Friday, 29 June 2007


Be Right Back in a day or so...busy with visitors and fighting a cold.


Tuesday, 26 June 2007


I was going to run out and take a photo of my rain guage, but it's such a cold and wet day, I'm not dashing out there with my camera. But I can tell you we had 68mm in the last 24 hours! FANTASTIC!!

But, do not be alarmed! The pictures I've posted are from an amazing day in June, 2005, when Caba received over 300mm in about 12 hours. It was pretty scary for a while ( that's my front yard ) and the water was lapping at the barracade I'd built across the garage entrance. But then we cleared the drains up and down the street, and the water was able to drain away.However, other streets in town were not so lucky......

Monday, 25 June 2007

Tweed Valley - Final Instalment - Mt Warning

I've left the most spectacular aspect of our Tweed Valley till last. Mt Warning, even by Australia's standards is not exceptionally lofty. However, it's the mountain's creation and the aura of spirituality that clothes the whole area ,which makes it so distinctive and a magnet for a wide variety of people.

The entire valley of the Tweed River is the caldera of a huge extinct shield volcano that has continued to erode since it's last eruption about 23 million years ago. The caldera is over 80 kilometres in diameter, and spreads south to Byron Bay, west to Lismore , north to Tambourine Mt and east to the Pacific Ocean. It is ringed on 3 sides by World Heritage rainforests, and on the 4th side by the ocean. On the map below ( from Geoscience Australia ), you can see the volcanic structure.

For the Bundjalung people of the area, it is a sacred sight and a special part of their Dreamings. They gave it the name Wollumbin, meaning "Cloud Gatherer", as even on the clearest of days, the summit of Mt Warning can be shrouded in cloud. It is frequently the subject of powerful lightning strikes and is the first place on the East coast of Australia to receive the sun's rays each morning. For all these reasons, there are many alternate communities scattered throughout the Valley.

Sunrise from the summit of Mt Warning(1157m) by Peter Rohde

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Sunny Sunday!

It's a sunny and breezy Sunday here, the Humpback whales are passing the headland regularly and putting on the occasional show by leaping skyward, Caba's a ripper place to be, AND where am I? Inside, as I was yesterday, but yesterday was OK because it was bleak. Today is not so OK, BUT I am desperate to finish painting my bathroom and loo before visitors arrive on Tuesday. I'm up to the worst bit, the smelly bit with the treacle-like full-gloss paint, that requires a litre of turps for each clean-up! However, as those of you who are experienced DIYs know, it's the paint that is needed for doors and windows, especially when you are, as I am, attempting to rid the place of that poisonous scourge of 70s interior decorating....mission brown paint!!

Above is the finished blues and greens, to convey a billabong or lagoon.''ll need to get your sunglasses for this one........

Yes, it's the loo....the sunrise/sunset room....I have printed some of my favourite photos from both Lawn Hill NP and the Kimberley, and they will adorn the walls, when the painting's finished.

Friday, 22 June 2007

Do I Smell An Election?

I photographed these kids at Kalumburu, a remote community on the north Kimberley coast , in 2003.

Are there any Australian voters out there who aren't even the tiniest bit cynical of politicians nowadays? Unfortunately, my cynicism is threatening to overwhelm my enjoyment of life, both in the present and in the next 4 months or so, if rumours of a federal election later in the year are correct. I have become an obsessive channel-surfer of both TV and soon as a politician raises his / her head / voice, the finger twitches ,the groan escapes involuntarily from my lips and that channel or station is gone!

Money is being so liberally splashed around by a Coalition government with fear of defeat in its eyes, that I'm expecting at any moment John Howard will even mumble that word not previously in his vocabulary.....SORRY! At that moment, all of us who have argued for reconciliation with Aboriginal Australia will swoon in a collective faint!

This post was originally going to celebrate the Howard government's 'Ah Ha and Light Bulb On' moment it had on the plight of the majority of Aboriginal Australians. It announced a national emergency this week on the crisis in many Aboriginal communities in the face of growing child sexual abuse and issues related to grog. For years and years, the Federal governments have ignored, belittled or dismissed calls for sincere and straightforward leadership and a REAL commitment to improving the lives of Aboriginal people.

So...we now have a government-decreed national emergency! Yep, I sure can smell an election. And, yes, you can call me Queen of the Cynics!

Thursday, 21 June 2007

By Special Request!

BY SPECIAL REQUEST!! OK, here they are ....the 2 pushkas who share my life and love me no matter what. Casper Domingo , the orphaned big boofy boy at the back, and timid little Whisper the Wondercat in the foreground. Hope this doesn't encourage anyone's allergies!

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

What I've Been Making

I've been spending a fair bit of time in the playroom recently, making ATCs, doing backgrounds and making a special little book for a friend's son's 21st birthday. So, here's a bit of a look at some of the results.

Above are 3 ATCs I made for an on-going blind particular theme unifies them...just what came into my head when I started fiddling.

Next are 2 ATCs that follow some of my oft-visited might be able to detect a thread or two running through my work.

Lastly, a friend who's son is turning 21 asked me to make her a card which included 2 pockets so that some pieces of writing she'd done could be incorporated within the card. I had a few ideas, but last Sunday,Di (my ...well, mentor is probably the best term for Di ) was showing us how to make a gorgeous little book. All the bells and whistles in my creative brain sounded and I thought...YES!! Perfect!! I think it's one of the best things I've done, and it goes without saying, the pictures don't do it the justice I think it deserves. My friend also loved it, thankfully.

Monday, 18 June 2007

More Bird News

This morning, as I was working inside, I heard the call of one of my favourite parrots, the Eastern Rosella, pictured above (but not my photo). They are not all that common on the coast, so I am always really pleased and excited when they visit my front yard. BUT...there were 5 of them , squabbling and wabbling away, in my tallest melaleuca shrub!! How fantastic was that!! They mate for life, and so are usually seen in even-numbered flocks, so it got me wondering why there was an odd number of birds in this flock. They are seed-eaters.

This bird is much more common and is seen AND heard in large flocks, eating the honey out of flowers of plants and trees such as bottlebrush, banksia and eucalypt. It's the Rainbow Lorrikeet, another parrot, but is a nectar-eater.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

What bird is that??

This bird, a pheasant coucal, has visited my front yard for the last 3 days. A big bird, about 40cms from beak tip to tail tip, they are terrible flyers. They seem to blunder from tree to tree, and are easily hit by cars if they venture onto the road. Their call is very unusual....a kind of eerily resonant " boop, booop, boop," in rather deep tones, like a bass clarinet.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Tweed River Art Gallery

A wonderful exhibition of indigenous art has been on show at the Tweed River Art Gallery (TRAG) for a couple of months, but it took me till the THIRD LAST DAY to finally see it. The pictures all come from the collection held by Lawson-Menzies, the art auctioneers.

Most of the pictures in the exhibition are by artists of the East Kimberley area of Western Australia, centred around Turkey Creek (also known as Warmun). I was really fortunate in being able to visit Warmun in 2003, although we didn't visit the artists' community.

On show at the TRAG were pictures by Freddie Timms, Rover Thomas , Emily Kame Kngwarreye, and others, all dating from the mid 1990s.The picture above,'My Country', is by Emily Kame Kngwarreye, who came from the community of Utopia, in the Northern Territory. In this photo, you can see her strongly dabbing the paint on a picture. Incredibly, she didn't take up painting till she was about 80 years of age.

Very different to this exhibition was another, featuring posters from Redback Graphix . WOW!! Some really eye-catching visual arts were used to highlight political issues such as indigenous health and public housing, from the 1980s and 90s. I found it very powerful art.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Levee Bank Graffti

Along the western bank of the Tweed River at Murwillumbah is a great riverside walking track, that is actually inside the levee wall. As I mentioned the other day, the concrete wall is covered in some really stylish graffiti, but this couple and their trusty companion had probably passed it countless times.

Monday, 11 June 2007

Big Mess and New ATCs

In trying to work out why my place is always such a mess, with stuff everywhere, the penny finally dropped! The laundry is where I'm currently working on an altered box, so there's all those bits'n'pieces on my workbench AKA the washing machine. My beading area is in the lounge-room. My playroom work table is ALWAYS a total shambles with ATCs and cards in varying stages of completion, and the kitchen bench is where the heat-gun is set up at the moment as I play around with Opals.

However, these are new ATCs that have been completed in the last week. The one above is for the Breast Cancer ATCoZ swap and the two below are for a Starry Starry Night swap I'm hosting ( my first as host).
The four below were made with Opals and Fantasy Film at a workshop I did last week with the girls who own PipeDreamInk.

Tweed Valley - Murwillumbah

Before European settlement, the whole area from the mountains to the coast was the home to the Bundjalung Aboriginal people. Timber getters moved into the region in the 1840s , followed by sugar cane growers in the late 1860s, dairy farmers in the early 1900s, and more recently banana growers in the 1960s. Most of the dairy farms have now gone, but sugar cane and bananas are still important.

Today Murwillumbah has a population of over 10,000 people, and is now the main town on the Tweed River. The town is thriving despite it's bypassing by the new Pacific highway and the withdrawl of train services.

It's also a busy place of artist and creative endeavour, with the local Northern Rivers Symphony Orchestra, a philharmonic choir, jazz club, folk, world and alternative music, as well as home to writers and an eclectic visual arts community. In the picture above is the town's concrete levee bank decorated by local artists.

This gorgeous building on the Tweed, constructed in 1923, was home to the art gallery till it outgrew the location. A new purpose-built Tweed River Art Gallery was opened in 2004 on a hill over-looking the Tweed River and with panoramic views to Mt Warning and the semi-circle of World-Heritage National Parks that form the caldera of a huge and ancient shield volcano. In the photo below, 'borrowed' from the gallery's website, you get the picture from the gallery's cafe balcony.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Tweed Valley - Condong Sugar Mill

Sugar cane was first grown in the Tweed Valley in the late 1860s and the sugar mill at Condong, another river village, was built in 1880. The cane is harvested between June and December, and has been characterised in the past by setting fire to the cane prior to cutting.

The fires, especially at night, were visually spectacular, but caused many problems including severe smoke haze, respiratory difficulties and what is known locally as 'black snow', the ash from the fires which blows and then falls over the towns and villages.

Over the past 5 years or so, more and more cane farmers are choosing to cut their cane green, and often sell the green cane waste as garden mulch in road-side stalls. In the photo of the mill, you can see construction of the new power station ( the tallest chimney stack) which will be powered entirely by the cane waste. The power generated will in turn power the sugar mill, and any excess power will be fed into the power grid. How good is that!!

Friday, 8 June 2007

Tweed Valley - Tumbulgum

In the 1860s, a settlement grew where the Tweed and Rous Rivers meet, and in its hey-day, in the mid 1880s, was given the name of Tumbulgum ( pronounced Tum-BUL-gm) , a Bundjalung word for "meeting place of the waters". However, when the railway came to the town of Murwillumbah, a little further upstream, Tumbulgum settled into becoming a quiet river village.

There are some gorgeous old houses in the village, and a tavern still stands on the site of the original tavern of the 1870s. Most buildings are up on stilts as the Tweed River has experienced many floods.
The 1954 flood was one of the worst on record, as it was in many places in New South Wales. This flood marker shows the level the Tweed River reached at Tumbulgum.

Just the right place to put the toilets!

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Tweed Valley - Stott's Island

For thousands of years, the area now known as the Tweed Valley was the country of the Bundjalung people.

The Tweed River was named by the explorer John Oxley in 1832, and by the 1840s timber-getters were already cutting red cedar trees in the hinterland forests.Eventually most of the rainforests were cleared for cattle grazing and sugar cane growing.

That's what makes Stott's Island, in the Tweed River, so special. It is a protected area of the original rainforests that would have covered the banks of the river on both sides and up into the hills. It is incredibly thick and jungle-like, and from the river, massive fig trees, palms, hoop pine and mangroves keep company with loads of trees I certainly couldn't identify from the tinny. It is amazing to think that this density of vegetation once covered the Tweed's flood plains.

A couple of years ago, we pulled the tinny up onto the island, and attempted to try and beat a track into the bush, but the mozzies forced a hasty retreat!

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

How did you spend World Environment Day? A friend and I decided the best way to reflect on, and celebrate, our environment , was to get out ON it!

We put the tinny in the Tweed River, at Chinderah, near where the Pacific Highway crosses the river, and decided to explore up the river as far as we could go. The stretch of river from Chinderah down to the mouth of the river, at Duranbah, is very familiar to us, so heading upstream seemed a better idea.

Chinderah is about 10 minutes north of where I am, and a short distance inland . It's the first real settlement you come to, travelling up the Tweed, and is where the whole Tweed Valley begins to open out in front of your eyes.

The dominating feature of the Tweed Valley is Mt Warning and I'll write more about it and the Caldera tomorrow. Mt Warning or Wollumbin was living up to it's name yesterday. 'Wollumbin' is 'Cloud Gatherer' in local Aboriginal language.

Monday, 4 June 2007

TUESDAY-5th June - Message Stick and World Environment Day

Did you happen to watch "Message Stick" on ABC TV last night? Why such a thought-provoking programme is on at 6pm, on a Monday evening, is beyond me. But I digress.....

"Message Stick" looks at Aboriginal Australia, and usually has an artistic or cultural perspective. Last night, they showed a film, 'The French Connection', about how the work of several indiginous artists is being featured in a new museum in Paris, the Musee du quai Branly.The film prompted me to reflect on what it actually is that draws me so strongly to the way Aboriginal artists paint their landscape. In a small way, I guess it's called envy...yes, I envy the spiritual connection that Aboriginal artists have with their country, that enables them to represent their country with such deep knowledge and understanding. It allows them to show more than just a pictoral or literal representation of their country. Yes, I think that's what it is.

The picture above shows the work of John Mawurndjul.

What's New?

I've been pretty busy recently making jewellery, so I thought it was about time to post a few photos. I really love making the pieces, especially the decision-making, but the idea is that maybe I'll be able to sell a few of the items I've made, make them as gifts or make to order.

Above is the necklace and earrings I made my friend Robyn for her to wear at her daughter's wedding in London next month.

My sister celebrated her 50th birthday last October ( she's too busy to read my blog, so she won't know I've told you that!) and at last I had the confidence to make her the jewellery I've been thinking about for ages and ages. That's the necklace and earrings above.

Here's a copper charm bracelet and some earrings made to match.

These two bracelets were made with glass seed beads.

My niece Lis asked me to make her a charm bracelet, in green. I incorporated 2 little silver charms with the initials of her two children, and also used a small piece of beautiful green beach glass I'd collected who-knows-when.

In yesterday's class, it was a new technique for me. I made one necklace using small freshwater pearls, in orangey-gold colours, and the other using glass beads in black and deep blue.

Friday, 1 June 2007

Out Of My Bedroom Window

This idea came from Sally's blog, Sydney Nearly Daily Photo, over there--->, in my Checking Daily list. If you go to her blog, she has oodles of links to views from other people's bedroom windows.
Casper Domingo, the cat in the photo, had actually just caught a mouse, and was doing what cats do with mice. My other cat, Whisper Gorgeous Face, is out of the photo, but she is trailing around, trying to get in on the action. Hmm....what was that?? Oh no, that's not their pedigee breeder-type names!


The first sound you heard was the sound of my computer crashing big-time and taking everything with it! The second sound ( in a John Cage sense) has been the deafening silence from my end of the swamp for the last 9 days or so. The really bizarre thing is that I have been told by 5 other people that their computers also suffered major failures around the same time!! SO!!!! What's going on?? This was from different parts of our wide brown land too. Just a coincidence do you think?