The black and white photo album

I had a slightly weird Back to the Past moment when, on Saturday,  I travelled to the Sutherland Shire and the suburb of Gymea.

I had spent a large part of my childhood there, in a rambling house with the bush as a backyard and the Port Hacking River as part of our landscape.

So the sight of a dazzling palace called Tradies was a bit of a shock as was the sprawling Westfield nearby, where once there was a row of small shops leading to the station at Miranda. There used to be a small cinema where I remember my surfie boyfriend took me to see one of the first surfing movies.

Tradies was the venue for Creative Kids Tales Festival, organised by Georgie Donaghey and it was a great space.

The program  flowed without a hitch and we were all entranced by Susanne Gervay, Georgie Donaghey, Wai Chin, Sue Whiting, illustrator Sarah Davis and by the magic of Skype, the effervescent Tristan Bancks. We learnt about making a difference with your stories, writing about what you know, what publishers are looking for, how to write a successful series and market yourself (and the hazards of slime!)

In between all this wisdom, there was a chance to have a session with an assessor and receive feedback on stories. I was lucky to have Sue Whiting with all her experience in the industry ( as well as being a writer herself) and her feedback was very thoughtful.

It was also a chance to catch up with fellow writers, some of whom had only been seen online, so it was great to feel that the writing community was growing and flourishing.

The trip back revived fond memories of hiking in the National Park, surfing at Cronulla, spin the bottle parties and the long train trip home eyeing off the boys from our sister school. You will see from the photo above how unsophisticated we really were as teenagers and how simple was our attire in those days!