2022 November – Issue 05

With a rich diversity of micro and small businesses in the Nambucca Valley, this month’s edition of The Valley Hub News celebrates small business month.

Featuring locally owned and run businesses, innovative ideas, familiar faces, and guest authors, Robyn Simon and Caitlin Hockey, we hope this edition encourages you to love and support your local with your words and your wallet. This month`s E-newsletter also features a very special article from guest author, Joanna Becker, acknowledging the anniversary of the 8th November 2019 bushfires. We hope that in reading, you will pause to take stock of the continuing recovery and regeneration efforts occurring in the community and remember lives and livelihoods lost. If you have a story you'd like to share, reach out at info@thevalleyhub.com.au

From Country

Giinagay, Marley.

Marley Morgan is a proud Gamilaraay woman originating from Lightning Ridge, a mother to three beautiful boys, owning and operating Marley Morgan Photography.

Marley has always had a passion for photography. After saving up for her first camera, she soon turned her hobby into a thriving, now four-year-old business with encouragement from family and friends. 

Specialising in family photos, maternity, fashion & events, Marley’s photography business covers the North Coast area and beyond. What started as a side hobby has seen Marley traveling all over Australia, working with a variety of Indigenous and Non-Indigenous businesses, including VOGUE. The highlight, Marley says, is capturing an Aunty from Moree on the launch of her own clothing line. 

Marley admits that being an Indigenous woman in a predominantly Non-Indigenous and male-dominated field of work often means she isn’t taken seriously as a professional photographer. Indeed, being both female and Indigenous has had its fair share of hurdles for Marley. While this is something that would discourage some, Marley uses the platform she has created on social media to raise awareness of broad racism and holds people or companies accountable when needed.

With her passion for capturing lives and stories, Marley is motivated to continue her growing work. One benefit to this, she says, is that her business enables her to meet new people from all around the country, hearing and capturing precious stories from all walks of life and, in turn, pushing her to be confident and overcome her own personal challenges. Marley`s ultimate goal, however, is to start a mentoring company for young Indigenous women, educating them on business and photography. With her energy, talent, and experience, there is no doubt she will eventually accomplish this. 

If you would like to connect with Marley or view her work, head to: www.marleymorgan.com.au

Valley Feature

Tamara Urquhart has practised as a physiotherapist since 2008.

Purchasing a circa 80`s private physiotherapy practice in 2011, Tamara Urquhart, along with her husband, Matt Baker, set about expanding the business into a thriving allied health service. The practice, now known as Soulitude Health, facilitates a broad range of specialties growing by the day including: pilates, hydrotherapy, speech pathology, dietetics, exercise physiology and audiology; just to name a few.

Tamara says support from the community she has grown up in has been a large factor to her success “It definitely helped that I grew up here and had good rapport with local doctors, teachers and sports clubs”. Tamara quips that she feels lucky to be working in such a friendly and supportive community. It should be highlighted though that the support is definitely returned tenfold, as Tamara continues to support local clubs and groups on a voluntary basis, “I donated time to these groups, even local schools and the hospital and this definitely helped in getting my name and service out there, this is still the case” Tamara says.

Tamara has a number of goals around how Soulitude Health can continue to benefit the community, not the least of which is through supporting mothers on their pre and postnatal journeys, offering consultations, workshops and classes to continue to educate and support these women. Additionally, Tamara hopes to take the burden off the healthcare system by continuing to build on the range of allied services offered closer to home for locals, “we have plans to implement two new allied health services next year” Tamara hopes this will save clients traveling to Coffs Harbour to access needed services.

Along with her passion for accessibility, Tamara plans to continue supporting local young athletes and aspiring physiotherapists in reaching their goals, in fact, in 2023, Soulitude Health will be welcoming two local Physiotherapists, Sam Shields and Olivia Langley, who have been working closely with the service while completing their degrees. This investment in local practitioners will enable Soulitude to open an additional two days in Nambucca and Scotts Head, along with additional classes.

Tamara hopes that in growing the practice and the broad range of specialties accessible there, Soulitude Health will continue to evolve in response to community need and that there will be a class or service that benefits all sectors of the community and assists in facilitating positive health outcomes for the whole of the Nambucca Valley.

You can view the range of services and classes Soulitude Health has to offer by visiting:


Our stories

'In the quest for perfection, we were taught to focus on the good, and put trauma in the past. But sometimes it needs to be allowed to bubble to the surface so it can be healed', Joanna Becker writes.

I’ve been learning how to do this over the last 4 months.And now I can recognise when trauma wants to be healed, and I have the courage within myself to be able to hold myself in love and compassion. Being able to face and heal past trauma with loving awareness is not a weakness. It’s a strength. Here’s an example.

Last week – quite suddenly – I felt my nervous state change.As suddenly as a gust of wind blowing through the trees, a wave of adrenalin and panic entered my body. And it gripped onto my chest really tight. I cared for myself deeply through the nervous system change and I thought I had most of the causes identified, and I healed them, one by one. But it’s taken for it to get to today for me to realise during a somatic healing training session that I have been living in a state of hyper-vigilance for some time. My nervous system responding with higher-vigilance made sense at a particular time, and I’m grateful for that.

I hadn’t realised it until today – but my nervous system remembered. Three years ago to the day last week: the bushfires (wildfires) swept through our hometown and destroyed 50% of our local government area right before our eyes.Three years ago to the day, I was home alone with a 9yo, 6yo and 1yo in arms, while my husband and our bulldozer were on the firefront containing the fire breaks.

Tim had been there for several weeks already, and would be there for another 4 months. At this time, we only saw him when he pulled in the driveway from 8pm at night, his face and skin dark with ash, the skin around his eyes creased with fatigue. All to catch 6-7 hours sleep then start again tomorrow morning. I was burning out, mentally too. Our business was on stand-by, and our equipment was literally in the firing line.

Three years ago, to the day, I was receiving evacuation orders, and I couldn’t reach Tim because he was out of range on the fire containment lines. Three years ago, to the day, I was frantically throwing out everything in our storage shed. In my daze, I thought that throwing out everything that didn’t matter, would make way for saving items that were important (such as camping oven, batteries, camping fridge, blankets, towels and long-life food), that would give us life should the worst happen to our house.

Three years ago, to the day, I was collapsing on the driveway, because I couldn’t get the tap fitting to connect so that we could continue watering down the house. Our 9yo son, in calm grace, patted me on the shoulder, told me to relax, and he calmly set about finding the right connections and got the watering system working as it should. I cried tears of relief but pushed them down and continued running around.

Finally, we watched the wildfires burn past our community. The wind drove the fire away from our home but I was devastated watching our clients’ properties burn. The wind blew it away from us, so we could breathe. And at midnight, after pacing the halls taking shifts with my cousins to monitor the situation outside, we heard the most horrendous gut-wrenching roar, saying that fire was blowing in.

The phone rang. Our neighbour and good friend drove past our house and screamed down the line – “get out now!” And so we just jumped in the car and sped off down the driveway and road in our separate cars, heading towards the coast, hoping that our path would stay clear of fire. And it did.

We arrived at our friend’s parents house and gratefully slept in their spare bedroom. We couldn’t believe that we were lucky enough to have a beautiful home to sleep in that night. We found out later our back-neighbours had slept in their car at the service station.

The next day, we returned home and found that our house and our neighbourhood 3km surrounding us was SAFE. The fire hadn’t changed direction. But we couldn’t breathe in. The air was orange with smoke. We filled our cars with as many items as we could – and it wasn’t that much – and left to find accommodation in a local holiday park on the coast.

It was nerve wracking finding somewhere safe to stay. And they allowed us to take our dogs. We stayed in a nice cabin, and tried to enjoy being on holiday. Oceana, 1, got sick that night with a cold and I was frantically trying to find medicines in the bag. I hadn’t packed enough warm clothes, and I hadn’t packed a single blanket. I felt very stranded.

Tim continued to work the fire-breaks. I had our 2 dogs tied up to the cabin, while we sat out the fire. I returned home just one more time and couldn’t get out of the car, the smoke was so thick. Four or maybe five days later we were able to return home.

It was a startling and confronting feeling, to see our front door broken as if it had been kicked in. Apparently though, the handle had simply fallen off (how strange). I immediately thought, “Thank god someone found respite here, while we were gone.”

It took months to get over the feelings (I mean, suppress the feelings) that we had abandoned our home and all our belongings. After that, I started consciously throwing out a lot more stuff with a FIGHT or FLIGHT nervous system. I figured if it was that easy for it to all burn, and many of our good friends and clients had lost ALL THEY OWNED, then I would make it easier on myself by separating from attachment now.

This brings me up to today, which is exactly three years after we returned home and I remember being numb, walking around the house, looking at it all through a new lens. A lens of confusion – how could I have abandoned our home? Isn’t it important to me? I thought this place meant so much to me, and yet I just ran and expected I’d never see any of this again.

I couldn’t live with the feelings. I couldn’t sit with them. So I jumped into business mode and bought a water cart, registered a new business, took out the insurances, and recruited staff. Through the energy caused by adrenalin, my brother and I managed to deliver fresh drinking water (10,000 litres at a time) to 100 properties surrounding our home using Tim’s truck, while he was still out containing fires. It took almost 12 months to replenish water to all our neighbours and clients who had had their water tanks burn to the ground.

And finally, normal work was back. We kept on keeping on.

And in the three years since, I’ve kept those feelings neatly packed under layers of distractions. And have witnessed several floods and responded in similar ways – where there’s a disaster, and we have equipment, we will do our best to help. Today, though, those emotions came out.

I’m here, the functional adult me, is holding space for the me of three years ago, and the me of many years ago, and the me of many times since, who has felt that hyper-vigilance is the cure to feeling scared. The functional adult me asks me to consider, if I let my protective instincts relax, what do I feel might happen?

I can ask the part of me that has protective instincts, to give permission for me to access more vulnerable parts of myself. So I can give loving awareness, compassion and acceptance to the part of me that also wants to relax and be trusting. I can give full and total understanding that adrenalin and hyper-vigilance is the reason I am, who I am, today, and give thanks to that part of me.

And invite myself, now, to switch off that part of me and see what that feels like. To go from CAREFUL, NOT to CARELESS, but to CARING. Because Attention, is the most basic form of love.

** The photo accompanying this piece was provided by Joanna Becker, taken November 29th when it finally rained. The joy on Joanna`s face is evident.

Love your local

Catherine Cooke is a motor mechanic by trade but, now, sewing machines are her life.

Starting her business, ‘Hanging by a Thread’ on her 50th birthday, Catherine, along with her daughter, Rhiannon, and husband Rhys, brings her nineteen years of industry experience to a business that is ever-evolving to meet community needs. Originally based in the main street of Macksville, Hanging by a Thread has since found its place in Wallace Street, a move Catherine says has been hugely beneficial to the business. “We get to meet people of all walks of life, people from out of town who are walking past, people who’ve dropped into Elk on 38 for a coffee, parents dropping their children at Macksville Public School, lots of foot traffic”.

The road to success, though, was more of a raceway than a lush drive through the countryside. “Covid, well, covid absolutely hammered us”, recalls Catherine. “My husband, Rhys, had just left his employment to come on board as a servicing technician when the first lockdown occurred, we thought, oh dear, what have we done”.
Rhys, she says, was still under the wings of Norm Poole and learnt to service machines at a great rate, the efficiency proving beneficial when their genre was declared “essential” under covid lockdown protocols. Catherine laughs, “let me tell you, every sewing machine ever made came out of the woodwork at that time, we could barely catch our breath”. While it was a tricky time for the business, Catherine quips that she is glad that people could access the craft for the sake of their mental health.

Since Covid, Hanging by a Thread has continued to grow, now offering a range of retail services including mixed media and paper crafting products, haberdashery, fabric, and, most importantly, sewing machines. Catherine highlights that the business is the only on site sewing machine servicing venue between Lismore and Newcastle, a service she hopes locals will continue to make use of. Along with this, she hopes to extend their current classes and workshops as interest arises, along with growing their printing and photocopying service into planned printing in the new year.

Catherine says she loves living in the Nambucca Valley and has learnt that there is much to gain from opening dialogue with customers, “you can never judge a book by its cover”, she quips. She hopes that the Nambucca Valley will work together to continue supporting local services and businesses, a generosity she herself extends to other retailers, “I always recommend people visit so and so, or if they can’t find what they need her, head down and have a look there etc”. This, she feels, is the key to a sustainable and enjoyable business venture.

You can connect Hanging by a Thread here:

Spotlight on

G’day my name is Caitlin. I was born and raised in Gumbaynggirr country.

I’ve always been obsessed with the natural world and count my blessings for my euphoric childhood and backyard full of glorious gardens, rainforests, coastlines, bush, horses, wildlife, adventures, and parents dedicated to caretaking the land.

My folks left the central coast in 88’ with two things in mind, to have horses and grow a rainforest. They did just that, becoming custodians of 100 acres of farmland in the hinterland of Bowraville and quickly set to regenerating it with native/rainforest trees, orchards, and incredible gardens. This is where I grew up.

I’ve been fortunate to live and work in some incredible places in Australia. After a lot of travelling and adventuring around, the black summer bushfires were a real catalyst for me to become more present, grounded and living with an earth aligned purpose. While the world spun into pandemic times, forgetting the bushfires + closing international travels, I poured my energy into the cleaning up/healing/regenerating our property, koala/native forest campaigning and planting seeds to change the world.

We live in one of the most biodiverse, bountiful, and magical places on earth and sharing this with family, friends, community, the world sets my heart on fire!I came to realise after big travels + working around Aus that a deep connection to local place is vital for community, conservation, culture, belonging and wellbeing. By being in ‘right relationship’ we can begin to be more than just beneficiaries of nature’s gifts.

I’ve always loved a good picnic, so I started a little community initiative called ‘Picnics with Purpose’ to connect valley folk + share pipe dreams in a warm and supportive way. Beautiful things blossomed from those sweet meetings, including epic friendships and dreamy local businesses! Bush Grazing came to life as a nature connection/feasting initiative on Gumbaynggirr country, inspired by my mother’s and grandmother’s decadent cooking, celebrating the incredible organic, seasonal, local valley produce, foraged delights, bush medicine, farmer markets, treading lighter and an affinity to get people together in nature.

Bush Grazing is all about creating stronger connection to country/place through food and deep nature experiences. With a vision of creating community and new systems of thriving, sharing, and stepping away from old systems that don’t serve us or our planet. Towards a more connected way of being, in right relationship with the land, community, and life support systems that nourish all life.

Bush Grazing supports local farming families, by sourcing seasonal, organic, and local fresh produce which has been grown and harvested in the Nambucca Valley and honors the ancient plant knowledge of First Nations people by integrating native foods and tastes into Bush Grazing experiences. Bush Grazing caters everything from intimate elopements, baby blessings, hens parties, private picnics, and proposals to Gondwana hikes, workshops, retreats, weekly wanders, and community nature gatherings.

I have been co-hosting Gondwana Rainforest adventures monthly with my dear friend Mark Graham (Bellingen Nature Tours), which offers a unique opportunity to connect deeply with the purest of ancient realms. We aim to give a better understanding of the biodiverse, medicinal and ancient cloud forests, home to the spotted tailed quoll and rufous scrub bird.. one of the most ancient songbirds on the planet. You also get a decadent and nourishing picnic pack by Bush Grazing to feast along the way… and guarantee you’ll walk back into your world feeling rejuvenated and invigorated.

I have also been co-hosting Inner Lands Gatherings, with my bestie @leanna.earth.nurturance – a deep weaving of the potent simplicity of nature and becoming embodied within yourself through nature, connection practices, community circle sharing, sound healing and more. These community nature days invite switching off our phones and tuning into our inner landscapes and the frequency of nature. We have found these days to be so enriching for the land and community. We’ll be bringing some exciting adventures to you in the new year!

To seek your own Bush Grazing experience, you can find Caitlin here:

**Photo provided by Caitlin

Inside knowledge

Stand out in the Digital World - By Robyn Simon, Enterprise Plus.

November calls for celebration as it is NSW Small Business Month.

As a business advisor working with small businesses daily, it’s great to see that several new retail stores and eating establishments have opened in the Nambucca Valley this past year. This is a huge vote of confidence in where the region is heading. So, I would like to take the opportunity to share my thoughts on small business in general.

First, I would say, as much as possible, stand out from the crowd. But I need to make it clear that this starts with your digital footprint. So, whether you are a new business, an established bricks and mortar shop, or an online business, the following principles apply.

Treat all your Digital Sites as Prime Real Estate.22 million Australians are on the internet daily. They are constantly searching for information, and as a business, you have limited time to capture their attention. In fact, you have 8 seconds. So, you need to ensure that your Google business profile, your Facebook profile, Instagram Bio, LinkedIn Bio, and website introduction have attractive and compelling images, and are clear on what you offer.

70% of customers research a business before they make a commitment, so you not only need to capture attention, but you also need to be seen as a trusted, reliable and reputable operator.Satisfied Customers are your Best Endorsement.Many people build their marketing around the features of their products or services but in the end, it will be the customer who determines whether they choose to do business with you.

With so much competition, you need to have a laser understanding of the challenges your customers face and demonstrate that you have the best solution. Then back it up with impeccable service. It’s a tough business environment but satisfied customers are your best endorsement. Have a system in place to capture reviews. 60% of us read them, and 90% of us check them out before committing. Your
reviews will be critical to building trust in the digital era.

Robyn Simon is a business advisor with the Australian Small Business Advisory Service.
Robyn’s contact email is robyn.simon@enterpriseplus.org.au

What's on in the Valley

Here are a handful of events and programs coming up in November 2022 and beyond.

Nov 2022: Highlight events

For more information about the above events or for a list of what else is happening around the Nambucca Valley head to The Valley Hubs calendar of events. You can also request to add upcoming events here.

Let the games begin

Set your brain to our monthly trivia quest.

The answers will be shared next month – let us know how you fared.

NOVEMBER Questions:

  1. What year did the Berlin Wall fall? 
  2. What is the sign directly opposite Scorpio in the zodiac?
  3. What is the highest-grossing Broadway show of all time?
  4. How many bones do sharks have?
  5. What was the first country to give women the right to vote?
  6. What is the stage name of Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta?
  7. What is the name of the hotel in Psycho?


Valley publications

Stay in touch with other Valley publications available.

The Valley Hub acknowledges Gumbaynggirr country, the Ancestors, Elders and Traditional Custodians of the Valley in which we live and work. We thank them for their care of country through time and acknowledge and respect their continuing connection to land, waters and culture.

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