Tag Archives: photography

A Walking Tour of Wollombi, Australia.

Welcome to Wollombi, NSW.

After what turned out to be a very convoluted route, which my husband has called “driving to Wollombi via Darwin”, the little red car and I pulled into Wollombi and I did the rest on foot.

In case you haven’t read the  preamble, I’d driven to Wollombi to see historic St Michael’s Church of the Archangel, and also to steep myself in Wollombi’s historic ambiance. It was no exaggeration to say that arriving in Wollombi, felt like stepping out of a time capsule into the 19th Century and I loved that. Love, loved, loved it. It’s so good that some places have in a sense been by-passed, fallen asleep and been spared from the crappinization process. That’s what we loved about so much of Tasmania and it was great to find that so close to home.

Obviously, Wollombi  isn’t a huge metropolis. So, you won’t be surprised that I spotted the Church straight away, but it did feel a bit funny to actually see it in person for the first time, and it was much smaller than expected. Wondered how you could fit both sides of a good Catholic family inside back in the days before TV. I guess they were probably used to squishing in.

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On 1st April, 1891, my Great Great Grandfather, William Henry Gardiner, married his second wife, Jane Ann Lynch from Glendon Grove, Wollombi at St Michael’s. This press excerpt provides a great impression of their special day and I can just hear those bells ringing out:

“On Tuesday last our little town, usually so dull and quiet, was the scene of much excitement, and that eventful day will long be remembered as a red-letter day in the annals of our history. At the early hour of eight o’clock the tolling of the bell at St. Michael’s Church announced that some ceremonies of a very rare occurrence were about to take place there, and immediately crowds of spectators could be seen wending their way to it. Half an hour later two brides (sisters), the Misses Lynch, of Glendon Grove, were standing before the hymeneal altar in the above-mentioned place. The elder, Miss Jane Lynch, who for some years has been residing near West Maitland, was united in the bonds of matrimony to Mr. William Gardiner, a resident of West Maitland, and afterwards her sister, Miss Agnes Lynch, was joined to Mr. Joseph Tripp, of Aberdeen. Each was assisted by two bridesmaids, the former by her sister and niece, Miss Teresa Lynch and Miss Bourke, and the latter by Míss Tripp and Miss Katie Bourke. The Rev. Father Flanagan, who came here the previous evening from Cessnock, performed both ceremonies, and afterwards celebrated Mass, during which the choir, of which Miss Agnes Lynch was a prominent and efficient member, sang some beautiful selections, and as the long procession was leaving the church, Miss M. Kenny played the Wedding March with great effect. On the previous evening the ladies of the Altar Society, as a last tribute of respect to one of their members, decorated with artistic skill the church and altar the walls being hung with magnificent wreaths and festoons. At ten o’clock a start was made for the brides’ residence, and as tho long train o£ buggies passed through the streets the firing of guns and ringing of bells could be heard in every direction.” Tuesday 7th April 1891The Maitland Advertiser & Hunter River Advertiser pg 7.

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The Forge, Wollombi.

Next to the Church, I spotted an intriguing looking building called: “The Forge” and I couldn’t quite make out whether it was a home or a shop. There was a mannequin tied up to a telegraph pole out the front and I’m not sure whether she was waiting for a bus, a ghost or an alien landing, but she’d definitely been heading somewhere before she’d been detained. Macca, the Proprietor, invited me in, even though it was closed and let me take photos, which I really appreciated as this place really felt like home to me. Perhaps, I should be concerned about that, and book myself in with a shrink. However, I love maccabre and I love how random objects can be thrown together in a space, creating a licorice allsorts of possibilities in my head. It also reminded me of exploring under both my grandparents’ houses where things weren’t thrown out, but simply “retired’. What gave this place the edge over your garden-variety vintage store, was Macca’s artworks peering out inbetween old dolls and vintage mannekins a few Sunbeam Mixmasters, books and salvaged farm equipment. He’d also arranged things in intriguing combinations, which ranged from maccabre to down right hilarious.

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Naturally, this place which seemed like a kind of “Mecca to Displaced Euphemora”, deserves its own post and so I’ll be back with more photos.

Meanwhile, I’m heading off to the cemetery. William Henry Gardiner wasn’t buried here, but Jane Lynch’s family is well-represented. I love exploring and photographing old cemeteries like this, especially capturing haunting  shadows lurking on tombstones and the like. They get you thinking.

Anyway, I was delighted to spot this magpie sitting on top of a Celtic Cross, especially when it didn’t dive bomb me as I approached. It’s Spring here, and I’d already been warned about a dive-bombing magpie earlier on the trip and was on guard. I know I often overinflate the dangers of Australian wildlife, but these swopping magpies are beyond a joke.

I walked back to the car via the grocery store and old courthouse.

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By now, it was approaching 5.00PM and impending darkness. It was a windy drive home through Wombat country and I needed to be alert. I was also concerned about having a possible encouter with a kangaroo. They come out and feed on dusk, and let’s just say they’re best avoided.

However, I popped into the local pub for an apple juice and toilet stop before leaving. I very rarely go into pubs and they’re not my scene. However, I really loved the country feel of this one, which felt very authentic and real. Names had been carved into the tables outside. Farm utes were parked out the front. I felt surprisingly relaxed and would’ve loved to stay for a yarn.

I am already planning my next trip and am even looking into camping there with friends. However, next time, no detours. It’s just a 70 minute drive “up the road”.

xx Rowena

 

Our Father’s Day!

Happy Fathers’ Day!

While I’m tempted to philosophise about what it means to be a Dad, I think I’d better stick with what I know and focus on what it means to be a daughter and my observations of my husband. Of course, it’s very easy to hop up on the soap box when I’m in my own blog bubble on my laptop and my husband’s watching a very strange movie, Tropic Thunder, which seems worse than any Dad joke. However, even now, there’ s that caution and thank goodness for that.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see my Dad for Father’s Day today, and by the time we managed to call, he was already in bed. We’ve put our celebrations off until we’re all feeling better. However, Mum said that he was up early to play golf this morning and quite frankly Fathers’ Day should also be about Dad doing what he wants to do, because even though my Dad’s retired, he still has responsibilities.

“To a father growing old nothing is dearer than a daughter.”

Euripides

My Dad has always been my rock… stable, reliable, always there for me. Most of my life, I’ve been anything but a rock…the social butterfly, the panic merchant, the deep thinker who could easily fly off the deep end. Whenever life got tough and I’d start to complain, Dad would tell me “this’ll put hairs on your chest” or he’d quote our then Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser: “Life isn’t meant to be easy”. We had a family whistle, which I later found out Dad had inherited from his own father. If we were lost, he’d whistle out to us and it was such a relief. I also remember being small and looking right up over the top of the crowd to find Dad. Not quite a tall as Roald Dahl or the BFG, Dad was noticeably taller in a crowd. Speaking of being tall, Dad also looked like John Cleese back in the day and I didn’t understand why people made such a joke of the Nudge ad on TV: “Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more”. Dad buried my dead goldfish and the dead tadpoles because I was too scared to go near them and how he encouraged me to drive out of my comfort zone. Whenever I was nervous about driving somewhere, he’d ask me if my licence prevented me from going there. Obviously not, so there was no reason I couldn’t do it. I also remember being terrified when notorious criminal William John Mundy escaped from gaol. I clearly remember checking the windows and being absolutely terrified and Dad said he’d protect me. I felt so safe. Dad was invincible. Back then, I really could believe father knew best and Dad was only a very small still away from being Superman.

Rowena & Geoff

I don’t know why we have to grow up. Or, at least go through that whole process where we realize our parents aren’t perfect and tend to focus on the gap, instead of being grateful for the abundance we have and the enormous, immeasurable sacrifices they’ve made.

Now, that I’m a parent even if I’m not a Dad, I can appreciate the enormity of the task. That being there 24/7 x 18 if not a lifetime is beyond huge. Of course, there’s love. Such love and delight in our kids, but so much worry, concern and just wanting to ease their path, understand who they are and try to see the world through their eyes instead of our own.

So, I’d like to thank my Dad for that. I’d like to thank my Dad for still being there for me and our family. Both Mum and Dad have helped us extensively through a very intense time with my health, especially when the kids were small and I was hospitalized for seven weeks. I still remember Dad’s reassurances at the start, and how they were running out of oomph by the end…”you coming home any time soon?” Having a 3.5 and 18 month year old left on your doorstep for so long without warning is just the sort of thing which “puts hair on your chest”. After all, it no matter how much we might love our little people, the heart might be willing, but the body can struggle to keep pace. My Mum and Dad have been truly amazing.

Rowena & Papa 1969

Look at those little eyes looking up at my grandfather for the very first time…you can feel the love between us. 

Fathers’ Day is not just an opportunity for me to remember my own Dad, but also my grandfathers. My Dad’s Dad was a real character…a dentist who used to buy soft drink by the crate every weekend (large family) and used to give us horsey bites under the dining room table in such a way that you’d bang your knee. He also did the coin behind the ear trick. I remember my grandparents travelling and my grandfather bringing me back a very stately-looking English dress which he’s bought on Bond Street, an apron from Amsterdam, Denis the Menace in French from Paris and even a giving me a precious taste of some dark chocolate he’d brought back from Italy. I also remember the last time I saw my grandfather before he died of cancer. He took his oxygen mask off, even though he was having a coughing fit, because he didn’t want to scare us. He held my hand and told me the importance of hands. He’d worked as a dentist and my grandmother was a concert pianist so hands had been very important to them. They had worked with their hands. Expressed themselves.

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I don’t remember anything about my grandfather’s father, known as “Pop”. Not unsurprisingly, he died before my time. However, Dad has a funny story about when he went away with pop to visit his aunt inter-state. Well, Pop handed my Dad a hip flask of Scotch. Dad was about 7 years old and he’s pretty sure Pop asked him to drink it. Well, later on, Pop asked Dad for it back. Apparently, he’d asked Dad to mind it and we get the feeling he was hiding his stash from Gran. He wasn’t very impressed when Dad had tried the stuff. Indeed, although he hated the taste and it would’ve been pretty rough for a young kid, he thought he’d better do his best. I found out in recent years, that Pop had lost his eye in a childhood accident in the family foundry and stove-making business. I admire his tenacity, because most of the family didn’t know about it. He ust got on with it.

Father’s Day is rather mixed for my husband. While he’s been celebrating being a Dad himself for the last 13 years, his own father passed away when Geoff was 16 so many years ago now and his funeral was a week before Father’s Day. That’s like a double-dose of tough but then shifting gears and celebrating the present. Well, to be honest, parenting is more about ups and downs and loving your kids through the entire spectrum of experience.

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Our son courageously cooking bacon this morning and dodging spitting fat. 

Anyway, our Father’s Day began with bacon and eggs. Our son has become quite the bacon cook around here and our daughter made the eggs. I made the coffee. Then, we were off to Church where they’d set up a photo booth in front of a vintage black Mercedes and we had our photos taken. They also provided meat pies for the dad…and the kids. Yet, they still felt hungry enough to have pancakes for lunch back home. I was an egg short and added a good shake of custard powder to produce some rather yellow-looking pancakes, which thankfully passed muster. My family is very fussy.

After lunch, the day went down hill…rapidly.

In a moment of deluded madness, I’d booked the carpet cleaner in for tomorrow…and the window cleaner as well. We’ve never had our carpets or windows professionally cleaned before, but I can get it as part of my disability support package. There was just a slight problem of finding the carpet in certain areas of the loungeroom and also needing to move furniture. Indeed, you could say that we’ve moved mountains this afternoon. So, much for Geoff relaxing on Father’s Day!! He was doing a lot of moving, shaking and sweeping.

I guess you could call that a father’s day.

Did you celebrate Fathers’ Day today? What did you get up to? Please share in the comments below.

xx Rowena

Puppies!

As you may recall, a close friend of mine volunteers for a pet rescue organization. Well, she messaged me during the week and mentioned they had PUPPIES!!! Of course, I invited us round for a playdate. Indeed, we were there in a flash and my husband even came along to supervise procedings. He had grave concerns about us arriving home with a pup! I wonder why????

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My daughter with one of the pups.

Coco and her sister, Daisy, are apparently black, curley-haired retrievers and are six weeks old. They are pure black, except Coco has a small splash of white on her chest. Both of them looked like miniature versions of our Border Collie x Cavalier, Lady, only they have shorter ears.

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The puppies up on the trampoline with the girls.

Not surprisingly, these pups were irresistable, and it’s amazing how I can find them trying to chew up my shoes and even my good jumper endearing. Of course, there was that typical Australian; “she’ll be right, mate” nonchalence, but they were so cute that I almost couldn’t care. I even let them chew on my finger.

We will be getting a second dog in the not to distant future. Indeed, my friend has told me there are some border collie puppies coming up and I’m thinking about joining up as a volunteer and hosting these. See if one of them clicks. So far, I haven’t been seriously tempted by any of my friend’s lodgers. They’ve been wonderful dogs but I still feel lie we’re hanging out for another Border Collie pup.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the pics.

xx Rowena

The Australian Magpie.

I photographed this magpie or “Maggie” at my friend’s place today. While they can become territorial and aggressive during Spring, they’re found  throughout most backyards, at least around here, and are mostly very tame. It’s quite clear that they’re worked out humans are a great source of food and they make themselves part of the family. Our elderly neighbours were being eaten out of house and home by their baby magpie who’d also make quite a lot of noise demanding to be fed. My friend volunteers for an animal rescue service and the magpie has discovered the puppies food bowl and helped itself. I guess you could call it “fast food”. Apparently, we have a family of maggies living in our jacaranda tree out the back. Geoff tells me that they’re “resprayed” our Morris Minor.

What types of birds do you have in your backyard? Please share in the comments below.

xx Rowena

 

Dog, that is NOT your bed!

You provide your dog with a comfy dog bed and blankets in the house, the choice of two kennels outside, not to mention a possie lying on the grass in the midday sun and what does she do, she sets up residence on my son’s bed as if she owns the place.

As you’re probably aware, our dog is called Lady. Being a dog, she doesn’t have Google access to nut out the difference between being a “Lady” and being a “Princess” or even, (heaven help us) “THE Queen”. However, there’s no doubt that she firmly believes she’s holds prime real estate in Burke’s Peerage.

Or, maybe, she’s just dyslexic and thinks she’s God.

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Lady is “simply irresistable”.

Knowing the presumptiousness of that dog, I wouldn’t be surprised. She’s definitely working towards world domination. Or, at least, domination of our world.

So, it was that I caught her sleeping on my son’s bed yesterday, and not for the first time either. However, this time I managed to secure photographic proof.

Caught her in the act.

“I don’t really understand that process called reincarnation but if there is such a thing I’d like to come back as my daughter’s dog.”

Leonard Cohen

Dogs are curious characters and I never tire of watching and loving them and forgiving their indiscretions in a way you’d never do for a person. No doubt, that’s the reason they have those huge puppy dog eyes. Master manipulators who fly under the radar, they know it only takes one look to be forgiven…or to receive a snack.

We are but putty in their paws.

Has your dog been up to any mischief or adventures lately? I’m thinking I should turn this into a regular feature…Dob in your dog. 

Hope you’re having a great week.

xx Rowena

PS In case you’re wondering, Lady is a Border Collie x Cavalier. She’s totally black aside from a little patch of white on her chest and on her paws. She has floppy cavalier ears and very silky cavalier fur. She’s a very pretty dog.

PPS: Lady has requested an upgrade after seeing this French mansion: https://wikr.com/rsyt-auyt-man-stumbled-upon-abandoned-mansion-countryside-blown-away-saw-inside/?utm_source=desc&utm_medium=bestbot1

Weekend Coffee Share 29th May, 2017.

Welcome to Another Monday Afternoon Coffee Share in Australia.

This week, you’ll be thanking your lucky stars you popped round for a visit. That’s because I’ve not only been to visit the Koi Dessert Bar of Masterchef fame, I’ve also made Pumpkin Soup. For me, there’s only one way to make Pumpkin Soup and it has nothing to do with tins. Indeed, tins are heresy.

So, would you like tea, coffee, juice or water and I’ll let you help yourself to a choice of soup or sweets.

How was your week?

Our week had more than the usual ups and downs.

On the upside, I caught the train down to Sydney for a medical appointment and had the afternoon to myself walking around Central Station, through Chippendale and into Surry Hills and Paddington. This area is characterised by 19th Century terrace houses and even though much of it has been renovated and gentrified, there’s still that element of grunge and even though the real estate there is very pricey, the terraces still only have a yard the size of a folded handkerchief. Every time, I go to Surry Hills, there’s something different and this trip, I focused on the striking Autumn leaves, which looked so poised against a deep blue sky.

I arrived back home with the excitement of a few desserts for the family to try. However, that excitement was broken by news that the son of a family friend had died suddenly, leaving behind his wife and three little kids…not to mention his parents who have been friends of my Mum’s since forever. This guy was a year younger than me and being a boy, I never played with him growing up, but he was around. His parents were around a lot. Naturally, that felt like a brick just hit me in the head and I reiterate previous questions about why bad things happen to good people, even though even I’ve reached an uneasy truce with this imponderable conundrum.

Friday afternoon, I rang my 11 year old daughter to tell her that I was stuck in a queue at the supermarket. I was meeting her only metres away and all she needed to do, was turn around to see me. However, she was sobbing when she answered the phone. She’d walked into a pole. Broken her glasses. Cut herself and was at the Medical Centre. This wasn’t the medical centre we usually go to either so she was in a very unfamiliar environment with people she didn’t know, and she can be very shy. Fortunately, the staff were exceptionally kind and another Mum had found her and taken her in. So far so good, except once I appeared, stitching up the cut needed to be addressed. Either they could do it there with only a local anesthetic or she could have it done at the local hospital where they could give her gas. That was a 30 min drive away and a hassle. Fortunately, she was brave and had it done there. Well, neither of us was feeling very brave, but we survived and I took her for an ice cream afterwards. Saturday morning, her eye was so puffed up, that it barely opened. However, she was of to dancing and is on the mend.

I had a huge nap yesterday to de-stress wrapped up in my doona with the electric blanket on.

Well, I’m runnning out of time to post this. So, I’ll head off now.

Hope you’ve had a great week.

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share.

xx Rowena

 

 

The Walk, Sydney.

Last Thursday, I ran away. Absconded.

Well, to be precise, I walked. However, “walking” doesn’t sound as good.  It doesn’t conjure up that same sense of theatre. Lacks drama. Walking also sounds, dare I say, rather “pedestrian”.

After going down to Sydney for a doctor’s appointment, I decided to pop into the Koi Dessert Bar in Chippendale. Koi was roughly “on the way home”, even if it was in the diametrically opposed direction. Koi is co-owned by Reynold, the Dessert King of Masterchef 2015. So, I was more than willing for my sweet tooth to lead me astray. Mum was taking care of the home front. So, I was a free agent. Cinderella dancing away at the ball with no thoughts about midnight.

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After catching the train from St Leonards to Central, I was walking to Broadway via the Devonshire Street Tunnel. This long pedestrian tunnel houses buskers, the homeless, beggars, along with a vendor selling The Big Issue. The tunnel itself has been there since 1906, but the characters keep changing. Today, I was mesmerized as the notes of a saxophone rose above scuffling feet into some kind of heaven. At least, heaven in a dingy tunnel. I didn’t feel like dancing, but I certainly felt my spirit soar.  It felt like the scene out of a movie. Indeed, I made my own so stay tuned.

I walked on, emerging into daylight and city streets.

 

My destination was only a few streets away. I was heading to the Koi Dessert Bar in Kensington Street, Chippendale. This is not any ordinary restaurant or cafe. Rather, it is home to Reynold, the Dessert king of Masterchef 2015. Moreover, so many of the current Masterchef contestants end up doing work experience at Koi, after they’ve left the show. I was hoping to experience a touch of Masterchef. I’d met Reynold on my last visit to Koi and enjoyed watching their open kitchen at work and was hoping to see someone and talk Masterchef.

Above: I met Reynold and watched him and the team in action at Koi last year.

However, neither Reynold nor any familiar faces were there. So, I didn’t feel I could gush like a Masterchef tragic.

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Dessert Heaven at Koi.

Rather, I had to choose my dessert…not an inconsiderable process. With so much yum on display, it creates that impossible choice. You know they’re all sensational, and it’s just a matter of personal taste. I chose the Nomtella…a dome with Espresso mousse covered in chocolate, and a mousy salted caramel centre nesting on a chocolate brownie base. I loved it, but found that half was enough. My sweet tooth hasn’t been quite so sweet lately and I blame the increased exercise for that. I bought an Orange Creme Caramel and a citrus dessert to take home and they were much more to my palate, which surprised me. They were truly sensational.

After leaving Koi, I ended up walking up Cooper Street into Surry Hills. I explored a few alleyways, chasing images of autumn leaves back-dropped against a deep, blue sky. I was swept off my feet by a special kind of Autumn magic, which was a world away from to do lists, action plans and responsibility. I still haven’t forgotten what it was like to wander the world as a backpacker, but now I have the love and security of home and my family to go home to. I only seek temporary escape. Not a one-way journey.

I don’t know what it is that keeps drawing me back to Surry Hills.

My Dad’s side of the family, Irish immigrants from County Cork mostly following the Irish Famine, settled in Paddington and Surry Hills and the family stove making business was at 90 Fitzroy Street for many years. However, that was long before my time and even my father’s. Yet, the stories were passed down. Indeed, there’s a photo of my grandfather and his Dad standing by their truck, which gives me that sense of belonging…origins. That at least a part of me, harks back Surry Hills, back when it was a surrogate Ireland and not the rough slum that it became.

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The J Curtin Truck with my Great Grandfather and Grandfather.

Moreover, although I’ve never lived in Surry Hills, I did live in neighboring Chippendale for a number of years. Lived in a range of terraces, and even a converted warehouse a life time ago.

Surry Hills is an eclectic, constantly changing place, and you never know quite what you’ll find or what to expect. There was a little cafe I’d found, which made the most scrumptious Coconut Chai Lattes, but it closed about 2 years ago. Gone, but not forgotten. On Thursday, I went to see what I knew as the art dungeon in Campbell Street, but it now sells shampoo and looks so sanitized. It’s such a travesty…a sell out. A place with so much character, gone.

Surry Hills is expensive real estate, and yet it retains its sense of grunge. Crumbling, run-down terrace houses can still be found, along with signs of Struggle Street. I can’t account for that. After all, I’m only passing through. Picking out bits and pieces through the lens, and immortalising what I’ve seen today on my hard drive. My perspectives or interpretations of an ephemeral, kaleidoscope world.That’s without even delving into its characters. I merely chat to a few people in shops, not knowing whether they’re local or not. Then, I go home.

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I was starting to fade.

Walking along Crown heading towards Oxford Street, was a long walk and I was starting to look out for passing buses….a magic carpet to carry me home. Or, at least, back to Central Station. My legs can struggle to keep up with all I see and it’s easy to conk out half way.

 

Yet, I kept walking until I finally staggered into Museum Station and caught the train to Central. I walked over to Country trains and slumped in my seat. Unlike most of the daily commuters, Too excited to sleep and pulled out the mag I’d bought in Surry Hills:

I was heading home.

 

Before we leave Surry Hills, I thought you might like to join me on some of my previous visits:

Window Shopping, Surry Hills.

Surry Hills to Gore Hill, Sydney/

Surry Hills…A Sense of Place.

Have you been on any epic urban walks that you’d like to share?

xx Rowena