Conversations for Ally
Episode 9: S.T Ruth of The Crack Up Sisters

Episode 9: S.T Ruth of The Crack Up Sisters

June 22, 2022

Today you’re going to hear from S.T Ruth, better known as Struth who is a big part of Winton’s very own Crack Up Sisters. Recently I chatted with Amanda-Lyn Pearson, who truly is an extraordinary Australian performer, champion whip cracker, dancer, choreographer, circus performer, writer and all round good Aussie girl.

Struth joined me from the very unique and incredible home that the Crack Up Sisters have been building and renovating with their bare hands in Winton, outback Queensland for 2 years, along with the help of generous fellow Australians willing to give a hand with their skills and materials. It has been a big community effort! Throughout our chat, you’ll even have the pleasure of hearing some real life hammer banging from Rowdy herself in the background building the fence.

This Friday, 24th of June 2022, this quintessential piece of Outback Architecture is opening its yard for the first time for people to be fully immersed in the amazing and one of a kind culture of The Crack Up Sisters. Be sure to head along if you’re in the district!

In this podcast, we talk about all sort of things, including The Crack Up Sisters show, how they believe in sustainability, recycling and caring for the environment, our love for Australian made caravans and camper trailers and basically - all things Australian!

Episode 8: Daffy

Episode 8: Daffy

May 11, 2022

Today you are going to hear from the almost 94 year old Daphne Pearl Cox, but now over 140 000 people across Australia and the world know her as, simply, Daffy. A little while ago, I sat down in the home Daffy shares with her granddaughter Melissa in the central west of New South Wales. I’m ashamed to say that I only learned about Daffy in March when a friend, Melinda O’Donoghue, the fairy god mother of the North-West and wedding dress maker extraordinaire, shared about her and I instantly could not get enough. Daffy’s Wise Words can be found on Facebook and Instagram, and now with a YouTube channel under way. Here you can view and listen to Melissa and Daffy just sharing everyday stories and conversations with each other. They cook together, share jokes, tell stories of the old days and give thoughts and opinions on current affairs, as well as many other topics. My family loves watching them. We love their banter, their humour and their obvious love and respect for each other.

I arrived at their home as a stranger and they welcomed me in as if we were old friends. After we recorded, Melissa graciously invited my husband and kids in who were thrilled to meet Daffy and we were also introduced to Matthew and Annaleise. It was such a lovely and special way to spend a Saturday morning.

This is Daffy’s story, with Melissa sitting in and sharing with us too.

Episode 7: Lyndal Vankuyk

Episode 7: Lyndal Vankuyk

October 22, 2021

Today you are going to hear from Lyndal Vankuyk from Narrabri; a mum, wife, teacher and great mate to many. Our paths crossed about 5 years ago in a staff room at a local primary school where we were both working. When you have young kids in a town like Narrabri, you soon become part of an incredible community of people who you feel supported by and who always have your back. We certainly feel this as well at our local day care centre and pre school where our youngest children attend together. Lyndal and her husband Will have three children, Ben, Evie and Roxy. When Roxy was two-years-old she was diagnosed with a very rare genetic condition that affects the ATP8A2 gene, so rare in fact that she is one of only 20 people diagnosed with the condition worldwide.

Roxy’s diagnosis is the first of its kind in Australia and the chances of being born with this rare genetic abnormality is 1 in 500 million.

This is Lyndal's story.

International Women’s Day in Narrabri

International Women’s Day in Narrabri

April 14, 2021

You will hear today that I was asked by the Narrabri Shire Council to speak at a special breakfast event for International Women's Day on the 8th March 2021. 

As I explain in this recording, I felt entirely inadequate but took on the challenge so I could share more of the life of my friend Ally, who this podcast is made in memory of. 

My friends over at the locally made Bush Wanderlust podcast, Ali Smith and Katie Watson, asked that morning if they could record my talk. I wasn't sure what they wanted to do with it but now that I've heard their finished product, and I saw their genuine support for the cause, I wanted to share it too. 

Thank you to the Narrabri Shire Council and the girls at Bush Wanderlust for this opportunity. 

Episode 6: Shanna Whan

Episode 6: Shanna Whan

February 27, 2021

Today you’re going to hear from my sister in law, Shanna Whan.

Please be aware that this episode does deal with sensitive topics and adult themes. If you find this triggers anything for you, please phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.

In an emergency, call 000 or go to your nearest hospital Emergency Department.

Rural Adversity Mental Health Program: Linking people to Mental Health Support ramhp.com.au 

Shan and I have known each other for eleven years. My husband Pete and Shan’s husband Tim are brothers and very close so we see each other regularly and really love their company. Tim and Shan are a fabulous aunty and uncle to our children and we’re very glad that Shan has been able to recover from her addiction to alcohol, to allow our relationships to flourish.

For about 20 years, alcohol ruled Shan’s life, and ultimately nearly took it. 6 years ago she hit rock bottom and she describes it as a miracle that she was able to truly acknowledge there was a problem and begin to heal.

Now Shan is the founder and CEO of the national charity, Sober in the Country (https://www.soberinthecountry.org/) who are an independent not-for-profit charity addressing alcohol harm in the bush through their #OK2SAYNO campaign & via advocacy, social impact and providing a rural members only peer-to-peer support group.

Pete and I, and our extended family, are very proud of all she has achieved so far and look forward to seeing what more is to come.

I was a bit nervous to record this podcast with Shan, or Shania as I affectionately call her because she’s so gifted at speaking and being able to get her message across, but I soon relaxed and realised that it was just us, having a cuppa in the home Tim and Shan recently moved into which is the old family church belonging to the Whans, dedicated to our husbands’ great grandmother and actually where Pete and I were married 8 years ago.

You’ll hear Shan scold her new puppy, Mallee; her new companion for loyal and elderly Blue Heeler, Fleabag. It was a little snapshot that I thought was too good to edit out.

It was a special bush setting, for a special conversation.

This is Shanna’s story.

Episode 5: Pattie Lettice

Episode 5: Pattie Lettice

November 26, 2020

Today you’re going to hear from Pattie Lettice.

But first a little back story… I was born in Moree and grew up on the North West Slopes and Plains of NSW. My mum’s family is from Mungindi on the NSW QLD border and I’ve always said that’s the centre of my soul. I had to go away for high school and uni and was homesick for the North West for 13 years. I knew if I became a teacher that I would get a job at Moree or Mungindi - that was the dream. I’ve always had a real connection to that country. Towards the end of my degree however I met my now husband in Narrabri and that is where I ended up. I love it here and loved talking about our western towns with Pattie for this podcast such as Walgett, Lightning Ridge and Brewarrina.

10 years ago I moved back to Narrabri to do my internship at Narrabri Public School under Craig Jollow and this is where I met Pattie Lettice, our AEO or Aboriginal Education Officer. I took an instant liking to her and have always enjoyed hearing parts of her story. I’ve taught at nine schools in our district and have learnt that Pattie is an absolute stand out in the way that she conducts herself, her inclusive attitude and passion for reigniting her culture with our kids. We share a passion for teaching children and she continues to inspire me to love all children, despite their background, home life or what we might perceive to be their limited potential. Pattie is a living example that no matter where you come from or what you go through, if you set yourself a goal and work hard, you can achieve it.

Pattie is a very proud Gamilaraay woman, married to her husband Noel, of 34 years and mother to too many children to count. In December of 2016 Pattie and Noel lost their only daughter Kia to cancer at age 22. Obviously that was a devastating loss for their family and I love seeing how they continue to honour Kia’s memory and carry her with them wherever they go.

Our own daughter Bridie started kindergarten at Narrabri Public School this year. Like many families, we’ve missed watching her in her first year of school as we’d imagined. To celebrate NAIDOC week this year, Pattie taught all kindergarten children an Acknowledgement of Country song in language. It was filmed and shared on social media for families to see. I was very overwhelmed by this, here was our daughter who doesn’t identify as being Aboriginal but being included in this cultural opportunity which represented to me that we are moving forward. Pattie makes me more proud to be Australian and also a part of our wonderful Narrabri Shire community.

If you’re looking for a resilient, Australian woman from this bush, look no further than Pattie Lettice.

Episode 4: Rachael Casella

Episode 4: Rachael Casella

November 2, 2020

Rachael Casella is a wife, mother, author and detective working for the Australian Federal Police.

I’ve followed Rachael’s story for a few years through her account on Instagram, My Life of Love. In October 2017 Rachael and her husband Johnny lost their 7 and a half month old baby girl, Mackenzie to SMA, Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

I’ve always watched in awe at how Rachael and Johnny first of all navigate their grief, share much of it publicly but also how they have been handed so many challenges since the death of their daughter on the quest to bring a healthy baby into the world. Rachael’s story is one of love, loss, hope and resilience.

I thought a little while ago that I’d love to interview her for the podcast. I didn’t dream that she’d accept but with no time to question it, she happily said yes and said that she loves taking opportunities to talk about her daughter.

Afterwards I asked her if she had any connection to the Australian bush as I describe my podcast as being about resilient Australian women from the bush, and she said ‘I grew up in Canberra, the bush capital!’ With that, we set about organising a time to record and I was looking forward to our conversation.

There is so much to learn from Rachael, from how to set a goal for your career and work hard to achieve it, to rising up above the worst type of grief in order to try and make a difference for other families who might be facing similar challenges.

Episode 3: Virginia Tapscott Part 2

Episode 3: Virginia Tapscott Part 2

September 20, 2020

In this episode which is Part 2, Virginia shares about how Ally developed a problem with drugs and alcohol, her self harming, factors surrounding sexual abuse and rape, suicidal thoughts and the end of Ally’s life. You’ll also notice how much Alex achieved despite what she had endured.

This part of Ginny’s story was not easy to record and it’s not always easy listening but we know that it’s the right thing to do.

Alex was my oldest friend and has been one of the most significant people in my life, she even introduced me to my husband. We always said we’d be best friends forever and as much as I desperately miss her now, the least I can do is make sure people keep saying her name.

Please be aware that this episode does deal with sensitive topics and adult themes.

Trigger Warning: sexual abuse, rape, eating disorder, suicidal thoughts, drug and alcohol abuse, drug overdose. 

In an emergency, call 000 or go to your nearest hospital Emergency Department.

National Crisis Numbers:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636

Rural Adversity Mental Health Program: Linking people to Mental Health Support ramhp.com.au 

If you get something out of this episode, please give it a rating on your podcast app and share this post so other people can find it easier.

** Virginia lives on a farm between Albury and Holbrook and our connection dropped out a few times for a couple of seconds so apologies in advance if you notice a gap every now and then.

Episode 2: Virginia Tapscott Part 1

Episode 2: Virginia Tapscott Part 1

September 19, 2020

In this episode, which is Part 1 of Virginia Tapscott's story, Virginia shares with us about her childhood, anxiety and eating disorder at boarding school, meeting her husband Rhys and creating their family, her passion for the environment, the sexual abuse that both herself and her sister suffered at the hands of two trusted male relatives and an incident that involved her sister having a drug overdose.

You will laugh out loud, feel in her pain and be in awe of the obstacles she has had to overcome. Now more than ever Virginia is determined to speak the truth.

Please be aware that this episode does deal with sensitive topics and adult themes.

Trigger Warning: sexual abuse, rape, eating disorder, suicidal thoughts, drug and alcohol abuse, drug overdose. 

In an emergency, call 000 or go to your nearest hospital Emergency Department.

National Crisis Numbers:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636

Rural Adversity Mental Health Program: Linking people to Mental Health Support ramhp.com.au 

If you enjoy this episode, please give it a rating on your podcast app and share it with friends so other people can find it easier.

** Virginia lives on a farm between Albury and Holbrook and our connection dropped out a few times for a couple of seconds so apologies in advance if you notice a gap every now and then.

Episode 1: Sarah Barnes

Episode 1: Sarah Barnes

September 3, 2020

With much anticipation, I am pleased to be 'dropping' my first official episode for the podcast, Conversations for Ally.

This is Sarah Barnes.

Sarah's story is nothing short of inspirational. She has experienced heart break, love, loss and pure joy. Sarah is one in a million and after all she's been through personally, she now trains people around the world in how to set goals for themselves, how to achieve them and how to be resilient.

A quote Sarah lives by is "Option A isn't available so I'm going to kick the hell out of Option B" and she feels her purpose in life is "to inspire people to be the best they can be personally and professionally, so that together we can build resilient communities".

If you enjoy this episode, please give it a rating on your podcast app so other people can find it easier. 

Follow along on Facebook and Instagram to see what is coming up.

Thank you.

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