The Book is Here!

The MIPIK book features 25 local stories which celebrate the skill, tenacity, courage and bloody good yarns of our Coffs Coast community.  All profits from the sale of this book go to CanDo Cancer Trust which provides assistance to local cancer sufferers and their families.  Local stories helping local people!


Local Stories helping Local People

Life can dish up unexpected challenges and sometimes we need a bit of help to meet those challenges.  The CanDo Cancer Trust provides financial support to patients and families attending the North Coast Cancer Institute.  It's a way for our community to lend a helping hand to friends and neighbours facing tough times.

We are delighted that our local stories will be helping local people.  You can lend your support by buying a book or attending the live show.

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Old Fears Don’t Die

Komla greets me at the Coffs Harbour Neighbourhood Centre with a shy smile and a firm handshake.  When our interview commences he seems guarded and wants to know where his profile will be published.  “Not on Facebook,” he declares when I explain that his story will be published on a website and a Facebook page.  “What is he afraid of,” I wonder.

As it turns out, Komla’s fears began in the early 90s in his homeland Togo.  This narrow strip of land on the West African coast was embroiled in a desperate struggle between an iron-fisted dictator and opposition supporters.  In January 1993 the military went on an 8-hour rampage in the capital city Lomé, firing indiscriminately and killing innocent civilians. 

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Betty Sara

Women's Weekly Cover Girl

Betty Sara accepts my invitation to be interviewed with a gentle sigh.  “All right,” she says.  “But all I’ve ever done is have babies, and everybody does that.  I’m not that interesting.”  And yet for decades this diminutive, 92 year-old woman, with her soft English accent, captured the attention of Australia and much of the western world precisely because she had babies.  Betty raised five Sara children, including the first surviving quadruplets in Australia, born in Bellingen in 1950.  To the women’s magazine world of her time, Betty and her babies were rock stars.

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Wayne Houlden

A High-Tech Entrepreneur in Country NSW

I spot Wayne and Jacquie Houlden sitting at the far table on the deck at Latitude 30.  Jacquie wears dark glasses to cut the glare from the sun, which is creating a halo behind Wayne’s head.  The plates in front of them bear the carved out remains of large shellfish and even from this distance I can tell they are talking about business.

Wayne’s life story is defined by business.  Once I’ve settled myself at the table, and the plates have been cleared away, he cautions that he is a private person.  “I’m not someone who spurts stuff out,” he says.  “And he’s modest,” Jacquie is quick to add.  But the one thing he is happy to talk about is the business that he and Jacquie created together.

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Jenny Skinner

Willing to Learn

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a primary school and I’d forgotten how noisy they are.  But the tip-tapping of running feet and the steady clamour of children’s voices punctuated by the odd high pitched screech doesn’t seem to faze Jenny Skinner at all.  In fact, sitting on the deck at Narranga Primary School as the hordes stream gleefully toward the NAIDOC week sausage sizzle, many crying out “g’day Auntie Jenny”, she seems completely in her element.

Jenny begins to tell me about her role as Aboriginal Education Officer here at Narranga, supporting Aboriginal kids to ensure they progress to the next class each year.  “Hello darling,”

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Auntie Bea Ballangarry

Finding Self Worth

Auntie Bea Ballangarry’s Toormina cottage feels cozy despite the chill outside: big cushiony armchairs, a small, ordered desk and computer, walls lined with old photos of Mum and Nana, and more recent shots of her son and his young family, the floor strewn with newspaper articles Bea has pulled out to show me. 

The clippings are superfluous.  I already know that, at 69, Bea is an awarded writer and poet and that her community work and ongoing fight for social justice has been recognised with an Order of Australia in 2006, Grace Roberts Community Development Award in 2007 and Coffs Citizen of the Year in 2008. 

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Geoff Mould

Brushes with Fame

It’s not every day that you meet someone who has rubbed shoulders with both Australia’s greatest painters and its rugby legends.  But here I am, sitting on the back deck of Geoff Mould’s tiny Sawtell cottage as he recounts a life story littered with the big names of art and sport.  An odd combination, I can’t help but think.

And Geoff agrees.  “I was a bit of an anomaly,” he explains.  “The bohemian, arty farty life, doesn’t really mix with sport.”  And yet somehow it did from the beginning with Geoff who played rugby and cricket at school and represented Australia in baseball, yet could also lose himself with pen and paper.

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Lachlan Skinner & Jaymin Hyland-Taylor


The bell rings and suddenly the corridor is mass of youth in uniform, shirts half-untucked, laughing. Somewhat daunted I squeeze between surging clusters of teens to the administrative office at Coffs Harbour High School where I have been instructed to sign in.  The interview is to be conducted in the lobby.  I find a chair while the school janitor runs the vacuum around my feet and the corridors continue to echo with the sound of students moving with increasing haste to their next class.

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