A Trip of a Lifetime – Part One (Australia)

It’s been ever so long since you last heard from me!  Sorry about that – as you’ll see below, it’s been very busy. John and I have recently returned from a trip of a lifetime, and because it has some quilting content, I have decided to tell you all about it.

We were away for 3 months in all – if you’ll remember, we are no longer doing our long driving tours, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to travel any more! We started with 5 weeks in Australia, seeing good friends from Sydney to Brisbane, Canberra to Melbourne and Adelaide, followed by a flight to Darwin and another flight to Perth.  We then joined a 21 day guided tour in South Africa, followed by three weeks in Europe and the UK.

The original reason for this trip was to help John celebrate his birthday in Australia.  This birthday lasted for at least a month, since he kept getting more cake every time we turned around! On the day itself, we were in Tamworth, the country music capital of Australia, and we had to get this picture of all of us (we met Aussie friends who live in BC) in front of the famous Golden Guitar!


Some quilty highlights (not much singing involved in this trip) included giving away a new quilt from fabric that our friend Barb gave me years ago to make into “a pillow or something”.  I have a new theory: the longer it takes to give back a piece someone asks you to make, the nicer the final product needs to be!  The “pillow or something” ended up as a medium sized wall hanging!  It was hard to find more unicorn fabric that wasn’t “girly”, but John found some on line, and I was able to make this.

006 Elanora with Barb and Dennis ONeil (4) quilt presentation

I was happy with how it turned out, and Barb was too.

We visited friends in Brisbane, and headed back down the highway through lots of rain.  One should never complain about rain in Australia EVER, but we ran into one flooded out highway and had to divert inland to find another way south – we still had trouble, and are lucky we didn’t float away!

009 drive south through rain (3) med

It was after we left that the cyclone hit, and there was flooding everywhere. We’re lucky to have gotten through when we did.

The rain followed us to Canberra, but didn’t interfere in our busy social schedule! One night we got together with quilty friends there, including Michelle Law, who used my pattern of 1/2″ hexagons to make her own version of my “Seven Garden Maze”.  I love what she’s done with it – and she deserved to receive the ribbon at the last quilt show for it.

014 SCQ dinner (4) Michelles 7 Garden Maze

Michelle, Donna, Jenny (the famous Jenny Bowker!) and Kathryn are all extraordinary quilters and good friends, and I’m happy that I got to see them all together in a small group.

014 SCQ dinner (13) canberra

We had some amazing show and tell that evening, as well as a wonderful meal.

Our travels took us on down to Bega, Bairnsdale, and Melbourne. We had the chance to wander about downtown Melbourne, around Federation Square with our friend Judy. We really wanted to see the graffiti alley, just across the road from the Square. We had been seeing graffiti everywhere in the city – they seem to really encourage it.  Some of it is horrible, like any other graffiti that most cities paint over.  And then we got to Hosier Lane!

019 Melbourne (16) Hosier Lane baby hand

Just amazing.

From Melbourne we decided to repeat one of our favourite drives in the world: The Great Ocean Road!

Cloudy still, but it didn’t rain on us that day.  By the time we got to Adelaide, the rain had left us behind, thankfully. In Gawler we visited friends who took us out to an Aboriginal celebration of the great Murray River that night.  These people had travelled the length of the river doing these celebrations along the way, and this was the last one, at the Murray River mouth.  We were quite honoured to be there.

003a Goolwa aboriginal celebration (18)

Our friends in Adelaide live in the Hills and have lots of wildlife around their house. I’m very happy with this picture of the iconic kookaburra who is one of many who visits them every day.

007 Adelaide (9) kookaburra

I was very lucky to be in town for the South Australia Quilters’ Guild meeting!  Raelene and I went after dinner, and it was great to see some familiar faces in the crowd.  We’ve sung for them a couple of times, and I got up as “Show and Tell” and sang a song for them. I have no quilts with me, so I have to just sing!


006a Quilters Guild of South Australia (4)

They had a huge show and tell of quilts – if I remember correctly, these were the result of the mystery quilt bags – multiple designs with different fabrics.  For $40 you get a bag and make up the quilt. If you have a group of 20 making them, the organizers will come over and teach the pattern for free (and bring chocolate too)!

This is a big guild, and I was interested to see how they were keeping everything fun and new for their members. As a guest, for example, I was whisked to the front of the line to sign in and given a private tour of the room by one of the executive members. Nice touch.

We flew up to Darwin for a few days.  This is where I wrote the first quilting CD, and I have some very close friends there.  We stayed with Alison, a marvelous quilter, who showed me a couple of her new quilts.  The circular hexie one is a pattern by Geta Grama that I’ve been thinking about making some day.

008 Darwin (1)008 Darwin (12) Alisons Geta Grama quilt009 darwin (1) at paperbark woman

I was thrilled to hear that Paperbark Woman – a shop that specializes in Aboriginal fabrics – has re-opened after a long time being closed.  Lenore is the one who talked M&S Textiles into making Aboriginal fabrics, and introduced them to some of the artists. Her whole shop is full of the fabrics, and many of them I hadn’t seen before. Yes, I came home with some of them!  The stories about the designs are included when you buy the fabric, too.

One last stop in Australia – Perth for 5 days to catch our breath and prepare for the next leg of the tour: South Africa!  Our friends Andy and Vicki had this on their counter: I have never before seen Vegemite flavoured chips!!! They were pretty good, too.

010 Perth Vegemite bagel chips

We spent a day as tourists out at Rottnest Island – never been there before! This is a destination for vacationers – lots of lovely beaches, and fun stuff to do, but not overly developed. People go there and rent cottages for a week at a time.  It’s a fairly long ferry ride out, and we hired bicycles to wander around the island.

The island is famous for one of smallest marsupials in Australia: the quokka.  There are signs everywhere to keep away from them, to not feed them, but that doesn’t stop the visitors.  I kept thinking what would happen if people do that in North America – any wild animal you could snuggle up to here would bite you!

011 Rottnest Island (15) quokka

The island is called Rottnest because the first visitors saw these animals and thought they were very large rats. They are very cute, and they don’t bite. This is where they live:

011 Rottnest Island (26)

I have obviously left out quite a bit from this section of the trip – we had a lot of wonderful visits with good friends, ate a lot of good food and drank a lot of good wine. I’m going to continue in the second installment about the jewel of this trip: three amazing weeks in South Africa.

4 Responses to “A Trip of a Lifetime – Part One (Australia)”

  1. Carol Kubacki Says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful trip with us and thank you for promoting quilting around the world. We all love you in Florida. Sincerely, Carol Kubacki Sent from my iPad


  2. singingquilter Says:

    Thanks, Carol! My computer died this morning; as soon as I get it back up and running, I’ll write up the next leg of the trip in South Africa. Hi to all our friends in Florida!

  3. Sandra Hamilton Says:

    Thanks for posting Cathy. Love to hear stories about home. I used to hang out around Lorne on the Graat Ocean Road when I was young and single.
    I took a mock Molar class from you a few years ago at Sparrows Studiol. I am currently using the technique to make postcards for Edmonton and District Quilt Guilds brown bag raffle. We asked for postcards that fitted the theme of Grieat Canadian Snapshot. The raffle raises funds to endow scholarships at the School of Human Ecology at the U of A. Thanks for teaching me the technique.

    • singingquilter Says:

      Hi Sandra – I’m so glad you’re still using the technique! It’s great for small, “quick and dirty” projects like postcards. Are your postcards in red and white in honour of 150 years of Canada?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: