Thursday, December 29, 2011

Australia Part 9 - Daylesford and Bendigo

The strangest aspect of my time in Australia was seeing the spring flowers I love so much in bloom when my body was set for fall. Everywhere we went, and Ballarat was no exception, was filled with leaves and flowers budding out and filling the air with the fragrances of spring. How lovely to experience spring twice in one year. Even better to experience spring where it did not rain everyday so that it could be enjoyed!

We left Ballarat in the morning after a breakfast (and not before checking out the scrapbooking store for possible treasures LOL), and headed towards Bendigo where we would spend a couple of days with friends of Eva's. We left plenty of time to explore the small towns along the road full of history, the lovely architecture of old, weathered buildings and amazing antique stores.

Our first stop was in Daylesford, where we stopped at a bakery for a snack and then browsed the small stores along the main street. I loved this store who artfully displayed their huge collection of antiques and vintage pieces.

Loved this theater mural painted on the wall of one of the stores...

And these stairs that advertise the attributes of the merchandise found in the store.

Remember the days a scale like this could be found on the streets of small town America?

We browsed a bookstore housed in an old bank and full of nooks and corners worth exploring. I could have spent days in this store.

Our lady of Perpetual Cashflow...a handy saint to have around, I say


In front of one of the stores, I found an old Morris Minor in an exquisite stage of rust. I filled my camera with different sections of lavender, blue, red orange, gray and black for future use as encaustic backgrounds.

We found a plant nursery tucked in between two old buildings full of garden art and birdsong.

How I hated to go on, wanting to explore each and every store filled with art and antiques. Fortunately for my pocketbook, shipping is very expensive here and so while I looked, I could not purchase anything to bring home. With one last look, we headed to Castlemaine.

But, when we drove past this sign, we knew we would have to make a tiny detour off the road. Because I AM a serious chocoholic!

House in a building built with adobe, hay bales and bottles, we immediately began investigating the chocolates...and they had not exaggerated....they had a delicious selection of one of a kind chocolates and truffles made right on the site.

I put together a small selection of chocolates, mints, caramels and ginger candy...and a big bag of chocolate covered black licorice that Eva introduced me to. I like chocolate and I like licorice but I would have never put them together...and oh my! What a treat they are together!

Outside was a collection of metal sculptures including this echidna, a smaller version of our porcupine. Since I never got a good photo of the one I saw near the Twelve Apostles, I took a photo of this one to remember my sighting of this unusual animal.

In Castlemaine, we stopped at a large antiques store housed in four separate buildings and full of history, including one full building dedicated to automotive history.

I immediately found a booklet of old music from the earlier 1900's perfect for collage. A saleswoman took it from me and said she would put it by the register in the main building so I did not have to carry it around. After we finished exploring, I went back to pay for my music and as I entered the door, I overheard a beautiful voice singing the music I'd set aside. I approached her and she told me her father, an Irish tenor, used to sing that song, but she had never seen the sheet music. She had tears in her eyes as she told me about her father and how her family, parents and 13 kids, had toured the countryside as a singing group when they were children. I told her to keep the music for the song and she told me she would pass it on to her brothers and sisters, so they can remember. Serendipity does exist, I think.

Next stop was another huge barn of a antique, building salvage and fixture store. Another store to spend hours in. Loved the way this collection of old kerosene lanterns were hung.

"Purveyor of All Natural Products". Would have loved to explore this store, but it was closed for the day. And so, we got back on the road, headed for our final destination for the day, Bendigo. We arrived late in the day and I met Eva's wonderful friends, Pat and Margaret, who lived a bit out of town surrounded by eucalyptus trees. As we sat on the deck getting to know each other, I found myself wishing that I could see just ONE kangaroo, before I had to leave. And not a minute or two after that thought, these three wandered into the yard.

I stood and watched and photographed them for almost an hour. What a treat to see them in the wild! Can't wait to see more of this area in the next two days but time for dinner and to bed.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Australia Part 8 - Ballarat

For the very first time, I am headed away from the ocean towards the drier interior of Victoria. I am excited to explore the gold mining area of Victoria that flourished at the same time as that of the California gold rush, one of my favorite periods of US history. Eva and I left early in the morning and headed to Ballarat, a predominant gold mining city, famous for the Eureka Rebellion, the birthplace of democracy in Australia. When we arrive, we climb the steps and walk through the gates into another century.

The streets are lined with small shops and businesses you would expect to find in the 1850's, several of which contain artifacts from the period, artisans demonstrating their crafts and character actors that play people of the time.

There was the blacksmith working in a completely equipped shop turning out wrought iron pieces.

An apothecary shop filled with herbs, tinctures, medicines and minerals to tend to one's health.

This gentleman was a delight to speak to. Obviously Victorian as he proceeded to tell Eva and I that we were not proper ladies due to our outspokenness. But an interesting conversation ensued regarding women's rights and we parted with laughter, agreeing to disagree.

Several animals were to be found in pens along the main street. I would imagine that cattle would have replaced the sheep in California, if meat was to be found at all.

Lucky turkey here. If he were in the U.S., he might have been counting the hours until Thanksgiving! Isn't he gorgeous?

We watched the creation of tapered candles here. Each vat filled with hot wax where the candles are dipped every few minutes until they are large enough and then coated with colored waxes.

An old bowling alley were the pins have to be set up by hand. We rolled a few bowling balls down the lane, although I am no better at these than at the modern bowling lanes.

A cozy old church. Although not as ornate as the lovely cathedrals I explored in other towns, the interior had a simple and appealing charm.

Nature has created her own art here in the weathering of the paint, wood and metal.

A wood working shop with amazing hand tools, both big and small.

Old-fashioned billboards advertising a wide range of services.

A dressmaking and milliners shop filled with period dresses and accessories.

The letterpress shop filled with printing materials and a demonstration of book repair using old paste glue and a book press I would love to own.

Teams of draft horses pulled sight-seeing wagons through town; hard work with the steep hills they must climb.

A reenactment of of the days of the Eureka Rebellion with the Queen's army dressed up in red and marching through town to make proclamations.

Finally, we walked back down the hill to the company store. The day was cold and brisk and I had to buy a hat to manage my freezing cold ears and be able to take advantage of the opportunity to pan a bit of gold.

And on my first panning, I FOUND GOLD!!! It was such a rush that I didn't stop panning until about two hours later, when we had to return to the motel to get ready to attend the nighttime show. What a rush, even if all I found was a few flakes with little worth. That's more than I've found before and I could see how folks get bit by the gold bug!

That evening we attended "Blood on the Cross", an amazing live production reenacting the Eureka Rebellion. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed. But we began in a theater with a video presentation of conversations between involved parties in the rebellion. The miners were required to pay unfair licensing fees and denied the right to vote. They eventually barricaded themselves and the local police and Redcoats were called in to disperse them. At this point we were taken outside where fog swirled and a series of speakers made us feel as if the events were taking place all around us.

We were then bused up the hill to another theater open to the air and watched as a reenactment of the rebellion took place in front of us. Action swirled all around with fire, gunshots, sound effects and narrative. When it was all over, the miner's lost the battle, but won the public sentiment and eventually won their hard won rights to vote and mine fairly.

In the end we traveled by tram down the hill where we listened to a speech by Peter Lalor, who organized the miners and went on to serve in the Parliament. A very stirring show.

At last, we head back to our motel to sleep before we continue our journey on to Bendigo.