Simmone Mackinnon in McLeod's Daughters.
Simmone Mackinnon in McLeod's Daughters. Contributed

Star students of the Coffs Coast - part 2

THE Coffs Coast Advocate is shining a light on some of the city's finest former students who have gone on to great things - both locally and abroad - after being educated in the local area.

Our series Star Students, rolling out over several weeks, will feature some of the most successful alumni to have graduated from Coffs Coast schools.

With names including the likes of Today host Deborah Knight, international jockey Zac Purton, and basketballer Liz Cambage you may be surprised at just how many famous names once called Coffs home.

The Advocate is continuing the series with notable alumni from Toormina High School.

SIMMONE JADE MACKINNON - Australian actress

SHE played a lifeguard in Hawaii opposite the Hoff during her stint on popular TV series Baywatch, but it's the Coffs Coast Simmone Jade McKinnon calls home.

The 46-year-old Aussie actress, who was previously engaged to Game of Thrones star Jason Momoa, attended Toormina High School growing up.

Apart from Baywatch she's best known as being one of the main characters, Stevie Hall, in the Logie Award-winning show McLeod's Daughters.

Over the span of her career she's appeared in several TV shows including Water Rats, All Saints, City Homicide, Neighbours and Attila, to name a few.

Clint Greenshields in action for the North Queensland Cowboys back in 2013.
Clint Greenshields in action for the North Queensland Cowboys back in 2013. Colin Whelan

CLINT GREENSHIELDS - Rugby League player

FORMER French international rugby league footballer Clint Greenshields grew up in Sawtell and attended Toormina High School, playing for the Sawtell Panthers JRLFC in his youth.

Clint made his first grade debut in 2004 playing for the St George Illawarra Dragons, before moving to Catalans Dragons in 2007 where he took the role as first-choice full back.

The now 37-year-old later returned to NRL in 2013 after singing with the North Queensland Cowboys.

In 2009 he was selected for the French national rugby league team to compete in the Four Nations tournament, and he was named in the France squad for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.

Leading researcher Holly West is one of Toormina High's Star Students.
Leading researcher Holly West is one of Toormina High's Star Students. Olivia Raney

HOLLY WEST - Leading marine researcher

KNOWN as the "turtle whisperer”, Toormina High alumni Holly West has just returned from her decade-long stint at the Mote Marine Laboratory based in Florida.

The Senior Aquarium Biologist lead the care and research of the resident sea turtles, with her findings contributing to the state-wide understanding of nesting trends.

Holly and her team have also helped rehabilitate thousands of turtle hatchlings, providing them with nourishment and releasing them back onto the beaches they were found.

Holly has now returned to the Coffs Coast.

David Mack, an accomplished dancer, grew up on the Coffs Coast.
David Mack, an accomplished dancer, grew up on the Coffs Coast. Twitter/Sydneydanceco

DAVID MACK - Ballet dancer

DAVID, a dancer with the Sydney Dance Company, has recently returned from a European tour with one of country's leading dance companies.

He began his training in Coffs Harbour with his twin sister in the early '90s before training at the Victorian College of the Arts.

After graduating David worked with West Australian Ballet, later moving to London to dance with Rambert Dance Company where he had worked with renowned choreographers.

Now based in Aus with the Sydney Dance Company, David has taught at institutions around the world and has even danced in the buff as part of Nude Live at the Art Gallery of NSW.

Michael Crossland is another Toormina High alumni.
Michael Crossland is another Toormina High alumni. Leigh Jensen / Coffs Coast Advoc

MICHAEL CROSSLAND - Motivational speaker, author

HE attended Toormina High School, but there was once a time international best-selling author Michael Crossland wasn't expected to reach his teenage years.

Michael was diagnosed with cancer before his first birthday and the outlook was bleak, but he beat the odds - he's now a businessman, National Ambassador for Camp Quality and Australian of the Year finalist, to name a few.

Michael's story has been documented on Australian Story and in his book Kids Don't Get Cancer, and he's now one of the country's most sought after inspirational speakers.

Jesse Emmanuel at the 2010 Musicoz Awards.
Jesse Emmanuel at the 2010 Musicoz Awards.

JESSE EMMANUEL - Musician

MUSIC runs in the genes for the daughter of one of Australia's greatest guitarists, the late Phil Emmanuel.

Jesse attended Toormina High and released her debut album Everything I Know So Far... in 2009, completely written and composed by herself.

In 2010 the country singer was announced as the 2010 APRA Songwriter of the Year for her debut single Don't Touch My Guitar, which peaked at number 5 on the National Country Music Radio Charts.

In 2011 the songstress she appeared as a contestant on Australia's Got Talent.

Nick Hardcastle attended Toormina High.
Nick Hardcastle attended Toormina High. Instagram/nickcastlehard

NICK HARDCASTLE - Actor, media personality

THIS Aussie actor hailing from the Coffs Coast is known for playing Tim O'Connell on Logie-winning series Home and Away.

Nick started his TV hosting career on popular music program Video Hits before moving onto Australia's highest rating children's show at the time, Creature Features for five seasons.

He's also hosted The Royal Easter Show, City of Sydney Christmas Carols, City of Sydney Lighting of the Christmas Tree and much more.

He's now based in LA, and made his US network debut in 2016 as Dean Trainer on CBS drama Pure Genius.

Dr Brett McFadyen was once dux of Toormina High School.
Dr Brett McFadyen was once dux of Toormina High School. Contributed

Dr Brett McFadyen - Intensive Care Specialist, anaesthesia medicine researcher

FORMER Toormina High student Dr McFadyen has been an intensive care specialist at John Hunter Hospital for several years, and is a full time anaesthetist.

After being named dux at Toormina High, he graduated from his medical degree with honours at University of New South Wales.

In 2000 he received a Fellowship of the College of Intensive Care Medicine, and was awarded the GA "don” Harrison medal for the highest mark in the fellowship exam.

Among several other achievements, he's also a reviewer for Anaesthesia and Intensive Care - the official journal of the Australian Society of Anaesthetists.



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