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The Resident, Catherine James

By Kyrenia Blanshard

This month we chatted with Catherine James from Kirribilli. Catherine has lived in the area with her family since 2013 and loves the harbour breezes, people and geography of this beautiful suburb. Catherine is a Director of Relationspace, a specialist mental health practice helping families in situations of family conflict, separation and divorce. She’s also recently launched a new program to help senior school students who have been experiencing study paralysis.

She shares her local favourites with us, why she loves living in Kirribilli and tells us a bit about Relationspace and her new student program known as SWOT intervention.

So why did you choose Kirribilli?
We were living in McMahons Point for many years after moving from the Inner West. We fondly looked across Lavender Bay and noticed Kirribilli had a different, more diverse, more happening vibe!  So, we sold up on East Cres. Street and in January 2020 hopped over to Kirribilli, changing up our lifestyle to apartment living. Our teenage twins find Kirribilli has more of the things they love: burgers, gelato and ferries one stop to the CBD. We are also a five minute walk from family – and this made the move compelling.

Best thing about the area?
Breeze off the water, huge trees and night-time city lights of the Opera House and Bridge.  Breathtaking! The public spaces are also beautiful and the outdoor public ping pong table at Milson’s point: More please!

Best coffee in the area or close by?
We have tried them all. Altitude Coffee House gets our firm vote on this with Double Roaster coffee and lovely baristas. We also love a chat with Barista Reece and his Dad Steve at Mazza Espresso next to Coles in North Sydney.

What’s your favourite cafe on the Lower North Shore?
At Neutral is a special place in Neutral Bay where the staff really understand flavours and unusual combinations.

Any local hidden gems you’d be kind enough to share with us?
I am going to give you these gems for free!  Healthfix at North Sydney brings together an incredible team of professionals who have kept us active, engaged and in good health throughout lockdown – dietitian Mel and miracle-worker physio Samah especially! I also recommend Coco Chocolate in Kirribilli, tucked away on Bligh Street – Rebecca Knights put together some incredible posted coco-packs for our team at The Relationspace during lockdown. Lockdown takeaway for the kids has been a staple from Batch Burgers & Espresso and when our son comes home from Canberra, the margarita from Kirribilli Woodfire Kitchen is a must.

What’s your favourite room at home and why?
We have an incredible Northern aspect in our apartment – every room is bright and beautiful.  I mostly love our outdoor rooftop deck – as my son and I have developed an addiction to “tiny gardens” and cultivating the most stunning succulent pots – look out for them at a local market when things re-open. Our son is very entrepreneurial and sees a great market in tiny gardens, so we have been propagating, planting and watering these gems throughout lockdown.

What does your perfect weekend involve?
Netflix with the family, working out on our new Peloton, walking Cremorne Point, McMahons Point and Berry Island and training for some of the long distance, multiday hikes we have on hold in various places!  We want to make sure we are ready to hike when things re-open.  At the moment, I am more interested in the menu on these luxury walks than the scenery!

And can you tell us a bit more about Relationspace and in particular your e-therapy program for parents?
Relationspace is a mental health practice in Sydney where our focus is on families in high conflict separation. We help court-involved families, parents in a high-conflict or families who seek therapy for various reasons relating to divorce. The last two years have been so hard on families and our online program has provided immediate relief for parents who have found themselves in a situation of family breakdown and separation. It’s a behavioural change program that is easy to engage with, relevant and offers current, clinical best practice for separating families.

We’re also just about to launch a new offering for young adults called a SWOT Intervention. Given the tough time so many students have faced in completing their senior school studies during a pandemic, a SWOT Intervention is a high-intensity, in-home intervention for those in a study paralysis. Developed by psychologists and delivered by experienced teachers, a SWOT Intervention provides a way forward for students to regain control of their study.

If you would like to find out more about Relationspace and its programs for both families and young adults, please visit their website

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