Name Kim Smee
A.K.A Manly Observer (MO)
Business Manly Observer
Location Manly and North Curl Curl

What’s your favourite place on the Northern Beaches?
Cabbage Tree Bay – it’s where I learnt to ocean swim, aside where I used to run off grief after the loss of loved ones and also where I got married.

Is there something about you that would surprise people?
I’ve become quite a public person so I don’t think there’s much more to reveal! Folks might be surprised to know I spent five years as a media advisor in the prison system in Western Australia or that as recently as seven years ago I lived alone in small village in southern Italy where I taught English and was a farm hand on weekends!

What’s something everyone should do at least once? Face their fears.
It’s Sunday afternoon, where do we find you? Almost my entire entertainment budget is spent in local cafes, I absolutely love a good coffee, meal and a crossword. Though by the afternoon on a Sunday I’m usually catching up on domestics, playing with my son, or responding to whatever happening has piqued local curiosity.

If you were down to your last $50 what would you spend it on?
Coffee and a smashed avo brunch. While I was at the café I’d use their wifi to find and land some local work – anything. Some of the best times of my life was combining freelance journalism with deliciously normal work like mopping floors, pulling weeds or bartending.


How did Manly Observer happen?
Manly Observer was intended as side project back in mid 2020. I was really frustrated by ineffective communication both locally and globally and it was really difficult to know how to find out what was going on. The pandemic was very new and confusing and scary and there felt like no common point of reference for clear reliable information, particularly at a hyperlocal level. Click bait was becoming worse across the board and everyone seemed to be yelling at each other on social media. My father was rapidly deteriorating from cancer at the time. Local communication was something within my power and skillset to fix, so it was cathartic for me to have agency over one area of disaster around me. It seemed to resonate with many locals very quickly and it has snowballed from there.

Best business experience?
The best thing I’ve discovered with having a highly engaged audience is how quickly micro-issues can be addressed that could otherwise get clogged in bureaucracy. When I’ve put out call outs for help the community response has been incredible – it’s been healing to see how fundamentally good most people in our community are. That village feel – the sense that if things go wrong someone will have your back – that’s priceless. Even just small little shouts outs that have seen a home cooked meal delivered to a single mum at her wit’s end, or some groceries delivered to a family in iso. RATs donated to vulnerable people in our community or donations collected and send some nutritious thank you meals to local nurses and ambos. It’s easily been the best experience.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
Honestly? Probably earning good money as a communications advisor in the corporate or government sector. But this work just ticks too many boxes relating to fulfillment for me to abandon it now.

Best part of your job or most enjoyable part of your job?
Informing people about they want to know and need-to-now stories they not might otherwise be able to access is deeply satisfying, and I also love giving a platform for little delights in the world whether it is a delicious local meal or a vignette of an elderly couple who love to hold hands. I have a strong distaste for the media models being established which rely on click bait and outrage to generate the traffic they need to sell ads and be sustainable. There are plenty of outrageous things in the world, we don’t need to ham it up. There simply has to be a better way; I don’t want people to get tricked into paying attention to local issues, if people feel connected to the world they are in they will be interested to engage with it more.

Most stressful part of your job?
Not having the time and resources to give every story, email or personal message the time and attention it deserves. I simple cannot promote every charity or profile every local legend. Not yet, anyway. I also have periods where online aggression can really exhaust me, and trying to keep discussion constructive online takes a lot more time and patience than I always have available.

Weirdest thing that has ever happened at work?
I’ve been surprised at how many people seem to recognise me, even when I’m wearing a face mask. Whether pulling up to the lights or sitting at the beach I’ll often have someone say “Hey Manly Observer!”. It’s positively delightful but just new. I’ve largely worked in print or behind the scenes as a radio producer for a stint, so having a local profile is a different experience. Of course, take me out of the LGA and I lose all street cred!

What’s the best part of working on the Northern Beaches?
Why’d you chose to work here? I’m often hopping between Manly, Seaforth, Freshwater, Brookvale and up to Dee Why for work and general life. They all have their different interesting personalities and perfect little lunch spots or meeting places that I look forward to visiting. A rockpool swim in the morning, a walk along the beach in the late afternoon, all the benefits of village life without the feeling of confinement. No better place to be.


What would you rate 10/10?
Ask me again later!

What is the best advice you’ve received?
Ask me again later!

What’s the best thing that’s happened to you this week?
Ask me again later!

Greatest strength?
Rock solid ethics and determination.

Greatest weakness?
Food. And reading instructions before attempting to assemble.

Does anything scare you?
I’m prone to the occasional bout of existential angst.

What’s your most treasured possession?
I’m pretty attached to my phone for obvious reasons.

What’s your idea of absolute happiness?
Letting go of the goal of obtaining absolute happiness

Which two famous people would you choose to be stuck in a lift with?
Whichever two celebrities know how to fix a lift.

What travel experiences are on your bucket list?
I’ve travelled quite a bit so I am okay to stick close to home for a while, but the next overseas goal is japan. I had tickets booked to travel solo through Africa and planned to explore up through the middle east in 2015 but a few curveballs cancelled the plans last minute. As a result I met my now husband and we are expecting our second child. I might have missed my chance for reckless misadventure… we will see.

How do you switch off?
Not well.

How would you like to be remembered?
What do I care, I’ll be dead!

If we could ask you one more question, what would it be and what’s your answer?
How we stay across Manly Observer? Well, I’m glad you asked. Save to your favourites and LIKE (not follow) us on our Facebook page (not
group) (@manlyobserver, or Instagram @manlyobserver.