If there is one thing Aussies are good at, it is coming together in times of community crisis. We are also obviously good at things like drinking beer, playing sport and being absolute legends, most of which conveniently relate to the story we’re about to tell.
Which is this.
An art auction will be held this Friday, February 21st at Balter Brewing in Currumbin with photographs donated by some of Australia’s best photographers. Meaning you can hang the art of these mind-blowiningly excellent artists in your home and the profits from your purchase will go straight to bushfire relief efforts.
So that’s epic in all of the ways.
The auctions will be silent and there are 11 prolific Australian travel, landscape and nature works of art to choose from, including some local favourites you no doubt already know and love.
The Gold Coast’s very own (legendary) Sean Scott is on the roster, as is photo magician Trent Mitchell, one of the world’s absolute best travel photographers (who is also a Gold Coaster), Melissa Findley and the extremely impressive Anne Köhler originally from The Netherlands but now residing here.
SO many talented artists here guys.
Not only those three through, you can also hang the work of renowned photographers Hayley Andersen, Kyle Hunter, Jarrad Sang, Matt Cherubino and Emilie Ristevski whose images are absolutely incredible every single time.
International delights Carmen Huter and Jason Hill will also be showcasing their unbelievable work and look, we’re big fans of all of them and might just spend our entire life savings on buying their snaps for a good cause.
Not only all of that excitement though, there’ll also be live music, food, beer (obviously) and raffle prizes from local businesses like Greenhouse Canteen & Bar, Greenhouse the Bathhouse, Alfred St Tattoo, i like ramen and The Collective.
It’s pretty much the perfect time.
If you’re after some epic photography and you’re also into supporting the communities that were so horrifically affected by the recent bushfires, here’s your chance.
It’s called Return to Earth and it’s kicking off from 3pm this Friday. Get down there for a very good time.
LOCATION: Balter Brewing, 14 Traders Way, Currumbin
WHEN: Friday 21st February from 3pm
Words by Kirra Smith
Melissa Findley is an internationally-renowned travel and lifestyle photographer, Gold Coast local and passionate advocate for sustainable travel and contributing to charities wherever possible.
Throughout her career she has worked with brands like The Intrepid Foundation, Canon Australia and various worldwide tourism boards. Most recently Melissa was asked to submit an image for LIVIN x Robina Town Centre’s Collective Minds exhibition.
We sat down for a chat with the talented (and delightful) local lass about her own journey with mental health and some of the incredible places her career has taken her.
How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I’ve been back home for 4.5, almost 5 years now.
What do you love most about living here?
Falling asleep to the sound of the ocean, the national parks + close-by hinterland and taking a cheeky midday swim in-between editing.
Tell us how you came to be world-renowned travel photographer…
My career has been a very organic progression of everything I have ever loved. I picked up a camera as a teen and started documenting life, and I guess I never stopped. I feel very grateful every single day that this is my job, and I love what I do. My camera is an extension of me and my art created with my whole heart on my sleeve.
What have been some of the highlights of your career?
Visiting many countries/ places I have dreamed of, meeting incredible people along the way, learning about new cultures and ways of life, growing and sharing the whole journey with an incredible supportive online community.
One of your images is currently showcased at the LIVIN x Robina Town Centre Collective Minds exhibition, can you talk a bit about your own mental health journey?
As a teenager I struggled with anxiety and depression, learning the art of photography helped me to be present and to shift my focus. Documenting life, different ways of life, the natural world and animals has helped changed my perspective over the years and to realise that the world is beautiful. I aim to share this beauty through my work and hope to connect with people, to inspire them to spend time in nature, persue a hobby or their dreams and talk about mental health. It’s all encompassing, and I owe a lot to the camera in my hands, and the feet I get to walk around the world with + the community who supports.
Tell us about the image you submitted and why…
I submitted a piece called “The Beacon Of Hope.” – A starry night at the oldest surviving lighthouse on mainland Australia. Built in 1848, the Cape Otway lighthouse known as the “Beacon of Hope;” a reminder to all that there is always light. Alongside a piece I wrote when I had come through a very tough period in life:
“For the days when getting out of bed was impossible. For the friends who came over uninvited and pulled you out.
For the times you lay on the shower floor crying silently in a ball. For the times you picked yourself up off that very ground.
For your darkest days, when the weight of the world had broken you.
For the times the beauty of the world made your chest swell and feel like it could literally burst.
For the people who tore your heart out and left you alone. For the people who showed up and put the pieces back together with you.
For the times you lied, how you forced your jaw to smile. For the smiles that produced uncontrollable tears of happiness to fall from your eyes.
For the strength you somehow found.
Hold on; you can make it through the storm.”
What advice do you have for someone who would love to become a travel photographer?
Create with heart and soul. Discover what it is that you are passionate about and do that. Be inspired, but do not copy. Slow down, have patience, practise a lot, learn the rules and break the rules. I strongly believe that if you lead with authenticity, you will prevail. It took me many years to get to where I am in my career and I am always learning. I don’t think I will ever stop – and that is the key. Stay curious and passionate.
What’s on the cards for the rest of 2019 for you?
Right now, I am writing this from Mexico City, I’ve spent a month on the road from an assignment in Kenya, through to Tulum, Oaxaca and the mountains of, and now in Mexico City. From here I head to Los Angeles for a meeting and then home for a few weeks before leading my first photography workshop in Nepal for 18 days amongst the Annapurna Himalaya with my business partner Carmen Huter. December is typically the month of the year where I spend time grounded at home, and see my friends and family. I love summer on the Gold Coast.
Tell us your favourites on the Coast…
Coffee spot: Stable Coffee Kitchen
Cafe for breakfast: Cardamom Pod, Brickworks.
Restaurant for dinner: Greenhouse Canteen
How do your weekends look when you’re home: An early morning walk from home around Burleigh Headland, the Palm Beach Farmers Markets, Acai from Salt Mill + time with my friends at the beach or a good book; I love reading. And for all the places I am fortunate enough to travel to for work and pleasure, I truly love the place I am lucky enough to call home and the people that make it so.
He’s known the world over for his stunning surf and nature photography and we Gold Coasters are lucky enough to claim him as our own.
We sat down for a chat with Sean about his recent run in with an Iceland snow storm and why he thinks our beaches are some of the most beautiful he’s ever seen (and he’s seen them all).
How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I was born in Cairns and moved here when I was six and I’m 42 now, so 36 years, definitely a local.
You’ve travelled all over the world, what’s so unique about the Coast to you?
I’ve always loved the beaches, love to surf, love the southern end of the Coast, Burleigh and the community feeling here. It’s a little town within a city. You can still get away, go 30 minutes south and still have beaches to yourself and out into the rainforest. There’s a bit of everything here, it’s not too quiet, not too busy.
Is there a place here that never fails to produce a beautiful shot for you?
Burleigh cove is one place I always go, usually at sunrise. When I come home, I love getting down there because it just makes me feel back at home. I do a lot of stuff in the water at home, with the right conditions, getting out at Kirra and Snapper; you can always get beautiful clear water, It’s some of the clearest water in the world out there. You go to the Maldives and Tahiti but if you go to Kirra on those nice clear days, it’s as good as it gets anywhere. Those places never seem to fail to produce.
How often do you spend at home vs. away?
I never used to go away as much but I’ve been getting heaps of work for social media stuff, so the last two or three years I’ve spent maybe half the time away, which is a bit harder with the family. They usually fly in and meet me for school holidays and what not.
How did your photography career come about?
I worked on the Gold Coast for 11 years as an electrician for Energex and I used to take photos then and sell my work at the local markets. I did that while I worked full-time and opened my first little gallery in the arcade in Burleigh while I worked. I had a little one in Surfers Paradise too. Eventually the galleries and markets took off enough that I stepped out of my full-time job and stepped into photography. I made an easy progression and was able to continue making a living out of it.
Where do you find inspiration?
That’s the one thing I struggle with nowadays. Back when I first started, there was no Instagram or Facebook, I used the web a little bit and I didn’t buy a lot of magazines, so I didn’t really see much. You just went out with fresh eyes and saw things, now you’ve got the world’s best photographer sitting in your hand putting photos up every 30 minutes. Trying to filter that out and not copy stuff but keep original is something that still tricks me in my mind. I still love nothing more than when I’m finding new locations, even though it won’t be a location that no one’s ever seen before, to me it’s new. That’s when I seem to turn on my creativeness and photograph things the way I want to see them. When I was in Iceland, I would come across scenes that I’d seen from famous photographers and wish I hadn’t seen the photos but normally I move through it and find things I haven’t seen before.
Do you have a personal favourite shot of the thousands you’ve taken?
I change all the time. The popular ones aren’t always my favourites; I love the abstract ones more and the artistic style of shot. There’s one of the Golden Girl at Noosa surfing on a wave I’ve always liked.
How do you feel when you know you’ve absolutely nailed the shot?
With digital now it’s easy because you look at the back of the camera and have a bit of an idea but it still does trick you. Sometimes you think you’re nailing it and you get back and you’re disappointed and sometimes it’s the opposite way. When things really turn on and everything comes together, like if you’re chasing surf and ocean photos you’ve got to have the storm brew so a huge swell comes, the waters got to be clear, the winds got to be the right way, you’ve got to be in the right spot, when all that happens at once you get a bit of a feeling and that’s when I’m usually excited to race back and quickly look at them. If I don’t come back and look at them straight away, it’s usually a sign it wasn’t that special.
Your most memorable trips or somewhere you always love to visit?
I’ve been doing lots of Western Australia lately, which I’ve been loving. Iceland was pretty up there, I did Iceland, Greenland and Norway in the one trip. That was pretty wild with huge storms and icebergs. I was on my own driving through the snowstorms and almost getting blown off the road trying to take photos. It was epic though.
Any close encounters with Mother Nature in your time?
At one stage in Iceland I was standing on top of a cliff and the wind was blowing that hard it was sliding me along the ice so I had to scramble back to the car and leave. Obviously there’s quite often animals in the water, big shapes swim past and things like that. Big surf is always a bit tricky when the waves come and break right on your head and knock you around.
What advice do you have for aspiring photographers?
It’s a tricky one. If you’re doing it because you love it, it’s easy. It’s hard to just decide you want to be a photographer and that’s all you want to be. I started by being an electrician and kept this on the side so I had income coming in that I could put towards better gear. Don’t just do it for the likes and the follows, do it because you love it and the rest will come. There are a lot of people who try to do it for fame but if you love it, it will work naturally. Taking photos-wise, my biggest tip is to be in the right place at the right time, you’ve always got to be out looking. You start to get in tune with it but you’ve always got to be out. You’re not going to get a great sunrise at Burleigh if you’re sleeping in six days of the week. If you get a few bad ones, you know a good one is coming and when everything comes together that’s when you get that feeling that keeps you going and searching for the next one.
Anything exciting in the works for the rest of the year?
I’ve got the Maldives, which is a surf comp I’ve shot for the last seven years, in two weeks. I’ve got a trip to Switzerland, hiking through mountains up the top and then I’ve got a trip to Canada where I’ll be shooting the polar bears. Then I’ve got a festival at Moreton Island with Canon that I’m doing at the end of the year. Hopefully a lot of locals will come there and do a lesson.
Best piece of life advice?
There’s a few I always try to run by. One is always expect the behaviour you tolerate, if you tolerate people not treating you well, expect to be treated like that. Keep an open mind and get out there and stay positive and things seem to flow.
Being a Gold Coast local we have to ask your favourites…
Café: I like Canteen and Nook at Burleigh for a coffee
Restaurant: I love Etsu
Weekend hang: Probably the beaches from Burleigh to Coolangatta
Nobby’s is one of the Gold Coast’s most loved good-time spots but over the last few weeks (months, years etc.), there has been A LOT going on. Exceptional new venues are popping up left, right and centre with more to come and originals we absolutely love, closing their doors for good (sad face). A lot see.
The latest news coming out of the little beachside beauty is very exciting indeed friends and it is that of i like ramen’s return to our shores. As you’re no doubt aware, the vegan ramen slinging lads made the move to Brissy a little while ago, after setting up shop at Miami’s The LC (now closed) and a weekly stint at Bine, also in Nobby’s.
But now THEY’RE BACK and they’re never leaving again (or else).
The crew, led by Bobby and Dom, have moved into the downstairs space on the corner of the Gold Coast Highway and Wave Street and underneath sweet, new surf store Surfboard Empire. Which is the perfect pairing honestly!
Now as you’d expect, the space is quite a treat with windows opening out onto the street down one side, an-industrial-style interior complete with low hanging lights made from planks of wood and a chalkboard on which you may write messages of love and noodle appreciation.
A bar at the back boasts a stunning black rendered bench by RENDER X but the pièce de résistance is (without a doubt) the bright yellow trike at the front door and if you ask nicely, the team might just let you take it for a spin (don’t tell them we said that though).
Let’s talk food and if you haven’t had the pleasure of sampling i like ramen’s goodies, get onto that right now. The menu is made up of plates and bowls, it’s all vegan and it’s all VERY GOOD.
Plates along the lines Panko Mushrooms (love you), Kimchi Potatoes (love you too), Sticky Eggplant, Garlic Soy Asian Greens and Holy Duck Baos are absolute flavour sensations and look, we’ll be spending a lot of time there from now on.
The Kimchi Ramen is a firm favourite with ramen noodles served in a spicy kimchi broth, loaded with kimchi perfection and fried tofu and topped with chopped spring onions, fresh sprouts, fried shallots, roasted seaweed, chilli threads and sesame. Too good.
There are also Mean Green, Mushroom Ramen, Chick’n White Miso Ramen and Loaded Bowls and we recommend eating one every single day forever.
Come summer time (next week), the team will be serving up salads and cold noodle bowls because it’s quite clearly going to be the hottest one we’ve ever experienced.
Drinks wise there are several Japanese whiskies on offer and we really love Japanese whisky. There are also mouthwatering cocktails – we were big fans of the Umeshu Spritz with Choya plum liqueur, Prosecco and soda – and an impressive beer and wine list too.
So all your (our) favourite things.
Not only all of that, there are some exciting events in the works, so even more reason to go spend time there. How good.
Welcome home I like ramen, we missed you.
LOCATION: 2251 Gold Coast Hwy, Nobby Beach
HOURS: Wednesday to Sunday 11.30am until late
Words and photos by Kirra Smith