Peter Nicholsonstaff 2016 (2)

Peter was born in Dimboola, Victoria and moved to Melbourne early 1965. In 1970 he embarked on his travels and travelled throughout  Europe, Asia and Africa for the next 3.5 years, working in Durban, South Africa and London. He travelled overland back to Australia and later qualified as Operating Theatre Technician at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne.

By 1976 he had moved to the Bega Valley and became Coach of the Bega/Wolumla Aussie Rules Football Club. He was also Cofounder of Kameruka Cricket Club, which involved training a lot of young people, instilling them with confidence.

He trained at Bega Hospital as a nurse, while becoming involved with fighting development (7L) in the Tanja Area and then in the conservation battle (Environment Network Centre) for the South East Forests.

He has worked on farms fencing and general farm work until retiring and  been involved with Potoroo Palce since it began in 2006.

One of the things that inspires him most is seeing young people, who have been damaged by our society, become focussed, involved and confident.

LeaLea Pinker

New Zealand born, but living most of her life in the UK, and eventually settling in Australia in 1998, living for 10 years on a large bush block learning about and familiarising herself with, Australia’s native flora and fauna during this time.

Her years before Potoroo Palace were spent travelling, fruit picking, environmental and political activism, exploring intentional communities, permaculture and organic horticulture.Whilst living in Australia she has been a keen participant and member of local community groups such as LETS (Local Employment Trading System), SCPA  (South Coast Producers Association), the early development of BEND (Bega Eco Neighbourhood Development), the Chipstop Campaign, Friends of South East Forests, volunteering at the Local Environment Network Centre and BRAWL (Bega River and Wetlands Landcare). In 2004 she joined the International Peace Pilgrimage which highlighted the plight of indigenous peoples and communities in Japan and Australia affected by the uranium industry. The pilgrimage began in Roxby Downs, South Australia to Canberra and continued on from the northern tip of Japan. Traversing the country on foot alone, the length of Japan was covered, concluding in Nagasaki in the south. She is currently a member and regular supporter of the Friends of Glebe Wetlands who regularly meet to monitor and protect the local seasonal population of endangered Grey-headed flying-foxes.

She is deeply passionate about the natural environment, social justice, Non-Violent Communication, equality and the future well-being of the planet. She has worked at Potoroo Palace since February 2009, first beginning in the cafe then migrating through to maintaining and beautifying the grounds, the vegetable gardens. More administrative demands now take up her time with WH&S, marketing, PR, social media, staff liasing and other management demands, to name a few!

Serge NachtergaeleSerge

Serge is the newest of the directors.  He was born in Brussels, Belgium, then moved to the now known Democratic Republic of the Congo. He lived on a property with his family deep in the jungle, becoming familiar with animals from an early age. He and his brother as children, had a chimpanzee living with them, and for a short time took care of a baby crocodile who lived in the bath!

Serge later came to live Australia in 1961, travelling by ship which took 6 weeks to arrive from Europe.

With  very limited knowledge of the English language at this stage, he began his working life on a cattle station, near Tamworth.

Serge has worked at developing his business skills since living in Australia, and began his first apprenticeship as a tiler,  on & off over the years working as a chef, including owning a café and a restaurant, spending several years in the caravan industry, and managing several motels!

A few years ago Serge qualified with a diploma in bookkeeping and has been living in Merimbula for the past 7 & half years.

Alexandra SeddonAlexandra

Founder and patron of Potoroo Palace, Alexandra has a background of community, conservation, education, farming and the arts. She came to the Bega Valley in 1975 from Papua New Guinea, where she had been working with PNG teachers, mostly in drama and creative writing. She began farming with her brother in Candelo, and so Cowsnest Community Farm came into being. The idea of Cowsnest was to set up a community farm where anyone could come and contribute their skill and labour even if they had no money to buy land. This has now been incorporated and now officially comes under the auspices of Potoroo Palace.

Alexandra has of course breathed life into Potoroo Palace from the beginning. Her inspiration and her dream have enabled many lives to be saved, both animal and human kind and it is still a sanctuary for both, where staff and volunteers are encouraged to explore their full potential and to discover the full value and meaning behind community, conservation and education. Alexandra’s ethics are the foundation of the sanctuary as well as an integral component of the Directorship entity.