It’s been another incredible year at THE Hungry Spirit in 2023!

We have enjoyed a variety of activities and interactions with mother nature and the sharing of time and space with new and long time friends. 

From the thousands of meals shared by Thai Sensations and Aunty Brenda and Jacqui to the regular monthly Open Mic nights which have been getting audiences 70+ we have filled our bellies and our spirits together.

It is our honor to steward this space, on the edge of the opal fields, and to see its use bring so much delight to those who come here continues to fuel our enthusiasm to continue.

Thanks to all who make it possible and give so much love through their contribution.


A Feast At THE Edge

With thanks to funding from Walgett Shire Council and support from Outback Arts we were able to host a fabulous event we called a Feast At THE Edge, hosted on 10th March 2023

With food by Aunty Brenda and Jacqui Frail and music by 

Logan Lohse

Garth Boulton

Warren Mason

Rebel Black

Lacey Hill 

Youth @The Edge – 11th and 12th April 2023

Baraygal Choir, Sydney Conservatorium of Music Students & Stiff Gins (April)

This was a fantastic blended experience with a hands-on workshop co-hosted by the team from Mona Vale Music who delivered our RODE podcasting gear with thanks to the NSW Government Youth at THE Edge Podcasting Project.

The workshop was designed to teach the use of the recording gear by recording a parallel workshop with Baraygal Choir and the students of Sydney Conservatorium where they prepared and sung a song called YAAMA.  This was recorded by the students with help from Gav, Joh, Luca and Felix! You can listen to it HERE

On the morning of the 12th April we also enjoyed sound and movement meditation by Warren and Donna Mason. 

This was followed by a brilliant performance at Tin Camp Studios by Warren Mason, Baraygal Choir and Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the Stiff Gins. 

It was a stunning evening and the music and the food was perfect.

We hosted 6 Open Mic nights with thanks to THE Edge Fest and Outback Arts we  were able to offer the winners of each evening a cash prize of $200 for the people’s choice!

We had such a variety of winners this year and it makes us very happy to see lots of young people getting involved!

  • Laitori Boney, Makayla McBride, Temia McBride and Ivy Boney! (April)
  • Gabriella (May)
  • Lily Kaluski (June)
  • Tess Kree (July)
  • Rayden (Aug)
  • Colby (Sept)


We also welcomed several special guest to the Open Mic nights

  • Out of Abingdon (May)
  • Warren Mason, Tin Camp Studios (June)
  • Billy Pitt (August)
  • Duncan Clark-Lazic + Rebel Black (July)
  • Clinton Hoy (Sept)
  • Brett Clark (Sept)


Each gave incredible performances and we are so appreciative of their support.

These nights are made possible thanks to funding from THE Edge Fest and Outback Arts.

We also say a huge THANK YOU to Aunty Brenda and Jacqui Frail who come and sell delicious food at these nights too.


Cacao Ceremony and Breathwork – 29th April 2023

Hypnotherapist Jessica Pidgeon hosted a Cacao Ceremony and Breathwork workshop in the Shed at THE Hungry Spirit in April. A small but anticipatory crowd gathered to enjoy the ritual and journey that comes with the cacao and breathwork combination.


Country Education Fund Event – 24th June 2023

We were excited to host the Country Education Fund event on a chilly winter’s evening with a delicious menu provided by Aunty Brenda and Jacqui that incorporated native flavours and good old fashioned home cooking. Guests were welcomed by Aunty Brenda in a traditional smoking ceremony and were entertained by the stories of the students they have supported over many years. They enjoyed talks by the fire. It was a lovely evening and by all accounts very successful for the CEF.


Jimmy Little Festival 10th & 11th June 2023

We were excited to encourage a few of our regular Open Mic participants to take the stage in the Jimmy Little Festival Talent Quest.. And Garth Boulton received high commendation – though it was a non-local who took out the event! It was wonderful for everyone to have the opportunity to take the big stage and have the experience! Well done to the organisers, it was a fantastic event and we hope it will happen again.


Church Group

For most of 2023 the Lightning Ridge Community Church hosted a monthly gathering at THE Hungry Spirit as a way to get together, share food, songs and scripture. It has been a very successful way for them to connect with families and friends outside of the church environment.



We were excited to host a mid-year graduation ceremony for the students who had completed their TAFE Certificate 1&2 Aboriginal Languages. It was a VERY special occasion and the students shared their knowledge of language through the singing of a song in Yuwalaraay. Thanks to the wonderful teacher Jacqui Frai!


Semi-Arid Syntropic Farming

We hosted 2 Syntropic Farming Workshops this year with 35 participants in total ranging in ages from 2-75+

Thanks to Penny Challinor for her support in the second workshop as all round helper and to Rossco and Paul for bringing their Regen Wealth crew for a special gathering blending agroforestry with wealth creation!

And of course a massive thanks to Thiago, our teacher and guide on this journey to creating forests in semi-arid Australia and exploring what works and what doesn’t. 

He is dedicated and passionate and goes above and beyond to ensure our project is working!


KINA partnership

We were absolutely thrilled to secure a partnership with KINA, a plastic offsets NFP that was keen to do more than just plant trees tokenistically! Our Syntropic project piqued their interest and they provided a contribution to the cost of planting 2000+ plants into our System in August 2023. You can read the report HERE we are looking forward to ongoing collaboration with KINA as we expand our forest systems.


Viral Video

As at the time of writing this fabulous video by Curiosity Mine had received 243,000 views + 488 comments + 5900 likes

Russell did a brilliant ob describing what Syntropic Agroforestry is and why and how it works, particularly in a semi-arid context! We’ve been really thrilled with the overwhelmingly positive response from the viewers and have been getting regular emails from people watching it and had people booking in for our 2024 Workshops!

There was some controversy on the message thread on youtube that related to the Dam… so Russell did a follow up video

Which has had 4100 viewers and 50 comments!

Thank you Curiosity Mine!

Pruning & PH

We had a fabulous visit from our friends Kim and Angus Deans who we always learn so much from – this time Angus gave us a pruning lesson which in turn gave us more confidence to do some heavy pruning on our mulberry, fig and citrus trees! We also did a bit of a soil testing experiment on the syntropic systems and the red soil bare earth sections and identified the impact of the alkaline water on the soil moves it from a 7 soil to an alkaline 9. We didn’t test the non irrigated systems to compare, next time! They also gave some great tips on transplanting seedlings into bigger pots before getting them in the ground and helped me transplant 35 kaffir lime trees destined for our Syntropic systems 1 & 2 at the August workshop!


We planted some awesome plants this year ranging from Kaffir Limes to hundreds of saltbush! Thanks to Kina’s support and our great suppliers – Jenny at Linwood Tress, Daley’s Nursery, Indigigrow and Grazing Management Solutions and Joe Walker who always drops in a few plants!

Podcasting Project

We were thrilled to partner with Outback Arts in the delivery of the Youth at THE Edge Podcasting project that was designed to support Lightning Ridge youth to activate their unique voice through the production of a Podcast.

With great support from Garth Boulton, Warren and Donna Mason and Victoria Lugovoy we were able to facilitate a range of experiences for the youth including workshops and pop up recording sessions at the school and Opal St Cafe. With guidance from Emma Hoy of Signal Creative we created 3 Podcast episodes taken from some recordings of the Open Mic and collections from the pop ups and workshops. 

You can listen to the Podcasts HERE

Local Coordinator

We ran a campaign to  recruit a Local Coordinator for Edge Fest activities in 2023, the Open Mic nights & the Podcasting project and when that didn’t succeed we were really excited that Garth Boulton offered to step into the fray and support, which he has done in spades. Garth is creative, supportive and fun..he has done a brilliant job at bringing new audiences to the Open Mic’s coming up with new solutions for the Podcast project, managing the sound/equipment, engaging young people to share their voice and generally being a brilliant advocate!

It’s been a delight to work with him and we value and appreciate his support immensely.

Accommodation – Superhost Status

Rebel reclaimed Superhost Status in 2023 + has been excited to achieve consistent 5Star reviews for all of the properties under management by THE Hungry Spirit.

We must note the incredible achievement by our fabulous housekeeper Stevie who goes above and beyond to ensure our guests are comfortable and happy!


Managed Properties

  • 30.7% occupancy rate 
  • 73% 5 star rating
  • 4.68 average rate
  • 99 nights
  • Approx 295 guests accommodated


HS Property

  • 94.1% 5 star rating
  • 4.94 average rate
  • 23.3% occupancy
  • 56 nights

Approx 112 guests accommodated

Approx 407 guests in total

Thai Food at Lightning Ridge

In their fourth year of operation, we enjoyed delicious traditional thai food from Top, Nuch, Pia and Roger. With no delivery this year the crowds at THE Hungry Spirit were bigger which was lovely to see, the sun was shining most days and the weather was delightful for sitting among the trees and with the birds to enjoy tasty thai!

Thank you to everyone who supports Thai Food by purchasing meals, they will return in 2024!

Recording at Tin Camp Studios

Along with the recordings being done for the Podcast, Rebel and Garth had some fun recording  backing tracks for Rebel’s songs with musician and part-time resident Duncan Clark-Lazic. The RODE gear worked well and Penny Clark-Lazic was able to make a great short video highlighting the process! We’re really keen to support more local people to record in the future, whether that be their songs, sounds, books or other audio things!

The Food

We harvested so many kilos of food, shared, prepared and preserved in all kinds of ways! It continues to bring such joy and delight to so many including our guests, visitors, friends and strangers who call in, to see an abundant garden in the outback.

Stats Snapshot


THE Hungry Spirit is operated as a Social Enterprise and we are proud of the direct contribution we make to the thriving of the Lightning Ridge cultural, social and economic life a snapshot of our contribution:

Thank you for sharing our space with us, we give a nod to the awesome people we frequently collaborate with – Warren & Donna, Jamie-Lea, Top, Nuch, Pia & Roger, Peter & Roy, Stevie, Thiago, Rossco, James, Garth, Victoria, Emma, Aunty Brenda, Jacqui, Joh, Gav, Felix & Luca, Kevin, Nardi, and Joe and those who have come as audience, supporters, contributors, performers and guests!
It takes a community and WOW what a blooming beautiful community we have!

Thank you!

If you haven’t come yet, you are welcome in 2024 and, may you bloom where you are,
Rebel & Michael