Anstey’s Diary – Operation Echidnanaut

Hey everyone,

Now I’m the first to admit that I’m a pretty well-travelled echidna. Just in the last year, I have been to France, Italy, Ireland, New Zealand and Japan. My next travel adventure however, is going to be something special!


Some of the hopefuls, waiting for their interview.

That’s right: Space!

Now I have to admit I was pretty nervous going in to the interview and there were quite a few other hopeful echidna competing against me.

The key to any interview is to project an air of confidence, even if you don’t actually feel it.


David Brooks and I in the interview room

I did have one advantage in that I had worked with David Brooks (the man conducting the interviews) on several projects in the past.

This helped calm my nerves a lot!

I took my time and thought carefully about my answers, making special effort not to ‘geek out’ over the idea of going into space, but also convey a sense of enthusiasm about the project.

I think I did well, hopefully I will hear something in the next few days.

We put an echidna onto our new library bags!

Our new library bags arrived earlier this year. There is a bit of story behind them and how Anstey, the library’s echidna mascot, came to feature on the design.


When another order of bags arrived with the standard logo late last year, we decided they would be the last lot. After that, the library bag would be refreshed. We would embrace a new design!


The old library bag.

It’s funny how something as simple as a bag can bring about so many opinions. Of the 40+ staff who work in the library, everyone had a different perspective on what colour, size, shape and design a library bag ought to be.

The majority agreed the new bags should be made from sustainable materials, to reflect council’s slogan ‘Naturally Better’. We ordered sample sizes, filled them with books and walked around the library with them to test bag shapes. Staff and 20 customers were shown the samples and asked what they thought. A compromise was soon met and the size issue was sorted. But how to go about creating a new design?

We wanted a new design that was eye-catching and captured the fun and dynamic nature of Tea Tree Gully Library. A take-home advertisement for the library. Unique, reusable, sustainable.

Something a bit hipster.

Last November, we were talking about the hipster generation and their impact on marketing  and society. Did you know there are now more than 25,000 baristas in Australia? Ten years ago there were 8000.

Douglas McWilliams, economist and founder of the London-based Centre for Economic and Business Research, says ‘Hipsters have identifiable spending patterns and homogenous tastes. But they don’t want others to copy them, so they keep up by changing their tastes, by moving on to the next thing.”

Hipsters traditionally reject popular, mass culture and spend their money on products that reflect their individuality. Acknowledging the hipster impact and the digital age means branding and new library bags are required to be just that much more sophisticated.

That’s where Bernard Salt came in.

Bernard Salt

Demographer Bernard Salt, who writes quite a lot about hipsters

Bernard Salt, who writes a weekly column for The Australian, had written an article that very week, announcing he had determined the ‘epicentre’ of hipster cliques in major Australian cities. As a way of measuring the hipster flow and its impact on a city and culture. In the article, he claims to have pinpointed the hipster centres of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

On impulse, we decided to google each of the centres. That’s how we came across the adorable logo of the cafe that marks Melbourne’s hipster centre zone: Bluebird Espresso.


bluebird logo

Image credit: Not a foodie blog

Cute, simple and memorable. We loved it and thought we’d try and create a similar design for our very own library bag. Instead of a bluebird – we decide to use the library’s mascot, Anstey the echidna.



Anstey image.jpg

Anstey has been our long-time mascot, much loved by staff and customers. He features on the mural in the children’s area and on the postcard with the children’s programs. There’s even a stuffed toy version of Anstey. But these Anstey/s are very much designed to appeal to children – it’s adults who mostly purchase library bags.

We sought echidna-spiration from the web.

All lovely and pretty echidnas. We thought about going to a graphic designer to try and replicate one of them, but our Arts & Cultural Coordinator Kelly took the idea home and worked into the night to come up with a grungier, hipster Anstey.

She created the artwork using a rubber pad, ink set and scraper. The yellow colour block behind Anstey was used to make him pop on a black calico bag (as chosen by staff and customers when we walked around with samples).

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Anstey and some of the different designs

Transferring Kelly’s design from a rubber stamp sheet onto a piece of calico turned out to be easier than we thought. A graphic designer created a vector of the original illustration to send off to the printers, and voila. We had our very own Bluebird Espresso / Bernard Salt-inspired, grunge Echidna ‘hipster’ library bag.

Tea Tree Gully Library bag

The library bag on display – when it went travelling to Japan in April this year.

The bags are $3 each and can be purchased from the customer service desk within the library.

Thank you Bernard Salt and Bluebird Espresso.

You can read Mr Salt’s ‘hipster’ article, published in The Australian on 8 October 2015 here


Your Friendly Neighbourhood Librarian...Ready to ROCK!!!

Your Friendly Neighbourhood Librarian…Ready to ROCK!!!

Heavy Metal Legends Iron Maiden, a band I have loved since the age of 13, hit Adelaide last Thursday as part of their Book of Souls world tour and I had to go.

One of the first of what came to be called the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Iron Maiden served as inspiration for many metal acts that followed, including Metallica. With a musical style that is almost like classical music that you can lose yourself in, and with lyrical content drawn from history, politics, social issues and literature, they are what I like to call the ‘thinking mans’ metal band. (You know, I once aced a history test by memorising the lyrics to their song Alexander the Great!)

The show opened with the haunting acapella intro of If Eternity Should Fail with the band joining Dickinson on stage in an explosion of pyros and sound. The 15 song set drew heavily from the new album and included the beautiful Tears of a Clown, dedicated to the late Robin Williams. My only disappointment was that the incredible album closer Empire of the Clouds was not included.
Of the “legacy” songs (not “old” according to Dickinson), concert standards The Trooper (about the charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean War), Fear of the Dark, Iron Maiden, Blood Brothers and Number of the Beast were all included but fan favourites Run to the Hills and Two Minutes to Midnight were dropped. In their place was a lesser known Children of the Damned and Egyptian-inspired Powerslave which was a great surprise and fit well with the theme of Book of Souls. For me however, the highlight of the whole night was the song they chose to close with: Wasted Years. This is my absolute favourite song and one that I never thought to hear played live as it rarely makes it into the set.

Heavy Metal Legends in Action

Heavy Metal Legends in Action

With more energy than most bands half their age, Maiden actually perform on stage with costumes, pyros and a giant ‘Eddie’ (the band mascot).  The show was everything I had hoped for and short of backing off from a couple of high notes, one would never have guessed that singer Bruce Dickinsen was being treated for cancer in his mouth this time last year!

At one point, the singer halted a song to berate a fan who was getting out of control (security would remove him from the arena). Dickinson went on to apologise reminding people that Iron Maiden is about the love of music, not getting wasted, and that a joint love of music made the fans and the band family.

(Now I have to get my hair cut…I promised my mum…)

Not familiar with the work of Iron Maiden? Why not have a listen to one of their many albums, or check out the live DVD from the Final Frontier or Somewhere Back In Time world tours, documentaries on the band and the New Wave of Metal, or read about their almost 40 year history.

Deb’s ‘BIG THINGS’ road trip 2016

During the recent Easter school holidays, Library staff member Deb and her family set off on a road trip around Victoria with a mission: to see as many ‘big things’ as possible.

Decked out in their special ‘Big Things’ t-shirts, Deb’s family and three other families racked up thousands of miles to make it to 16 big Aussie icons.

Deb says: ‘Suffice to say with 8 kids and 8 adults in tow, our road trip was anything but boring!’


1. The Big Mallee Fowl at Patchewollock



2. Arnold the Big Murrary Cod at Swan Hill


3. The Big Strawberry at Koonoomoo


4. The Big Ned Kelly at Glenrowan


5. The Big Earthworm at Bass


6. The Big Cow at Newhaven


7. The Big Wave at Newhaven


8. The Big Tap at Cowes


9. The Big Koala #1 at Cowes


10. The Big Purse at Melbourne


11. The Big Chickens at Geelong


12. The Big Boomerang at Geelong


13. The Big Pheasant at Gumbuya Park


14. The Big Sphinx at Geelong


15. The Big Miner at Ballarat


16. Larry the Big Lobster at Kingston

Inspired by Deb’s trip? Read about more Aussie’Big Things’ in the library book The Little Book of Big Aussie Icons. Borrow it here

Farewell Maggie…

Just before Christmas, Tea Tree Gully Library said farewell to Library Officer Maggie Orr, our longest ever serving staff member.

Maggie was part of our team for the past 26 years and made selections for the Library’s Travel collection.

Here at the library Maggie is known as someone full of sass and wit, always armed with a snappy comeback and quick to ground anyone showing airs or graces.

She is also one super stylish woman, with her quiff of white hair and black-rimmed glasses being her trademarks. So chic! Who ever said librarians were dowdy?

maggie pic

Those were the days – a younger Maggie smiles for the camera

In December 2014, Maggie was formally awarded her 25 years of service certificate, along with fellow Library staffer Grace D’Costa.

Back then she hinted  she was thinking about retirement, but gave no indication when.

Maggie 2

Being presented her certificate for 25 years of service by Library Arts and Culture Manager Helen Kwaka in December 2014

That was, until November 2015 when she finally said ‘That’s it.’ The decision was made. Maggie would call it quits to travel, sleep in and so much more.

In her farewell note (read by Tricia at her goodbye morning tea) Maggie wrote:

‘Well, for the last time I am talking to you as my work colleagues. I sincerely want to thank you all for your friendships over the years. I have really enjoyed my time and the Library, and it is with some sadness that I say farewell.

I am looking forward to a future full of doing all the things that there never seemed to be time to do. I will watch something on TV that goes beyond 10.30 at night! I will refuse to get out of bed before 8.30 in the morning! I will watch ALL of the Tour de France no matter what time it finishes!! I will go to the beach and build sandcastles! Fly the kite that I was given a year ago and even jump in puddles if I want to! I will visit the city as if I were a traveller from far away and do things a tourist would do!

Never having experienced retirement before I am hoping it is everything people say it is, and if not then I will make it everything it should be!

I will not say goodbye, just see you later.’

We will miss you Maggie. Hope you’re having lots of coffee, swims and planning epic holidays.

Trish reading Maggie's farewell note.jpg

Tricia reading Maggie’s farewell note


Morning tea

The generous spread….if you squint you can see Florentine slice on the back left – Maggie’s favourite

Maggie Orr

Emma’s work experience story at Tea Tree Gully Library

Work experience student Emma was initially apprehensive about her placement at Tea Tree Gully Library. But she soon discovered she had nothing to fear, as she enjoyed the tasks and working in a team. She shares her account below.

I can’t be dishonest. My initial thoughts about work experience were all unsure, nervous, and overall I was rather afraid to participate.

After walking through the door of Tea Tree Gully Library, I’d completely changed my mind! Those thoughts became excitement after meeting the community – the environment was friendly and welcoming and made me look forward to arriving each day.

I found there was quite a large variety of activities for me to do during my time there. Working at the CSD turned out to be far more enjoyable than I thought it would be. Even though scanning and sorting might sound tedious, I felt good about being able to contribute to this amazing community. The sensor pad also captured my interest – you can place a number of books on it and they will all be scanned at the same time.

Alongside this was work at the Info Desk, as well as dealing with shelving and holds. Placement orders seemed difficult to understand at first, but once it was explained, I got used to it quickly. Working in the chute was very similar to the CSD, the only difference being that it worked as a 24-hour collector (as people can return books and CDs after-hours).

I also helped out during Story Time for toddlers. After reading the story, we allowed them to do a colouring activity.

There was never a point where I sat down and felt bored. There was constant movement in the library, and always something to do. If there was too much work, someone would come in to help. It is a system that relies on teamwork.

By the end of it all, I can proudly say that I am happy I took part.

Island Hopping – Fraser Island

Following on from Helen’s travels to Easter Island, Penny talks about an island a little closer to home.

Located just off the coast of Hervey Bay, Fraser Island is situated 350km north of Brisbane. It’s a mysterious and beautiful place.

fraser-islandSwimming in the freshwater lakes is a memory that stands out for me. With an abundance of fresh water on the island, there are dozens of pristine mirror lakes, which are perfect for swimming in and drinking from. Lake McKenzie in particular is spectacular – it has clear blue waters and white sandy shores, and is probably the purest form of water I have ever experienced. Eli Creek was another gorgeous swimming spot.

maheno-wreckMore than 50 shipwrecks are marooned along the Fraser Island coastline. The most famous shipwreck is the Maheno, a former trans-Tasman luxury liner and a WWI hospital shop.

There are plenty of walking tracks on the island, which can take you to high vantage points overlooking the sea and the Queensland coastline, or to dense pockets of rainforest where you hardly see the sky. My favourite walking adventure was heading up the island’s giant sand dune with my boogie board and surfing all the way down again!

Given it’s made entirely of it, sand is always something to contend with on Fraser. You drive on sand, you sleep on it,  you are always walking on it and getting it in your shoes. I remember friends getting bogged in the sand even before we had boarded the barge to head over to the island.

fraser island 4wdThe endless beaches are really sand highways with utes going up and down all day long. We only drove places during the day, as it was too scary at night with the high tides and pitch black skies.  While the utes get lots of space on the beach, the internal sandy roads are much narrower. Once we encountered a bus on a road in the rainforest that was not wide enough for two vehicles, and we had to sit there until the coach went past, scraping our vehicle and stripping off metres of paint.

The island has very little development, so it’s easy to imagine yourself as a member of one of the aboriginal tribes who lived there for more than 5000 years, seeing and encountering the same natural beauty of the island.

The Library has a load of travel books that are either on, or include sections on Fraser Island. Trip Advisor has lots of information regarding accommodation and 4WD hire.

Island Hopping – Easter Island

Each of us has our own “bucket list” of places we want to visit.  The top of Library manager Helen’s was Easter Island.  However, it is the  most remote inhabited island in the world, being over 3000km from Chile (the ‘closest’ mainland) so travelling there takes some planning.

Helen Easter Island statues2Helen says: I had wanted to visit for over twenty years to see the monolithic human carved moai for which the island is famous.  Strangely enough, my desire came from when I started working in a public library, from shelving a book on Easter Island.  I was intrigued by the images of the moai on the cover. The book was borrowed, and I marvelled at the statues, and from then wanted to see them in person. 

When Helen’s partner suggested travelling to South America for a holiday, the deal was if that was the destination, then Easter Island was on the list!

Our first stop in research was the travel section of the Library, borrowing a number of the books on South America to refine our trip.  One suggested catching a bus over the Andes Mountains to Santiago,  the best way to see the Andes up close – in the comfort of a modern two story bus.  This was added to our itinerary.  We also jumped on-line to get great suggestions on accommodation options and read reviews through Trip Advisor

Organising a flight to Easter Island from Santiago is easy, but the downside is the flight is 5 hours and requires an early morning start of 5am.  Despite this, it was truly worth the journey. The Island is inhabited by less than 6000 people and the main economy of the island is tourism.  There is one town Hanga Roa, which is close to the airport – walking distance even! 

???????????????????????????????There is great food to be had on Easter Island,  especially seafood.
In the mornings, you can see the fisherman selling the fish caught that day to the locals, along with locally grown vegetables, fruit and meat.  If your accommodation doesn’t enable you to cook, the restaurants in town are many and varied.  There are a few good patisseries which feature great cakes and doughnuts (filled with dulcha de leche), but they also specialise in empanadas.  These are very popular especially with the locals. 

The primary reason for visiting Easter Island is of course the famous Moai stautues around the island.  Helen explains to tour options: There are a couple of options, you can arrange a tour with local tour companies where you get a flavour for the history, or you can hire a car and visit any site at your own pace.  Bikes are available for hire – but word of warning, if this is your preference ensure the gears can change and you have a basic puncture repair kit as you don’t want to be stuck a long way from the town with walking as your only solution.

Helen Easter Island statuesThe statues themselves are truly a marvel.   The best site to visit for the statues on the whole island is Rano Raraku, where they were carved from the side of the volcano.  At first the site appears as if the statues were left where they had fallen over, or still in the process of being created.  The closer you get the side of the volcano you can see outlines of a variety of statues which were in the process of being created.  Just ensure you have good walking shoes!

It definitely sounds like Easter Island is a great place to visit. If this has sparked interest for you, start your research on Easter Island today!

Destination China

In  part four of our travelling staff series, Tricia talks about her travels through China. The land of the ‘unexpected’  – a vast and complex country with many layers of culture, political upheaval and history and amazing contrasts of ultra modern mega cities and beautiful idyllic wilderness.

Visiting China for 3 weeks only scratches the surface of this nation of friendly and inquisitive people we gave it our best shot visiting of the most well-known sites.


Xian, The Forbidden City

First stop was the walled city of Xian.  Xian typifies China with its mix of ancient architecture, culture and antiquities contrasting with the modern business and hotel districts.  Followed by Beijing, including the Olympic village and a number of amazing cultural shows combining Chinese acrobatics, humour and culture with wonderful banquets. Treasures such as the Terracotta Warriors, The Great Wall of China, The Forbidden City, Tai Chi in the park, the Winter Palace and so much more were explored and climbed and photographed! Our  Library travel guide was invaluable for locating many of these sites.She recites a hilarious misunderstanding on her last day:

Our guide  in China was a lovely, friendly man called Sandy ( his western name) who promised to give us a special present at the end.

What could we give him in return that wasn’t the usual kangaroo or koala made in China?  I decided we should give Sandy my tube of Vegemite which, I have to travel with no matter how far that may be. It was a sacrifice I was prepared to make to ensure our gift was of a comparable nature and cultural significance to the one he’d no doubt provide us.

Sandi was gracious in his acceptance and promptly proceeded to smear it all over his arms, face and neck. “It’s a sunscreen right?” 

China 1

The Boat of ‘Purity and Ease’ in Beijing

If we had to choose just one adjective to describe our China adventure I think it would be unexpected. Unexpectedly easy to travel within, organised, beautiful, charming, contrasting and comfortable. The people are friendly, knowledgeable, more open than we expected in discussing Chinese politics and we felt very lucky and privileged to have had even this small trip to such a great destination.

The Library has a range of travel guides for China, from basic overviews, to guide on Beijing, Shanghai and Xian specifically. We also have heaps of DVDs on this region too!

Stay tuned for next travel post when we go Island hopping!


The further adventures of our travelling staff

In the past couple of weeks we’ve reported on some of the exploits of our well-travelled staff.  Sonya & Chris talked about overseas adventures in the US and Africa, and Kathy outlined one of her recent inland Australia treks.

This time we turn to Japan, a favourite of Penny and Helen.

japan generic

Mt Fuji from the famous Chureito pagoda

Penny first visited Tokyo as a 17-year-old exchange student, and dreamt of returning some time to live and work.  Ten years later she realised this;
At 27, I quit my job, to live in the Land of the Rising Sun becoming an English teacher in primary schools. I lived in the regional city of Takatsuki, located halfway between Osaka and Kyoto, making it the perfect base for exploring and domestic travel. I travelled to Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima several times, which are all amazing places but some of the most interesting places I visited are much less-known. 


Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Pumpkin’ scultpure viewable from the shore of Naoshima

One of these was the island of  Naoshima, which is located off the coast of Okayama. Naoshima is dotted with contemporary art galleries, built into the hills to soak up ocean and island views. One of the main galleries, Benesse House, consists of four buildings all designed by renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando. It’s filled with works from artists all over the world, including Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock and Yayoi Kusama. One of the main pleasures of  the island is encountering the large sculptures and artworks outside, whilst taking in the views of Japan’s Inland Sea region. For those who like their art near the sea, I cannot recommend it highly enough. 

Shigaraki ceramics

Shigaraki ceramics

Another highlight for me was Shigaraki, a small town world famous for pottery located in the central Shiga Prefecture. Artisans have been making pottery here since ancient times and the area is rich with locally mined clay. The entire main street was lined with stores selling ceramics and in each store I visited, you could see ceramic artists working on their new designs. I bought 3 well-priced, hand-crafted ceramic teapots and they always remind me of Shigaraki whenever I drink my favourite hot beverage green tea.


Shinkansen – commonly know in the western world as ‘The Bullet Train’

Helen adds for prospective Japan tourists;  A visit to a cat cafe or a maid cafe is always a highlight! For transport gunzels, travelling by Shinkansen up and the country is a fabulous experience. Ensure you pick-up food from the supermarket before you jump aboard…. And if you are unable to identify it there is no doubt it will be fabulous!

Even though it’s 8000km due north, Japan shares the same timezone as us, so it’s generally jetlag free!

Over on our Facebook we talked about some new Japan resources that had recently come in. If you’ve been to Japan head over to that post and add what you recommend to see. Also, if you’re planning a trip, we have the most recent Lonely Planet and Eyewitness guides as well as a huge range of other Japan highlights books.