Category Archives: art

A Walk Down George Street, Tallawoladah (The Rocks), Sydney.

After catching the ferry from Cremorne Point and the Museum of Contemporary Art closed, I headed for George Street, Tallawoladah (The Rocks), which is a short walk from Circular Quay. By the way, Tallawoladah was the name the original Cadigal people gave to the area Europeans have called The Rocks and it’s original name now appears prominently on signage which is good to see. About time, you could say. It wasn’t that long ago there was hardly a sign of Aboriginal Australia in the city. This is very different to how the Maori people are honoured and acknowledged in New Zealand, by the way, and something which seriously needed to change.

Thankfully my photographs are in order so I have some capacity to retrace my footsteps along George Street. Otherwise I’d have no idea what order everything slotted into and I’d probably have you jumping all over the place to keep up with my poor directions.

Selfie on George Street, The Rocks

I didn’t get far, because just across the road from the Museum of Contemporary Art, my eager eye spotted the Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafe across the road and I was in and I’ll never forget that indulgent slice of lusciously gorgeous chocolate mud cake. OMG!!!! it was superlatively good… silky smooth and so indulgent!! I sat outside and slowly imbibed it while sipping my cappuccino. I rarely drink coffee often these days so it gives you an idea just how special this moment was! There I was in Sydney, with a luscious slice of chocolate mud cake and a cappuccino after three years of serious deprivation. I might’ve been sitting down but inside I was swinging from the rafters. Yippee!! Life was superlatively good.

The Guylian Cafe is across the road from the famous Orient Hotel, which was originally built as a butcher shop in 1844. It’s been a famous pub for longer than I’ve existed. By this stage, it must’ve been around 6.00pm and it was literally buzzing with the after work crowd in full flight. Strangely perhaps, this was yet another moment I became acutely aware of the weirdness of our isolated lockdown world and my own enhanced isolation. I’ve barely been in a crowd for the last three years and there was a cacophony of voices across the road which sounded like threes full of Rainbow Lorikeets we get around here. To be very honest, it almost sounded like “blah, blah, blah!”

I kept walking.

Squidinky

Next stop was was Squidinky and much to my horror it was closed. OMG! To find something which mirrored my own personal quirkiness so precisely was like electricity to my heart and soul and for it to be closed…Oh woe is me! However, that said, I jumped on the computer when I got home and spent several hours perusing their website and there would be no doubt where I’d be heading the next morning…back to Squidinky along with the Museum of Contemporary Art.

As it turned out when I returned Max Mendez, the artist, was in. Oh be still my beating heart! My daughter would’ve been embarrassed if she’d seen me there because I’m always so effusive when I love something and I was literally salivating like a rabid dog. But as Kermit once said: “it’s not being green”, being different. Yet, at the same time, there’s such a refreshing beauty in it too which can take awhile to appreciate, especially in ourselves. After spewing out rapturous praise, Max said I lit up the room with my enthusiasm. Good to see someone appreciates me. BTW I found something very, very special at Squidinky…his Cockatutu range.

As a dance mum and well let’s just say someone who has done a few adult ballet classes even if I wasn’t star material, I absolutely loved it. Bought three plates and could’ve easily bought ten more and gave two to her ballet teachers as a thank you for Miss’s recent audition tape. I also recommend checking out Mark’s blog and seeing his lockdown project illustrating Sydney landmarks here.

By the way, I did think of getting a photo of Mark, and even of the two of us together, especially for the blog. He was so friendly that there’s no doubt he would’ve obliged but I was shy. Didn’t ask, which was very out of character, but perhaps I was too busy enjoyed the moment.

I kept walking.

After all these years of covid, lockdowns and insanity, it was good to be back at The Rocks again. I used to go to The Rocks as a child with mum and my brother and we’d go to Pancakes at The Rocks, which had the thick American style pancakes with maple syrup and whipped butter instead of our usual lemon and sugar or jam. Geoff went to The Rocks for a his sister’s pre-wedding dinner at the famous Spaghetti Factory. His mother initially was rather unimpressed. Coming from regional Tasmania, as far as she knew, spaghetti came from a tin and was hardly something special. My cousin was married at the famous Garrison Church but I didn’t make it there. It was up a hill and with my dodgy breathing, I was sticking to the flat.

Clearly, it was good to be back. Now that we’ve reached the Overseas Passenger Terminal, we’re going to hit pause and I’ll be back soon.

Have you been to Tallawoladah (The Rocks) and do you have any stories to share?

I look forward to hearing from you!

Best wishes,

Rowena

Visiting the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.

Being only a hop, step and a jump away from Circular Quay, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) was an obvious destination.

A fake front door with no opening as the museum was shut.

However, I was having a lot of trouble trying to navigate my way around the door display at the entrance and try though I may, I couldn’t work out how to get in and felt like an idiot. Well, you could only imagine how I was feeling when I found out it was already 5.30pm and the MCA was shut. Thank goodness they didn’t think I was trying to break in and called the police! Mind you, daylight Savings does that to you, giving you a false sense that everything’s still open and swinging from the rafters because it still looks like midday until about an hour before sunset at 8.00pm.

Anyway, I returned the next day and had a bit of a fossick around through the free sections.

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As soon as you walk in, Vincent Namatjira’s larger than life mural P.P.F (Past-Present-Future) slaps you straight in the face. Vincent Namatjira OAM is an Aboriginal Australian artist living in Indulkana, in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara in South Australia. He has won many art awards, and after being nominated for Australia’s famed Archibald Prize several times, he became the first Aboriginal person to win it in 2020 In P.P.F. (Past-Present-Future), he has assembled seven figures significant to his life and practice in a large-scale ‘heroes narrative’. The work is semi-autobiographical – the artist states that each of the men represented on the wall have inspired him, and remind him of who he is. Read more here.

A panel from Julia Gutman’s work: Isn’t it all just a long conversation?

Personally, I was particularly encouraged by textilist, Julia Gutman, whose work: Isn’t it all just a long conversation? appeared in the Primavera Young Artist Exhibition 2022. Julia Gutman. I always seem to think of art as painting and trying to get things out in paint and getting them to look how I’d like is tough, but this work was a reminder that there are other ways to make a picture. Moreover, I’ve always loved collage and this is collage using fabric. The only downside is potentially having to wrestle with the sewing machine. Being mechanical and me having no mechanical empathy, the sewing machine and I have clashed in the past. Then again, there’s always hand-stitching and I’ve had a bit of practice on that front sewing ballet pointe shoes.

While the art is naturally why you visit the MCA, the building itself is very impressive and I wish I’d taken a photo of its entirety to share with you. However in my typical fashion, I have zoomed in and focused on aspects of the building and once again omitted the whole.

View of Circular Quay through the front glass doors of the MCA .

Of course, I managed to get a few door shots for Thursday Doors and these folks don’t care if the rest of the building is missing. It’s all about priorities.

Have you been to the Museum of Contemporary Art? Any thoughts? Perhaps, you might like to comment on the doors.

Best wishes,

Rowena

A Photographer’s Dream

I was so excited to spot this panorama of reflections, and felt it deserved it’s own post. Even an amateur, intermittent photographer like me always has to keep their eyes peeled and their camera at hand. You never know what you’re going to see and as much as it might be about capturing what you see, you also need the vision to peer beyond the surface and skill to do it well. I’m still not convinced that you can do al of this with your phone but our daughter has the latest iPhone and it does a great job and is so much better than lugging my bulky Nikon SLR around.

Have you taken any remarkable photos lately. Please feel encouraged to leave a link in the comments.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 29th January, 2023.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share & a Belated Happy New Year!

My apologies for not being active lately. However, we went away to Byron Bay and the Gold Coast just after Christmas. We spent New Year’s Eve taking in the New Year’s Eve fireworks at famous Surfers’ Paradise. To be perfectly honest, we were sorely disappointed. The fireworks suddenly stopped without a finale as though someone had poured a bucket of cold water on proceedings. There were a few fights around us, loads of drunks but the beach was a sea of joyful revellers and it was mind-blowing to see so many people there. We caught a tram from Geoff’s sister’s place in Southport into Surfers which was very convenient, but the crowds coming home were phenomenal and sardine tin doesn’t come close to describing how packed it was.

Not unsurprisingly, Geoff caught covid NYE and two days later tested positive on a RAT. I was in disbelief. As you may recall, I’ve been continuing to isolate to avoid covid due to my lung condition and being immuno-suppressed. However, I get sick of being a wet blanket and just wanted our family to have fun. Geoff and I met on NYE 1998 watching the Sydney fireworks at a mutual friend’s place and I’ve always wanted to watch the fireworks together in person as a family and this was our big chance. The “kids” are about to turn 19 and 17 and are starting to forge their own paths. We don’t have forever to be doing things as a family.

A rainy night for our arrival in Sydney.

Following Geoff’s diagnosis, we came home early to avoid passing it onto his other sister and husband and hoped we might be able to beat the odds and get me home without getting infected. I was booked in to mind my friend’s house in Sydney the day after our early return so we hoped our quarantine would work. It didn’t. The night we arrived home, our son tested positive. The next day our daughter and I had a pcr test and that was negative. However, the next day I was overcome by the most mind-blowing fatigue. I sank like a stone. That probably sounds familiar. By this stage it was Sunday and I did the dreaded RAT test and much to my horror, was positive. Have any of you noticed how doing these rats is like taking a pregnancy test? Fortunately, I was much more excited about the results of the pregnancy test all those years ago. By this stage, covid had struck my sinuses and was nasty but thank goodness, stayed away from my lungs which are my Achilles Heel. Next day, I got onto the antivirals which seemed to give me a bit of pep. No doubt they made a difference. Meanwhile, Geoff had a chest infection and was on antibiotics. Our daughter felt symptomatic but didn’t test. So, that was the end of our status as “novids” and so far so good.

Our house minding gig was a wonderful opportunity. We were staying at Cremorne Point on the magnificent Sydney Harbour. We were a short drive up the hill from the wharf with harbour glimpses, a balcony looking out across the street where I could ponder who was living in the flats across the road and also watch the lightening display one stormy night. However, we weren’t really house minding. We were pet sitting. We were minding a dog, two cats and two guinea pigs. This is never a matter of just filling up their hungry bellies and topping up the water bowl. We loved their pets like our own. Indeed, our daughter was particularly excited to have cats and Guinea pigs as we’re a dog only family.

Sydney Opera House framed by the Sydney Harbour Bridge

While others probably would’ve planned out every second of their holiday time, we had no plans and getting covid only fueled the uncertainty. Three weeks sounded like a long time, but it disappeared in a flash and while a caught up with a few friends, I barely caught up with anyone. However, I caught loads of ferries and have become what you might call a “Ferry Hopper”. I caught the ferry to Circular Quay a couple of times initially but then I went further afield to Manly.

My fine self at Manly Beach about to blow away

Catching the Manly ferry is such a Sydney thing to do and I was reminded of trips in days gone by as a child but also as a teenager with my friends where we used to buy a plate of “chew and spew” Chinese for $10.00 and head to the beach. Manly is on the Northern head of Sydney Harbour.

Not the best beach day in Manly. The beach was closed once the lifesavers finished for the day. Everyone was ordered out of the water.

Watson’s Bay

We also caught the ferry over to Watson’s Bay, near the Southern Headland. Watson’s Bay used to be a fishing village and despite the influx of luxury homes, many of the historic cottages still remain and have been preserved under the National Trust.

Miss & Geoff at Watson’s Bay

While on the subject of bays, I also caught the ferry to Rose Bay. My parents were living in a flat on Old South Head Road there when I was born. They moved to Wahroonga when I was about two (in around 1972) when my brother was on the way.

In addition to my ferry hopping, we also visited Taronga Zoo. Not only does it have the wildlife, the harbour views from Taronga are incredible.

also went to the Art Gallery of NSW and it’s new offshoot, Sydney Modern. I think it’s been three years since I’ve been to the art gallery and sometimes I’d go a couple of times a year. Just another casualty of covid and covid lockdowns. The new gallery was great but I couldn’t help thinking they could’ve squeezed more paintings into that vast space. However, these gallery people seem to be great believers in conserving white space and less is more. I know it makes sense but what about all those paintings consigned to the dungeon that we could also be seeing? Well, clearly no one asked for my opinion.

Lastly, I went to Cockatoo Island , a UNESCO World Heritage Site at the junction of the Parramatta and Lane Cove River in Sydney Harbour. Cockatoo Island is the largest of several islands that were originally heavily timbered sandstone knolls. Cockatoo Island became a penal establishment in 1839 and convict-built buildings remain today. Exploring Cockatoo Island through my camera lens was a lot of fun.

Indeed, I’ve taken a swag of photos while I was in Sydney. Our son estimated I’d taken 3000 photos, but I’m not sure. Moreover, I had a lot of trouble with the auto-focus on my Nikon and too often I’d have to take at least two photos just to get one in focus. It would be fair to say my Nikon SLR is an endangered species.

However, all too soon we were packing up to come home. Arriving home with two packed cars to a packed house, although at least the Christmas decorations could disappear back to the roof. Geoff has also had to resurrect his working from home facilities and did a massive clean up yesterday. Still a long way to go.

Lastly, I’ll just mention that we still have Christmas pudding, brandy butter, Stollen, Christmas cake and even a spare Turducken (turkey, chicken and duck) in the fridge/freezer. My parents didn’t make it up here on Christmas Day and we weren’t terribly hungry. Hopefully, we might manage to have Christmas in February along with birthday celebrations.

How are you going? I’m looking forward to catching up.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Natalie the Explorer

Best wishes,

Rowena

Explorations In Tiny Homeland (on the Australian East Coast)

Transformed to he realms of Alice in Wonderland, the illustrious Bilbo Baggins or even Gulliver’s Travels; Geoff and I arrived at the Tiny Home Expo in Tuggerah about an hour’s drive away from home. We were greeted by an array of tiny homes and exciting possibilities if only we could shift all the crap in the backyard and find enough room for a tiny home. Being close to the beach, we could also generate serious income or house a teenager out there and it would be much cheaper than knocking down and rebuilding the house.

However, that wasn’t why we were there.

Rather, as you may recall if you have a very good memory and pay close attention to my posts, I completed a course in freelance journalism recently and I wrote one of my assessments on what it takes to fit inside a tiny home and how they work. As I’m sure you can appreciate, there are a few principles involved with maximising space in these seemingly tiny spaces where you can’t even swing the proverbial cat. So, after reading and writing about these tiny homes, I was busting to really explore every nook and cranny, understand more about the construction process and why anybody would want to go small when most of us would freely admit “bigger is better”.

A Tiny Home On Wheels

The first thing I have to say about these tiny homes is they are sweet.

The second thing I’ll say is that they are rather expensive.

Even a quick look at the styling inside many of these homes tells you they’re geared towards the top end of town not someone down on their luck. Indeed, perhaps the idea is that when you go small you can afford those extra luxuries. They’re a completely different story to the shack my grandfather-in-law used to take tin mining on the backblocks of Tasmania. They have toilets, showers, washing machines, microwaves, flat screen TVs and you guessed it. They even have a kitchen sink. Oops, I also forgot to mention they have beds and I’ll get to more of that later.

Yet, more affordable options were available and I was particularly drawn to a Golden Dome. I forget how big the demonstration dome was and it was so relaxing with a beautiful bed and stunning accessories. I could just see our “kids” really enjoying it. Indeed, we could even afford a smaller version and somehow fit it into our backyard, although there are the dogs and random boats and kayaks to consider. Indeed, I would love to escape into one of these and read and write all day. How lush! Mind you I could also do that at the beach which is just down the road too but for some reason I don’t.

How good is this bed?!! I swear I’d never get up!

Despite all that temptation, somehow we walked away empty handed and perhaps it’s a good thing my husband is more cautious or we might’ve had a few tiny homes crammed into our backyard like sardines with the dogs stuck up on the roof.

The funny thing is that although we went to look at tiny homes, we actually came home with a new bed. Not any new bed either. We bought a dream bed which comes with all the bells and whistles…massage, goes up and down, the works. The only thing it doesn’t do is provide breakfast in bed but hey that’s what we have teenagers for, isn’t it?!!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy some of the pics, which weren’t taken under studio conditions. Goodness knows how many people had tried out the beds by the time I came along. and it’s pretty hard to get a bit of distance in a tiny home to get it all in especially with loads of people coming and going. However, they do look at least a little lived in despite being on display.

Who’s Been Sleeping In My Bed?

Lastly, it was rough returning home yesterday. Naturally, there are no photos provided but I’ll let your imaginations do the work and picture goodness knows what is piled up on the couch.

Meanwhile, we’re dreaming of the day we can afford a block of land with our own tiny somewhere and our perfect escape hatch.

Do you have any experiences of tiny homes? Do you think you could live in one? I’d love to hear from you!

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS After writing my observations, I read the catalogue and it focuses more on the housing shortage, the need for more affordable homes. Indeed, there’s plenty of scope for those on a beer budget as well as the chardonnay set. Tiny homes are also a great option for those living in flood or bushfire prone areas. I’ll get back to that.

This post wasn’t sponsored.

The Last Word…Friday Fictioneers: 21st October, 2022.

An evangelical minimalist, Sylvia Nolan is known as “KCD” – a brutal clutter-busting force preaching “keep, chuck, donate” to millions on TV. Meanwhile, her nemesis Junkyard Jenny draws crowds of hoarders on a rival network.

No one knew Junkyard Jenny was her Mom.

No one.

As much as Sylvia had tried to convert her mother through subtlety or force, Jenny was unrepentant:

“Someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure and my trip to Tahiti.”

Last week, Mom had a heart attack and died in the shop leaving Sylvia with a million decisions to make…keep, chuck, donate.

She finally had the last word.

…..

100 words

This is another contribution to Friday Fictioneers kindly hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

What are your thoughts on the great minimalist-hoarder divide? I must confess that I’m more down the hoarder end of the spectrum but I do like my mother’s view on this that you just need a bigger house. Meanwhile, my dad says staying put in the one house for 20 years in our case and 40 years in theirs is also fatal. I used to be able to fit all my stuff into one or two car loads back in the day. Hard to believe now!

Hope you enjoy the rest of the week.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Vector & The Despicable Sewing Machine.

Last night the prodigal son flew through the front door and in a miraculous flash, he was transformed into Vector from Despicable Me. His friend was having a villain theme for her 18th birthday. Although we’d almost busted a gut, I was thrilled. He looked amazing and was grinning from ear to ear like the Cheshire Cat.

The Original Vector

In case you haven’t heard of Vector, he’s the son of bank president Mr. Perkins and an aspiring supervillain voiced by Jason Segal. He’s decked out in an orange track suit and flies around in a wing suit, which could be described as a modern incantation of the traditional superhero cape. He also wears a white helmet with an orange stripe down the centre, black rimmed glasses and has a rather nerdy bowl haircut.

While Mr 18’s villainous ambitions initially didn’t seem too lofty, complications soon escalated and there was no chance of pulling a rabbit out of a hat or a seamless transition like Clark Kent into Superman.

Trouble began when we couldn’t buy a Vector costume and had to make it ourselves!! Panic stations!! While there are those parents who seemingly whip up book week costumes out of thin air year after year, that’s not us. Moreover, despite over ten years as an active dance mum, I’ve never had to sew a costume and have only ever been asked to sew ribbons on shoes. That’s been hard enough. Making this Vector costume posed an extremely steep learning curve.

Of course he could’ve gone for an orange tracksuit and made do. Not on your life! He had a grand vision of being Vector with all the bells and whistles and almost being able to take flight in that wing suit. What’s more he had absolutely no doubt that Geoff and I could just pluck this suit out of thin air and not only make it for him, but do a decent job. Not have the wings sewn on backwards or have it fall apart as soon as he arrived at the party. Yet with only three days to go his expectations were even more unrealistic. Indeed in hindsight a classic quote from The Castle comes to mind: “Tell ‘im he’s dreamin'”. Added to this mix, was the fact he was totally unavailable to assist. He was volunteering on sound for three days at the church conference. So, all of this takes us back to plucking a rabbit out of a hat when we’re not magicians. We’re mere mortals…Mum and Dad. Yet as we’re found on previous occasions, we somehow rise to the occasion and exceed our meagre expectations in leaps and bounds.

The first step was to source an orange track suit. Understandably this was a challenge in itself. After all most of us wouldn’t be seen dead in an orange tracksuit and doing the rounds of the charity shops confirmed that. Orange was never the new black despite what the fashionistas preached a few years ago. Moreover the cheapest orange tracksuit I could find online was $43.00. Who wants to spend that on a one-off orange tracksuit? Besides, by now it was too late for anything to be posted in time. Then, just when I was close to conceding defeat, Google came to the rescue. There was an orange prison jumpsuit for around $21.00 at our local Spotlight store. You beauty! They stopped off there on the way to conference and Geoff returned home with white and orange fabric for the wing suit and white ribbon for the stripe.

The beginning and might I add that clearing everything off the kitchen table was challenge in itself.

By now, you’re probably thinking we were on the homeward straight and we could just whiz the whole thing up on the machine in no time.

Think again.

There was another hitch which I’ve already alluded to… me!! I have very limited dressmaking experience along with zero spatial awareness. Indeed, I even have a doctor’s certificate to prove it along with multiple scrapes on the car. Indeed, if it wasn’t for Mr 18’s wavering tone when he said he didn’t have a costume or a present and couldn’t go to the party, I’d never have been sewing any kind of costume!

A dummy run measuring up the wings. Lacking dressmaker’s chalk, Geoff used SR Flour to mark the fabric.

This is what the hero’s journey is all about, isn’t it?! Along with the role of a parent! There are times you just have to front up and have a Nike moment. Fortunately, there was also Plan B. Getting help from Geoff or a friend. Whatever! This was not about ego and doing it all myself. Come hell or high water he was going to have his Vector suit!

Geoff at the sewing machine. Note he didn’t take any of me!

That was all very noble-minded, but I hadn’t factored in an outright rebellion by the sewing machine. While it’s been mean, nasty and cantankerous for me before, like all machines, it’s always been good for Geoff. He has a real knack with machines which he calls “mechanical empathy” . Indeed, on my last encounter with the sewing machine, Geoff accused me of having “no mechanical empathy”. However, this time the machine wasn’t even working for Geoff, and a whole new pressure cooker was threatening to explode. Recalcitrant, rebellious and cantankerous…the darn thing kept unthreading and we’re not sure whether the machine, the thread or the fabric, but the machine is lucky it hasn’t been put out for council cleanup or worse!

Here I go once again giving Geoff all the glory. I swear I did more than just take photos of the proceedings!

Eventually the wings were attached. As Vector started to emerge, we were now feeling chuffed although we still had a way to go and time was running out. By now, it was late afternoon and I’d only managed to get in a piece of toast motoring along as fast as I could. Mr 18 had such grand visions of this costume and I wasn’t going to let him down. I wanted him to make that big entrance at the party. Be Vector and add to the fun and festivity. I didn’t want him to be disappointed. No, I wasn’t about to break his heart. Anything to avoid that – even self-destruction!

The next step was the collar. Vector’s collar stands straight up and in a rare moment of resourceful creativity, I nabbed the almost empty Rice Bubbles’ box and cut out a strip of cardboard, unstitched the side of the collar and stuffed it in. Wow. I was proud of my uncharacteristic resourcefulness. I pinned on some white cotton fabric on the inside and tried to machine it together. Possibly overwhelmed by the number of layers, the sewing machine spat the dummy AGAIN. Grr! I was back to hand-stitching but thrilled to be moving surprisingly fast. Indeed, I’d become a machine myself!

With the wings attached, the stripes down the side and the collar done, the suit was really coming together. Meanwhile Geoff painted an old cricket helmet white for his head gear. Wow. We even had enough time to add a white stripe to the wings.

Again the sewing machine played up and I gave up and handed it over to Geoff. By now, we’d renamed it: “The Beast” and even Geoff who can make any machine work well, was asking how much an industrial strength machine would cost!!

Finally, I’m catching my breath and able to text Mr 18 for an ETA without having a heart attack. He was getting close but I had just enough time to steam the packaging creases out of the suit and then perfection.

It was done.

Geoff and I as well.

We forced him to stand still just long enough to get a photo and then we were off to drive him to the party.

I’m sure it won’t surprise you that we picked up a pizza for dinner on the way home. We were beat.

Now, I’ll leave you with a thought I’m going to come back to. So often we stridently defend our right to be ourselves. Refuse to conform or blend in. Or, we go looking for ourselves. Yet on the other hand, we do whatever it takes to be someone else. Sure, in this instance Mr 18 was just dressing up for a party. When you’re going in character, you want to be authentic and you’re also just playing a role. However, how often do we do whatever it takes to hide who we are behind makeup, fashion and or being seen or photographed at the right places? How many of us are leading a fake life especially on social media? You have to be pretty strong to resist the temptation. Yet, it’s something to consider…

Anyway, I’d be very interested to hear from you and any of your efforts making costumes. How did it go? Do you think being yourself is over-rated and you’re better off at least appearing to be someone else? I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Exploring Bathurst, Australia…A Trip Back In Time.

Absence is the sign of a great, well-enjoyed holiday – absolutely no posts until well after you’ve arrived home. That’s because you’re not only seizing every single moment you’re away. You’re also so exhausted from your holiday, that you also need to recover.

That describes our trip to Bathurst well.

On the 18th August (just over a week ago now), Geoff and I left on a four day escape to Bathurst without the kids. After two years of intermittent covid lockdowns and isolations along with just over 18 years of parenting, this represented a tremendous achievement. Indeed, it could well be argued that it would be easier to climb Mt Everest, except you’d probably accuse me of hyperbole or that old favourite….being a drama queen! Anyway, the only reason we could get away now was because Miss was off to the Gold Coast for four days competing in Nationals for cheerleading.

However, just like Cinderella, we had restrictions in place. Firstly, we had to drop her off at the station at the unholy hour of 5.30am necessitating a 4.30am wake up for this die hard night owl. Then, we had to pick her up from the local train station at 4.00 pm Sunday afternoon. Of course, we didn’t want our beloved red Alfa 959 to get turned into a pumpkin if we ran late. If you’re the parent of a teenager or if you’ve ever been, you’ll know the teenager should not be upset, inconvenienced or forgotten. Being turned into a pumpkin could be an optimistic outcome!

Well, you might ask why we would go to Bathurst when we could almost go anywhere on the planet for our special extended weekend away. Well, given the time restraints, not quite anywhere but there was still quite a smorgasbord of choice available. Firstly, since we live at the beach, we wanted to go to the country to experience something different. We are both pretty interested in history and photography and we thought we’d check out old mining towns in the area as well as the race track at Mt Panorama.

Bathurst was traditionally owned by the Wiradjuri People, or “the people of the
three rivers”, being the Wambuul (Macquarie), Kalari (Lachlan) and the
Murrumbidjeri (Murrumbidgee).
Meanwhile, the city of Bathurst was founded
in 1815, and is the oldest settlement west of the Great Dividing Range. It is located on the Macquarie River about 200 kms West-Northwest of Sydney. Following the discovery of the first payable gold at nearby Ophir, on 12 February 1851; all roads led to Bathurst. Indeed, on the 17th May, 1851 the Bathurst Free Press reported: “A complete mental madness appears to have seized almost every member of the community. There has been a universal rush to the diggings.” The goldrush has left it’s imprint on Bathurst and the surrounding regions architecturally, which was one of the reasons we were heading
up there- photography! Bathurst’s other great claim to fame is the Bathurst
1000 Supercars Race
, which goes around the legendary Mt Panorama Circuit.
Car racing is more Geoff’s thing, but I was also looking forward to driving
round the track for the first time.

So, let’s get cracking…

Day One- Umina Beach to Bathurst.

After dropping MIss off, we headed to Bathurst via the Bell’s Line Road, which is an alternate route across the Blue Mountains to the more conventional Great Western Highway via Katoomba. When asked why we went this way, Geoff tells me “it is a much more fun road with better scenery and you’re not stuck in traffic all the way. Why would you want to be stuck in traffic all the way?” Makes sense to me.

Now, I’m going to pick up our journey from Bell’s Line Road, which took us through the
Blue Mountains National Park. In 2019, four horrific bushfires swept through the
region decimating bushland on an unimaginable scale. We drove through vast
expanses of burned out vegetation at times stretching as far as the eye could see. It’s
starting to regrow, but the loss was catastrophic. You can get an impression of
the scale of these fires on the map here. Yet, we also stopped to enjoy spectacular views of soaring cliffs, and also saw a few wildflowers.

Bilpin

We arrived in Bilpin around 8.00am and were delighted to find the Grumpy Baker. We shared one of their epic sausage rolls, while I also indulged in the most luxuriously
delicious cinnamon scroll I’ve ever had, and Geoff ordered an apple turnover.
With eyes much bigger than our stomach’s, we also ordered a cheese stick for in
the car. I almost forgot to mention my coffee. I usually don’t drink coffee due
to my heartburn. However, feeling like a veritable zombie after around 4 hours
sleep, it was a must, and I couldn’t believe the difference it made. I could
well understand how coffee keeps the masses alive.

Before we left Bilpin, I had a rather “interesting” experience. The public
toilets were a short drive down the road. Although this should
have been a very straightforward experience, I actually got locked in the
toilet and couldn’t get out. The lock was a bit complicated and I’m turning it
this way and that and pushing and then Geoff realized I was stuck and started
pushing from the outside without any luck while I kept fiddling with the lock.
By this stage, a mixture of dread, panic and potential embarrassment was
setting in as I was starting to think we would be needing to call the police to
let me out. OMG!!! That happened to a friend at a restaurant once and he was
just lucky he’d taken his mobile phone with him and called us at the table to
let him out. You could just imagine the laughter. We were such a sympathetic
bunch. So, while you might say this was karma 30 years later, I didn’t see it
that way. Anyway, I looked up and saw a second rather serious looking lock and
hey presto, I was out. The toilets had just been cleaned and it looks like they
hadn’t latched back the lock. Phew!

Bathurst

You can see how cold it was in this photo. I was very rugged up!

We arrived in Bathurst around 10.00am (can you believe we’d travelled 248 kilometres before 10.00am? I doubt it!!). Our first stop was the Visitors’ Centre where we came across one of three restored Cobb and Co. coaches in existence. Now, we really knew we were travelling back in time. We left with a swag of tourist brochures, heading for the town centre.

Almost…Geoff being Geoff, headed straight for Mt Panorama and the Bathurst 1000 track before we’d had much of a look around town. It was interesting, even a bit exhilarating, to drive round the actual track in person after watching the race on TV. It certainly gave me a much better appreciation of what the drivers go through at
speeds of up to 300 kph, even though we had to stick to the speed limit of 60 KPH which dropped down to 40KPH in a few treacherous spots. I was too tired to even think about having a go myself.

We headed back into town. After doing a quick drive around the streets where I was literally salivating over all the historic architecture, we parked at Machattie Park on William and Keppel Streets and set out on foot armed with our cameras. Machattie Park is a wonderland all by itself. Moreover, it was surrounded by an incredible array of striking historic buildings. To be honest, I didn’t know quite where to point my camera, and was very grateful for digital technology where I could snap away to my heart’s content.

After sunset, we made it to our hotel, Rydges at Mt Panoroma, which is located right on the race track on Conrod Straight. Of course, it would be incredible on race day, but entirely out of our league. We have no idea how much it would cost, but it’s booked out for the next three years. When Geoff, Mister and their crew went to Bathurst, they were slumming it in tents, although being out in the paddocks had a culture all of its own.

We didn’t see much beyond sunset and crashed for the night. The early morning start had well and truly caught up with us.

Day Two – Carcoar and Milthorpe 

The second day of our trip was a reminder that there’s only 24 hours in a day and brings to mind that old question about whether life is about the journey or the destination.

It began with breakfast at Nicky’s Cafe in Bathurst after we slept through
breakfast at the hotel. I wandered across the road dazzled by architecture and
a laser display and then wandered down an alleyway being lead by my camera and
not by the clock. We were heading for Carcoar to see an old school friend of mine and Geoff mentioned getting there before she closed but I had all day. This steady stop-start meandering continued all the way to Carcoar, and you guessed it, she was closed by the time we got there, and she’d had to shoot off to Orange. Another note to self about prioritising.

We scooted around Carcoar which was absolutely stunning. We drove back to Bathurst via Millthorpe.

Day Three- Driving Around the Bathurst Track, Sofala and Hill End

By day three, we were well and truly into holiday mode, which in our case, had nothing to do with relaxing and was all about trying to squeeze as much as we could into one day.

Rowena Conquers the Mountain at Bathurst.

Before we headed off to Sofala, yours truly finally had the chance to drive around the racetrack at Mt Panorama in our Alfa 159. While neither a Ford nor a Holden, Alfas have also had their day out at Bathurst. I was really proud of myself for “conquering the mountain” because I’ve generally been quite an anxious driver and I wasn’t nervous at all despite some very sharp bends. I’d gone round the track again with Geoff taking note of the trouble spots and thought it doesn’t matter if I take those serious bends like a snail, as long as I made to the end. After all, I wasn’t trying to be Peter Brock, the undisputed King of the Mountain! Hurray! I did it!!

After going round Bathurst i.e. the track, we were off to the former gold mining town of Sofala, followed by Hill End. Artist Russell Drysdale immortalised Sofala with his award-winning landscape (pictured above). I have a feeling my parents had a print of Sofala at home growing up as it feels very familiar. Another artist, Donald Friend, was with Drysdale at the time and did his own version which isn’t as well known. For some time, I’ve been wanting to get out to Sofala and and photograph my own version. I was most annoyed that a telegraph pole was put right in the way along with all the parked cars, but otherwise the scene looked pretty much the same. However, being Winter it didn’t have the omnipresent sense of blazing heat of Drysdale’s work.

Next stop Hill End. By now, we were hungry and I remembered reading about Hill End Pies at the Hill End Estate found at 3664 Hill End Road, Hill End. Thanks to plumber turned pastry chef, Steve Rattray, we were in for a treat, especially with the Danish pastries we had for dessert. Oh golly! I’d get in the car and go there now if it weren’t for the 319 kms drive!

This kangaroo and her joey have seemingly taken up residence at the “Hill End Hilton”.

Day Four – Abercrombie House, Bathurst.

Abercrombie House, Bathurst

Unfortunately, by the time we reached Day Four, we were living on borrowed time and needed to be back home by 4.00pm to pick up miss from the station. Their team came a very close second at Nationals and we were looking forward to seeing her, while also not real thrilled about going back on the leash and the time pressures involved. Yet, in our usual carpe diem style, we headed out to historic Abercrombie House. We couldn’t leave Bathurst without experiencing this magical castle.

Built in the 1870s by Bathurst pioneers the Stewart family, Rex and Mary Morgan bought the house in 1969 it’s been the home of the Morgan family since then. They’ve fully restored the house, outbuildings and grounds and share it with the community. As it turns out, Rex Morgan also founded a successful private school on Sydney’s Northern
Beaches, Pittwater House. My best friend used to go to Pittwater House and they
used to stay in dormitories at Abercrombie House for a week, which included
dinner at the main house one night. It sounds like quite the experience, especially with
plenty of ghost stories thrown in.

While we were wandering through the gardens at Abercrombie House, a message came through from Miss saying they were arriving back at the station early. Being 4.5 hours drive away, we weren’t going to make it back in time, and we could relax a little. My friend was driving her home. Returning home after only four days away felt rather brutal. However, we’d had a wonderful time and now needed a rest.

Have you ever been to Bathurst? If so, I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 11th July, 2022

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Well, t feels like I’ve been lost in space lately. However, I enrolled in a Freelance Writing Course at the Australian Writers’ Centre a few weeks ago and I’ve been head down bum up reading magazines and writing bibs and bobs. Well, this week which is rapidly turning into last week, we had to interview one of our fellow students and write a 500 word profile. Just to make it extra tricky, they get us to undertake this exercise BEFORE we’ve learned about writing profiles. There’s apparently motive for their madness and they’ve found over time that this works best. Anyway, the idea was that they emailed us through the name and contact email of our person last Monday. However, I don’t know what was wrong with me, but I couldn’t find the email and contacted them on Thursday and I didn’t recognise the name in the email and didn’t hear back from her for a few days. Meanwhile, another student had their person fall through and so we profiled each other. Then, my person turns up. She lives in rural Norway about an hour’s drive North of Oslo and the idea of getting to know someone from Norway better was too tempting. So, we ended up profiling each other too. It was a very interesting exercise and I ended up capturing pages and pages of information on each of them. While that was great in theory and certainly far better than being stuck for words, it was quite daunting. After all, we didn’t know each other. All we know is that we write. My thinking was to go broad so if there was a good story there, I’d collect it. However, the obvious thing to look at was why they’d enrolled in the course and why they write.

What really came out of it, was that the three of us are juggling a lot of different things as well as our writing but naturally feel very drawn to writing as our thing and have varying degrees of faith that we can do it. Being so busy, it’s easy to feel that we’re procrastinating about our writing or letting it slide. However, there are only so many hours in the day. I am quite fortunate that I’m not trying to do this course while holding down a full time job, while also having the family to consider. I can largely put my heart and soul into it, and I am very grateful to Geoff for that luxury. He’s been working flat out lately.

The weather has been dreadful again here and it’s been absolutely pouring with rain. To be honest with you, it’s been getting me down. Rather down. We’re just not used to this weather even though it has moved in and well and truly over stayed its welcome much of this year. However, I need to be grateful. We are not flooded. We are not being flooded for the second or third time in 12 months. I have a warm dog on my lap who doesn’t mind having the keyboard slapped on top of him and is absolutely gorgeous.

Anyway, I did manage to get out for a drive to Putty Beach about 20 minutes drive away from here. I stopped off at a nursery on the way and bought two rose bushes: a pink Queen Elizabeth rose and a yellow fragrant rose. They’re to represent my mum and dad. They’re still in the land of the living but I guess I’m feeling their absence because we haven’t seen much of them over the last two years since covid came along. I also bought an Australian native called a Golden Gem and a few primulas. When I arrived hom with my stash, our son said: “You’ve bought more plants to kill, have you?” Deary me! Oh son of little faith!

The beach itself was showing the signs of all the heavy rains and flooding. I don’t know what this beach looks like normally but it had a few estuaries running through it, which might not be there normally. There were a lot of fallen trees around and a massive tree floating just off the beach and a few logs rolling around in the surf. There was also a lot of spume in the water. This is the excess foam which whirls up in storms and t’s a bit like foamy whipped cream.

However, what particularly interested me were the various structures made out of sticks which dotted the beach. These were very well constructed and I was very impressed and wondered who’d made them. There was even a cubby house built into the side of one of the estuaries and I just love it. They’d even managed to get a chair and table inside, and the whole set up showed impressive ingenuity and creativity. There was also a well-constructed tent.

Last week, I also went to see Aladdin the Musical at Laycock Street Theatre in Gosford. It was fabulous and a family friend of ours played the Genie and did a fabulous job. She was hilarious. It’s the first time she’s been able to perform in a musical for two years due to covid, which is really rough so she was really excited to perform.

Lastly, I’d like to mention an exhibition coming up at the Beinart Gallery in Melbourne Annie Montgomerie: Fitting In It’s amazing and I encourage you to click through and check out the portrait of her socially awkward creations gathered together as diverse community. I love them, and am feeling very tempted to jump on a plane to check them out.

Well, on that note, I’m heading to bed.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Venus de Chatswood

On Saturday, we went down to Chatswood for Miss to compete in her dance troupe at the Sydney Eisteddfod. Geoff and I had already seen the dance twice before and I’ve only been down to Sydney once before in the last 12 months due to lockdown and also keeping myself safe. So, we decided to revisit the adjacent Vietnamese restaurant, and on the way, we came across a few art installations, which I’m going to highlight individually. Collectively, these formed Human in the Wire an exhibition “contemplating the technologisation of the human. It explores the notion of how technology is embedded within ‘the human’. It looks at aspects of the body and personal identity and how these aspects may activate technology, be absorbed by it, or subsumed within it. The exhibition seeks to go beyond the singular idea of automated robot, but to look at the various modes of automation, mechanisation and technologisation of the human itself through the use of technology, and asks the question, “how does digital technology change us?”” 

“Venus” and Geoff

First up, we have who I’ve dubbed the “Venus de Chatswood. However, her official name is The Watcher by Tristan Chant. The work places historical and contemporary artefacts together. The statue itself is based on the Venus de Milo which was carved from marble by Alexandros, a sculptor about 150 BCE.  However, the head is made out of a vintage television and a video of a human eye plays on a LCD monitor. In this way, the artists is apparently encouraging the viewer to think about the convergence of culture and technology, how it is transforming us, and what it means to seed our data in big tech.” I guess the eye represents “Big Brother” watching us. It was macabre, funny and very clever. As you can see, I posed alongside it for a photo, while you can also observe Geoff sitting in the background.

As a photographer, I find this novel use of video and incorporating it into the form of a traditional, famous sculpture fascinating, and felt a whole heap of possibilities open up, even if they were only in my imagination at the point. I have no idea how I could bring something like that to fruition. I’m just a mere mortal.

Have you seen anything like this before? Any thoughts? I’d love to hear from you!

Best wishes,

Rowena

Sources

Human_in_the_Wire_Art_Space_on_The_Concourse_exhibition_catalogue_updated_2022%20(1).pdf