AWNY Art Nights at The Dwelling Place

Each year, AWNY chooses a New York charity to support. For the past two years our chosen charity has been The Dwelling Place of NY – a privately funded transitional residence for homeless women run by the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany.

Located in Midtown, the Dwelling Place has provided shelter, sustenance and support to thousands of women since 1977.

At any given time, 15 women call The Dwelling Place home. Each woman gets personalized care, support and guidance to help her build a sustainable, self-supported life. There is no time limit on how long women can stay at The Dwelling Place, meaning women have a place to call their own until they are ready to move on.

This year, AWNY decided to extend our support beyond financial contributions and began to volunteer at The Dwelling Place. On Wednesday evenings, a dinner is held for Dwelling Place residents, former residents now in permanent housing, elderly neighbours living on fixed income and women living on the streets. Once a month after this dinner, the AWNY team has been holding an “art night”.


AWNY volunteer, Tanya McCaw, chats to a resident during art night.

Led by our resident artist Jacinta Stewart, the AWNY team brings art materials, ranging from watercolours to adult colouring books. The idea is that art provides an opportunity for self expression, creativity and even meditation.

Doing art can contribute to psychological well-being, yet for many women on the streets and in shelters, they do not have the opportunity or resources to create or enjoy this type of activity.

The team has been overwhelmed by the level of interest the women of the The Dwelling Place have shown in the art nights, with over 20 women participating each time. The talent in the room has also blown us away, although for those who are not artists, Jacinta is on hand to provide helpful hints (some members of the AWNY team need this the most).

But most of all, we have loved getting to know these fascinating, warm women who have opened up to us with their stories and with whom we have shared many laughs.

Join us for the Fall Gala

If you would like to support The Dwelling Place, their annual Fall Gala will be held on 19 October 2017. You can find information on how to buy tickets here.

We would love it if you could join the AWNY team for what promises to be a great night in support of an amazing cause.


One resident’s masterpiece.

How to Go Leaf Peeping

By Julia O’Brien

And just like that, summer is over.

In its place comes the transformative season of autumn – or, if you’re already Americanised, fall.

Unlike in most parts of Australia, New York treats its residents to four distinct seasons. Fall in New York (and the broader north-east coast of the United States) is spectacular and warrants some exploring to see the patchwork colours of the changing leaves.

Whether you only make it as far as Central Park, or head north to New England, becoming a leaf peeper (that’s an actual term) during fall is a wonderful experience you can’t replicate back home.

But to do it right does take some planning, so here are some tips to help you make the most of one of Mother Nature’s ultimate gifts.

Step One: Know When to Go

Every year is different, depending on what the weather’s been like, so your best bet is to keep an eye on one of the many fall foliage maps, which show when certain areas are hitting peak leaf peeping time. The further north you head (such as Maine and Vermont), the earlier the leaves change, and peak time can be as soon as mid-September. The further south you go, the later the change happens, and leaves can still be turning as late as November.

This September has been unseasonably warm and so the leaf peeping season is likely to run late. But many weather factors play into how intense the colours will be and how long the vivid leaves will be around.

Step Two: Plan Ahead

Leaf peeping is a popular activity, so sadly you’re not going to be the only one trying to catch a glimpse of the tress, especially when they hit peak colours. Crowds swell on weekends, making roads crowded and accommodation both expensive and hard to come by. Our tip is to make any reservations well in advance, and if you can, plan for a mid-week excursion to avoid the crowds.

Step Three: Pick Your Destination

Purists would argue that you need to visit New England to see the best leaves – but there are also plenty of places to go that are much more conveniently located to New York City. The New York Botanical Gardens has a vast collection of Maple Trees that are worth a visit, while Fort Tyron Park is a just a subway ride away and can be combined with a trip to the Met Cloisters. The Metro North also offers a number of discounted excursion packages to the Hudson Valley during fall. Why not combine your leaf peeping with some wine tasting for the best of both worlds?

If you’re willing to rent a car, then make a beeline for Kent, Connecticut. It will take you less than two hours to travel and there are plenty of photo-worthy red barns and white steeples to stop at along the way. Head to Kent Falls State Park for a picnic lunch and then pop in to the Kent Falls Brewing Co. for a hard-earned beer.

If you’re happy to drive a bit further, Arcadia National Park in Maine is pretty perfect. With Cadillac Mountain set against beaches and lakes, your friends will be begging you to stop posting all the leaf photos on Instagram. Stay in Bar Harbour – possibly the cutest and coolest town in New England.

Some of the best and most picturesque spots are off the major highways, so don’t be afraid to take a turn off every now and then and get a little bit lost.

Step Four: Eat all the Foods

It’s easy to get distracted by the leaves, but there’s plenty of food to be had and no time to waste. Fall is apple and pumpkin season and Americans certainly make the most of it. You’re going to come across plenty of apple cider, doughnuts, pies and crumbles (or cobblers), and you’re going to want to try it all! Make sure you stop at one of the many pick-your-own produce farms or a road-side market – you won’t regret it.


Event: Fall Gala at the Dwelling Place of NY, October 19

The Dwelling Place of NY is AWNY’s charity partner for 2017. Please join us for their annual Fall Gala, with all proceeds supporting their wonderful work.

The night promises to be a whole lot of fun for a great cause, with The Dwelling Place celebrating 40 years on 40th Street at this year’s event.

Event details

Date: Thursday, October 19, 2017
Time: 6.00pm – 9.00pm
Location: Saints Cyril and Methodius Hall, corner of 41st Street and 10th Avenue, New York
Cost: $125 per person. 100% will go directly to The Dwelling Place, plus a $6 booking fee through Eventbrite.
Nature of event: The Gala will be a simple church hall style gathering, with everything from decorations and raffle prizes, to food and wine donated
Tickets: To ensure you are sat at an AWNY table, please follow the instructions below:

  • First, visit the ticket sales site and write the word “AUSSIE” next to your name when purchasing.
  • Then, email Bridget Callaghan to advise you have purchased your ticket(s). This will help to ensure you’re sat on the AWNY table.

Buy tickets (don’t forget to write AUSSIE…)

AWNY’s 2017 Charity: The Dwelling Place of NY

The Dwelling Place of NY is a privately-funded transitional residence for homeless women run by The Franciscan Sisters of Allegany. Located in Midtown, The Dwelling Place has provided shelter, sustenance and support to thousands of women since 1977. Their safe, healing, and structured environment offers women the space and time to develop a sustainable plan for building a healthy, independent lifestyle.

This year’s Gala is celebrating The Dwelling Place’s 40th year on 40th Street.

Visit their website to read more about their wonderful work:


The AWNY gals at the 2016 Fall Gala showed the other guests how to have a good time with a round of “Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi!”

Another way you can help

AWNY is proudly supporting The Dwelling Place source donations for their charity raffle that will take place at the Fall Gala. If you or someone you know is willing to make a donation we’d love to hear from you. Examples of donations include:

  • Gift cards or vouchers
  • Flowers
  • Homewares
  • Beauty products
  • Jewellry

All donators will be promoted through our AWNY social media accounts and will be included in announcements on the evening.

If you are able to support this worthy cause with a donation please contact Bridget Callaghan.


Event: Fall Gala for The Dwelling Place of NY, October 20, 2016

Join AWNY in supporting The Dwelling Place of NY, AWNY’s chosen charity for 2016, at its annual Fall Gala. With our tables decked out in Australiana, the night promises to be a whole lot of fun for a wonderful cause. Read on below for details and to learn more about The Dwelling Place.


Event details

Date: Thursday, October 20, 2016
Time: 6.00pm – 9.00pm
Location: Saints Cyril and Methodius Hall, corner of 41st Street and 10th Avenue, New York
Cost: $100 per person, 100% of which will go directly to The Dwelling Place, plus a $6 booking fee through Eventbrite
Nature of event: The Gala will be a simple church hall style gathering, with everything from decorations and raffle prizes to food and wine donated
RSVP: We’ve set up a two-step process to ensure you are part of a guaranteed table before you are asked to pay any money:

  • First, make an ‘AWNY Table’ RVSP via the form below to reserve a spot at one of our tables. If you are coming with a partner or group of people you’d like to sit with, please include the name of all people in the comments area.
  • Then, we will let you know when we have the required 10 people to make up a table and invite you to buy your ticket on Eventbrite


AWNY’s 2016 Charity: The Dwelling Place of NY

AWNY’s chosen charity for 2016 is The Dwelling Place of NY: a privately funded transitional residence for homeless women run by The Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, NY. Located in Midtown, The Dwelling Place has provided shelter, sustenance and support to thousands of women since 1977. Their safe, healing, and structured environment offers women the space and time to develop a sustainable plan for building a healthy, independent lifestyle.

This year’s Gala is dedicated to the memory of Sister Margaret Boyle, beloved by the Dwelling Place community, who recently passed away.

Visit the website to read more about their wonderful work:

AWNY Mums & Dads Update + An Inside Guide to NYC Kindergarten Admissions

Written by Anita Davison & Ella Colley

With Halloween out of the way and enough sugar consumed to last until next years ‘Trick or Treat’ festivities, November is here and the holiday season is upon us. Unlike the last couple of years, we have had a really lovely month of weather in October, with temps in the low 20s and the beautiful fiery colors of Autumn (ahem, Fall) to captivate us in and out of this great city.

Whilst we prep for Thanksgiving, Christmas and visits back to Oz to more sunshine and warmth (you lucky things!), this year some of us have another task at hand. The Kindergarten admissions process is underway for 2016, with school tours, interviews and all that goes along with it already in the works for thousands of children across NYC.

We’ve had some interest from the Mums & Dads group about both Pre-K & Kindergarten admissions in NYC. Although we did not have enough numbers to warrant a full event (which we will look at hosting next year), we have invited a fellow Aussie expat, Ella Colley of to give us some tips and important information on the Kindergarten application process for 2016/2017 school year. We will follow this up in the new year with a second piece on the ins and outs of the Pre-K application process.


An Inside Guide to NYC Kindergarten Admissions

Inside Schools

Tips from, compiled by Australian expat Ella Colley

The New York City school system is complicated, with some of the best—and worst—schools in the country. At, we offer a free and independent online guide to help you navigate the public school system, and find the right school for your child.

This year, families of children born in 2011 will apply to kindergarten between Dec. 7 and Jan. 15, with notifications set to come out in mid-March. What does this means? It’s time to get serious about kindergarten admissions. Grab a cuppa, take a deep breath, and read on. I’ll do my best to keep this short and sweet.

The Basics

Some neighborhoods have excellent zoned schools, and all you need to do to enroll is show up with proper documents. However, some very popular schools are so overcrowded that they cannot accommodate all the kids who live in their zone and the schools have waiting lists.

If this is the case where you live, or if you’re not keen on your neighborhood school, you may want to explore other options. The city has an extensive system of school choice, and, depending on the age of your child and where you live, you may have a number of alternatives. You can read about other options like gifted programs and charter schools on our website.

To make things a little more complicated – a few districts have abandoned zoned schools: Districts 1 on the Lower East Side, District 7 in the South Bronx and District 23 in East New York, Brooklyn. In these areas, you can apply to any school in the district and admission is decided by lottery.

Where to start?

Start by finding out what your zoned school is on the DOE website. Do your research – at we have a profile for every school in the city, with independent reviews, photos and statistics to help you get a feel for a school before you get in the building.

If you’re not happy with what you see, look further. The school search on our homepage allows you to look for schools by neighborhood or other categories. You can also read about each school district by clicking on the colored map on the homepage. There’s specific information for you about things like special education, and supports for English language learners.

To guide families through the admissions process, the DOE will host info sessions in each borough starting in early December. Kindergarten handbooks are available online or at schools. The DOE website has a list of individual school tours and open houses that will continue to be updated. Keep checking back and contact schools about tours directly. Look at school websites or call the parent coordinator. Some schools don’t organize group tours but may offer a one-on-one tour if you ask.

Before you go on a tour, watch our video about what to look for and read our tips about choosing a school on the elementary school page.

Ready to apply?

The Department of Education’s Kindergarten Connect process allows you to apply online, over the phone, or in person at a Family Welcome Center with a single application. Parents can apply to up to 12 schools, ranking them in order of preference. If you don’t get your top choice you will be automatically waitlisted at all the schools you ranked higher on the application.

The application for charter schools is separate, and is due on April 1. You can apply for any charter school in the city—with preference given to applicants who live in the district where the charter school is located—and admission is based on a lottery. Private schools manage their own admissions, but be aware that many want parents to make a commitment (often with a non-refundable deposit) before public school decisions are available.

The Gifted & Talented process can drag on until June and beyond by the time all students are placed. If you want your child to test for Gifted and Talented, you need to sign up by NOVEMBER 9! Read more about the process here.

It’s time to dig in … your adventure in NYC public schools is about to begin!

Like us on Facebook for updates, follow us on Twitter and drop us a line if you have questions. You’ll hear from us in a couple of months with a blog on pre-kindergarten admissions.

Upcoming Mum’s & Dad’s Events

Our regular dinner and drink evenings will return in November. Please keep an eye on the Facebook page for a dinner event invitation in the coming week.

Events around New York City

We’ve compiled a great list of events and activities around New York for the month of November 2015 – check it out for fun ways to spend time with your kids.