Tag Archives: travel

Ferry Doors of Sydney Harbour.

During our three week stay at Cremorne Point on Sydney Harbour, I became something of a crazed ferry catching maniac and couldn’t stay off the things. There were numerous, almost daily trips across to Circular Quay which is essentially ferry central on Sydney Harbour, although I’m not sure that it’s fair to say all ferries go via Circular Quay, it certainly seems to be the case.

I love Sydney’s ferries. Although they’re relatively modern and only date back to the mid 80’s, they seem older and have a aged, vintage feel and are ubiquitously part of the harbour as though they’ve always been there. Of course, that obviously not the case, and even I vaguely remember the wooden ferries from my childhood, but even they were Johnny-come-latelies and for tens of thousands of years the various Aboriginal people who were the traditional owners of lands around Sydney Harbour fished from their boats in a timeless procession. That is, until they were gone.

At times, I sense all this history yet much of the time I was tantalized by the magnificent views, exhilarated as the ferry picked up speed and the wind was blowing in my face and I was having the most thrilling time of my life living right on the very edge of the waves.

There was definitely something deeply captivating about these ferries which remains very hard to translate into words on the page. You just have to be there.

Anyway, today I decided to fuse my love of catching and photographing ferries with a blogshare I also enjoy called Thursday Doors, and I always find it interesting to see where people have spotted doors this week and where their adventures have led. Photographing doors can tell a much, much broader story than something that simply opens and shuts.

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Of course, in the case of the ferries, the doors can also have a safety function, especially on a rough crossing. However, much of the time you don’t see much of the doors on the Sydney ferries because they’re open allowing passengers to move freely out onto the deck to enjoy the views, wind and salt spray in your face. Then, there’s that moment when the ferry pulls in and the deckhands madly thrown the gangplank out across the wharf to allow passengers to disembark. This whole process seems very old-worldy these days when everything is getting automated and there are even driver-less trains. I like it and it’s good to see people around and operating something and having a human interface. After all, we are not machines.

Emergency doors on the Manly Ferry

By the way, I think I’m going to put my mind to writing some poems and possibly a song about catching these Sydney ferries. Much to my surprise, there don’t seem to be many around and certainly nothing which immediately comes to mind. That said, I did come across two songs about catching the Manly Ferry:

There was also this Song about Manly ferries, written and sung by Pippa Johnson.

While whizzing around the Harbour on board the ferries was a lot of fun, there’s also that awareness that journeys come to an end.

Ferry From Rose Bay to Circular Quay.

Indeed, ferry timetables are something you really need to keep an eye on at night. There was only one ferry on the hour to Cremorne Point after 7.00pm I think it was and the last ferry leaves Circular Quay at midnight during the week and they don’t start up again until 6.05am which is a long wait unless you fork out for a water taxi.

Manly Ferry with the reflection of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the window.

Every a ferry needs a goodnight’s sleep!

Do you have a memories of catching ferries? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Manly Flash Back 1899 -Manly: The Queen Of Australian Watering Places

Doubtless, there’s no shortage of historic newspaper accounts of daytrips to Manly or descriptions of the place. However, not all of them are so well illustrated and I appreciated how this story in the Australian Town & Country Journal from 1899 covered some of the businesses in town as well and added people to the scene, which made t much more personal.

So, here goes….

Manly – The Queen Of Manly is to Sydney what Brighton is to London -the people’s. watering place. It is the resort par excellence of holiday-makers. On New Year’s Day-or, more correctly, January 2, for the year opened on Sunday-the five steamers of the Port Jackson Co-operative Company carried, exclusive of season ticket holders, no less than 22,000 people to the deservedly popular suburb. Not only is Manly the objective point of pleasure seekers at holiday times, but all through the summer season it is visited by hundreds, sometimes thousands, daily. A more ideal place for family picnics would be hard to find. Juveniles delight in the magnificent ocean and harbour beaches, the merry-go-rounds, the splendid baths, the fishing, the rambles by rocky glens and fairy bowers, and other attractions which make up the sum total of a day’s outing at Manly. Young ladles, while their male acquaintances are at work in the city, slip down there for afternoon tea and gossip, and in the evening, when the labour of the day is over, a “blow” on the harbor, and a walk on the ocean promenade with sweetheart, wife, or sister, has become almost as much a part of the city denizen’s existence as his pipe or newspaper. As the recreation haunt of the metropolis, Manly has steadily and satisfactorily increased its attractions, considering our somewhat tardy recognition of its advantages and possibilities. A good band is badly wanted, or, for the matter of that, two bands, one for the (harbour) Esplanade, and another for the (ocean) Parade. Occasionally the Port Jackson Company secure the services of a band for the Esplanade, and the popularity which attends these performances points to the desirability of establishing the band as a permanent institution.

Though it is only with-in the last three or four years that Manly has come to be known and appreciated at its proper worth, the now more than village has been growing nearly half a century. There are still one or two Manlyites who remembered the narrow isthmus which connect North Head with the mainland as a scrubby waste with rude tracks leading here and there to the ten or twelve, cottage residences, where lived as many families, the sole population of the neighborhood forty odd years ago. Mr. Henry Gilbert Smith, the proprietor of the estate, had a house on the hill where now stands Dalley’s “Castle,” or “Folly,” as the unfinished pile has been called, and of the other residents one or two were “some-thing in the city,” and the remainder were mostly fishermen. Communication with the city was maintained by the Parramatta steamers, which plied from the wharf at the foot of Erskine-street, and made two trips a day in fine weather, and whenever was convenient-perhaps but one trip a week in bad weather. A return fare then cost 3s. The steamers of those days were the Victoria, Black Swan, Pelican; and Emu, comparatively small craft, but capable of covering the distance-something over seven miles-in three quarters of an hour. To-day we have those fine saloon steamers Brighton, Manly, Fairlight, Narrabeen, and Brightside, which make the run a slightly shorter one certainly, in 35 minutes (the Manly does it in 25), and are together capable of transporting with, comfort 5000 people in one trip, or an average of 1000 per steamer. Instead of the two trips a day. there are now twenty-seven from each end, and fair weather or foul the service is maintained with the regularity of the English mail. Such a service as this, such fine steamers, and such cheap fares, is unexcelled anywhere.

In other respects also great strides have been made. The little fishing village has become, perhaps, the most picturesque watering place on the Australian seaboard. Nature has done nearly everything for Manly. The residents have done the rest. They built the Corso, the main thoroughfare connecting the harbor beach with that of the ocean, and as population grew, cut up the land on either side into residential blocks, planted shady trees by the way-side, created a park and recreation reserve, constructed the Esplanade, and defined the Ocean Parade, the completion of which the local council will, doubtless, leave as a legacy to a future generation of aldermen. More might have been done but for the circumstance that the Municipality of Manly, like most similar bodies in this country, finds itself hampered by monetary considerations.

The village had grown into a township, but the atmosphere of the village still clung round it. Manly was at best a dead and alive sort of place. Families who could afford, it sojourned there during the summer months, but the eighteen penny fare which obtained was not calculated to encourage permanent residents, and even the holiday fare of 1s seldom brought more than a few thousand visitors on any single occasion. A stimulus was wanting to galvanise the place into activity, and it came two or three years ago, when a number of influential residents, failing to se-cure a reduction in fares from the Port Jackson Company, organised, and ran an opposition line of steamers, at the ridiculously low rate of 3d. The competition which ensued was keen and suicidal, but “all’s well that ends well,” and Manly, as the saying is, has never looked back since. The great public having once tasted of the joys of a trip to Manly, must needs go again, and often, so by and bye, the rival companies amalgamated, a sixpenny return fare was established, and where, in 1893, the number of visitors was 376,777, the number in 1898 reached the grand total (exclusive of season ticket holders-a very numerous class, of course), 1,145,872-more than three times the number carried at the 1s 6d rate. Scores of new houses have been erected to meet growing demands, and from 3500 the population has increased to nearly 7000.

Under this new stimulus business, of course, went ahead by leaps and. bounds. Not a few shop-keepers found it necessary to rebuild, and extend their premises. Mr. J. W.Purves was one of these. He is the leading baker of Manly, and his refreshment-room at the Esplanade end of the Corso beats anything to be seen in Sydney for comfort, convenience, and general up-to-dateness. No wonder, for it cost him £2000 to build it. The floor is beautifully tiled, the ceiling is of the kind known as “Wunderlich,” and the furnishings and fittings are of modern type. What is more to the point, the confections, etc., are of the best quality, and as there are six waitresses in constant attendance, patrons are spared those trials of temper which invariably arise from “having to wait.” Mr. Purves’s establishment seats 80 people comfortably, and by utilising the balcony, he can accommodate 200. Not very long ago Mr. Purves had the satisfaction of seeing the Premier (Mr. Reid), and the Colonial Secretary (Mr. Brunker), sitting in his shop, enjoying a cup of tea “on their own.”

A little further along the Corso is the establishment of Mr. Charles J. Carroll, who, as chemist and druggist, has built up a large connection during the three years he has been in; business. This is the same Mr. Carroll whose “Instantaneous Headache Cure” has afforded relief to numbers of suffering humanity. Apart from his profession of chemist and druggist. Mr. Carroll is a skilled surgical and mechanical dentist, and residents can have their teeth attended to on terms as advantageous as can be obtained in the city.

The “Universal Providers” of Manly is a distinction enjoyed by Messrs. Butler Brothers, who, seven years ago, took over the business of Mr. Stephen Sullivan, and have since extended it so as to embrace all the needs of the town. A list of the things they sell would make tedious reading, but roughly, they may be summed up under the several heads of groceries, provisions, wines and spirits, produce, hardware, ironmongery, paints and oils, bedding, furniture, and building material. Tea blending is made a specialty of, and the Butler Brothers’ brands have many appreciative consumers.

Another well-appointed tea-room is that of Mrs. Frances Young, which is situated at the corner of the Corso and the Ocean or Steyne Parade-the best and most admirable site in all Manly. The building is quite new-it was only opened by Mrs. Young on Christmas Eve-and it is replete with modern conveniences. Here visitors may sit and sip their tea and look out upon the great ocean, and listen to the music of the waves, as they break upon the beach a few yards away. What further recommendation is necessary? Unless it be that the catering is excellent, and the attendance first-class.

In the matter of educational advantages Manly is ahead of most suburbs. The University College, conducted by Mr. John F. M’Manamey, B.A., Syd. (gold medallist in classics), with competent assistant masters, though only twelve months founded, has become one of the institutions of the district. It is both a boarding and a day school. The curriculum includes preparation for the examinations of the University and of the Public Service Board. Special instruction is given in shorthand and type-writing, and, of course, adequate provision is made for recreation, in the shape of sports clubs, with the additional advantage of a cadet corp for drill and discipline.

Dalley’s Castle “Marinella” (home by the sea) photographed c 1930

The completion of the sewerage system-the construction of which was begun fifteen months ago will add materially to the reputation of Manly as a summer and health resort. As is well known, Manly numbers amongst its residents some very distinguished and influential people. His Eminence Cardinal Moran has his home there, and within a stone’s throw of his palace; dominating the landscape, stands that magnificent sandstone pile of buildings known as St. Patrick’s Ecclesiastical College, the most conspicuous landmark of Port Jackson. Facing St. Patrick’s, on the heights opposite, rises the gaunt facade of the late W. B. Dalley’s “Castle,” another landmark and a striking monument to the vanity of human ambition. It was near by. on what used to be called Constitutional Hill, that was exhibited, forty-two years ago, the first camera obscura known in these colonies. Yet a third landmark remains to be mentioned-the kangaroo, which for forty years has, from the elevated pedestal on Kangaroo ‘Hill, beckoned a welcome to vessels making for the port. Many stories are in circulation as to the raison d’etre of this stony marsupial, but the “very oldest” resident assures us that it was erected by the owner of the estate, Mr. H. S. Smith, simply to attract .people up the hill, he supposed. No article dealing with Manly would be complete without mention of those other delightful retreats known to thousands of cyclists, to which it furnishes the key. These include Narrabeen, Rock Lily, Bay View, Newport, and Pittwater, with all of which there is regular communication by coach daily.

Source:

Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 – 1919), Saturday 25 February 1899, page 30

Hope you enjoyed this step back into Manly’s history.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 5th February, 2023.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How are you and how was your week?

Before you answer, how about you pull up a chair and I’ll wait on you hand and foot delivering up your choice of tea, coffee or Bonox. We can also get stuck into a packet of scrumptious Tim Tams. I know I’m not always the greatest host, and I’ve repeatedly nattered away without even asking how you’re going. So please make the most of the new me while it lasts.

The big development here this week is that our daughter, the inimitable Miss, went back to school on Wednesday going into Year 12, which is her final year at school. The start of the new school year is always a jolt. Holiday’s over. Time to face the music and get back to the real world. Or, at the very least, ensure she has a clean uniform and doesn’t run late on the first day. I ticked both of those boxes and much to my delight, she also agreed to have her photo taken before we took off. Could I be so lucky?!!

Returning to school, also means a return to dance.

I have to admit, I’m really looking forward to her getting her driver’s licence so I can hang up my taxi driver’s hat and stay glued on the couch.

Our son, JP, is still in holiday mode and having a trial run on a sound engineering job next Saturday night. We will be driving him to and from which means we’ll be picking him up from Wyong an hour away at 1.00am. So we’re really excited about him getting his driver’s licence too.

Meanwhile, I’ve been working flat out posting photos and accompanying stories from my three week stint house minding at Cremorne Point on Sydney Harbour. it’s taking a lot long than expected as I really jampacked a lot into some days and I’m doing multiple posts for these days. I am starting to wonder if I’ll ever get to the end. If you’d like to check out these posts, you can just scroll backwards from here.

While there are no doubt sports enthusiasts among you, I ended up watching an international ballet competition called the Prix de Lausanne through the week. Although Miss has been doing ballet for years, I’d never heard of the Prix de Lausanne, but my friend’s son was competing and I found myself rather enjoying and intrigued by the live stream. I don’t pretend to understand much about ballet, but I try. What I found interesting about this competition, is they also have classes and these are livestreamed so it allows dancers and teachers all around the world to tap into and absorb this expert advice and apply it to themselves. I was also delighted that another Australian dancer, Emily Sprout was competing and she did extremely well and was awarded a prize. Congratulations Emily! You can see her classical solo here if you’re interested.

Well that’s about it. So, now it’s over to you.

How are you?

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share, which is hosted by Natalie the Explorer.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Photographing the Sunset Sydney Harbour

Continuing my explorations of Sydney while house minding in Cremorne Point, I drove down to Cremorne Point Wharf the night I was cleared from Covid isolation, and could barely contain my joy. The approaching sunset was out of the world and ever so photogenic. While the harbour was dotted with sunset watchers who might’ve been sharing a bottle of wine of picnic, I was far from relaxed…a photographer on a mission for that elusive perfect shot. I was on the hunt.

Centre stage, of course, was the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I might be Sydney born and bred, but I never get bored of the bridge. It is beyond magnificent and it has this omnipresence in Sydney. Almost anywhere you go, you catch a glimpse or a oblique perspective of it somewhere although possibly not from a postcard perspective. Indeed, it makes a perfect exercise in how something can appear remarkably different from alternative perspectives.

Selfie with Harbour Bridge fragment

Photographing sunsets seems easy and such a gift to any photographer. How could you go wrong? With diminishing light, the chances of blur increase and ideally you would have a tripod, which I didn’t because I operate on spontaneity and lugging tripods around really weighs you down. So there I was awestruck by such awesome splendour and yet having to hold my breath and hold the camera dead still to prevent that nasty of nasties camera shake.

Yet, I’m pleased with the results and I really did enjoy the sunset spectacular and gaining a deeper appreciation of the Sydney skyline, which has changed quite a lot since I was doing more of the sunset cityscapes about 20 years ago (pre marriage and kids).

Ferry Charlotte departing Cremorne Point Wharf

I hope seeing these photos gives you a sense of being there in person yourself. Despite my agitation to create impeccably beautiful photographs, I managed to appreciate the serenity and unwind.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Exploring A Victorian Garden – Bathurst’s Machattie Park, Australia.

“Curiouser and curiouser!” is how I’ve felt about Bathurst’s Machattie Park since returning home. Two weeks ago, I had no idea this park even existed and my awareness of landscape design was also minimal. Indeed, I’m even one of those dreadful plant murderers who should be banned from buying plants altogether.

“Not all who wander are lost.”

Alice in Wonderland

Yet, now I find myself travelling down all sorts of rabbit holes (like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland on steroids) exploring every nook and cranny of Machattie Park. Not only that. I’ve even found myself nipping over to France in a virtual sense to explore a myriad of magnificent historical gardens to gain a deeper understanding of its layout.  Apparently, the park was designed in the “French style” whatever that meant. I am certainly none the wiser, but at least I’m enjoying the journey.

Located between William, George, Russell, and Keppel streets; Machattie Park forms the graphical and cultural heart of Bathurst. Machattie Park was opened on Saturday 20th December, 1890 – a whopping 132 years ago when my Great Grandmother was two years old and I wasn’t even a distant dream. Fortunately, the park has been very well preserved and has only experienced minor change since then. Indeed, a visit to Machattie Park feels like stepping out of a time machine, and I could even picture myself wearing period dress promenading with my parasol back in the day.

When you look at the park today, it’s hard to imagine that it was ever the site of the former gaol. After the gaol was relocated, this space was known by the inauspicious title of: “Gaol Reserve”. Although it was used as a sports’ ground by the local schools, the crumbling foundations of the former gaol remained and it was a far cry from what we see today. However, the people of Bathurst under the leadership of the Progress Association, has vision and campaigned for the site to be transformed into a spectacular park with all the bells and whistles. When he opened the park, Mayor Crago expressed their grand ambitions for Bathurst and how the park was to play a central part in making Bathurst shine: “The park will henceforth he one of the landmarks of the city and the most beautiful spot in Bathurst, enabling us to hope that eventually our city will become the Ballarat of New South Wales1.”

While touching on the opening of the park, I found another gem this time in Dr Spencer’s speech, who was the President of the Progress Association. While these sentiments were no doubt said in earnest at the time, they certainly made me laugh today and it reminds me of my rather posh private school where we weren’t allowed to walk on the grass:

Now please remember this, and I speak especially to the intelligent and independent youth of Bathurst, those young men who will in the future guide public opinion. Let me tell them that they will not succeed in life unless they keep off the grass, and that no dogs are admitted. These regulations are for the benefit of all, and will be cheerfully obeyed by everyone with a spark of intelligence and good nature.2”

So, what is it like to walk through Machattie Park today? I guess I should also put a particularly emphasis on TODAY. As far as I could tell, most if not all of the trees in Machattie Park are deciduous. So, he park varies considerably from season to season. We were there in late Winter when the trees were stripped of their leaves forming bare skeletons against the muted sky. However, the daffodils and jonquils were in flower and looking particularly stunning.

Yet, despite the seasons, Machattie Park has a peculiar charm, serenity and spirit which extends well beyond just “going to the park” or “being in the great  outdoors.” Even on our rushed walk through, I felt an uncharacteristic sense of peace and calm, despite almost rushing around trying to absorb it all through my camera lens. There I was bending down to photograph the daffodils and jonquils. Next minute, I glace up and spot the fountain and I’m off again  zooming in to capture what I now understand to be dolphins, but which looked more like feral carp to me.  Then there was the band rotunda, which was known as the Music Temple. It was hard not to notice the Federation-style Gardeners’ Cottage on my right either with its roof tiles which came all the way from Marseilles, France. However, before I knew it, we were inside the Fernery and gob smacked by a trio of marble statues by Giovanni Fontana. As if all of this wasn’t sufficient fodder for my camera, there was also the very quaint Munro Drinking fountain which was erected in 1901. All of that was a lot to take in. Yet, as I said, the park was strangely relaxing at the same time.

Above: The Fernery. The sculptures were by Giovanni Fontana.

Naturally, I’m not the only one who has found peace and tranquility in Machattie Park. Browsing through the historic newspapers online, I came across this reference from the Bathurst Times on the 16th October, 1909:

“And now that the fountain on the main basin is spraying, it is almost like listening to a small waterfall or cascade. When one feels run down and tired, it is well worth while to put ones troubles on one side; sit down in Machattie Park and listen to the drip, drip, drip, and the splash and hissing of the water as it soothes, and lulls and —  just then one’s book drops down, and then comes peace — perfect peace.3.”

I absolutely loved that account! It was so poetic!

Relaxing in Machattie Park in front of the rotunda.

Of course, I was just a traveler passing through Machattie Park. There are locals who would have so much more to say about it, and know it much more intimately, of course, having spent all of their lives in Bathurst. I can well imagine them sitting the park feeding the ducks, listening to the band or attending Carols By Candlelight with their parents or grandparents and now doing the same with their children or grandchildren. No doubt, there’s also been a lot of romance in Machattie Park over the years too…that magic twinkle in the eye and perhaps a return to the park for solace with a broken heart. There’s certainly a real sense of timelessness visiting Machattie Park.

A Lucky Duck on Spencer’s Pond

Well, that’s the end of our tour through Machattie Park. Now, it’s over to you. Have you ever been to Machattie Park and do you have any stories you’d like to share? Or, perhaps you have a and park near you, you’d like to share? Or, perhaps even your own magnificent garden? I’d love to hear from you.

the Munro Water Fountain.

After spending days revisiting and researching Machattie Park, I’m needing to quote White Rabbit:

“I’m late, I’m late! For a very important date! No time to say ‘hello, goodbye,’ I’m late, I’m late, I’m late!”

Best wishes,

Rowena


References

1.National Advocate (Bathurst, NSW : 1889 – 1954), Monday 22 December 1890, page 2

2. Ibid pg 2

3. [1] Bathurst Times (NSW : 1909 – 1925), Saturday 16 October 1909

Carpe Diem – Friday Fictioneers: 8th June, 2022

Jane wasn’t one to complain. However, this new-fangled motivational seminar was the last straw. She only attended under duress.

“We’re librarians. We don’t need all that motivational mumbo-jumbo?” She grumbled over morning tea. “What about all the potholes? It’s roadworks who need a rocket up the arse.”

“Must be the new mayor,” Daphne groaned. “He’s so positive, he’s painful. Doesn’t he realize we librarians prefer our adventures in books, NOT in real life?!”

Not anymore. Jane resigned. Booked a one-way ticket to Bali. She was last seen kayaking off a waterfall, and wasn’t alone.

She was finally living her dreams.

………

100 words PHOTO PROMPT © David Stewart

When I showed my husband this week’s prompt, he showed me photos of dare-devils kayaking off waterfalls. I must say them very impressive, reckless and also potentially stupid. Of course, I could ever do anything like that, only write about it. However, today I attended an motivational seminar via livestream called Standing Tall. It’s actually for teenagers. However, I wanted to see what it was about. I’d signed my kids up for it, and also thought I might benefit myself. After all, you’re never too old to learn. The livestream will be available for the next three months and I highly recommend you check it out. Here’s the link: https://www.standtallevent.com/online

It’s a few years ago now…kayaking with Bilbo and Lady at Palm Beach.

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields at https://rochellewisoff.com/ We’d love you to join us!

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 6th June, 2022.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Let me offer you a warming tea, coffee or perhaps even a mug of hot chocolate. It’s freezing here, and it’s feeling like we’re down in the snow country, although I’m still able to move my fingers, so I shouldn’t be complaining too much. I’m just waiting to drive our daughter to school and filling in a few minutes, and I’m grateful for the warmth of Zac the dog on my lap who is no doubt reciprocating.

How was your week, and what did you get up to?

The highlight of my week was going to an art exhibition opening on Saturday afternoon at La Carta Art Gallery in Wyong, My friend’s teenaged daughter, TP, was among the exhibiting artists, which is what took me there. I love her work and it’s so good to see an artist in the making, and watch her insights and talent evolve. We rarely get that opportunity and usually only see the finished product, and by this stage, it’s usually well beyond our price range. During the week, I’d already seized the day, and had bought her charcoal sketch: The Cat. . It was funny because people seemed to assume I’m a cat person. However, as most of you know, we’re dog people here and have three lively dogs of our own. Besides, that wasn’t why I bought it. I thought the perspective was very clever and I loved the expression on the cat’s face and it’s huge, wide eyes. I wonder what it was looking at…

The Prayer – Lena Nimmo

Meanwhile, I also fell in love with the work of another artist, Lena Nimmo, who is more around my vintage. She had quite a number of paintings in the exhibition, including many people. Should I be calling these portraits? I don’t know. I was captivated by quite a number of them, especially a woman with dark hair and some kind of look in her eyes. I’m not an art critic. I just found the woman intriguing and was drawn in. I almost could’ve bought that painting, along another painting of a young woman playing the piano. Pianos have been such a part of our family life, but I have so many of my own photos and the same old problem of limited wall space. However, then I spotted a painting of a woman praying, The Prayer, which had been inspired by a 1914 work by Felice Casorati. To be honest, I much prefer Lena’s version. It’s absolutely exquisite, and I’m giving it to my mum. It was her birthday on Saturday, and she is a woman of faith who always starts the day by reading her Bible.

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By the way, I really enjoyed myself, and I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to immerse myself back in the art world again after being in lockdown and isolation for most of the last year, along with the year before. It gave me a bit of a jolt. This is what I’ve been missing out on. It inspired me to venture out further. Embrace more of living However, covid is still around, and it’s Winter and flu season here. I’m planning to get my fourth covid vax and the flu vax this week. Apparently, you can get them together which sounds practical, but I wonder how I’ll feel afterwards. Yet, there’s part of me that wouldn’t mind a few days in bed with a good book. One of the downsides of getting back to our so called “normal” is driving all over the place again. Some days I feel like a buzzing bee.

Over the weekend, I also submitted a 500 word short story into a Furious Fiction competition held by the Australian Writer’s Centre. I’m not sure quite what I can mention about my story online. However, I wrote about a family grappling with Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy. There are two sisters who find out they are carriers after Sally’s son is diagnosed at age four. Bridget has a daughter and because Duchenne’s is largely passed on to males, she’s okay but could be a carrier. The story is set just over a year after Sally’s son has died, and his massive electric wheelchair is still taking up most of their loungeroom, and they haven’t been able to part with it. I guess part of what I was looking at was that pressure to move on and what to hold onto and what to let go. As I worked on the story, I added in that he’d played boccia, which is a variation on bocce, which is played by severely disabled people, providing a sporting outlet. In my story, he’d been part of a fictional Australian team who’d won gold in Rio. In part, the story was inspired by Australian Paralympic gold medallist, Kurt Fearnley . I’ve heard him speak and he’s also written a very inspirational book Pushing the Limits: Life, Marathons & Kokoda. Many of you, would not be aware that following the birth of our 16 year old daughter, I was struck down by a muscle-wasting autoimmune disease, dermatomyositis, and spent eight weeks in hospital and rehab trying to get back on my feet. I was very debilitated, and to be perfectly honest with you, don’t know how I’m still here or how I’m doing so well these days. It’s a real testimony to the motto; “never give up”, because there were many times it was tempting, which at the same time, I fought like a bat out f hell to survive. I know that might sound contradictory, but that’s what it’s like with real emotions when the rubber hits the road. It’s tough. Of course, you’d rather be at the beach and chilling out. It is what it is, and I can’t describe the relief, especially now that the worst of covid has passed and we have a vaccine and anti-virals.

I also wanted to share my latest adventure via Google Earth. This time I checked out Windhoek in Namibia. Here’s the link: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2022/06/03/wandering-over-to-windhoek-namibia/

Well, that’s about enough from me for this week. However, I thought I’d share with you the link through to the past winners of the Furious Fiction competition because their stories have been published and the judges have also provided feedback, which is very helpful: https://www.writerscentre.com.au/blog/category/furious-fiction/

Anyway, this has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Natalie the Explorer: https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Best wishes,

Rowena

Bollard People of Geelong, Australia.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to meet their bollard people in person. Geoff and our son made their acquaintance while they were in Geelong last weekend. They’re so creative, and would be most suitable guests for a Mad Hatter’s tea party if only you would wave a magic wand and bring them all to life. Indeed, that would be rather interesting, and I can’t help wondering what would happen to unsuspecting Geelong if that were to come about. Would they be forces of good or evil? I don’t know. There are over 100 bollards, which were all designed by artist Jan Mitchell who was commissioned by the City of Greater Geelong in 1995 to transform reclaimed timber pier pylons into these remarkable works of art.

26 Steam Captain
Captain of the steamship S.S. Edina, in operation from 1888 to 1938.
23. Scallop Fishermen and Woman (3)
From the early 1800’s, fish and crustaceans from Geelong were marketed and sold locally, as well as in Melbourne.
Above: 20. Established in 1854, the Geelong Volunteer Fire Brigade is represented by this figure reflecting the burning of the “Lightning” in 1869.
25. Sailor and Woman (2)
A 2nd World War couple representing the Sailors’ Rest institution building, corner Moorabool Street and Eastern Beach Road (now a restaurant).
18.Mrs de Carteret
This is a portrait of the proprietor of “La Cabine”, located on the corner of Yarra and Brougham Streets and once famous for its lemon squash.
19. Yacht Club Lady
Geelong’s Yacht Club was formed in 1859. The lady is holding the trophy won by “The Paddy” after racing in the first Geelong Regatta.
Not sure who this lot is.
17. Early Geelong Footballer
A nearby field, which became Transvaal Square, was used for football practice.

Well, now I feel like jumping on a plane and trying to find and identify all 48 bollards. They have this wonderful fusion of history, humour and really help to give Geelong a sense of place and character. Indeed, I’d love to see something like this in our local area. What can we do to give us character, individuality and artistic flair? Traditionally here in Australia, that has involved building something big such as Coffs Harbour’s Big Banana, the Big Prawn in Ballina, the Big Pineapple on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, the Big Orange in Mildura, the Big Merino and the Big Cow at Nambour also on the Sunshine Coast. I don’t know whether it’s an achievement or a point of shame that I’ve been to all of these throughout my lifetime. Geoff resisted revisiting the Big Merina driving home from Geelong through the week.

Have you ever seen the Bollard People of Geelong? Or, perhaps you have something similar in your local area you’d like to share? I’d love to check it out.

Best wishes,

Rowena

“Driving” From Cloyne to Midleton, Cork, Ireland.

The Internet and our beloved Google has expanded our world’s in so many incredible ways, something we particularly appreciate as bloggers posting our writing online and not only sharing it with all sorts right around the world, but also have conversations and read their work as well and gain personal insights of what it is to be someone else and live somewhere else.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve dabbled in visiting places overseas via Google Earth. Just to remind you I live in Greater Sydney, Australia and there’s a lot of ocean in between where I want to go and also several continents. Not easy to get away for the desired length of time, and there’s the expense and then covid was added to the mix. However, as bad as covid’s been, it has opened up International communication online and being able to zoom in anywhere, tune into live stream, and then there’s Google Earth and that took on another dimension when I realized that I could take photos on my phone while on my travels, and they weren’t half bad. Of course, not on par with my Nikon SLR but mostly more than adequate.

St Colman’s Roman Catholic Church.

The other interesting thing about traveling via Google Earth, is that you in effect get dumped somewhere in the vicinity of where you wanted to go, and have to come to and get your bearing. So, for someone like me who gets lost in the real world and can’t read a map, there’s been no magic fix traveling via Google Earth. The only difference is that I’m not getting worn out trudging back retracing my steps like I did in Amsterdam back in 1992, and I also had a 20 kilo pack on my back to complicate matters further. It truly is wonderful, particularly as my husband and I are close to still being in lockdown. We can go out. It’s people we need to stay away from. I won’t lie. As an extrovert, it’s tough but the alternative is sobering.

What took me on this journey from Cloyne to Midleton was very simple: How far is it from Cloyne to Midleton? My 4 x Great Grandmother, Bridget Donovan, was an Irish Famine Orphan, and there is mention of her being born in Midleton and Cloyne and I wanted to cover my bases.

By the way, I’ve mentioned Bridget before (including my last post). In essence, Bridget was plucked out of a cesspit of starvation, fever and certain death in Midleton Workhouse and given free passage and a trunk full of goodies to start a new life in Australia.

There is also a complicating twist to this story. Two maybe three of Bridget’s sons married Aboriginal women and some of their descendants were removed from their families in a process called the “Stolen Generation”. I know of at least one descendant who was placed in an institution called the Cootamundra Girls’ Home. So tragic. I am new to all of this, and the cultural nuances involved. There seem to be parallels in how the Irish and the Aboriginal people were treated by the English under colonialization, but the Irish also moved onto Aboriginal land. So, it gets messy and I’m descended from it all, and yet innocent of the actions of my forebears. However, I am trying to undo some of my own ignorance and find out a bit more, but it’s a process.

Cloyne Tower

Meanwhile, we’re in Cloyne. It’s a village of about 1, 803 people and 350 houses (2016) and it’s a whole 7.7km from Midleton. So, really only a long stone throw away. In about 560 AD, Saint Colman mac Lenene (who died in 604) founded a monastery in Cloyne, and the round tower was constructed later, and dates back to around the 10th century, and is approximately 30m high and 16.25m around when measured about 1.5m above the ground. The stone in the tower is dark purple sandstone. Since then, a lightning strike in 1749 caused some damage to the top of the tower. I’ve also read that you used to be able to climb up to the top of the tower, but the state of disrepair and the threat of being sued have conspired to keep it out of bounds, which is such a shame as the view from the top would be incredible.

Although I know I’d struggle up that ladder, it’s calling me!

However, I had a bit of a false start when I first touched down in Cloyne. I landed on a roundabout in the middle of nowhere, and can’t help wondering whether the dog had fiddled with the coordinates. It happens, you know. So, I reset the dial. Phew. This time I’d landed right near Cloyne Tower.

Like something straight out of a fairy tale, of course I envisioned Bridget climbing up that metal ladder and up the wooden stairs to the top. Of course, she was just a little girl then with long, dark flowing hair and of course she ran all the way to the top with an energy I can only dream about now. It was also long before the Great Hunger ravaged Ireland, and transported her to the workhouse and ultimately Australia. Of course, this is a romantic view where she is always smiling, and laughing with her friends. There is no sorrow in this early vision. I want her to simply be a child. A child whose future isn’t darkened by looming shadows but is free, because she didn’t know what lay ahead, and neither do we.

I had a short walk around Cloyne, and managed to miss one of it’s main attractions – a monument to Christy Ring Christy Ring won eight All-Ireland senior hurling medals, nine Munster titles, four National Leagues and 18 inter provincial Railway Cup medals with Munster. However, I have to admit I don’t know much about hurling. So, that’s another aspect to my Irish heritage which has gone by the wayside, which isn’t so strange considering I’m Australian and in Monopoly parlance “just visiting”.

Anyway, I wasn’t planning to linger in Cloyne today, although the possibility of legally or illegally climbing up the tower is appealing. Rather, I’m here to get some sense of the drive from Cloyne to Midleton, and I was delighted to find River Road is the road which takes you out of Cloyne to Midleton. This River Road had been mentioned to me in one of those family history chat sites. Apparently, some of the Donovans were living there so this is a great find with something of an “X marks the spot” feel to it (except that I have no idea of where the actual x was, but it’s a darned sight closer than here.)

Driving from Cloyne to Midleton through the tunnel of trees

I follow this road through what appears to be a tunnel of trees and I’m just relishing all this lush green Irish foliage and never-ending rows of rustic stone walls.

Then, I reach a huge roundabout and I think I had to turn right to get into Midleton, but big roundabouts are no less confusing on Google Earth than they are in real life and it’s just as easy to get lost although you’re not going to wind up in the morgue if you get all your directions completely muddled up and go round the wrong way straight into a truck. No, in this regard, Google Earth was rather kind. I could sort of diagonally scoot over the top, hold my breath and much to my relief spot the sign to Midleton. I’m almost there!

Main Street, Midleton 1920’s

I don’t know what I expected to find in Midleton. Ideally, I’d find somebody who knew all about Bridget. The bits I don’t know. After all, there are two main parts to Bridget’s story…the Irish and Australian bits and it’s not that easy to join them up, especially when I haven’t even been able to find a death for Bridget in Australia (or her husband George) and you can’t just stick a Wanted Ad up on a telegraph pole when you’re looking for your missing ancestor and where and when they were buried. That said, many would say that she’s entitled to her privacy and if she’s been this hard to track down when I’m rather relentless, perhaps it’s time to leave well enough alone. However, I’m not giving up yet. There are still a few stones left which haven’t been turned.

Anyway, I did manage to find Midleton Library. That might be helpful.

I also just enjoyed walking along these streets she and my other forebears trod all those years ago. She was 19 years old when she arrived in Sydney and I wonder if she had a sweetheart she left behind. Or, maybe, he was one of the million or so who perished during the Great Hunger. Or, he sailed to America onboard one of those dreaded “coffin ships”. I don’t know. Moreover, while we’re talking about all I don’t know, I’m wondering why we didn’t study something about Irish history over here in Australia given those so many of us have Irish heritage. Humph. I don’t really need to ask I already know. There’s lots about Australian history we didn’t touch on at school. So, I shouldn’t be surprised.

However, as I mentioned in my last post, while I didn’t find any connection to Bridget Donovan in Midleton, I a sixth sense led me to Midleton Bookshop, and it just so happened that I looked up their web site to see what might be in their front window, when i felt a magnetic attraction towards a book by Irish author, Michael Harding. I’ve since bought two of his books and listened to quite a number of his podcasts. He’s such a find. Here’s a link to that story here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2022/02/19/irish-author-michael-harding-midleton-bookshop-ireland/

Michael Harding – You never know who you’re going to find when you head off on Google Earth.

Well, I might pop back later and add a few more photos. It’s really late and my head is spinning. I have really loved visiting Cloyne and Midleton, wandering around the streets and wondering about Bridget Donovan.

I would love to hear from you and hope you’ve had a great weekend.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share – 13th February, 2022.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share and wishing you all a very Happy Valentine’s Day whatever that might mean to you. Apparently, roses are very inflated this year so I think Geoff and I will be lucky to exchange a box of chocolates. or, more likely, there’ll just be one to share and unless we go dark, the kids will tuck into them as well. Not that we don’t wish them a Happy Valentine’s Day, of course. It’s just that there are somethings you like to keep to yourself, and top of my list is chocolate!

It has been an interesting and stressful week here, but I am starting to see some progress. The kitchen table is clear, and it won’t take much to clear the couch and I actually ironed my daughter’s school uniform for the first time since she started kindergarten I suspect. We bought a couple of extra shirts and even after washing them, they were still creased from the packaging. So, a rare event occurred. I pulled out the iron. I’m not a believer in ironing, and I’ think I’ve probably only ironed a Scout shirt once in the last two years thanks to covid, associated lockdowns and becoming an endangered species. However, ironing felt strangely therapeutic. There are so many problems were can’t ort out in life, but we can pull out the iron and make those creases go away. If only we could take an iron to ourselves and magically sort ourselves out like that. Wouldn’t it be nice?!! That said, as much as I say I long for perfection and get it all sorted, I am fundamentally an erratic creative person and chasing the rabbit is much more interesting than having the perfect house.

Speaking of chasing the rabbit, I did some serious rabbit chasing this week and found myself hooning around County Clare, Ireland via Google Earth. Along the way, I stumbled into the village of Carriagaholt, in West Clare which is located on the Moyarta River where it flows into the expansive Shannon Estuary. This was the very first Irish village I have ever seen, and I’m sure I was spoilt because it was absolutely breathtakingly magical. Days later, I’m still fixed on the gorgeous white house with hearts painted on a red door. Of course, it’s great to see a house dedicated to love and goodwill. However, what really touched me about this house was it’s authentic rustic charm. It wasn’t polished, commercial or fake but that love feels real and genuine. I feel I could knock on their door, and I would be heard. To be honest, I hope my friends and family know they can knock on my door literally and figuratively speaking, even if it’s a bit hard during covid. I want to be that approachable person, and not the one who slams the door in your face, although I know I don’t always get it right and it happens. Moreover, we can’t leave out door open to everyone. A friend to all, is friend to none. We all need our inner sanctum and to preserve and nurture that.

Anyway, I really loved pottering around Carrigaholt, and I stopped into a few pubs and loved hearing some traditional Irish music including a real Irish singalong. Oh golly. Have I been missing out! I also had a cooking lesson on how to cook mussels and I’m very tempted to head down to the local fish market and have a go myself.

Here’s the link to my tour of Carrigaholt: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2022/02/10/waking-up-in-carrigaholt-county-clare-ireland/

By the way, I should mention that my Great Great Grandfather, Edward Quealey/Quailey came from the Carrigaholt region and his family were farmers there. He emigrated to New Zealand where he married his wife, Margaret O’Neill, around 1880 and they arrived in Sydney a few years later and had seven children.

In addition to all things Irish, I managed to write a contribution to Friday Fictioneers this week, and I must admit I was fairly stoked to get that done. Here’s that link, with a title which is rather apt for Valentine’s Day, even if it isn’t about romantic love. https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2022/02/11/anything-for-love-friday-fictioneers/

I also posted a short story written by Mary Synon, which I thought was quite interesting and a god read for those interested in short story writing like Gary. Here’s the link: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2022/02/14/none-so-blind-a-short-story-by-mary-synon/

Violin Concert 2015.

I’ve also got back to playing my violin again after almost a two year absence, as well as getting some time in on the keyboard. My violin must’ve been in a good mood, because it usually has rather acute separation anxiety and can’t bare to be neglected for more than a couple of days without throwing a stinker. However, I didn’t sound too bad. Barely a screech! Now, there’s something to be thankful for.

That wasn’t the only thing. My friend’s dog almost died this week and somehow received a miraculous reprieve. I will come back and write more about that later after I’ve performed my afternoon taxi duties.

I hope you and yours have had a great week and look forward to hearing what you’ve been up to.

Meanwhile, you might like to join us over at the Weekend Coffee Share, which is hosted by Natalie the Explorer https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS Here’s a shot of our local Lifegard on duty at the beach while his daughter’s doing her homework in the buggy. Our daughters are best friends.