Greetings from Geelong, Victoria, where it has been in the mid-40C temperatures, sunny with thunderstorms, and everyone is mad for tennis. Before that, it was cricket. We continue to see lots and lots of friends in our travels, and have taken pictures of us with them, but I won’t subject you to them here. Suffice to say, this trip is living up to all our expectations. Having loads of fun, and drinking lots of GREAT wines! (They sure know their wine here – so many great wine regions.) This will be a very long post. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy!
We have, so far, spent a week in Darwin, a week in Perth and environs, a week and a half in Adelaide and now we’re driving (slowly) back to Sydney. Haven’t had a lot of touristy experiences until yesterday. I’m going to show you a few of my favourite scenes from the last month:
I loved seeing all the “Christmas Trees” in bloom in Western Australia – this one down near Dunsborough, WA. This tree is nuytsia floribunda.
Once we got to South Australia, we headed out almost immediately to spend the weekend at a beach house in Cape Yorke with friends. It was cool and very windy, and we had an interesting walk on the empty beach, chasing after hats and sunglasses and sponges we found.
Three kinds of sponges
We also found sharks’ eggs. They are scary looking twirly things, and you’d walk right by one if you didn’t know what it was.
A shark egg
It was still very cool and windy, but we took a short drive down to Innes National Park to see a shipwreck John had photographed many years ago. There wasn’t much left of it to see, but we really got into some fierce winds there!
John holding on so he won’t be blown over!
This is what the coastline there looked like. There are lots and lots of shipwrecks along this coast – no wonder, if it blows like this very often!
The view towards Cape Spencer in Innes National Park
Just as we left the park, we got a very close-up encounter with an emu who was on the road ahead of us. We were going very slowly, which is good. They certainly are odd looking birds! We were advised to keep an eye out for emu babies, but didn’t see any.
Close encounter with an emu
We got to see a lot of friends in Adelaide during our time there. One was Cathy Lanio, who had a sign I wanted to steal….
From Adelaide we spent a couple of days south in the Victor Harbor/Goolwa area. It’s very relaxed here, lots of holidayers and retirees. The wind had died down and the sun shone and everything was good! There are some quilters there, of course, too! Our friend Carol pulled out some show and tell – an unfinished hexagon quilt she made while recovering from surgery. The hexes still have their templates – medical catalogues! Carol is a nurse.
Show and tell.
We walked out to the barrage at the mouth of the Murray River, where the seawater is kept out of the fresh water river. Hundreds of pelicans – my favourite large bird – fishing at the outflow.
A quick overnight visit to Victor Harbor – I love this artpiece in the downtown there. In the right season, you can spot Southern Right whales off this coast. In the wrong season, you have to settle with this!
Whale Tail in Victor Harbor
We’re driving now, from Adelaide back to fly out from Sydney, so I expect more touristy opportunities. We’ve driven the Great Ocean Road a couple of times before, so that’s not going to be on our list this time. (But if you haven’t done it yourself, it’s HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – one of the most beautiful drives in the world.)
We stopped in to see our friend Mary-anne Rooney (yes, the one from the song “One Stitch at a Time”) on our way through Bendigo. From there, a quick stop in Castlemaine to have coffee with Jasmine. She told us of the quilt she spearheaded for her local library, with lots of help. She asked everyone to make their favourite book in fabric, and then put it all together. It’s great – and with lots of detail, it really draws you in. Teacups, bookends, a clock, and some great books: there’s so much detail in this, it’s fun to explore.
In Castlemaine with Jasmine and her library quilt.
We are now in Geelong, just southwest of Melbourne. The temperatures have topped 46C (what’s that, 115F?), and there are bush fires that have been started from dry thunderstorms. Last night the skies opened here with lots of lightning and 34 bush fires were started last night alone. It doesn’t cool things down much, though – we’re expecting to see +44C today again. Although they are no longer in serious drought here, it is summer and it’s always dry. At the same time, the Australian Open Tennis championship is on; top tennis players from around the world are PLAYING in this heat! (And thousands of people are watching it in this heat).
We spent a day yesterday in the City (Melbourne). We met John’s daughter Sara and her partner in Federation Square – right in the heart of the action. Although the tennis was being played only a stone’s throw away, there were huge screens everywhere with the live action.
Deck chairs and umbrellas for the tennis on Federation Square.
We spent most of the day in air conditioned comfort – the National Gallery of Victoria has a huge multi-venue exhibit on just now called Melbourne Now. It “celebrates the latest art, architecture, design, performance, and cultural practice to reflect the complex cultural landscape of creative Melbourne”. It was wonderful, and we only saw a small bit of it. The first exhibit was from the Hotham Street Ladies, who create home-like settings (like the VERY messy remains of Christmas dinner, with leftover prawns, cigarette butts and dirty dishes piled up everywhere). It was very odd to see and I didn’t quite get it – until I realized that almost EVERYTHING was made of FROSTING! Carpets, wallpaper, light switches, leftover pizza – everything!
Wallpaper, light switch and painting, all made of icing.
Even the “crocheted” afghan was made of icing!
AND the carpet, cushions and pizza on the table.
It smelled wonderful, too….
There were some extraordinary exhibits, and I can’t begin to tell you about all of them. I’ll tell you about three others I particularly loved. I entered a room hung with many many strands of yarn. It was full of all kinds of lovely things for children to play with. In one corner, I spotted a young child with his mother. As he reached out to touch the silvery mobiles around him, they made sounds. If he held them a long time, they sustained. If he tapped them, the music reflected his fingers. It was way cool!
I discovered a new artist in the Aboriginal display who is working with old fencing – rusty barbed wire! This piece is called “Possum-skin Cloak” and it is by Lorraine Connelly-Northey. It is huge (about 5 feet tall) and all made with barbed wire and corrugated iron. Check out her other work on her website.
This next piece is only a detail from a much larger work by Lucy Irvine that sat on the floor as we came up stairs. It is entirely made of black plastic pipes and ties. It ungulates into amazing shapes, and I have no idea a) how someone comes up with such a fantastic 3-D concept and b) how it’s actually done.
Before the after by Lucy Irvine.
I’d like to draw your attention to the tapestry work of Michelle Hamer, as well, while I’m at it.
Whew, this is a long posting! One more thing we did after the gallery. Several years ago on another visit, we had a drink with my nephew Dan at the Young and Jackson’s pub. It’s in a historic building just across the street from Federation Square. After we left, we heard that there’s a famous painting inside, which we didn’t know about, and didn’t see. It is of “Chloe” (not her real name). She will always be on the wall of this pub, even if it is sold.
Chloe – and us (clothed).
We’ll be spending a few more days in this area before driving east. There’s an upcoming gig for us on Sunday in Altona before we leave. We’ll be part of the AIDS Quilt Retreat workshop there at 3pm. Let me know if you want to attend and need directions.
That’s the end of this very long missive. Thanks for staying with me, and stay cool. More adventures to come!