All of a sudden there’s a buzz around Gippsland, and it’s got a lot to do with the region’s quarterly magazine, Gippslandia.

Since the first issue was printed in December 2015, Gippslandia has been sharing stories from the region, covering everything from opportunities and business to people and food, travel, fashion, art and culture.

Publisher John Calabro, also of Traralgon-based design firm The View From Here, had been thinking about creating a version of “Broadsheet for Gippsland” for years, but had neither the time nor the manpower to do it. Two things happened which made his idea a reality.

The first was that Tim Leeson (a writer and the former editor of Riptide magazine) approached The View From Here to pick up some copywriting work, and instead ended up as the publication’s Editor.

The second was the closure of the Hazelwood power station and mine in the LaTrobe Valley. “The idea had been bubbling away for a while,” says Calabro, “but when the closure was confirmed, we decided to put it into action.

“Emotions were high, and we wanted to promote the idea of Gippsland as a sustainable region,” he adds. “We wanted to show the bigger picture; people, lives, stories, networks, talents. That what we’ve got here is really awesome.”

Each edition has a loose theme; for example, production, education or entertainment. The aim, always, is to share the most optimistic stories from the region, but that doesn’t mean the stories are soft or that they’re not of interest to readers outside of Gippsland.

For example; Gippslandia was one of the first to cover the story of Indigenous historian Bruce Pascoe. Pascoe is a Bunurong (East Gippsland) man, and much of the research for his award-winning novel Dark Emu; Black Seeds: Agriculture or Accident? was conducted there.

To counter the racism, prejudice and bigotry spewing from the Trump government, Gippslandia ran a five-page feature celebrating the region’s own diverse population, with a focus on the United Muslim Sisters.

A more entertaining story recreates Pulp Fiction’s famous burger, the Royale with Cheese, using local Gippsland ingredients.

The quality journalism Calabro and Leeson (and their team of local contributors) are producing for Gippslandia has played a huge role in the attention Gippsland is now receiving, but even so, they’re reluctant to take too much credit.

“There’s always been things going on down here,” says Calabro. “There’s always been really solid businesses, really cool people trying to make things happen.”

“The hunger to find something new has meant people have all of a sudden looked to the southeastern side of the state,” adds Leeson. “There’s always been cool stuff happening here, but people just hadn’t tapped into it yet.”

From our perspective, the publication does more than raise awareness of the region. It ties Gippsland together. You can pore over a copy at the tasting room at Marcus Satchell’s Dirty Three Wines with a glass of Pinot; or over poached eggs and coffee at Tamsin Carvan’s new super-grocer, the Borough Dept. Store in Korumburra.

It’s intentional. “By thinking of Gippsland as a nation, we change the way we think about the place in terms of borders, of how the towns work together, and how things work across regions,” says Leeson.

By Anna Webster

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