S is for Seashells and Stones

April 22, 2014 at 10:11 am | Posted in Australia, Family, Family History, Nature, Travel, Ways of Living | 4 Comments
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A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014]

seashells &stones

 

I love shells, and I love stones too; shells and stones of all shapes and sizes and textures. The beach is made up of fragments of shells and stones and many shells and various kinds of rock have their own beauty.

From the time I was about six or seven years old, we had access to the beaches of  Shellharbour and Kiama in eastern NSW. Like many kids do, I collected shells. I always wanted to create something using them, but didn’t know how.

When I was about fourteen, I worked out what I could make and drew the outline of Australia on a piece of plywood. I filled in the outline with small shells I had collected from the beach – mainly from Shellharbour. Then I drew the more complex outline of the British Isles on another piece of board and filled that in with small shells too. Both were finished with a couple of coats of varnish.

My shell map

My shell map

I hung them in my room, where they stayed until I got married and left home. I forgot all about them for a long time.  Almost 45 years later, as I was checking through a cupboard at Dad’s, I was really surprised to come across the one of Britain. It was in fairly good shape and had only lost a few of its shell.

Mum was also a shell lover, even more than I was. She  decorated objects with shells too. Dad made things from wood for her – a small wishing well and a wheelbarrow are two I particularly remember. She covered them with shells and made very attractive ornaments from them.

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Wheelbarrow: made by Dad, decorated by Mum

Mum also took things like mirrors and pictures, and dressed them up with shells – small or large, depending on the size of the mirror. I have the small mirror that hung in their bathroom for many years, and another from their bedroom. However, the one from the front room was just too big to keep!

One of Mum’s smaller mirrors

Mum also bought larger shells that she particularly liked, and a couple of wall plaques that featured seashells. Dad kept everything after she died in 1994. When he died last year, all the shell items except those that I been given, were sold as part of his estate.

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A few of Mum’s shells

After Dad retired in 1981, he and Mum made occasional trips around the state, towing a small caravan. On those trips, Mum was always on the lookout for nice shells, and rocks too. One of the pieces of rock she collected from out west served for many years as the front doorstop at their home. It now resides on our verandah.

Mum's quartz door stop

Mum’s quartz door stop

I have collected unusual stones and rocks for many years, not by following slavishly in Mum’s footsteps though. I gained a love of them after I’d been married and living out west, far from my parents for some years. I learned a bit about the types of rock, like igneous, sedimentary, metamorphic and so on, and usually had some stones and rocks around the place.

My piece of petrified tree branch.

My piece of petrified tree branch.

For a few years, Mum and Dad collected small pebbles, and Dad polished them in a tumbling machine he made himself. He made bracelets and pendants for Mum from polished stones. I now own one of each of them – nobody else among my siblings is interested.

Pebbles on the shore, Lake Macquarie, NSW.

My youngest son is a geologist – I think he loves stones too. Maybe I had some sort of influence on that – I’d like to think so.

I haven’t gone into why I love shells and stones here; maybe it would be too hard to sort out any particular reasons for it. I just know that I love their beauty, their colours, their textures and their composition, and I am amazed at their variety. Rocks are the basic component of our world, and if they weren’t here for us, we wouldn’t be here either.

 

Gorge in Karijini National Park Western Australia

Rocky Gorge in Karijini National Park Western Australia

 

Do rocks, stones, seashells affect you at all?  What do you like or even dislike about them? Do you collect natural objects, or make things from them?

 

© Linda Visman  22.04.14  (709 words)

 

 

Local Writers Showcase

August 30, 2013 at 4:04 pm | Posted in Australia, Promotion, Reading, Writing, Writing and Life | 2 Comments
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I have been very busy lately helping to organise a showcase of local writers in the Lake Macquarie area. That has means I’ve been unable to do much in the way of writing myself.
The Showcase is on tomorrow, and goes for five hours – a mini Writers Festival. I am looking forward to it. Should be a great day – and the weather is fabulous too, even though it is the last day of winter tomorrow.

Here are the details:

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Showcase Programme FINAL.2

Rathmines, NSW

August 8, 2013 at 11:30 am | Posted in Australia, History, Tourism, Travel, War and Conflict, Ways of Living | 12 Comments
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We went to nearby Rathmines recently. It is just a few km along the shore from where we live, on the western shore of Lake Macquarie. We bought a coffee at the Bakery and took it to the park next to F Jetty. There are several parks and walking paths in and around the village.

There used to be an RAAF station at Rathmines, with a squadron of Catalina flying boats based there during World War II.

Rathmines RAAF Base c1943. F Jetty is in the bay below the top left-hand corner of the photo.

Rathmines RAAF Base c1943. F Jetty is in the bay below the top left-hand corner of the photo.

F Jetty was part of the station. It was used by the boats that carried supplies and equipment to the base and out to the moored “Black Cats”, as the black-painted Catalinas were known. This squadron operated up the east coast of Australia as far New Guinea. They were low and slow flying planes, and the dull black paint provided camouflage on their night flights.

Restored Black Cat coming in to land at Rathmines Catalina Festival 2012

Restored Black Cat coming in to land at Rathmines Catalina Festival 2012

Many of the former RAAF buildings are still there.

The former RAAF buildings have been transformed into more peaceful uses now. They include a band hall (former Sergeants’ Mess), a bowling club (the former Officers’ Mess), a recently-closed aged care facility (the former RAAF hospital); a Christadelphian camp (the former barracks, relocated & grouped in their present site).

Rathmines, 2012, Bottom left – Bowling Club; Group of buildings in centre –camp run by Christadelphians; Middle right – F Jetty; the grey and white areas between the camp buildings and the jetty is where the aeroplane maintenance sheds once were (grey) next to the hard stand (white), where the Cats came up out of the water to the shore.

Rathmines, 2012, Bottom left – Bowling Club; Group of buildings in centre –camp run by Christadelphians; Middle right – F Jetty; the grey and white areas between the camp buildings and the jetty is where the aeroplane maintenance sheds once were (grey) next to the hard stand (white), where the Cats came up out of the water to the shore.

Modern-day Rathmines is just one of the many pleasant lake-side towns that are now part of the City of Lake Macquarie. The city is made up of over ninety small communities that are situated around the extensive shores of the lake.

Lake Macquarie itself is the largest coastal salt water lake in Australia. It is also the largest permanent salt water lake in the southern hemisphere. It covers an area of 110 square kilometres (42.5 sq. miles), and has 174 km (108 miles) of foreshore. It is a wonderful location for all kinds of water-based activities – sailing; cruising; fishing; water skiing, etc, as well as bushwalking, the arts and many other activities.

Rathmines is just one of the places around the lake that I love to visit, and I am really pleased that I live by this wonderful body of water.

Do you have an area that really speaks to you? Where would you live if you could?

© Linda Visman
August 2013

Catherine Hill Bay

January 13, 2013 at 10:11 pm | Posted in Australia, History, Nature, Tourism | 9 Comments
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Today, we went for a coffee. We bought take-aways and took them to Catho – Catherine Hill Bay – beach.  Catho is situated on a strip of land between the Pacific Ocean coast and Lake Macquarie, south of Newcastle, NSW. The village at Catho is still fighting against development that will change the whole aspect of the community.

Catho used to have a coal mine, and a wharf for the colliers, called ’60-milers’,  that collected the coal and carried it up the coast to Newcastle.

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You can still see one of the soal seams that brought the miners to Catho.

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The wharf remains, although rumour has it that it will eventually taken down for safety reasons.

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My husband did contract work for the mine at one stage, and loved working in the office at the end of the wharf. He sometimes saw whales and dolphins swimming under and around the piers.

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Quite a few artefacts of the mining and transport operations remain.

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The beach is a popular place for swimming, snorkelling and surfing, and a tourist attraction.

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An excellent volunteer surf life-saving group ensures the safety of beach-goers.

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Catho beach is a favourite place for us to go – rain or shine. Another of Australia’s beautiful places.

Text and photos (c) Linda Visman 13th December 2013

An A to Z of places I have been

June 9, 2012 at 12:07 am | Posted in Australia, Experiences, Nature, Writing | 4 Comments
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This post was inspired by a creative writing prompt on Strangling My Muse.

A          Armidale University, where three of my sons graduated.

Old Burra copper mine and engine house.

B          Burra, a lovely little historic country town– the longest I had lived in one place (six years) since 1968.

C         Canberra, the national capital, designed by Walter Burley Griffin, and home to many repositories of national importance.

D         Dapto, where my family came for a couple of months in 1954, after we arrived in Australia.

E          Earning a living as best I could.

F          Finding out about inland Australia on a four-month caravan trip in 1980.

G         Going into the depths of despair, and climbing out again.

Aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira

H         Hermannsburg, the birthplace of famous Aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira, where I taught for four years, and became school principal.

I          Imagining something better, and finding it.

J         Jousting with cancer and winning.

K         Kiama, which was a lovely little place when I was a child, but is now suffering the blight of urban growth.

L          Lake Macquarie, the largest coastal lake in NSW – beautiful!

M         Moss Vale, almost an English village in an Australian setting – well, it does rain a lot!

N          Narromine, where I found out the meaning of passion.

O          Observing the magnificent night sky in remote Central Australia

P          Perth, the capital of Western Australia – not so long ago the only capital city with a country town atmosphere.

Q          Queensland – coastal and inland – a state of natural beauty and destructive mining.

R          Realising a dream in the self-publishing world.

University of Sydney

S          Sydney University, which I attended for one term in 1966.

T          Teaching the children, and learning about indigenous people and life (and about myself) in the small and remote community of Ampilatwatja.

U          Underground in an old gold mine.

V         Valuing the joys of birthing and being mother to five wonderful children.

W         Wollongong, a once-thriving city, now trying to re-invent itself after losing most of the region’s manufacturing industries.

X         X-ercising my right to vote, to protest, to be involved in the life of my town, state and country.

Y         Young Hospital, where my youngest child was born.

Z          Zooming in on a Dreamtime place in the desert.

Linda Visman

8th June 2012

Dobell Park at Wangi, 9th March 2012

March 9, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Posted in Australia, Nature, Writing and Life | 2 Comments
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  The lake before me is a deep, rich blue that pales and changes to a soft gold where the water shoals over sand and pebbles near the shore. The sky’s lighter blue is daubed with fluffy white clouds that sail slowly up from the south. I see a couple of white sails in the distance – it is a perfect day to be out sailing.

The water lapping at shore has a different resonance today as it washes onto the pebbled beach. Instead of the usual shhh, there is a deeper sound; more like an eddy gurgling and echoing into a large drain, or a giant coffee percolator bubbling away.

A dainty black and white peewee saunters past my foot, and seagulls wait expectantly for morsels that I do not have. An Indian mynah hops about, picking up tidbits from the grass, whilst trying to keep balanced on its single leg.

From a nearby old eucalypt comes the tinkling call of an Eastern Rosella, almost drowned by the fractious squabbling of Noisy Miners.

I hear a rooster crow in the distance; something unusual in town these days. It brings back memories of the many years we kept fowls and relished the freshness of their eggs.

My piece of pumice

I go for a walk along the shore, looking for pieces of petrified wood. There was plenty of it around at one time I’ve been told, but collectors seem to have scavenged it all now. I do find a small piece of pumice though, extremely light and full of bubble holes; the lava must have cooled very quickly when it hit the water aeons ago.

I am constantly amazed and extremely grateful that I live in such a beautiful place. I hope that I will never take it all for granted.

 

Do you live in a place that you see as beautiful? Or is there some other place you would love to live? Do you think we too often take for granted the good things we have in our lives?

Pebbles on the lake shore

© Linda Visman, 9th March 2012

Photos: Linda Visman

 

Lake Macquarie sailing, NSW

February 29, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Posted in Australia, Experiences, Writing and Life | 4 Comments
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We find a lovely grassy spot on a hill overlooking the lake so we can watch the action, and park our folding chairs. We have come to see our Careel Association boats sail in their National Championships, but we discover at least two, and possibly three other clubs involved in their own races. The area of Lake Macquarie we can see is dotted with sails.

From a distance, the little Sabots are like white butterflies with wings folded walking on water. Our 18- and 22-foot Careels look almost clumsy by comparison, a bit like moths – though they do sail beautifully. Larger sailing boats and a few motor cruisers make their way grandly through the other racers, avoiding the delicate butterflies and the heavier moths. Small speedboats slash an occasional streak of white, cutting the lake into slices.

Then, streaking through the flotillas like a low-flying dragonfly or a scurrying water strider, comes a mini-hydrofoil under sail. Riding high on two thin legs, it zips past, back and forth, leaving everything else, even the fastest speedboat, in its hardly-discernible wake.

There has been a good breeze in the late morning, but it increases further as the afternoon wears on. The boats monitoring the race buoys dip and bob in the swell, bows to the wind, anchor chains straining – rather unsettling to sensitive stomachs.

Our lake looks a little different when viewed from the heights rather than from the shore or on our boat. We take in the white-streaked sky and hazy distances; the grey, wind-chopped waves, silver-glistening, ever-moving, studded by small whitecaps.

A boarder bends his back to his paddle, a tiny figure almost lost among the sailing boats. Occasionally, wind at his back, he manages to catch a swell and rides if for a few seconds.

A large catamaran, kevlar sails pushing it along at a good clip, is the first of the large boats’ racer to finish; the slower boats trickle in behind. The Careel 22s in our races deploy their colourful spinnakers on the downwind leg, while the slower Careel 18s goose-wing their way behind.

A speedboat trailing a water-ski-er races by, defying both the elements and the flotillas. A late arriving, screaming jet ski barges in but does not stay, preferring to move to quieter waters farther round the lake.

As the sun westers, the lake changes colour from a deep grey-blue to surging, rippling, gleaming platinum. The last race is over and it is time to pack up our seats and head home to change for the race dinner at the club. There, no doubt, successes and near misses and the joys of sailing will be the main topics of conversation.

 

Have you been in a sailing boat? Do you have water and water sports near you?  Would you like to live near a body of water or a river?

© Linda Visman

written on 29th February 2012

(The races were on 25-26th Feb)

Birds and Trees

October 31, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Posted in Gardens, Nature | 2 Comments
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You may wonder what kind of birds those are at the top of my blog page. You may also be wondering what country of the world they, and I, live in.

Rainbow lorikeets

Well, the birds are Rainbow Lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus), and the photo was taken on my verandah a few months ago. The birds are on our feeder, eating the seeds that we occasionally stock the feed-tray with. We don’t do it too often because they need to be able to forage for themselves.

At present – spring and summer – the lorikeets feed on nectar from the native plants around the district. The main blossoms they feed on now, mid spring, are bottlebrush trees (various varieties of Callistemon), and we have about half a dozen in our yard. Thus, we get to see lots of Rainbow Lorikeets.

And where in the world are we? We are in Australia; in the state of New South Wales; near the east coast, about forty-five km south of Newcastle and a hundred km north of the state capital, Sydney. We are on the western side of the largest coastal lake in the country, beautiful Lake Macquarie.

Eastern rosella

We love trees and birds, and so we make every effort to provide a habitat that is friendly to both. That means mostly native species of trees and bushes that will attract native birds. The lorikeets are not the only brightly coloured birds we have around here. We also have the much shyer Eastern Rosella (Platycercus eximius), a small parrot with a bright red head and breast and colourful wings and tail.

There are many song birds too, the main ones being the magpie (Cracticus tibicen) and the butcherbird (Cracticus torquatus), with their beautiful warbling songs. 

Kookaburra

It is the kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae) that tells us, by its raucous laughing call, that the sun is about to rise in the early morning, and it also farewells the sun each evening.

These are just a sample of the great variety of birdlife that abounds in our area. We love our trees and our birds, and will continue planting those trees and shrubs that bring the birdlife into our yard – for their benefit and for ours.

© Linda Visman

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