The Hobart

OFF SEASON: Nadine Rowell

by Stephanie Williams
OFF SEASON: Nadine Rowell

Picture: Kristina Vackova

Each year, the Festival of Voices brings utter joy and harmony to Tasmania through a series of communal singing events and top-class performances. There’s something for everyone – even those of us who are tone deaf. Nadine Rowell is the general manager of the festival, although you might also come across her riding the bike trails or climbing a mountain in Tasmania’s wilderness.

What is it about singing with others that makes us feel so good? I’m one of those people who says “I can’t sing”, but after my first festival I learnt that anyone can sing. I love that the Festival of Voices gives anybody an opportunity to sing, no matter what your level. For me, I’m not even a shower singer. But I did find I loved a good ol’ group singalong with a wine in my hand. The energy we draw together is amazing, the happiness it brings and the sense of unity.

What has been your absolute favourite Festival of Voices gig? The first ‘Tasmanian Songbook’ in 2021 at the Theatre Royal. It was an incredible lineup of talented Tasmanian musicians sharing Tasmanian songs. The audience wasn’t quite prepared for the energy this event presented and the musicians got a full standing house ovation at the end that seemed to go on forever.

What do you love doing outside of work? I’m firstly a mum of two gorgeous boys! I also love being outdoors. I get away on adventures as much as possible. This could be anything from doing laps at Maydena Bike Park (an 80 minute, 85km drive west of Hobart), climbing mountains, planning girls trips to hike or ride somewhere fun or taking the kids camping, hiking or biking. I also love to snowboard, but that’s a little harder to do in Tasmania. I’m very blessed to have explored many parts of the world and am always dreaming of the next adventure.

Favourite podcast or TV show? That’s a hard one as I just don’t have time to watch TV or listen to podcasts for the most part. But when I do have a chance, I really enjoy watching a good series on Netflix like, most recently, Boy Swallows Universe.

Secret vice? 95% dark chocolate.

What are you reading now? I love reading true stories. I’m currently reading about the Vietnam War and the mass baby orphan evacuation Operation Babylift where babies were airlifted out of Vietnam and adopted by American and Australian families.

What was your first job? Ha ha, I was always pretty keen on being independent and earning my own money. I ran out to the bread man who delivered bread in his truck when I was 12 years old and asked him for a job. Lovely guy, he took me on and I started being a bread runner. When I was 14 I was working my second job in Kmart.

What are your daily news/social media habits? ABC updates via the app on my phone, probably too much bike riding on Instagram and music industry updates.

Who do you admire? I admire individuals like Bob Brown and other climate change advocates for their tireless efforts in raising awareness, promoting sustainability, and fighting for the health of our planet. I also deeply admire my Mum, she is amazing with my boys and is always there for me.

Your favourite place for…
Breakfast: Ginger Brown, South Hobart.
Lunch: I love supporting various cafes around Hobart like Plain Jane in Moonah; Hamlet, at the entrance of the Hobart rivulet walking track – I love what they are about, helping to give opportunities to those who are living with disability; Bear with Me, Straight Up.
Dinner: Bar Wa Izakaya, North Hobart.

What’s your tip for becoming a winter person? We are so lucky to live in such a gorgeous temperate climate and experience really distinct seasons. Living here helps you adjust to the changes of seasons slowly. For those visiting, a tip would have to be that when it says in winter it will reach a top of 14c today, it will only hit that for 30 minutes in the middle of the day! A hot tip for anyone – layers, lots of layers and make sure you get out to enjoy Australia’s leading singing celebration with Festival of Voices, that will warm you up!

Festival of Voices celebrates the transformative power of singing that brings people together. Inspired by the age-old tradition of gathering around a fire, this Off Season event series has become Australia’s leading singing celebration. The 2024 program, now in its 19th year, reaches many pockets of the state, including Launceston, the east coast, Huon, Port Arthur and New Norfolk, with something to suit all musical tastes and budgets. Events are held from 28 June – 7 July, and tickets and more information can be found at

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May 2024

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