By Vinnie Todd
Manilla woman Heidi Huenteler could have just the solution to those seeking that unique Christmas present or perhaps even a more personal gift for that special friend.
For the last decade, German-born Heidi has been tinkering with, and creating a diverse range of items including dream catchers, sun catchers, jewellery, wall hangings, Christmas bobbles, beaded pictures and head dresses – all mainly from beads – in the “hobby room” of her home.
Heidi, who was a Human Resources manager in her home country, jokes that she met her hubby George over the internet.
“We had common friends in Germany, and they told me I should meet George because he was such a nice guy. I said I wasn’t interested, until we finally had a chat, and I realised they were right. George was Melbourne born of German parents who took him back home when he was only nine. Though he had always said he was homesick for home (Australia), so came back in 1997 to spend some time here and make up his mind if this is where he really wanted to settle,” Heidi said.
George’s passion for paragliding prompted the comment “you should really go to Manilla” from fellow paragliding friends. So he did just that, and spent some time working as a business partner with a yabbie farmer on the outskirts of town, until the drought forced closure of that business.
“He moved into Manilla and purchased this house, and I ended up coming out in July of 2003. We married here in the backyard in September of the same year. Though I only made the decision to come to Australia on my son Kay’s (who was 16 at the time). It was good between George and Kay, I wouldn’t have come out if Kay hadn’t given me his blessing. Then I became an Australian citizen in 2014.
“After the yabby business, George obtained a cleaning contract with Manilla Shire Council, and I joined him in that commitment for the next 15 years. We finished up in 2017, and that’s when I was able to put more time into my bead creations. One of our neighbours here had a gift shop in Newcastle, and when she cleaned out her shed, and knowing I was interested in craft, offered me an assortment of craft materials. I’d never worked with beading before and didn’t like wire jewellery, but wanted to be creative so Googled to see exactly what I could do, then created my own style.”
That interest was sparked 10 years ago, kicking off with jewellery, then adding the assortment of items Heidi now has on offer in her beloved hobby room – her Facebook page is It’s all about craft.
Though for someone with such a strong range of creations, Heidi doesn’t rely on making them to sell.
“It’s more of a personal interest for me, though I do sell a lot. I can do special orders for people – all they have to do is ask. I can make personalized items for them too. I make plenty of dream catchers and necklaces, but I can also do smaller ones to fit around the rear vision mirror in the car. They’re lovely personal little gifts.”
Heidi added that she only uses glass beads for her creations – “I won’t use the cheaper variety, they lose colour”.
While she’s not in her hobby room, and partially making early plans to perhaps visit Germany for a holiday next year, Heidi is spending time with hubby George, whom she describes as “always doing something, and completely supportive of my beading interests”.
“He’s the Worshipful Master of the Freemasons, so that takes up a lot of time. He’s constantly doing something – he completely re-decorated the whole house here himself when we moved in.”