Category Archives: All about the Land Downunder

flood update


Thank you, all of my treasured overseas readers who have been inquiring after us with regard to the expansive flooding our nation has been experiencing in the last couple of weeks.  We are at the opposite end of the country to where the majority of flooding is happening (Queensland) and the flooding in our own state (Victoria) is in the North West & although it has been significant, it hasn’t impacted as much urban area – so there are less people & households effected.  We are, however we are still experiencing unseasonably high rainfall, that keeps falling in short, sharp bursts – then leaves everything flooded & humid.   It’s NOT flooded like you may have seen – over the roof, house destroyed flooded – but there is so much rain, it is breaking away our garden walls & is coming down the block in streams………we have our own ‘rivers of living water’ running down our block daily!!! LOL!!!……we have water coming in over the decking & our french doors at the back, so our rugs & furniture in our back family room have water stains & we are constantly drying something out………then it’s hot and REALLY humid…..….it’s very odd for what should be the middle of our summer.  It’s weird, weird weather – very tropical – which is FINE – IF you live in the tropics – but unheard of here in Melbourne, which is WAY down South! 

Over the weekend we were driving up through some of the areas impacted by the floods and although there is wide spread evidence of the path of the water,  much of it is already receeded.  Although this picture may look a little grim – yes there is water either side of the road as far as you can see! – we were able to drive through here as it was only about 2-3 feet deep, & it was the only water we encountered across the road.


spring treasures


only when you have been without it, do you appreciate rain.  In Oz, we have been experiencing severe drought for the past three years or so, but it has been moderately dry for about the last ten.   Our drinking water storage facilities have been gradually depleting, water tanks in suburban yards have become a more common sight and even public and commercial buildings have had water tanks installed to capture every drop of this precious commodity.  We have an old english cottage garden at our 90 yo home & I decided early in the drought that I wasn’t going to ‘bucket’ feed the garden (except for my pots) as I figured that in it’s long lifetime, it must have had dry periods before.  We have lost alot of ‘lush foliage’ type of plants, & (very sadly) a large Japanese Maple – but most of the trees have survived & the ivy trails over & fills the gaps! LOL!

I think it is fair to say, that the drought has broken.  Green is brightening up our barren landscapes & the sleepy decidious trees are filled with buds just waiting to burst at the first hint of sunshine & warmth.  The strict water restrictions that we have been under have been eased as our water storage is up and still filling.  We are expecting FOUR inches (100mm) rain in the next couple of days and the earth is OOOZZZing ‘wetness’ !  It’s a great time for all the gorgeous spring blossoms & of course the birds are lovin’ it.  I happened across this delicate looking moss recently and was facinated by it’s tonality.  The mossy yellowy/green is my MOST favourite colour, so of course I would be drawn to it, but it’s form was so delicate, I could imagine it would have inspired lace makers of the past.  Speaking of inspiration – I have been inspired by the very special Jenn White (a fellow Paper Trader) on a recent visit to regional Victoria.  Although Jenn does lovely mixed media and altered book work, her first love is wood cuts.  I have been considering creating some small etchings to turn into a little book, impacted by the film ‘Bright Star’ and some recent ad hoc life drawing sessions I have been doing.  Jenn VERY graciously let me have a play with some of her plates & do some ‘hand burnished’ prints.  It was fun to work so simply.  Mixed media at times can be so complex and layered, with so many different materials that it is a big set up and big clean up.  Jenn just had primary coloured inks (plus black and white), a small piece of glass, some burnishing tools & old book pages.  Dispite using a block,(ie replicating the same image) they were almost monoprints because each ink mix was a little different and colour combinations and varied text background gave quite different effects.

Simple – but interesting result.  I stuck mine between phone book pages to take them home, and some of the pages stuck a little, but I don’t even mind how that looks – adds another dimension………ok – so there I go ‘layering’ again!LOL!!  I started work on a lino cut, a process I REALLY did think that I had left behind at art school, but I have been more than a little inspired by the fineness & detail of Jenn’s work.  More soon.

Post Script
only a week after this posting, Victoria experienced extreme flooding & it is OFFICIAL, the drought HAS broken.  Thankfully, our dams are filling, and our water restrictions have been eased.  The era of dirty cars is over ………which some may consider a problem – particularly, if dirty cars have been your art canvas! 

WHEN you’re HOT, you’re HOT, when you’re not, YOU’RE ON FIRE


I KNOW, that this post will be a bit rambling & drawn out, but PLEASE read to the end – I NEED YOUR HELP. It has been a weekend literally in the fires of hell here.   We, in Victoria are in the middle of a hideously hot patch of weather….tinderbox  Bushfire kinglake dry……we are experiencing the hotest temperatures ever recorded in our weather history (?approx 150 years) – at 45.6C (115F) – and wind of 160km per hour – our state has been a bushfire waiting to happen.  ON SATURDAY IT HAPPENED.   I have hesitated to post for the last few weeks, to not take away from One Heart, One World – but now it's time for us to use our heart to share the love in the ART world (where we frequently care & share) – to the people in our community at large.  This VIDEO is a tiny taste of what we are experiencing everywhere around us.  News on the TV a couple of minutes ago – confirm 108 bodies, 750 homes destroyed and approximately 40 people with various degrees of burns in one of our metropolitan hospitals that has been now set aside to care for the burns patients that are still coming in as our state is still burning in several localities.  Over 330,000 hectacres of bushland and forests have been burnt out (I hectacre = 2.5 acres) There is lots more info here – I can't embed it because it's all news copywritten – but it's all pretty tragic.  The news flashes & special reporting is filled with aftermathpeople who have lost everything except literally the clothes on their back, many displaced, many of them don't know whether loved ones are alive or dead, and many of the dead, just haven't been found yet.  Incredibly sad – and worse than that – some of the first were deliberately lit.  I JUST DON'T GET IT  THIS is just ONE of the art treasures we lost.  The fires yesterday were at most 1/4 mile from our home, and we were safe ONLY because of the direction of the wind – if that changed – we would have lost everything (including my art) within a matter of minutes………I am thankful…… thankful.   I want to help facilitate some light in a period of deep darkness in these poor people's lives – and I need your help. 

My DH & I have created some beautiful tactile wooden hearts in response to Stephanie Lees heart warming story of the Love passed between her parents via a heart that she made……..the story is on the etsy page – WOULD YOU READ MY ETSY LOVE IT FORWARD page – and if you feel you can – buy a heart – and share your love with us in a fire ravaged State.  Share your Heart – LOVE it FORWARD.

Today I am in the process of creating a 'Heart Felt' Doll – I will have kits to purchase and a pattern to down load – would you make some and send them to me?????  There are literally thousands of people displaced without a thing except the clothes on their backs – in this situation – the practial things are taken care of, but a little loveliness amidst the black can bring so much joy – I know – I have experienced this myself over the last few months with jestures from special friends after Maddie died.  I will take them to the fire relief centres for distribution.


You know, when Maddie died (our grandbaby – still born on 9/11) – it was such a beautiful thing that some darling group of ladies had made these lovely little satin bound wrap arounds with a message of hope attached, so that she could be bought to us to hold wrapped in love.  It was VERY touching and something that I'll never forget.  I want to share my heart – I want to love it forward – I want these dear folk to feel an outpouring of love from the art world. 


The weather, the country & school holidays


The comp
licating factor when describing a climatic year in Oz is that it really depends onDigial Collage - I Love Our Sunburnt Country
where you live.  As we are such a huge country (bigger than whole USA or the continent of Europe) there are huge
variables…….. this map gives context of this explanation.  A large proportion of our country is desert. It touches all of the states except Tasmania (separated by sea) and the major population centres are around the perimeter of the continent.  Bushfires are a big threat to the southern states of Victoria, New South Wales & South Australia.  Queensland & Northern Territory are threatened by cyclones pretty regularly.

Generally speaking, Western Australia (WA) – hot & dry, much arid red desert, lower southern area (primary inhabited area in this state) is a little more temperate.  In Perth (Capital of the State) they have what is known as the 'Fremantle Doctor' which is a breeze that comes off the ocean late in the afternoon that cools the place down.  We have only visited WA once, in 1985 as a tourist, but several times since then for business.  It takes 4 hours from Melbourne by plane & is relatively expensive for domestic travel. (We can go to many international destinations for less than or the same price that it costs to travel to WA)  There is about 16 hours of driving through desert that separates the Eastern states from Western Australia, which keeps it somewhat isolated from the rest of the country.  It is amazingingly beautiful and it is on our to-do travel list – to make an extended 'desert' tour there at some point in the near future.  One of my FAVOURITE wine regions is in WA near Perth (the State capital), AND there is IMG_5467_resizean outback region that I am told is the most amazing place for photography so we will definitely visit it at some point or other.  

South Australia (SA) – medium range temps closer to the coast – a little cooler than Melbourne……..and again, mostly inhabited in the lower Southern region of state.  Adelaide (the state capital) is known as the 'City of Churches' as it has some of Australia's finest old church buildings.  South Australia also is the home of one of our premier wine growing regions – The Barossa Valley.  Moving away from the coast, the
inland becomes arid and volotile.  In the summer of 08/09 a whole area of the state was closed to visitors as it was anticipated being OVER 50C on a daily basis! (that's 122F – yep – no need for a stove here – you can use a rock -(there IS no pavement! – it's desert)As so much of it is dessert & arid land – mining are also major industries in SA and the world's most significant opal site is also located here.


 Victoria (Vic) (where I live) Fairly well populated, 2nd biggest population of any of the states.  It rivals Sydney for major commercial and cultural events & it's multicultural population is seen as a real asset in the context of global companies who do business across the world.  Melbourne has reputation for world class eateries & most cultures are represented at 5 star level.  Weather for Melbourne (capital) & surrounds is all over the show.  It is known for having 4 seasons in one day & many people carry, coat, umbrella & wear layered clothing so that you can either strip off, or add more.  Victoria still has a large portion of desert in the upper north
west of the state and it is not uncommon to have temperatures equal to theForest floor desert. 
They grow oranges up there.  We live on the edge of a National Parkland & forest called The Dandenong Ranges & it is truely beautiful.  It is a sanctuary for native wildlife and birds and is a MUST SEE destination for visitors to our state & 
country.   It has a combination
magestic old European trees that were planted by early settlers to the area over 100 years ago, and huge big Native Gum trees that are like the masts of the big sailing ships of old. (which is what they used to be used for)  Victoria has a broad temperature range & I am not sure of this officially, but I can remember it being b/n 
17C [abou
t 64F] & 42C [114F] on the same day.

Old Gum Tree

Bay of Fires
(Tas) tends to be colder, (being more South), much of the population of the
state is made up of retirees.  It is a slower pace of life, smaller communities & more of a 'country town' feel about it – even in the city.  The Western side of the island has World Heritage listed wilderness and is a popular spot for extreme adventure….(yes – I haven't been there!)   It is a 10 hour ferry trip across Bass Strait to get there, or 1 hour by plane from
Melbourne.  It is interesting that in Oz – Queensland or Western Australia are the places 
re-knowned for beaches however, Tasmania has the most breathtaking
ly beautiful beaches- it's just that the weather in Tas is cooler & therefore it doesn't enjoy the same amount of notor
iety as the warmer climates.  The rainforests & general scenery in Tasmania are wonders to behold – there is old, (for Oz………200 yrs) beautiful, architecture, that was once penal colony.  Tasmania is one of our fav. holiday destinations.

9 mile beach Tasmania

New South Wales (NSW) is more temperate & even, although they do have their fair share of extremities.  Sydney is the major international commercial centre & NSW has the biggest population of any Circular Quaystate.  It is a city that is permeated with waterways & there is a system of 'water taxi's (like Venice) that are used for daily comute.  (pictured is the famous 'Circular Quay' the city terminus of rail & water public transport) The city also has a reputation for notoriously bad traffic.  In fact one of my sketching friends often has time to actually 'sketch' vignettes of the scenery just waiting in traffic going to & from work! In fact, you COULDN'T do better for an 'informal' online view of Sydney & suburbs to check out her flickr site. The Olympic Games were held in Sydney in 2000, consequently there is a legacy of good accomodation and huge venues – therefore many concerts, conferences & main events happen here.  Its about a 10 hour drive from where we live & we visit Sydney most years for an annual conference we attend.  As DH & I love a 'road trip' we will go up at other times of the year if there is something going on that we want to see or do.  The landmarks that people from other countries most recognize are the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House – both significant archSydney Opera Houseitectural landmarks of our country.Sydney Harbour Bridge

Queensland (Qld) is

known as the Sunshine State & does have beautiful
weather & amazing tropical beaches, the Great Barrier
Reef, (largest coral reef in the world).  Very laid back, beach resort lifestyle, the higher you go up the eastern coast, the more tropical
it becomes.  Amazing rainforests & deserts in the one state.

outback bushland
Northern Territory (NT) is the only state I have never been to. It is a LOT of desert – and I am NOT really the camping kinda girl – The film Australia will give you some sort of idea 
of the terrian here – HOT, DRY and DUSTY!  Oh – with the occasional crocodile!  LOL!!!  Northern Territory is home to another of our National icons – Ayres Rock – or Uluru as it is known by it's traditional owners.  Relatively small population for its size. It also has one of the largest Aborignal populations. (the original inhabitants of our land) (Images from NT are public domain from the govt. website)
Ayres Rock
Global Warming – or what ever other ecological or environmental reason sits comfortable with you, seems to be altering the predictability of our unpredictable seasons…….. but as far as seasons go: (again within the context of each state's climatic difference)
Dec – Feb = Summer………..yes, Christmas for us is often steak or prawns on a barbi (BBQ), but Christmas day can temperatures can vary greatly from mid range to extremely hot.
Mar – May = Autumn………we live in the hills where there was a lot of early English settlin
Autumn tones of Melbourneg & we have magnificent 100+ y.o. English  trees that have incredible colours in autumn.
June – August = Winter………cold, not always wet, but sometimes VERY wet.

Sept – Nov = Spring……often very wet in Melbourne.  Crisp mornings & sunny afternoons.

As far as school holidays…….Over summer, our kids have approx 6 weeks holiday, from mid Dec to end Jan.  They then have about 10 weeks of school & 2 weeks holiday.  There are four terms like this…… holidays April, July & October. 

COME VISIT US………….we don't have centuries of art or archictecture………but our land is beyond amazing!!!!!!!



Today it's 20th November in Oz, but only 19th November in USA – it's always a bit of a conundrum when participating in a link or a challenge which is the appropriate day to post – ANYWAYS – on with the story – the one & only – amazing LK LUDWIG has posted a challenge at her Poetic Words blog for today (ummmm….yesterday!).  I love her work & am lucky enough to be teaching with her in June next year at the Artistic Journey Retreat in Sydney - so I am looking forward to catching up with her.  I own both of her books – Mixed Media Nature Journals AND True Vision - I highly recommend them - True Vision in particular is a mix between gorgeous eye candy and prompts to make you think about how you work.  LK manages to illicit more reflective and intriguing responses from you as you read through the treasure trove between the covers - her work has such an organic – easy feel about it, it's infectious.   

(??!! I CAN'T believe how cheap they are at the moment – I guess everyone is having bargains to generate business during tough times.

HERE'S the challenge –

A Day of Sharing Words

(pasted directly from challenge site)

The idea:

We have words that touch us, move into our hearts and resonate, creating a feeling, taking us some place- past, present, future- perhaps some place we have never been and may never go, but for whatever reasons, the words pulse in our blood. Meeting new words, new poets, new poems, new ways for my heart to beat, is an intruiging concept. Want to go on this adventure with me? It will be easy to travel along.

Many of us already do this sharing; this idea is just to help us find each other and hear the words we have to share.

The Date: Wednesday, November 19.

The Plan:  on your blog, post a poem that moves inside you, touches you, reaches you.  (quotes and song lyrics welcome).  Include the author (or composer or musician) and source (book, album)- perhaps also the amazon link if there is one.  no explanation required, no other revelation necessary. 

HERE'S my 'WORDS' with curtesy to author Kavanagh A. McGeough from Poetry in Nature

Plunge into the glinting fjord,
Dive into the deep rushing river, IMG_1268
Glide across the muddy swamp,
Float in the green lake,
Submerge in the salty ocean,
Freeze in the icy sound,
Immerse in the soggy channel,
The winding river is gushing into the artic ocean,
A swirling puddle reflects traffic,
Changing life,
Sustaining water.

It has taken some time, but I think that 'city bound' Australians are only JUST understanding the value of water as we are now entering our 4th or 5th summer of drought – which has escalated in severity as it has dragged on.  Today we have had some morning rain and the whole world looks cleaner, fresher and happier.  I am trying to grow my own herbs and vegetables, and I have my VERY FIRST TOMATO on the bush – I am thrilled and of course it's a great lesson for The Princess to learn that tomatoes don't grow on the shelf of the supermarket……. however it is a twice a day exercise to keep them watered & nurtured when there is no rain & it's hot.  I am not complaining though, I do have help with that job.

IMG_1219_resize   IMG_1233_resize

The land of Oz


We use the abbreviation Oz for Australia……
you say U.S……… probably doesn’t make sense to American’s &
Canadians `cos you guys pronounce Australia as Auwsstralia……….where as
we say `ozstralia’………..Our `z’ is pronounced `zed’ instead of `zee’ so
it is all about how it sounds.   It makes sense here!

A VERY sacred cow….Vegemite


I have recently been asked (once again) about one of Australia’s fav. things….Vegemite.  Vegemite is honoured and revered here.  It is a black/very dark brown paste that is actually a sandwich spread.  We use it for sandwiches (with cheese, or lettuce), toast, dry biscuits, with eggs, I use it to make gravy & meatloaf.  (not to be confused with the not so tasty vegetarian alternative…. marmite) It is made from beef & yeast extract & is high in Vit. B. & it is a bit salty.  It is the consistancy of Ultra Glue.  I believe it has recently been banned in the US because of the folate content, however, you won’t find a ‘true blue’ Aussie home without at least one jar of it!

The few Northern Hemispherer’s I have introduced it to have liked it, once they had instructions.  You apply it VERY thinly.  A little goes a long way……….hmmmmmmmmmm delish, my mouth is watering thinking about a big slab of fresh snowy white bread with lashings of cool butter & a smear of vegemite, sitting up at my Nana’s kitchen table.   YUM! 

What does DH stand for?


DH………is in indeterminate description of one’s ‘significant
other’ (cat,dog,fish,budgie,husband,wife,man,woman,child,fish,dog,etc)…It is indeterminate because it determinely defies definition………
on a good day………darling heart…….on an a average day…..dear
heart………..on a not so good day…….dead head…..on a REALLY
bad day……….(male apendage) head…………..hmmmmmmmm VERY
useful term really!!!

A Lonely Gum


Lonely_gumAnother from my ‘Magpie Post’ inspired series of ATC’s.  Created with Sennelier Oil pastelsover a silver of a found image.  This is SUCH an Australian Scene……… one you could find over & over again across the land, a lone gum tree, huge in stature, in the middle of a paddock somewhere…. I just had to capture it.

POST SCRIPT:  This was one of my favs. in this series & I had intended to keep it myself, however the whily Gisele has weazelled it out of me…. lol!!! so now it is on it’s way to live in the UK, with a couple of it’s friends.