2023 January – Issue 07

The Valley Hub Team wish you a bright and beautiful 2023

Welcome to the first edition of The Valley Hub E-Newsletter for 2023. This edition is jam packed full of fresh faces and places to start the new year off with a bang! This year, we would love to feature more guest authors. If you have a story you'd like to share in 2023, reach out at info@thevalleyhub.com.au.

From Country

Giinagay, Paul Evans.

Scotts Head Surf School
Scotts Head Surf School

Paul Evans has surfed for Australia in the World Pro Junior in Hawaii and the Oceanic Cup in Fiji, winning the Billabong Indigenous Invitational Contest. Now, after 35 years in the waves, Paul explains his passion for sharing the gift of surfing with young ocean goers.

I grew up in Scotts Head, living there most of my life until I was about 16 when I moved to the Central Coast and then on to Sydney. While I was down there I surfed professionally for ten years and, towards the end of my career, I worked for Manly Surf School owned by Matt Ranger. Matt was also my surfing coach at the time and, realising there were no surf schools in the Nambucca Valley, he inspired the idea to start one.

So, after travelling the world writing articles on surfing, I came home to Scotts Head and opened up Scotts Head Surf School. That was 2002, now, twenty years later, it’s still going strong. Surfing is a gift for life, to see the enjoyment on students faces when they achieve standing is very rewarding and knowing they can surf for the rest of their lives is just great. We live in such a beautiful spot with so many beaches to choose from, my favourite part though is just being able to spend time in the water with mates.

You can connect with Scotts Head Surf School here: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100062317544700

Valley Feature

Georgia Saker is a 23 year old powerhouse of a woman.

Georgia Saker Personal Trainer
Georgia Saker Personal Trainer

Starting her personal training business in July 2020, Georgia has built a small gym into her home with a vision to create a safe, inviting, and nurturing place for women to move their bodies.

Feeling that commercial gyms aren’t always a one size fits all solution, Georgia designs her program to facilitate connection between women through fun and fitness. The energetic trainer runs thirty or more face-to-face classes per week, also accommodating weekly online check-ins with clients. It’s hard to know where Georgia finds the time, also working three days per week as a hairdresser at local salon, Billie`s Effects while also studying Nutrition.

Georgia says she loves strength training, specifically for women. “I love teaching women that exercising and living a healthy lifestyle is not about making our bodies “look a certain way” but rather about feeling amazing, strong, confident, and happy”, the trainer notes. Reinforcing that exercise should be enjoyable rather than punitive, Georgia says the key is to find something that offers consistency long term and fits in with your everyday lifestyle.

Georgia was reared in the Valley and notes that growing up near the beach has conditioned within her a love for water-based exercise. From walking her dog, to paddle boarding, the trainer hopes that people will take advantage of the beautiful backdrop offered by the Nambucca Valley, “just try and get out and about, play in the backyard with the kids, go for walks on the beach, adding these simple and enjoyable experiences into every day life adds up”, she quips.

Georgia also offers the following tip to those wanting to improve their health as they enter the new year: “Start small, don’t go into the new years with big resolutions, instead, find one simple habit you can accomplish each week such as adding in one serve of veggies a day, or going for a walk twice a week. Set yourself a small challenge, next walk, try and complete it three minutes quicker, or add a hill to your journey. It all adds up to create the bigger picture that is health”.

Reach out here to connect with Georgia:


Our stories
Todd Vercoe
Todd Vercoe

“Pushing Past Your Limits” with Todd Vercoe

“When I was about 15, I got selected for a Sydney Australian Rules representative team. We went out on the Red Rattler for two days to Broken Hill. A little bit later they were sending the team down to Canberra. We were playing against an Under 19’s team made up of Duntroon cadets. We stayed at Duntroon on stretchers in Junior Class rooms. It was the closest a boy from a housing commission flat was ever going to get to being in a private school. I figured this was the best chance I would ever have to get a free university degree. So I applied for Duntroon and got in there. That set the scene for the best part of the rest of my life.

I spent 30 years in the army. I used to play wars with my mates and I was particularly good at dying in those games. But I’d never considered the army as an option. There was a thing that went on there called “bastardisation” which was sorting wheat from chaff. It was a weeding out process for people who weren’t up to the mark for whatever reason. Around Easter, they started talking about the Easter bunny coming to visit. In the middle of the night, we got woken up and told “those bastards from Alamein company are coming to attack us, go and get them”. We would grab our tidy bin and fill it with water and head down towards where Alamein company lived. You soon realised that there were fourthies from all the companies there. We looked up and saw out of the windows of fourth class cadets rooms were coming clothes, mattresses and rifles. It was 2 o’clock in the morning. They would observe how you reacted. There was no point fighting back because you would be charged. If you were able to go back, gather your stuff up, put it in your room, and just accept it, then it was a good thing. If you couldn’t deal with that, how would you cope with people shooting at you on a battle field?

We learnt who could handle it and who couldn’t. I remember from week two in my first year there, people in my class were submitting resignations. They just realised it wasn’t for them. When I was at Duntroon as a company commander, one of my cadets was a bloke called Julian Knight who went on to perpetrate the Hoddle Street massacre. He shot seven people and he’s still in jail. Apparently I’m on his hit list. In the space of six months, he had about 10 charges. He was allowed to resign from Duntroon and no police charges were ever pressed against him because that’s the way they did things on those days. He didn’t fit in.

It’s only when you have externally imposed pressure that you really learn about yourself and those around you. I learnt there are limits, but that you can push yourself past what you think is your limit in all sorts of different ways. The defence force is very unforgiving. It’s obviously a very hierarchical structure. You know exactly who sits where in the pecking order by what they’re wearing in terms of rank.

I was the first arms or combat support officer in my class to make Major at the age of 29. That was very unusual. But some of my less endearing character traits came to the fore very quickly so for the next 19 years I stayed at the same rank. That was really hard to deal with. When blokes who were good blokes got promoted, I was cool with that. But seeing dickheads getting promoted past me, that was really hard to live with. You would tell yourself if that dickhead is better than me, how much of a dickhead am I?

Steve Gower, he was my commanding officer as a Lieutenant. He was a very smart guy, very good leader. He was very receptive to innovative ideas. He was a great role model for me. He was quite strong without needing to become a bully. He had presence. I’ve never been one that is capable of being quietly angry. If I got angry, I would fire up very quickly. I would always aspire to be calm and pragmatic like him. I know a couple of physically imposing officers that would actually on occasions hit their subordinates. I don’t think that’s the right thing at all.

I remember when I first graduated, we went out on a first exercise in artillery, where we physically dug a seven ton gun into a pit big enough for protection. After three days, people are pretty tired. I remember the fourth morning, there were three junior gunners commanded by ex-Vietnam guys who had ‘run into gun trees’ during the night as they all had black eyes. They probably weren’t doing what the sergeant told them to do, so ‘Whack’. And that worked. If you’re practising for a circumstance where stuff doesn’t get done and you’re going to get killed, it’s got to happen one way or the other. Bottom line is the boss is the boss. The army in particular is not a soft spot because you’re training to kill people.

There’s a great saying attributed to US General George Pattern “patriotism isn’t about dying for your country, it’s about some other son of a bitch dying for his”.

*This story first appeared on ‘Humans of Bowraville’, authored by Lucy Van Sambeek.

Love your local

Lets Talk Hair.

Jodie Hicks at Let's Talk Hair.
Jodie Hicks at Let’s Talk Hair.

‘A 14 year old’s dream comes true’ with Jodie Hicks.

Jodie was interviewed at her hairdressing salon. Gran, sitting in one of the salon chairs, also had a few things to say. “I’ve always wanted to do hairdressing since I was little. I used to play with my Barbie’s hair all the time. I used to just plait and braid and play with their hair, that’s how it all started. Mum hated her hair being touched, so I used to go to gran’s and brush her hair. I coloured my own hair a couple of times, but I didn’t cut it. I used to always want to experiment with my own hair. I had Kylie cut my long hair off when I was quite young. I didn’t like it at all. That was my decision. I still do it now. I decide I’ll cut my hair off and then think ‘what did I do that for?’

Gran recognises Jodie’s strong mindset as a kid. “The day she was born, she had a mind of her own. Even when she was five. If she wanted to do something, she would do it. I saw her do things she shouldn’t be doing. Always in mischief.” “When I was 14, I used to work for Kylie as a salon assistant. I always said to her “I will come back and buy the salon”. I guess I thought I would be stuck in Bowraville forever. I still can’t believe it’s real [now that I own the salon]. I think how did I do this? It’s surreal. I love being back in the community and all the clients, all the regulars, all the oldies, people that I’ve known for years. I’d never work for anyone else now. It’s busy, but I just make it work. It’s the support of everyone that helps.

I did my apprenticeship at Macksville Haircare. When I look back, I hated it, but we had the best times there. It was pretty fun, working with all the girls. I hated driving to Coffs every week, doing all the theory side of things. Mum always threatened that you can’t leave school unless you’ve got a full time job. It was pushing from others that kept me there. Gran says “When she was in her last year at TAFE, she wanted to give it all away. She said she wasn’t doing it anymore. I said ‘you’ve come this far, you might as well finish it even if you don’t use it.”

When I first started TAFE I couldn’t even hold a pair of scissors. I said ‘How am I going to do four years of this?’ It’s scary cutting people’s hair for the first time. I’d think “I’m going to cut too much off or cut myself’. It’s pretty overwhelming. Being pushed got me past this. My boss said ‘you can do it, get in there.’ I was absolutely sh**ing myself the first time. But it made me a better person, a better hairdresser. When I bought the salon, hubby had to give me that bit of extra push. I was hesitant. I was thinking ‘What if it doesn’t work out?’ He would say ‘You’re gonna miss out if you don’t get it’, he pushed me.

When people come and sit in the chair, I’m like a counsellor as well. People tell you everything, all their problems. So I’m pretty tired by the time I get home from talking all day. It’s not a bad thing. People feel better when they’ve got things off their chest. They just start talking. Maybe they just trust me and feel comfortable. Maybe it’s having a calm and welcoming environment. It makes me feel good.”

Strike up your own yarn with Jodie at Let’s Talk Hair.

*This story first appeared on ‘Humans of Bowraville’, authored by Lucy Van Sambeek.

Spotlight on

African Soul Food invite you to indulge...

Africa Soul Food offering
Africa Soul Food offering

African Soul Food are a vegan, African food catering service, using and promoting local, seasonal, chemical free produce as food for your soul. Catering for your event or party can also include participatory African song, craft, movement and rhythm activities.

Africa Soul food aim to promote sustainable living, healthy lifestyles through food, and introduce Australians to West African Food and culture.

Connect with Africa Soul Food here: https://www.facebook.com/bibivinay/about

Inside knowledge

Something new to brew

Feath`s Mobile Coffee
Feath`s Mobile Coffee

Heather Stuart was on holiday with friends when she joked about combining her love for coffee and people, now, she has built a successful mobile coffee business, “Feath’s” set for your morning brew. 

“I grew up in the valley from the age of four and have been working in Pharmacy around raising our three girls”, Heather explains. “I’ve always wanted to run my own business and through this process, I have certainly learnt that it requires some definite “big girl pants”.  Heather recalls that there have been times when she’s felt scared, anxious, excited and humble, sometimes all at once. She has also learnt that it’s okay to ask for help when needed, “I have a supportive husband of 18 years, family and friends who all have my back and I’ve learnt to take the great experiences with the bad”, muses Heather.

A typical day for Heather starts “Early, very early”, she jokes. Up early to pack the trailer, Heather ensures everything fresh and perishable is packed and heads off to set up at her location for the day. This in itself is a process, she explains, “It takes about half an hour to park and stabilise the trailer, warm the coffee machine, set up cups, grinders, food and ingredients, signage, as well as point of sale, then, the same process is required for pack down, including refilling and cleaning the trailer and washing everything used for the day”.

This is a venture worth the early starts for Heather, “once I`m set up, I get to chat with locals, meet new people, and serve great coffee. This is especially possible for Heather while attending local events such as markets, businesses, sporting, and community events. “I am mobile so basically I can attend any event that is required, including weddings, musical festivals, and I even frequent our local schools weekly”, Heather expands, “The trailer runs fro electricity but I am also free standing with he use of generators, so, if there is access to a flat piece of ground, then I am always happy to cater”.

Serving an assortment of hot and cold beverages, Devonshire tea, baked goods and grazing boxes, Heather has recently introduced Fruit Bubble Tea and Iced Lattes, her most regular request though, is warm brew. “I use Lavazza Oro, I choose this coffee as I find it has a strong flavour without being bitter and is easily accessible, plus, at the time of starting the business, I believe no one else was using this brand in the area and wanted to provide something different”, Heather notes.

Heather hopes to continue meeting community tastes, “my biggest takeaway is to listen to what your customers want, make it to order, and take feedback positively to improve, I can’t improve my service if people don’t tel me their likes and dislikes”. Heather also enjoys giving back to a community that have supported her beyond words “schools, businesses, my past and present employers, people I don’t even know who wish me the best”, her graciousness evident.

You can find Heather`s set up for the day on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/feaths

Feath`s also attends local markets, as well as fly by stops at local schools and preschools.

What's on in the Valley

Here are a handful of events and programs coming up in January 2023 and beyond.

Jan 2023: 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.

JANUARY Questions:

  1. Which blood type is a universal donor?
  2. Which of the six main characters on the TV show “Friends” never got married?
  3. What is Prince Harry’s official first name?
  4. How many legs does a lobster have?
  5. What color is a giraffe’s tongue?
  6. How many Academy Awards did “Titanic” win?
  7. When was the first iPod released?


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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