We’ve pulled together a list of 30 Australians changing the game in their chosen field. Meet The Disruptors. Words by Junkee

By Junkee, 20/10/2015
Brought to you by Lenovo

The Disruptors are bought to you by Lenovo Yoga Series.

No one ever made history by chasing the fold. But an impulse to deviate from the conventional — and avoid what Thomas McGuane described as “the frictionless lives of the meek” — comes more naturally to some than others.

We teamed up with Lenovo to pull together a list of 30(ish) Australians changing the game in their chosen field. Meet The Disruptors.

The Social Studio

Sustainable fashion house

Ever find yourself at a loss for what to wear, and stare down longingly at your ‘What Would Oprah Do?’ wristband for answers?

Well when in Melbourne O likes to visit The Social Studio, a combined sustainable fashion house, shop and West African cafe that hires newly-arrived migrants and refugees, and empowers them to create stunning hand-made garments.

Using a unique combination of upcycled fabric and traditional hand-dying techniques, TSS has become a regular at Melbourne Spring Fashion Week and also host their own series of shows, talks and gala events.


The Social Studio also takes orders for small-run manufacturing.

Adam Goodes

AFL star; activist

Adam Goodes knows all too well the personal cost of standing up against racism. Goodes – an Indigenous man of Adnyamathanha, Narungga, English, Irish, and Scottish ancestry, and one of Australia’s best professional AFL players of the last decade – copped months of disgraceful abuse from crowds at AFL games, despite being the 2014 Australian of the Year and winner of several Brownlow Medals. After taking a break from playing in order to preserve his mental health, which triggered a wide-ranging debate about racism in contemporary Australian sport, Goodes retired from AFL altogether and requested not to be considered for awards usually given to high-profile retiring AFL players.

While Goodes has received an incredibly unfair share of abuse, the way he’s handled it has demonstrated his deep moral character. He is a co-founder of the GO Foundation, a charitable organisation dedicated to empowering young Indigenous Australians through education, and is an erudite public speaker who dares to challenge systemic, ingrained racism in Australia. You don’t get much more disruptive than that.


(Image from 2014 by Cameron Spencer, for Getty.)


Sustainable fashion magazine

HESSIAN is a brand new, bi-annual fashion glossy founded by Violette Snow as a counterpoint to shitty trends, preachy greenies and nostalgic hippies. Sick of the hard-line sustainability message being peddled by other journals, Snow and her team of contributors have forged an ethical fashion future that didn’t involve giving up any of the things they loved.

Eschewing nostalgia and cyclical trends HESSIAN are making their own way with an ethos they call “subtle sustainability”. Instead of the next fashion revolution, they’re making small changes toward conscious consumption while practising what they preach. They print locally in Melbourne using high quality recycled paper with strong burst binding so that the magazines can be collected, shared and re-read many times over.


Violette Snow, Founder of HESSIAN Magazine. (Image by Amy Woodward)

Sovereign Apocalypse

Indigenous art collective

Sovereign Apocalypse is an art collective which produces a  lit-zine based around a world of Indigenous sovereignty, as conceived by Wiradjuri women Hannah Donnelly and Gabi Briggs. Conceptualising either a future or parallel existence, after an “apocalypse that has ended colonisation and lifted the white veil”, the collective seeks to create an environment which openly explores identities and resistance on a cosmic scale.

The intersection of these ideas with the physicality of cut–and-paste zines really packs a punch, and every call for stories from this pair feels like a call to arms.
Also concerned with indigenous kids not hearing enough indigenous-made music, Hannah and Gabi’s next project became setting up a musical counterpart to the zine, with a monthly mixtape of contemporary and experimental music from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists produced under the name Sovtrax. The tapes are about “decolonising our music choices, experimenting across genres and spitting heavy truths,” says Hannah. Sovtrax live shows feature diverse artists such as Seeka, Birdz, GekkZ, and Marze.


Hannah Donnelly of Sovereign Apocalypse.

@NoToFeminism, By Rebecca Shaw

Twitter account

The Women Against Feminism movement is a collection of women who rally against feminism, believing it to be toxic and unnecessary. A big part of their output is selfies posted with the prefix statement, “I don’t need feminism because…” — a format which the @NoToFeminism parody account hilariously skewers.

“I started @notofeminism last year after getting fed up with the ‘Women Against Feminism’ movement that started around the same time,” Rebecca Shaw told Junkee. “No amount of arguing or reasoning made a difference, so I decided to just try to do something funny and pointed to make myself feel better instead. I expected to do a few tweets and give up after nothing happened, but I guess it hit some kind of nerve.”

The account has managed to transcend the Australian Twitter bubble, featured on The Huffington Post and catching the eye of Orange Is the New Black star Matt McGorry, who recently tweeted that it was his favourite new account. Shaw counts this as the best response because “it means I am one step closer to taking down Ruby Rose.”

She also counts the funniest and most ridiculous responses as those from people who still reply seriously to the silliest tweets. “I might write something like ‘I found out my husband was two angry possums in a coat’ and someone will reply ‘why are you against equal rights for women?’.”

Adam Grant

Jafflechutes, Puzzle My Myki

A serial inventor, Grant is the creator of both Jafflechutes, Melbourne’s catch-and-eat gravity-controlled melted cheese delivery mechanism, and Puzzle My Myki, a meet-cute public transport art project. Adam is one of those rare people who manages to keep hold of the questionable ideas that hit you usually after a few grown-up drinks, and then actually develops them to the point of action, by somehow both finding funding and convincing others that the ideas are good ones.

The Jafflechutes story started with a plan to create pocket parachutes for people who live on fifth floors and forget their keys. That market seemed a bit particular, so they began talking food instead. After a brief flirtation with Parajaffles, they eventually settled on Jafflechutes.

The concept of pegging carbohydrates at strangers for money may not immediately seem that incendiary, but it’s the creative spirit and persistence of his projects that won Adam place on this list.


Adam Grant. (Image via Robert Zapulla / robzap.com)

Bruce Jeffreys

GoGet car sharing

Anti-piracy ads are pretty clear on this: You Wouldn’t Download A Car. Except you probably would. And while 3D printing isn’t quite there yet, GoGet is the closest thing we have so far.

A decade ago Bruce Jeffreys and Nic Lowe started car-sharing in their own pad in Newtown, Sydney, with three cars and a dozen sharers. Today GoGet operates a fleet of over a thousand cars across 96 suburbs in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. Based on the usage of GoGet members, Bruce estimates that a single shared car can eliminate the need for nine private cars, reducing pollution and congestion.

Sharing a car with GoGet means that you don’t need to worry about parking, insurance, and maintenance; you just book a car for the hours or days that you need it. There are also thirteen different car models, so you can book a compact day-to-day but take out an SUV for a road trip, or snag a big, brutish ute to move house. And in stark contrast to that gas-guzzlin’ old banger you scrimped and saved for, GoGet has some seriously sweet cars. The economy of scale and reinvestment in the fleet means that the average age of a GoGet car is just 1.3 years. So fresh and so clean clean.


Bruce Jeffreys, co-founder of GoGet.

Holly Childs


Melbourne-based Childs has published two novellas in the last year, both written in real-time emerging slang and digital semiotics. No Limit was released by Hologram and Danklands was published by Arcadia Missa (London) in December 2014 — and in a befittingly zeitgeist stamp of approval, Dazed and Confused dubbed her “the baddest girl around”.

Holly’s use of hyper-modern language is completely unique, and the way she bulldozes through the notoriously difficult task of making written conversation sound believable is astonishing. She deftly manages to capture the culture around her at this exact moment, like a photograph immediately uploaded to Instagram. While the style might present itself as superficial or throw-away, the effect immediately reveals cascading depths.

She has explained her work as being “interested in what happens if we inject Rihanna-style tabloid disturbance, fashion and club music into Australian literary contexts.”

“So many writers are crafting these really straight patriarchal heterosexual or heteronormative narratives, but hasn’t that already been done?”

Holly Childs.

Mathieu Ravier

Festivalists director

While Hollywood keeps itself busy burping out those Michael Bay sequels, film festival impresario Mathieu Ravier is creating his own giant explosions all across the art scene. Landing in Sydney via France, Hong Kong and probably Mars, Matt’s non-profit group The Festivalists have spent a decade remixing public spaces like museums, town halls and aquariums, and taking them over to host creative festivals in diverse spots all across Australia. There seems no end to what these guys manage to get away with. The Justice & Police Museum? Why not a monthly costumed crime ball? They call that “Mayhem”.

The Festivalists combine innovative festival undertakings, from Access All Areas for people with a disability to pop-up secret cinema events, VHS appreciation nights, and even a Viewmaster show. With the cutesy DIY nature of some of these events you might expect them to be niche, but the numbers through the door are staggering. Jurassic Lounge, a late-night artist showcase at The Australian Museum in Sydney, attracts 2000 young people every Tuesday that it’s on. As well as being down with the kids, Mathieu also founded the Young At Heart Seniors Film Festival, which has grown over the past decade to show in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, and in 40 towns across NSW.

Matthieu Ravier.

Jordan Markovina, aka Friendly Jordies

Youtube channel

Sydney comedian Jordan Markovina is a really, really, really ridiculously goodlooking male model. He’s also racked up a cool eight million views on YouTube with his political satire channel FriendlyJordies, by combining an overabundance of wigs, voices, overdubs and terrible special effects, with a manically deft and hilarious understanding of Australian political minutia.

Jordy covers everything from Stereosonic friendship hierarchies, to the voting habits of the aspirational class, and at his viral best takes on quirks of ‘Strayan culture, like our penchant for observing wild MTV-style 21st parties despite the legal age of adulthood here being 18 . The short videos combine lightning cuts between characters all played by himself, and there is always at least one who seems uncomfortably like someone we know. Usually someone called Thommo.

Well played Jordan. Check and mate.


Jordan Shanks guest appearance in K-pop band Girls Generation video for their song ‘Gee’.

Jerome Borazio, aka St Jerome

Bar impresario

A Melbourne native, Jerome Borazio opened his first Melbourne bar at age 18, and built a much-loved indie empire that includes Ponyfish Island, 1000 Pound Bend, Sister Bella, a Glamping Hotel, and his namesake, the St Jerome’s Laneway Festival. Though his Sainthood is more football-fanatical than truly canonical, Jerome continues to turn Melbourne’s crumbling spaces into treasured relics.

For Jerome, there really is no such thing as too far. What started as the odd gig in a lane expanded each year into Laneway Festivals that throw their arms around Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Auckland, Singapore, and now Detroit. Meanwhile, Jerome is back on home turf turning a beautiful old building where farriers once shod horses into a Vegas-style wedding chapel. Complete with a tatted-to-the-nines celebrant, a photoautomat booth and an optional Elvis, it could only be The Church of Bang Bang Boogaloo. Borazio has the added honour of being a Disruptor since before most of you finished primary school.


Jerome Borazio.

Roslyn Campbell

Tsuno sanitary pads

Roslyn Campbell’s dainty cardboard boxes may look like they’re carrying macarons, but, nope. They’re actually packing sustainable sanitary pads made from bamboo, and rallying for equality at the same time. Tsuno  is a social enterprise that sells pads on subscription and donates 50 percent of profits to the International Women’s Development Agency.

Before launching Tsuno, Roslyn completed the Do It In A Dress Challenge, spending a month documenting the discomfort of using the rags, newspaper, and even leaves and bark that women in developing countries use during their periods. The experience led Roslyn to her mission: getting pads that work into the hands of women globally. This message, paired with some business savvy, resulted in a successful $40,000 Pozible campaign and a whole shipping container of sustainable pads. Rather than using the fundraising platform as a one off flash-in-the-panties, Roslyn set up three quarterly subscriptions; selling options for light, medium, and heavy flo’rider.

Back at home, Roslyn is also a vocal opponent of the crazy 10 percent GST charged on sanitary items, which are currently classed by the government as a “non-essential” item. She is currently petitioning the government to reclassify sanitary products as a “basic need”. Well, yeah.

Roslyn Campbell, Tsuno creator.

Marita Cheng

2Mar Robotics and Robogals founder

Did you know that when Ashton Kutcher wasn’t busy flogging the long dead horse that was Two and a Half Men, he used to swan around investing in tech start-ups? And who did he choose to present with at Lenovo’s Tech My Way conference? 2012 Young Australian of the Year Marita Cheng, that’s who.

Marita is the founder of 2Mar Robotics, which creates nifty robotic arms for people with limited upper-limb mobility that can be controlled by an iPhone or a head-gyroscopic interface. We can only politely request that Luke Skywalker’s robotic hand is coming next.

After feeling lonely as the only gal in the lab, Marita also founded Robogals: a start-up robotics community for women which spread rapidly throughout Australia before being exported around the world. Marita and her pals go out to schools to teach robotics to girls, and encourage them to get into engineering — so far reaching 30,000 students in nine countries.

Marita Cheng, via Melbourne University.

Waleed Aly

Political commentator, The Project

Waleed Aly has such sly charm in front of the camera — suave as an Australian George Clooney — it’s hard to remember that he hasn’t been in showbiz all his life. A host of Channel 10’s current affairs show The Project, he came into the media industry from his work as a lawyer and academic, where he specialised in human rights law and the politics of global terrorism. Beginning his career as a media commenter representative of the Islamic Council of Victoria, Aly’s sharp-witted takes on contemporary politics and ability to talk complex policy issues in an approachable manner soon saw the young academic become a first star commentator at Fairfax, and then a star in his own right.

Aly uses his public profile for good, and doesn’t shy away from controversy. On The Project he has advocated against provisions in the Australian Border Force Act that criminalise workers in detention centres speaking out about their conditions; publicly supported Indigenous AFL star Adam Goodes after fans booed him; and ripped into self-styled Islamic activist Zaky Mallah for derailing an important national conversation about terrorism and civil liberties. In so doing, Aly has reinvigorated intelligent public debate in Australia, and written a new rule-book for how to build a career in media.

Regan Matthews, AKA Ta-ku


After putting in five slow-moving years at a sales job, Perth producer Ta-ku needed an outlet for his bubbling creativity so taught himself to make all the beats ’n’ bleeps. Somehow he’s managed to successfully straddle the mainstream in a relatively short time, remixing for Justin Timberlake while conquering the underground with secret shows at bastions of electronic cool like Boiler Room in LA and Red Bull Music Academy in Barcelona. Next up is a homegrown release on Future Classic, where his label-mates include Chet Faker and Flight Facilities.

Following the empire-building path trod by many a US music don, last year Ta-ku piggybacked off his producing success to try other creative fields, first unveiling clothing line Team Cozy and then opening a quickly popular barber shop Westons in Perth, which he already has plans to expand.


TA-KU, known to his mother as Regan Matthews.

White Line Wireless

Pirate cricket radio station

A group of renegade sports journalists incensed that most overseas cricket tours have no radio coverage and are only on pay TV are fighting back. Since summer 2013 a rotating cast of commentators — which included Tom Cowie from The Age, Russell Jackson and Geoff Lemon from The Guardian, Adam Collins from the ABC, and the legendary  Glenn Mitchell — have been hunkering down for late nights to call the cricket from an undisclosed share-house.

Breaking away from the usually abysmal presenting on Channel Nine, some 68, 000 listeners tuned into WLW for the this year’s Ashes series over the past few months to hear intelligent commentary, genuinely funny jokes and an accessible sense of camaraderie.

Tweets and questions are brought into the commentary in real time, which makes people feel engaged with the broadcast. Any listeners who express an interest in presenting are invited ’round for a trial (presumably with top-secret GPS co-ordinates). And despite the live broadcasts being in UK-time, well into the wee hours of the morning, White Line drew enough numbers to pull a coveted spot on the iTunes Top 10 Podcast chart.

The team are set to continue the pirate broadcast for the upcoming summer fixture.


White Line Wireless cricket commentary team. L/R Andy Lane producer, Tom Cowie, Ben Renick, Jonathon Woods, and Jonathan Howcroft. (Image by Michael Rayner.)

Simon Griffiths

Who Gives A Crap?, and Shebeen

Social entrepreneur Simon Griffith launched his ethical toilet paper brand by very literally giving a crap himself. Crowdfunding from his porcelain throne, he vowed not to leave until his $50,000 target for 50,000 rolls of toilet paper was reached. Meanwhile, his medium really was the message, as he live-vlogged the names of donors written on toilet paper.

The stunt certainly made a splash in the press (though hopefully no splashback) and Simon left the loo triumphant after fifty hours. By sharing 50 percent of the profits with Water Aid to improve sanitation in the developing world, Who Gives a Crap? have successfully provided a year of toilet access to 46,500 people.

Not content with just giving away half the bucks, Simon then launched ethical drinking hole Shebeen in Melbourne’s Manchester Lane, which donates 100 percent of its profits to projects in developing countries. With an extensive list of beers from around the word, the profits from each one sold goes to a project in its country of origin. Along with a cracking band room in the basement, there’s a clientele of dreadlocked lawyers who work for NGOs and will tell you all the ins and outs of TTIP negotiations. No, really, they will. This happened.

Simon Griffiths, via The Wheeler Centre.

Geoff Manchester

Sustainable travel company Intrepid

It was back in 1988 when Geoff Manchester and a few mates had an old council truck filled with supplies shipped to London, and from there drove all the way across Africa. At the end of the journey they were surprised to sell the truck for four times what they’d paid for it, funding much of the trip and giving Geoff the idea for Intrepid Travel. 25 years later, and that first tour has grown to 100,000 travellers supported by 1,000 staff on 800 different itineraries.

Every Intrepid trip is designed to limit the impact that it leaves behind; to this end, Geoff created a foundation that has contributed $1.4 million to health care, human rights, child welfare and environmental programs in all of the countries in which he runs tours. As well as matching traveller donations dollar-for-dollar, Intrepid are funding all the cost of administration. Phew! No chuggers.


Geoff Manchester, OG backpacker. (image via Intrepid.)

Your Paradise

Fijian music festival

Last year, the promoters behind Sydney’s Courtyard parties and clubs like Marco Polo and Audiopaxx Agency asked themselves, “What’s better than a club night?” Short answer: everything. Long answer: Your Paradise

The boutique tropical island package festival Your Paradise sees 600 revellers sent to Fiji for all the trap, bass and future house they can handle. We’re guessing the authorities are somewhat more liberal in Fiji than in a Sydney nightclub, yeah? So expect to be partying through the night without interruption from the powers that be. Just saying.

The five-night event includes pool parties, boat parties, scuba, and surfing on Malolo Lailai, while the musical line-up features French producer Klingande alongside artists like What So Not, AC Slater, and Motez.


An accurate depiction of what fun looks like. (Image via Your Paradise.)

Nakkiah Lui

Writer and actor

Nakkiah Lui, a Kamilaroi and Torres Strait Islander woman from Mount Druitt, has always been something of an overachiever. She’s not only the first member of her family to finish high school, but did so as an International Baccalaureate student in Canada – during which time she wrote her first play, Proud, at the age of 16. Since then she’s gone on to a brilliant career in entertainment, including winning the inaugural Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright’s Award, and a stint as associate playwright-in-residence at Belvoir. She currently works as a writer and actor for the ABC’s indigenous comedy series Black Comedy.

Nakkiah uses her sharp observational humour to interrogate white privilege and race relations in contemporary Australia. Black Comedy’s ‘Girls Gone Native’ sketch parodies vintage ‘80s sex hotline advertisements to skewer white Australia’s history of sexualising Indigenous women, for instance, and ‘Tatiana The Cultural Excuse Girl’ skewers white liberals who are vaguely supportive of Indigenous cultural traditions, without actually being aware of their specifics.

Nakkiah is also an articulate public speaker who has appeared on Q&A to discuss issues such as the representation of Mount Druitt and western Sydney in the media. Articulate, funny, and passionate, she is disrupting white privilege in Australia through her acting, writing, and public speaking.


Nakkiah Lui

Cami James and Nadia Napreychikov 

D$scount Universe

Cami James and Nadia Napreychikov from DI$COUNT UNIVER$E have spent the last 12 months kicking arse and taking names. Their pieces are big and bold, in a riot of Day-Glo colours, and embellished with enough sequins to make the average Studio 54 attendee look understated. It hasn’t hurt the label that the names they’ve been taking are fairly recognisable ones: Rihanna, Beyoncé, Britney Spears, M.I.A, and most controversially, Miley Cyrus, have all been seen wearing DU’s luxe streetwear. Not bad for a label started by two young RMIT grads back in 2009.

The key to DI$COUNT UNIVER$E’s success has been their early understanding of the role the internet would play in fashion consumption in the future. The duo started blogging under the DI$COUNT UNIVER$E name in December 2009, which provided a cheap means for the cash-strapped young designers to reach out to an audience and articulate their fashion vision. They later added a webstore to sell their merchandise directly to the public.

By being both the influential blog and the brand, James and Napreychikov were able to cut out intermediaries, and their clever segmentation of the brand – into a high-end ARTI$ANAL range and a much more approachable TRA$H collection – has allowed them to set the standard for how a lean 21st-century fashion business should operate.


(image via Di$count Universe.)


Tattoo artist

Ukraine-born multimedia artist Stanislava Pinchuk, aka Miso, is a minimalist tattooist (dot-and-line pieces) who has tattooed the likes of Florence Welch, and uses two distinctive systems in her work: all her tattoos are done by hand with a needle and ink, and she uses the barter system as payment for personal clients.

She describes her delicate pieces as, “Home-made tattoos for friends and friends of friends, playing with memory, space and geography turned back on body, all completed as trades,”

“So far, I’ve really just kept it as a trade system, and only for friends — it’s too important and intimate for me to take money for at this stage,” she says.

Customers swap whiskey, dinners, assistant work and art for her diacritic tattoos, making the exchange even more personal and meaningful. It makes a kind of intuitive sense that people would prefer this, and adds a little more care to the quick-to-ink, quick-to-regret tattoo culture we’ve cultivated.


M_I_S_O at work. (Image via Stanislava Pinchuk.)

Kirin J Callinan


Nobody knew if it was a performance art piece gone wrong, an persona deliberately designed to shock, or an elaborate prank that went off the rails. Whatever really happened, Kirin J Callinan’s aborted performance at the 2013 Sugar Mountain festival in Melbourne – where Callinan stated he would induce a fit in an audience member with photosensitive epilepsy, before another audience member rushed the stage to attack him – was the talk of the Australian music scene for months afterwards.

Not that Callinan’s music needs any accompaniment for shock value; for years now he’s taken the rock chops learned as a member of Mercy Arms and in Jack Ladder’s touring band, and turned them into something feral and mutated. Thick basslines pulsate wildly, guitars howl strange noises, and Callinan himself yells over the top of it all in his raspy, okker voice. It’s ugly, physical music, and the lyrics interrogate what it is to be a man in contemporary Australia: when Callinan sings “A man can meet another man in a bar, on the sports field, at his place of work, or in his own apartment … or on the internet, right now,” you’re not sure if he’s referring to fighting or fucking.

Callinan’s brand of deconstructed and experimental rock has earned him plaudits from international press, and places him on the cutting edge of Australia’s music scene.


Kirin J. Callinan, ‘Way To War’ video.

Brodie Lancaster

Filmme Fatales founder, writer at Rookie Magazine

Lancaster is a young writer making hay on sites like Vulture, Rolling Stone, Jezebel, Pitchfork, and Tavi Gevinson’s Rookie. “It’s still cool and weird and special to me,” she says, of writing for the outlets she grew up reading. “Great websites and magazines, plus some really generous older writers, basically taught me everything I know; I never studied writing and still don’t know what I’m doing or saying most of the time.”

Back in May, Brodie was also invited do the excellent TED Talk in Sydney below, titled “Not Here To Be Nice”.

She also works full-time at The Good Copy, a super Melbourne copywriting studio, publisher, shop and event space, where her title is Action Chief — a role which this horrifying Hollywood Reporter piece describes as, “the person in charge of making sure that the founder’s directives were strictly and remorselessly carried out”.

Lancaster also founded and continues to run Filmme Fatales, a print zine that focuses on film and feminism.

David Walsh

Museum of Old and New Art (MONA)

If you need proof that there’s more to famously eccentric millionaire David Walsh than gambling riches and an enviable playboy lifestyle, all you need to do is take a trip to MONA, the Hobart museum he privately funded 2011, and look at the artwork ‘My Beautiful Chair’ by Greg Taylor. The installation piece, which features an authentic suicide machine from the controversial euthanasia advocate Dr. Philip Nitschke, is accompanied by a beautifully written essay from Walsh himself about the death of his older brother from either cancer, or an overdose of morphine administered by his brother’s girlfriend.

The Museum of Old and New Art is described by Walsh as an “adult Disneyland” that’s obsessed equally with sex and death. Some of the artworks are highly controversial and provocative: Wim Delvoye’s ‘Cloaca Professional’ is a machine that reproduces the human digestive tract, creating actual faeces from fresh food, and Stephen J Shanabrook’s ‘On the Road to Heaven the Highway to Hell’ is a model of an actual suicide bomber’s grisly remains, cast in edible chocolate.

Less controversial is the museum’s reputation as one of the world’s best, or the impact it’s had on Tasmania’s tourism industry, bringing in around 28 percent of all of the state’s visitors.


Walsh gave Sidney Nolan’s masterpiece Snake a home at MONA. (image via MONA.)

The Adventure Handbook

Travel storytelling 

Good ideas have a way of snowballing. You start off with an Instagram account to show off your trip with some mates – a road trip through the red centre of Australia, from Adelaide to Darwin, for example – and soon you end up with a full and fine looking website publishing travel stories from people all around the world. Such is the genesis of The Adventure Handbook, an independent collective of storytellers from Australia, whose reflections on the meaning of travel and adventure are enough to give anyone itchy feet.

Luke Byrne and Ben Tan run the ‘book with contributors main Che Parker Emilia Batchelor, Matt Lief Anderson, Ryan Kenny and Oliver Mol. Their site now publishes excellent photography and stories about travel: rock-climbing in the geopolitically fractured Balkans region; encounters with pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong; the history of the Ledo–Burma Road that crosses through India, Myanmar and China. Proving that adventure travel isn’t dead in the age of TripAdvisor and cheap international flights, The Adventure Handbook is all about young people engaging with the world around them.


From The Adventure Handbook. (Image via Luke Byrne.)

Mia Lethbridge

Writer, actor, activist

There are few things that get more attention than high-profile sibling rivalry, which is why actor and filmmaker Mia Lethbridge hit on the right idea by inviting Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s sister, Christine Forster (who has previously publicly clashed with her brother on the subject of marriage equality ), to make a cameo appearance in her video ‘Drop It ‘Coz It’s Rot’. The video, a creative parody of Snoop Dogg’s ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’, campaigns against the application of GST to tampons and other feminine hygiene products with lines like “The vagina, half the people got them / Yet there’s a tax if you’re born with one of ’em.”

“I think Australia has a pretty outdated attitude around periods,” Lethbridge said in the press release that accompanied ‘Drop It ‘Coz It’s Rot’.

“I feel like the tax is reflective of this attitude. There’s a certain shame and stigma attached to menstruation that makes it still a very hush-hush topic, despite it being one of the most normal and common biological bodily functions. We are supposed to be a progressive country, yet here we are taxing menstruating Australians!”

Lethbridge isn’t all about snarky pop culture parodies with a political point; the talented young actor has also appeared in the ABC’s 2011 adaptation of Christos Tsiolkas’ novel The Slap.

Jason Ball

AFL player; LGBT advocate; political candidate

Jason Ball’s career has been one marked by breaking boundaries. In 2012, he became the first AFL player to come out as a gay man, sparking a national conversation about homophobia in sport generally, AFL in particular. Ball swiftly capitalised on the public interest in his sexuality by calling on the AFL to play anti-homophobia ads during the 2012 Grand Finals, and to inaugurate a Pride Cup to celebrate sexual diversity. As a high-profile gay man, he has become an ambassador for mental health organisation beyondblue, specialising in the area of LGBTQIA inclusion.

Ball is now using his profile to run as a political candidate with the Australian Greens in the Federal division of Higgins against incumbent Liberal member Kelly O’Dwyer. His policy platform not only focuses on LGBTIQ rights and mental health issues, but also addresses the issues of climate change, Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers, and the need for an independent body to tackle corruption in politics. Capitalising on his existing platform and tapping into the issues that matter most to voters in what is traditionally considered a safe seat for the Liberals, Ball’s direct approach to campaigning has a real potential to influence political discourse.

Jason Ball by Tony Robertson (Image via Wikimedia Commons.)

QT Hotels And Resorts


Bored by soulless hotels painted hospital shades of grey, with corridors lined by identical suites? So were the team behind QT, who shook up the sleep-over game by opening their first property on the Gold Coast in 2011. Marrying cutting-edge luxe design with excellent food and drinks and wild themes and fixtures, QT’s formula was so successful that the company swiftly spread through Australia, opening individually themed properties in Sydney, Port Douglas, Falls Creek and Canberra — with Perth, Wellington, Bondi and Melbourne locations in development.

It’s not hard to see the charm of QT’s approach, which focuses on the particulars to create a genuinely interesting hotel experience. The Sydney property has an elevator with sensors that detect how many people are riding at any given moment; a solo traveller will hear a tune along the lines of ‘All By Myself’, while a couple will hear something like ‘Just the Two of Us’. The Canberra property makes the most of the capital’s political history, and the Falls Creek ski lodge offers a kitsch Aspen-themed cocktail lounge loaded with classic après ski drinks. The irreverence, personality, and design-conscious attention to detail behind their venues make them places we actually want to stay — which is a big part of why we chose their Canberra branch as the location for our upcoming un-conference, JUNKET.


Welcome to Twin Peaks / QT Hotel Sydney.

Nathan McLay, Chad Gillard and Jay Ryves of Future Classic

Record label

Sydney hometown heroes Future Classic are basking in platinum success Stateside, having signed artists like Flume and Chet Faker. But as that ol’ chestnut goes, it takes a long time to become an overnight success. Like all the best endeavours, Future Classic started purely as a passion project for husband-and-wife team Nathan and Jay, along with their friend Chad Gillard. They maintained day jobs and nighttime DJ sets while putting out records, and finally persuaded rock-heavy radio to give them a chance.

Years of this hard graft paid off for FC when enough pairs of ears caught up with the music they’d been releasing for years. The string of hits started in 2011 and has held steady with multiple ARIA wins and number one singles. The label now has a dozen full-time staff and is curating stages at U.S. festivals TomorrowWorld and Electric Forest.

Back on home turf, a triumphant tenth anniversary two-night show at the Sydney Opera House in May featured roster favourites like Flight Facilities, Seekae, George Maple and Hayden James.


Nathan Mclay, Chad Gillard and Jay Ryves. (Image via Anthony Berlangeri.)


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