Weekly Photo Challenge: Life Imitates Art

Wall mural

Playing out the story enacted in the mural. Eugowra, Outback New South Wales, Australia

Weekly Photo Challenge: Life Imitates Art

~ Spotted Cow

 

Advertisements

Kangaroo paws

Kangaroo paws

I love kangaroo paws. The plant, that is. They remind me very much of Australia. I love their fuzzy closed petal hands that really do look like paws. And when they open up, they are like little star bursts. Their bright garb attracts the birds. Get this – each species of kangaroo paw deposits its pollen on different parts of a bird so that the pollen doesn’t get mixed up between the species. Isn’t that clever ?

~ Spotted Cow

Cronulla

Cronulla ocean pool

I wanted to get in another “Greek swim” before coming back to London and so we got on the Illawarra train line all the way south to Cronulla. It’s a long way from where the folks live but we’d never been and thought we should get out of our comfort zone. Cronulla is the only one of Sydney’s beachside suburbs where the train runs all the way to the beach.

We were delighted to find a really lovely and local beach. It’s charm comes from it’s laid back-ness and there are few tourists. And there are two ocean pools! I love Sydney’s ocean pools because you can swim safely on the edge of the sea, with a wonderful view. I’ve never seen pools like these anywhere else.

When we had enough of the sun and sea, we went to get iced lattes at Grind, a quirky coffee shop that has been serving the area for over a decade … and a big wall of photos of their patrons saying “I’d rather be at Grind”.

~ Spotted Cow

Cronulla main beachCronulla sea view Girls on the edgeI'd rather be at Grindiced chai latte

“Greek” swim

Coogee beach

One of our favourite Sydney walks is the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk up the eastern city beaches. It’s an easy walk, the views are amazing, and there is a choice of beaches and cafes to stop off at along the way.

This trip, I did the walk with my beautiful Greek-Australian friend, M. We had a lot to catch up on and we started from the Coogee end – first with a mid-morning coffee and juice – with a view to finishing with a drink from the bar at the Bondi Icebergs at the other end.

The walk takes about 2 hours, and we broke it up with a stop at Bronte beach where I notched up my first swim of 2015. When I say swim, I mean a “Greek” swim, as M calls it. I wade into the sea up to my waist and when the waves come, I jump with them. There is no actual swimming in the technical sense!

~ Spotted Cow

Boats on the beach Bondi to Coogee walk Swimming coveBondi Icebergs and Bondi Beach

Inside the Opera House

Sydney Opera House

We played at being tourists and went on the Sydney Opera House tour. I can’t believe we’ve never done it because it’s really interesting.

The Sydney Opera House on Bennelong Point is so iconic that it is impossible to imagine a conventional rectangular building standing there. But that almost happened, if one of the competition judges hadn’t asked to re-visit the reject pile. He found Jorn Utzon’s design submission and subsequently declared it the winner. Construction began even though they didn’t know how they were going to build the now-famous sail shell structures. What followed was a 15-year controversy caused by design & construction challenges, building delays and massive cost overruns (a 15-fold cost explosion vs estimates), which saw Utzon resign from the project before it was completed.

There is, however, a happy ending to the story. You’ll have to go on the tour to find out.

When you’re there, have a look closely at the sails. They’re tiled with bespoke cream and off-white tiles so that they appear white overall. If the tiles were pure white, it would be blinding when the sun reflects off it.

~ Spotted Cow

Looking out onto the harbourInside the Opera House Curves and linesOpera House sailsTiles

Weekly Photo Challenge: Serenity

Misty mountains

One overcast day, we went up to the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney and we saw the mist rise above the forest floor. It was lovely and magical.  This vista is from the Hydro Majestic Hotel, whose perch overlooks the Megalong Valley.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Serenity

~ Spotted Cow

Checking out the birds

Owl with big round eyes

Sydney’s Taronga Zoo is truly the zoo with the best views. One of our favourite things is the Bird Show, which always has a long queue. They change the programme regularly and we’ve seen different shows each time we’ve visited over the years. It really is quite marvellous, especially against the Sydney harbour backdrop. My favourite on this trip was the owl with the big round eyes.

~ Spotted Cow

Taronga Zoo bird show Galah with harbour bridge in the backgroundBird show with harbour view

Weekly Photo Challenge: Shadowed

Sydney Opera House front steps and entrance

We’re back on the set after the Christmas – New Year (and more) break. Happy New Year everyone.

It was hot in Sydney and I was lazy with the camera, but I do have an image for this week’s Shadowed theme on the Weekly Photo Challenge. It’s a shot of the Opera House sails from the front steps, with the entrance shells deeply shadowed in the midday sun.

~ Spotted Cow

Weekly Photo Challenge: Converge

Converging railway tracks

Converging railway tracks running into the bush.  If you fancy a trip on a historic locomotive, Tasmania’s Ida Bay Railway is Australia’s southernmost train track. It used to take limestone freight down to the ships.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Converge

~ Spotted Cow

Sydney Things-To-Do List

Sydney Wish List

I’m counting down till Christmas holidays when I go home to spend some time with the folks and the rest of the clan. I’ve already started my Sydney list of things to do and I’ve got to Number 8. Some are old favourites and others will be a completely new experience. Please do chip in with recommendations – especially Sydneysiders, tell me about your hangouts !

1. White Rabbit Gallery. I’ve only visited the gallery once, but I thoroughly enjoyed the well-curated exhibition of contemporary Chinese art.  After you’ve walked up all the floors, stop by the lovely teahouse, and sip lychee iced-tea under the hanging birdcages.

2. Govinda’s. This is an old favourite for a curry and movie night on the large cushions.

3. Mr Wong. We went to Mr Wong for the first time during a Good Food month and thoroughly enjoyed our modern dim sum lunch. We’ve since decided to make it a habit.

4. Coogee Pavilion. I was looking for a lunch place with a sea view and found this reviewed on Not Quite Nigella, which incidentally is also my favourite blog for food reviews and food photos.

5. Sydney Festival. I usually miss the Sydney Festival, but this time I’m home, albeit only for the first days. Yay! I quite fancy some (more) circus cabaret.

6. New Year’s Eve fireworks. I don’t know what we’re doing yet exactly, but we’re going to be there for the countdown and firework display.

7. TreeTop Adventure Park. We love the treetop adventure courses and can’t get enough of whizzing through the trees on flying foxes. We haven’t been to the one in Newcastle yet. The kids are taller now so height isn’t going to be an issue. Everyone gets to go on the adult course.

8. Taronga Zoo. This is the zoo with the fantastic harbour views and it is our perennial favourite. We’ve previously been on one of the personal tours into the private enclosures and it was an amazing experience. An emu trod on my toe while I was visiting. These days there are also summer concerts and there’s a new treetop adventure called Wild Ropes. And I saw that you can get up close and personal with a giraffe !

~ Spotted Cow

Note. Except for Mr Wong, the images have been gratuitously plucked from their respective websites.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Signs

"taken away ..."

I photograph signs because there’s something appealing or engaging about them, and at other times simply to remember where I’ve been – particularly if I’ve stumbled onto somewhere interesting that had been unplanned.

I took this sign at the Port Arthur penal colony in Tasmania. The settlement is set on an atmospheric site on the Tasman Peninsula, and it’s difficult to believe that convicts toiled away here and suffered breakdowns in solitary confinement cells, often for minor misdemeanours.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Signs

~ Spotted Cow

Port Arthur penal colonyPort Arthur buildingPrison cellRow of prison cells

Weekly Photo Challenge: Work of Art

Red glass marionette

You find surprising little gems in Australian country towns.

We came across the National Art Glass Gallery in Wagga Wagga on one of our country New South Wales car trips. I’m using this picture of a red glass marionette for the Work of Art theme for the Weekly Photo Challenge.

~ Spotted Cow

 

Sydney from a 727

Sydney Harbour Bridge & Opera House

I’ve booked my flight home to Sydney for Christmas – woo hoo ! – to catch up with the folks and hang out with the other cows. It’s ages away yet but I wanted to get a decent fare and a decent flight, ie. one without 7-hour connections. I have 8 months to savour the anticipation and note the things I want to get up to, places I want to eat & drink at, and stuff that I didn’t appreciate when I lived there. Anyone with interesting recommendations, feel free to comment below.

Sydney from a 727. It’s the Paul Kelly song that springs up – I can visualise it now – when the plane flies into the harbour head, over the iconic opera house and harbour bridge, then circles into Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport. Only, these days Paul Kelly has upgraded to Sydney from a 747. He originally wrote the song about the red eye flight from Perth to Sydney. I love it. It takes me back to a time when I was a (very) young adult, still naïve and feeling empowered by my new independence.

While looking for the song, I discovered that Paul Kelly had done a TEDxSydney talk in 2011. He talks about his book How To Make Gravy, best listened to as an audiobook, where he tells his life story and there’s one of his songs associated with each chapter. It’s going on my Wish List.

~ Spotted Cow

Weekly Photo Challenge: Letters

Sydney street art

I thought I wouldn’t have an image for the Letters theme in the latest Weekly Photo Challenge. However, I found a photograph I took several years ago of this bit of street art on the side of a building on Abercrombie Lane in Sydney. It was a stylistic collection of cursive words and names, and we wondered what they meant to the artist. Cowlick said that it was originally the entire wall, and the lower part had been painted over. Moo Cow reckoned that she could see her name inscribed above.

I presume that by now, it has been whitewashed over in its entirety.

~ Spotted Cow

Google maps. Abercrombie Lane Sydney
Google maps. Abercrombie Lane, Sydney.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Perspective

Half-in, half-out.  A red hairy hermit crab climbing out of its shell to get a different perspective of the world.  Do you know that hermit crabs can bully another hermit crab whom they believe to have a better shell ?

As seen on a beach in southern Tasmania.

~ Spotted Cow

red hermit crab

Weekly Photo Challenge: Abandoned

Barmedman mineral pool. We were lured by the regional tourist brochure describing its therapeutic waters fed by mineral-rich underground streams.  In the dead heat of a spring day in country New South Wales (ie October), we took a 35km detour from West Wyalong and headed for that cool dip in Barmedman (pop. <300). We pictured lovely swimming, cold drinks and a picnic among the lush green banks.  When we arrived, we found the gate open, an abandoned pool with no water, and a sign saying they’re back in the summer ! What’s up with that ?!

Barmedman, New South Wales, Australia

~ Spotted Cow

Barmedman mineral pool

Bondi Icebergs

This being Australia Day, I thought I’d take a walk through the archives and look for something quintessentially Australian. Something from Sydney.  My folks and the rest of the cows live in Sydney and every other year I go back to hang out with them as well as play tourist, albeit a familiar tourist.

I’ve chosen the Bondi Icebergs Club, which is a saltwater swimming pool down the road from Bondi Beach. Back in the day, it started out as a winter swimming club so that lifesavers could stay fit in the colder months.

I used to be an avid swimmer but I think I’ve been swimming there only once and I remember that the water was freezing.  It took ages for me to get started on laps because I was standing on the side, not wanting to get in. They don’t heat the pool and I’m particularly chicken about cold water.

I have, however, had lunch on the balcony from their bistro menu. It was a far more agreeable experience – eating and drinking with friends, taking in the ocean view, and watching the lap swimmers do their thing. The Bondi Icebergs website says that 82 whales have been seen from deck. I’m hoping I spy one next time.

~ Spotted Cow

Bondi Icebergs Club

View from the Tree Tops

The Tree Tops Adventure Park on the Central Coast – just under 2 hours north of Sydney – is a fun way to look at nature from 30 feet off the ground.  This is definitely not for vertigo-sufferers. Crawling through netting, soaring on the flying fox, and winding your way through courses made from different ropes and logs on a high-rope course up in the trees.  The course is very safe – the instructors show you the ropes, get you familiar with the caribiner system and might even climb up to save you if you are unsure, scared or have fallen and cannot get back up. This obviously didn’t happen to us !

Up in the trees, you will experience many different challenges. For example, have you tried getting a secure foothold on a swaying log before you lift your other foot off the other swaying log?  For younger climbers, there is a children’s course which is much lower and excludes the flying fox.  We went there as a family and helped each other when possible (if we weren’t struggling ourselves!)  Getting harnessed up is fun too – as long as you don’t get a wedgie!!!

~ Moo Cow

IMGP4951

IMGP5019 - Version 3

IMGP4976

Milking Sheep at the Grandvewe Cheesery

After a long, winding, and very confusing road, we finally arrived at the farm on the Grandvewe Cheesery in Middleton, Tasmania. The family went in to the restaurant to sample the sheep cheese.  After that we had a yummy dessert of sheep ice-cream – it was EWEnique!  And the adults slurped up some cheesy alcoholic beverages.

After filling our stomachs, we went outside to the shed and to empty the sheep’s udders of milk.  We used giant milking machines that stuck to their udders and had a milking competition to see who could get the most milk – Chocolate Milk Cow won (his sheep had the biggest udder with almost a litre of milk!)

http://grandvewe.com.au/

~ Moo Cow

IMGP1812

IMGP1807

IMGP1798

IMGP1778

The Dish at Parkes

Another part of our “Wicked Camper” holiday was adventuring out to see ‘The Dish” at the Parkes Observatory in the middle of a sheep farm in Parkes, Outback New South Wales.  And another great part too, I might add. The satellite dish measures 64m and is definitely a sight to behold.  The radio telescope was made famous in 2000 by the Australian comedy movie ‘The Dish” about its key role in relaying live television of man’s first steps on the moon in 1969 – which had a scene involving playing cricket on the dish!

The view of the dish is unobstructed from the picnic grounds and visitor centre.  Overall, my favourite part of the Parkes Observatory was definitely the displays, exhibits and activities which could be done in the museum. Inside was a scale which you stood on and it would tell you how much you weighed on the sun, the moon and each of the planets. This related to my favourite activity in which, you could pick up a milk carton which weighed how much it would be if on another planet.

~ Chocolate Milk Cow

TheDish

ParkesObservatory

TheDish

Ute Art in Ootha

On our legendary “Wicked Camper” adventure, we came across some funky Utes in a huge paddock in Ootha in outback New South Wales. The utes (slang for utility trucks) had been designed and altered to suit a certain theme. Some of these were lifted into the air, others were sitting on their tail or nose, while some just sat plainly on the ground.

My favourite Ute design was the Kangaroo. In this one, the Ute had been placed on its tail end and had been painted to suit a kangaroo’s body. On it, 2 arms, 2 legs and a head had been attached in appropriate places, as well as the roof being pulled forward to add a joey in. Other good ones include the Bundaberg Rum bottle, the Fuel Station and the Outhouse.

~ Chocolate Milk Cow

IMGP3564

IMGP3571 Bundaberg Ute

IMGP3563KangarooUte

Wicked Camper

The family rented a ‘Wicked Camper’ van for the holidays to discover different places in New South Wales.  The Camper was cool. It had chairs that you could bring out to relax on, and a closet for all your stuff hidden under the beds!

Being in the Camper is great fun for all the family, it has funny quotes and amazing pictures decorating the outside of it, and can give you some great memories in your outback adventures. There are little messages hidden all around the van for you to find out about other peoples experiences. The Camper van is a ‘wicked’ experience for everyone!

http://www.wickedcampers.com.au/

~ Moo Cow

wicked-camper

IMGP3460

Up in the Air at Luna Park

Sydney’s Luna Park sits under the Harbour Bridge and has scenic views back onto the iconic bridge and the city. It’s a fun afternoon out as long as you keep in mind that you’re not going to Disneyland.  It’s not glitzy and polished and new … although there is candy floss and fried food. The original park was built in 1935 and it retains that old world character, especially when you walk up toward the big face entrance.

We like heights and we like speed dips. So our absolute favourite was the roller coaster, which we went on several times. Don’t eat a big meal before you get on !

http://www.lunaparksydney.com

Spotted Cow

IMGP1194 - Version 2

IMGP1211

IMGP1220