and looking forward to a strong and united future. Yet for many Victorians, the place remains an enigma.

But that’€™s all about to change: in celebration of the hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Framlingham’€™s founding, the families of Fram are throwing open the doors and inviting everyone to come and enjoy Koori culture, learn some history and enjoy world-class performances by Archie Roach, Kutcha Edwards, the Yung Warriors and Shane Howard among many more.

The celebration, starting at 10am on Saturday 12 April 2014, is a drug and alcohol free event and great way to introduce your family to Framlingham’€™s rich and varied history.


One Line Each Breath

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If you watched the footage we posted a month ago of freediver William Trubridge, you might’€™ve experienced the slowing of breath that comes subconsciously with watching someone enveloped in concentration.

Netherlands-based artist John Franzen creates textured drawings that call to mind contour maps of lost lands, or the surface of an ocean, by repeatedly, delicately, laying down parallel lines with black ink. Beginning by drawing a single vertical line on the far side of a canvas, Franzen then allows subsequent lines to amplify or distort the tiny imperfections in that line as he continues, line after line. The process, which might look maddening, actually appears to be a sort of meditative effort for Franzen, who works with almost robotic precision.

(Footage courtesy

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Theo Jansen is a rakish looking character, somewhere between Christopher Lloyd and John Laws in a supper club jacket and jeans. He smiles a lot, not in the way that people like newsreaders or real estate agents smile, but in a way that says ‘€œI am thinking on an entirely different plane’€¦ and it’€™s quite good fun in here.’€

Jansen is Dutch, a physicist by training but an artist by temperament. He’€™s worked variously as an author and journalist, taught photography and made rockets. He gave a TED lecture in 2007, and once invented a ‘€œpainting machine’€ ‘€“ a light-sensitive spray gun which could automatically create a photographic image in which all perspective is vanished.

But perhaps his crowning achievement is his self-propelling beach animals. Stuck for a new toy down at Anglesea this summer? Torn between the boogie board, the beach cricket and the totem tennis? How about a giant, self-propelling kite-creature made of thousands of plastic tubes, complete with functioning stomach, muscles, bones, arms and legs?

Jansen’€™s blurred all the lines between life and art and engineering and kites and sails and animals’€¦ and in the process, we think he’€™s made the GOQ list of Most Fascinating Candidates for a Dinner Party.

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Former Essendon AFL star Nathan Lovett-Murray talks in this clip about his origins in Heywood, deep in southwest Victoria, and his plans for a music business and mentoring programs for indigenous people in music and sport.

Nathan is a Gunditjmara man through his mother’€™s family, the Lovetts. He lived in Heywood until he was nearly eighteen, and he told GOQ that despite his passion for footy, he was determined to stay put until he’€™d finished year twelve. ‘€œI always wanted to play AFL footy, but I understood that footy wouldn’€™t be there forever, and education mattered to me. Up to that point, there hadn’€™t been a lot of my family members go through to year twelve, and I had cousins at school with me at the time. I wanted to set an example.’€

During his hard years as a journeyman footballer, Nathan did a pre-season with Richmond, was drafted as a rookie by Collingwood then de-listed, ground out a couple of years in the VFL and was finally picked up by Essendon, where he spent a highly successful ten years. During all of that, he was teaching fitness at Parkville Juvenile Facility and at an indigenous high school in Melbourne’€™s northern suburbs. And now that he’€™s retired from the game, he wants to keep giving back.

‘€œI’€™m setting up mentoring programs in sport and music,’€ he told us. ‘€œThe sport side is through the AFL. And the music side, which is already well underway through Mushroom Marketing, is called The Bunjil Music Business Project. It teaches indigenous people between fifteen and thirty all about the music business. Bunjil was the Creator, an important part of Gunditjmara beliefs. He was associated with Deen Maar (Lady Julia Percy Island). ‘€œ

In between all those commitments, Nathan will be working on his own business, Payback Records, which publishes recorded music and does tours, music videos and more.

Nathan told us some of his happiest childhood memories were formed along the southwest coast, camping at Christmas time at Lake Condah, Narrawong beach and Cape Bridgewater with his extended family. Here’€™s hoping he finds a little bit of that time this Christmas, in between his considerable efforts for others.

Nathan Lovett-Murray Digital Story from gusto films on Vimeo.