Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Colac - a lake, a church, and Botanical Gardens

from w
Recently we were in Colac, an hour's drive from Geelong, and it appears to be a thriving town, set on a huge lake with waves that ripple as if it is the ocean. We discovered a magnificent Botanical Gardens there near the lake (designed I think by the same man who set up the Geelong Botanical Gardens).

We also attended a funeral in one of the most beautiful modern churches I have seen, St Mary's, built in 1980 with a ceiling like a huge sunburst using beams radiating from the centre. My camera battery conked out so I couldn't take photos of inside the church as I wished - not that it's really polite to wave a camera around during the funeral of an elderly lady! But I found two photos on the internet. The outside shows a plain kind of building but inside it is full of space, light, and colour and some low-set windows with small stained glass inserts allow us to see the grass, trees and nearby lake. Way to go, different from the overdecorated neo-Gothic style where you kind-of hide from the real world.

To acknowledge the beauty of Australian landscape is important and on Monday I was delighted to meet an Australian gem of a writer, Bruce Prewer, at a meeting I was making cups of tea for. Bruce inspires us with his rewrites of psalms, his poems, his prayers to see religious faith using Australian metaphors and symbols.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Winchelsea town

from w
The other day we drove to Colac to attend a funeral of Peceli's artist friend's partner, an elderly lady. On the way we stopped for a pie and cappuccino at the lovely little town of Winchelsea, walked along the river near the old bridge, did sketches and took photos. As in many small rural towns there are 'icons' on display that refer to the agricultural history of the area, old wheels and so on. From our location in Geelong there are so many places for picnics, walks, and delightful landscapes and we are really blessed. The countryside is so green at present which gives us optimism for the future of people on the land.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

My conservative side is showing

from w
Yesterday's Age had a full page advertisement from a 'church' that used to be a fine place of worship corner of Collins and Russell Street Melbourne. Used for the Uniting Church conferences at one time, but these days the shift to 'humanism' from being 'Christian' puts them on the fringe of conservative Christian values. Life is meant to be lived well - I can go along with that, but Francis McNab, the elderly leader there, psychologist and minister, has thrown out nearly all of the 'traditional' Christian beliefs. To take out a full page in the Age is provocative of course and will appeal to many people who want to be modern. Okay, that's alright to examine Biblical stories, the magic in some of them, but I am convinced that McNab has gone too far with his 'New Faith' because it isn't faith at all, but a diminishing of the spiritual in the world to just secular. A couple of years ago he astonished many of us when his group put a billboard across a major road proclaiming that the Old Testament Commandents were terrifying and negative. It's okay I think in a discussion group to ask questions, but it is bad manners to do this and to poke fun of the historical story of Christian faith.

I wonder who paid for the advertisement which surely would have been about $14,000 for a full page in the Saturday supplement! And apparently not once but four times.

Now, I've been told, that to go to St Michael's Uniting Church on a Sunday morning, there is little to indicate heresy - there are hymns, Bible readings, organ recitals, and so on, so the text of the advertisement promoting the New Faith is inconsistent with what their worship indicates. It's a puzzlement, as someone says in a musical!

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

landscapes around Geelong

from w
The dinner is cooked and I have fifteen minutes while the adults are drinking Fiji kava with visitors and the children are playing basketball in the backyard. So I can put some sketches on this blog. I added a bit of light pastel to these pictures I made when we had a barbecue in the You Yangs and another time drove in the Barrabool Hills.

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

A thank you party

from w
Though the day started off with fog and the weather forecast said 'rain early afternoon', we were blessed with a sunny day for our backyard lovo (Fijian underground oven) as a thank you to many friends who have been kind to us over the past year. At last our son's family of five have their visas to stay in Australia and we wanted to thank a number of people by cooking chickens, dalo, pork in the Fijian way. We had about fifty people here - lots of children, old friends, and newer friends. A lovely occasion.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Richmond sketches

from w
While we were in Melbourne we did some sketches in Church Street Richmond - a view from the hotel window - spire of a church and the apartment next door where there was a false fire alarm, a nearby building typical of the 1880s, a doorway, the front verandah of the Richmond Hill Hotel. I used pens and pencils and the drawings are a bit rough. We needed time to explore more but only did sketches where there was a seat nearby!


Saturday, September 10, 2011

The streets of Richmond

from w
Peceli and I stayed at the Richmond Hill Hotel in Melbourne Friday night. It was time for a brief holiday and a chance to be able to explore the streets where my grandmother lived 130 years ago and where we had spent many Sundays at the Richmond Uniting Church for Fijian services over the years. We wanted to see the changes. The RUC was looking good with nice green paint. It's a simpler building than the Anglican and Catholic churches higher up the hill.

The place we stayed at is about 3 star, quite okay, people friendly, but a bit noisy at night with fire alarms going off in the apartment next door and huge fire trucks arriving! We put on clothes and false teeth and ran down the rabbit warren passages and five lots of stairs to have a sticky-beak. False alarm. Back upstairs, a radio clock alarm went off, then later music like mandolins came wafting down from the ceiling! Ghosts of girls when the place was a YWCA hostel for working girls in the 1880s perhaps!

The old houses in Church Street are mostly renovated and looking good, the shops in Bridge Road were alive with clients and young people (it's football of course - Geelong versus Hawthorn) and also rugby on TV in the pubs. Small single fronted cottages in parts of Richmond, once for working people, would now be sold for about $800,000. Amazing!

I took a photo of the RUC manse with the references to Papua New Guinea for the time our dear friend Rev Aminiasi was there. We had a good laugh when we saw that the peppercorn tree in the compound was alive and well. Once upon a time Peceli's car got hemmed in when someone locked up the gate near the manse and we couldn't get out except by driving over a little peppercorn tree about half a foot high. Isa lei the trouble it caused. We got a bill for $33 for a replacement. Heaven's sake - one peppercorn seed! I don't think we ever coughed up. Anyway there's a tree thriving there now.

But there's one kind of building - from maybe the 1860s - that I find really spooky and horrible - the heavy stone double storey mansions that would be good as the set of a movie where weird things happen. I always wonder what secrets these dark wall could tell.

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Family birthday - Margaret (Napier)

from w.
Yesterday Peceli and I were happy to participate in a celebration of the 80th birthday party of my cousin Margaret (Napier) so these pictures are for our extended family on the Lay side. Margaret is the daughter of Norma, my father's sister. It was a lovely afternoon with about fifty to sixty friends and close relatives of Margaret, and held at the Bruce County Hotel in Pinewood - which is near Mt Waverley. An excellent venue, fine food and easy conversation. Family connections don't happen a lot these days so it is important to catch up and remember the good times in our childhood and early years when relatives saw one another more often.


Monday, September 05, 2011

Young Geelong artists

EYE-CATCHING: Visitors enjoy local art on show in the former Dimmey's building. Photo: TONY KERRIGAN
The Butterfly Installation by Taegan Roberts at The Youth Art Exhibition Titled 'Peel Your Eyes'
from w
Nice to see the initiative of Geelong's young artists to use some of the empty spaces in the CBD of Geelong, such as this one at the former Dimmey's site.

Young Geelong artists make the most of empty retail space

| September 6th, 2011
TALENTED young Geelong artists are breathing new life into an empty space in Malop St. Peel Your Eyes, a youth art exhibition run by not-for-profit initiative SUB, is on at the former Dimmey's building until September 16. The three-level exhibition features hanging installations, video presentations, sculptures and photography by 53 local artists.

The exhibition also features a UV light installation that can only be seen at night.

Stephanie Tribe from SUB said the exhibition was a great way for local artists to show their work. Ms Tribe said the Courthouse Arts supported exhibition was the first of its kind since Geelong-based youth initiative SUB was formed in April.

One view:
"What a fantastic initiative. With the success of this event it clearly demonstrates that there is a market for this and more should be done to encourage cultural type programs. Encouraging youth, education and culture will drive the change in the CBD."

Peel Your Eyes is on daily from noon-8pm until September 16.

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Some recent drawings of You Yangs

from w
I took a sketchbook with me last week, one a drive to the Barrabool Hills area and on Saturday to the You Yangs. They were quick, not detailed and on A4 size pages. Apparently this year is International Year of Forests and that is certainly a good thing. There are many beautiful places in the vicinity of Geelong - just a drive of twenty minutes and there is green countryside, hills, forests.

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Sunday, September 04, 2011

Exploring the Youyangs

from w
These hills rise out of the plain and are in a national park reserve but visitors are allowed - if they keep to the tracks and picnic grounds. After the rains of winter everything is lush and green and ten of us in two cars spend much of yesterday there - as a Father's Day outing - a day early - with a barbecue and a hike up to the top of Flinders Peak for eight of us. A delightful day.

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