Tag Archives: travel

Macadamia Castle & Ballina…Monday 7th January, 2019.

Well, our travels around Byron Bay continue today, as I explained, exactly a week behind the action in the interests of home security and also actually having a holiday while we were away. That didn’t mean I didn’t do any writing. This year, I’ve committed myself to writing more regularly in my journal (a page to a day diary) and would like to write every day but am not going to beat myself up if I miss a few days, especially atm when I’m trying to catch up on my travel writing here.

Naturally, we usually have the kids in tow when we come up to stay with Geoff’s sister at Newrybar just out of Byron Bay. However, the kids are currently away at the Australian Scouting Jamboree in Adelaide and  so our holiday was a little different. Geoff ended up staying at home and just sleeping trying to recover from the year at work and my in-law’s property is so green, lush and different to our own place, you don’t necessarily feel the need to go anywhere else. Well, unless you’re me and have to get out and immerse yourself in the incredibly rich, diverse and one-off cultural delights this region has to offer.

Above: These photos were taken at The Castle back in January 2009. They don’t have the piglets there anymore.

So, Monday afternoon saw us drive down the highway to the Macadamia Castle for afternoon tea. We usually take the kids there to see and interact with the animals. Although they’re now teens, they still love it and I find that it’s very much like visiting your grandparents’ farm. You never grow out of that. Geoff and I also love it there. However, we didn’t want to pay the entry fee for just ourselves and were more interested in our slice of Caramel Nut Tart. We have it every time we go there and it should come with plenty of caramel sauce, which it has ever other time we’ve been there and they were more than happy to bring more out. We bought a couple of postcards from the castle which we sent off to our kids at Jamboree but so far they haven’t arrived and they’re leaving today. Fingers crossed that that post office fairies can pull their fingers out and get them there in time.

Next, we were off to Ballina to get petrol and post the cards. Ballina is more of a business and practical shopping hub, although it is on the riverfront and quite pretty in its own right. Just not exciting and by and large, seems to lack the sense of creative overdrive you usually find in this region.

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Ballina Manor

However, we did see a sign to Ballina Manor and we went off to explore that. Unfortunately, we were too late for a tour but there’s always next time.

We also happened to park outside a discount book store and it won’t surprise you that that spelt TROUBLE!! I bought a few books as gifts but for myself, or to be more precise as educational material for my role as parent, I bought Maggie Dent’s  Mothering Our Boys. I managed to get about halfway through while we were away and had hoped to finish it by the time the kids returned from Jamboree, but there’s always going to be gaps and I’ve been busy trying to sort out our daughter’s room and somewhere stuck between a rock and a hard place, there’s my husband and I and within that, myself…me. Well, that’s why I’m sitting here with my cup of tea and am writing now. I needed a breather. Indeed, I needed to breathe full stop.

Well, this is a relatively quick stop off today. Tomorrow, we’ll be off to Bangalow.

Thank you for joining me!

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS I don’t know about you, but I often have difficulties finding photos to go with my blog posts, even for places like The Castle when we’ve been there something like 20 times over the years. I was looking for a photo of the front of the Castle, which really needs to be taken up by the road rather than where you park the car. I’m sure I’ve walked up the hill years ago to photograph the knight which stands guard out the front day and night. However, I couldn’t find it. One of the reasons for this difficulty is that I’ve often looking for that overall, big picture wide-angle shot for the featured image, while I most frequently take photos from a zoomed-in or close-up perspective. Indeed, working this out has been quite an insight into how I view and photograph the world and that I probably also need to zoom out more to make sure I take in the bigger picture as well as the minutiae.

Main Beach, Byron Bay…Sunday 8th January, 2019 (continued).

“At the beach, life is different. Time doesn’t move hour to hour but mood to moment. We live by the currents, plan by the tides and follow the sun.”     

Sandy Gingras

After spending so long dawdling around the markets and waxing lyrically about my first trip to Byron Bay in 1995 or thereabouts, I thought I’d better start a separate post to write about my trip to the beach. To be precise, my trip to Main Beach. Byron Bay has been blessed with many beaches.

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The view from my parking spot under the tree.

Well, to be honest, I didn’t quite make it onto the sand and as for getting in the water, you must be delirious or dreaming. I bought myself some sushi and parked myself on a seat underneath what I think was a huge Norfolk Pine Tree. I was in the shade with a view looking out to Julien Rocks and I was listening to a group of young German tourists and noticing how young, skinny and tanned everybody looked and how I didn’t fit the demographic. Indeed, I’d become OLD!

Anyway, I managed to levitate out of my seat and go for a bit of a walk along the path beside the beach heading to the left in the photo above, which I think takes me due North. However, with my lousy sense of direction, I could’ve been heading South so I try not to be too specific or simply use hand signals and point.

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Although you can’t see the shadow of Mt Warning in this shot, I still love is mysterious layers of mist. Anything could be hiding there.

I’ve always loved this Northerly aspect with it’s view towards Mt Warning and the stunning volcanic mountains. It’s so relaxing and reminds me of the Lord of the Rings for some reason. I’ve taken some magnificent photos of these hills at sunset over the years. However, I wanted to share with you what I saw and experienced on this particular day more than showing off my photographic skills.

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The Post-Hippy Era in Byron Bay

While I was photographing these misty covered hills, I spotted a young man walking out along the rocks with what looked like a cape tied around his neck. Could he indeed be a contemporary incarnation of Superman? I was intrigued and my curiosity was rewarded. He walked out to the edge of the rocks and pulls out his phone and started posing (and I mean posing) out there risking life and limb to get some selfies. Apparently, your more likely to die from a selfie than a shark attack and if you’d like to read more about the dangers of selfies, you can read this grueling story from RollingStone Magazine.

 

Meanwhile, I am now back home. The kids get back from Jamboree on Tuesday morning and while a certain mouse was away, the cat has pounced in her bedroom. Actually, I’ve done more than pounce and have been undertaking serious excavations and archaeological digs in there. Don’t worry. I’m not doing it all for her. She had a good crack at it before she left, but I’ve since got in under the bed and I think that just about sums things up. I’m sure I don’t need to spell out the subterranean world under a teenager’s bed. I’m just happy to report that I made it out alive and there were no dead bodies of any variety under there. Phew. Thank heaven for small mercies!

Well, that finishes up last Sunday and I think we’re off to the Macadamia Castle for coffee tomorrow and a quick drive around Ballina.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Party Ice – Thursday Doors.

Welcome to Another Thursday Doors!

This week, I’m applying the KISS Principle to my contribution…Keep It Simple, Stupid.

As you may be aware, I’m from Sydney, Australia and so we’re in the throws of a sweltering, sunny Summer here right now. We have just returned from a week away staying at Nureybar, located in lush green countryside about 15 minutes drive out of Byron Bay on the NSW North Coast. Indeed, I’ve sat up at night reading or writing intoxicated by a chorus of frogs, grasshoppers and even a Gecho, who is rumoured to be an Indonesian import.

This holiday has proven just how photographing doors can get under your skin and even become part of your raison d’etre. A late start to the day, meant many of the shops had shut by the time I’d finished my coffee and so I could appreciate and photograph the closed doors without needing to explain myself, which is a good thing I feel. I feel a bit awkward trying to explain doorscursions to the uninitiated, especially when most people coming to Byron Bay are smitten by the beach instead.

Anyway, as I said, I’m going to keep this post really simple and catch up on the full range of doors from my trip next week. In the meantime, given the Summer heat here, this freezer door had instant appeal. Indeed, I could’ve jumped in there.

Lastly, before I head off, I thought I’d ask you whether you’ve ever had an accidents or close calls while doing photography? Your tales of misadventure don’t need to be doorspecific. You see, while I was away, I was exploring my in-law’s garden and ventured off the path to photograph a beautiful bromeliad. However, as I stepped off the path, my foot was gripped by sudden pain as a stick jabbed me in the arch of my foot. We’d just been out for coffee and I was wearing sandals and the stick got me from the side. At first, I thought I’d cut an artery but nothing quite that dramatic but it did necessitate a trip to Ballina Hospital and four stitches, a tetanus shot and four hours later, we were on the way home. While the wound itself isn’t much, I’m hobbling around and it still hurts. I also need to work out how I’m going to wash my hair and shower for the next ten days. This is what happens when you believe in jumping in boots and all and don’t think about the safety considerations beforehand. Anyway, I’ve learned this lesson and will be wearing sensible shoes in future…or not!

How has your week been? I hope it’s been a good one.

This has been another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Norm 2.0. Why don’t you come and join us and share a few of your favourite doors. It’s a lot of fun and helps you see parts of the world you’ll never get to visit.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Australian Scouting Jamboree…Thursday Doors.

Happy New Year and welcome to the 1st Thursday Doors for 2019!

This morning, we were engulfed by a swirling vortex of emotion as the doors of this  almighty white coach opened and swallowed up our kids, along with a gazillion scouts and bags. They’re off to the Australian Scouting Jamboree 2019, which opens tomorrow at ‘The Bend Motorsport Park’ Tailem Bend, South Australia. That’s about a 20 hour coach ride away and they’re sleeping on the bus.

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Inside the bowels of the bus and behind closed doors.

Our kids are members of Broken Bay Scout Group, but for Jamboree purposes, they’ve now become part of the “Bin Chickens”. Well, at least that’s the name of their troop and the name on the corresponding badge I sewed onto their shirts.

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The kids with their scout bags. 

 

By the way, I should probably put you into the geographical picture. We live on the New South Wales Central Coast in Greater Sydney. Tailem Bend is in South Australia less than 100 km south-east of Adelaide on the east bank of the Murray River close to where the river empties into Lake Alexandrina. The Murray River (or River Murray[n 1]) (NgarrindjeriMillewaYorta YortaTongala)[1] is Australia’s longest river, at 2,508 kilometres (1,558 mi) in length.[2] The Murray rises in the Australian Alps, draining the western side of Australia’s highest mountains, and then meanders across Australia’s inland plains, forming the border between the states of New South Wales and Victoria as it flows to the northwest into South Australia. It turns south at Morgan for its final 315 kilometres (196 mi), reaching the ocean at Lake Alexandrina.

Bin Chickens

I should also fill you in on what constitutes a “Bin Chicken” and recommend you view this highly informative documentary: The Bin Chicken

While coaches don’t usually feature on Thursday Doors, how could I not report on this beast, which has taken my children away? Of course, I was emotional, although much less emotional than I would’ve been if the kids weren’t more concerned about their friends, getting a good seat on the bus and all that lies ahead. That’s a good thing. It is. However, they could’ve given Mum just a bit more of a hug, because maybe I needed it. Maybe, I’m a bit more aware that things happen, and that you can’t take anything for granted. That you always need to ring and say that you’ve arrived safely, even though you know you’re okay. On this front, I also have to admit that I was thrilled and relieved that their coach was so big and looked so safe. It definitely had inbuilt bubble wrap. I’m sure it did.

Anyway, all too soon the doors of the coach closed. The engine rumbled and their journey began. By the way, you might also see through my cries of missing the kids. You could also say that we’re also spreading our wings, as we’re child-free for the next ten days.

While our kids are in transit and last photographed having dinner in Hay, scouts have already started arriving on site and pitching tents. Here’s some media coverage: Australian Jamboree 2019

I hope you’ve enjoyed dipping your toe into Australian Jamboree 2019. I must say it’s a very exciting experience and quite something when you consider that 10,000 scouts from around the world are all heading down to Tailem Bend. I can’t wait to hear their tales.

This has been another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Norm 2.0. Why don’t you come and join us and share a few of your favourite doors. It’s a lot of fun and helps you see parts of the world you’ll never get to visit.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS Here’s food for thought when the scouts arrive tomorrow and they’re pitching their tents in the dusty heat, especially if my daughter ruins her nails:

“A Scout smiles and whistles under all circumstances.”

-Robert Baden-Powell

Surviving the Australian Sun…

Perhaps, you’ve heard that Australia is currently experiencing a dire heatwave. Indeed, it’s been coloured-in bright red on the weather maps, and threatening temperatures of over 40 degrees and everything but hell fire and brimstone.  Well, that’s if you believe the weather reports. However, where we live the reality has been much closer to 30 degrees, and dare I say, an English Summer.

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Arriving at Ocean Beach.

While there are those sun-seeking Australians who head straight for the beach when the temperatures soar, these days I prefer more of a hibernation approach and only hit the beach around sunset. Moreover, although I considered getting into my swimmers and going for a swim, I opted for a “photographic walk” instead. In case you’ve never been on one of these, a photographic walk is taken peering through the lens and is a rather stop-start experience. Nothing that’s going to raise your heart-rate. Rather the aim of this exercise is to stimulate your creative juices. It works wonders for me and I always see in a much more focused and intense way exploring the world through my camera lens, than my own eyes. Moreover, I don’t like getting wet. I know that might sound rather hypocritical after teasing my dog for not getting his paws wet. However, at least I’ll dip my toe in and once I’m wet, I love it.

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Ocean Beach looking out towards Lion Island and Palm Beach headland.

Besides, I also wanted to explore the beach and all it’s nuances through the lens. Our local beach has copped a beating over the last five years. Or, is it more of a case that that our coastline is a rugged wilderness at the mercy of storms, tides and shifting sands and any semblance of smooth calm is nothing more than a postcard illusion? After all, the ocean isn’t a swimming pool, is it!  It can’t be contained.

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Fishing

That’s part of the ocean’s rugged beauty. That every day, even every minute, it’s different…an ephemeral force of nature. The people on the beach are also ever-changing. Ocean Beach with its Surf Lifesaving Club, is usually a swimming beach with fishing usually based around the point at Ettalong. However, the fishers were out in force when I was there yesterday.

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Love at Ocean Beach

Indeed, they weren’t the only ones. I’m sure it won’t come as any great surprise that we get overrun during Summer by this supposedly great force known as “tourism”, but could be better termed “an invasion”. This also justifies a hibernation approach, and the benefits of sunbaking inside at home with a good book and the air-conditioning on. Indeed, you could call it enlightened self-preservation.

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The closest I can get to a selfie with my SLR…self portrait at Ocean Beach.

Yet, I still had this unmet urge to carpe diem seize the day and actually make it to the beach on such a beautiful day. How boring to simply stay at home and let it float by without having lived it. Been a part of it.

As soon as I hit the beach, my mojo returned and as my toes sunk into the sand, my eyes were darting left and right scouring the sand and waves for something different, striking or eye-catching. Some days, that something hits me right in the face such as finding a group of Tibetan monks going surfing. We’ve also found the wreckage of a small boat and rows of trees yanked out of the dunes by the roots by a callous storm. There’s always something, even the fleeting watermarks in the sand.

Lines in the sand

Have you ever traced the watermarks in the sand and wondered where they came from? Where they’re going? Or, what they’re trying to say? Instead, I’ve watched my castles fall down and cursed the ocean for washing my efforts away.

However, my first impression was that there was nothing special and the beach was looking pretty ordinary, especially as the waves were flat. However, I found my eye drawn into the watermarks along the sand, which seem to tell a story of goodness knows what or where. Something beyond my human understanding.

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Perhaps, the seagulls were also discussing the mysterious secrets contained in a grain of sand.

Once you attune your eyes to appreciate grains of sand, your awareness of your surroundings becomes much more sensitive and acute. Even the common sea gull appeared extraordinary. Had character. Or, perhaps it was the extraordinary golden light which wove its magic? Certainly, this magic had certainly captivated the clouds. They were absolutely magnificent. It was a perfect sky.

Sunburnt Sunset Ocean Beach

Even the clouds were on fire.

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How have you been spending the Christmas break? I’d love to hear from you. 2018 is about to pass through the hour glass and I guess I’d better start thinking about some resolutions for the New Year before 2019 also washes out into the ocean.

Best wishes,

Rowena

A Sydney Christmas.

Although it’s not quite Christmas yet, I thought I’d share some of the Christmas scenes I encountered on some recent trips into the Sydney CBD. To be honest, by day these decorations as a whole, are very lack lustre compared to what I’ve been seeing from friends currently touring Europe and New York. Indeed, I feel a bit sheepish about presenting them at all, and rather apologetic. However, our beaches are beautiful this time of year, and who needs Christmas lights when you can have the sun.

My personal favourite has to be the window displays in David Jones’s Elizabeth Street Store. Although to be honest, I’ve only viewed them twice and haven’t entered the realms of Christmas traditions, even though I vowed they would when I took the kids there for their Santa photos when they were very small and our daughter was still terrified of Santa.

Here’s a few of my pics this year:

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Star Wars Display at David Jones

 

Walking across Hyde Park, you’ll come across St Mary’s Cathedral with it’s large nativity displays both inside and out:

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St Mary’s Indoor Nativity Scene 2018

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St Mary’s Outdoor Nativity Scene 2018.

Above: the dazzling Christmas tree in the Queen Victoria Building at Town Hall made of Swarovski crystals.

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The two photos above were taken at Haig’s Chocolate Shop in the Queen Victoria Building. As much as I was tempted to but a chocolate bell of Christmas tree, I was concerned about them melting in the heat going home. That’s an unfortunate reality of a Summer Christmas.

Last and perhaps least and I hope it truly lights up into something dazzling as it currently looks very small and pathetic, is the Christmas Tree at Sydney’s Town Hall.

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After all that walking around, Elf and I needed to sit down.

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Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse of a Sydney Christmas by day. It doesn’t look like we’re going to get in there to view the lights.

Wishing you and yours a very Merry and Blessed Christmas and a wonder-filled New Year.

Best wishes,

Rowena and family

Flying Through The Eye…Friday Fictioneers.

As a five year old, Molly’s perspective of their European vacation was very different to her Mum and Dad’s.

While they were engrossed in the minutae of the architectural details, Molly’s gaze wandered upwards, drawn towards the huge eye peering down through the roof. The eye of a friendly giant.

“Molly! Molly!” he beckoned.

Sensing a miraculous adventure, Molly let go of her mother’s hand and started rising higher and higher. “OMG! Mummy! Daddy! I’m flying”

Then, she looked down.There was only blue sky, clouds and teeny weeny rooftops as small as Monopoly houses and the moon lay up ahead.

……

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields. PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot