CategoryAudio interviews

Denotes website entries with audio interviews

Blanche d’Alpuget – The Cubs Roar

Ventura Press, Australia,  2020

This is the fifth of Blanche d’Alpuget’s Birth of the Plantagenets series and I confess that I come to it as a stand alone novel, not having yet read the four previous books. However, while reading the entire series is ideal and recommended, it is perfectly possible to enjoy this one alone.

Barbie talks to Blanche d”Alpuget about The Cubs Roar
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Joanna Nell – The Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home

Hachette, Australia, 2020

This is the third of Joanna Nell’s novels, each of which explores aspects of ageing and particularly ageing for women. Jo writes with gentle humour, with compassion and respect, but never shirks from addressing the tough matter of this subject.

Barbie taoks to Joanna Nell about The Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home
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Adaptation – Canberra Glassworks

In collaboration with Suki & Hugh Gallery
25 November – 20 December 2020 
Opening and Christmas launch 25 November, 4pm to 8pm

The events of 2020 have highlighted the need for collaboration and supporting each other as a community.  Hence this collaboration on the exhibition Adaptation.

Barbie interviewed some of the artists from Adaptation at the exhibition opening.

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Pub Rock – National Portrait Gallery

Until 14 February 2021
Free, but sessions bookings required under COVID rules

Pub Rock celebrates the people, places, scenes and sounds defining 1970s and 1980s Australia. Drawn primarily from the Gallery’s collection and enriched with works by leading Australian music photographers including Tony Mott and Wendy McDougall, Pub Rock  features staged portraits and publicity shots alongside images captured during unguarded moments and the grungy energy of live performances.

Exhibition curator Joanna Gilmour takes Barbie on a tour of Pub Rock
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Artist Society of Canberra Annual Exhibition

The Fitters Workshop, Kingston
Tuesday 17 to Sunday 22 November 2020
Public invited to view the works and vote for the People’s Choice

There are 290 works are on display at this year’s exhibition, an amazing feat in COVID times and a mighty job of installation for Vice-President Angharad Dean and her team. The number and calibre of works must also have made it hard work for the judges.

Angharad Dean talks about the Artist Society of Canberra’s annual exhibition
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Marilyn Chalkley – Swifty the Greyhound (Where is my Pie?)

Illustrated by Jane Ostler
Brogo Books Australia, 2020

This charming tale of a recue greyhound recounts the (mostly) true story of the author’s adoption of her dog Swifty through Greyhound Connections, a voluntary Canberra based organisation that rehomes former racing greyhounds.

Barbie speaks with Marilyn Chalkley about Swifty the Greyhound
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Fleur McDonald – The Shearer’s Wife

Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2020

The Shearer’s Wife is the 16th and latest of Fleur McDonald’s best-selling rural suspense novels. It is set in small town regional South Australia and with a rich cast of characters, some of whom carry over from previous books. For new readers, no previous reading is required to immediately feel familiarity with the Barker community.

Fleur McDonald talks to Barbie about The Shearer’s Wife
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NAIDOC in the North

Belconnen Arts Centre
8 to 15 November 2020
Information and bookings:

An online and live celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Culture through story, song, art dance and ceremony.

A range of online performances from some of Canberra’s most accomplished Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists will be released online throughout the week from the Belco Arts website

Barbie talks with Michele Grimston about NAIDOC in the North
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ConneXion Big Band – live at the Harmonie German Club

Directed by Justin Buckingham
Featuring vocalists Neille Williams and Tony Haley and composers/arrangers Mike Dooley, Sally Greenaway and Bryan Hooley
12.30 to 3.30pm Sunday 22 November 2020

This is the first live event for the band in 2020 due to Covid shut downs and restrictions and hence a cause for celebration.

ConneXion Big Band is a long established Canberra-based community jazz band open to all comers who are of a suitable musical standard. 

Justin Buckingham, director of ConneXion Big Band

The band delivers a wide cross-section of big band era and popular music styles.  ConneXion also commissions and performs music written by Australian musicians, including local composers.

As COVID restrictions ease here, the Harmonie German Club has welcomed the opportunity to showcase the ConneXion repertoire by inviting the band to provide the musical backdrop to what looks to be a very enjoyable lunch out. 

  • Book at –, or pay slightly more at the door
  • Restrictions – due to COVID-19 restrictions numbers are limited to 100, so an early booking is probably safer; no dancing permitted
  • Ticket prices – Concession $11.58; Adult $27.33; reserved table of 6 $132.28; lunch and show $64.06 per person

Marion Schumacher – Seasons

Bungendore Fine Art
From 7 November 2020

Marion Schumacher’s exhibition depicts the beauty of the Australian bush – the trees, the rocks, the waterways. With affection and a keen eye for detail, Marion invites us to observe the preciousness of pristine natural places and to note not just the broad sweep of a view but to also see the finer aspects a closer inspection delivers.

Marion Schumacher walks around the exhibition with Barbie

Her subjects in this exhibition include coral reefs, waterfalls, the beach, boats and tree filled scenes, all capturing the particular qualities of light rendered by the changing seasons.

Marion has drawn and painted since childhood. After attending art colleges and privately run art schools, she freelanced as a sign writer before becoming a professional artist in her 20s. She recently became a partner in the Bungendore Fine Art Gallery.

Image: Marion Schumacher – Southern Tablelands View

Paul Jurak – Kayak Cameraman 2021 Calendar

Paul Jurak began kayaking in the thick of a punishing treatment regime for cancer, intending it to be a physical path to returned fitness. Never having kayaked, he took the plunge and bought two kayaks on the basis of an advertisement for a 50 per cent special, ventured untrained onto the lake and on his first sortie snapped a photo of his son using a phone camera.

Barbie talks with Paul Jurak
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Liz Lea: Interconnect – a DESIGN Canberra Festival event

Gorman House Arts Centre, Braddon
21 November at 2.30pm and 4.30pm
Bookings limited and essential, $30 and $25

Interconnect is a sharing of movement and design, exploring the connections between India and Canberra, from the 80,000 years of history of the land, to the designs of Burley Griffin and the present Covid restrictions upon and within the body.

Barbie speaks with Liz Lea about Interconnect

Liz Lea, Apsaras Arts Canberra,  Vanaja Dasika, Ira Patkar, Debora di Centa and Rainbow for a delightful foray into classical Indian and contemporary dance viewed through the design of the body, place and space.

Photograph credit: Barbie Robinson, Writing with Light – Liz Lea in performance at NPG 2020

Garth Nix – The Left-handed Booksellers of London

Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2020

This thrilling fantasy romp by the prolific Garth Nix draws on his experiences in various aspects of the book trade, his travels in England and particularly his 1983 sojourn there, but it also pays homage to his childhood reading of authors like Alan Garner and Susan Cooper.

It has the same mystic, mythic quality as the works of these English writers, and is steeped in the mystery of a natural world where stones and trees have animate qualities and immense powers.

Garth Nix talks about The Left-handed Booksellers of London
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Roland Perry – Red Lead

Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2020

Roland Perry is the author of 36 books, the latest of which is Red Lead, a dramatised history of the events surrounding the sinking of HMAS Perth by the Japanese in the Sunda Strait in WW11, the capture of some of its survivors on Java and their experiences as prisoners of war in the direst of conditions, including at Changi and on the Thai-Burma Railway.

It is a highly accessible style of history telling, which focusses on the experiences, relationships and feelings of the individuals in the thick of it, rather than on military commanders and campaigns run from remote offices.

Barbie speaks with Roland Perry about Red Lead
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Music for Canberra appoints new artistic co-convenors

Dr Nicole Hammill and Rachel Gould have just been appointed as artistic co-convenors at Music For Canberra.

Sydney-born Nicole Hammill studied in the US for 11 years, achieving a Doctor of Musical Arts from Louisiana State University.  She subsequently lectured at two American universities and returned to Australia to lecture at James Cook University. 

Dr Hammill has taught at the Queensland Conservatorium the Queensland University of Technology and the University of Southern Queensland. 

She has been an active soloist and chamber musician, performing with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra since1999. She has acted as Principal First Violin for five years. 

An AMEB examiner and frequent adjudicator, in 2007, she completed a Graduate Diploma of Counselling, leading to an interest in personality theory and its application to music teaching.

Dr Hammill will take prime responsibility for the classical music orchestras and instruction for MFC.

Nicole Hammill and Rachel Gould spoke to Barbie about their appointment as artistic co-convenors at Music for Canberra

Rachel Gould is a Bachelor of Music graduate from the ANU School of Music, where she studied clarinet and piano.

She has worked in the Canberra music scene for around 20 years, including at ANU, as a professional stage manager,  as production and operations manager at the National Folk Festival, and as production and venue manager for the Canberra International Music Festival.

Propelled by a passion for youth music education, she has also been the ACT outreach officer managing the ACT Musica Viva in Schools program and Masterclass Series, and the artistic director of the Young Music Society’s summer school program. Rachel will focus particularly on non-classical music programs at MFC.

The new co-convenors share a passion for youth music education and will no doubt contribute richly with their talents and  impressive qualifications to the MFC organisation and to Canberra’s music landscape.