Monday, 10 November 2014

Herring Island

Yesterday, we took the punt to Herring Island. As you do.

Actually, as I've not done. Ever. But have been keen to do for some years. It's a man-made island in the middle of the Yarra around Richmond/Toorak (depending on which bank of the Yarra you're on).

I knew little about it beyond that it was home to some sculptures.

I know more now, but I'll let you discover that for yourself if you wish. But I will share my yesterday. We were visiting Herring Island for a bush poetry event at the invitation of the new Riverkeeper Andrew Kelly and his team.

This is Herring Island from the punt jetty on the Toorak bank.

This is the punt that ferried us across.

These are the bubbles that show where the A-frame welcome sign flew and then sank.

 Here are the sculptures. At intermission we charged our glasses, nibbled on cheese and wandered the island to find them.


The weather was clement (is that even a word on its own? I must check). I did just check and 'clement' means 'mild'. That sort-of fits, but really the appropriate word is glorious.

I really liked this sculpture, like the prow of a ship, or in this case the island. It's easy to imagine it sailing on downstream.

This is not a sculpture, more a found object, but I liked it anyway.

Hard to really tell here but that stone ball is bigger than the opening.

Stone cone. Of course.

More not-sculpture but sitting in the bush to be found, just like the sculptures.

Another not-sculpture

Bit tricky to see but this one extended the length of the cleared space, stepping stones of a sort. Or a serpent, or ...

Not a sculpture but a very patient photographic subject.

Reassembling for the second half of the bush poetry event. A range of poetry, some original and others recited from Aussie favourites. Some songs too. 

Happy now. I've been to Herring Island. 

Monday, 3 November 2014

Clunes Kids Booktown and SpringFest with Itty Bitty Book Van

I'd planned my preparation down to the minute. Two days in Clunes at Booktown for Kids (with fellow authors and illustrators Andrew Plant, Marks x3 (Wilson, Greenwood and Carthew), Sherryl Clark, Judith Rossell, Krista Bell, Frane Lessac, Hazel Edwards, Ann James, Craig Smith and Jackie Kerin)

and then a day by Lake Wendouree at SpringFest with Kerri of the fabulous Itty Bitty Book Van.

This VERY flat tyre was not part of the plan.

Neither were the two hours I spent while four new tyres were fitted. But the ride on the new tyres - that was fabulous.

I arrived in Clunes on a gorgeous Thursday afternoon, too early (okay so my plans generally have a bit of flex in them) and wandered around before checking in.

What a beautiful clematis! This was at Keebles where I and several other of the authors and illustrators were accommodated.

The gardens went on and on ...

Love a bearded iris

These dead trees added a sculptural element.

There was a putting green and a half-court for tennis. Not that we were anywhere near either of these.

Walking down to the pub for dinner was like walking onto a film set. No surprise that the main street of Clunes has appeared in several films.

Early morning Clunes


More poppies

The gateway to Keebles.

This is the theatre at Clunes. Some of the workshops were held here.

And this is my willing junior soldier in WWI clobber. I never thought I'd find someone small enough for my army boots.

Bookfest was fabulous despite lower than hoped-for numbers. All those I talked to reported really enjoying their time. Hopefully they will help to spread the word for this festival. Mega thanks to Sheila, Tess, Tim and all the wonderful volunteers.
After two days at Clunes I drove to Ballarat and on Sunday joined Kerri of Itty Bitty Book Van at the SpringFest around Lake Wendouree. Wasn't the warmest of days, but it was fun to read to many groups of children, sign some books and have a bit of a wander around the lake. I bought a tomato plant to replace the one my dog sat on, and some basil too.

Then, home again, home again jiggedy jig.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

I do love a wedding

And this one was a ripper! Go you two! Live a long and happy life together.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Sydney, Narana and Torquay

This week I've been to Sydney, Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Torquay, all to do with emus and my picture book 'Emu'.

I don't have photos yet from Sydney, but here are some from Narana and Torquay.


This is Mama Emu. Yes, Mama. She was mighty curious about me, pecking at my watch, camera bag and even my camera. She wasn't aggressive at all, just not terribly respectful of my personal space. Fair enough, I was not paying her a great deal of attention, and I was entranced by her chicks.

The chicks are about 5-6 weeks old and growing fast. They weren't that fussed by me, I don't think. They lazed about, and occasionally did laps of their enclosure. It was fun to watch them. They stretch tall and run in a quite upright fashion, but their balance is still developing and they took the odd tumble. Then scrabbled straight up again and kept going. If you want to know what this looked like, put your arms inside a shirt or jumper and fall over. Now, without using your elbows, get to your feet. Not so easy, is it? I bet the chicks did better than you. 

 Those stripes are fairly bright here in the short grass, but let 'em loose in longer-grassed surroundings and they vanish from sight. 

And then there's time to rest.
When they were done with me, I bid the emus farewell and hit the beach. 
Oh, alright, I watched the beach. And the surfers. Not sure I'd have been in the water, even if I had had the time. But watching is mesmerising.

On to Torquay Library, where the lovely Kim had been working hard to support my visit. I had a goodly group of young people and their families and we had plenty of fun talking all things emu.

First we read.

Then we danced.

Then we made emu beaks. There was another egg-based drawing activity, but emu-beaks were definitely the hot-ticket item. 

Thanks to Geelong Libraries, Kim and the enthusiastic audience.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Flowerdale in Spring

Last Christmas, our boys gave us a getaway in the country. This past weekend, we finally connected our calendars and were able to take it. This was the view from our room's front door.

 We were at Flowerdale Estate, between Strath Creek and Flowerdale. Victoria turned on them most amazing weather,firstly for travelling about the place, but then for walking through the extensive grounds. Love these stone steps, staging the descent to river bank level.

The views were just beautiful, even the sheep seemed to have been placed for maximum effect. Although, there was something nqr about the trees on the hill behind.

This may look like an aged cow pat, or an old lava bubble but it's actually an exposed tree root. Not sure whether this presentation is due to some bug or fungus, but the shape was fascinating.

Green, green, green grass, gently rolling hills, trees galore.

And a river.

Late afternoon sun on the hills

Raucous yellow-tailed black cockatoos staking their claim for the evening.

Indoor swimming pool, with the best of outdoor views.
The wisteria-covered verandah ... should I go on?

As if all this gloriousness was too perfect to be believed, add a touch of fantasy. Welcome to the first ever murder mystery weekend. Thirty people signed up to frock up in 20s finery and spend 24 hours in character as well as costume.

We were welcome, we were told repeatedly, to join in, ask questions, or just observe their antics as they tried to unravel the mystery. 

It seems a shame to cover up these coat hooks.
 and the pressed metal wall wainscotting was stunning.
This image was painted on the wall, and had a twin on the other side of the piano

 A full size pool table, in a full size pool room, with custom carpet, ensured that only quality games were played. Score? One game each.

I forgot to take my camera to dinner and it was a shame. The new season asparagus with hazelnut glaze was amazing as was the spinach canneloni with artichoke. Oh and there was dessert, the most delicious apple tart. I also forgot to take my glasses but a kind gent on the next table lent me his.

This morning we took another stroll after breakfast. This is a Furphy watercart, famed for the verses that Mr Furphy cast into his ends. This one didn't warn about the dangers of whisky, as others do. It did however suggest that 'good, better, best .. ' was the way to go. The wheels are cast Furphy productions too.

These water carts were filled, then taken into paddocks. Similar carts, although apparently not Furphy's, were taken to North Africa during WWI.

We found the chook shed, and the dog that is wearing deep tracks around the fence as she tries to round up the chooks ... from outside.

Today was a meander home through old towns and new. Tonight is a delayed Father's Day dinner, prepared by our three boys.

And the sun shines on.