I am currently studying a PhD with the University of South Australia, exploring the life of South Australia's Kate Cocks. In 1915 she became the first policewoman in the British Empire employed on the same salary and with the same powers of arrest as men. Here's a piece I wrote about her legacy for The Conversation. As part of my PhD I have also written a historical murder mystery inspired by Kate's extraordinary life and some of the cracking cases she solved. The Death of Dora Black will be released by Hachette Australia in September 2024.
Way back in 1989 I scored my first job in journalism at Mildura's Sunraysia Daily by listing my hobbies as "beer and pasta". I scored a sub-editing job at The Times in London by telling the night editor I had better legs than everyone else who'd applied. (We were talking on the phone, so he couldn't tell I was fibbing.)
And it's fair to say I've had a very lucky, varied and fun career over the past 35 years.
I was a columnist with Adelaide’s Sunday Mail for 17 years, from 2006 to 2023. Other former roles include state political reporter for Melbourne’s Herald Sun and public relations manager for the South Australian Tourism Commission.
I co-founded the support website Mining Family Matters with mining mum and dear friend Alicia Ranford in 2010. We won national awards, expanded into Canada and helped hundreds of thousands of families globally to survive and thrive despite the pressures of mining life and working away. We've closed the business now, as we've both moved on to other careers, however we still sell our printed survival guides (180,000 copies sold and counting). For more details see my Mining Family Matters page.
In early 2017 I was incredibly fortunate to travel overseas on a Churchill Fellowship, visiting nine countries in seven weeks to gauge the significance of the historic Vickers Vimy aircraft at Adelaide Airport and retrace the route of Sir Ross Smith’s pioneering flight from England to Australia.
Two years later, my novel Long Flight Home was published by the wonderful team at Wakefield Press, and SBS TV aired a one-hour TV documentary I co-produced with my husband Max and friend Susan Harrington. Called The Greatest Air Race, the documentary is presented by former NASA astronaut Andy Thomas and features some incredible archival footage of the race. UK publishing giant Ulverscroft has also released Long Flight Home globally in audio and large print.
In 2019 I took on the year-long role of South Australia’s Epic Flight Centenary ambassador and coordinator, working with the History Trust of South Australia, Air Force and many others to create a year-long calendar of events and lobby for the $7m relocation of the Vickers Vimy at Adelaide Airport. (The Vimy's beautiful new home opened in late 2022).
In early 2021 I took on the volunteer role of media advisor and spokesperson for Voluntary Assisted Dying South Australia (VADSA), generating statewide coverage and lobbying politicians to ensure successful passage of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill in June 2021.
I am currently on the board of Reconciliation SA and a member of the SA Regional Selection Committee for the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. I'm also a proud ambassador for Adelaide's Hutt St Centre. Former roles were with the Adelaide Riverbank Authority and the Catherine House Trust (I'm in awe of the amazing work done by the Catherine House team to support women out of homelessness).
Life seems to be directing me towards history, too. In mid-2023 I was named Emerging Historian of the Year by the History Council of South Australia (predominantly for my work on the Vickers Vimy), and later in the year I joined the History Council's executive committee.
Since 2019 I have talked about the Air Race hundreds of times, from radio and TV interviews to library Q&As and Probus meetings. Nothing beats a chat with David Bevan on ABC Radio Adelaide though.
A major career highlight was speaking under the 'G for George' bomber at the Australian War Memorial (and I've done that three times now!) Over the years I've MC'd conferences and gala events for up to 1000 people.
One of my favourite freelance writing projects was researching and writing Out of the Blocks, a social history of Wynns Coonawarra Estate vineyards (available at their cellar door).
I'm currently a member of the SA Regional Selection Committee for the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, and sit on the board of Reconciliation South Australia. I'm also an ambassador for Adelaide's Hutt St Centre.
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