Kerry, Marita and Margaret

Kerry, Marita and Margaret

We are Marita Macrae, Kerry Smith and Margaret Woods, citizen environmentalists who became friends through a common interest in the natural environment on the Northern Beaches. Late last year we were delighted to find that we had all decided independently to volunteer for Dr Sophie. These are our campaign volunteer stories.
Kerry, Marita and Margaret


I’ve lived on the Northern Beaches most of my life and grew up near the bush. My special places are Long Reef, Narrabeen Lagoon and the beaches, and the National Parks and Nature Reserves which surround Mackellar.

An interest in native birds, plants and animals led me to join local environment organisations and support national ones, to guide bird walks and report sightings to national databases, and to write submissions and conduct surveys. Across all these organisations the message was clear. To conserve our quality of life we must maintain biodiversity and protect the native habitat, and that means acting on climate change.

Yet our Federal government refused to act. I had resigned myself to the fact that I lived in a rusted-on Liberal electorate and my vote, lately for the Greens, wouldn’t change anything in Mackellar. And then I heard about Dr Sophie Scamps and her commitment to action on climate change and to the creation of a federal integrity commission. I was sold.

Meeting Dr Sophie, her impressive campaign team and her welcoming and supportive volunteers boosted my enthusiasm. Although I barely dared to hope for victory in the beginning, I found myself buoyed by my fellow volunteers. 

I mastered the hitherto unknown skill of making bunting tape. This involves tearing recycled bed sheets into fabric strips, done with all the gusto of a pioneer frontierswoman making bandages for wounded soldiers. 

I hesitated answering my phone in case it was a call to action and I would say ‘oh no’, ‘oh maybe not’ and then surprise myself by saying ‘yes’ to door-knocking and street-listening, both well outside my comfort zone. I discovered where to buy the most see-through raincoat, essential for maximum visibility of our Dr Sophie T-shirts as we banner-waved by the highways on those cold, rainy mornings. 

Kerry Smith – #MaackellarVotes volunteer

Proudly wearing my T-shirt, I loved the walks by the beaches, the shopping centre coffees, the paddle-out and the panel discussions.

Increasingly I noticed the nods and the smiles, the friendly toots and waves from cars and the numbers of our posters and bumper stickers, and I began to hope. Whenever Sophie attended she listened to the people and when she spoke it was with clarity and intelligence.

Finally election day came. As I handed out our ‘how to vote’ cards I couldn’t help noticing the number of secret smiles and winks, and the people who whispered yes as they passed.

Could it happen, I asked myself? By 8.30 that night the answer was yes! 

Congratulations to Dr Sophie Scamps and her campaign team. I look forward to this new federal parliament taking action on climate change.


I’ve lived in Mackellar since 1970. It was a true blue electorate but I was fairly conservative and busy with a young family so didn’t take much notice of politics. Always interested in the bush, insects and birds, my later work in bush regeneration and growing awareness of our wild natural environment taught me a lot about Northern Beaches flora and fauna. With the internet and membership of conservation organisations such as Birdlife Australia and the Australian Conservation Foundation came awareness of the threats to species and whole ecosystems.

What had our Liberal Mackellar representative done about that? I supported independent Alice Thompson in 2019 for an impressive result, but Zali Steggall’s Warringah win showed what a well resourced campaign could achieve.
After the ongoing federal failure to address or even recognise environmental problems, including climate change, when Sophie Scamps offered herself as an Independent whom disaffected Liberal voters could support, it looked like real change was possible. So I was delighted to join the marvellous Sophie support team. 
I hoped, of course, but didn’t dare to expect her to win.

Kerry Smith and Marita Macrae – #MackellarVotes volunteers

What can Sophie’s win do for Australia’s natural environment? Concerns about climate change usually focus on the effects on us humans, but it has huge and largely under recognised effects on our flora and fauna Australia wide. In Mackellar several special types of bushland are listed federally as Endangered Ecological Communities. So let’s hope for support for these.

The Sophie campaign was a great personal experience for me, volunteering with so many like-minded people who have such determination and skills. Hoping against hope for change.

Strange to feel a nostalgia for banner waving beside morning peak hour traffic in the rain, but I do!  Now our Sky Blue team is looking forward to helping her achieve the best for Mackellar and Australia. 


I have a keen interest in photographing nature – animals, plants and landscapes –  but mostly I love birds. I’ve volunteered for years for community and environmental groups and I share my photographs to raise awareness. I often walk in bushland and on local beaches and I’m passionate about preserving biodiversity and achieving a fair go for wildlife and their habitat.

One day at Dee Why Lagoon while photographing some beautiful wrens feeding on the sand I noticed rubbish all around them and thought someone should clean up that mess. Then I realised no one else would, so I cleaned up that little patch.  I use the photos of the wrens with rubbish to highlight the need to recycle where you can and stop littering.

That day at the beach I looked out over the ocean and thought about how oil exploration off the coast would look and its impact on nature and all of us – I’ve seen the very visible oil wells stretching along the California coastline and read up on the “slight leakage” from these wells. I was dismayed about the proposed PEP exploration off our coastline and my family added our voices to the calls to STOP PEP and PEP OFF.  I was very disappointed that our federal member did not support the bill introduced by independent Zali Steggall to stop PEP11. 

My family, individually and as a team, have been rescuing injured and orphaned animals as far back as I can remember and taking them to the vet. We stop and check animals that other drivers have run over.  We’ve found that so many animals are impacted by changes to their ever-diminishing habitat.  Poor possums are often dumped many kilometres from home in a different territory. I saw poisoning and shooting of unwanted wildlife, and the killing of reptiles that “everyone” wants gone.  What will happen to our area and our local wildlife with the impacts of climate change?

I’ve held senior professional management positions, and know that the Federal government regulates companies and they must consider the impacts of climate change and include these in their reserves.  So why was the Coalition government so against climate action? 

As a family we’ve reduced our emissions and invested in an electric vehicle and a large solar/battery system. I could not see the Federal government taking proper and decisive action on climate change. I’ve also been worried about the regression of environmental policies that see areas of bushland razed.

Living on the Northern Beaches for most of my life I’ve seen so much change at the expense of wildlife who have no voice. I joined community groups that work hard to protect the natural beauty and the local habitat.  We are losing species locally and all over Australia. I wondered how the Federal government was planning to address this?  It seemed to me that every day there was bad news.

I could not see a plan.  I was very unhappy and was looking for leaders with foresight. I want to have a better outcome for my children. 

And then Sophie was there. A doctor at a local medical practice. Her main areas of concern seemed to align with mine. Climate and environment, integrity and equality, health and economy.

Margaret Woods – #MackellarVotes volunteer

I went to the Walk at Long Reef and signed up to support Sophie. We had a chat and a walk with Sophie and then a photo.  I joined others for awareness raising walks at Narrabeen Lagoon wearing my T-shirt.  I walked to the shops wearing my T-shirt. I saw people looking at me and wondered why. I went to Sophie’s office for brochures and purchased a hat.  I stood on the edge of Pittwater Road on the Tuesdays when I could and held a placard.

Not everyone was supportive, and I had some interaction with non-supportive people, but I smiled and referred them to the website. I gave out brochures and told friends about the campaign, introduced them to Sophie and a number of friends had signed up. I shared Sophie posts on my Facebook page.

I enjoyed it, even the mornings holding the sign in the pouring rain. Meeting with fellow volunteers, attending markets and just wearing my shirt whenever I could in the local area may help with awareness. I loved meeting the volunteers for a coffee and speaking to the lovely Sophie and her management team.

I was so happy to be at Dee Why RSL on election night. What a fantastic result for democracy and for Mackellar. Glad to be part of it. 


No Fibs #MackellarVotes coverage

1. #transitzone interview with Sophie Scamps before she decided to stand.
2. Sophie Scamps’ campaign launch speech, December 2021
3. Twitter’s report on Sophie Scamps’ launch.
4. #transitzone interview with Sophie Scamps’ wing woman, Louise Hislop.
5. Women of #MackellarVotes rose: Voices of Mackellar cofounder Leonie Scarlett on the miracle win
6. Elation and relief after volunteering for Sophie Scamps at #MackellarVotes: Paul Boland’s story
7. Julie Donald’s story on that ear shattering moment on election night when #MackellarVotes made history
8. Michael Osbourne’s story: Regret for voting for Morrison and redemption by voting for Sophie Scamps #MackellarVotes
9. From GetUp!, Lock the Gate and Stop Adani to volunteering for #MackellarVotes: Joy Nason’s story
10. It started with a swim cap: Jan proudfoot’s ‘Paddler’s Club’ #MackellarVotes volunteer story
11. A poem in celebration of democracy by #Mackellar votes volunteer, Beth Jessup
12. SERIES – A diary of emails to Ireland: Flan Cleary’s #MackellarVotes volunteeradventures – Part one
13. SERIES – A diary of emails to Ireland: Flan Cleary’s MackellarVotes volunteer adventures – Part two
14 SERIES – A diary of emails to Ireland: Flan Cleary’s #MackellarVotes volunteer adventures – Part three