Monday, January 16, 2012

Australia Conclusion - Warrendyte, Sassafras and Saying Goodbye

Before I end my journey in Australia, I want to go back to a short jaunt through a delightful junky craft store that Eva took me to in the Melbourne area called Theo's Discount Craft. When we pulled up, it didn't look like much from the outside, but inside I thought I would never get back out with enough money to continue my trip. Every kind of craft you can think of. Some which I haven't seen in years. More than you can really look at in a day without losing your mind in the sheer amount of stuff inside this little warehouse.

Fabric, costumes, dolls, sewing, beads, jewelry, party supplies, lace collars, packaging, toys, novelties, kewpie dolls, the list went on and on.

So much fun. The graveyard cache for out of date crafts coupled with junk crafts, and in between some really good buys on supplies. We have nothing like that here.

The last few days I had left we stayed local. Twice we went to a very arty town, Warrendyte, that I thoroughly enjoyed. Here, by the Yarra River, I watched dogs fetch balls from the river for their owners, Loved this pair of retrievers. One went in the water to fetch the ball. The other remained on the shore and stole the ball from the other dogs mouth while he was climbing out of the water. I think it was a reluctant partnership of sorts.

After picking up some chocolate covered licorice, we visited this antique store. Loved the name, but the store had only small aisles through the merchandise and it quickly became claustrophobic inside.

We walked by several galleries and stores along the busy main street. Loved these wooden cockatoos.

This was my favorite store filled with handmade jewelry and fun eclectic stuff for the home.

Inside one store was an Australian flag backlit by lighting and I took this photo with Hipstamatic on my iPhone.

Still hard to wrap my head around the fact that it is spring here. But I am trying to soak all the sun in that I can, knowing that I am returning to icy weather soon.

I found this sanctuary behind an art gallery amid the eucalyptus trees and said a quiet prayer.

And one last trip to my favorite place of all, Sassafras, in the Dandenong Range, where we had lunch at Miss Marples again. One last look at Sassafras Wool Shop and Oracle, my favorite stores. Breathing in every site to remember well after I am gone.

A last tour of the garden areas and gift stores that we love. Trying to slow time down a put the inevitable departure at bay...

But in the end, I sadly got in the car with Eva and headed to the airport in Melbourne to board a plane back to the States. Thank you Eva (and family), Kathleen, Marg and Pat, Barb and Dennis, Gail, Bevlea and all the women in my classes for a wonderful time that will live long in my memory. But especially Eva who opened up her heart and home to me and gave so much of herself to make sure I had an opportunity to really see Victoria as few tourists are able. I hear from many of you still and hope to carry you all in my heart for the rest of my days.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Australia Part 10 - Bendigo

We woke early, excited to explore the city of Bendigo. A wonderful mix of old and new, presided over by Queen Victoria, a multitude of churches and cathedrals and the very visible remnants of the gold mining history that is the reason for the founding of this city. We parked at the top of the hill and wound our way through the streets of downtown Bendigo, exploring stores and churches alike.

The architecture is rich and ornate. The buildings well preserved and beautiful. The people friendly and open. The arts were well represented here, as well.

An old mailbox stands on the corner, looking like a lonely sentinel in its bright red coat of paint.

The Cathedral stands at the heart of the city. Stunningly beautiful inside and out.

Carved wooden angels trim the arches of the ceiling above high arched windows.

A large stained glass window and organ fill the balcony section.

The ceiling is stunningly beautiful with the stark white contrasting with the rich wood construction.

I could have spent hours in the cathedral, but my time was limited and I was eager to see more of this city. For the next few hours we explored the little shops that lined the streets. A bookbinder, a milliner, and antique stores and more.

We stopped at a gallery and explored a local artists beautiful paintings of Greece.

Tired and hungry, we finally stopped at a Thai restaurant where we had red curry for lunch. After lunch, Margaret and I headed for the the White Wedding Dress exhibit at the local art gallery while Eva continued to browse the stores.

Unfortunately, no photos were allowed at the show, which had traveled to Bendigo from England, and included dresses and other wedding garb from the early 1800's forward. The dresses were covered with handmade lace and pearls. The oohs and ahhs were audible throughout the exhibit.

Many of the stores had related window displays that celebrated the museum show with dresses made in a variety of mediums.

A tour of a local park turned up trees full of flying foxes. Used to the small cave bats in the Western U.S., I was amazed these "bats" could fly, so large they were. Chilling to look at too!

Then we were off to historic Bendigo pottery, established during the original gold rush days and a working pottery manufacturer to this day. The complex included studios of local artists, as well as the old kilns and working demonstrations of pottery making. You could almost hear the hustle and bustle of the old as you toured the now unused kilns and viewed the pottery of old mixed with new.

We took to the road again and stopped at a local park and pond where I took photos of birds standing in the grass by the water.

This purple swamp hen was one of my favorite birds with it's blue purple plumage.

A bit further down the road, was an old graveyard filled with ornate graves. I wandered around looking at the ornate iron work and beautifully carved statues and headstones and wondered who these brave people had been that created such a beautiful city from the bare earth with only the barest promise of a rich future ahead...

When we arrived at the house, we sat down to another delicious dinner. The hospitality in this country is impressive and I am filled with gratitude for all that was selflessly offered to me during my time in Australia!

After dinner, we drove back to town to take photos of the old cathedral under the light of a full moon. The gargoyles took on a more menacing light at night and the bushes seemed to whisper of the past. The bare tree branches framed the moon and, although spring here, my thoughts are of All Hallows Eve.

The next morning is our last here and we start with a tram tour of the city starting at the old gold mine. We see many of the sites we walked the day before, as well as some of the residential area. I loved the wrought iron lace that decorates the eaves of many of the houses. It's clear that the gold rush fueled both the success of the city and its occupants from the opulent architecture of the older buildings.

After the tram, we traveled to the Joss House, in continuous use since the 1800's. Although the Chinese were also a big part of our gold rush days, I believe this is the first time I have seen a Joss House that dated back to that era. The temple was well preserved and the proprietor very knowledgeable of its history.

We return to town and, while Eva and Margaret wait, I climb the tower on top of the hill to get a 360 degree view of this beautiful town. The view was magnificent, as were the decorative mosiacs embedded in the concrete and stone around the tower.

We reluctantly say our goodbyes as we leave this city that has been my favorite of all and head back to Melbourne. A bittersweet return as I know that I have only a few days left before I must return home.