Thursday, June 13, 2013

Yes, Australia was wonderful

Australia is still on my mind and in my heart, four months after our return! It was warm, clean, bright, beautiful, filled with new sights, sounds, aromas, and rich with the friendship of Kay Faulkner, her talented daughter and son, and her commitment to showing us her beloved homeland.

John in his new rabbit fur felt Akubra, on the ferry in Sydney Harbor. A tourist from Toronto took the picture for us.

In ten days we pretty well covered the territory from the aboriginal home island of Stradibroke to big-city Brisbane, into the bush (but not the outback), down the interior of New South Wales to Canberra, over to Sidney, up the coast and back to Birkdale outside Brisbane. Hundreds of miles (even more kilometers)about  the distance from Northern Michigan to Georgia, to the Mississippi river and back!

We walked hours over and around Straddy Island, waded in the South Pacific surf, walked mountain and dune trails, saw Aboriginals piloting boats, walking the streets of Brisbane, riding the trains. We saw great watersprays up through fissures in the rocks along the shore of the great ancient sand-dune of an island. We learned how to ride trains and ferries, we heard Bell Birds at Cunningham’s Gap, picnicked with Wallabies who soar (not hop like the Big Reds) at Girraween National Park. We drove through recently burned but already re-greening lush farm land and many sheep stations. We stopped at roadside stands for fresh-picked stone fruit, saw the Southern Cross, (the constellation that is Australia's symbol)  from the park a short walk from our motel.
In Canberra, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary, we spent hours enjoying amonumentalToulouse-Lautrec exhibit at the National Gallery. We walked paths and sidewalks through stringy barks and gum trees in profusion with NO bark - just all smooth patchy-colored trunks and branches.

The stringy-bark trees have both round and lancet leaves and bark continually in tatters, exposing smooth tree-skin underneath. There are many 60-foot tall Scheffleras (umbrella trees) with foot-long bundles of beautiful red flowers. (I took pictures to show my five houseplants what they should be doing.) We watched Gallas do their silly somersaults around wires and branches, marveled at the lovely tuneless songs of the butcher birds. We visited Kay’s Sturt teaching studio in Mittagong, explored Sidney by train, foot, and ferry. We saw Emus, horses, sheep and cows.

We visited many museums and here at the glass works, saw 'silk scarves' in glasss

Cutting down Kay's most recent drawn-loom weaving far finer than anything the loom saw when it lived in Michigan!

Kay invited me to cut down her latest piece from the drawloom she imported from my studio and has greatly improved it, as well as giving it a far more interesting weaving life. We dismantled it for a move to Mittagong - the 5th take-down for me - it is pretty easy. Sheila Virgo introduced me to the new modified Merino fiber called Optim. I’ve did find a NA supplier but I’ve not yet spun it.

In Kay's Brisbane (Birkdale), Queensland studio taking apart her Glimakra


John and Kay high above the South Pacific and the goat that keeps the shrubs pruned

Fitzroy falls, so high that one picture could not contain it all so this is two shots.
At Fitzroy Falls we caught a glimpse of the elusive Lyretail (but didn’t see any of the more elusive Platypuses.) Back in Kay’s tour-car she drove up through the Gold Coast. We saw road-kill Wombat, ‘roos grazing the golf courses, escaped "Easter Lilies" lining the roadside ditches for miles. We walked out to the eastern-most point of Australia where a goat prunes the brush on the cliff-side 300 feet above the Pacific surf. We ate fresh cherries, plums and peaches, kangaroo steak, prawns, and lamb burgers. I tried Vegemite on buttered toast with coaching from Kay's kids.

I took about 1,000 pictures and would return at the drop of another $5,000.00 - as soon as I can find it.

Not only is Kay a Master Weaver with vision and energy, she can create a beautiful and delicious Pavlova,