Tags: family activities, hobbies, Karijini National Park Western Australia, Kiama, Lake Macquarie, ornaments, rocks, seashells, Shellharbour, shells, stone polishing, 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
Tags: Catherine Hill Bay, coal mining, colliers, east coast Australia, Lake Macquarie, mining, mining village, Newcastle NSW, tourist areas, wharfs
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.
You can still see one of the soal seams that brought the miners to Catho.
The wharf remains, although rumour has it that it will eventually taken down for safety reasons.
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.
Quite a few artefacts of the mining and transport operations remain.
The beach is a popular place for swimming, snorkelling and surfing, and a tourist attraction.
An excellent volunteer surf life-saving group ensures the safety of beach-goers.
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
Tags: Aborigines, Ampilatwatja, Armidale, Burra, Canberra, Central Australia, Dreamtime, Hermannsburg, Kiama, Lake Macquarie, Moss Vale, Narromine, night ski, night sky, Perth, Sydney, Wollongong
This post was inspired by a creative writing prompt on Strangling My Muse.
A Armidale University, where three of my sons graduated.
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.
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.
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.
Z Zooming in on a Dreamtime place in the desert.
8th June 2012
Tags: birds, gratitude, Lake Macquarie, petrified wood, pumice, sailing, Wangi Wangi
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.
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?
© Linda Visman, 9th March 2012
Photos: Linda Visman
Tags: Australia, Lake Macquarie, sailboats, sailing, water sports, yachting
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)
Tags: Australia, conservation, Eastern rosella, environment, kookaburra, Lake Macquarie, native birds, native trees, natural environment, Newcastle NSW, Rainbow lorikeet
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.
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.
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.
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