Sunday, September 30


One of the many great benefits of house sitting is that you get to explore other areas.  I am at Birkdale which is only 10 kms from where I have lived for many years, but now I get to spend more time exploring the areas that are close to this area.

I was going to write something about  Ormiston House and its 150 Year Celebration Concert for Weekend Notes, and decided I needed a photo or two.  So, it was off to Ormiston. Unfortunately I could not get a good photo from the street.

Still, it afforded me an opportunity to look around a little, and not far from the historic house is a historic church, which was associated with the settlers.  It is a quaint little church surrounded by wonderful trees, and looks lovingly cared for.  Seems a great place for a wedding too!

Saturday, September 29

Wellington Point

This spot on Moreton Bay has always been a favourite of mine.  When we first came to Brisbane in the 1970's, we learned that my husband's parent's had befriended a lady from Wellington Point on a trip to the UK some time earlier.  We visited Hazel on many occasions and I recall she gave me some banana plants which were potted, and we took them back to Sydney on one subsequent move and then back to Brisbane.  Some of the descendants of the the original plants were still growing at our last house, but as I am of "no fixed abode" now, I have had to say farewell to my banana plants.  One day I will grow them again.....

As I am house sitting at Birkdale which is quite close to Wellington Point,so this morning, just after the sun had risen, I set out with camera in hand to see what I could record of this area.

Just off the point is King Island a coral cay, which was declared a Conservation Park in 1994.  It is about 1 km from Wellington Point and at low tide can be easily accessed - just make sure you know the tides and don't get caught stranded on the island!  A family lived there around 1904-06 - and you can read about them here and get more information from the Wynnum Manly Historical Association.

King Island at dawn, Sept 29th, 2012
Lovely swimming area and great picnic amenities

Looking across to Manly Harbour

Park and picnic area

Wellington Point Jetty

I have already been busy at the house today - doing a few things in the garden, cleaning the pool and picking mulberies that are growing and fruiting in the back yard.  Actually it is a neighbour's tree.  

There are lovely homes in the area, and a canal estate close by.  Wellington Point is a far cry from what I recall from the early 1970's and I'd be interested in living in the area if I could find something affordable.  Dream on....

Friday, September 28

Housesitting - continuing to learn....

One thing that I note as I house sit, and seldom write about, is what one learns.  Strange things often, like a new product or service that the home owner users.   Today it was simply prunes - the lady buys them in a cardboard container with a lid (cannister)  - so can access the items easily, put the lid back on and place them in the refrigerator ready for the next time she wants to enjoy a prune.  Nothing amazing about that really - but I have continued to buy prunes in a plastic bag/type container.  She left her container in the fridge and invited me to use them as they will have passed their use-by-date when she returns. However, this brand is imported from the USA - so I am unlikely to buy them, as I prefer to use Australian products.

However information on their website about the nutritional benefits of prunes is interesting and worth reading.

Also in this house I have found that the bath towel rail in the bathroom is much higher than every other house I have been in - and I love it as I tend to use 'bath sheets' which are larger and in some places almost dangle across the floor.  In MY house I will ensure that the towel rails are higher than is normal!

Placement/height was a factor in a previous house - though it was the dishwasher.  The home owner insisted the builder of the kitchen ensure that the dishwasher was placed some 15 inches from the floor - thus allowing the owner, (who has a bad back) to fill and empty the dishwasher without having to strain her back.  Again, a brilliant idea.

I learn about different placements of items around the home, and some things I am not happy with, and others I am impressed.  Different products - from foods to utensils etc.  I hate using melamine or similar crockery - and have my own dinner set which I prefer to use rather than melamine or Corelle.  Fussy aren't I?  I like to use my own (bamboo) teatowels, and also prefer to have my (bamboo) bedsheets to sleep on.

It takes a day or so to (a) familiarise myself with keys, locks, windows, microwave oven (the one here does not have a rotating glass dish to place food on) and so on.

I like to study how folk live and work - we are all different and I like to gain new ideas.

Wednesday, September 26

Settling in .....

The last few weeks have been chaotic.  Moving out of one house sit, a few days at my daughter's place, and then off to Melbourne and then Adelaide, then back to Brisbane, a few more days at my daughter's, and yesterday moved into the house sit.

The owner of the house went off on her 8 week holiday this morning, so I am still settling in.  I feel extremely comfortable here - the house is big, great outdoor eating area, large yard, and a pool.  But there is a really good feel about it all.  I feel I have much more freedom here, though it will be a few days before I really settle in.

I have a meeting tonight, and tomorrow I am back to my volunteer post in the Information Centre at Wynnum, and then a procession on Friday for the local footy team who won the premiership.

I think by Monday I will feel really relaxed and able to write more freely, but I want to get really settled and make plans for the next 8 weeks.

This house sit is at Birkdale - some 10 or so kms from Wynnum, and I am mostly familiar with the area, but I will explore around here.  It is not far from the sea, but in a leafy suburb where the council is wanting to remove the large trees that were planted quite a few years ago, but are now causing problems as they are through the power lines, and lifting the pavement.

All is well at the moment.  I am happy here.  And Allie the dog is happy with me.

Friday, September 21

Victor Harbour and surrounds

Another fine day - well, there are often clouds and occasional rain, but when we arrive at our destination, or a place to explore the skies open up and are blue with occasional clouds and just about perfect for our adventures.

We set of on the South Road, and our first stop was at the Information Centre just before McLaren Vale.  We did explore the exhibits there and enjoyed a cup of coffee in the cafe.

The vast acres of vineyards stretching out on both sides of the road, with little cottages and great homes that have been in the area for nearly 200 years.  The skies darkened and rain threatened.

Vineyards around McLaren Vale

Hundreds of Alpacas 

Granite Island, at Victor Harbour

The sea near Victor Harbour

A Victor Harbour Seagull

Roadway at Currency Creek

Both Bev and I had spent time in these parts over the years, but just wanted to 'drive by' - we chose not to go onto Granite Island - we'd both done that many times and besides the wind was icy and strong which would have made it unpleasant.

It is wonderful to see how much history is preserved in the region, plenty of old homes and old corrugated iron sheds etc.  So wonderful to see.  We went through McLaren Vale, Victor Harbour, Goolwa, Currency Creek, and Mt Barker.

Quite a few photos - lots of memories....

Wednesday, September 19

Port Adelaide

Early today we visited Glenelg, wandering along the shops and cafes that are on both sides of Jetty Road, and we bought a sandwich in a shop and sat in the car watching the sea from just north, near the Patawalonga River which when we were children was a place that was not very attractive, but now is beautiful with a marina full of beautiful boats.

After lunch we visited a friend in nursing home - we all did our nursing training together, but sadly she is confined to a nursing home with a very debilitating illness.

Afterwards, the way home, we made a quick decision to visit Port Adelaide - though only for a brief tour.  There are some wonderful old buildings, thankfully many restored, though many more in need of repair and restoration.

Recently there must have been an artistic festival as many road signs, trees etc were decorated with knitted or crocheted items.

Tuesday, September 18

Hans Heysen's home - The Cedars

One could not visit Hahndorf without visiting Hans Heysen's home The Cedars, and we were lucky enough to arrive just moments before a tour of the old home.

It was extra ordinary with wonderful artwork by Hans or Nora (Hans' daughter) throughout every room we visited.  Unfortunately, and understandably photography is not allowed IN the house, however, it was an awesome experience to have visited the house and heard the stories of Hans, his wife Sallie and their children.  Sad stories too.

Hans' old car and his amazing 'pop top caravan'


These photos are of Hans' studio which is not far from the grand house - maybe a 2 minute walk surrounded by extra ordinary green pastures, and dotted with strange art works.


Hahndorf is a famous town in the Adelaide Hills - famous because in the early history of South Australia, it was inhabited by a wonderful group of folk from Germany.  The men went off to work and earn money leaving the women behind to bring up children, and grow crops to keep everyone.  As time went on, wonderful stone buildings were created and now on both sides of the main street of Hahndorf are wonderful stone buildings housing a wide array of wonderful shops - wine and cheese tasting, fabulous hotels, cafes and restaurants, and great accommodation.  

Along the street, and up side streets you will see wonderful stone buildings.

Old Mill Hotel

Bev's Giant Chocolate Crumble and her huge coffee

My Vanilla slice.

We went for coffee and cake at a little cafe, and Bev was served with the biggest piece of  'cake' I have ever seen on a plate.  So much, that people walking past stopped, gobsmacked at the size of the piece of cake on her plate.  Some even took photos.  We laughed and laughed.

A slab hut which is on a property which backs onto the main street of Hahndorf
We parked our yellow Hyundi Getz in the main street and walked along one side, and back along the other side, checking out the shops, tasting cheese etc.

Afterwards we went to Hans Heyson's property, The Cedars.

In the Adelaide Hills - Crafers

Bev and I had been in Brownies and later I was in Guides and we remembered the camp Paxlease, just above the small town of Crafters near Mt Lofty, so we went looking for it today on our journey to Hahndorf.  Initially we couldn't find it but then there it was in front of us.

This lovely stone building that held many memories for us.  Bev can remember coming up from Lucindale to experience life with other Brownies, and I can remember being there both as a Brownie and a Guide, in fact as a Guide I can recall that one night we sneaked out in the dark and went through the bushes to Mt Lofty!!!

It was built as the local primary school initially, but after some time deemed unsuitable as the grounds were very sloping and the classrooms were very small.  My research has determined that it was in the hands of the Girl Guide movement until 1970, when it was sold as a private home.

We are so glad we saw it.

Monday, September 17

Across the Border to South Australia

The scenery was constantly changing - small towns, bigger towns, acres of canola, farm animals, waterways, acres of green, small towns with little happening, lots of silos, silos being prepared, farms, lots of rubbish along the railway and adjacent areas.

Huge Silos

Along the way
The flats at Murray Bridge
Over the Murray at Murray Bridge
An old deserted home adjacent to Murray Bridge Station
The train was a little late getting into Adelaide, and the last part of the journey was slow through the Adelaide Hills where there had been much railway repair work, and of course too dark for photos.

How I wished I hadn't had to take the photos out of the train window - the glass reflection is always annoying but many of the photos did not show any reflection.

Arriving at Keswick is a challenge - the crowds race to collect their luggage in a crush that was reminiscent of the China bus stops, but we soon found our luggage, and set off.  Because the Overlander runs on a different gauge of rail line than the Adelaide trains, one has to get a bus from the station into the city and it was here that my friend and I parted company - she on the bus and me with my sister who was there to collect me.

(The only native wildlife we saw was a small emu around Geelong, and at two different places a kangaroo - = 3 native animals)

Sunday, September 16

The Overlander

It was quite an early start, but we set off from the Pensione Hotel to Southern Cross Station where we waiting until boarding The Overlander.  We'd paid extra to get the Red Service, which afforded us good leg room, and as it turns out a not very crowded carriage.

Eventually we set off through the outskirts of Melbourne heading towards Geelong.  The train staff came around and collected orders for breakfast which was great.

It was a long day, but we were so thrilled to have done the journey watching the scenery pass by and having a few laughs with fellow passengers and the railway staff.

One of the great vistas was the Canola growing - vast acres of brilliant yellow fields.  Wonderful views and almost magical.

We took plenty of photographs - though many marred by the reflection from the train window.

The Tulip Festival

Our next adventure was to Lilydale - we'd found information about a Tulip Festival so we decided to go there.  So we set off to go to Lilydale by train, but sorting out the trains was a challenge, with confusing information on the destination board, however after we asked a few fellow passengers we found out how to understand the trains.

It was an hour's journey to Lilydale, but most fascinating watching the scenery pass by - wonderful old homes, crappy needing repairs places, shopping complexes, graffiti, grafitti, graffiti, until we got to Lilydale.  We caught the 663 bus to the festival that took us on a journey of some 30 minutes to the festival grounds near Wandin.

I had imagined the festival to be a bit bigger, but it was spectacular with a wonderful array of flowers

We wandered around the acres of tulips which were wonderful.   There were many visitors there in national costume - folk from Turkey.  I did not know until then that tulips originally came from Turkey - hence the Turkish connection.  In fact this weekend is the Turkish Festival there with music, food etc from that part of the world.

Lunch was in one of the many tents - and soon after we had lunch we decided to catch the bus back to Lilydale.

Back to Lilydale and another bus - this time a much shorter ride, to the Lilydale Campus of Swinburne University - which is the university through which I did my Masters, but this was the first time I had been on the campus or even met up with anyone from Swinburne.

The campus is closing down in 2013, so I am glad I have been there - it is wonderful really with fabulous views.