Denman W18 Masthead 2

15 Women to Watch in 2015

Amanda Whitley

I published my first magazine when I was 11. It was called ‘Wombat’ and had a circulation of about 12 – the size of my Year Six class in a small country public school.

Tarcutta girls didn’t dream of being magazine editors…they had more sensible ambitions, such as teaching or nursing. But, for some reason, print always had my heart. My career took me to many different places – from fashion and beauty PR in Sydney to citrus marketing in regional NSW, to the Australian Public Service. But now, some 20 years after I gave up on the fantasy of being in magazines, it’s becoming reality. Scroll to the base of the article to find out where to get your hands on a copy…

The centrepiece of this first edition is our ’15 Women to Watch for 2015′. Last Sunday 8 March was International Women’s Day; and we had the idea to do something to mark this occasion. That idea grew and grew until it became a two-day photoshoot, and then a feature for a magazine, and then also in-depth articles and videos on HerCanberra which will be rolled out over the next three weeks. We don’t like to do things by halves…

In a city of amazing women, choosing just 15 women from a diverse range of professions to acknowledge was incredibly tough. But the women who we chose to celebrate have not only already achieved great things; we think that 2015 will be their time to shine. These are our 15 women to watch.

Stay tuned over the coming weeks for their individual stories…


The Maker

The child of an artist and a scientist, Nellie Peoples’ early memories are of walls covered in art and exotic objects from her parents’ travels. It’s little surprise, then, that design was to become her enduring passion.

First studying architecture, a five-month “European adventure of self-discovery” led to her decision to study Gold and Silversmithing at the Australian National University, a move that has seen her exhibit internationally, and winning the inaugural DesignCBR Designcraft Craft + Design Award.

With a studio/workspace on the agenda for 2015, and a goal to expand-ing her practice nationally, there are beautiful things in store for this Canberra creative.



The Publisher

At the tender age of 25, she’s already been Editor-in-Chief of Lip Magazine and last year took the leap to found her own publication, Feminartsy — a space which explores gender through personal stories and creativity.

Migrating to Australia at age three, Zoya Patel’s life hasn’t been without cultural challenges; but she’s proud to have overcome these to carve her own path.

True to form, she’s got big plans for 2015: she’s writing a memoir, is one class away from finishing her Masters degree, and has plans to host a ‘feminist conference’ later in the year. ‘Spare time’ just isn’t on her radar.



The Communicator

She’s come a long way since Delta Goodrem tried to get her fired for purchasing the wrong brand of herbal tea for her dressing room stash. These days, in her role as Director of Corporate Relations and Communications at YWCA Canberra, Joanna Allebone, is working towards a ‘world where reconciliation, justice, peace, health, human dignity, freedom and care for the environment are promoted and sustained through women’s leadership’.

It’s a role that is bringing Jo’s dreams of “telling important community stories, and making the world a better place” to life, as well as benefitting the women in her own backyard.



The Market-ers

They say the best ideas are born from necessity. For Tegan McAuley and Belinda Neame, it was a lack of opportunities for Canberra’s creators (in fashion, food, music and more) that fed the initial spark.

As the creators of Hustle&Scout and The Forage, they’ve shaken up the traditional market format and created one of Canberra’s ‘must do’ events, bursting out of their original New Acton digs in an explosion of colour, sounds and flavour. Never a pair to rest on their laurels, 2015 is set to bring new initiatives – and that can only be good news for us.



The Trailblazer

As a fashion design student, she showcased a collection for men and women on the runway at Sydney Fashion Week, and there’s been no looking back for Corr Blimey’s Louisa de Smet.

One of the stalwarts of the Canberra fashion industry, Louisa’s bespoke pieces are often created out of precious and limited runs of fabric. She will always be on a mission to stand out in a market saturated with mass-produced clothing.

Her love of design inspires her to create pieces that are not ‘mere garments’ but ‘wearable, functional sculptures for the human form’. It doesn’t get more stylish than that.



The Wild Child

She’s perhaps best recognised for her prowess on the cricket pitch with the ACT Meteors, but there’s a lot more to Sally Moylan than an impressive off-spin. Her childhood dream of becoming a ‘wildlife warrior’ has taken flight, after she was recently recognised as the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student of the Year at the ACT Training Excellence Awards for her studies in horticulture, conservation and land management.

Juggling full time work, study and national cricket is no mean feat but the 26 year-old approaches it with an infectious enthusiasm. It’s that quality that will ensure she’s a winner wherever life takes her.



The Triple Threat

They’re a triple threat in the truest sense of the word, and their sweet harmonies are as arresting as their faces. Canberra born and bred, music is in their blood, expressing itself as a smooth fusion of jazz, pop, folk and soul.

Having gathered a following for their reimagined covers, 2015 will be the year that Kirrah Amosa, Amy Jenkins and Jacqui Douglas pursue their dream of singing – and recording – original music. Remember the name – we think Kaleid will be the next.big.thing.



The Advocate

It’s a big call, changing the perception of a city that many Australians associate with ‘politicians and roundabouts’…but Heidi Stratford is confident, bold, and ready for the challenge.

To her, Canberra’s secret weapon is a passion and belief in itself, and that’s the cornerstone of the Brand CBR project- tapping into community sentiment and telling the world what we already know about the city we live in. With the title of ‘coolest little capital’ in her sites, and a ‘We are CBR’ Army ready to go forth, the future looks bright indeed.



The Survivor

Kylie Travers life has been one of extreme highs and lows. She’s a published author, international public speaker and blogger who was an ACT finalist for 2015 Young Australian Of The Year.

She’s also a fighter, surviving domestic violence, rape, robbery and homeless-ness as a single mum of two, and has overcome borderline personality disorder to create a stable life for her family.

Moving forward, she wants to help others who have found themselves in similar situations, change perceptions of homelessness and domestic violence, and create a better future for our children. For Kylie, it’s personal.



The Patriot

How does a Queenslander, born and bred, become one of Canberra’s most vocal advocates? For Tara Cheyne, it’s as simple as embracing what the city has to offer.

The 28 year-old Chair of the Belconnen Community Council is serious about making Canberra – and especially her beloved ‘Belco’ – the best it can be; and she’s leading the charge armed with savvy social media skills.

Whether it’s with her blog, community work or her professional life, this is one young woman whose future is as bright as her signature hair.



The Innovator

Ask Michelle Melbourne what she does, and she’ll tell you she’s ‘just an IT nerd’…she’s so much more. A bit over 20 years ago, she and her husband Phillip Williamson founded Intelledox, a digitalisation software company; it now employs 35 people internationally and took out the top prize at the 2014 Telstra Australian Capital Territory Business of the Year Awards.

Although Intellidox has offices in Singapore, Toronto, New York and London, Michellle still calls Canberra home, running the business from its Fyshwick headquarters. Her proudest moment? Donating the $1 million Infiniti software back to her alma mater, the Australian National University, to enable them to become a digital leader.



The Game Changer

It’s one thing to grow up with ‘curing cancer’ as a life goal…it’s another thing entirely to actually do it. But that’s what Dr Sudha Rao, Associate Professor (Molecular & Cellular Biology) at the University of Canberra, is on the verge of doing.

Her latest work is developing therapy to prevent cancer recurrence, with clinical development imminent; a breakthrough that is set to have a massive impact on the quality of people’s lives worldwide, especially women with aggressive breast cancer and ovarian cancer. This is one woman who’s set to make waves worldwide.



The Politician

She came ‘thisclose’ to the ACT Legislative Assembly in 2012, only being pipped at the post by Simon Corbell, whose retained his spot on preferences. Now, after the shuffling of cards in the wake of Katy Gallagher’s departure, she’s taken up the reins as the new member for Molonglo.

A passionate Gungahlinite, the mum-of-three is as comfortable talking playgrounds as she is transport policy, and brings a refreshing normalcy to the Government. Sounds like our kind of politician.



The Merrymakers

Their irrepressible energy and enthusiasm has seen them quit their jobs in the Australian Public Service to follow their bliss, taking them to places they’ve never dreamed. The Merrymaker Sisters have blogged their way though New York City and shared the stage with Chef Pete Evans, their paleo philosophy reaching nearly 90 000 people online each month.

For Carla and Emma Papas, ‘merrymaking’ is a way of life, and they’re on a mission to inspire others to health and happiness. With a smartphone app in development, world domination is surely only a smile away.



The Entrepreneur

She escaped childhood tragedy to buy her first business at age 19, and hasn’t looked back. This natural entrepreneur now owns two hair salons and recently melded her Aboriginal heritage and business knowledge to create Dilkara Essence Of Australia – the first ever range of hair care products utilising native Australian ingredients.

International distribution is in the works, but Julie’s dreams don’t end there. Her goal for 2015 is to establish Dilkara Hair Academy – Australia’s first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Hairdressing Academy. This is a businesswoman with heart.


Find out more about our Women to Watch

From Monday, we’ll be rolling out a new article and video each weekday, allowing you to get to know our Women to Watch a little better. We’ll kick off with Nellie on Monday. Stay tuned!

About ‘Magazine’

I have loved bringing you every day for the past four years, but putting this magazine together has been a truly invigorating experience…and that’s because it’s been a true team effort from start to finish. Its pages feature the work of some incredibly talented writers, photographers, stylists, make up artists, hair stylists, designers and more. It has been a labour of love, and it has been an experience I will treasure for the rest of my life.

For us, this publication represents everything that is great about this city we live in, and we are so proud to bring it to you. It’s a magazine that celebrates Canberra – its people, its culture, its food, its creatives and much more.

Where can I get a copy?

So far, you can find it at:

Shop Handmade in the City

Assemblage Project in Braddon

38 Espresso on Kingston Foreshore

Bittersweet in Kingston

Canberra Centre

Book Passion at Belconnen Markets

Timber & Tailor in Braddon

Brazilian Butterfly, Canberra City

Canberra Theatre Centre

MEKI Hair in Bruce.

Are you interested in stocking magazine at your business?

Just drop us a line at [email protected] and let us know how many copies, and we’ll sort it out for you!


Photography by Lori Cicchini – Loriana Fotografia. Make up by Ali Price Makeup. Hair by Angela Pavlovic of Kosa Studio. Clothing from Canberra Centre.


Amanda Whitley

Amanda Whitley is the founder and director of HerCanberra. In her 'spare time', she instructs zumba, loves to cook (and eat), and wrangles two gorgeous little girls. She's done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign and is passionate about connecting Canberra women. More about the Author

  • Geoff Skilleter

    I reckon Amanda Whitley should be in this first edition, not as publisher, but as ‘#1 in the ’15 Women to Watch in 2015’! Congrats on a magnificent achievement!

    • Hear hear! What an amazing woman and such an asset to the Canberra community.

  • Lisa Berriman

    Such amazing women! Massive congratulations on the magazine. Amanda you certainly are on that list too 🙂

  • Nina Downes

    Congratulations Amanda – this is such an incredible step for you and the team! What an amazing Canberran woman YOU are!

  • I agree A you totally make the list (and congrats on your newest mag publishing debeut) x

  • Trish Smith

    Congratulations Amanda. I love hearing stories that start with “I’ve wanted to do this my whole life…” I can’t wait to get my copy!

  • Liz Posmyk

    Hearty congratulations Amanda.

  • Mikaela

    Amazing! I love that Emma and Carla just couldn’t help but smile 😉 can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!