Deua National Park

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Headed south towards Moruya looking for another coastal camp… very busy and expensive, so decided to go inland and start heading north. Again, excited by the back roads and adventurous tactic that I have come to love so much, took the Araluen Road west up the escarpment and coastal foothills into Deua National Park.

Found the best campsite alongside the Deua River and stayed four nights in this Eucalypt forested highland wilderness.  SCORE! 

avoid the crowds LOL

avoid the crowds LOL

….a very happy camper

….a very happy camper

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Set up a little bush studio amongst the acacias, read my book, wrote letters and had excellent fires everynight. The weather was pretty warm through the day so got to swim in the river and take in a couple of bush walks where I spotted an owl!!! Seriously turning into a bird lady!!! A few people stopped in over the days for a night here and there so it was very very peaceful with daily visits from this massive goanna that just plodded through the camp at leisure and went about his business… man they can scale the trees pretty quickly chasing the birds…

Riverside studio. Too lucky with the riverside camps and love love love having a fire.

Riverside studio. Too lucky with the riverside camps and love love love having a fire.

Deua River

Deua River

I drove out of the camp and continued on to Araluen  through the most beautiful countryside that was  so green and rich. When we were young we used to come out here to collect mushrooms and it was so funny seeing a sign on a gate that read “NO magic Mushrooms here” Was not quick enough to get a shot of that and probably should have gone back cause it mnade me laugh out loudest longest time ever.  The village was totally gorgeous and I am a bit fixated on some of the glorious churches out in the country. 

 

Back through Braidwood and onto Goulburn to stock up and finally get myself out to Bungonia National Park.

Bakers Flat from the range

Bakers Flat from the range

beautiful country roads

beautiful country roads

No Mushies here buss

No Mushies here buss

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Rosedale, A little oil study for Kerry

Rosedale, A little oil study for Kerry

Goulburn Celebrations

There were a lot of celebrations happening while in Goulburn. My visit coincided with Uncle Ross’s Citizen of the Year award for the 40 odd years of community service that he selflessly gave to the community, Cousin Jenny’s visit and birthday, my birthday and just any reason to get the Hogan mob together for some good cheer.

This blog is mainly family photos from some of these events. There were so many and the cull was hard.

Thankyou Aunty Edna, Uncle Ross, Aunty Kathy, my cousins who came from far and wide, Helen and Pete and Kerry, You are all such a beautyFULL mob and I bloody love you all!!

Big Budjus XXXXX

Big Budjus XXXXX

dinner out at Fireside Jenno’s Birthday

dinner out at Fireside Jenno’s Birthday

Iconic Goulburn Restaurant

Iconic Goulburn Restaurant

Uncle on the front Patio

Uncle on the front Patio

Aunty in the kitchen… Best meals ever!!

Aunty in the kitchen… Best meals ever!!

Jen’s dream come true. Hogan salads, prepared cold meats plus Aunties Cheesecakes and Grandma’s fruit salad to boot. Heaven!

Jen’s dream come true. Hogan salads, prepared cold meats plus Aunties Cheesecakes and Grandma’s fruit salad to boot. Heaven!

Aunty Edna and Aunty Kathy KNOW how to put on a a Hogan feast. The main spread…. SPOILT!!

Aunty Edna and Aunty Kathy KNOW how to put on a a Hogan feast. The main spread…. SPOILT!!

Kathy’s Cheese cakes PLUS Grandmas fruit salad!

Kathy’s Cheese cakes PLUS Grandmas fruit salad!

Aunty Helen, myself and Kerry

Aunty Helen, myself and Kerry

The berautyFULL Martine

The berautyFULL Martine

Sistagirl Kezza

Sistagirl Kezza

Have you met my cousin Jenny?

Have you met my cousin Jenny?

Aunty Kathy and 2nd Cousin Nathan…. Legends!!

Aunty Kathy and 2nd Cousin Nathan…. Legends!!

Second Cousin Noah whom I have just met for the first time. What a darling.

Second Cousin Noah whom I have just met for the first time. What a darling.

Uncle Ross

Uncle Ross

Cracking up laughing constantly- Edna and Kathy

Cracking up laughing constantly- Edna and Kathy

The old Paragon Cafe… once removed!

The old Paragon Cafe… once removed!

Uncle Peter

Uncle Peter

Wazza… hope you are all better!

Wazza… hope you are all better!

This crackin’ rockstar, Cousin Jacinta

This crackin’ rockstar, Cousin Jacinta

NO… there are not 61 candles on this cake.

NO… there are not 61 candles on this cake.

Streaming Alpine Style

Barwidgee Creek

Barwidgee Creek

Drove out from Myrtleford in Happy Valley, Victoria to head for Kosciusko National Park taking in a few detours along the way. I am continually in awe at the absolute beauty and changing nature of the landscape with its running streams, lakes, dams, rolling hills, livestock, wineries and tunnels of trees. I just LOVE it!!! Stunning, beautiful country and man do I love travelling on these little backroads!!

Ovens River Myrtleford

Ovens River Myrtleford

Back Roads to Yackandandera

Back Roads to Yackandandera

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Stopped in at Yackandandah, a well preserved historic town, to dawdle about and check out a hand dug gorge and gold mine. Spent a couple of hours drifting through haberdasheries, antique shops, bakeries and pubs on another ‘heat waved’ day in Victoria.

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There Is something very peaceful about wandering around old historic towns. So many stories and hangovers from the mid 1800’s and of course theres always a link to good old Ned Kelly wherever you go….. laying claim to the famed outlaw!!

This gorge was actually hand dug, probably used a bit of dynamite. the extremes one goes to to get the gold!!

This gorge was actually hand dug, probably used a bit of dynamite. the extremes one goes to to get the gold!!

Back of Lake Hume along the Murray Valley Highway

Back of Lake Hume along the Murray Valley Highway

Geehi River Flats Kosciusko Nat Park

Geehi River Flats Kosciusko Nat Park

Went onto Colac Colac planning on a sleepover and realised I only had 30 odd kilometres to go and would be into Khancoban, the gateway to Kosciusko. Figured I could grab a hamburger, fuel up and camp. BUT there were no shops open, the park looked boring and the signage ‘Thredbo 82km’ lured me into the National Park. I pulled up at the first stunning viewpoint over Kosciusko, cracked a Furphy and quickly decided I had enough dry food and daylight to get a camp in the park and eat 2 minute noodles for dinner.

Spot the ducks~ Geehi River Flats

Spot the ducks~ Geehi River Flats

Excitement clawed at my entire being as I took the plunge and kept driving deep into the winding narrow entry into the mountains.

It was late avo…Daylight saving!! Plus I was completely stimulated since my mate Wendy was in Thredbo on a fam bam holiday… Lets go!!

Famous last words! 

Camp view Geehi River

Camp view Geehi River

God it was the most jaw dropping beautiful drive, the whipbirds, the mountains, and the brief vistas; when I could take my eyes off the cliff hanging, winding roads that were literally single lane and carved into rock. Again, amazed by the extreme change of the landscape. So exciting, I was exhilarated maximus!!

After about an hour I realised I had only traversed about 25 kilometres and there was no way I was going to make Thredbo so just started praying for a random campsite…. Sooooooooon!!

Skippy taking a bounding leap into the sunrise

Skippy taking a bounding leap into the sunrise

and there she blows… Geehi Flats Campground! Gorgeous!! set up camp, boiled the water over the noodles and then some campers swung by for a chat and invited me to dinner… Hambugers!!! What luck!!

The Geehi River was not freezing cold and just so beautiful and clear and there was a plethora of wildlife. Lucked out bigtime. Took a long morning walk and came across an old Alpine hut. it’s an excellent camp spot and also the entry point to get further into the park via the Geehi River crossing. The whole drive in from Khancoban is the best. Totes recommend!!

Alpine Hut Geehi Flats

Alpine Hut Geehi Flats

Went onto to Thredbo and found Wendy Cam Fam and ended up staying in a lodge for the night. Wendy took me up the Kosciusko Express Chairlift so we could be on top of the world. It is just the most beautiful space. we spammed insta with selfies and came back down for a picnic on the Thredbo River with the family. what a cracker bunch, had a great time with them and it was just awesome catching up with some homies on the road!!

Leatherbarrel Creek

Leatherbarrel Creek

Headed out the next day to camp up river but half of Canberra were there with their bikes and fitwear and both Ngarigo and Thredbo Diggings were packed. School holidays!!!

Im going home nahhhhhhh

I would head to my birthplace Goulburn. XXX now that is exciting!!

Kosciusko Express Ski Lift~ In the summer they modify the lifts to carry mountain bikes… its huge!!! the mountain is covered with families and fit people riding the slopes!!

Kosciusko Express Ski Lift~ In the summer they modify the lifts to carry mountain bikes… its huge!!! the mountain is covered with families and fit people riding the slopes!!

Bike tracks up top of the mountain

Bike tracks up top of the mountain

Love

Love

Lift back to Thredbo Village

Lift back to Thredbo Village

Crackenback Ridge

Crackenback Ridge

Wendy and I on the chairlift

Wendy and I on the chairlift

Cameron, Wendy, Pak a punch Caroline and Stephen.

Cameron, Wendy, Pak a punch Caroline and Stephen.

Time for Smoko

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My artist residency has gone AWOL whilst I break for some more social loving, head back to the high country from Kyneton on back roads to Bright and seek out old mate!!

us mob selfie stylish

us mob selfie stylish

Driving the Great Alpine Road through the very fertile and picturesque Ovens Valley with its quaint little villages, tree lined streets, mountain peaks and shaded crystal clear running creeks and babbling brooks was like driving into a fairy tale setting. Seriously Victoria.. It’s one botanical feast to the next!! I could be in Europe, southern France or Italy… absolutely stunning and bursting my senses with delight!!

Bright Beach

Bright Beach

Hoola doola

Hoola doola

I found my long time old mate Faith ‘GrabbaGallagher’ whom I have not seen for 3 decades in her gorgeous barn house at Smoko. We were like those babbling brooks I just passed, tearing up, hugging, and talking. We giggled and cried, babbled and bellyache laughed for next 4 days.  Faith and I shared a couple of houses back in the early eighties and went to art school together, so there were a lot of very funny memories, reminders and our big bold lives that shifted and changed over the years to unravel.

Faith is a brilliant chef, host and tour guide and took me around to the very best of this area. Picnic and swims at ‘The Beach”, winding our way up to the top of Mt Buffalo with its haunting Chalet and drop dead gorges and views, historic Harrietville, the stunning Mt Hotham and driving along the highest roads in Australia to visit Dinner Plain with its truly unique architectural village. ThankYOU Faith, I have been blissed out maximum!!

I think I said ‘OMG this is beautiful’ over a hundred times!!! So we conjured up some crazy ideas about art camps and I will be back… Could spend a year in this place. Would love to see the autumn!!

See you next time Bright one!!

 

Alpine Hut

Alpine Hut

Road to top of Mt Hotham

Road to top of Mt Hotham

Victorian weather ~ One day it’s hot and sunny…

Victorian weather ~ One day it’s hot and sunny…

Alpine National Park ~ Mt Hotham

Alpine National Park ~ Mt Hotham

Dinner Plains

Dinner Plains

Faith Josh and Taylor.

Faith Josh and Taylor.

View form Hotham

View form Hotham

Top of Mt Buffalo

Top of Mt Buffalo

….Next day winter!

….Next day winter!

Smoko Studio

Smoko Studio

Study for new work ~ view from Faith’s Barn, ink on paper

Study for new work ~ view from Faith’s Barn, ink on paper

Faith GrabbaGallagher~My Beautiful Friend, ink on canvas 30X30cm

Faith GrabbaGallagher~My Beautiful Friend, ink on canvas 30X30cm

Those who hola hoop stay in the loopXX The inner party animal remains solid!!

Those who hola hoop stay in the loopXX The inner party animal remains solid!!

Yea to the New Year

Coming out of the Alpine Country and back into the real world I was greeted by an onslaught of traffic. Trailers, caravans, Winnebago, motor homes, bikers and everyone sporting a boat.. Or a Dog (V.C.R.T.)

The Garden State

The Garden State

This fire hut is amazing, big circular house with a central fire place and seating all around the walls.

This fire hut is amazing, big circular house with a central fire place and seating all around the walls.

Imogen and I were pretty gross after being out bush for a while however, Imo was heading back to Melbourne and all I wanted was a park with a good hot shower, washing machines and WIFI. Everything was booked solid! Nada…Nothing…ZIP!

The ladies at the Information shop in Mansfield rang everywhere; even Bonnie Doon was Packed to the Rafters… or was it The Castle?

Finally scored a few nights at a beautiful riverside park in Yea and the campground had super gorgeous facilities including spacious grassed shady sites, excellent camp kitchens, fire hut, lounge areas, pool and permanent and annual residents to party with for NY. There was also an impending heat wave (scoff scoff) and Victoria was definitely “on the move” so I decided to stay put for New Years celebrations! Yay in Yea!!  I even tried a couple of resolutions.

 

JEEZTHATDIDNOTWORKATALLLLLL

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The 1.5 hour drive to Kyneton took me about 5 hours to traverse. It was probably one of the very best drives so far, taking all the little tiny back roads and tracks across country and stopping for the most precious things like an echidna crossing the road, collect pine cones as if a five year old or just to smell the hay.  Had to stop and get directions a lot; the old road maps don’t cut it and I should invest in a GPS one day!

I was totally in my element the whole way, inspired by country and it was like Victoria really is “the Garden State”.

 I want to live here!!

Fam Bam Tram

Fam Bam Tram

Elspeth

Elspeth

My timing was impeccable as Lani, Imo, Matisse and Elspeth met me at the Botanical Gardens in Kyneton, and we all headed to “the Tram’ our Airbnb in Laureston for the New Year. What a cool little set up with a cottage, fire pit, butterfly gardens and lots of sheds and caravans. The kids were in heaven switching on the fairy lights, having concerts and exploring the pine tree dotted property.

Imogen’s car can go anywhere and what a perfect start to the year perusing this beautiful location; frequenting cafes and country roads, gin distillery, lavender farm, the Convent, natural springs, train rides and stopping for photos at every conceivable opportunity.  

Lani makes absolutely beasty Gin and Tonics, to accompany our scrabble matches and shithead games, and the girls just played for hours in and around the tram. Proper holiday look!!!

Thanks LanDogg and Midgimo for the best time!

Training

Training

Lavender

Lavender

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Matisse and I at the Convent, Daylesford.

Matisse and I at the Convent, Daylesford.

Elspeth.

Elspeth.

Timing~ #checkthecomposition!

Timing~ #checkthecomposition!

Early career move for Matisse

Early career move for Matisse

LanDogg and Matisse both sporting some black eyes from xmas LOL!!

LanDogg and Matisse both sporting some black eyes from xmas LOL!!

Elspeth and the golden egg

Elspeth and the golden egg

A big, happy, creative and productive New Year to YOU all………….. 2019 is sure to be a celebration!!

A big, happy, creative and productive New Year to YOU all………….. 2019 is sure to be a celebration!!

Dog walkers

Dog walkers

Footnote; V.C.R.T.  ~ Victorian Child Replacement Therapy

Seriously everyone owns a dog, can travel with them almost anywhere and treat them like their babes.  All spaces have facilities for our four legged friends. 

 

 

Off the Grid ~ Christmas

From the Warrambungles I started my journey south to Victoria stopping off at Dubbo to visit my gorgeous cracker of a cousin Jacinta to laugh away a few days. Love that chick!!

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Excitement set in crossing the Murrumbidgee River and seeing signposts to Gundagai and Wagga Wagga, knowing that my next big river was going to be the Murray. Checked in to Albury for the night, then headed across the border for the Howqua River region, Alpine Country: the High Country, just bloody beautiful country. 

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Not sure I was that prepared for the long winding dirt track with blind corners every 100 metres, escarpments, mountains, glorious vistas and grassy flats along riverbanks that led me to 7 Mile Flats camp. This country is so beautiful!!!

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I did arrive at the site and there was a huge horse trekking mob set up all wearing their akubras, drizabone’s and boots. Where was Clancy?? Tom Burlinson and Sigrid Thornton…. Total Man from Snowy River setting. 

Set up camp and lucked out big time with our own personal swimming hole flanked with the tallest trees, grasses and wildflowers. Seriously was expecting Tom Burlinson to cross the escarpment on a wild stallion!

Our very own swimming hole….

Our very own swimming hole….

I went on a wood collecting mission as it was raining a bit so the nights were absolutely freezing and pulled every conceivable warm thing out of my ute to snuggle up in.

Imo arrived the next day with all the fancy fare…she is the total rock star!!! We ate like queens for days!! And the X-mas decorations were so natural as they kept flying in and out, all reds and greens with dashes of blue; Parrots, Black cockatoos, Willy Wag Tails and Rosellas.  Just so gorgeous!!

Moét…..What a corker!

Moét…..What a corker!

Obligatory Choccy Soldiers for breakfast… well it was nearly lunch time ..

Obligatory Choccy Soldiers for breakfast… well it was nearly lunch time ..

The next 6 days were perfect; excellent weather, drawing, reading, painting, eating, swimming, beauty treatments, laughing, drinking and stoking fires. Birdsong, rustling peppermint trees, babbling waters and whip birds was the only soundtrack and exquisite beauty at its best our only vista.

We took a million photos and I have culled them maximum … it was a brilliant “off the grid” Xmas!!!!

avi beers around the pit..

avi beers around the pit..

Enticing the Christmas decorations to hang around

Enticing the Christmas decorations to hang around

….four books in 6 days ain’t bad!!

….four books in 6 days ain’t bad!!

Beauty Spa.. pedicure anyone???

Beauty Spa.. pedicure anyone???

Bush studio

Bush studio

hello… prawns and pinot gris for lunch… riverside!

hello… prawns and pinot gris for lunch… riverside!

Bacon and eggs for breakfast….

Bacon and eggs for breakfast….

Shag on a rock.

Shag on a rock.

Domestics… collecting water from the river.

Domestics… collecting water from the river.

Christmas Off the Grid!!!

Christmas Off the Grid!!!

Dust to dust

Rear Vision, Same Vision

Rear Vision, Same Vision

Leaving Darwin was easier than the 3 grand worth of straight desert roads klm’s that lay in front of me. It takes two days just to get out of the Territory.  I was tempted to go east just to see some green and a few different vistas but I stuck at it down through dinosaur country Winton, Longreach and when the road was still moving whilst stationary, I figured it would be time for a good break!!

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I stayed for a few days in Mitchell so I could frequent the artesian baths daily. How EXCELLENT are they!!! Dipping into 40 degree pools and soaking in the healing minerals then popping into a <19 degree pool… seriously could have been a Turkish baths in Budapest.

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The camp was a lovely riverside camp and it was totally a revive/survive stop. Crunched another grand just to get to Coonabarrabran. What a treat driving into country with hills, gullies, sheep, emus, shacks, chimney’s and winding roads! Very Stimulating!! From here on in it will be easy drives under 4 or 5 hundred km’s at best.

the Apocalypse!

the Apocalypse!

I was really looking forward to getting out to the Warrambungles to test drive my studio set up!  The park is so beautiful and I was totally inspired to get drawing. Scored a yearlong All Parks Pass and wound down into this gorgeous campground.  Then the apocalypse came! I had almost finished getting the tent up when I heard a bit of a rumble. Looked up and saw this pinky, orangey, dirty brown cloud bellowing up over the mountain.

The Spire

The Spire

My first thought was bushfire, but there was no smell and it was moving in and fast. I literally started chucking shit in the car and tying down all the canopy sides when it just hit! 120kph dust storm. I was in Interstellar!  It just ripped through pulling out my tent poles and making my tent look like a tissue as it flapped wildly with the wind. I was shitting myself … where was Matthew McConaughey???? And is my tent going to get shredded??? 

I few tree’s got stripped and The rangers came round to check on us, warned there was a massive storm front coming through and we’d probably be ok. At that point it was as clear as! I totally tied that tent down with every available guy rope and seriously drilled those pegs in proper.

Some other campers pulled in and I was very happy that they stayed camped next to me. Uta, Jorge, Linda and Benno… in a van! If it got hectic… I was jumping in with them!! had an excellent evening with red wine, cheeses and fruit and laughed and laughed… till about midnight when the storm lashed down. Again shitting myself!!! Blair Witch Project came to mind at about 3am as I sat inside the tent and feeling like a sniveling, scared old lady using up all my data looking at bloody weather maps!!!

Seriously THAT’S when I grew some balls and went to sleep for a couple of hours.

The following day I gave Bertha a clean out.  Sorted the dust and had a very good nights sleep… with one thought in my mind… TOMORROW I’m test-driving the studio!!!!

Bush Studio

Bush Studio

Get Outta Town

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I am going on an artist journey for as long as I can manage, hopefully 5-6 months, heading to NSW.

Packing for a BIG trip is no mean feat, nor is clearing out the house and setting up for a very special resident while I am gone.

I have literally gone through my 60 years and have had this massive purge and the process has been full of emotions. Excitement, nostalgia, sadness and joy!

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I have a proclivity to hoard the extraneous, however there have been times in my life where I have had ‘The Big Clean Out’ and regretted throwing things away in my haste to ‘lighten up’. All my diaries from my youth for one!! But then I would have taken another week reading through them as well. There aren’t too many times in your life where you really go through allllllll your belongings and scrutinise their value for the now or for the future and it’s really a task that takes time. A lot of time!

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All the little treasures, keepsakes and portraits of my daughters, Lani, Imo and Tilly. Dusting them off and reframing some before packing them into boxes!  The tears have flowed as I look at the years and years and years of their growth. I love them so much; it could have been yesterday when they were 5, 8 and 10 years old.

My grandma kept all my letters that date back to the mid seventies. WHAT a laugh!! All my views and experiences right there in black and white. A lot of the letters are from my days in England and written on very thin airmail paper or that paper that is also the envelope. I’ve written so small I can hardly read it. Economical??? I don’t know how my dear Grandmother went; she would have needed a magnifying glass. 

Deadly drying box

Deadly drying box

The studio has been a Pandora’s box!  Working out what to take was crazy hard, so I have basically packed everything. Oils, inks, acrylics, charcoal, pastels, watercolours, canvas, boards, paper, sketchbooks and printmaking stuff.... Man, I’m going to have some fun!!!

Then my neighbour took a look at a little drawing design I made for carrying boards and has made this amazing little drying box come rack. I can paint in oils and not worry about the drying time. It holds 6 boards @ 80 X 30cm so I can rotate them through as I do layers. They will be able to dry without the bugs, dust and dirt. Spent days preparing boards for this little manifesto and I love it!!

Check it out!! 

The new Beast Toyota has the number plate CB 60 BS so I have aptly named her ‘Country Bounty @60 Bertha Star’ At least I can remember my number plate when I need. LOL

See ya round HomiesX

bin awhile……

Well its clear that other social media has replaced this blog. For me, Im going to pick this up as a diary because I’m packing up my studio to go on an adventure to NSW drawing and painting and want to document this major event in my life.

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SO…. Were did the last 4 years go??
In a nutshell!!!
It has been an exciting journey over the last couple of years. My last blog was from that fabulous visit to Vee’s in France. She had been saying for years and years to come visit, that it will change my life and would it not be grand to sit over a glass of wine and catch up on 20 years of our lives, our three daughters and the highs and lows since art school in the eighties. Well ultimately, it did change my life. Vee if your reading this I ThankYOU. 

This photo was take on our last big night out in Paris at the Moulin Rouge and I feel its appropriate to post this as it gives my blogs a flow considering the last 4 years have been totally neglected!

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Soon after arriving back in Australia I went  on an artist residency to Alice Springs with ArtbackNT for six weeks. Another game changer for me!

Confronted with a different landscape that was in sheer contrast to my Top End works was a bit of a challenge and culminated in the exhibition ‘Alice Rocks’ At the CDU campus and then a selection of works “Desert Roads’ went to Melbourne for a month, at Glimpse Art Space. Successful shows!!

ArtbackNT are an amazing support for the arts across the Territory and I still have ties with them with the Artists on Tour program. Leading artists deliver workshops around a range of art forms including dance, visual arts, story telling, sculpture and theatre. Check them out @

https://artbacknt.com.au/what-we-do/artists-on-tour/

I took another year away from my work as Arts Senior at my local high school and pursued my practice with many successes along the way. Katherine Art Prize and then finalist in the John Leslie prize for landscape were won within weeks of each other!! Too happy with that. It’s amazing how uplifting and confidence building winning an art prize or making finalist can be. It’s really quite validating!!!

invitation Stone Country.jpg

In 2017 I won a significant artist grant from ArtsNT to develop a body of work about the Territory landscape that culminated in my first solo exhibition at a prominent commercial gallery in Darwin. This was an extremely exciting period in my artist life! Inspirations came like waves of delight, followed by tsunamis of trepidation. Throughout the process I was fully supported by my beautiful daughters Lani, Imogen and Matilda, Paul Johnstone, peers and friends. Big Huge thanks to Cath, Franck, Sonia, Rob, Wendy… this list could go on and Don. Darwin has an incredibly supportive arts community and I totally love it!!
Stone Country was a very successful exhibition and so was the after party that was organised by Matilda at this gorgeous wine bar next door to the gallery. Big celebrations!!!
I am now represented in Darwin by Paul Johnstone Gallery and he is an absolute legend to deal with, plus he shells out wine when he visits the studio and thats gotta be a big bonus!! 
16 months later and I’m up for my second show there in a couple of weeks. Bring it AWN!!


Streets

La Bastille

La Bastille

Walking the streets of Paris is one of the things that I love most about this exquisite city, easy to navigate and breathtakingly beautiful. It has been a daily activity for me and of course with all that walking, at least 100 kilometres, I can easily hit up the chocolateur's and pâtisserie's no problems at all! The food is delicious and so is the wine! I reckon I am losing kilos!!

Even after two months I am still in awe at the beauty of this city. The intricate sculptures and details that adorn most buildings and the exposure to the fine arts is stimulating!!

Walking without purpose. Smelling the roses!

Place de la Republique

Place de la Republique

I arrived at La Promenade Plantée, an elevated urban park. Originally an abandoned railway track, this 4.5 kilometre stroll in the garden leads to a massive public park with cafés, fountains and sporting/recreational facilities. It's gorgeous full of statues and rose beds.

Promenade Plantée

Promenade Plantée

Underneath the track, the arches of the former railway viaduct have been transformed into art and design studios. 

Viaduc des Arts, Avenue Daumesnil.

Viaduc des Arts, Avenue Daumesnil.

One day I went looking for material for Matilda ... Mad!!

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Then just around the corner....

Sacré-Cœur Bascilica, The Sacred Heart of Paris

Sacré-Cœur Bascilica, The Sacred Heart of Paris

Sacred heart is a Roman Catholic Church situated at the highest point in Paris on the hill of Montmartre. As it sits at the very top of the hill, you can see views all over Paris.

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I am the complete tourists hey!! I absolutely loved this lady who has been coming here for years playing her piano accordion and singing songs surrounded by fake flowers... Awesome!

Behind the monumental bascilica is Place du Tertre where there are artist drawing portraits and painting images of Paris alongside cafés and gorgeous winding cobblestone streets that are an adventure in themselves.

A lot of my adventures takes me this way and I never get sick of walking through this part of Paris!! It's glorious!

Musée du Louvre entrance

Musée du Louvre entrance

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France Organic

Back to the heart of all hearts and a big welcome "home". Yeeeha!

Vin De Provence? .... Anyone...?

Vin De Provence? .... Anyone...?

Soooooo great to get back to France, Vee and her beautiful family! I am completely behind in the blogging department. Thanks to ordered photos I can track a bit of life, food and joy... 

Tagine on the terrace and welcome home Ella!

Tagine on the terrace and welcome home Ella!

We decided to go back to the country for a few days to experience  "à la française" (quality of life) and catch some of the local "brocantes" (Village markets). Driving there is seriously like going back in time, billboards drop away and highways splinter into little country roads that carry you through woodlands, farms and meadows. The cows are beautiful

Parc Naturel Régional

Parc Naturel Régional

Le Perche is a sanctuary, literarily. The whole region has been granted the status of 'Le Parc Naturel Régional' to promote a more organic economy. If you want to build a fence it must be of stone and rooftops must be pitched at 45degrees alongside a range of other sanctions that keeps urban development at bay.

Home away from home....... Away from home.

Home away from home....... Away from home.

Definitely NOT a place where you would find any tourists!!

It's a snails pace for sure.

A sanctuary!

We set out to collect fuel from the local farms. The charter drafted to protect the buildings and forests of Le Perche also includes the promotion of local artisans and agriculture.

Laiterie translates to Dairy....

Laiterie translates to Dairy....

This farm is run by a group of families that each have specialties. Here you can purchase milk, cheese, fruit and vegetables, breads and eggs...all completely organic. Even cheese from sheep!

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We set out early for a Sunday drive.... On a Sunday ....to scour the brocantes.

Gorgeous roads where a deer, a hare, or a mole may cross your path.... 2 out of 3 ain't bad!

Gorgeous roads where a deer, a hare, or a mole may cross your path.... 2 out of 3 ain't bad!

The markets are awesome where you can buy anything from fresh produce, to hot croissants, to hardware, to bric a brac or even a helicopter ride for Karl. I totally wanted to take that carton of dolls for Matisse @ 5 euro.... What a bargain!! Or that Esso sign for my brother...

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And then there are the hugest range of tomatoes....

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So organic!!

Brummagen

When I said '...am off to Birmingham' .....the looks on peoples faces was generally like that of a rabbit looking into headlights. From all accounts I didn't hold much hope for the place. However, I was off to see Bridget (Lani Joy's bestie) and her hubby Luke. We booked into a bargain hotel in the middle of town and crossed our fingers. Well....weren't we in for a treat!! Simply gorgeous!

Mailbox, Central Birmingham

Mailbox, Central Birmingham

The Ramada was perfectly positioned in the 'Mailbox' right in the heart of the most beautiful canal system, excellent local pubs and restaurants and massive shopping centres. Lia and I found our local and spent a couple of evenings experiencing double pours of blue sapphire, amazing homemade soups and digging a little deeper ..... some interesting facts on Birmingham? 

Canal side

Canal side

Proper brummies...look!

Proper brummies...look!

People who come from Birmingham are called 'brummies' a term derived from the cities nickname 'Brum' that originates from the dialect name Brummagerm, which is derived from the city's earlier name of Bromwicham!

In a lot of ways it reminded me of Hobart for all the 'hens night parties' that were on.

Imogen, you will totally follow this!

 

 

 

Birmingham also has the biggest library in all of Europe! It is fabulous with a huge community feel to it. Flouro blue escalators carry you up through this massive cylindar with floors and floors of books and each level pans out into areas of particular focus. On the rooftop there is a native garden, come parkland, with views over all of Birmingham. People were having picnics up there.

Birmingham Library

Birmingham Library

I left the library and literally stumbled on a performance. It was a children's play and just a lucky, excellent detour to my day! I realised later that the performance area was a part of the library that I did not get through. You can see how it's like a well in the centre of the courtyard. Just gorgeous!

Public children's performance... All about being happy.

Public children's performance... All about being happy.

Canalside selfie not...

Canalside selfie not...

The canals are beeautiful, such a lovely place to mooch around. Plenty of art Galleries, pubs and restaurants. My favourite was the Ikon Gallery, a neo-gothic former school, founded by a group of artists in the sixties and intended as an antithesis to exclusive art establishments and galleries. Unfortunately I can't publish any photos from the show....aaaaaw, go to http://ikon-gallery.org
 

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View over Birmingham from the Cube

View over Birmingham from the Cube

Bridget's backyard blitz! Love the narrow cricket pitch gardens!

Bridget's backyard blitz! Love the narrow cricket pitch gardens!

Lia left to head back to Cayman Islands and I mosied out to Moseley to visit Bridget and Luke.  

Just LOVED their English style house and garden, so completely different to 'straya'. You could cut the grass with scissors quicker than mow my yard!!

 We walked to Kings Heath for lunch at the Fighting Cocks and pub crawled the rest of the day and night back to Moseley. W O A H !

English pubs are just so gorgeous and each with their own particular decor. The names of them are hilarious... The Slug and Lettuce, the Fox and Hound, Pitcher and Piano, the Goose... 

Having a gander... &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; Kings Heath

Having a gander...       Kings Heath

Artwork decorations in the toilets of one of the pubs... Love it!

Artwork decorations in the toilets of one of the pubs... Love it!

Bridget took me for a Sunday drive ... On a Sunday .... Out to the Cotswalds. We went to Broadway for a roast lunch in another gorgeous pub and wandered aimlessly through the village.

Broadway

Broadway

Broadway Tower

Broadway Tower

The weather was simply beautiful and lovely to see so many people out picnicking on the hillsides. I just wanted to roll down the hills laughing, reminding me of the church picnics we used to go on when we were kids. Egg and lettuce sandwiches, butterfly cakes, orange cordial from coloured tin cups and sack races ....  Gawd.. Where did that come from??

Hill and Dale

Hill and Dale

Then we drove down to the Slaughters, Upper then Lower.

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 There is something completely beautiful about English villages, whether it's because of the Robin Hood TV series that I loved in the sixties (next to Shintaro) or the Pride and Prejudice thing, I expected to see either Friar Tuck or Mr Darcy at every turn. The latter being more  welcomed.

Shut the garden gate!

Shut the garden gate!

..and just in case you do run into Mr Darcy, a Defribillator....mmmmm

..and just in case you do run into Mr Darcy, a Defribillator....mmmmm

I wonder if people run around making collages of houses from Darwin?? 

Or stand in front of other peoples houses and pose....

Or stand in front of other peoples houses and pose....

When all is said and done .....Birmingham was fab.

Au revoir... Birmingham

Au revoir... Birmingham

and ......also the birthplace for heavy metal... Think Black Sabbath... Oh yeah and Judas Priest! Half of led Zeppelin band come from Brummagem!

And in the seventies.... UB40 then Duran Duran, Fine Young Cannibals... Endless notoriety from "The Second City!"

 

London Tourist: Red River

Red River London

Red River London

Just a couple of tram stops from Camden and your at Kings Cross Station. That is where we meet our hop on, hop off, red, roofless, double decker bus with guide and an opportunity to be the complete snap happy tourist!! We were ready for a day of action.

There are still millions of double decker red buses that stream through the streets of London non stop! I call this the Red River.

 

 

 I am really not one for discussing weather and how the garden beds are going but having lived in London for quite a while I was fully blown out with the excellent weather and the flower pots adorning everything! Blue skies are a rarity in England and one of the main reasons I got so homesick and went back to Australia ..... Back in the day! 

Blue skies, shining on me, nothing but blue skies do I see.....

Blue skies, shining on me, nothing but blue skies do I see.....

The live commentary takes us back to the great plague, the Fire of London, the WW1 bombings and seriously funny (not) meanings behind rhymes and sayings like 'Laugh your head off', 'Hung drawn and quartered', Londons Burning' and 'Ring a ring a Rosie'. London sure took a beating! Imagine living there with all that in store.... And then surviving! Phew.

There is always pints and god though...

There is always pints and god though...

London is  definitely not suffering now! The old and the new...

The Shard behind The Tower Of London

The Shard behind The Tower Of London

....the money is a flowin'

....the money is a flowin'

There is as many cranes as there are buildings!  I really tried hard to exclude them from my postcard visions of sunny London.  We counted eighteen looking across the Thames over the Tower of London area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the stops was Harrods and in we paced with bus loads of tourists directed to the food hall. Mmmm mmmmm. Totally Impressed by the staff and their kindness to the hoards of people that pour through every day,  photograph them working at their chocolatier counter handing out the most beautiful choc coated almonds I have ever eaten, directing us to floors, toilets, particular grandness or just asking the stupid question how much? like I did at the Alexander McQueen department. Sorry Tills no can do!

 

 

Harrods

Harrods

 

I can't go past putting up more of the tourist postcard shots with the blue skies! 

Big Ben

Big Ben

the London Eye. People actually get married on this taking their vows at the top, guess it's all downhill from there..LOL

the London Eye. People actually get married on this taking their vows at the top, guess it's all downhill from there..LOL

Sunset cruise back to Big Ben.

Sunset cruise back to Big Ben.

 

Go on 'laugh your head off'

Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat, was a bit of a scoundrel and completely unliked by the people of England. He was arrested for treason in the mid 1700's and sentenced to death, however the people wanted to witness the slaying. A scaffold for spectators was built to view the beheading but it collapsed killing 20 people. This amused Lord Lovat so much that he could not stop laughing and in the flurry his head was then chopped off. This became the origin of the saying "laughing your head off" 

There is a famous etching by William Hogarth, that depicts Lovat awaiting execution in The Tower, counting with his fingers the various Clans that he had brought undone. That made me think of Nick Caves murder ballad 'O'Malleys Bar'

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XX 

London: True Grit

No pigeons at Trafalga... Just a big blue Cock!

No pigeons at Trafalga... Just a big blue Cock!

I had a jigsaw puzzle when I was a kid of Trafalga Square, London. The image was true to form and included a river of red double decker buses, black taxis, crowds of people and pigeons. @ 21, I moved to London and did the whole 70's backpacker, Earls Court, nanny thing. 32 years on, and here I am back again meeting up with an old mate Lia who did a similar thing. We do that a lot.... Meet up in obscure places! Now.......Back at Trafalga!

Feed the birds... Tuppence a bag...

 

 

.....wasting no no time at all, we dropped our bags and went to the Thames, walked Tower Bridge and cruised through the Tower of London.

 

Lia and I pole dancing.

Lia and I pole dancing.

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

At the Tower of London, ceramic artist Paul Cummings is there with a huge crew of people installing thousands and thousands of red ceramic poppies in the Moët surrounding the Tower. The art installation commemorates 100 years since the First World War. Awesome to see this in action. It will be finished on the 5th August. Check out 'Blood swept lands and seas of red' www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon

Tower of London and the installing of&nbsp; 'Blood swept lands and seas of red'

Tower of London and the installing of 'Blood swept lands and seas of red'

We stayed out at Camden, the TRUE GRIT of London, complete with punks, drunks and

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...an amazing canal system where they hold a very popular and massive market. We spent hours there trolling the maze of laneways and unique art stalls and enjoying feasts of food, bars and plenty of people watching.

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Deb joined us the following day and we went down memory lane revisiting old haunts like Earls Court, Fullam Broadway, Kings Road and ended up at the Tate Britain.

Earls Court..... Stepping back in time... To a place.....

Earls Court..... Stepping back in time... To a place.....

Jo finally found his car.....

Just couldn't find the key!

Just couldn't find the key!

We did find the Tate Britain! 

Originally Henry Moore was commissioned to record Britains war-time experiences which secured his public reputation. His drawings were mainly of Londoners sheltering underground. Moore is 'more' known for his monumental semi abstract sculptures. 

 

Moore

Moore

And then there was Turner!! Galleries on Galleries filled with works, finished and unfinished. How prolific!! The Tate has over 37,000 works on paper and some 400 odd unfinished oils... "Unfinished in whose eyes!! Maybe only Turner himself.

A Fire at The Tower of London, watercolour on paper

A Fire at The Tower of London, watercolour on paper

To me his work really loosened up... With his lifestyle .......by all accounts!

The Decline of the Carthagian Empire, 1817

The Decline of the Carthagian Empire, 1817

Reclining Venus, 1828.... Unfinished?

Reclining Venus, 1828.... Unfinished?

Waves Breaking on a Shore, 1835.... Unfinished?

Waves Breaking on a Shore, 1835.... Unfinished?

Well after all that it was time for a Pint! We found Covent Garden and then a fab pub in the name of Garrick!! Tomorrow we are on the buses!!

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