2016 Olympic Games begin in Rio

It’s a major worldwide sporting event that happens every four years. Over 11000 athletes representing over 200 countries participate in the Summer Olympics.

The 2016 Summer Olympic Games are the 31st Olympiad in the modern era and they are certainly the games for firsts. These are the first games to be hosted in a South American country, with the city of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil being the city of choice. This will also be the first Olympic Games to feature a Refugee team. The Olympic Refugee Team sees 10 athletes competing who have fled countries such as Syria, Ethiopia and The Democratic Republic of Congo in three sports- swimming, athletics and Judo. We will also see South Sudan and Kosovo debut as delegations.

From the beginning of the opening ceremony, it was clear that this will be an Olympic Games like no other. They will be all about celebrating culture, equality and inequality amongst all the nations competing and the opening ceremony definitely was like no other. It may have been the spectacle that London and Sydney were, but it was definitely amazing in its own merit.

In typical Olympic fashion, fireworks ignited the Maracana Stadium, indicating the beginning of the ceremony. Brazilian singer Paulinho da Viola sang the Brazilian national anthem. From there, the ceremony was filled with culture and history featuring the good, the bad and the ugly moments for the host nation. Spectacular laser lights and dances were used to highlight some key moments in history- From the birth of life represented by stick-figured animals; to the natives frolicking in the forest; through to the arrival of the Portuguese and the invasion of the Europeans; the African Slaves brought to Brazil by force. There was an acrobatic and dance spectacular depicting the move to an urban rooftop scene which led into the building of an aeroplane. In Brazil’s history, they flew the first plane which they recreated during the ceremony. Although unpolished in some areas, the entertainment provided was engaging, educational and just a taste of what these Olympic Games will bring.

Following the spectaculars of the dancing and lights and the replica plane flying above the stadium, Supermodel Gisele Bundchen closed the entertainment component of the ceremony, taking her final catwalk to the song “Girl From Impanema”. Then, in true Olympic tradition, Greece began the march of the athletes.

The march of the athletes, although long and tedious, depicts exactly what the Olympic spirit is all about- representing your country. There are 207 delegations represented in total at this year’s Olympics. Each nation that marched, no matter how large or small were excited, happy and proud to be in that stadium. Brazil were the final team to march, resulting in a roar of cheers and emotions from the nearly 80,000 strong crowd.

From lone competitor Etimoni Timuani, the only athlete from Tuvalu, to one of the largest teams Australia, it certainly brings joy to every athlete to be in that position. And it makes a nation proud to see their representatives marching with their flags. Australians were left beaming after watching Anna Meares carry our flag followed by some 400 plus competitors wearing our national Green and Gold. And it brings a smile to my face to watch the other countries, no matter how many competitors they have, march out. Each country was given a different plant seed, as part of Brazil’s plan to combat deforestation, with each athlete planting that seed at the end of their country’s march. Brazil is sending a message loud and clear this Olympic games- the Earth matters and they will do all they can to help preserve it.Anna Mears.jpgSource: Getty Images

Following the march and the formalities, the Olympic flag was raised and a brief celebration of the party culture of Brazil was had. Finally, the cauldron was officially lit, in spectacular style. Although simple, the final effect of the lit cauldron was mesmerizing. Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima, a marathon athlete, was the man for the job.

After travelling through more than 25 places in Brazil, the Olympic torch was carried into the stadium by Gustavo Kuerten, a Brazilian tennis player. Kuerten passed the flame onto Women’s Basketballer Hortencia Marcari. Hortencia then passed the flame to de Lima who carried the torch up a flight of stairs before igniting a flower-esque pot. The pot ascended into a hybrid cauldron, with the flame backdropped by a sculpture created by Anthony Howe. The rotating sculpture was lit to represent the sun, and looked truly amazing. Another mini-cauldron will be lit in the centre of Rio, as the Maracana stadium will only be used for soccer semi-finals and finals.

  Source: Getty Images

The lighting of the cauldron and fireworks closed out the show, but only marked the beginning of the next two exciting weeks in sport.


“They went with songs to the battle, they were young.

Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.

They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,

They fell with their faces to the foe.”

This is the staunch reality for the 416 809 who went to war between the years of 1914 and 1918. This mere number was around one tenth of Australia’s population at the time. 60 000 of those enlisted died; 156 000 were wounded, gassed or taken prisoner and of those that returned, many would suffer from the effects for the rest of their lives. World War 1 remains the most deadly and costly battles for Australians thus far. 18 000 New Zealand soldiers also lost their lives.

Like a large number of the population, one of those enlisted was a relative of mine, Abraham Pearce.  Private Pearce fell to his death on August 6th 1915 at the murderous battle of Lone Pine. He would have been my great great uncle. Today I got up at 4am to attend my local dawn service. I didn’t just go to commemorate my fallen relative, I attended the service to pay my respects to all those who have served in the wars from World War 1 right through to the current peace keeping operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Private Abraham Pearce

For many Australians and New Zealanders, ANZAC day marks one of the most significant days in the calendar year. Millions of Australians have flocked to remember the service men and women for one hundred years. The first ANZAC service took place on April 25th, 1916, one year after troops landed on the wrong side of the Gallipoli peninsula awaiting their deadly fate.

Diaries from those who served in the war reveal that those on the frontline, along with the medics who were largely responsible for the foundation of ANZAC day, went to great efforts to commemorate those who had fallen in the last 12 months since their fateful landing at Gallipoli. The diaries reveal that the day began with a mass at dawn and was followed by a commemorative service that took place mid-morning. After lunch there were organised sports activities including two-up with all profits from gambling going to Battalion funds. Elsewhere in London more than 2000 Australian and New Zealand soldiers marched through the streets and they became known as the ‘Knights of Gallipoli’. In Australia, marches were held whereby wounded soldiers accompanied by nurses took part.

100 years on there is still that same ANZAC spirit that is commemorated by Australians and New Zealanders of all ages. At the particular service I attended there were newborns all the way through to the elderly with one important thing bringing them together- remembrance. From the time the catafalque party mounts to the moment they dismount; through the laying of the wreaths; through the ode of remembrance, the last post and the minute silence and the singing of our nations anthem, we are united as one, remembering those that fought to make our country the fair, beautiful and rich land that it now is.

ANZAC day means different things to everyone but to me it means that I can remember my relative that I never met and thank him for giving his life for his country. ANZAC day also means that I can learn about the lives of those that fought, many of which were not much older than me, in fact many were several years younger. I learn about the horrible conditions that they were faced with on a daily basis for months or even years and cannot even begin to fathom how those that lived even survived these conditions. But above all ANZAC day means I can become a part of the other near 25 million Australians that are joined together by this occasion, which makes me proud to be an Australian.

While many fear for the future of ANZAC day, I believe that as long as we keep these commemorative services alive, the spirit will forever live on.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old.

Age shall not weary them, now the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

We will remember them.

Lest we forget”

Interview with a photographer and web designer

Since she was a young girl, Nicole Avagliano has always loved taking photographs. She never dreamed that taking random photos of everything would lead to a career.

Nicole grew up in the suburbs of Western Sydney, where she attended public schools which allowed her to take photography as a subject in her high school years. “I took photography classes in High School which I learned more things I didn’t know.” After leaving Jamison High School in 2010, she kept at her photography, receiving praise from people who admired and loved her work. This led to Nicole thinking about her future and wanting to make a career out of her photo taking.

In recent times, Nicole has begun web designing. “I had wanted to make a portfolio for my photographs and looked around on free websites and just started designing.” Once she started, she couldn’t stop and web designing wasn’t enough. Nicole wanted to learn to make someone’s website by scratch/coding so she studied to do a Diploma of Web Development. From here Leigh’s Web Design was born.

Apart from an obvious interest and love in photography and, later, web design, Nicole loves being able to help others which both allow her to do. “Even if it was something as simple as taking a photograph of someone to see their smile, that when they saw the photo they instantly loved it, is a great feeling inside. With Web design, not only are you getting to help others and their companies, you get to become familiar with someone new and make friends which is always great,” Nicole tells me.

All photographers have a favourite style of photography and for Nicole it is landscape images. “I’ll take a quick snap of wherever I seem to be at the time whether it be because the sky has a few different colours in it or the place just looks lovely.”

In fact, Nicole’s favourite place to take photographs is at a place called The Entrance on the New South Wales Central Coast, a place she frequently holidays with her family. “Most of my landscape photographs are from there. I’ve spent a lot of time there since I was kid. They have amazing photography spots that are a must go-to”.  High places such as look-outs are also high on places Nicole likes to photograph from.

One of Nicole’s personal favourite from her many captured photographs is one she shot at the North Entrance Bridge. What draws Nicole, and many others that view the picture, are the cloud formations and the colours that are throughout the photograph. The light captured within the photograph is simply wow.

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Nicole established her business Leigh’s Web Design in 2015. Initially, the web site was just for web and logo designs but given that Nicole is a talented photographer, photography services quickly became a part of the company. Since then, she has added GFX (Graphic) Design, Marketing Materials and Editing Videos/Photographs.

The first website that Nicole ever created was for State Steel Treatment- Abrasive Blasting and Protective Coating. “With it being my first official web design site I got to do, I had quite a few different drafts up quite quickly on how I wanted it to look, what we would put on it etc. When I went to show them what I had they loved it. We discussed some things we could add and what they wanted to add so we had to go over which photo’s to use,” Nicole says of the experience.

Another website that Nicole created was for All Things Mystical. The already had an outdated website     so required Nicole to revamp and redesign it. “The client wanted to keep to the same colours as what she had so once I had the drafts done I started redesigning it.” She got to fiddle around with a few things in order to make the website work and reflect the nature of the website. The end result was a company logo and tabs that looked like they were floating in the clouds.

For now, Nicole continues to create websites and capture special moments in time on camera as Leigh’s Web Design grows and is loving every moment of it. “I’ve met new people, found old friends and there’s nothing that would make me quit what I do now.”

Website: www.leighswebdesign.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/leighswebdesign

Interview with A Florist

Do you remember what it was like for you to go out into the garden with your grandma and admire natures beauty? Do you remember picking flowers from this very garden and making them into a bouquet for your mother? Well for Holly Wright, aged 20, this memory led her to her passion and occupation- floristry.

Holly grew up in Newcastle and always loved being in the garden with her grandparents, helping out as much as she could. Her father also worked at a nursery for several years. So when it came time to decide what she wanted to do for school work experience, going to a florist was a no-brainer. She travelled to the New South Wales Central Coast to do work experience and instantly loved it. It is here that her future was decided. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do with school,” Holly told me. Once she had completed Year 10, Holly decided to withdraw from school and pursue her passion for floristry. “I really like meeting new people and putting a smile on someone’s face. I also have listening ears and like making a difference in people’s lives, no matter how small”.

“I enrolled in TAFE for 2 years. I did Certificate II and Certificate III in floristry,” Certificate II meant that Holly could be an assistant to a florist and know the basics of being a florist, but this, of course, was not enough for the talented young lady. This led Holly to Certificate III where she would learn about floristry design and construction. During her time of study, Holly landed a position at Amaranthine Flowers in Charlestown, a suburb of Newcastle.

Floristry is more than about putting pretty flower pieces together. “With my job, it’s really hard which a lot of people don’t understand,” Holly says with a smile. I listen as she tells me just how physical the job is with a lot of lifting and cleaning. But it is all worth it at the end of the day to see the happiness on customers faces.

One of the pieces created by Holly

Many of the flower displays that Holly puts together for customers tells a story or means something to them. “It’s really special when people come in and get flowers that remind them of their grandma. Flowers make people happy and bring back memories or remind them of their favourite person”.  Interacting with customers frequently means that there are many stories to be had and flowers to reflect these. “Once you hear a story, you want to do something to go with it or highlight it,” Holly adds. She even tells me of her own memory with flowers. There is a particular flower that reminds her of a lady’s perfume from her very first time working at the store and of course flowers that remind her of her grandma.

Other than the busy occasion of Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day where the team work together to create floral masterpieces, Holly really enjoys doing funeral work. “Doing a final tribute for someone is amazing and I like it to be special”. The first funeral piece that Holly ever created was for her grandfather when he passed away a few years ago. “I wanted to do something beautiful for him. I was very proud of it. We did wreaths and individual flowers. I used a lot of flowers that he had in his garden, a lot of natives. For me to do that as a last tribute was really special.”

With so many flowers out there, it is hard to choose just one as a favourite for someone who works with them every day. For Holly, her favourite flowers include Fresias, in particular the orange ones. She also enjoys Anemones which are an ocean flower. “Gum nuts are beautiful. Anything with texture or different colours I really like. It depends on what time of year it is as to what flowers I like. Sweet peas in Winter are beautiful, but they really only blossom well for three weeks”.

Sweet Peas

Whilst most florists prefer traditional, Holly finds herself with a more modern personality when it comes to flowers. She likes to do things a little different and a little unusual which is slowly becoming more popular. With modern arrangements, things can be done differently using lots of colours with greenery instead of masses of flowers. But of course a florist cannot always do what they like as it depends on the customer they are tailoring to. However, at Amaranthine Flowers they encourage each other to do their own style and express themselves how they wish, something which greatly inspires Holly.

One of Holly’s favourite modern pieces that she did was for a customer who mostly wanted greenery. “I loved it. It was so beautiful! It had lotus pods in it which grow to be absolutely gorgeous; gum nuts, viburnum and twisted willow. It looked incredible. That’s the first time I looked at something and went ‘that’s beautiful’”.

Modern displays can also be seen throughout the vibrant Amaranthine store. Displays are creative by using handbags, shoes and teacups. “It gives customers something beautiful but high impact that they don’t see every day,” Holly adds.

One of the shoe displays at Amaranthine

Holly is striving to improve in her work as the business she works for grows. Amaranthine have newly opened a second store in Blackbutt, ten minutes from their first store in Charlestown. And Holly herself has found improvement in her work in the last year. “I competed in the Sydney Royal Easter Show for Intaflora’s Rising Star.” Intaflora is a major relay network they use to send flowers interstate. “The feedback I got was so valuable to my work and has improved it majorly since last year.”

Holly Wright is a rare breed. Talented, smart, friendly and immensely creative. As her work as a florist continues, Holly stresses that although she works with flowers, she isn’t much of a gardener herself but she will see how her garden grows!

To view some of Holly’s flowers and to see more of ‘Amaranthine flowers by design’ visit their website: http://www.amaranthineflowers.com/


Scrapbooking 101

Like most people, you probably have thousands of photographs laying around the house in boring old photo albums or on your digital device. There is of course nothing wrong with this but if you are wanting to make those special moments even more special, you might decide to venture into scrapbooking. Not only do scrapbooks show off the images, they add personal touches to the photos and tell a story.

So where does one begin scrapbooking?

Firstly you have to pick out the album that’s just right for you. The standard size for most scrapbooks are 8 inches by 8 inches, but you may decide to go for one larger or smaller depending on the occasion and how many photos you want on each page. Most scrap books come with 20 empty sleeves and space for extra fill-ins.

Now you’ve chosen the colour and size of your album, you need to choose the paper that you will use for the pages. Make sure these are the same size as the album but for a more effective look, also choose some a bit smaller to use as borders. Most art and craft shops sell books of cardstock at a reasonable price with many different colours, designs, textures and patterns. You can also buy individual cardstock but this is more costly in the long run.

The fun part begins where you get to choose the embellishments to dress your pages with. There are endless types of embellishments including: letters/numbers; paper flowers; butterflies; lace borders; diamantes; inspiring sayings and many more. There’s virtually an embellishment for every possible theme. The cost of embellishments is pretty cheap depending on where you source your items from. They also go a long way when scrapbooking and creating cards.

Aside from all the pretty stuff, you will also need to invest in practical things to. Double-sided tape is a must for making pictures ‘pop out’ of the page. ‘Snail’ or glue tape is also good for sticking photos down. You will also need good-quality scissors and a guillotine.

So now that you have everything, you can begin to scrapbook your beautiful pages. There is no wrong or right when it comes to scrapbooking; just let your creative mind do the work. Do, however, follow these simple tips to make your scrapbooking a success:

  • Lay-out your page: Make sure that before you permanently glue anything down, you lay down the images you wish to use and the embellishments  directly where you wish for them to be on the page. Stand back and look at the page from different angles. Are you happy with it?
  • Less is more: Don’t overcrowd a page with embellishments and take away from the image or images you want to shine.
  • Use cardstock to mount your pictures: Create a border for your salient image by using a colour and pattern of cardstock different to the background. This will make your page interesting and your photo stand-out more.
  • Use headings: Give a name to the page and the moment by using letter stickers anywhere on the page. Try to use various types of letters throughout the scrapbook to make the album interesting. Don’t be afraid to hand-write some headings on pages as well
  • Find your theme: Having a theme to each page or the whole album will help the scrapbook to tell a story about the events.

Congratulations, you are now ready to begin scrapbooking! Good luck!


Hello and welcome to Creative Collections,

This page is more than just a blog post. I will be sharing photos and videos of a variety of easy craft projects as well as interviewing some of Australia’s most talented people within the art and craft industry.

I hope you all enjoy the blog as much as I have enjoyed putting it together.