Canberra to Jindera Pioneer Museum: off the beaten track

Spring is on its way in Australia, and the rolling fields around Canberra are full of bright yellow Canola (rapeseed) crops and soft green grass …..wonderful to see.

On our recent trip from Canberra to Melbourne, we decided to go off the beaten track and enjoy the scenery. As good luck would have it, we also found a fascinating pioneer museum in a small town called Jindera. (not far from Albury)

Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the area around Jindera was inhabited by the Wiradjuri people.

The explorer Hamilton Hume came to the Jindera area in 1824, but it was another 40 years before the first German settlers arrived, having trekked from Adelaide to Jindera in horse drawn wagons.

These settlers were fleeing religious persecution in Germany, and the land around Jindera offered fertile soil and a regular water supply.

We regularly drive from Canberra to Melbourne, and the journey takes about 8 hours, with a break for coffee, and another break for a tasty country lunch.

Just imagine those poor German settlers trekking from Adelaide (in the state of South Australia) to Jindera (on the New South Wales border with Victoria) in horse drawn wagons!

In 1874 Johann Rosler and Peter Wagner built a store and a three-roomed residence known far and wide as the Wagner’s Store. Nearly a century later, with the strength of the local community, the Wagner store and residences were restored and made into a museum.

The volunteers in the community range in ages from 65 to 93, and over one-third of them have been here since the early days. The museum recreates the culture of the early German settlers, and is much loved by all historic groups and school children and tourists. Not to mention their famous Tea Room, which I believe is open every Sunday for Devonshire tea with a variety of sweet and savouries. (I bet all is homemade!)

The rooms of the museum are full of photos, clothing, furniture, needlework and much loved personal artefacts donated by the families of early settlers.

It is astonishing to think that women sewed such elegant clothes, despite the rough living conditions, and the heat, dust and rain!

The museum has a pretty garden and is surrounded by museum sheds. A very popular part of the museum is the Machine Working Shed, largely donated by the well-known former Member of Parliament Tim Fischer.

The Working Machine Shed is the far building painted red.
The historic post office would be an eye opener for children!

We spent some time in the the Cottage Gallery, which features an extensive collection of paintings with direct connection with the district. One of the volunteers told us that the well-known Australian artist, Russell Drysdale, lived in this area for some time, and had donated a number of paintings and sketches to the Cottage Gallery, and was a patron of the gallery.

Unfortunately the strong sunlight in the room prevented me from taking many photos so I settled for one sketch by Russell Drysdale and one painting by a local artist.

A country Squire by Russell Drysdale.
Jindera Gap by Beth Kilings

In bygone days, the town had many churches, and this pretty Anglican church is the closest to the museum. Further along the avenue is a thriving Lutheran school and church.

We visited the museum twice, and each time my eye caught the photo of this wonderful woman, Margary Clara Wehner….doesn’t she just seem to have character and style?

Margary Clara Wehner, dedicated to the village of Jindera.

I know blog readers are generally very busy people, but if you have time to read her story it is a very interesting account of her life, and that of her husband, Ernest, known as Frosty, who was the local Blacksmith.

The Blacksmith’s shed is still standing!

Thank you for taking the time to read my post this week, and three cheers for those volunteers and people in small communities who come together to help and share their stories and their time.

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

Jawbone Marine Sanctuary in Melbourne….. a gift for the future

Urban green spaces are the markers of what we value in our land. They are our commitment to history and our gift to the future. Alisa Piper.

The evening light across the water from our accommodation

As regular readers will know, we frequently visit our daughter and family, who live in Melbourne. During our visit in May we stayed in accommodation close to our daughter’s suburb, but in a new area for us to explore; Jawbone Marine Sanctuary in Williamstown North, (named Jawbone because the shape of the sanctuaries are roughly the shape of a human jaw.)

We drove south from Canberra (Australian Capital Territory) to Melbourne and Jawbone Sanctuary is on the Port Phillip Bay.

We arrived in the late afternoon, and as good fortune would have it, our apartment had views across the Sanctuary to the sea.

When we looked out of the apartment window in the morning, I felt as if I was back in my childhood home in Africa.

The grasses, the colours, the still water…. I almost expected to see a hippo coming up out of the water!

Barely ten kilometres from the heart of Melbourne, two coastal havens, Jawbone Marine Sanctuary, and Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, provide a peaceful stretch of nature reserves, in what was an industrial area (and in some parts still is..).

Years ago this particular area was a rifle range, (once famous for target practice leading up to the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.)The range only closed in 1990 as surrounding housing was developing.

This reserve land, with uninterrupted views of the sea could easily have been swallowed up by developers, however, finally, it was decided that the reserve should be set aside for conservation.

Fortunately the local community formed what is now known as The Friends of Williamstown Wetlands. This wonderful community group have worked tirelessly ever since to ensure the reserve continues to be well protected.

Salt water plants such as Samphire and Glasswort grow and can change colours with the seasons, and at the end of autumn there is a wonderful mix of colour to see.

The mangrove amongst the basalt rocks, along with saltmarsh mudflats and seagrass beds, provide an important habitat for many species of seabirds and shorebirds.

On our first morning walk we could see the long landscape of land and sea, and the big skies…

This photo was taken on my iPhone, and somehow seems to make the sky endless!

In the distance the tankers and ocean liners are sailing by…

The houses built along the edges of the reserve all have enormous wide windows, and ever -changing views of the weather on the reserve and out into the sea.

Bird watching is very popular in this area, and more than 160 bird species have previously been recorded at the Reserve. Migratory seabirds and shorebirds can be seen among the mangroves, mudflats and saltmarshes.

This was just one of the colourful signs showing some of the birds sighted in this area. The Royal Spoonbill looked quite regal I thought.

Our grandchildren enjoyed seeing a Purple Swamp Hen (with unbelievable claws) and her chick coming very close to the window of our apartment every morning. Our granddaughter’s favourite was the black swan and her signet.

This peaceful sanctuary protects 30 hectares of coastal waters and fishing, netting, spearing or taking marine life is prohibited.

The Reserves are now well known, and enjoyed by all for diving, snorkelling, walking, jogging, bird watching, photography….and I was very pleased to read the Sanctuary is also well know for sunset watching… here are two of the sunsets we saw….

The water near us turned golden one evening as the birds settle down for the night.

A lovely memory on our last evening at Jawbone sanctuary.

Many thanks to the The Friends of Williamstown Wetlands and, indeed, to volunteers and community groups all over the world who give up so much of their own time to maintain public places for us all to enjoy.

Just a week later and here we are back home, looking out over the almost constant rain, wind and freezing cold weather……..winter has arrived with a vengeance.

Paul and our daughter’s dog Charlie are bravely walking around our garden in this wet windy weather…Paul is checking on our veggie crop and Charlie thinks he can smell possums (and he is right!)

Many thanks for taking the time to read my blog today, and may the sun shine even in winter!

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved

Flinders Village, the Mornington Peninsula…… beautiful one day and perfect the next…

It is ”blowing a hooley” here in Canberra today. I first read the expression ‘‘blowing a hooley” from bloggers who live on Islands or coastal landscapes, where you expect severe wind. However, in Canberra, a landlocked city, we are joining the coastal crew today.

Given the changeable weather all over Australia, it is nothing short of a miracle that we recently had a wonderful holiday at the very tip of Australia, in a small village called Flinders, along the coastline of Victoria.

Flinders is a beautiful and historic coastal village overlooking Western Port and Bass Strait on the Mornington Peninsula ..an hour’s drive from Melbourne. We visited this area a few years ago, and I’ve always wanted to return because the landscape is stunning and the clear air is a photographer’s dream. The first few photos were taken on our first visit.

This golf course would be a challenge for golfers on wild windy days
Views stretching across the coastline of Victoria
One of the earliest buildings in Flinders.

There are many bushwalking trails in this area and we decided to walk along the pretty fern gullies to the coast to see the lighthouse at Cape Schanck… I’m wondering how people could live in a lighthouse, without going slightly mad from the winds, which would be perpetual.

We were lucky enough to go for this walk on a gloriously warm sunny day.

When I looked at a map of the coastline there were some interesting names, Mushroom Reef Marine Sanctuary, Bushrangers Bay, Cape Schanck, a town called Rosebud…..so much history in this area…

The countryside on the drive back to Flinders

The village itself has a General Store with an ever cheerful staff, and we spent a lot of time buying food there because it had such a range of tasty ready-made food. Nearby there are some craft shops, small restaurants, and a well known chocolate shop with delicious ice-cream. What could be better on a holiday!

In the early days of the twentieth century, the clean air, and (usually) mild climate made the village a popular destination, especially for people who live in Melbourne.

This quiet village atmosphere has over time attracted many people from Melbourne to build holiday homes in the village.

I enjoyed many early morning walks watching the sun rise, as I walked around the quaint beach roads and houses tucked away from the winds.

The gardens of these homes were full of plants that could survive sandy soil and salty air. Piet Oudolf would have been proud of the use of grasses by many homes owners…

The small coastal roads wind around interesting gardens, and houses dotted on coastal cliffs…

This was a family holiday, which made it extra special, and our holiday house was not far from a lovely lookout where we could watch the sunrise …

and the sunset….

We were lucky to strike those sunny, warm days in such a lovely part of Australia.

Many thanks for taking the time to read my blog, and I hope you are able to enjoy some fine days wherever you are in the world today.

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved

Koalas, Christmas, and Cockatoos in Canberra

At last, something to smile about in 2020!

Recently a family living in the Adelaide Hills had an unexpected visitor to their Christmas tree. There are many trees in the area where they live, and seeing koalas in the trees is not uncommon. However, a curious koala had made it’s way into Amanda McCormick’s house

and climbed up the Christmas tree! The story went viral when her daughter posted these photos on FB. The koala was gently removed, (the Wildlife Rescue Team thinking this was a hoax at first) and the koala was taken back to her natural habitat. Fortunately she had not managed to eat decorations or green plastic leaves!

Amanda McCormick said, ”After a bad year, it was nice to have that

2020 has been a year like no other. A year of changing our routines and habits, feeling a degree of fear and anxiety as the pandemic spread, and spending more time at home than ever before.

Looking back over my photos of the year, I feel as if we have lived three years in one year! Was it really only in January that we did a trip to Melbourne Botanic gardens? Wasn’t that a life time ago?

Botanical Gardens Melbourne.
Bottle trees in the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne
Botanical Gardens Melbourne in January… before long we would be avoiding people and crowds….who knew?

Lockdown began in Canberra in March and we realised it was time to cancel our long planned trip to the UK in May. The light slowly dawned on us all that travel to another country was definitely not going to happen any time in the near future, and travel to other states within Australia became increasingly difficult too.

By August and September, when the state of Victoria had the worst number of Covid cases in Australia and therefore the hardest lockdown, travel to another suburb within Melbourne was banned for three months. During this time, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, our daughter, living in Melbourne, gave birth to a baby boy.

Despite all the hurdles of tight hospital rules and general anxiety in the community, this bonny baby was born in September and he smiles all the time….the best of 2020.

relaxing under the trees in November

During this Lockdown year, most Australians have been able to go for walks, around suburbs and within slightly wider boundaries.

As good luck would have it , the La Nina had begun, bringing plenty of rain to Australia.

Eastern Rosella
Crimson Rosella
Galahs

Now there is less chance of drought and bushfires in summer…not to mention beautiful healthy green growth, food for all the birds and animals around Canberra.

Commonwealth Park in April
The kangaroos in Commonwealth Park are having a slow start on this chilly April morning.
Museum of Sydney has an exhibition about The Griffins called Paradise on Earth, until April 18th 2021

If the Chicagoan architects and planners of this city, Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony could see Canberra now (well, most parts of it anyway) …..so much greenery, bushland and space, at a time when it is most needed. Many thanks to them.

I have read that during this pandemic, dog ownership has become remarkably popular, in Australia and elsewhere. This is not surprising considering how many people have been working from home…dogs provide both companionship and a reason to exercise!

Our daughter bought a puppy, named Charlie, during this year, and he has been a great Covid year companion, and we look forward to his visits. He is very very cute!

He looks as if he auditioning for a Disney movie, and gets lots of attention from children.

Last summer I wrote about a gardener in our suburb, named Ken, who had begun to grow plants on the verge outside his home and garden.

Red Hot Pokers are the stars in summer.

This year, he has, with the permission of the local council, extended the area and he has planted, trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables. (the vegetables are for any passer-by to pick)

These pathways are well used by the local community, and every time we walked past there are a whole range of new plants to admire.

Ken and his wife are very proud of their gardens and always have time for a chat. The big sandstone rocks provide seating and shade, and companionship to passers-by. Best of all, the birds love the extra trees and plant food.

I think this casual interaction between neighbours gives us a sense of community, and belonging, I’m not sure anyone had the time for chatting before 2020!

Red Hot Pokers

Yesterday, as we walked through these gardens and down the hill to get the morning paper, we came across some busy cockatoos.

The ABC Science show recently had an interesting talk on Sulphur Crested Cockatoos..

They often fly in flocks as big as 50 -100, (the noise they make is deafening) but spend their time sleeping and eating in small five square kilometre areas, with tight networks, going from 5-20 birds who seem to be best mates….as seen here.

This cockatoo is helpfully dropping bark down to the others.

They could be collecting the bark to look for bugs to eat, and/or perhaps sharpening their beaks at the same time. (I’m open to suggestions). They are such intelligent birds they could be just keeping busy.

These Cockatoos are perhaps the older members of the group, relaxing and doing a bit of much needed preening.

I always love to catch a glimpse of birdlife in Canberra, and to look over at the Brindabella Mountains….may they keep that blue/green hue all summer long.

Many thanks for visiting my blog this year. During a year of so much solitude, I have enjoyed reading blogs and keeping in touch with every day living in other parts of the world.

May you have a peaceful, happy and healthy Christmas and New Year.

Desiderata was my mother’s favourite verse, and it is very apt for today, despite it being written in 1692!

Desiderata

”…with all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be careful Strive to be happy

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved

Melbourne in Lockdown, and a bonny baby boy is born..

When we arrived in Melbourne last month, the Rainbow Lorikeets seemed to be the only ones not in Lockdown 4. We had come to Melbourne to visit our daughter and family, as they were expecting a new baby in September.

There were severe restrictions in Melbourne as a result of rising cases of Covid 19.

We were allowed into Victoria, but had to get an exemption to get back into Canberra, and could only enter ACT (Canberra) by plane. Once back in Canberra we have to self-isolate for 14 days and take a Covid test on day 11. All of which we are happy to do.

All the boxes were ticked for the visit, and we were delighted to see our daughter and family again.

The restrictions have eased slightly now, but when we arrived, Melbourne was like a ghost town.

No playgrounds permitted to be used, adults working from home, children learning remotely from home, one hour of exercise outside of the home per person per day

There was a nightly curfew and compulsory wearing of masks, outside of the home. Very heavy fines for all offenders.

My daughter and family live in the inner city of Melbourne, and fortunately have many parks around their home. The urban planners of yesterday had wonderful foresight, people living close to the centre of the city need parks more than most… and during this difficult lockdown period they are a godsend to the community.

During our time in Melbourne we spent our hour of exercise taking our granddaughter to the park, running off toddler energy. We have no live cases in Canberra and do not have to wear masks, which are compulsory in Melbourne. It is a skill getting the right mask!

We also spent time walking around the suburb with our granddaughter. Many people had put teddy bears and toys in the windows, and some had decorated the street trees with ornaments for children.

Luckily she likes bugs and insects and snails have a charm of their own (who knew) because they leave silver trails..

The spring colours are everywhere…

She enjoyed the ”Bird of Paradise” looking over the fence every day…

We enjoyed Melbourne’s spring weather…a little ahead of Canberra..

The suburb is changing as new families move in, and there is pleasant mix of houses and well kept townhouses. Often the houses have a wrought iron trim, pretty lace curtains, lead light windows and front gardens, carefully tended, full of interesting plants and vegetables..

The small pleasure of the day was getting take-away coffee from the regular coffee shop, called Brother Nancy. As I waited for Paul, social distancing strictly in place, I watched the gardener of a house nearby.

His garden was full to the brim with plants and vegetables, and he kept a small bucket tied to the fence with fresh, sweet smelling herbs, free to anyone passing by…

In the afternoon he came out with his broom and swept the street around his house.

There was something very touching about his pride in his home and his generous spirit offering some of his abundant crop.

A sign of the changing times is a new café specialising in vegan food and small plants…

Melbourne is well known for its coffee shops and there is always room for one more…especially since they are reputed to have delicious chocolate slice.

Meanwhile a lovely baby boy was born, and has been been fitting into life at home very well.

Once the baby was born we tried to make the most of the time we had left, to go, when weather allowed, for a family walk to a lovely little park nearby.

The evenings were getting longer and warmer and we often just sat on a bench taking in the scene. Many people choose this time of day to use their hour of exercise, and they seemed to stroll past us, Paul said it reminded him of the passeggiata in Italy. We saw this near Rome, where families met for Sunday lunch and the strolled along talking to friends and family.

My friend and neighbour commented that the Europeans had/have good practices with family walks. She lived in Germany years ago, and as the shops closed on Sunday the family would ”spazierengehen”, go strolling with the family and often stop for ”Kaffee und Kuchen.” (coffee and cake) Sounds wonderful!

Perhaps we have all slowed down during this pandemic…it seems that way to me.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and I hope you have time to stroll occasionally, even if it is just around the garden, as we will be doing for the next two weeks of self-isolation at home…..the time will fly by as the garden has sprung into life while we were away.

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

Lambley Nursery and Gardens…

In September, we did a trip through Victoria, and visited Lambley Nursery, which is featured in my favourite gardening book, Australian Dreamscapes.

David Glen, a highly respected nurseryman and owner of Lambley Nursery has been a passionate gardener since his childhood in England. However when he moved to the harsh windswept plains of Central Victoria, and opened a nursery, he soon realised he would have to re-think his garden and plants.

we decided to use plants that would not only survive our hot, dry summers and cold winters, but could survive on very little water. Extremes are the new normal now and every season is unpredictable.”

Lambley, in the Great Dividing Range, Victoria has temperatures that range from -6 degrees (C)  (21F) in winter to 45 degrees (C) (113F) in summer. The nursery, and every section of the garden are surrounded by thick hedges to protect it from the winds that frequently sweep across the plains.

Our Canberra climate is similar, so we were very interested in the nursery and gardens and hoped to buy some plants for our own garden. We began in the enclosed dry garden…

….. what a treat to see such colour and texture in a garden that receives so little extra water.

Although David specialises in dry climate plants, as you can see from this garden, this doesn’t necessarily mean only native or cactus plants, but plants from all over the world that have a similar climate. David researched plants from places like Turkey and California, tested and propagated them.

 

After the dry garden, we strolled around this beautiful property, following wide paths, hedges and pines leading from vegetable gardens to spring bulbs to fruit trees…..a sight to behold!

The paths and hedges leading to garden ”rooms” were reminiscent of Monty Don’s garden (as seen on BBC Gardeners’ World).

These gardens are full of tulips, poppies, more flowers, vegetables, fruit trees and beds resting before new planting begins..

 

 

The nursery is extensive, and we were guided by their seasonal catalogues. Lambley is one of the few places in Australia that propagates a wide range of frost hardy and drought tolerant evergreen and deciduous plants and shrubs, and their online business is very popular.

As you can imagine we spend a lot of time buying plants…. the heart always rules the head, and I hope we can fit them all into our garden now…..but that will be for another post.

It would be wonderful to have this nursery nearby if you were starting a big garden as we were years ago.

The countryside around Lambley is picturesque, with wide skies, long stretches of farm land amongst the gently rolling hills.

As we drove  away we watched a farmer and his family gently herding some sheep along the road, (unfortunately I didn’t get a photo)…the youngsters were riding quad bikes very slowly, and the little boy was being shepherded by his mother…

What a very different life he will have to our little granddaughter, being brought up in the city of Melbourne, not far away.

The church at Ascot, close to Lambley.

www.lambley.com.au

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog, and I hope you are enjoying your season where ever you are in the world. If you are a gardener in Australia, may the sun shine and the rain fall.

 

 

 

 

 

Heronswood, the Digger’s Club, and Gardening Australia…..all on a summer’s day

Since the birth of our granddaughter last year, we have frequently travelled to Melbourne to visit our daughter and family.

In late November, we took a slightly different route to Melbourne, and spent a few days in the beautiful Mornington Peninsula.

On a sunny, almost perfect day, we visited a wonderful property called Heronswood at Dromana.

This historic property was established in 1864, and the Gothic Revival house was built in 1874.

Dromana  is a very scenic part of the world, but the wind and weather can be wild and unpredictable. A tough climate to establish such a beautiful garden.

William Moat was originally employed to develop spacious lawns and  gardens, and large trees were planted to serve as wind breaks. Some of these trees survive to protect the garden today.

 

Clive and Penny Blazey bought Heronswood in 1983, raising a family there while using the garden as a testing ground for new plant species and dedicated to preserving heirloom varieties for the business they established called the Diggers Club.

Like many gardeners all over Australia, Paul and I have benefited from being members of the Diggers Club, getting new seeds, plants and bulbs by mail order, and reading their excellent quarterly magazine.

The garden is layered on a fairly steep slope, and is directly above the beach where the explorer, Captain Matthew Flinders, landed on 27th April 1802.

The garden path winds gently between each part of the garden, showcasing the planting over the years.

It has evolved into a summer garden of perennials and subtropical fruits, shaded by lush mature trees..

 

It is inspiring to know that these colourful perennials can withstand heat of 40 degrees (Celsius)104 (Fahrenheit)

We had, quite by accident, chosen a day when the crew from the ABC series Gardening Australia were filming in the gardens.  They all looked relaxed, friendly, and professional, and we chatted to Jane and complimented her on the program.

 

The Subtropical Fruit Border

This section of the garden highlights the versatility of subtropical fruits in all climates…(who knew bananas could grow this far south?)

The Diggers  best selections are combined with hot coloured (red, yellow and orange) dahlias, to contrast with the lush green foliage.

 

Hidden away amongst the grasses and foliage we could hear frogs before we came to a small bridge and pond ….a great breeding ground for them in this lush garden.

 

This plant, with multiple blue flowers was a ”one stop shop” for many bees.

Clive and Penny Blazey have been amazing custodians of this property for years. Clive is an advisor for the Seed Saver Exchange in Iowa, USA, which was established around the same time as the Digger’s Club in Australia.

The  Digger’s Club has over 75 000 members, and the Blazey family give away a percentage of their profits each year. Penny is involved in many charities, both in Australia and abroad.

In 2011 the Blazey’s gifted ownership of The Digger’s Club and the gardens of Heronswood and St Erth (near Daylesford) to the Diggers Garden and Environmental Trust.

Clive and Penny succeeded in developing a wonderful collection of unusual perennial plants with open pollinated seeds to provide what they called

”…the gardener’s inheritance seeds you save, sow and share forever…”

After enjoying this lovely garden, the last words come from Clive Blazey ….

“”I’m obsessed with living plants. Gardening connects you to biology, archaeology and the environment. It’s a fascinating pursuit.”

I’m inspired!

 

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved