Visiting the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney

RoyalBotanicGardens (3 of 23)September 1st is considered the first day of spring down here in Australia. In celebration, I wandered over to the Royal Botanic Gardens, where the new season was certainly putting on a show.  I’m making an effort to take myself on a field trip each week and write about it here. One of my biggest fears is that our time here will come to a close and we’ll not have really experienced the place.

RoyalBotanicGardens (18 of 23)I chose the gardens this week as I’m trying to connect physically with Australia, and understand the cycle of nature here. I’ve found in the past that I do form a better connection with a locality once I am familiar with the natural environment. I didn’t grow to love Utah until I read Terry Tempest Williams’ Refuge, and made that journey out to the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge myself.

RoyalBotanicGardens (9 of 23)The seasons are still really confusing to me. I keep thinking it’s April.

RoyalBotanicGardens (5 of 23)I’m curious to learn about the native Australian plants, and what blooms when. At the Gardens, there is a mixture of native and imported plants, and not all of the plants have identifying markers. I did find it curious that I’m so focused on knowing which ones are natives, because most of the plants I’ve always associated with spring, were not native to the U.S., but rather Europe and Asia. I guess it’s part of wanting to understand the natural environment, the real Australia before Europeans showed up.

RoyalBotanicGardens (4 of 23)Prior to 1788 when the First Fleet arrived in Australia, the land where the Royal Botanic Gardens are now, was used as a ceremonial ground by the Cadigal people. They held initiation ceremonies to mark the coming of age of their young men. When the British arrived they cleared the land to make way for their social experiment, killed kangaroos, and by August had almost depleted fish from the harbor. Farm Cove was planted and houses built up around the area.

RoyalBotanicGardens (20 of 23)In 1807, Governor Bligh had the houses removed, and then when Governor Macquarie and his wife came along, they began building walls and making a private English parkland type area, only available to what he referred to as the respectable class of inhabitants of the area. The Botanic Garden was established by 1816,

RoyalBotanicGardens (16 of 23)The botanist Charles Fraser was appointed Government Colonial Botanist in 1821. After Fraser’s death in 1831, it seems that there was a string of short lived Colonial Botanist assignments. Richard Cunningham was clubbed to death in 1835 after serving for two years. Allen Cunningham lasted less than a year, being appointed Colonial Botanist and Superintendent in February and resigning in December, and died soon after. Then came James Anderson as Superintendent in 1838, until he died in 1842. Nasmith Robertson was superintendent from 1842-1844 when he…wait for it!… died. Is it just me, or does this position seem cursed?

RoyalBotanicGardens (22 of 23)Charles Moore came on as director in 1848. He lasted several years. He also introduced regulations prohibiting, according to the RBG website, “all persons of reputed bad character…persons who are not cleanly and decently dressed…. and all young persons not accompanied by some respectable adult.” It sounds an awful lot like Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

RoyalBotanicGardens (23 of 23)Over the years, many varieties of plants were imported from Europe. The gardens saw an herbarium, an aviary, a zoo, and an insectarium all added to the grounds. The zoo and aviary are long gone. Many of these Moreton Bay Figs remain, which are over 100 years old.

RoyalBotanicGardens (2 of 5)When I saw this statue out of the corner of my eye, I had to laugh when I realized that the first thought that registered was that he was checking his phone.

RoyalBotanicGardens (7 of 23)I only touched on a portion of the gardens, completely missing the Cadi Jam Ora, or First Encounters garden walk, where I would have learned about those native species I was looking for. I also didn’t have time to view the herb garden. The Royal Botanic Gardens are free to visit and are open year-round. A variety of events take place in the gardens, and there are free and for-a-fee tours that you can join. There is a lovely gift shop where you can buy Australian native seeds. The park boasts a cafe and a restaurant, and the Growing Friends propagate plants for sale. I’ll be going back for sure!

Freelance Article on Fermentation

freelancewriterarticleonfermentation (1 of 2)Kombucha sampling at Wild Kombucha in Leichhardt

I am so thrilled to have published my article covering the local fermentation scene in the Sydney Inner West’s Ciao Magazine. Fermented foods and beverages have been a big part of my own diet and quest for health for a few years now. Upon arriving in Sydney, I was pleased to discover that there is a good size community of fermentos (people who ferment) here.  And although I set out simply to write about fermentation and the people who were doing it in the area, what I discovered is that it is very much about community building and nurturing. It further strengthened my own belief that our journey to a healthy society is going to be a group effort.

Read the full article, Fermenting a Community, here!

freelancewriterarticleonfermentation (2 of 2)Massive kombucha SCOBYs at Egg of the Universe in Rozelle

Sunny Memories

We are in the death grip of winter down here, and while I am grateful that there is no snow on the ground (there was frost this week in some local areas) and it is not 104°F like I heard it was back in Utah last week, it is cold here.  And it is damp.  That’s the worst of it.  The damp breeds mold, which even after obtaining a dehumidifier I’m still cleaning off the ceilings and walls.  Apparently wicker is extra susceptible to mold.  I didn’t know this.  I do now, and have had to dispose of a favored straw tote, three perfectly good wicker baskets that I used for organizing my art and craft supplies, plus a large wicker clothes hamper.  I discovered them all yesterday looking like something forgotten in the nether regions of the refrigerator.

As the sky threatens more rain, I’m choosing to remember a warmer, sunnier day when we journeyed south to Bundeena.  Come on; let’s go!

Bundeena-(1-of-16)We took the train down to Cronulla, on the coast, and from there hopped a small ferry across the water to the village of Bundeena.

Bundeena-(2-of-16)How would you like to live there?

Bundeena-(4-of-16)We walked through the village, skipping the Sunday Art Trail this time around, on our way to the beach and coastal walk.  Along the way, we discovered this poinsettia tree.  Can you imagine those potted Christmas-time plants you buy getting this big?  I was always lucky if the leaves would even stay on.

Bundeena-(5-of-16)Royal National Park, established in 1879 is the second-oldest national park in the world.  Bundeena sits right up against the park, and the coastal walk cuts through the forest.

Bundeena-(8-of-16)It was exciting to view rock carvings created by the Dharawal people, the first inhabitants of the area.

Bundeena-(10-of-16)It was easy to imagine the Dharawal people looking out over a similar landscape.

Bundeena-(11-of-16)Peering back at the village.

Bundeena-(12-of-16)The views were food for the soul.

Bundeena-(14-of-16)We made our way to the point of Jibbon Head that looks out to sea.  Gazing out in the distance, I saw a patch of water that was behaving differently than the water around it.  Then I realized it was a whale tail!  Soon after we saw spouts.  Our first and only whale spotting was a spiritual experience for me.

[An aside – we went on a whale watching cruise a couple weeks ago.  It was a rainy, stormy day, but the boat was going out anyway, and we were game.  We didn’t see a single whale, but we did have a whale of a roller coaster ride in that boat, riding up and down the waves!  Some people didn’t enjoy the ride quite so much. The cruise company gave us vouchers to return again in hopes of seeing whales.  We’re going to try again this Friday. ]

Bundeena-(16-of-16)As the sun set on a beautiful day, we made our way back to the ferry.  While on the ride back, we were discussing options for eating dinner in Cronulla or back in Balmain.  A woman sitting beside us said, “oh we’re going to dinner in Cronulla; come with us!”  Australians are just so cool.

Downton Abbey Down Under

I admit, I’ve really been sucking at this whole blogging thing.  In an effort to get back on track, I’m going back several weeks in my photo inventory to bring you the Vaucluse House.  I’m pretty sure it was the sheer quantity of photos I took and then needed to process that has caused me to put this off for so long! My fascination with Australian history has urged me on, however.

Vaucluse House (66 of 69)The Vaucluse House is one of the original manor houses in Sydney.  It began life as a small, stone cottage in 1803, built for Sir Henry Brown Hayes.  In 1827, William Charles Wentworth purchased the property.

Vaucluse House (48 of 69)Wentworth was born in Australia in 1790, shortly after his mother who was convicted of theft arrived in Sydney aboard the Neptune.  His father, who escaped conviction for highway robbery in England, also traveled on the same ship.  While the senior Wentworth went on to become a prominent and wealthy member of the colony, the family was never accepted into the gentry because of their convict past.

Vaucluse House (61 of 69)Young Wentworth was bitter over this fact. Still, he went on to become an influential man.  He was a lawyer, politician, writer, and was part of the first European crossing of the Blue Mountains.

Vaucluse House (14 of 69)Vaucluse House was built for Wentworth’s wife, Sarah Cox, whose parents also arrived aboard a convict ship.  She kept a tight ship herself of the estate and their family.  Even with the big fancy house and lots of money, she, too, suffered isolation because of their past.  And, oh, apparently two of their children were born before she and Wentworth actually got married.

Vaucluse House (16 of 69)As I strolled through the rooms, they became peopled by my imagination.  I find it fascinating to think of the individuals who sat in these chairs, and the servants who leaned in to offer plates of food, while attempting to be invisible.

Vaucluse House (17 of 69)What letters were written at this table?  Love letters?  Mystery, intrigue, orders for more convict servants to work the estate?

Vaucluse House aprons (1 of 1)What maids scurried down this hall?  Is that a breeze that just ruffled the aprons or a ghost?

Vaucluse House (8 of 69)My dream table.

Vaucluse House (6 of 69)I whined for four months about not having my kitchen tools.  This makes me both appreciate my sharp knives and wonder what it was like to chop parsley in the late afternoon light with this tool.

Vaucluse House (5 of 69)I kept thinking of Downton Abbey as I walked through this grand house, especially when in the domains of the servants.  I find them more interesting.  Just imagine the stories that were witnessed by this majestic stove!

I do have a zillion more pics, some of questionable quality.  I’ve put them over on Flickr if you want to continue wandering the halls and gardens of this exquisite estate. Click here to see them:)

At Long Last

shipment arrival (1 of 5)I was awake this morning before the sun. As I opened my eyes and adjusted to consciousness, I was filled with the absolute joy of a child who knows that this day really is Christmas. You know that magic feeling, as you slowly start to remember your name and where you exist in the world. Then, the realization dawns that downstairs there is an evergreen tree covered in tiny, twinkling colored lights.

shipment arrival (5 of 5)Beneath that tree are presents wrapped in gorgeous paper. Surprises! Because you have no idea what’s inside.

shipment arrival (3 of 5)Being reunited with familiar friends brings me a feeling of home that I have not felt in so very long.  It was fun to see what was in those boxes.  There are many things that I’d forgotten about.  And to be completely honest, as I unwrapped handful after handful of cutlery and serving utensils, I realized it’s more than I need.  But hey!  Next time I need a big spoon or a spatula, I have one!

shipment arrival (4 of 5)The house back in Salt Lake had a very particular musty odor that we only noticed upon returning from travels.  As I dig through these boxes, that smell comes wafting out.  While not the most pleasant of aromas, it does bring back many fond memories.  Also, it occurs to me that if the stuff in these boxes smells like that house, then we probably smelled like that too when we lived there!  Our clothes, anyway.

I’m exhausted after unpacking and washing a kitchen full of dishes (and caressing and speaking to each piece).  I know it’s time to quit, if not for the night, at least long enough to eat some dinner, but there are still boxes to open!  Treasures to discover.  I still need to find the bathroom scales and my boots and……

 

A Mother’s Day Excursion

Palm Beach(12 of 13)Continuing in my effort to visit every single beach in the Sydney area, and to document each and every wave, we set off on Mother’s Day to visit our primordial mother, the Sea.

bus tripOur adventure began with a ferry ride to Manly, where we picked up a bus going north, with one quick transfer.  It was about an hour’s ride along the coast, with gorgeous water views along the way, interspersed with woodsy areas and homes surrounded by trees and gardens.  I noticed the air change as we traveled north; it took on a woody aroma.

Palm Beach5 of 13)We took the bus as far as it would go and landed at Palm Beach.

Palm Beach13 of 13)Our original plan had been to hike up to Barren Joey Lighthouse,

Palm Beach(11 of 13)but there were no waves up there!

Palm Beach (9 of 13)I’m pretty sure between the two of us, we took about seventy-five million photos.

Palm Beach(7 of 13)Don’t get your camera wet!

Palm Beach (2 of 13)While a little chilly for swimming, it was still a beautiful day for the beach.  In contrast to Bondi and other more popular beaches, this one was mostly deserted.  There were a few families there picnicking and playing in the sand.  I got overly nervous about little kiddos too close to that surf.

Palm Beach(3 of 13)This sneaky fellow was pretending he wasn’t just snooping through our bags!

Palm Beach (10 of 13)It was one of those perfect, peaceful days when you can just feel the serotonin whooshing through your brain and you thank the Universe for putting you here.

Are you tired of beaches yet?

On Finding One’s Strength and a Quick Trip to Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach (3 of 7)I have a dream of learning to surf.  On our very first beach visit here, I formed an image in my head of a woman, about 60-65 years old, walking along the beach in her wetsuit, carrying her surf board, with her long, sea-water-soaked, grey hair flying.  That woman is future me.

I was thinking about this dream the other day.  Thinking about the practicality of this dream, and coming to the conclusion that given my age, fitness level, and the time we’ll have here by the ocean, maybe this is more of a fantasy.

At that moment, I felt future me’s heart break in two.  How could I just dash her dreams like that?  I felt her reach back through time, pleading with me.  I was being so unfair.  I continued to ponder all this, weighing reality against wishful thinking, and reminding myself that just because today I have one reality doesn’t mean that can’t change.

Now I don’t know if I’ll ever really get to learn to surf.  I do know that I have lots of ocean waves I can play in while I’m here.  AND, and this is the most important truth I came to, even if I don’t learn to surf, that image of the strong woman with her grey hair and surf board can be a power symbol I can use to focus on in visualizing success in attaining my goals.  She can be my guide.

I’m not going to let go of the dream of surfing.  I’ll start by taking this course next summer, then move on to this one, and build from there.

I’m curious, what kinds of symbols, imagery, or positive self talk do others use to help spur them on in their goals?  Please share; don’t be shy.

Here are some quick pics of our visit to Bondi Beach:)

Bondi Beach (1 of 7)

Bondi Beach (7 of 7)

Bondi Beach (6 of 7)

Bondi Beach (4 of 7)

Three Month Mile-marker and Another Beach

It’s hard to believe, but we have been in Sydney for just over three months.  It feels both like we just got here and like we’ve been here forever.  Our shipment has still not arrived.  Well, let me rephrase that; it hasn’t been delivered to us.  Our bed and my kitchen is in Sydney.  In quarantine.  They do that.  It should be released soon and I’ll be doing a happy Christmas-in-May dance while I unpack the boxes and discover just what I put in there besides a bed and cooking utensils.

It’s been weeks since I’ve posted here, I know.  I’ve been up to something I’m sure.  Let me see…. we’ve been visiting and been visited by fun friends.  We had our first American sort-of-guests.  Our Utah friends’ son and his girlfriend borrowed our floor.  Unfortunately for them, they arrived the week of the worst storm in a decade here.  For three days we had gale force winds and rain falling in sheets from the sky.  I’ve seen Texas rainstorms, Iowa rainstorms, and blizzards from Utah to Wisconsin, but I’ve never seen a storm like this one.  We are still trying to dry out in here.  I had to wipe the walls down, it was that wet.  Thankfully the sun came out again.  At last.

I’ve been in a really good writing zone, finished two short stories.  The rain helped with that!  Nothing like being shut up for days to get you in the writing mood.

It’s been over a month now since I’ve been to a beach!  This Sunday is looking promising.  I do hope so, because I’m having withdrawals something fierce.  So, on that note, I’ll share more of March’s beach visits with you!

Coogee and Wylie's Baths (9 of 13)I set out one day to visit the McIver’s Baths at Coogee (I love the names of places here!), the only remaining women and children only ocean pool.  Wouldn’t you know, I went on the day they were revamping the pool.  So, I trekked on down a ways to Wylie’s Baths.  I did have to pay $4.80 to get in, but it was worth it.

Coogee and Wylie's Baths (7 of 13)The pool is located just south of Coogee beach in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.  It sits in the rocks overlooking the open sea.  There is plenty of room to sun yourself, and there are also shady spots with rocks, benches, and even chairs to lounge upon.

Coogee and Wylie's Baths (1 of 13)It was a warm day and the water was perfect.

Coogee and Wylie's Baths (5 of 13)It fit my specifications because I could swim laps (ha ha!) and watch the waves.

Coogee and Wylie's Baths (4 of 13)The bottom of the pool was a bit rough.  I discovered I’d drifted into more shallow water when I scraped the top of my foot across the rocks.  Oh and apparently a sea urchin.  I found the tiny tip of a spine sticking out of my toe when I got home.

Coogee and Wylie's Baths (11 of 13)You can’t deny it’s a beautiful setting, though.  As I was walking back to the bus, I kept having to stop for one more peek at the views.

Coogee and Wylie's Baths (12 of 13)A smaller ocean bath is situated just off of Coogee Beach.  This one appears to be free admission.  It is a lot smaller.

Coogee and Wylie's Baths (13 of 13)Having a tough time tearing myself away from the water, I stopped to watch the surfers and swimmers at Coogee Beach before I left.  (Shh!  Don’t tell anyone, but I have a secret fantasy of being an old lady surfer one day.)

I only have one more beach up my sleeve to share with you.  I should do that before Sunday, because I have every intention of taking advantage of the $2.50 travel cap and adding another beach to my collection.  I seriously doubt we’ll be swimming!

A Trip to Shelly Beach

manly and shelly beach (1 of 12)Our journey to Shelly Beach began with a ferry ride, another perk of visiting the northern beaches.  I fully support adding as much water to the day as possible and the views from Sydney Harbour are enchanting.

sailboats (1 of 1)Does this look like work or fun to you?

manly and shelly beach (3 of 12)Shelly Beach is a short walk south of Manly Beach, with some interesting views along the way.  This fellow was doing push ups.

manly and shelly beach (4 of 12)I was curious and concerned about these padlocks and especially the pacifiers we saw attached to the fence along the way.  A Google search after returning home allayed my fears.  The locks are love locks, a tradition, according to Wikipedia, dating back to WWI in Serbia.  Today, young lovers (or old, I suppose) attach the padlocks as both a proclamation of and a talisman to protect their love.  The pacifiers seem to be from couples hoping for babies.

manly and shelly beach (5 of 12)All kinds of folk visit Shelly Beach.   Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve is there along the walk.

manly and shelly beach (7 of 12)While Manly Beach has its surf, Shelly’s waters are more calm.  It’s a protected cove with mellow waves.  (Lisa, it’s good for families and others who don’t want to drown.)

manly and shelly beach (6 of 12)There is a lot of interesting stuff going on at both Shelly and Manly beaches.  This guy and his mate were showing off for their female companions.  They raised their bodies into the air using only their upper body muscles.  They didn’t jump into this position; they slowly lifted themselves up.

manly and shelly beach (9 of 12)This area is popular with scuba divers and snorkelers.

manly and shelly beach (8 of 12)The Fairy Bower pool is situated between Manly and Shelly beaches.  We didn’t go in here, but it looked fun.

manly and shelly beach (10 of 12)These young naturalists were having an exploration.

manly and shelly beach (11 of 12)Now I have to say, this fellow wasn’t displaying very manly behavior to those cold waves.  Ok, I’m just mean, but really, if you’re gonna wear a suit like that (excuse me, bathing costume) you need to live up to the hype.

manly and shelly beach (12 of 12)Another one to be filed under “only in Australia”.  This lady managed to completely change out of her clothes and into her swimming costume all underneath that blue wrap, without flashing anyone.  I was impressed.

manly and shelly beach (2 of 12)I still have photos from Bondi Beach and Coogee, and there are so many more beaches to visit!  It’s starting to get a bit cool for swimming, but whale watching season is coming and we have our whale cruise tickets ready.

More Sydney Beaches – Bronte Beach

Bronte Beach (15 of 20)After being landlocked for so many years, I find I cannot get enough of the sea. Craig calls me obsessed as the weekend rolls around and I say, “oh guess where we’re going, honey!”  You can travel all over the damn place here on a Sunday for no more than $2.50 for the entire day. That’s a lot of beaches to visit, and I’m working on seeing them all.

Bronte Beach (13 of 20)A few weeks ago, we went to Bronte Beach, one of the beaches of the eastern suburbs.

Bronte Beach (19 of 20)It was a windy day, with lots of surf.  We thought we’d just dip our toes in.  After being slammed into the sand a few times, I insisted I’d had enough!  As much as I wanted to swim, I knew that was beyond my abilities.

Bronte Beach (10 of 20)Those waves belonged to the surfers.

bronte calm (1 of 1)After getting ourselves settled in the sand, we noticed that further south down the beach was this more sheltered area.  There is a rock break that helps create the larger waves to the north of it, while holding back the surf to the south end of the beach.  It was perfect for floating and bobbing in smaller, more manageable waves, great for families with children and others who would rather not drown.

Just on the other side of this is a salt water lap pool built into the rocks.  We didn’t swim there, and for some odd reason I didn’t even take a photo of it.  I was too busy watching the waves from a safe vantage point!

Up next – Shelly Beach:)