It’s Winter here. While all too easy to complain about the cold, and sink into a melancholy barrenness, I challenged myself to look out for flowers, colour and inspiration when I went on my regular walk around the Mt Penang Parklands near Gosford, North of Sydney. While Winters here are generally fairly mild without any sign of snow and ice, it’s still a season of slumber, hibernation and low expectations.
Early on in my walk, I was delighted to stumble across the golden Candlestick Banksia. It felt like a proof of concept that there’s always something positive, you just need to seek it out and not only focus on doom and gloom…or what’s missing. You just need to keep your eyes open and be careful what you filter in and out.
That said, I must admit I was disappointed to see the state of the water lilies which were in the last throws of seasonal death. When I was there last, they were just past their peak, but I had such a wonderful time photographing them and I even filmed them swaying around in the wind. They were magnificent and almost seemed to come to life. However, while the lilies were no longer beautiful in the conventional sense, they were still quite photogenic with their striking wiry forms, even if they weren’t instantly recognisable in the photos. A bit of intrigue and abstraction is good.
Anyway, I’ve been trying to get out for more walks and I do try to mix it up a bit. It’s also really good to be able to get outside again after months and months of rain. What with avoiding crowds and shops etc to avoid covid and not being able to exercise outdoors for such long stretches of time, I noticed an impact on my mood but even more so on my neurological functioning. I’ve been actively fighting back against that, but it hasn’t been easy and I’m finally starting to feel I’m turning the corner.
Anyway, please stay tuned as I have more walks to come. Meanwhile, have you been on any interesting walks lately? I’d love to hear from you and put a few links in the comments.
How you could you all just let me loose in Cork City on my “Pat Malone” without so much as a map or a point of the hand about where I should be heading?!! Just as well I was only travelling via Google Earth. Well, that’s me and Zac the dog who is always plastered across my lap and under my keyboard which, I guess, means he’s coming along for the walk along with me. Heaven help us if we come across another dog on our travels. He’s not very good with his own (aside from Lady and Rosie, of course!)
As I’ve no doubt mentioned before, I have a hopeless sense of direction. Indeed, my sense of direction is so bad, that I have to call it misdirection. I have an innate sense which takes me usually the opposite direction, and just get me to try and explain how to get somewhere. It’s not rocket science, but could you imagine what it would have been like if those blessed astronauts got lost on the way to the moon? Yes, that’s why I wasn’t in charge (along with a slight difficulty of not being born yet, but why let that get in my way?!!)
MY 4 x Great Grandfather, John Curtin, comes from Evergreen in Cork City. Last week, we visited Evergreen Road, but this week we’re going for a brief stroll beside the River Lee and by the Church and then off to Evergreen Street.
Meanwhile, I haven’t got much further in my efforts to find the Irish family of John Curtin. I even consulted the oracle from the Curtin Clan and there have been no developments since we last spoke. My best bet is DNA testing but you need to be a male to trace the patriarchal line. That gives you a good idea about the challenges I’m facing. Maybe, it’s time to give up on this lot and take up cryptic crosswords instead!!!
However, I did enjoy my stroll through Cork City. I don’t know where people usually go when they visit Cork City. However, they probably don’t go on doorscursion through the back streets like this. Most of us don’t have that luxury when we’re travelling. We’re paying for accommodation. We’ve taken time off work. Travelling is anything but a holiday. Wandering like this via Google Earth is actually very relaxing, and I know I’d be physically exhausted covering so much ground in person. Unfortunately, there’s no step counter on Google Earth (or if there is, I don’t know about it.) So, I can’t actually tell you how far I’ve been.
Anyway, as it stood, no one opened the door and said “I hear your looking for the the Thomas and Mary Curtins”. However, they didn’t say they weren’t there either.
Meanwhile, I’m gathering stories of Curtins who well let’s just say “lived interesting lives” through Ireland’s turbulent past. Most notably there was Tomás Mac Curtain (20 March 1884 – 20 March 1920) who was a Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Cork, On 20 March 1920, his 36th birthday, Mac Curtain was shot dead in front of his wife and son by a group of men with blackened faces, who were found to be members of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) by the official inquest. We also had a John Curtin as our 14th Australian Prime Minister (8 January 1885 – 5 July 1945). It doesn’t look like we’re closely related to either of these men, but surely we must be related to someone somewhere, especially when they had such big families!! (Well, at least I have Irish connections on other sides of my family which aren’t so difficult to trace as these elusive Curtins).
However, to be perfectly honest about what I’m really doing in the real world, I’m trying to get into the swing of the new school year which actually involved going to real school and not going to school at the beach instead of online. The last couple of years have been rough, but returning so brutally back to normal isn’t kind either and I’m feeling like staging a one woman protest: “Do I really have to get out of my pyjamas?”
One of the most distinctive buildings in the centre of Cork city is situated at the junction of Saint Patrick’s Street and Daunt’s Square. This building now houses MacDonald’s. However, for over a century it was home to Woodford, Bourne & Co. grocers and wine merchants, which goes back to a firm of wine merchants named Maziere and Sainthill which was trading in Cork as early as 1750.
It’s Spring over here, and it’s amazing how our ongoing lockdown has done wonders to cause of wildflowers to go ballistic. There’s such a diversity and abundance of wildflowers this year, although it certainly helps to go bushwalking. We usually have so much on, and this almost forgotten phenomenon known as a “social gathering” that we don’t get out there as much. So, lockdown isn’t all bad, and it’s certainly led many to discover a new-found love of nature and the outdoors.
Today, Geoff and I drove past the Waratahs you’ve seen in previous posts, to find the turn off to Warrah Trigg which has a breathtaking lookout over the Hawkesbury River and across to Patonga on your right and Palm Beach on the left.
There were a few walkers out today, and a few boats out on the water, but not many. We largely has this magnificent place to ourselves.
The walk to the Warrah Lookout is about 500metres one way, and trust me one way was very tempting. While it’s not a long walk, it carves down through the side of a very steep hill. That’s all very well when you’re heading down, but blue murder heading back up, especially considering I only have 50% lung capacity. As we’re heading down, Geoff did ask me a few times whether I wanted to call it quits and head back. “Remember, you’ll need to climb back up!” I did make a joke about being air-lifted out. I wasn’t entirely sure it was a joke.
However, years ago, I had very good advice about breaking tasks down and taking lots of breaks to overcome a challenge. So, I had this real confidence that if I kept stopping and pacing myself that I could make it back up. It was just a bit unfortunate that on this walk the toughest uphill sections and some stairs, would be right at the end. What a relief it was to see our little red car down in the carpark below.
Meanwhile, as I said there was such an abundance of stunning wildflowers, a magnificent floral scent and the sound of buzzing bees. There were absolutely masses of golden flowers Eutaxia obovata but known as “egg and bacon”
There was also this stunning red grevillea, Grevillea speciosa, where its red tendrils dangle like spider’s by what appeared to be a solitary stem. They’re quite captivating.
This character, the Banksia, is not as glamorous as the more colourful flowers, but has plenty of personality.
Well, I hope you enjoyed our walk to Warrah Lookout as much as we did. It certainly helped me detox from lockdown, and also beavering away on my entry for a short story competition.
Please forgive me for my recent negativity, pessimism and lack of gratitude. However, there are times where the glass is neither half-empty, nor half-full and no matter which way you look at it, it’s still bone dry. There’s not even a drop of water left to relieve a parched thirst, or even a longing imagination.
It is what it is, isn’t it?!!
That’s what we’ve come to say about those interminable patches of grinding difficulty.
Well, thankfully, my glass isn’t empty yet. Rather, I was even starting to think my glass was starting to refill, as I meandered through the wildflowers with my camera and feasted on such indisputable floral beauty through the lens. Moreover, although I was only a ten minute drive away from home, I could have been miles away from civilization. Off with the bunyips even!
That was until a friend sent me a text while I was out there. I’m not one to be glued to my phone, but I do keep it on me in case of emergencies when I’m out, and I’m sure it pinged. I think I was sitting down on a log at the time reflecting on life, the universe and everything and decided to reply. Things have been pretty rough for her, and she’s spent the last couple of weeks in hospital with her back against the wall. It was the right thing. After all, there’s finding things hard, and then there’s scaling vertical cliffs by your fingernails. I’ve done that a few times with my lung issues, and wouldn’t wish that horror on my worst enemy. I wanted to be there. Yet, at the same time, I also have to pace myself. As you may recall, I’ve lost four close friends recently and my daughter’s unwell. With my own capacity so overwrought, I’ve largely had to withdraw and regroup.
However, whether you say it was God, destiny or being technically inept, somehow we ended up on a Facetime call together. In case you don’ t know what that is, it’s a mobile phone call with visual. I thought she’d called me. She thought I’d called her. Neither of us meant to, and yet this accidental call was freakishly phenomenal.
It all began when she asked me how I was. Well, I have a bit of a dry sense of humour, and joked: “at least I’m doing better than this tree!” I turned my phone around to show her the charcoaled cavity that was once a gum tree. There wasn’t much left of it. It was as dead as a doornail, the embodiment of hopeless despair. I was in fine form by comparison, and I actually started to perk up. Moreover, although I’m not be the world’s best photographer, I have an eye, and appreciated the way the hole blazed through the empty trunk, created a window frame out onto the bush.
I don’t know why I looked up. There was no reason to. Yet, I did. Much to my surprise, it turned out this dead lump of charcoal was actually still a living tree. There were healthy branches and a thriving crown of leaves up above. I couldn’t believe it, and have no idea how it’s even possible, although gum trees are famed for their resilience. They grow right on the edge of rocky cliffs with only a smattering of sandy soil to sustain them, and they somehow recover from horrific bushfire damage like this one and defy all logic. Mind you, gum trees are also known to fall over at the drop of a hat, and aren’t called “widow-makers” for nothing.
Anyway, all of that had a profound impact. Restored my faith in miracles. Reminded me to keep seeing things sunny side up and holding onto my faith in better days, which it’s starting to slip. Believe that God actually can and does answer prayer. He hears me. I am not forsaken.
However, that wasn’t my only discovery for the day.
I ended up taking my friend on my walk through the wildflowers and stuck my phone inside a lush bush of glowing yellow flowers which simply made my heart sing. She absolutely loved it…not only the capacity to enjoy the flowers, but she also loved my commentary. It was very simple and even child-like as I bumbled around the flowers chatting away like a much younger, female, Australian David Attenborough. It was all completely spontaneous, which was its beauty.
As it turned out, I’d stumbled across a way of taking somebody out of their world and transplanting them somewhere else.
That was, perhaps, the greatest miracle of all, and I fully intend to expand on it!
Do you have any survival stories you’d like to share? Please leave a link in the comments below.
I don’t know whether I should be apologizing for taking an extended blogging break, or whether you’ve all been grateful for a reprieve. Only so many hours in a day and all that. I get it. Truly, I do. Indeed, that’s why I’ve been missing in action for awhile and have been blogging much more intermittently this year. Real life has overtaken me, and I’m also striving towards what must be a writer’s Holy Grail…finishing a book and getting it published (or indeed, self-publishing).
My contribution to the the great libraries of the world, book shops, op shops, and no doubt recycling bins; is a compilation of short biographies of Australian soldiers who served in WWI and fusing family background, battle details, letters home and diaries where available with a focus on the psychological aspects of war and the inner man. How did they survive physically and mentally? Of course, so many didn’t make it and instead “went West” as the saying went. So, death and dying is also a significant aspect. I’ve been working on this for about 18 months now, especially since the horrendous Australian bushfires and their choking smoke forced me underground, only for Covid to send me back into my bunker not much later. Indeed, I’ve been calling this my “Covid Project.
Meanwhile, there’s been a lot going on.
On Monday, I attended my dear friend, Lisa’s funeral. We’ve only been friends for just over six months, and yet we connected very deeply and neither of us thought our friendship was going to be that short. Lisa’s been fighting a very aggressive form of breast cancer for eight years. She’d had three brain surgeries, and after the cancer started eating through her spine, there was more surgery and she had a rod put in her spine. She was married with three boys, and the youngest was only two when she was diagnosed and he’s now eleven. Sometimes, people turn to survivors like Lisa, and be inspired by their strength. After all, they’re a personification of the miraculous. They can also became what my mother calls “a case” where they suddenly become the pet project and helping them out seems to become more about people gaining Kudos that actually helping the person themselves. You can also feel sorry for them. However, when we first met Lisa, she looked relatively well and she had the most beautiful smile. We went on picnics, kayaked, saw in the New Year, the visual overrode the intellectual knowledge that she was already on borrowed time, although I was somewhat prepared to lose her. I made a conscious decision to love her, be close without holding back, even though I knew it was going to hurt like hell. However, we both needed each other and I’m glad I was there to help lift up the last six months and help her feel loved. Indeed, when a friend went to see her, she said she felt “overwhelmed by love”. A friend and I spoke at her funeral, and although we didn’t know her for long, we knew her well. At least, the Lisa she was then which is after marriage, kids, cancer…quite a lot of life.
Have you found that it’s hard to know quite what to do and where to turn after the funeral is over? That’s what I felt last week. There was a part of me which thought going back in time to before we met would be the answer. However, you can’t do that and I don’t want to wipe out our friendship or forget her. I’ve put her photo in a frame. That’s a start. I wrote a song, a poem. I think about her much of the time, and I baked her boys a cake. I can’t change the world, and as Benjamin Franklin and other before him in various variations wrote: “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”.
Anyway, dealing with my grief took me to my usual haunt…the op shops. Never knock a bit of retail therapy. As long as it doesn’t take you too far into debt, it can work miracles and if you’re going round the second-hand charity stores like me, you can save a small fortune (not that you’d be able to afford all of this stuff new.) I am particularly thrilled with my new to me fleecy-lined, purple jacket. I also managed to get my mum a beautiful designer top for her birthday.
By the way, I almost forgot to mention that we had to buy our son his first suit to wear to the funeral. I had hope to buy him something smart from the op shop. However, he insisted on something new, and who doesn’t feel fabulous in something special that’s new? He looked incredibly handsome, and I was so proud of him, especially because he’s spent his whole life with his own serious ill mother, and the parallels to our situation were obvious. Why not me? I wouldn’t say I have survivor’s guilt. It’s more a case of survivor’s question marks.
Yesterday, Geoff and I went for a walk. Naturally, I needed to lighten my mood and walking is a true-blue healer. Moreover, we went for a bushwalk where there are some absolutely breath-taking coastal views. So, we were immersed in nature. The sun was shining, although being Winter here, it was a little chilly, but we certainly weren’t rugged up. Indeed, I think it was about 16-18 degrees Celsius. Not bad for Winter, hey?!! One of the highlights was finding a flannel flower, and it looks like there’ll be a carpet of them in about a month’s time. So, I’ll have to keep an eye out. While you’d think I’d be back at this spot at least once a week given it’s alluring beauty, I usually only get here a few times a year. As usual, life gets in the way.
I should mention that I have two dogs up on my lap- Lady and Zac. Nothing like a drop in temperature to attract the dogs to a warm lap, and having my keyboard perched on their backs doesn’t seem to bother them – or the constant clicking. They’re also keepin me toasty warm.
How have you been? I hope you’ve been well. I look forward to hearing from you and catching up.
I’m hoping I’ve made the deadline this week. It’s actually Monday night here in Sydney, which might not sound like much of a weekend coffee share, but when you’re busy over the weekend, Monday can be a good time to decamp.
So, how are you? How has your week been?
Mine has been wet, with intermittent sunshine. I’m not sure whether you’ve heard about the flooding through NSW on Australia’s East Coast? We’re right where we are. However, reports show that in the last week, the entire NSW coast has been drowned by at least 200 millimetres, and in some places, more than 400mm of rain. To put that in context, Sydney averages 132mm of rain for the whole month of March. Flooding stretches 600 kilometres from Sydney to the Northern Rivers. The other difficulty, is that some of the areas experiencing the worst flooding, were also hard hit by the bush fires and the drought before that. That a pretty brutal trifecta that the Little Aussie Battler might laugh off in public, but it’s “hard yakka” and the farmers need every bit of help they can get. That is along with the animals. I heard a heart-breaking story of a Taree farmer losing 200 head of cows and has had a few of them turn up all over the place, including the beach. The cows are apparently having a rough time. Having their hoofs submerged in the flood waters has water-logged their hoofs and it’s hurting them to walk. I saw where they’re been laying down carpet in the paddocks to help them. Extraordinary, isn’ t it?!! Here’s a clip: https://www.manningrivertimes.com.au/story/7179146/carpet-needed-for-cows-at-oxley-island-video/
However, it hasn’t been all rain.
There’s been a dazzling fusion of sun, rain and incredible clouds, which is the perfect prescription for photography. I was actually quite lucky to get these photos, because if I hadn’t been babysitting my friend’s son and had promised to take him to the park, I probably would’ve been shut away inside at home doing my research without any conscious awareness of what was going on outside and I would’ve missed all this incredibly majestic beauty. It was one of the best sunsets we’ve had in a long time. Of course, the trouble with exceptionally magnificent skies like this, is dangerous storms, exceptionally heavy rain and even hail. I’ve been caught in all of the above before so I know all about it. The only trouble was this time I had my friend’s son in tow. So, he was told he had about 15 minutes at the park, and we might have to leave very quickly and make a run for it. One half of the sky was a very deep purple, and a series of huge, double-decker cumulous clouds had invaded the other half. Then, I spotted the rainbow arching over a mountain of cloud rising over the beach. Magic. I didn’t have my SLR with me, but the photos from my phone were still incredible.
We have just gone into the last week of the school term. So, it’s been Open Week at my daughter’s dance school. She recently turning 15 and she’s pretty serious about it. So, she’s getting to the pointy end of things. So, it’s been amazing to watch her and her classmates dance. She also had an audition where we were able to watch her perform, and that was a treat as well. We’re also very grateful that she’s been able to return to dancing in public and almost “back to normal”. I still don’t take it for granted, even though we’re having an amazing run.
Speaking of Covid, Geoff and myself along with our 17 year old son are getting vaccinated with the Astra Zeneca vaccine tomorrow. I was feeling very excited. Then, our daughter said her friend’s mum has been feeling really sick afterwards. So, now I’m feeling like I should double-check. Oh, no I shouldn’t. “She’ll be right, mate”. What choice do I have? Being immuno-suppressed and having lung fibrosis, I can’t risk catching Covid. Then, it could well be all over red rover.
I am making good progress on my WWI research and writing project. I now have the foundations of an introduction and a reasonably detailed plan. I also have a lot of gaps. However, at this stage I’m just wanting to get enough together to apply for a research grant. This first stage of the production line, is looking at the Australian Home Front from the announcement of war to the final return of the troops in 1919.
Anyway, that’s enough from me. As I said before, I hope you’re having a good week and don’t find yourself in lock down wherever you are.
Today, we’re heading down to Kirribilli, located smack bang on stunning Sydney Harbour. Indeed, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is parked here with one foot in Kirribilli, and the other planted across the water in Miller’s Point. Not unsurprisingly, the Bridge dominates Kirribilli with its sheer physicality, but also in terms of sound, whenever a train rumbles across all that steel with its echoing, idiosyncratic roar.
In a sense, our trip to Kirribilli represents the opening of an invisible door. This door marks the dividing line between the safety of home, and the more risky context of Sydney and Covid 19. Although there hasn’t been a case of community transmission for over a month, clusters have seeming sprung up out of nowhere, but usually connected somehow to the hotel quarantine program. While contact tracing does a fabulous job of identifying potential spread, it doesn’t actually prevent you from catching it. It only tells you after the fact. Due to my auto-immune disease and associated lung fibrosis, I am at a heightened risk of catching the virus if it’s around, and also having a more dire outcome. So, for me, caution makes a lot of sense, especially with the vaccine around the corner so I don’t have to lock myself away forever.
However, there’s also a risk that avoiding medical treatment for these conditions could also be harmful, and all my specialists are located at Royal North Shore Hospital about a 15 minute drive North of Kirribilli, and I often go to Kirribilli afterwards as a reward.
So, that’s how I ended up having lunch with my husband, Geoff, in Kirribilli and comin across this really beautiful and richly ornate door as we walked down to the water’s edge.
Isn’t it something?!!
However, even to the most one-eyed door lover around, it still couldn’t compete with this…magnificent Sydney Harbour.
The thing that particularly struck me about Sydney Harbour today was just how empty it was. It’s usually a hive of activity with ferries criss-crossing the waterways and people moving around on the foreshore. There could well have been one of those towering cruise ships in port, as was often the case before covid. Sydney Harbour isn’t usually this empty, even on a weekday.
Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed our trip to Kirribilli, and I apologize for being a one-door-wonder this week, but hopefully this is a sign of things to come and I’ll soon be able to get out and about more and venture further afield.
This has been another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Dan Antion.
Why does it take the death of a loved one for us to open up, organize and enjoy the very best of our old family photographs? How could they end up in compete disarray, scattered all over the place, shoved in an old shoe box or ignored? Why don’t we look at them more often? Appreciate them?
I don’t know. I don’t have all the answers. If I did, I wouldn’t need to come back here so often. I’d already know.
Then, somebody dies, and all hell breaks loose.
Where is that !@#$ shot from 1947?
Not in any of the easy-to-find places.
On New Year’s Day, my very much loved Great Aunt passed away, and I was back at it again.
To make matters worse, I’ve lost the scanner cable, and I have a huge pile of snaps aka precious memories, to copy because, of course, it’s all about the slide show these days, and the old static album’s been thrown back into the ark. Moreover, due to covid clusters in Sydney, the Queensland border has closed yet again to NSW. So, we’re not allowed to go to the funeral, and will be watching it online. This makes the photos even more precious. They’re the only concrete thing we have.
So, I’m currently sitting here with a pile of photos ready to be scanned, and I just know I’ll never be able to put them back where they came from. Of course, this would drive your garden-variety perfectionist round the bend. However, being somewhat more laissez-faire, I’m not that fussed. I’ll just find a few empty pages at the back of a random album, and when I’m preparing for my son’s 21st, I’ll find my grandmother and her three siblings standing in front of Mt Tibrogargon in amongst his baby photos.
Of course, you’d never do anything like that, would you?!! No! Not ever! All your photos are neatly arranged in chronological order, and possibly even scrapbooked.
However, what I lack in organization, I made up for in presentation and generosity. No one outside these four walls saw the chaos. They just clicked on an email and saw a wonderful, eclectic series of family photos of my aunt, uncle, grandparents, cousins and beautiful memories, and felt the love.
It’s the love and shared memories, which keep drawing me back to these precious photos, and why they’ll always be special. The people may no longer be with us, but the photos continue to keep them close.
Have you shared any special family photos or stories on your blog? I’d love to see them and hear your stories.
Anyway, were you almost shocked like me that it’s now November and another year has almost gone up in smoke? I know this year is 2020, and it’s a year we’d all like to accelerate through, destroy, blow up, delete or all of the above. However, a year is still a year, and good things have happened in 2020. My cousin and his wife had a baby last week and friends got married and we’ve even been to a few parties lately. Of course, we’re rather shielded from the full impact of the virus and also extensive lockdowns here, but I’ve also been researching WWI intensively this year and that puts 2020 into perspective.
Last week was a bit clunky around here. There’s been the ongoing saga of our son’s subject choices for his last year at school and trying to keep him there for another year when he doesn’t need it to go into sound engineering. I’ve been doing my research which is very slow and I must admit I’ve been doing a lot of avoidance. I find it all confusing, and since I went down the university path and that was over 30 years ago, a lot has changed and I’m starting to feel like I’m from the era of the horse and cart (or is that actually his impression of me?) Not much has been said for a few days and he was home sick today. I can’t help wondering if I lie low and don’t say anything, he’ll accidentally get through Year 12 and he’ll at least have that under his belt before he heads off to TAFE to get a trade certificate to get into the sound engineering course he wants to do. However, this is probably too much to hope for and more stress is just around the corner.
Meanwhile, my research is progressing well. I’m still beavering away on my WWI research. I posted yesterday a South Australian farmer I’m researching, Herbert A Stewart who found close to 200 messages in bottles washed up on the beach near his home in Rendelsham , South Australia. He forwarded the letters onto their intended destinations with a cover letter, and there was one day where he found 47 bottles. So, at times he was really under the pump and while this would seem a unconventional way of supporting the war effort, it would’ve made such a difference to the families and friends of these men. I was also surprised to find that some of the messages in bottles thrown overboard in the Great Australian Bight were found in New Zealand. That’s extraordinary. I’ve also found it rather calming and reassuring to think about the ocean currents circulating around the world regardless of everything else that’s going on just like the sunrise and the sunset. There’s that continuity. At least, there was before cllimate change.
This afternoon, I went for a quick walk along the beach. Even though it’s almost Summer here, a cold wind was blowing and so I just did my walk and didn’t hang about. Not unsurprisingly, I almost expecting to find piles of bottles scattered across the beach after doing all my research. However, there wasn’t much to see on our beach today….just a jellyfish.
Meanwhile, it’s getting quite late. So, I’m going to head off.
So, what’s been going on for you? I hope you’re okay and keeping safe.
“Turning, she looked across the bay, and there, sure enough, coming regularly across the waves first two quick strokes and then one long steady stroke, was the light of the Lighthouse. It had been lit.” ― Virginia Woolf
As a poet, photographer and philosopher, I had to jolt myself while looking at my photos of the Norah Head Lighthouse. Force myself to remember that lighthouses were actually constructed to serve a practical, potentially lifesaving purpose. They weren’t just plonked on top of dramatic, rugged headlands in splendid isolation for me to explore and express my creativity. Moreover, during this time of covid, social distancing and even lock down, this lighthouse doesn’t exist just so I can project our collective sense of isolation onto this “concrete tower painted white” (as it was described when it was opened in 1903).
“A fallen lighthouse is more dangerous than a reef.”
Navjot Singh Sidhu
However, these practical realities still haven’t stopped me from delving deep into my imagination and my soul, to marvel at the dramatic beauty of its glowing whiteness backdropped by the azure blue sea on a charmed sunny day.
It also didn’t stop me from confronting the realities of the here and now. The front door of the lighthouse, which could well have been there for over 115 years, has now been slapped with a Covid notice, and the lighthouse is closed for tours. Welcome to 2020.
Of course, I couldn’t help wondering how the lighthouse feels about being all locked up, and whether the ghost within is enjoying its solitude, or perhaps it’s craving human forms? Not that I really believe in ghosts. However, if you’re going to talk about a lighthouse, especially one which has witnessed shipwrecks and the tragic loss of life, it’s okay to let your imagination wander. You can put on your storytelling hat, and nothing really needs to make a lot of sense or stand up in a court of law.
I first came to the Norah Head Lighthouse when I was a little girl about six years old when we were staying nearby at The Entrance. Being so young, I didn’t have strong memories of it. However, when I was 13, I returned to Norah Head to attend a friend’s slumber party. I immediately recognized the lighthouse. Lighthouses are like that. They stay with you forever. Leave a lasting impression.
I attended two birthday slumber parties at Norah Head for my friend, and they still retain their magic after all these years. At that age, you rarely go away with anyone but your own immediate family. However, there we were just our group of friends, and without that sense of omnipresent parental supervision either. I remember snorkelling in the rockpool and seeing little fish. I also remember having my friend’s birthday cake up in the sand dunes, and sliding down the sand dunes on large green garbage bags. It was so very simple, and yet so much fun.
However, when I went back to Norah Head with my kids about 10 years ago, the sand dunes were nowhere to be found. Indeed, when I inquired about them at a local shop, they were quite a mystery. You see, the dunes had been rejuvenated and by this stage, were hidden beneath six foot paperbark trees and thick vegetation. Although this was good for the environment, I have to admit I was rather disappointed. I wanted to slide down those dunes again and take my kids with me. Moreover, I particularly didn’t want to be that old, that I’d developed my own tales about “life back in the olden days”.
Anyway, getting back to the lighthouse, I’m not going to delve too deeply into its construction and design of the Norah Head Lighthouse. All of that’s only a quick Google search away. However, I wanted to share this little story I came across from Christmas 1945 where a journalist explored what it was like to spend Christmas at the Norah Head Lighthouse:
Lighthouse Wasn’t Lonely
Although Norah Head lighthouse is in a comparatively isolated position, about 20 miles south of Newcastle, its staff had anything but a lonely Christmas. The head keeper’s wife (Mrs. J. H. Fisher), who said: “It couldn’t be lonely here-it’s absolutely beautiful,” entertained a party of guests from Sydney. A number of fishermen and holiday-makers are camped on the head land and fishing catches are reported to be good. Supplies brought in from the small village of Norahville, 20 minutes’ walk from the light house, ensured a typical Christmas dinner for the lighthouse staff. Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate (NSW : 1876 – 1954), Wednesday 26 December 1945, page 2
I also thought you’d enjoy this aerial perspective from 1953, even if it is in black & white:
While the lighthouse itself is a stunning attraction, the dramatic views from the headland are amazing and stretch in all directions. I was particularly captivated by the waves smashing onto the rock platform down below, more than reinforcing the need for a lighthouse here, at least historically speaking. This photo gives you a good idea of the forces down below:
Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed our tour around Norah Head Lighthouse. It’s been awhile since I’ve posted on a blogshare called Thursday Doors, but I thought my trip to the Norah Head Lighthouse made for a good contribution.
Hosted by Norm Frampton, “Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments below, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time). “