Lake Linlithgow

It’s a while since I added to my blog, not since we learned we had to shift from our rental house and the ensuing saga of packing, finding somewhere else to live, and finally moving. I plan to write about and enter photos of all that but meanwhile I am going back to the earlier time soon after we moved down to sw Victoria.

Lake Linlithgow

Linlithgow, lovely lake, well once it was,

it’s promise partly drew us here,

to this place closer to needy son in Adelaide

yet not too far from Melbourne

and much of the rest of the family,

quite close to wonderful beaches

but very close to a lake to picnic by and swim in.

Properties were cheap, the main concern.

Simple enough needs but our world collapsed.

The little old house under a volcano turned into a money pit,

thanks especially to Scottish builder met in Wonthaggi,

and my too spontaneous decision making.

The house is less livable now than when bought,

the local builder who would fix it

waits while we try in vain to borrow money

to refinance house with little equity.

Despite the lure of a precious new grandson

Adelaide and Melbourne are further away than ever

because of high petrol prices

and my newly developed panic and agoraphobia,

from the stress of all of this and an accident

in which a truck wrote off our trusty Volvo.

Even Lake Linlithgow, large blue spot on the map,

looking as big as Lake Bolac, turned out to be a myth .

We drove there first on a warm day

though not planning to swim.

The deserted track wound past round tank

and four posted shelter built of stone

both looking like Roman ruins.

A large map showed the directions boats should take

different regulations for speed boats and slower craft,

overseen by the Marine Authority.

At the bottom of a gentle slope a flat grassy plain

stretched towards the encircling Gariwerd Mountains.

Wind sighed in a band of giant cypresses,

a sound taking me back to my old house in Belgrave,

so a peaceful evocative place for sure

with birds flying, darting and swooping happily,

but there was almost no water in the lake.Lake Lingithgow

Margaret told us there was some water in it a few years ago

after weeks of heavy rain.

My daughter swam there with a friend when holidaying nearby

not too many years ago.

Helen, now seventy, remembers school swimming sports there.

Pene remembers regattas where small yachts raced each other,

Picnic baskets were placed on tables on mown lawns

in the shade of the cypress trees or striped umbrellas,

bright cloths unfolded to reveal home baked treats,

to be washed down by homemade lemonade.

Young women wearing flared skirts, pretty blouses, white sandals

peeped out coquettishly from under floppy straw hats

hoping to impress young men in sport shirts and roman sandals.

Tourist maps still feature the lake as a venue for water sports,

A signpost from the highway points towards it,

but locals don’t mention it, almost as if there is a guilty secret.

Have farmers siphoned off the water thus helping the drought

in its insidious work?

Three or four months ago after heavy rain

‘The Spectator’ had a photo of the water filled lake on page two.

We drove there and sure enough there were large patches of blue water.

Last weekend there were heavy downpours,

driving to Hamilton was like driving through a lakes district.

Lake Linlithgow’s surface was covered in water,

although not up to the map nor the old picnic tables once near the shore,

but it was a real lake, I have photos to prove it.Lake Linlithgow 2

At the bottom of the slope on a still dry grassy area

sixteen black tailed native hens scurried busily,

wagtails, kestrels, magpies, singing bush larks and goldfinches

went about their singing and other varied business,

yellow tailed black cockatoos flew close to the old cypresses

through which the strong wind sighed and sang loudly.

We’ll go again but the lake might be gone.

At least there is a lake in Hamilton, not showing on many maps,

large man made lake constantly replenished by water

from the bubbling Grange Burn.

There are happy kayakers and water skiers sometimes,

an occasional swimmer, but it’s mostly quiet and peaceful.

There are many water birds, ducks, swans, seagulls, coots

moorhens, pelicans, with graceful sacred egrets on the shore while

wattle birds, honey eaters and wagtails hover in the native vegetation.

Lovely lake bisecting gracious city with skyline of churches,

sometimes we get less than we expect, sometimes more.

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A Day in the Snow

A Day in the Snow

Many people make quite big journeys to experience time in the snow.And to others snow is not much more than a nostalgic element especially those who live in cold climates where winter brings frequent snowfalls. The beauty of snow is dramatic but loses its charm when there is the battle to keep warm, stay dry and to keep roads and pathways clear and safe.

The Dandenong Ranges is a place where it snows infrequently enough for the beauty of a snowfall to be gasped at, yet often enough for residents to have memories of dangerous roads and an over supply of gaping tourists.

When my first husband and I moved to Mt Dandenong in the summer we had a bushfire in the paddock behind our house a few days before my eldest son was born, Then in winter we had heavy snow. How amazing to look out the window and see a snowman or two on our front lawn. snowman-top630And how disconcerting to have strangers come in and play.

Apart from that first unforgettable experience a day in the snow for me would be several days morphed into one. The children would shriek with excitement at the first large flakes of snow as they drifted down. There would be even more excitement if they stayed on the ground without melting until a white carpet appeared, not very likely in Belgrave. But the once or twice it happened a snowman would be built and snowballs made and thrown as done by children in English story books. snowman storybook

If the snow melted too quickly there would be the urge to drive to the top of the mountain and that meant negotiating roads that were challenging at any time. The tree ferns would be exquisite with their heavy mantles of snow tree ferns in snowbut the winding roads would be slippery and treacherous. Few of us were experienced enough to have chains for our wheels so we took risks that were not foreign to us, living fairly feral lifestyles as many of us did.

We would reach Olinda safely, the children would play in the snow on the golf course, and I would watch nostalgically from the cosy car. Now my grand children live in Olinda and for Django’s second winter there was heavy snow. I was excited by amazing photos such as we would never have been able to take when my children were small. IMG_4786 IMG_4795 Snow in OlindaI was sad to be so far away of course, but the overwhelming feeling was one of nostalgia.

. There is another memory, a little stranger. A friend and and I visited a third friend at her lovely house in Poets Lane, Sherbrooke one freezing winter day. There was a beautiful vista of snow from the windows of the cosy lounge room with roaring fire. We were there to try the Christoff experiment in recalling past lives. When it was my turn I lay on the warm carpet and Nina and Yvonne sat at my head and feet respectively. Nina read a guided visualization encouraging me to take the journey back into another lifetime. I went back, certainly, but to a recent time in this life when I lay on a warm beach on the Gold Coast in a sleeveless pink dress! It felt incredibly real as the snow continued to drift down outside the window.

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Last weekend my grandchildren and their parents made the long journey through Melbourne then Geelong down here to visit us and enjoy our local area. My daughter on the other side of Melbourne drove down to join them and they all stayed in a pleasant house up the road from Tower Hill Lake looking over the sea.IMGP0030

IMGP0029On Friday morning they drove into Warrnambool to meet up with Vanessa’s sister, Jess and her family and to enjoy the wonderful playgrounds at Lake Pertobe in the sunshine.Lake PertobeWe joined them all back at the house for lunch. Baby Amos welcomed us happily while the other children enjoyed a picnic on the lounge room floor. IMGP0033IMGP0038The weather remained fine for a drive over to Tower Hill where some koalas showed themselves for the many visitors.IMGP0047 The board walk was chosen for a walk. Django hurried to the information board Tower Hill 005 Tower Hill 012where he remembered the picture of a copperhead snake even though it is more than two years since his last visit here. I explained there is nothing to be afraid of. It is good to be cautious but not for scary images to dominate.

Saturday was a wet day so it was good for Ginger and Django to visit to Fun4Kids in the huge tent city that had been created. The children had a great time and returned home with good quality items they had made and a science experiment to share.IMGP0043 Copy of IMGP0037 Copy of IMGP0042 Django had written down his dream for the future and Ginger wrote a story about her day to take to school,IMGP0044Next morning they visited our house and we shared lots of laughs. The children don’t visit often but when they do they really seem to enjoy our place.IMGP0048 IMGP0046 All too soon it was time for family to set off on the long journey home. It was hard not to feel a little lonely.


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Journey into a Volcano-Tower Hill (adapted for children)

Tower Hill is an extinct volcano. It last erupted about 20,000 years ago. From then until white people came to this country aboriginal people of the Peek Warrong tribe lived here peacefully. They called the place Tarerer. When we visit there we drive through the gateway down the hill. ImageAt the bottom of the hill is a beautiful lake in the crater of the volcano. There are swans on the lake and sometimes great egrets and herons.  Image In the wetlands near the lake are many kangaroos, black wallabies and emus.  And sometimes you might see an echidna or an echidna baby called a puggle in the grass.   Tower Hill 004IMGP0059Image

Tower Hill 1 004

The road wanders through the bush with the steep hill on one side. A track with steps goes up the hill if you feel fit enough to climb to the top. IMGP0015 The speed limit on the one way road is 30ks an hour. Soon we reach the car park with grass all around. There is an interesting round building with information boards inside and aboriginal art and craft for sale. IMGP0009 IMGP0010IMGP0011 Outside are barbeques where emus keep an eye on food they would like to share. Here an emu races Frank to the barbeque.IMGP0022 Koalas sit sleepily in the trees. IMGP0020 It is not always easy to spot them IMGP0047when they are up high in a tree. IMGP0045

At night they might be seen scampering around.

In summer the bush looks rather dry, some of the lake dries out so there are more wetlands for the emus and kangaroos.Tower Hill 005In the other seasons the lakes are full for the water birds to enjoy.New born 010 In winter and spring the bush is very green and golden wattles are a cheerful sight.Tower Hill 1 003 In spring and summer the kangaroo apple trees have pretty purple flowers and then yellow berries that turn bright orange when the emus eat them and sometimes people too.kangaroo apple There are also bush tomatoes growing at Tower Hill.Bush tomato Sometimes an aborigine will take people on a tour to show them bush tucker and explain how it is used.

Tower Hill 012On the way out of Tower Hill there is a long board walk through the wetlands Tower Hill 005where tiny skinks skink 2dart in the sunlight and very occasionally a copperhead snake might be seen copperhead snakewhen we must stand quite still until it slithers back into the wetlands. At the end of the boardwalk is a track through Fairy Island that winds back to where we started passing a bird hide where birds can be watched without disturbing them. IMGP0052 IMGP0051

Back on the road we drive uphill to the exit.IMGP0027

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Port Fairy Folk Festival 2014

I have to say this is the second time I produced this blog post. The Folk Festival took place three months ago in the very warm beginning of a warm autumn. And a few days ago in the beginning of winter I accidentally deleted that post while tidying my blog I did such a thorough job I even emptied the Trash bin!

Nice to remember those very warm days in the beginning of March when we chilled out at the FriNge of the Port Fairy Folk Festival. Several of our friends had expensive tickets for the main festival and I imagine this was a very serious and busy time for them being with thousands of others and having many performances to choose between.    Image

Much journeying took place for performers and audience at the festival. There were several international acts such as Lisa O’Neill and Glen Hansard from Ireland and performers from all over Australia. There were local acts too including much loved local aborigine, Archie Roach, Archi Roach(photo by RRR FM) who takes us on a journey back to the time before white history.

The FriNge was a laid back experience for us with only a few hours on the Sunday when the weather was too hot for comfort and we escaped to sit in the shade by the river. After all no expensive tickets to get out money’s worth from! As the weather cooled down we went around to the Surf Club for an Irish session where I wanted to play my bodhran but it was too crowded so we returned to the Railway Stage.  There I saw my favourite act of the weekend Rapskallion with wonderful music to dance to, some intricate belly dance performance by two young women in cheeky costumes, and even birthday cake to share for the 40th birthday of one of the group. ImageImage

I loved the music of Christopher Coleman a slight young man whose songs had much depth and power —-Image

Eddy and Blues on the Boyle was a local group whose music I loved to dance to——-Image


Of course I wasn’t the only one dancing! Image


The Hog Stompin Zydegators were another local group who were great to dance to. Image

Dancing in the open is the really special feature of the FriNge. Campbell, the Swaggie loves this but this year was given a ticket to the main festival. He couldn’t resist coming over to dance in front of the Railway Stage where I was so pleased to see him.Image

As well as dancing I did a little shopping at the colourful street stalls and visited our lovely young house guests, Marnie and Dean, who were doing a roaring trade on their stall ‘Essential Nomad’.Image

A purchase I couldn’t resist was a bright and cosy poncho from Tibet to replace a favourite shawl I had lost and which is coming into its own now. Image

Early Monday afternoon the Hog Stompin Zydegators brought the festival to a rousing close. Later the streams of traffic leaving the little town had slowed to a trickle and the colourful tent city of the main festival was all but deserted.Image


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Journey into a Volcano-Tower Hill

The journey into Tower Hill that we make often is a short but unique one being as it is into the crater of a volcano.


Through the gateway we look down on to a beautiful lake—–Tower Hill 011

When we reach the bottom of the hill we drive across the lake or walk around the edge. Water birds glide on the surface,


emus stride on the surrounding wetlands and busily feed there

Tower Hill 003

while kangaroos bound along or stop to stare.

Tower Hill 004

In the landscaped area around the cultural centre people picnic with emus hovering. Here one accompanies Frank to the barbeque.IMGP0022IMGP0027

Koalas are often seen in this area. IMGP0020

Journeys to Tower Hill are journeys through the seasons. Lakes often dry up in summer providing new wetland areas for kangaroos and emus to enjoy.Tower Hill 005 They fill  again in the other seasons for the water birds to enjoy. New born 010 Winter and spring bring the richest green and the glorious gold of the wattles.Tower Hill 1 003  The kangaroo apple trees bear pretty mauve flowers in spring and summer, and later berries that change from yellow to bright orange when the emus and even people eat them. kangaroo apple

Above all a journey through Tower Hill is a journey back in history. Before white settlement Tower Hill, then Tarerer, was part of the tribal lands of the Peek Wurrong tribe. Now the cultural centre as well as the sanctuary is partly managed by local aborigines and aboriginal culture is in evidence. IMGP0009


At a lookout at the edge of Tower Hill we see how the volcanic landscape appeared to the early European artist, Eugene von Guerard  IMGP0025


In subsequent years the land was degraded by careless farming, quarrying and some of it even being used as a rubbish tip. Fortunately around the middle of last century several people saw the tragedy of this degradation of the unique area and restoration was commenced. Little remnant vegetation remained as a guide and von Guerard’s painting guided the planting of replacement trees, shrubs and grasses. Today the volcanic sanctuary is managed by Parks Victoria and local aborigines who sometimes conduct history and bush tucker tours. Weeds and rabbit infestation is evidence that remains of European degradation of the area but attempts are constantly made to control both problems. As a reward for the hard work of paid staff and volunteers Tower Hill nowadays is enjoyed by locals and international tourists alike.


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My Experience of the Irish Festival 2014

I would dearly love to visit Ireland. My grandparents were born there and a couple of famous forbears. And now I am married to an Irishman. But at least Ireland comes to Koroit for the Lake School of Celtic Music and Dance in January and with the Irish Festival in April/May.

During April leprechauns started appearing around the town to remind us of the festival soon to take place. Leprachaun

The calendar issued by Moyne Shire had Anthony Evans’ photo of the festival crowning the month of April. There next to the man on the motor bike is Mary Fiorini, known as the Queen of K0roit, proudly carrying the Cork flag. Mind you I believe the Cork man living in this house could do this but no way would he.Image

There’s no way I’d miss the festival , and no way we could miss it, living on the edge of it as we do. Mind you last year I fractured my ankle in the Dandenongs on 24th April and was wearing a very new moon boot which confined me pretty much to the theatre. But there was plenty to see there, and seats to spare. ImageAcross the road from the theatre the flags of all the Irish counties rested after being carried in the parade, a feature of every Irish Festival. Image

In readiness for this year’s celebration of all things Irish a friend kindly repaired my bright green dress. IMGP0041The festival  started quietly on the Friday with an Irish session in the Scout Hall that was once a beautiful old church. I loved playing my bodhran next to this man down from Broome, and to listen to glorious music from flute and uilleann pipes. The friends we invited to the Session loved it too. It turned out some new friends from  Geelong we made recently had been there as well,  discovering it by chance and they recognised me from that occasion which they too loved which goes to show events we do not expect to be memorable sometimes turn out to be.Image

After a night of heavy rain  we woke to a fine Saturday morning but I seemed to have a gastric complaint. So I couldn’t make it up to the first busking engagement of the ‘Wednesday Whistlers’ the group I play my bodhran with on Wednesday mornings.

But I opened the front door and music flooded into the house. I hurried outside in bare feet and photographed these colourful pipers marching past on the road which was closed to traffic of course. Copy of IMGP0039

I was amazed by a phone call from a dear friend, Yvonne, from Kallista in the far away Dandenong Ranges. It turned out she was in Portland with Richard who lived there and wanted to know when the procession was starting.  I couldn’t believe she would show up though.

Soon it was time to watch the procession from out the front, not getting a really good view. IMGP0042It was good to know that Mary, who was too frail to walk this year, was transported in a special carriage. This was of course photographed for the Moyne Gazette, (see at end of post).

Frank brought home gourmet potatoes for lunch then went over to the theatre for some ‘colcannon’, ie corned beef, cabbage and potato, in a roll.  I decided then I would go up the road for the 2.30 pm busking  engagement.  How moved I was to bump into Yvonne and Richard who had been walking along asking people our whereabouts. IMGP0048 So special to have them in the audience when I finally settled down to play my bodhran. Frank took the photo of our group on a bit of an angle but it is good to have it.IMGP0049

Margot had bought the new member of her family, Paddy, along for some Irish cheer. What a star! IMGP0056


As I walked back up the street there were Irish dancers to delight in. IMGP0059

Time then to watch some performers in the theatre although the sun was out to bless the afternoon of the festival.

We had missed the Danny Boy competition, most enjoyable last year, And Maria Forde’s performance. We had bumped into Maria a couple of times in the street and exchanged greetings and we had heard her sing many times over the years. Her Irish relatives live near where Frank lived. She has such a beautiful voice and is a lovely person. Maria Forde To our surprise the theatre downstairs was full! Upstairs we went but the same result so we sat in the foyer to listen to Imogen Brough and Damien Leith, not quite the same as seeing them on stage. IMGP0060

But at least I got a photo of Carmel with her green hair before she hurried inside to claim her saved seat!IMGP0061

A couple of long time locals commented that they had never seen the theatre so full! It turned out at least that Yvonne and Richard had scored seats and they loved the performances, especially Maria Forde. Incidentally Yvonne is now planning to go on a guided tour of Ireland with Maria in September. And she raved about the quality of the festival in general.

Sunday dawned fine. We bought our pies at lunch time and drove to Victoria Park to watch the Gaelic Women’s football I looked forward to so much. I was disappointed though that the opposing Koroitian team was men. But the football was skilled and graceful, a delight to watch. IMGP0067

Koroit had lent the women a goal keeper, and unfortunately he did nothing to help. We heard the Gaelic full back mutter to him, ‘You couldn’t shoot marbles!’

A highly acclaimed Irish/ Australian band played afterwards in the clubrooms, I so regretted I had forgotten that was happening. A couple of hours later we heard the young Gaelic women footballers singing loudly as their mini bus headed out of town.

On the following Thursday the local paper had a centre page spread. It was good to see the photos I had missed out on, especially that of Mary looking radiant as usual. IMGP0049



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