After living in California’s Mojave Desert - one of the harshest and
driest places on earth - Valerie relocated to a rainforest near Byron Bay
- one of the wettest - and has called Byron Shire home for the past
With a view to making ethnographic films, she studied Social
Anthropology at the London School of Economics and London
University, and after a period at the BBC moved to Los Angeles and took up the state sport of screenwriting and independent film making. Her documentaries, made with partner David Hirst, covered topics from body building to the gun culture, pornography industry, health system and the life of desert blues legend Buzz Gamble.
Their life in the Eastern Mojave, near the legendary Joshua Tree and Pioneertown, where Hollywood filmed its westerns, has been recounted in the memoir Low Life in the High Desert, by David Hirst, published by Scribe. The book, for which Valerie wrote the forward and afterward, follows their adventures after deciding to buy and move into a big, rambling adobe house, built to withstand a Russian invasion. An excerpt can be read here: How an Aussie came to own Boulder House
She is passionate about dogs and is on the committee for Byron Dog Rescue. Valerie is an avid traveller and reader of travel literature, and since leaving her native Ireland as a child, has lived in New Zealand, Australia, England the USA.
Back home now in Australia she is a contributor to The Age and is working on a television series.