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.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Knead the dough

On Saturday, courtesy of my lovely family, I attended a breadmaking workshop at the Convent in Abbotsford.

There were 12 in the class, led by baker Ian.
We made scones, pizza base, sourdough bread and bread rolls. We ate some of our produce for morning tea and lunch and took the rest home to feed the starving thousands.
Although I have been making sourdough bread for some years, I learned so much about when to use a light touch, and how and when to use kneading to make bread better.
Now I'm itching to see if I can reproduce the results at home. I just have to empty the benches of this lot.
Scone anyone?

No button pushing, dial twisting for us. Everything was cooked in this century-old wood fired oven.

This is sourdough.

And for those who had mastered the simple shapes (ie Ian the baker) there was a crocodile, complete with eerie red eyes and red capsicum snack.

The oven was about 2 metres or more deep. Everything was put in and pulled out using one of those ridiculously long paddles.

Hard to believe just how big the oven was, when the door was only about 60 x 40 cm ish.

Cooked sourdough. Yum! There would have been pictures of the pizza and the breadrolls too, if I hadn't been so busy eating ... :)

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Big Red shines

Happy to tell the world that 'Big Red Kangaroo' received a Certificate of Commendation in the 2014 Whitley Awards.

The Whitley Awards are given each year by the Royal Zoological Society of NSW for outstanding publications relating to the fauna of Australia.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

SCBWI Flinders

Today, the Vic SCBWI quarterly meeting was in Flinders, on the Mornington Peninsula. The weather was glorious and I was there early enough to take  a few photos. 
The meeting was held in an old church hall and was well attended, particularly given how tricky it can be to get city bods to travel beyond the boundaries.
Wendy Orr talked about the challenges of writing the third Nim book after two movies with two different main characters ... each of whom 'became' Nim in their film. 
Serena Geddes talked about being a full time illustrator, the ups the downs and the in betweens. She talked about the support of her parents being offered in very different ways but both being instructive in her drive and success. 
After a luscious afternoon tea of tea, passionfruit sponge and chocolate cake, our third speaker was Jen Storer who talked about creating quirky characters. 
It was fascinating to hear that both Wendy and Jen's writing is character- rather than plot-driven: once they have their character sorted, then the story can begin. 
A good meeting, as they always are. 


Mushroom Reef, Flinders

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Spotted in Korea

on Nami Island, a picture book display. Thanks Ann for letting me know.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Book Week unexpected surprises

Surprise 1: Beautiful boats 'constructed' by preps after being read 'Ebi's Boat'

Surprise 2: This beautiful emu jumper, knitted by this young emu-fan's grandmother!