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8 April 14

The best way to decorate festivals is with recycled materials, and in Melbourne, the best way to source decorative recycled materials is from Reverse Truck Art! Much like Reverse Garbage in Sydney and Melbourne, Reverse Art Truck has been collecting rejects, seconds and factory off-cuts and supplying them to the community for over thirty years.

Reverse Art Truck, Ringwood, Victoria, April 2014
We visited the shed premises of Reverse Art Truck at Ringwood. Although it's a small building, it holds many treasures!

Reverse Art Truck, Ringwood, Victoria, April 2014
Quantities of odd off-cuts are neatly sorted and displayed in cardboard tubs.

As soon as we reached Melbourne last month, we became caught up in our various friends’ Confest preparations. Confest is one of the most family-friendly festivals on the Australian circuit, and we’re so excited to be part of the Family Tent crew this year. The Family Tent operates as a free-for-all creativity centre for everyone, and we use a budget supplied by Confest organisers to stock the space with art materials and lots and lots of random craft objects that will be turned into God-knows-only-what by the imaginations of those wielding sticky tape, scissors and paint during the five-day festival.

So we arrived at Reverse Art Truck with a budget for eighteen big garbage bags, which — on a personal level — meant that each of the girls could fill their own personal shopping bag with anything that caught their eyes and their imaginations!

Reverse Art Truck, Ringwood, Victoria, April 2014
Rolls of fabric and shade-cloth materials make this a great stop for those creatively wanting to make their own home improvements!

Reverse Art Truck, Ringwood, Victoria, April 2014
A selection of smaller trinkets is accompanied by the sign "Please take small amounts in this section." I love the way the girls look through the tubs carefully and choose exactly what they want.

Lana at Reverse Art Truck, Ringwood, Victoria, April 2014
It's rare to be in a shop where the kids can select so freely from the shelves. My girls loved the experience!

I personally found the quantity of stock overwhelming when thinking about how children could use the materials for their projects, so I soon gave up and let our friend Hagai choose what he needed for the Family Tent. Instead, I focused on ideas for decorating one thing (the women’s Red Tent) and found I could narrow my search and select the materials I knew I could work with.

Reverse Art Truck, Ringwood, Victoria, April 2014
Crafts are on display around the shed, providing ideas of what can be created with the materials on hand.

Reverse Art Truck, Ringwood, Victoria, April 2014
Truly, in a place like this, you're only limited by your imagination!

Although busy, the staff at Reverse Art Truck are approachable and friendly; it was a joy to talk with them and I know they would help out with any special requests if they could! If you’re a Melbourne-based parent of a crafty child — or perhaps an artist with an interest in using recycled materials — Reverse Art Truck should be high on your list of places to find inspiration!

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3 March 14

Traditional, progressive and frequently improper, contra dancing is new-to-us but part of the Tasmanian Folk Federation regular line-up. Every second Monday night, the back hall of Hobart’s Wesley Church is brought to life by a group of eager dancers who learn the steps of each dance together and then step, twirl and switch partners to the lively music of a folk-music trio.

Contra dancing, Hobart, March 2014
From the very first night we came along, Cathy (and her partner David — not pictured) have made us feel very welcome.

One of the advantages of homeschooling is that our children can participate in activities that happen after the bed-times of school kids who need to be up early in the morning! A week-day night is no different to a weekend, and so Monday night is the perfect time to go out dancing.

We first approached the contra dancing regulars timidly. David Wanless — who calls the dances along with Sarah Lewis — wasn’t sure how well the girls would be able to follow the steps, and two weeks ago, only Brioni was determined enough to participate in most of the dances. We were the only family with children who attended, and the older folk generously helped the girls through the repetitive movements.

Folk band at contra dancing, Hobart, March 2014
Part of the charm of the dance is the live music! Tonight, Moonshine Whiskers (on fiddle) is accompanied by The Ragged Pony.

On Saturday, we returned to the main church hall for a Scottish ceilidh. Our last ceilidh was in New Zealand a lifetime ago so I knew more what to expect — circle dances, progressive partnering and lots of different ages. Other children were dancing, and with Ágúst as a partner, Aisha gained confidence and practice.

Contra dancing, Hobart, March 2014
Many of the contra dances involve a group of four people dancing together.

Tonight, it was a pleasure to return to the hall for contra dancing, knowing that both Aisha and Brioni would participate eagerly. While we’re dancing, Lana and Calista usually do their own thing — sometimes watching, sometimes playing together. Occasionally I missed dances because I was doing something with them, but as other dancers were happy to have a longer breather, my absence didn’t affect anyone negatively.

Contra dancing, Hobart, March 2014
Aisha loves being partnered by Ágúst! After just two dance-nights, she's now a confident participant.

In my mind, I’ve imagined that we would need to be settled in one locality before the girls could get into dancing or other formal lessons, but our participation in the contra dancing has shown that even while travelling full-time, we can become — if only temporarily — part of a dancing community wherever we are!

If you’re interested in contra dancing in Hobart, check out the Folk Federation’s website for details of what’s going on. The local group is so friendly and welcoming, we recommend it as a great activity for fitness and fun!

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2 March 14

Imagine dancing with friends of all ages in a friendly setting every week — it’s a great way to work out and build community connections! Every Sunday in South Hobart, dedicated dancers meet for a boogie and a chat.

Dance Club, South Hobart, March 2014
Dance Club has been running for years, and good friendships have developed between the regular attendees.

I first heard about Dance Club last year from another travelling family, and it’s taken us this long for time and space to collide favourably so we could try it out for ourselves!

South Hobart Community Centre, March 2014
The South Hobart Community Centre is just above the park on the corner of Darcy and Washington Streets.

It took me a while to work out exactly where the community hall was, because from the street-level there are no signs giving an indication of what’s behind the shrubbery that lines the park.

Calista at the playground, March 2014
The fully-fenced park is a kid-friendly location for Dance Club, as the kids can dance inside or play outside according to how they feel.

Lana and Lauren, March 2014
Four-year-old Lana's going through a phase of climbing as high as she can without regard to how she'll get down. This evening, I had to rescue her down from here and from several trees!

Dance Club is very informal. Our family could come and go as it suited us, and late arrivals are welcomed. The music comes from a pre-set play-list. Everyone is invited to have a turn putting together a two-hour play-list that basically follows a warm-up/chaos/cool-down curve.

Dance Club in the community hall, South Hobart, March 2014
Inside the small hall, the sterile room is thoroughly disguised by wall-to-wall fabric hangings in red(!). Tea-lights and lanterns and a rotating rainbow projector on the ceiling set the mood for dancing while floor fans keep the air moving.

Calista, Aisha and Lana playing with small toys, March 2014
Occasionally the girls come in and dance, and other times they use their little toys as props in elaborate games in and around the community centre. They loved to play behind the wall-hangings and explore the hidden recesses.

Brioni dancing at Dance Club, South Hobart, March 2014
It's a lot of fun to dance in such a low-pressure environment. Children are thoroughly welcome to participate, although the dance-music we heard today was chosen for adults.

I enjoyed chatting with the ladies at Dance Club tonight. There was a lot of music that I hadn’t heard — as I don’t usually listen to dance/techno. One stand-out artist that caught my ear is Parov Stelar who fuses brassy jazz with dance beats. Kate assured me that the music every week is different, and I’d like to bring us back so we can dance to a different set!

If you’re a local or travelling through Hobart and feel like a dance, this is definitely a friendly place to come! Dance Club is on every Sunday from 5-7 pm at the South Hobart Community Centre in Darcy Street.

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