Sharing the living art of storytelling   Phone Jenni 0403 328 643

First ‘Stories in the Club: Drawn from Life’ for 2018 and a record crowd

Written on February 12, 2018

We attracted a capacity crowd last night with all 140 chairs taken! Forty people had to sit on the tables, the only thing left to sit on. There were 180-200 people all together. Athol Compton, traditional Minyunbul custodian of the First Light people (Bunjalung), gave welcome and told a beautiful version of ‘The Three Brothers’. Behind him is John Allan’s very fresh painting of the Wadjina (painted for our gathering), which was shared with John by elders of the Kimberley, the Sunset people.


Minyunbul custodian, Athol Compton gives Welcome to Country and tells ‘The Three Brothers’.

Dr Mary Gardner, marine biologist and ecological historian, writes regularly for the Echo. She told a new style of true animal story, ‘The True Story of the World Oyster’. She began by asking ‘Is the world an oyster or is the oyster a world?’ Then she gradually and poetically answered her question. She ended by getting us to stand up and sign up to join ‘The World Oyster Liberation Front.’

Simon Richardson, Byron’s Mayor was once a dreadlock-wearing, fire-twirling environmentalist participating in direct actions. He told a beautiful story called ‘The Chant that Calmed the Mob’- the tale of the power of the circle and the power of nature. He ended by leading us to sing the chant in the story. Many in the audience knew it very well, as there were many experienced campaigners present, including Bobbi Allan, John Allan’s wife and Katrina Shields who amoung many other environmental actions, brought Joanna Macy to Australia.

Byron Mayor, Simon Richardson

Byron Mayor, Simon Richardson

Jim Tait, environmental scientist and consultant, Mullumbimby local, husband Dad and pantheist told ‘Mangi bilong cuntrisid’, the tale of a bush kid from Papua New Guinea who became an environmental scientist and subsequently a pantheist and of his hopes and fears for the future. He was very passionate and allowed himself to reveal the emotion a scientist and father feels as they monitor and report on an environment they love so deeply as it becomes degraded, and the feelings when his children ask him, “What do you really think Dad?”.

John Allan and Harry Brown shared a story they had been taught and given permission to share: the story of the origin of the Wunnan ..the Sharing System from the Wandjina country in The Kimberly. The story had story traces, picked up or the last 25 or 30 years, from Arnhem Land and Central Australia. John painted the spectacular backdrop we had on the stage of the Wadjina, which the elders had shared with him and given John permission to share and teach.

Lastly, I (Jenni Cargill-Strong) told the story ‘The Bird with the Most Beautiful Song’, a tale developed by US storyteller, Laura Simms from a short, simple story from the Mbuti (BaMbuti or pygmy) people. The Mbuti live deep within the Ituri Forest, which is at the heart of the Congo jungle. I was accompaIMG_4716nied by my friend, Lynton Francois Burger who played an mbira, an instrument played in the Congo. The mbira he played has quite a story behind it too. It was given to him by his father and was made in South Africa by a prisoner on death row from flattened nails and a wood scrap. I had been working on the story for about five years and finally evolved the new improved version in the days before ‘Stories in the Club’, with the help of Lynton and Mitchell from my writers group, the Byron Bay Inklers. (I had bought the dress I wore on Sunday four years ago, specifically to wear for that story, but it had taken me four years to get the courage to wear it, as it is backless. Before the concert a woman came into the ladies where I was checking my hair and said, “That dress evokes the birds of some deep jungle.” “Correct!” I replied.) The story tells of the importance of a magical bird who brings the rain whenever she is made an offering of food, song, dance or story. In the story, we repeatedly made a refrain ‘and the rain came down: sweet, blessed rain.’

To finish the evening my beautiful friend, Biodanza teacher Jazmin Tassell, lead us in a dance I adore- Shambalayla. As we dance, we make gestures to thank and honour ourselves, the earth, the cosmos and heavens, then each other- our community.

John Allan said later, ‘The last times I made a big Wandjina, rain, storms, lightning or big gusts of wind happened.’

When we left the club, a gentle blessed rain was falling and as I drove home I stopped to photograph the enormous double rainbow that had formed over Mullum! Nature indeed responded to our songs, stories and dances! Big thanks to everyone who helped to make it such a magical night.
More photo’s at the ‘Stories in the Club’ FB page and at Flickr.


OCTOBER Stories in the Club

Written on October 18, 2017

October Stories in the Club

On a beautiful October afternoon in Mullumbimby, the hall adorned with John Allan’s spectacular, fragrant orchids evoking Spring, a crowd of 100 sat still and silent, as they were regaled with five powerful and diverse stories from Gabby le Brun of The Cassettes, Death walker Zenith Virago, Ngara member Paul Josif, Pathways to Manhood facilitator John Imbrogno and storyteller, Jenni Cargill-Strong.

Zenith, Virago, Paul Josif, John Imbrogno, Gabby le Brun and Jenni Cargill-Strong told ‘Stories of Place and Stories of Hope and Trust’ to a hundred warm-hearted story lovers. Abhirami said she heard a new comer to the shire say, ‘If someone wants to know what Byron is really about, this is it.’

I lead a tree visualisation, sang my song ‘Stories to Light the Dark’ which the audience joined in with and told my original story, ‘Goldenheart’.

Gabby le Brun of the Byron Bay Writer’s Festival and member of the Cassettes told ‘IFO’, the tragicomic tale of not heeding warnings, of showing off, of friendship, of doing stupid things in your 40’s and a wake up call. Gabby brought her tale to life with involved roller skates, X-rays and a striptease to boob tube and shorts.

John Imbrogno, a senior facilitator for a variety of rites of passage programs as well as men’s behaviour change programs told ‘The Genie in the Bottle’.

Paul Josif of the Ngara Institute who worked for many years in health in Aboriginal communities in northern Australia and told of the transformative experience of being 18 and getting the job of assisting on a documentary called “The Last Hunt’ of the Pintubi people in the Western desert.

Zenith Virago, ended the story afternoon, taking us very deep. Many people were moved to tears, as she shared a tale about what death teaches about living life to the fullest, not missing those moments when life offers you something big!

BIG THANKS to my dear friend and artist Georgia Whiley for taking the majority of these fabulous shots with my camera! John 2

PJ hands down

Jenni McGabby roller skates 1

Joyality with Jenni in Mullum

Written on October 16, 2017
joyality circle

My first Joyality Circle as participant with Dr Eshanna Bragg and Rachel Taylor

Do you ever feel overwhelmed or disempowered by the state of the world? I have- intensely and often. Last year, this feeling collided with a personal challenge I was having with someone very close to me. I became quite depressed and unwell and lost my ordinarily strong motivation and direction.

I felt like a butterfly flapping frantically to avoid the oncoming windscreen, which was hurtling towards not just me, but my children and indeed every creature on this exquisite planet. Then I was invited by my friend Dr Eshanna Bragg to join one of her first Joyality Circles.

The Joyality Program is Resilience Training for Personal and Planetary Wellbeing (co-created by Eshana Bragg PhD & Rachel Taylor). It is an 8-week experiential online eco-psychology program that includes guided meditations and journaling practises, supported by weekly sharing circles. New concepts and tools help you process your feelings about the state of our world, connect deeply with nature, gain clarity about your personal passions and gifts, and become empowered to take action for a sustainable future. Through participating in the Joyality Program, you also build community and become connected to a diverse global network of conscious changemakers.

Over eight weeks, sitting in circle we shared our feelings and the realisation grew that I was absolutely not alone. Others felt the oncoming windscreen, though they used different imagery. The three threads of Joyality connected up: we awakened, we connected and we designed our passion actions.

I felt my wings grow stronger and began to feel the updraft of group support and unfolding hope. The windscreen seemed avoidable. Each time I sit in a Joyality Circle, my experience of the practices deepens and I feel enriched. I have implemented several passion actions as a result of participating in three Joyality circles: a sacred waters labyrinth, a rewrite of an environmental story which was recorded in a teleconference, a monthly community story gathering and I have now begun work on a book about environmental storytelling.

I was then invited to become a Joyality facilitator, which I embraced excitedly. I completed my facilitator training this year and I am very excited to be offering a Joyality circle in Mullum. Here I explain more to my sweet friend HeeLing: FB VIDEO

Joyality with Jenni

FREE INTRO CIRCLE: TONIGHT! Monday, October 16 – December 4, 6pm – 7pm. All welcome with no obligation at all. :)
ONGOING CIRCLE: Monday, October 23- December 11, 6pm – 8pm

WHERE: The Commons,
91/74 Main Arm Rd, Mullum
JENNI: 0403 328 643




Jenni Cargill-Strong is an award-winning Australian storyteller and singer, whose passions and expertise are focused on using story to help reconnect humans to place, to the ancient wisdom of earth-loving ancestors and the awareness that we humans are nature. Jenni tells at environmental rallies and creates tailor-made stories for community events. She offers a storytelling tour of Byron Bay, has been teaching storytelling since 2003 and environmental storytelling since 2015. In the academic realm, Jenni has worked at Southern Cross University (SCU) since 2009, is a guest lecturer and is also a trained secondary teacher. She is also a trained labyrinth facilitator and last year co-created a temporary labyrinth at the Byron Bay foreshore. She completed her Joyality facilitator training in 2017.

Eshana Bragg PhD and Rachel Taylor, co-creators of Joyality

Eshana Bragg PhD and Rachel Taylor, Co-creators of Joyality

September Stories in the Club

Written on September 30, 2017

Frank Mills Big Picture show EchoLast month Frank Mills in conversation with Malcolm Price, charmed 100 storylovers at the Mullumbimby Ex-Services Club with  portraits of the changing roles of women in Byron from the 30’s to the 60’s. “When I looked at photo’s of past history,” began Frank, “ I could only find one photo of a woman working. If I had been looking for photo’s of women in bathing costumes, the number would have been different. This talk is about why women should not be recorded equal to men in history, but I am not a time lord and I don’t have a tardis, so you will have to rely on my memory because I am a 1828 vintage.” He then went on to talk about how much farming work women did, how influential they were and how superior their skills were in many facets of life at that time. He delighted the audience by explaining how the Sea Change movement of the sixties, catalysed by the surfies morphed into ‘She Change’ developments in the 1970’s as women became much more influential and more became Councillors.

Teeya Blatt enchanted the gathering with her elegant, original story ‘Hymn to Persephone’ and Susan Perrow told a story from the 1974 flood, of getting trapped for many days in a banana shed with her husband and another couple.

Meredith Yardley warmed everyone up with some Laughter Yoga and because curator and MC, Jenni Cargill-Strong was too sick with the flu to even sit up, Bruce of Mullum Magic Toastmasters graciously took on the MC role at late notice. The stories were recorded by Dione Natasha Green for ‘The Middle Man’ show on Bay FM and Sharon Shostak also filmed all the stories and these will be released soon. Check the ‘Stories in the Club’ Facebook page for details. Listen here.


October ‘Stories in the Club’

For October, confirmed tellers are Athol Compton, Zenith Virago, Paul Josif, Gabby le Brun, John Imbrogno and Jenni Cargill-Strong.

Add to your diary the next ‘Stories in the Club’ Sunday, October 8, 4pm at St Martin’s Hall, 38 Stuart Street, Mullumbimby.

Read about the upcoming October ‘Stories in the Club’ here and FB page.

The Story Bird

Written on September 11, 2017

Just heard from the editor of ‘The Northerly’, The Byron Bay Writer’s Festival magazine The Northerly, that he has published my poem in the current issue (p22). I was prompted to write this poem by the Volunteer Poetry competition, again organised by the dynamic poetess and creative, Louise Moriarty. This festival’s theme was ‘Where stories take you’ and the competition theme was ‘birds’. I didn’t get it finished in time to enter the competition, but last year the competition spawned ‘Updraft’, which won.


Bird of prey florian-biedermann-314401


Jenni Cargill-Strong


Jump onto her muscular back

grip hard with your thighs

as she wheels you gracefully, thrillingly

from here to there and

through time.


She will carry you

through the dark of death

to the ancestors

and the Good People*

both feared and revered

or fly you through black clouds to Iceland*

where the northern lights were an omen

blizzards rage for three days and nights

and it is a struggle to close the opened door.

Smell the stench of the prisoner,

battered and unwashed

Hear the crunch of the executioners boots

upon the fresh snow.


Cling, cling to her muscular back

as she weaves and swoops you

through the Dark Emu* in the night sky

to when stories began and ended with

‘We arise from the mother’s heartbeat’.

See this landscape

before the hooved animals

transformed the soil of yam fields

that stretched to the horizon

soil so soft, so well tilled that

horses would sink to their fetlocks

when floods were rare and wild fires unknown.

In Ecuador, the Waorani people call the ceibo tree the Tree of Life. Songs of the Trees DAVID GEORGE HASKELL

Ah take me ancient story bird

take me to that vast forest in Ecuador

where ‘the leaves of plants speak the rain’s language’ *

and ‘mosses grow like filamentous seaweeds in the open ocean.’

Take me soaring to the crown of the giant Ceibo (SAYBO) tree

so I can vibrate top to toe with

the Songs of the Trees.


Fly me story bird on your elegant, eloquent wings

woven with ancient words and visions

to wherever I need to go

I open the book

you open your wings

and we fly to



take you.

book to flights tatoo Elizabeth Briggs

*1. Hannah Kent ‘The Good People’

*2. Hannah Kent ‘Burial Rites’

*3. Bruce Pascoe ‘Dark Emu’

*4. David George Haskell ‘The Songs of the Trees’

In the Festival Green Room I got to meet Hannah Kent and chatted to David Haskell and his wife, (all very gracious and lovely) though alas- a little bout of shyness caused me to miss my chance to chat to Bruce Pascoe! As you can see, ‘The Story Bird’ refers most particularly to the words of Bruce Pascoe, Hannah Kent and David Haskell. Such powerful speakers and books! Yay.

Next I scored some local schools show work through Byron Bay Writers Festival’s Story Board  program for October which I am looking forward to enormously! I do love performing for and teaching primary school kids in particular.


‘Stories in the Club’ warmly embraced

Written on August 26, 2017

Athol Compton tells a contemporary tale of Dirrangan

The inaugural ‘Stories in the Club’ was very warmly embraced by the local community on Sunday, August 13 at the Muillumbimby Ex-Services Club, with six diverse tellers, including local custodian and former screen actor Athol Compton; activist and actor, Tony Barry; President of Toastmasters, Louise Harrison; author Graeme Innes; traveller and solo performer Shona Anderson and storyteller Jenni Cargill-Strong. (For more photo’s see Tellers page.)

Over 100 people attended, some of whom had travelled from as far as Nimbin, the Gold Coast and Lismore. Organisers, Jenni Cargill-Strong, Jennifer Grainger of the Ngara Institute and Morag Wilson were thrilled at the response. Feedback on the night and since has been enthusiastic: “That was fantastic!” “What a wonderful idea.” “You’d better provide tissues next time, the first tale made me weep!” “When is it happening again?!” On top of that, when Jenni put the request out to her networks for storytellers, the enthusiasm was so great, that she has tellers booked up until December for the new monthly event.

Stories in the club-Banner-2
In September, local legend, beloved historian, former farmer and fire chief, Frank Mills will be the feature teller. Frank, now 90 and living north of the Shire, will be in conversation with Malcolm Price of Creative Mullumbimby and Social Habitat. Alongside Frank, there will be three former members of the ‘Byron Circle of Tellers’: Teeya Blatt, writer, storyteller and Byron Youth Service Manager, who will tell her ‘Hymn to Persephone’; Susan Perrow, internationally published author and founder and Director of Periwinkle, will tell a flood tale from 1974 and professional storyteller, Jenni Cargill-Strong will tell a tale of the feminine. Jenni will also share the emcee role with Bruce Long, former President of Toastmasters.

Arrive at 3.30pm for a 4pm start. After the stories, storylovers can eat at the Old School Restaurant. ‘Stories in the Club’ is supported by the The Ngara Institute, Creative Mullumbimby, The Story Tree Company and Stories on Foot. For more information go to: in the Club-poster

Stories can be factual, fictional or factional – which is a blend of the two. We will aim to have regular stories from indigenous tellers. Usually, six tellers will get 8-10 mins and in subsequent months, there will be opportunities for beginner tellers.

Stories in the Club coming very soon!

Written on July 30, 2017

It is getting very exciting as the first ‘Stories in the Club’ Concert date draws closer, enthusiasm in the community is building and people are coming forward to offer wonderful tales of place and hope. August and September concerts are now full!

ATHOL COMPTON smallerAugust tellers will include well-known locals, traditional custodian and former screen actor, Uncle Athol Compton (left); activist and actor, Tony Barry (right); writer and performer, Shona Anderson; author Graeme Innes as well as the President of Mullumbimby Toastmasters, Louise Harrison and possibly some music from young visiting activist musician, Zack Lewis. Jenni will also tell a tale and MC. Tony Barry

September tellers will include beloved long time local, historian, former farmer and Tweed/Byron fire chief, Frank Mills and writer and storyteller and Byron Youth Service Manager, Teeya Blatt.

Stories can be factual, fictional or factional – which is a blend of the two. We will endeavour  to have regular stories from indigenous tellers. Usually, six tellers will get 8-10 mins and in subsequent months, there will be opportunities for beginner tellers.

WHERE: The Ex-Services Club Mullumbimby, (except Oct where we’ll need to find another venue)

WHEN: Starting Sunday, August 13, 4.00- 5.30 pm.

WHO: Hosted and curated by local professional storyteller, Jenni Cargill-Strong.

For 14 years and over.

Supported by Ngara Institute and Creative Mullumbimby.

PRICE: $10/$5.

CONTACT: Jenni M: 0403 328 643


Jennifer Grainger (Ngara Institute) M: 0416 777 527


Stories in the Club: Tales of Place, Tales of Hope

Written on June 29, 2017

story quote change the world

I am excited to announce that I am launching a new community storytelling concert series, beginning the afternoon of Sunday, August 13, with the support from Ngara Institute and Creative Mullumbimby.

Good stories can be road maps for a life well lived.

In these times of rapid change and widespread loneliness, such ancient, simple soul food can be sorely needed.

the-mullum-music-festival-is-coming-to-mullumbimby--nea_16000751_800510881_0_0_14091452_600Stories of place deepen our connection to country as well as strengthening the weave of our community.

Tales of hope, courage and resilience foster and inspire those qualities in us.

Join us for ‘Stories in the Club’ and feast with your community on a rich banquet of ‘Tales of Place and Tales of Hope’.

Stories can be factual, fictional or…factional- which is a blend of the two.Indeed a storytelling aphorism is ‘never let facts get in the way of a good story’! The aim of the evening is to enchant, engage, connect and inspire.

Tales will be told orally, that is, they are not written stories read aloud, but oral stories told by a teller who connects deeply and personally to the story they are telling: whether it is their own personal story, someone else’s true story or a weave of fiction that fits the theme.*

A community concert hosted and curated by local professional storyteller, Jenni Cargill-Strong.

Supported by Ngara Institute and Creative Mullumbimby.

Oral stories max 8-10 mins with different opportunities  in the evening for beginner tellers who need palm cards to confident tellers to polished tellers, including a story each month from me.

WHERE: The Ex-Services Club, Mullumbimby

WHEN: Second Sunday of the month (except October) 4.00-5.30pm, starting Sunday, August 13 (except Oct where we’ll need to find another venue).

Subscribe to stay up to date or check the FB Event page.

*If you have never heard a story told before, you can watch Jenni tell stories here:

(Golden Tales was the last local stories series I ran with the support of the Byron Circle of Tellers, but ‘Storytelling in the Club’ will be in my home town of Mullumbimby. Also I have expanded the theme considerably, from stories which had to be set in the Rainbow Region to Stories of Place ie tales of connection to place or connection to country or nature anywhere, as well as Stories of Hope.)

Entry price: $10/$5

Got story of place or hope to tell?

  1. Time it to see if its 8-10 mins long.
  2. Email or call Jenni on 0403 328 643 and describe the story.
  3. Jenni will get back to you on the selection process.

FUTURE DATES: Sep 10, Oct 8, Nov 12, Dec 10
(In October only, we will use a different venue- to be announced.)


lost in the woods siberian elder

Golden Tales

Written on June 12, 2017

We held the last ‘Golden Tales’ concert a year ago on Sunday, June 12, 2016 the Brunswick Community Centre was fantastic.

Sandra Frain tells her hilarious house-sitting, pet minding story

June Concert: Sandra Frain tells her hilarious house-sitting, pet minding story


 Audience stillness
Catherine hands

AFFORDABLE FOOD: Catered by Brunswick Liberation Larder for $5 a bowl of food or $5 for hot drink and cake

WHERE: Brunswick Heads Community Centre, opposite Surf Club and behind Scout Hall

Enquiries: OR CALL 0403 328 643

Julianna of Clems Cargo tells an original traditional tale of Cultural Collison

Julianna of Clems Cargo tells an original traditional tale of Cultural Collison

LISTEN to our inaugural Golden tales concert here:

Please join our FB Event page  and share it with story lovers you know! Locals and visitors welcome! Listen to stories from our first concert, read about it and see pictures of it here and read what prompted the idea for these concerts here. Blog about Jan 2016 concert in pipeline.

 WHAT are Golden Tales?

Hear colourful local stories from storytellers and community members, set in our local region- as far as our caldera stretches: from Tweed to Lismore to Murwillumbah to Nimbin and Byron Bay. If you didn’t get a story in last time, do ponder a Golden Tale for next concert! This is a community event, so please consider throwing your hat in the ring. Also if you come along to one of our concerts, as you listen deeply to other people’s stories, you may think of one of your own for the next concert. Stories are like that.

Remember it needs to be predominantly set in the Byron Shire region, between 5 and 8 mins long, told orally (preferably without notes) but can be historical, contemporary or even futuristic and it can also be factual, fictional or a combination of both- which we call –factional!


Our angelic mascot 2 donated by Clems Cargo April 2016

Our angelic mascot donated by Clems Cargo

Melaina and Annie listening to Catherine The story prompts below might help or you can contact me (Jenni) if you want some story coaching for a specially discounted fee.
Enquiries and workshop bookings: OR 0403 328 643

Please join our FB Event page

Donna Jacobs Sife, Jenni and friends April 2016

Donna Jacobs Sife, Jenni and friends


Susan Perrow tells her ‘Golden Tale’ Jan 2016

Read my blogpost about our inaugural concert here
and about the background to the concert here


Welcome mandala on steps of the Hall

Welcome mandala on steps of the Hall

Kelly Dodd June2015 (1)

Kelly Dodd tells of Tilley Divine’s visit







Written on February 17, 2017

This is a guest post by my friends and colleagues Eshana Bragg and Rachel Taylor who co-created the wonderful course that is Joyality.

Late last year I did the course as a participant and was so inspired, I decided to train as a facilitator. I will be co-facilitating with the next round, due to start in Byron Bay Monday, February 20, 2017. Details below. It will still be possible to start on Feb 27 th and there will also be an online course starting Tuesdays which you can join if Monday doesn’t suit or you don’t live in Byron Shire. 


\joy• al• i• tee/


the quality or state of feeling deep and encompassing joy; a feeling of wholeness, oneness and exuberance for life


Joyality is that feeling you get when every cell of your being is joyful, peaceful, and alive. It is that feeling that you can’t quite put words to, because they could never do it justice. It is deeply related to beauty, love, and the pure exuberance for being alive, but exactly what it is will always be something of a mystery.


Joyality is different for everyone as we are all unique individuals whose souls are sparked by a diversity of people, places, and activities.


Joyality is also different than happiness. The word “happiness” comes from “happenstance”- it is something that happens and then is gone, it is dependent on circumstance. Joy is something altogether different. Once joy enters a person it never leaves, it is always accessible to us in the recesses of our hearts and souls, even if we do not feel joyful at that moment. This is because joy is part of the eternal, it is one of the core energies of existence. Think of Joy as one giant entity – the joy in me is connected to, the same as, the joy in you. I may experience it at different times or due to different things, but it stems from the same pot of joy.


Joyality is about developing your relationship with that pot of joy, learning to access it in the darkest of times, and using it to create positive change in the world. Hands and sunWe believe that this joy is more accessible if we dive deeply into life. This means fully embracing the wonder of existence, and also engaging with the troublespots, addressing them, and striving to make the world a better place.


Ignoring the dangers, the crises, the threats and filling our lives up with ‘stuff’, with entertainment, with busyness, does not bring us joy. These things distract us from the personal and planetary problems we face. While they may bring us fleeting happiness, they do not satisfy our deep and gnawing desire for joy.


Through The Joyality Program, we find ways to joy and hope amidst the darkest times.


Joyality™ and The Joyality Program™ are co created by Eshana Bragg and Rachel Taylor


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