AFTER 40 years of taking notes and putting her thoughts onto paper, an 81-year-old former Maths teacher has become a published author.
In late 2020 the first pages of Halls Gap resident Margo Sietsema's story were printed, with the book titled 'Grampians to Gariwerd: Halls Gap Journals 1986 and 2016' landing on the shelves.
A humble Mrs Sietsema said she initially felt slightly self-conscious by having a book published with her name on the cover, but she has warmed to the idea over time.
"It is embarrassing because you wonder what people will think and if they will like it," she said.
"It is a nice achievement, and it has been satisfying to put together.
"The feedback has been pretty good so far."
Mrs Sietsema said she first visited Halls Gap in the 1970s when she travelled to the region with some family friends who owned a holiday property.
Then in 1998, Mrs Sietsema and her ill husband decided to move to Halls Gap permanently.
"It took us a little while to realise just how nice it was," she said.
"When my husband was ill, we moved to the area as a place to wind down.
"I liked it so much that even once he passed, I stayed.
"I like the environment. I like the mountains and the vegetation.
"Particularly with the COVID challenges, I am very grateful to live in such a lovely place."
Mrs Sietsema has been involved with many community groups in Halls Gap, including time with the Pomonal Community (UCA) Church, Grampians Wildflower Show, Halls Gap Botanic Garden, Friends of Grampians Gariwerd Newsletter, and 10 years as a Board member of Grampians Community Health Centre.
Grampians to Gariwerd: Halls Gap Journals 1986 and 2016 is a tale of two parts, with diary entries paired for days of the year between 1986 and 2016 as Mrs Sietsema recounts her experience within the Grampians-Gariwerd landscape.
She said the inspiration for the book was borne out of old notes she found in her cupboard when she was cleaning around her home.
"I have got a mixture of things in the book, from things we have done and stuff I have done as an individual, but it also includes things I have also been involved in as part of Friends of Grampians Gariwerd," Mrs Sietsema said.
"I dug the 1986 notes out, and I thought, 'can I throw all this out?'
"Then I thought I can't.
"This is history now, and things have changed, so it needs updating.
"I then got an idea to put a new paragraph for each day.
"I had tremendous help from Anthea Nichols in Pomonal, who is a writer and whose sister is a writer.
"She put me in contact with a self-publishing company and spent countless time editing my work."
The book is available for sale in Pomonal and Halls Gap general stores and some Stawell news agencies.
Mrs Sietsema said she was looking forward to distributing the book to Horsham and Ararat and thanked all who had helped her along the way.
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