Photograph donated to the Chapel Hill State School Silent Auction by Katische Haberfield

Chapel Hill State School Fete

There’s nothing more rewarding than giving back to the community that supports you and your family.  Which is why I am excited to announce my Gold sponsorship of the Chapel Hill State School Fete this year. I’ve donated three of my hugely popular Autumn leaf photographic canvases from the ‘wonderment’ collection to the silent auction. Visit the auction site here to place your bid. 100% of the proceeds go to the school, this year the goal is to upgrade and improve the playgrounds and sporting fields at the school to meet the demands of the growing number of students (up 30% over the past few years).

The three photographs up for auction are:


“Fifty Shades of Autumn”. Photograph taken in Stanthorpe.

Inner Glow

“Inner Glow”

Photograph donated to the Chapel Hill State School Silent Auction by Katische Haberfield

“Suddenly I see”

Be quick- place your bid today! The auction ends September 4th at 10:00pm.

The fete is on Saturday 5th September- details can be found here.






Words of Wanderlust


Words of Wanderlust- on

Words of Wanderlust- on

Today I’m honoured to be featured as a travel writer and photographer on the Words of Wanderlust blog by Au Revoir Travel website. Click here to read my interview with Cherie.

P.S Check out the travel journals whilst you’re there… did I mention I have a birthday coming up in oh, 160 days? If you’re stuck for a gift, a travel pack would be tops, as I’m heading off to Bruny Island in Tasmania…just joking, oh no really, a travel candle would be nice…


The power of transformational travel


Today I’m excited to launch the first of a new series of blogs on transformational travel. Recently I’ve been reflecting about what I want to achieve on this blog. My friend Sarah Duncan of Sarepa asked me to define my intention:

My intention is to inspire you to make conscious choices about your life enabling you to live with purpose and intention. When we live with purpose and intention we colour outside the box, become creative and open our eyes to the wonder of life. By doing this, we live a life that is meaningful to us, we decide how we wish to be of service to the world, and exit with a lasting legacy. 

As a part of achieving this, I will be introducing you to some inspiring people who have either traveled intentionally, or followed their passions to create a career that is meaningful to them. Today, to launch the series on transformational and intentional travel, I’m very excited to introduce to you my wonderful friend Amanda.


Amanda Cassar: Photo by Katische Haberfield

We met last September at the Business Chicks Gwinganna retreat. (You can read about it here) Since then I’ve caught up with a couple of times, including once when I was privileged to be invited in to photograph her home. Since then she’s raised $10,000 and gone on a transformational trip to Uganda to learn how one organisation “The Hunger Project” is empowering people to change their lives.

I asked Amanda if she would reflect on her journey to Uganda and the lessons she learnt. I hope you find it as inspiring as I have.


A transformational trip to Uganda

I had always wanted to travel, for as long as I can remember; starting with learning about exotic faraway places in Social Studies and Geography classes in primary school.

The story of Pompeii fascinated me.  Paris sounded romantic and wonderful.  The United States screamed adventure and Europe oozed history!  So many places to visit!  And such a big world to see!

My parents certainly weren’t globetrotters by any means and my first overseas trip was my honeymoon to Hawaii. This was the first of many marital compromises – I wanted the U.S.A. and he wanted the Islands – with Hawaii, we both got what we wanted.  And although the travel bug was firmly planted, two babies came along quickly and I had a business to grow and houses to build.

We managed a couple of Asian trips and Pacific Island getaways with the family, but it wasn’t until 2009 that my travels began in earnest with a trip to the United States with my sister.  We did Los Angeles, Michigan and New York and I was hooked!


Souvenir in Amanda’s kitchen from her travels to Paris. Photograph: Katische Haberfield

Since then, there’s been lots of travel, with friends, solo and with the family.  Bucket list places have been ticked.  Pompeii is as fascinating as I thought.  Paris is as wonderful as I’d imagined, the States have been full of adventure and Europe did drip history from every cobblestone, museum and church.

More recently China, Malaysia, Bali, Dubai and South Africa have been added to the list of ticks, but it’s one country that had never jumped out and grabbed me, begging to go on my list, that has had the biggest impact on me personally.   Uganda.

I was privileged to apply for and be selected in the Business Chicks Leadership & Immersion Program in May, 2015 to this eastern African nation that straddles the Equator.

My knowledge of Uganda at that stage was limited to, but included a history that involved Idi Amin and human rights abuses, civil war, pictures of malnourished children and the home of some of the last mountain gorillas.  After that, I was pretty clueless.

Our arrival saw us fly in to Entebbe on the edge of Lake Victoria and then drive an hour into the capital city of Kampala.  It was around a 30 hour trip door to door.

The rich red fertile dirt was sprouting with banana tree crops.  Paw paws and jackfruit trees lined the way.  Market stalls were established along the main roads selling ball gowns, bed frames, fruit and mattresses.  Children actually did roll bicycle wheels with sticks along the roadside.  And everywhere, it was busy!

Beautiful dark skins and hair, brightly coloured clothes, big blue African skies and a hive of activity were our entry to this amazing country.  I think every place has its own unique smells and scents.  For me, Uganda is the smell of the dirt, so earthy; and the smoky fires constantly burning… and maybe a dash of armpit…


Photo courtesy of Amanda Cassar

In conjunction to working in with The Hunger Project (THP,) we were shown a side of Uganda that not many tourists ever get to see.  And some of the locals, had never met white visitors before either!  As part of the program, the 16 women attending had to raise a minimum of $10, 000 each for this incredible cause, and we got to see firsthand where the fruits of our labours and those who so kindly donated, were directed.

And then, after a couple of days settling in, being spoiled by international buffets, cute chefs, spa treatments and hotel life, we jumped on a bus and headed southwest for about five hours.  We were finally going to meet the people.


Photograph courtesy of Amanda Cassar

Brass band fanfares welcomed the “Chicks of the Business Kind” when we travelled to the various epicentres set in place by The Hunger Project and the smiles of welcome were genuine and large.  Children and adults alike danced and sang in welcome, local politicians gave speeches for us and the women showed off their handicrafts with pride.  It was very special and completely overwhelming.  A total rock star welcome, and although inspiring, I felt a little undeserving.

We learned how none of the changes wrought in the community would have ever been possible without a complete change of mindset.

Uganda has now had generations of war, murders, hunger and poverty.  The team from The Hunger Project work with local communities and help them to see that change is possible, it can be real and that the people living these lives can overcome these hurdles themselves.  They are the key to ending chronic persistent hunger – and it can and is being done.

Those who had embraced the key pillars of The Hunger Project were living positive, empowered lives, making a difference to their immediate and extended families and to their communities.  Functional adult literacy classes meant parents could now proudly sign documents.  Children had clothes, school uniforms and shoes.  Parents were taught to save and apply for small loans to improve their lot through rural banks or SACCO (Savings and Credit Co-Operatives.)  Nutrition lessons are provided, best agriculture practices taught and health centres are available for AIDS testing, midwives and nurses were on hand, baby weighing is done and consultations are accessible.  Husbands bragged about their empowered wives who were now partners with them, instead of just another mouth to feed.


Photograph courtesy of Amanda Cassar

But that’s not all we saw.  There’s those who are too proud to change their ways and learn something new.  There’s some too ashamed to admit their ignorance.  There’s those who live too far from an epicentre to get there for education and there’s those, who just don’t want to know.

And for them, the despair is still there, and it’s real.  Their children still sport the large swollen bellies we recognise from years of relief organisation campaigns.  They have thin, frail limbs, lightened hair, sores, runny noses and go to bed hungry.

And then we became frustrated and angry.  It was a hard road to travel.

Why couldn’t we help the people who we’d met and had impacted on our lives?  Those who’d invited us into their modest homes and shared their stories with us.

Why couldn’t I directly give Eveline some money to send her children to school?  Eveline’s husband abandoned the family when their third child was 9 months old, selling everything including the mattress before leaving and never returning.  She has terrible allergies and syphilis and earns around $1 per day tending the fields of others for up to 8 hours.  She stays up all night to brew a local form of alcohol to supplement her income.  She can’t afford school supplies, let alone her medicine… And the unfairness drove me crazy.  I had two months’ wages for her in my purse floating around as spare change.  I just didn’t get it… yet.

Eveline waving at Amanda.

Eveline waving at Amanda.

Photo courtesy Amanda Cassar

Photo courtesy Amanda Cassar

I shared my concerns and upset with my fellow travellers and the local Hunger Project staffers, and their confidence and determination were refreshing.  At present, they impact around 1-2% of the population, but to those thousands, they’re having an enormous effect.

Word is spreading and more want to become involved.  I needed to get over myself and my ambitious desire to ‘save them all’ and now.

I’d never been so confronted and felt so useless, yet learned so much.

The resilience of those who had turned their lives around through a simple change in mindset shone in their beautiful smiles.  I do have the trust that there are a lot of good people doing their absolute best to assist their fellow countrymen who can make the best decisions about where the investor dollars flow.  Handouts cannot achieve this.  They need to have a vision of what the future can look like, commit to that, and learn how to act to make it a reality.

I know now, that I can spread the word of the great work that this charity does in giving a ‘Hand Up’ rather than a ‘Hand Out.’

My business allows me the freedom to travel, to be able to gift time and money to devote to the things that are important to me.

The lessons learnt in rural Uganda have impacted me deeply.  Most trips I’ve been on before have been ‘transactional’ rather than ‘transformational.’  I went there, took the pics and bought the T-shirt.  Great memories.  Uganda provided great impact.

I can no longer ask ‘I wonder what the poor people are doing?’  I know.  I’ve been there.  I’ve sat in their dirt, windowless homes on the mud floors and heard their stories.  This in turn has provided a clarity.


Photograph courtesy of Amanda Cassar

I’ve always enjoyed what I do.  As a financial adviser I get to also impact people’s lives for the better.  When things go pear-shaped, I’ve set up protection strategies that can assist financially.  I can make that holiday a reality.  I can assist in making retirement a better place.  How cool is that!?

I’ve also joined the Qld Development Board of the Hunger Project and can be part of a charitable form of giving that I know has an end in mind.  THP aim to end world hunger by 2030.  (And I thought I was ambitious!)

Now, being able to give back and contribute in a meaningful way gives me a greater and enhanced enjoyment for what I do.  Perspective is a beautiful and ever changing thing.  I’m very grateful that I haven’t needed to lose a limb, be in a tragic accident, survive horrific circumstances or test my endurance beyond what’s considered humanly possible to have the deep gratitude for the many experiences that I’ve been so privileged to be part of.

If you ever get to be a part of something like this, please put your hand up and jump in feet first.  Think about the logistics later.  You’ll take away so much more than you ever could have given.


Photograph courtesy of Amanda Cassar

To find out more about Amanda’s trip, and how you could be involved with the Hunger Project,  you can contact Amanda at or via the following details below.


T: 07 5593 0855 M: 0410 455 158

Share Amanda’s story with your friends by clicking on the social media icons below 🙂

The colours of autumn

There’s something magical about the golden colours of autumn. The bright reds and greens which over time fade into rustic colours before they drop to the ground. Living in Brisbane we don’t experience the dramatic changes in season. There is a Maple Leaf tree in our street, but to experience the real colours of autumn, you need to travel somewhere colder.  Stanthorpe is a perfect location for this.

I highly recommend that you call the Visitor Information Centre before going, to ensure that the leaves are still on the trees. A three hour trip is a long way to go if they have already fallen…  1800 SO COOL is their phone number.

Copyright- Katische Haberfield

Quart Pot Creek, Stanthorpe. Copyright- Katische Haberfield


Copyright- Katische Haberfield

Copyright- Katische Haberfield

Copyright- Katische Haberfield

Copyright- Katische Haberfield



Wish me luck. I just entered the 2015 Travel Writing scholarship competition run by World Nomads and Lonely Planet.

The 3 scholarship recipients will receive:

  • A 3-day custom travel writing course in San Francisco with mentor and Lonely Planet author John Vlahides
  • A 10-day road trip across the U.S. (including a $3000 USD stipend to spend on food, transport, activities and accommodation)
  • Round-trip airfare from your country of residence to San Francisco, CA
  • Travel insurance for the duration of the trip from World Nomads

To view my entry “exposed” click on the following link.

Thanks to Shannon, Koel and Michael for their travel tips for where I should travel to, should I win, and also to Steph for reading the article prior to submission.

Katische xx


In the photo I am fifteen. My eyes are cast downwards, a little embarrassed. She stands beside me looking ahead, smiling. We have the same colour brown hair. Hers is short and densely packed with tightly coiled curls. Mine is cut in a bob.

I wear a maroon fake Adidas polo shirt, made in china, buttoned to the very top. It’s a new purchase from Moresby, where pirate t-shirts and cassette tapes provide local Chinese businesspeople with income, and over-privileged boarding school teenagers like me wear them as a badge of honor when we return to school.

She’s not wearing a shirt. Mud has been painted over her breasts. This is the source of my discomfort.

I’m not used to seeing the public display of breasts. I feel embarrassed for her. I imagine what it would be like for me to be standing next to a stranger, partly clothed, being photographed by men. The men are my father and uncle, but to her they are strangers.

Behind us, visible in the photo is her house. Her family makes hers from thatched straw and wood. It stands high on stilts for protection when the river rises, and to keep them safe from predatory animals at night. Anyone who pays to go on the tour can come to her village, and poke their nose into her house.

Mine is a modern apartment in a high-rise complex surrounded by high fences topped with barbed wire. Guards stand at my gate, and only those who live there are allowed to enter.

She fears evil spirits, but is comfortable with ritual and communicating with the dead. I’m afraid of being seen as a looser or a nerd, and the only person I’ve ever lost was my Nanna. Death is not yet something I want to talk about.

She lives in Ambiwarra along the Sepik River. I live in Port Moresby on the school holidays, and Brisbane during the school term.

At this point in time, I discover, that wherever you travel, there you are. We bring with us all of our beliefs and baggage. It is with time and experience that we can enjoy being confronted by new situations and new discoveries about how others live their lives, and realize, that there is nothing to compare. It just is.

Travel opens your eyes and clears the layers of first world privilege. The more uncomfortable it makes you feel, the greater the change on your psyche, the more aware you are of the gifts of your birth. Twenty-four years later, I will post this photo on my website. It will be the journey that I identify as the source of my life long travel bug.


The healing power of holidays

I do not need to be convinced that holidays are important for the mental health of my family. I only have to look back at our photographs to see the joy in the subtle movements of my children, and the expressions on their faces. Everything that seemed too hard, becomes ok with a bit of distance and perspective. Even kids who couldn’t drag themselves to school a minute longer suddenly get a zest for life that is contagious. Holidays are a precious investment into the health and well being of my family. They’re not sacred, they’re a staple.

untitled (36 of 491)

untitled (94 of 491)

These photos were taken at Seven Mile Beach at Lennox Heads, in New South Wales at Easter.





Escape to the country

Mallow Cottage Stanthorpe

Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt

The nights are getting cooler, and retailers are trying to convince us it is time to rug up in winter woolies, despite the unusually warm weather we are experiencing in Brisbane. As soon as it gets cool, I start dreaming of getaways that involve log fires, red wine and doing nothing.

The Granite Belt region, and the town of Stanthorpe is the perfect location for this- two and a half hours drive from Brisbane. With the Autumn upon us, the leaves will start changing colours and it will hit peak accommodation season in the region.

We hit the road with our dog over the New Years Break, seeking solitude, a location that would accept a pet and a new adventure. It had been at least a decade since our last visit to the region and despite the easy access to restaurants and wineries, we just wanted to chill. Our taxing holiday wish list was to read books, eat good food, and pull out the cameras when we were inspired.

sunflowers Allora

To start our journey we visited the famous Sunflower fields of Allora, and ran into a number of other Instagrammers who were there to do exactly the same – capture the illusive photo. As luck had it, the Sunflowers were about to be harvested and had lost their petals, however it made for a stunning stop regardless.

The road past Mallow Cottages Stanthorpe

Mallow Cottage has its own private entrance on the property and is fully fenced to ensure the safety of your pet or children. There is no wifi and minimal phone reception, so you can truly disconnect and enjoy the moment, your partner and your surroundings. Helen the owner checked on us each day to see if there was anything we needed, but otherwise left us to enjoy the peace. We ordered a pack of organic lamb chops and sausages to cook on the bbq and enjoyed dining on the verandah.

Sheep Stanthorpe

The free range pasture feeding and certified organic farming practices and care for the welfare (there is no mulesing) certainly agrees with the sheep. And we’re not the only people to think so- Mallow Organic Lamb was a Medalist in the Paddock section of ABC’s Delicious Magazine’s Produce Award in 2012. The camera’s got a workout, and the books stayed beside the bed.

Shearing Shed- Stanthorpe

Helen invited us to wander the property at our leisure. Mallow Cottages is a photographic heaven. Black cockatoos, Willy wagtails, kookaburras and butterflies galore visited us.  Not to mention the resident sheep. The property is a working organic lamb farm, complete with historic shearing shed, which was a Cobb and Co stop and a pub to name a few things.

Shearing Shed Stanthorpe

The cottage itself is a delight, tastefully renovated in a style sympathetic to its farmhouse origins, using where possible sustainable or salvaged materials and furnishings. This is line with Helen and Andrew’s philosophy of ‘creating a lighter footprint’.

Secret Lake House Stanthorpe

Near the dam is a secret summerhouse, which although we didn’t use it, would be a fantastic place to watch the colours of the afternoon golden hour, whilst relaxing with a bottle of wine. During our time we were treated to spectacular sunsets over the dam, and a storm, which brought magical clouds and freshness to the country air.

Sunset Stanthorpe

Two of our three days were spent relaxing and exploring the property, and New Year’s day we ventured out to explore the historic Wallangarra Railway station on the border of Qld and NSW and the Boonooboonoo falls near Tenterfield.

Wallangarra Historic Railway Station

We were so taken by the property we didn’t get a chance to explore Stanthorpe or its wineries. Stanthorpe is a fantastic spot to escape the searing heat of summer, due to its elevation, however, we look forward to returning to stoke up the fire and enjoy the chill of a proper winter.



The writer and her partner stayed at Mallow Cottages and Organic Farm at their own expense. They have fallen in love with the property and the owners, not to mention the lambs and will be back with their kids as soon as possible.

From $327 per night for all three bedrooms, or just $ 192 for the one bedroom for a romantic escape. ( We booked through



Lake Ainsworth

Lake Ainsworth is a gorgeous place to relax, swim and photograph at Lennox Head, New South Wales, Australia.

Lake Ainsworth

It’s so quiet at sunrise that you can hear the sound of the water rippling on the lake. My favourite time of the day.  (Click on images to enlarge)

Lake Ainsworth

Images: Lake Ainsworth, Lennox Head, NSW, Australia.

Lake Ainsworth

Dreaming of Gwinganna

Travelling through life with a camera

I need to escape regularly. Working from a home office, I need to get out on the weekends and inject some fresh air and life into my blood. I find travelling an easy way to do this. When I bring my camera along with me, I find that I stop more, and really take in my surroundings. I look for textures and colours, for the shapes in the clouds, and the everyday things that make me laugh. I look for the things that other people walk past.

The following photos are from a recent trip to Sydney’s eastern suburbs.