The Hunter Valley Gardens…

We went back to the Hunter Valley to visit the Gardens on Sunday. It’s been rainy but we were lucky and it was a beautiful day. Most of the flowers were dormant but that really didn’t matter to me. I enjoyed the fall display.

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The hedges are skillfully trimmed. I especially liked the cutouts that allow you to see through to another part of the garden.

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There is a formal garden, very nice.

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There is a lovely children’s area with a Mother Goose/story book theme. My favorite thing was the big red chair:

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There are rides, but it’s off-season here so they weren’t working. That also meant fewer people in the garden with us so, actually, it was not a bad thing.

This is the safest, least-scary Ferris wheel I have ever seen. It made me wonder if it’s as much fun as those where, even though you are strapped in, it feels like you could fall out.

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The Japanese Garden was serene, as you would expect.

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My last photo of the day. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen cut roses floating in water. I hope I don’t forget this…

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Newcastle Art Gallery…

The amazing painting above is Lottie and James by Jonathan Dalton and it was on most of the promotional information and posters for the exhibit.

The Newcastle Art Gallery is hosting the finalists from the Archibald Prize 2017. This is an annual contest featuring portraits painted specifically for the contest. There were also paintings by youth in the area. It was all amazing!

The young artists ranged in age from 5-18. I was very impressed…

Of all the paintings in the exhibit, this was my favorite — mostly because the woman depicted is the spitting image of my granddaughter, Elanor, albeit a little older.

Heymnan by Kim Leutwiler

Heymnan by Kim Leutwiler, painted for the Arichibald Prize 2017 competition

I love portraits. Maybe it’s the fact that you can stand and stare without having to talk to the person you are in front of. Actual faces are also fun to look at, but you have to deal with the person inside, if that makes sense.

This one was really interesting, and engaging…

And it is always fun to watch people viewing art…

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Blackbutt Reserve…

Before you go getting any ideas, blackbutt is an Australian tree in the eucalyptus family. The Blackbutt Reserve, in Newcastle, is more than a park and not really a zoo. It’s a reserve providing a home to many Australian animals. And trees :-).

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This duck was the first critter I noticed. Does it look to you like he’s trying not to own that pile next to him?

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The high point was seeing the wombats (Catherine’s favorite animal) being fed. They are nocturnal but the reserve feeds them in the morning so that people can see them before they go to bed. This is Sally, 3 years old.

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And this is Clyde, who is 15. They live in different enclosures, side by side, because they are solitary animals. It appears to work for them very well.

 

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The koalas were sleeping. Very soundly.

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The kangaroos seemed thoughtful, as if they were plotting an escape.

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My favorites were the very pretty male Gouldian finches. The females were nice, but not as showy. And none posed for me.

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This fine fellow posed and posed.

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The rain started as we left. Excellent timing!

River boat cruising…

Catherine and I went on a day cruise up the Hunter River today, from Newcastle to Morpeth.

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There were just enough clouds to make the sky interesting, all day long.

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The scenery along the way was lovely.

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We mostly had the river to ourselves, except for the occasional fishermen.

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I did figure out that the concrete ‘pencils’ I saw a couple of days ago were probably posts :-).

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Farms and ranches lined the way.

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Morpeth is a scenic small village where were spent 2 hours shopping (of course) and having lunch.

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Then it was back to the boat for the return trip!

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Really relaxing is not something I do much of. This was a day of enforced relaxation… no work, no sewing, no internet. Amazing!

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Another wonderful day down under!

It’s the little things…

Australia feels both very familiar, and different. Happily, I speak the language, but there are differences between Texas English and Australian English. Here, I’m the one speaking with an accent. There’s a look tossed my way when I speak which isn’t bad, it’s just odd. It’s good to be reminded of what it’s like to be different.

On our walks about town, I’ve noticed the house numbers. I don’t know the exact fonts. Some have serifs, others do not. But across the board, the numbers are clean and clear and big enough to be visible from the street. It feels like a cohesive system.

There is a lot of street art, both colorful and subtle. I want to go home and paint the side of my house. When? I don’t know…

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And then there are the cute light switches.

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Like I said, it’s the little things!

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We walked (and walked) along the shore…

I don’t wear a Fitbit or Apple watch anymore, and data is turned off on my phone, so I have no idea how far we walked this morning, but I suspect it was 5-6 miles. Maybe it’s the sea air, but at 4 in the afternoon, I am tired!

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My photo challenge this week is sky/clouds, so I pointed my camera up a lot.

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There were a couple of these huge3 ‘pencils’ tossed about on the rocks. It is concrete and many feet long, and it is tall enough that it could serve as a bench. Catherine had no idea what they were for or where they had come from.

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We stopped for a leisurely coffee on the way home. I’m not sure when I have relaxed so much on a vacation!

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We shopped this afternoon and I bought a skirt. Simple design, made locally. Yes, I could sew it but, no, I don’t want to. It was so much nicer to know that I am supporting an Australian sewer and that I look forward to wearing that skirt for a very long time!