Saturday, November 05, 2011

Australia: Part 3

Early in the morning, Eva woke me up to say she had a surprise for me and to hurry to get ready to go. No amount of questioning would budge the secret from her as we wound our way up into the hills. As we pulled into a driveway, I saw a little piece of paradise surrounding a rambling home. This was the home of artist Ro Bruhn. This was a treat indeed as I so admire her art

Her studio was a cacaphony of color. Everywhere around me was inspiration, both in art and in organising a studio. We chatted over Ro's delicious ginger cake while we watched kookaburra's gathered in the trees outside the window. Ro is a gracious hostess and a kind soul. She took time to show us her mosaics, her fabric books and her paintings. I was excited to buy some of her beautiful hand-dyed laces and fabrics. Can't wait to incorporate them in my art.

All too soon it was time to say our goodbyes. But I know that the time with Ro will be one of the most memorable of this trip.

As we left, I found this Buddha peaking out of the ferns. Such peace in this spot. I wish I could bottle it and take it home with me.

Our next stop was Grant's Picnic Grounds in the Dandenong Range. Birds come from far and wide to this picnic area where they sell bird seed to feed the birds. Gullahs, Cockatoos, Crimson Rosellas, King Parrots and Corellas all vie for a little bit of seed.

This Rosella came to see if Eva had any food to offer.

I walked out of the store with a bag of seed in my hand. Before I could break it open, a Cockatoo landed on my arm and tore the bag open with one swipe of his beak and in moments, was joined by two more birds tearing seeds from the bag.

The video shows it all.

What a beautiful day.

The next day we were off for Phillip Island so I could finally see the penguins come to shore, something I wanted to do on my first trip here. Phillip Island is at the tip of land south of Melbourne, facing the Bass Strait. The island is home to the Penguin Parade, a heritage farm and a Koala Preserve and a lovely town called Cowes.

We traveled to the heritage farm first. It's a working farm with a restored farmhouse showing how things were more than a century ago.

Wildlife mingled with livestock in the fields.

The home looked like the original residents would be home for dinner at any moment.

Rambling climbing roses decorated the garden shed.

Beautiful draft horses

Old turkeys

Regal peacocks

Sheep and goats populate the farm now.

A warning to be heeded.

Beautiful gardens

Lacy wrought iron decorates the porch eaves. The sea breeze blew across the land and sunshine filled the skies. A truly beautiful place to come home to.

Our second stop was to the Koala preserve. This was a boardwalk through a natural setting with up front view of these beautiful animals. Koalas sleep almost 20 hours a day and it didn't take long to spot them napping in the trees. No fences here to keep you separated from the animals. Folks use common sense and don't try to pet them. Check out the size of those nails.

A mother sleeps with her baby in her arms.

You can see their opposing paws in this photo. Their food is the leaves of the eucalyptus or "gum" trees, the predominant tree in the area.

A little blue wren that was flitting in the bushes. The dramatic coloring made this one of my favorite birds.

The everpresent Australian magpie who had the most beautiful song. I so miss waking up to his warbling, hollow tones.

The dancing Willie Wagtail.

And, of course, the laughing Kookaburra, whose cackling insane laughter fills the air where ever they go. A member of the Kingfisher family, they are easy to spot with their blunt looking head, big beak and stricking blue sides.

We headed for the beach after leaving the Koala preserve, first stopping in Cowes to browse the "op" (opportunity) shops, such as the Salvation Army, called "Salvos"

here. We sample the pastries in a local bakery and shopped the quaint stores before walking down to the water.

I waded in the waves and sunk my feet into the sand of a sea I'd not been in before, and let my lungs fill with the clean ocean air. A beautiful day.

We headed for the Penguin Parade as evening approached. Unfortunately, there were strict rules that forbade photography of any kind. We settled into the bleachers on the beach and waited as the sun set and the fairy penguins began coming in from the sea. So small and yet looking like a penguin in every other way, they came in groups of 5 to 8 and made their way across the beach to their burrows, where they spend the night. Beset by sea gulls and wary of the hundreds of folks waiting to see them leave the ocean, many turned tail and ran back to the ocean, to wait for support from the other birds coming to shore. Finally we rise and make our way back and, to my surprise, the penguins are milling under and next to the boardwalks, allowing a close view of this beautiful bird. They call to each other as they settle into their burrows for the night and soon their song fills the air as we say our goodbyes to this beautiful island and head for home.

The next day we took a short trip to Healesville, a small town full of great "op" shops that I visited on my first trip and never forgot. We shopped the stores, finding several treasures we could not live without.

Loved this sign and had to check it out. An art supply store with a coffee shop and art for sale inside. Does it get any better than that? Bought some beautiful Indian watercolor paper here to use in handmade journals and wished that one of these stores would open in my home town.

We browse the antiques stores, as well. So hard not to buy the treasures I saw, but knew my luggage space was limited. But oh, how I wish luggage was still free...

We left early because I have only a day to be ready to teach and it's time to organize my material and already, I can feel the butterflies in my stomach...


Paula McNamee said...

Thanks for sharing photos, stories of your trip to Australia. It sounds like a wonderful trip.

Eva said...

A busy few days days - but such fun! Hadn't done the Penguin Parade since I was a kid (many moons ago - lol).

That garden shed sign - still cracks me up.

Bring on - Part 4!

Eva :-)

Ro Bruhn said...

Wow Jan what fabulous photos, it never ceases to amaze me what we learn about our own area from our visitors, I haven't seen that art store in Healesville,
I'll be off as some as I have a weekend free. Thank you so much for your kind words about our home too, it was delightful to meet you again and I only wish we had had more time.
I'm so glad you managed to see as much of our State
as you did and that the weather was reasonably kind to you, not like it is at present, very humid with massive storms.

Lucy said...

Great photos, great stories and pleased you got to see the delightful Ro and all her treasures in her quirky home.
Hugs Lucy

Bevlea said...

great post Jan.. loved the pics of Grants Park! And no butterflies were needed for the classes.. you were FABULOUS!!