Brisbane: Southbank, sun, shade, food and green spaces..

We recently left our lovely garden visitors, the King Parrots, and flew to Queensland to escape Canberra’s cold weather and to enjoy a family holiday …

Queensland has a tropical and subtropical climate, and for those of us who live in the southern states, winter is the perfect time to visit this part of Australia.

Our first stop was the city of Brisbane, a friendly and relaxed city of about 2.4 million people.

We stayed at Southbank, overlooking the city and along the Brisbane River.

Southbank has restaurants, gardens, river walks, ferry rides, water play for children….something for everyone.

Here along the River Quay, we arrived just in time for the last day of a local festival celebrating the food grown around this area. I wish we had been here earlier to write more about this festival…another time.

Despite the Canberra winter, I am always looking for shade in hot weather, and this was a perfect promenade for people to sit, walk or ride bikes along the river.

After my accident earlier in the year, ( being knocked over by a rogue cyclist in Austria)  I am, for the first time, a bit nervous of bikes.

However, Southbank is designed for all. There is a second extra wide path, easy for walkers, and prams and strollers, and people who just want to stroll along with a camera, or to sit under the trees and watch the world going by….

I loved the curved paths around the water features, space for children to play and splash in water fountains, and for adults to sit close by and enjoy some food and the subtropical warmth and greenery.

The town planner’s attention to shade was obvious….(Australia has a very high rate of skin cancers)

This Arbour is a shady walkway going the whole length of Southbank, made from 406 curling galvanised posts, all covered with Bougainvillea..

My photo shows some flowering bougainvillea but the photo below shows just how lovely this walkway can look, and how cool in summer…  it is used constantly by the locals and tourists alike as a connection between the ferries going to and from the city..

The Arbour : Photo by Tjunction Media -Oz Roamer

Mature trees have been used for shade and design

 In the centre of Southbank there is the Epicurious Garden, for foodies, garden enthusiasts and children …

This garden, with lots of herbs and vegetables, is for people to see, feel and smell and taste all that is in the garden.  All plants are grown organically and there are volunteers available to talk about the gardens and methods used.

Every Tuesday to Thursday morning, free produce is available from the gardens….this is done on a ”first come, first served, basis”.

I enjoyed seeing plants I haven’t seen since my childhood…(I was brought up in Central Africa)

Here is the Guava tree…..I had a flashback to the many long hot afternoons I sat with friends under shady trees just like these, eating Guavas.

I believe guavas are very high in Vitamin C…..who knew in those days!

The Goodwill Bridge is shaped to capture the views of the Brisbane River and the shoreline.

 

There is a pedestrian walkway which links Southbank to the city’s Botanic Gardens. There is even a coffee shop at midpoint if you are walking across the bridge.

Photo by Visit Brisbane

After a hard day of walking and looking at gardens…the food choices in Southbank were wonderful……..such a positive refection of a multicultural city.

So here are the decisions we had to make every night… Italian, Turkish, Mexican, Indian, Creole, French, Vietnamese, fish and chips, and burgers.

We tried a few, all good, but the Turkish was up there with the best…

This dessert was called Baklava (better known to me as Lady Fingers) with wonderful soft pastry, dripping with nuts and honey, a glass of wine and a refreshing apple tea to finish it off.

….which restaurant would you choose?

The perfect end of the day spent in Southbank….. the city’s green spaces,  designed and built by town planners and architects for the people.

Copyright: Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

Canberra in winter: Parrots, the Lake, and Edmund Barton, first Prime Minister of Australia

Canberra has a crisp blue-sky beauty in winter…..and for those of us who live in leafy suburbs, it is all about the birds that visit our gardens, and brighten a cold day.

Winter is the time for King Parrots in our garden…. and this year they are searching, in particular, for fresh water. Almost every morning they check the gutters of our cabin for frosty water pools warmed by the morning sun.

Although King Parrots are relatively large, they are sweet, shy birds, always in pairs, and easily frightened away..

Once they have had a drink, they often fly to the Japanese Maple, right near the sunroom window…

Look at the beautiful red and dark green markings on the tail and underbelly of this bird, as David Attenborough says, the natural world is so full of beauty…

Our regular Sulphur Crested Cockatoos are also looking for water..

…and, rather like school inspectors, they investigate the garden thoroughly

and we are found wanting …….

Where are the bird baths?

What happened to all the almonds?

I have the feeling we are getting zero out of ten for this old bird bath..

Hardly any water, shabby looking, almost toppling over..

The only reason we are here is because your neighbours are neglecting theirs…

The birds are great fun to watch while I am resting and waiting for my wrist to mend. Many thanks for all the well wishes, my wrist is now almost back to normal, and all is well.

Apart from watching birds from the sunroom window, I have been catching up on some reading,

This book, called ”The Good, the Bad, and the Unlikely”  is a very short history of Australian Prime Ministers.

It is written by the irreverent and humorous journalist Mungo Maccallum.

Commonwealth Avenue Bridge. Some of the flat stones from London’s Waterloo Bridge (when it was demolished) were donated to this bridge when it was built in 1963.

Inspired by my reading, I wanted to take a photo of the statue of Edmund Barton, the first Prime Minister of Australia. His statue is appropriately in the suburb of Barton, and we decided to incorporate a walk around Commonwealth Park, near the centre of the city, before taking the photo.

Despite being a clear winter’s day, there was a biting cold wind, and all walkers and cyclists have long abandoned the Lake and are warming up in coffee shops all over Canberra.

Commonwealth Avenue Bridge, Lake Burley Griffin, and the Captain Cook Memorial

The Captain James Cook Memorial is combination of the water jet, and a terrestrial globe, and commemorates the bicentenary of Captain Cook’s landing on the east coast of Australia in 1770. The three routes of Cook’s voyages, are inscribed on the surrounding handrail.

The stunning jet  of water always attracts the eyes of tourists, especially children.  Many years ago, as a young teacher in Canberra, I met up with friends and we hired a little boat, and rowed around the fountain.

We were thrilled to get thoroughly wet by the jet spray……they seem such innocent times now!

The above photo was taken in winter a few years ago…the photo below was July 2018, absolutely freezing…..even the resident pelican looked downcast.

However, a pair of Crimson Rosellas were steadily eating their way through some scattered seeds from overhanging trees.

Across the lake from Commonwealth Park there is a view of Old Parliament House (now the Museum of Democracy) and behind it,  Parliament House today (under repair as the roof has been leaking).

Here is another, much closer, photo of Parliament House. Much clearer without the repair work tent over the roof!

And here is the handsome statue of Edmund Barton….

According to Mungo Maccallum, Australia’s first Prime Minister, Edmund Barton had one unique quality…he managed to unite a fractious group of politicians and colonies into creating a federation… in Mungo’s words..

Like most of their descendants, this motley bunch (the politicians at the time) were driven by a combination of idealism and self-interest, and getting them to agree on anything substantial was like herding a football team into a temperance meeting room.

Politicians all over Australia, agreed to become… as Barton says,

”a nation for a continent, and a continent for a nation

What a talent! I wonder how successful he would be if he tried that today!

Here is another sculpture of Edmund Barton, which is in The Prime Ministers’ Avenue, set in the magnificent Horse Chestnut Avenue of the Gardens in Ballarat. Well worth a visit, in every season.

https//ballaratbotanicalgardens.com.au

 

 

I hope you are enjoying your green spaces, where ever you live in the world….each season has a beauty of its own.

 

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved

 

Vienna, Stadtpark…and an untimely end to our holiday…

In June, we left Canberra on a chilly winter morning for a long planned holiday.

Paul was giving a paper at a conference in Switzerland in early July, so why not go to Austria and Switzerland in June? Paul had not been to either of these countries, and I had only been once, many years ago.

Photos of Vienna

Vienna was very high on the list of places to visit, and after an interesting tour of the city, we stopped off at Stadtpark .

This beautiful park is divided into two sections by the Vienfluss (Vienna River)

Photo by Trip Advisor

The park was designed in the style of English gardens and opened in 1862.

Scattered through the park are statues of famous Viennese artists, writers and composers…

The plants in the gardens were chosen to provide colour and interest in all seasons…….some groves are, Ginkgo, Honey Locust, Pyramid, Poplars…

The Kursalan is an opulent building in the historic style of the Italian renaissance.

A wide Terrace built into the park is attached to it.

Amusements were initially prohibited, but in October 1868 Johann Strauss gave his first concert, in the Kursalan…

Johann Strauss wrote some of the waltz classics  (The Blue Danube) and, although this music was, at first considered “frivolous” by serious musicians, it was, gradually, through its growing popularity, given the respect it deserves.

Statue of Johann Strauss

In fact we were told on a tour, that waltzing was so popular, and women so reluctant to give up dancing while pregnant, that special rooms were made available nearby in case a woman needed to give birth while dancing! (and frequently happened, apparently)

Seems extraordinary !

We strolled through this beautiful park on a gloriously warm day, watching the people of Vienna enjoying their weekend.

 

Everyone seemed to be eating ice-creams, but this time I settled for a Vienna-Styled Iced Coffee (without the Baileys!)

….What a lovely day…so far..

 

…unfortunately soon after that, while standing in the pedestrian lane at a busy intersection by the station, I was knocked over by a cyclist.

An ambulance ride and long hospital visit later, we learnt I had a broken wrist which would need to be operated on as soon as possible….

Naturally we wanted to come back home to have this done…and so began the long journey back to Australia….

We had landed in Munich, and spent a few days there, and then visited Vienna for a few days. Goodbye to Salzburg, Switzerland and Paul’s conference.

Back in Munich for the flight home

During times of unexpected trouble and stress it is easy to forget all the kind people who are there along the way….we will be contacting all to give them our thanks.

The biggest thanks of all goes to Paul, who spent all night cancelling accommodation/train travel and that was just the beginning… getting us back to Munich for our new flight was a mission in itself…

.. and he missed out on the Swiss conference….what a pity!

I shudder to think how it would have been if I was in charge of getting us back home!

 

Bike riders and big cities

I have friends, and know people of all ages who ride bikes. They enjoy riding and are very responsible riders. I am greatly in favour of cutting down pollution levels in cities, and my general impression in Munich and in Vienna was that bike riders were courteous and rode well in the city.

However, since arriving home many friends and fellow travellers have mentioned being frightened by bike riders (especially in Amsterdam).

Popular destinations now have immense pedestrian tourist traffic, especially at major city intersections where traffic meets. Is it reasonable for bike riders to cycle at the same speed coming towards these major intersections?

If cars are registered…why not bikes?

It is a modern day dilemma and hopefully can be resolved.

 

Copyright: Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canberra’s Space Station, koalas and kangaroos…all on a summer’s day

Canberra is a city surrounded by bush, so it is possible to visit or work at Parliament House, and then drive out of the city into the bush within a very short time.

Last summer we had family and friends visiting our city, so we decided to take them into the bush, rather than the usual tourist places.

We live very close to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, a great place to see native wildlife in their own environment …….

However, not far away, from this Reserve, on 50 hectares (120 acres) is the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex. It shares the Tidbinbilla valley with several sheep and cattle properties…..as incongruous as this sounds!

Exploring our solar system and beyond

This space station is part of the NASA’s Deep Space Network that spans the globe.

As the earth rotates, three sites, Goldstone, California, Madrid, Spain and Canberra, Australia provide 24 hour coverage of the solar system.

When we arrived on this cloudy morning, two of the satellite dishes were facing the sky…

The Space station provides two-way radio contact with dozens of robotic spacecraft and space telescopes exploring our solar system and beyond..

There is a viewing platform where we sat and drank our coffee while we watched a second dish move slowly down…

and as the sun came out and the clouds disappeared, the dish turned slowly and gracefully towards us. Quite a sight…

While we watched, many birds flew backwards and forwards, completely undisturbed and in fact, some Starlings perched on the dish, and stayed there while it moved around. Birds have amazing ability to adapt to their environment don’t they?

The Space Station has an excellent Information Centre, and I realised it deserved a much more detailed post, which I hope I can do in the next year.

However, for a complete change of pace….

….we had also promised our guests a viewing of the some young koalas nearby in the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve…

This handsome young koala is called Billa, and he is one of a few koalas born at Tidbinbilla during the last few years, in a new breeding program started after the appalling bushfires in and around Canberra in 2003.

The koala in the photo below looks as if he has a thick furry black hat on, but this is actually another koala sleeping peacefully behind him.

We were lucky enough to see Billa climb down and hitch a ride with his Mum. This didn’t last long before she gently shook him off……tough love!

On the way out of the koala enclosure, we saw this kangaroo, completely oblivious of us…

As we drove back to the centre of the city, the sky looked promisingly as if it might rain..

and sure enough, as we sat by the lake having a glass of wine, there was some light rain…

and then this magnificent rainbow appeared  just near the Australian Museum

Most people had packed up their picnic suppers and left when the rain came….but the few that stayed were stunned by the sight

This little girl was pointing the to height of the rainbow, little knowing the pot of gold was nearby..

After the rainbow came this glorious sunset…..a wonderful way to end a day of sight-seeing…

I hope you are getting a few rainbows in your life, and perhaps some magnificent sunsets as well!

For those interested in koalas, I have written a previous post about koalas at Tidbinbilla…..

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, fire, rain, water and new life

 

Copyright: Geraldine Mackey All Right Reserved.

Canberra in Autumn …the gentlest season of the year

When the long hot summer is over, autumn is most welcomed in Australia.

Here are two verses from  Dorothea McKellar’s beautiful poem called

Australian Autumn

Rowing on an early autumn morning across Lake Burley Griffin near the Carillon

This is the gentlest season of the year,

From mists of pearl and gold

Lake Tuggeranong looking over the Brindabella Mountains

The slow sweet hours unfold…

fishing in Lake Burley Griffin near King’s Avenue bridge

To crystal colours, still

Canoeing on the lake near Yarralumla..

as a glass, but not so chill..

All birds speak softly in the autumn bush..

Crimson Rosella

 

King Parrots

And so the mellow day flows on to dusk.

and loveliness that grows

From skies of mauve and rose,

While fragrant smoke-plumes lie

Subtle as a memory.

Isn’t autumn a wonderful season? I hope you are enjoying your season, where ever you are in the world.

I have a few busy weeks coming up and I won’t be able to post, but I will read your posts and enjoy keeping up with your worlds.

 

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mystery Bay, Spotted Eucalyptus, Kookaburras and an historic village

On any given morning Canberrans wake up to the sound of Magpies warbling…a lovely song.

If you drive over the mountains to Mystery Bay  on the south coast of New South Wales…

you can hear an entirely different song sheet… that of the Kookaburra.

This bird is the largest member of the Kingfisher family, and is known as the Laughing Kookaburra, because of its raucous dawn call…almost always done in chorus with the whole family.

The name, the Bushman’s Clock was given to the Kookaburra by early settlers because every morning at dawn and then again at sunset the Kookaburras call could be heard.

This is still true today. My parents lived in an area surrounded by Eucalyptus trees and when we visited them, the Kookaburras woke us up earlier than our children!

We are spending a weekend with good friends,  relaxing amongst these magnificent Spotted Eucalyptus trees…

This graceful tree is smooth and cream in colour with grey spots coloured from older bark. The light changes on the bark depending on the time of day..

Sometimes the trunk of the tree looks like grey green silk..

 

 

 

 

 

The Spotted Gums (as they are known) have clusters of fragrant white flowers from autumn to winter. These flowers attract the birds, (especially the Rainbow Lorikeets) and honey bees.

(I can’t imagine the honey bees getting a look-in today with all the Rainbow Lorikeets here)

While we were in Mystery Bay the Rainbow Lorikeets could be heard calling and feeding on the flowers…occasionally coming into the garden to bathe or drink in the birdbaths.

They are canny little birds and here they have reversed into the birdbath, for a quick get-away if needed.

Under the Spotted Gums the Satin Bower bird is looking almost iridescent in the sunshine..

Here is his nest and lots of blue objects to impress the female in his life..

….I hope she is impressed!

Nearby is a plant called Heliotrope, and it is known for its wonderful vanilla scent, almost as if a cake is baking nearby….. I was hoping we could grow this in Canberra, but it doesn’t tolerate frost very well.

Whenever we go to Mystery Bay we visit the markets in the nearby  picturesque historic town of Tilba Tilba.

Traditional owners of the land are the Yuin people and their dreamtime stories live on in the dramatic rocks and volcanic landscape. Gulaga mountain is the sacred mother mountain of the region.

Historic town of Tilba: Eurobodalla Tourism photo

European settlement began in the 1800s. The rich volcanic soil around the mountain was ideal for dairy farming.  Later gold was found in the surrounding mountains, and this brought prosperity and more settlement to this region.

The historic town of Tilba is now full of  galleries, traditional crafts, coffee shops and cafes, and markets on Saturday.

When we visit the markets I usually buy some jam and chutney, and warm knitted clothes. I bought a soft felt lined pure wool beanie (hat) for the winter and a knitted hat for my granddaughter.

The gold mining dwindled in the early 1900s..

but the diary industry continued and thrived, and Tilba became the home of some world famous cheeses.

ABC Cheese Factory: Photo from Eurobodalla Tourism

On the way home we passed a farm set at the foot of Gulaga Mountain.(Mt Dromedary)

This farm was used in the filming of the TV series, River Cottage Australia (taken from the British series of the same name)  The series was about sustainable farming, growing produce to sell locally, cooking and sharing food and farming skills. The local community were often part of the film crew.

Once the series had finished, the house and contents were sold, and, Paul West, the central character of the show, said all the animals found good homes!

On our travels around Tilba we also found (surprise surprise) the Tilba Nursery…full of interesting plants..

With our new garden border just waiting to be filled by new plants, we couldn’t resist these two plants. The nursery man assures me they are hardy and frost tolerant.

Eryngium planum “Silver Santino” and Cephalonia alpina

There is just time to get back to Mystery Bay for a walk along the beach, on a glorious autumn afternoon….

It is amazing just how many world problems you can solve while walking on a lovely beach with  old friends…

I hope you are enjoying your green spaces where ever you are in the world….

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

 

Corella-geddon……..borders and companion planting…

Corellas are the slightly smaller cousins of Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, and when they  come to town, everybody knows about it…

They screech, strip leaves and bark in search of food, undo lamp post wires to swing on them, and they are up for a party any time!

Sam Dooley from Bird Life Australia says ”they are extremely intelligent birds who are able to adapt and exploit new food resources”  Corellas in Canberra (and elsewhere in Australia)  have developed a penchant for the seed pods of the Liquidambar, and the Oak trees, traditionally northern hemisphere trees.

They are destructive and entertaining in equal measure.

Well, just as long as they haven’t discovered our garden.. because look who’s coming….

Autumn is the time cockatoos fly in to our garden to check out our almond tree.  Thanks to Paul for taking this incredible photo as the cockatoo flew into the garden…

The cockatoos haven’t visited too often this autumn, perhaps because they prefer their almonds soft and soggy from the rain and we haven’t had any rain since February. We are hoping May will be rain month…

Meanwhile, Paul, who is just in the last stages of finishing his PhD, decided to clear about one quarter of the back garden, (he says it is a good counter balance to studying) . The plan is to change a very overgrown tired area, with a winding path and new plants along the borders.

Magpies are very tame and great gardening companions….that is, if you are clearing, rather than planting..

They dig away looking for grubs and take a great interest in the gardening routine.. as you can see they are very low key compared with Corellas.

At the rear of the above photo is a water tank, it is attached to the carport roof, and rain water drains from the  gutters into the tank…  (we have a second much bigger tank near the house) These two tanks have provided enough rain water for most of the back garden this summer.

Here is Paul’s cleared border…looking great, and ready for new plants. The Photinias on the right hand side will be trimmed right back at the end of May.

The magpie on the archway is really enjoying a shower, what could be better after a bit of companion gardening..

Meanwhile I had a much smaller project on hand…moving some of the succulents, which, after summer are spilling out of their pots.

I put an ornamental white agapanthus in the middle of this old birdbath, and some succulents and pebbles around it. One of the younger magpies spent a bit of time watching me… as the Aussie saying goes..  she was having a ”stickybeak”.

…. I left to have lunch on the deck.. and started filling in my new ” Five year Garden and Planting Diary”

and when I looked into the garden, she had pulled out one of the agapanthus. I suppose if it was good enough for me to pull plants out of pots, it must be worth  trying for her…

She is warbling at me (gently) here, to tell me that this is her territory..

and she looked so determined to try again that I resorted to putting the newspaper over the top of the new creation, while I finished writing in my diary.

The things you do for birdlife….

The succulents are safely on the deck now…

and all is well in the autumn garden..

….except for water….that most precious commodity for much of Australia.

Crossing fingers for May..

 Finally the weather has cooled into the gentle golden sunshine that is autumn in Canberra, and often accompanied by beautiful sunsets..

The kind of weather that inspires you to stand in the garden every morning and sing

”Oh what a beautiful morning..”

I hope you are enjoying spring or autumn/fall in your part of the world, and singing…

 

Copyright: Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

The Snowy Mountains, a walk amongst the wild flowers and snowgums..

Canberra, the capital of Australia, was created to appease the established cities of Melbourne and Sydney…..both of whom thought they should be the capital!

UK Net Guide photo

As a result Canberrans are lucky enough to live in a small manageable size city….. not too far away from big cities…and with two other holiday choices, the pretty South Coast beaches, and the Snowy Mountains, which is the highest Alpine Region in Australia.

In the summer time, Paul and I often come to Lake Crackenback, which is just outside Kosciuszko National Park, to enjoy the cooler mountain air, and to do some walking and see the alpine flowers.

self designated umpire looking for players

Lake Crackenback has a Lodge and some self-contained apartments, and nearby the kangaroos are frequent visitors.

These kangaroos easily hop over fences to graze on the lawns, but will also hop away if you come too close.

We drove from Crackenback up to Charlotte’s Pass amidst flower-covered borders along the road….for me this is reminiscent of Scotland (where my father was born)

We took the walk  from Charlotte’s Pass down to the head waters of the Snowy River seen below….Paul had ideas of walking up the path on the other side which goes to the Blue Lake…..but I thought we should quit while we were ahead!

These Alpine plants cope with harsh conditions during the winter….

and then create this patchwork of colour during summer..

The yellow flowers, Billy Buttons. 

Australia is the only country in the world where a single genus of tree, Eucalypt (commonly called gum trees), occurs from the desert to the mountains, to the sea.

The Snow-gum trees are very imposing, often looking dramatically twisted and stunted, and able to repair themselves from wind and snow damage.

The Silver Snow Daisy makes a lovely carpet of flowers beneath the Snow gums.

It is impossible to go past one of these trees without touching the silk-smooth trunk and branches.

The sign nearby says  ”these grandfather trees are two or three hundred years old. Aboriginal tradition says that the spirits of the ancestral travellers live in these warraganj (old snow-gums)”

The water here is cool and clear…a lovely place to stop and take some photos..

Australia is such a dry country, water is always a delight to see..

Time to turn back….unfortunately what comes down……must go up….

However, the scenery along the way is worth it..

Meanwhile, at Lake Crackenback, the kangaroos are snoozing on the edge of the golf course…..amazing really..

and near our self-contained accomodation…we’ve interrupted a bit of grazing on the grass

”where have you been?”

Just as well we walked that day, the next morning the Scottish weather had rolled in… dramatic and beautiful in its own way…

Many thanks for dropping by to read about my place in the world, and I hope you are enjoying your own green spaces, city or country,  where ever that may be….

 

Copyright: Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved

 

 

New Zealand’s resilient spirit in the city of Napier

It is hard to imagine anything positive resulting from a massive earthquake destroying a town, as happened to Napier in 1931.

Gilray Fountain and ”The Spirit of Napier”

It is testimony to the New Zealand spirit, that they faced the destruction of their town, with 260 people killed, by starting again.

Napier is now a lovely seaside city on the east coast of the North Island with unique Art Deco buildings in the centre of the city, as was the style in 1931. The silver lining is a popular Art Deco festival held every year.

We have missed the festival, but we’re up early to walk along the Marine Parade Reserve.

Ecliptic: Artist David Trubridge. To find the point where the sun rose at the start of the Millennium, follow a line from this rock through the centre of the arch to the horizon.

The Reserve runs along the edge of the sea, and is lined with interesting gardens, sculptures, huge Norfolk Island Pines, and wooden homes lining the streets…

The National Aquarium has a stingray-inspired shaped roof, and while we were there, a group of seagulls sat very still on the roof, no doubt enjoying  the early morning sun as much as we were.

This life-like bronze sculpture is called Trawlermen,  and is dedicated to the commercial fishermen who toiled at sea.

The Trawlermen by artist Alan Strathern. He won an award for this sculpture in 1972.

The aquarium has an impressive amount of fish, piranhas, terrapins, eels, kiwi, tuatara….and snorkellers can even swim with the sharks…needless to say, I’m much happier watching the seagulls.

Further along is a wonderful statue, fountain and garden…even more special in this morning light.

The statue, by Hungarian-born artist Franc Szirmay was inspired by the Art Deco period to design the form of an upward reaching young woman which represents Napier rising from the ashes in 1931. It is made in silicon bronze, and called ”Spirit of Napier”.

At the base of the statue is a fountain, which is not turned on this morning….but is an eye-catching feature at night when it is lit up. This sculpture and fountain are near the entrance to the city…a lovely welcome.

The fountain at sunrise..

Paul took this great photo, just as the sun was rising…

…wish you could have been there..

Distant views of Cape Kidnappers

The sun was shining by the time we walked back along the Parade to the storm water outlet, and interesting jetty..

A great place to watch the cruise ships and tankers passing by..

Napier is a pretty city, full of gardens, trees and shrubs, and colour..

This flower looks as if it comes from the Poinsettia family, but I have never seen one with young red/pink leaves, and then older, green/grey larger leaves… perhaps someone knows the name of this one?

In the centre of the Marine Parade is a sunken garden,

and a waterwheel built in 1911, owned by a farming family and donated to the garden by Mrs H Philip.

It was first used on the farm to power the milk separator and butter churner, then it was harnessed for shearing, sawing wood and pumping water…and in 1915 it was coupled with a dynamo generating electricity for the next 15 years…….what an amazingly useful wooden wheel!

Recycling at its best…

Miss Williams led the ''New Napier Week Carnival'" in 1993 to celebrate the town's recovery from the earthquake.

A wave in time: The story of Sheila Williams, and her dog Raven. (daughter to Ernest Williams on of the architects of the post-earthquake re-built area.)

Napier’s  Art Deco Festival is in February. During this time  people dress up, drive around in vintage cars, and and enjoy a festive time ..

Emporium. Photo from Trip Advisor.com.au

We had missed the festival, but, we hoped we hadn’t missed the fish restaurants… as we always try to sample some local fish dishes when we are at the coast.

It was worrying to notice how many people were looking at menus in restaurant windows that evening, just as we were….

Emporium and Art Deco Masonic Hotel…photo by Napier Sunrise

The fish restaurant we chose was booked out, (and that is the last time I’m going to be the one to hesitate)  but we noticed very nice fish dishes being served in the Emporium, which is also a gastro pub.

As we waited to be seated, I said to the waitress, ”do you think you could find us a quiet spot?”…..then I added ”only joking!”

…how could I ask for such an impossible thing!

In the nature of all New Zealanders we met, the waitress was very friendly and obliging,  and went off to discuss this with the boss. Very soon we were ushered us into the Emporium lounge, which surely must be kept for very special occasions during the Festival.

Emporium: The Lounge photo by Tripadvisor.com.au

We felt very under-dressed in our shorts and sandals….. but oh the joy of sinking into the velvet king size seats after a day of walking.

What a feast! The fish and chips and salad were divine, we enjoyed more New Zealand wine,(that is becoming a theme) and we could hear ourselves talk.

We sank further into the seats, and lingered gratefully on…

 

 

Happy (belated) Easter to everyone and hope you are having time to enjoy sunrises, sunsets and green spaces….

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wellington: Botanic Gardens, fish pie, and a cyclone…

We recently visited Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, on the southern tip of the North Island. From the waterfront promenade we could see the craggy shorelines, dotted with houses and sailing boats.

Just as we arrived, we heard Wellington was expecting the tail end of a cyclone that had devastated the Pacific Island of Tonga.

However, all was calm, and we had a few plans..

One of the attractions of the city is catching the little red cable car that clatters up the steep slope to the top of the Botanic Gardens…you can then wander down through the gardens,  all the way down to the Harbour….

Paul took this photo on the way up the hill (in my view, a mountain). The weather, we had to admit, wasn’t looking great.

We began our Botanic garden walk in the tracks of the original forest..

As I mentioned in my last post, many parts of New Zealand were used for the filming sites for the Lord of the Rings trilogy….

and quite often we felt we were entering Middle Earth territory….

This map shows New Zealand, Australia, India, Africa, South America, and Antarctica once formed a land mass called Gondwana.

Gondwana broke up about 167 million years ago and trees from the Araucaria family were spread all over these countries and continents.

Today trees, including the South American monkey puzzle, the Australian Moreton Bay fig and the Norfolk pine, are found across the southern hemisphere. Many of these trees were found in the Botanic gardens.

Monkey Puzzle Tree

Wellington’s Botanic garden was established in 1868, and has native and exotic trees, succulent gardens, seasonal displays of bulbs and annuals……something for everyone! (and all growing on the side of the mountain.)

I felt as if I was in South Africa, in particular Cape Town, walking around the succulent gardens..

The Aloes plants are welcome source of food in winter for insects and native birds such as Tui,  they love the nectar.

My favourite flower, seen frequently in NZ, seems to grow wild in some places…

Kaka Beak

The  succulent below looks a bit space age to me…

Haemanthus (Blood Lily)

 

Dwarf Pohutukawa

There were bee hives tucked away in all the garden beds..

Paul took a photo from our path across to Druid Hill where we could see a large copper sculpture called Listening and Viewing Device: Andrew Drummond 1994.  When the structure was first built, the original plan was to lift the two pieces into place by a helicopter, but the weight was more than estimated, (over a tonne)  and another more heavy duty helicopter sent from New Plymouth had to finish the job!

..back into Middle Earth again with these wonderful tree ferns…

this path led on to curved shady borders of Agapanthus, Hydrangeas, Rhododendrons, Irises…sadly the flowers are mostly spent now that summer is nearly over..

Along with the spring bulbs this must be a wonderful spring/early summer garden to visit.

After that long and interesting walk through the gardens we felt we had earned an evening meal at the Waterfront.

Wellington is not only the capital of New Zealand, but is also a University town, so we were spoilt for choice when it came to choosing a place to eat.

 

Charlie Noble (Eatery and Bar) looked great…… local ingredients,  wood-fired  grills, and rotisserie, natural wine and craft beer…

I tried the House Pot fish pie, and no, I didn’t see the word large anywhere on the menu! ….actually the pastry gently deflated into the wonderful fish dish.

New Zealand wine and local craft beers…….. how could we resist!

Fortunately we did enjoy our meal on the Waterfront, because the next morning, looking out of the window of our hotel room, onto the Botanic Gardens….the rain and wind from the cyclone had hit Wellington. We were hotel bound for a short while.

Perhaps because I live in the driest continent on earth,  my first thought, when I looked out of the window was….”well at least the Botanic Garden is getting some rain”

…and some!

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.