Welcome to Stef Bassett's Hessian Shack...

I wish to begin by acknowledging that in this post we are visiting the country of the Bundjalung people.  I pay respect to their tribal elders, I celebrate their continuing culture, and I acknowledge the memory of their ancestors.*

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Last week Laly and I flew up to the incredibly beautiful Rainbow Region of Northern New South Wales - the Bundjalung people's nation area. Also known as the the Northern Rivers and Byron Bay Hinterland. Invited by my very dear friend Nat, we stayed for a week and together toured around part of the region, visiting The Channon markets, Byron and beyond. On Friday we drove out to our friend Stef Bassett's shack set back from the road on a field in the bush among cows and horses. You may recall Stef used to own a beautiful store in Newtown, Sydney called Newspaper Taxi, where she hosted one of the most special book launch events for me for My Heart Wanders in 2011. Now Stef lives here, off the grid in an original 1940's farm shack which she has transformed into a creative wonderland, take a look...

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Laly and I sat in wonder, looking around at all that Stef and her partner Ben have made, collected and displayed - everything being found or crafted from tossed away materials. It felt like we were sitting inside a hidden away hessian-lined treasure chest...

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While we chatted at the kitchen table, Laly happily (and quietly!) drew pictures in one of Stef's notebooks, soaking in the unique atmosphere. Besotted with Stef's cat Rupert Bunny, who was a wild kitten rescued from a wood mill and has the most incredible emerald eyes, Laly would wander in and out of Stef's bedroom to pat Rupe who had nestled himself into the window frame. Laly then asked Stef if she could draw a picture of Rupe for her, so Stef drew the body and left the eyes and other details for Laly...

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All the while Ben sat across the table from Laly, strumming his guitar and playing Devendra Banhart's Little Yellow Spider...

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The Hessian Shack has no electricity (except a little bit of solar), no hot running water, no TV, no big appliances - their 'fridge' is a steel chest with ice. Stef's mobile phone, when in reception,  is their only connection to the online world. Thankfully for us she updates her life and creations on instagram regularly. As an artist Stef works in many mediums, and at the moment she is working on a range of ceramics which she will be selling soon.

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For more info about Stef and her work, you can email her here, and there is more information about her on her instagram profile. Stef was also featured in Kara Rosenlund's beautiful new book Shelter.

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It was such a wonderful experience, thank you Stef and Ben for welcoming us and sharing a slice of your world with us here.

With Love,

Pia

*{From today, my dear readers, each time I write about an Australian place - be it about visiting a creative dwelling or a beautiful landscape - at the beginning of each of these particular posts I will write an acknowledgement and pay respects to the ancestors of the land. It's my way of learning and connecting to my country of birth, and sharing that connection with you. Thank you. }