Western Australia

Some very brief notes on a great though brief visit to WA with my mother.

The map (based on maps from http://www.whereis.com/) shows the tiny part of the state we reached.

After a 5 hour flight west from Sydney to Perth we immediately drove east 4+ hours to Hyden.

The attraction of this small country town is Wave Rock, which we discovered is only one small part of Hyden Rock. The thumbnail gives an idea of the scale of the rock face. Much of the colour is from lichens on the granite, and the strange structure you may be able to see on the top is a wall built decades ago to redirect water runoff into a dam.

We had a full day to explore, climbing up by the dam, around the base to Hippo’s Yawn, a walk through the surrounding country (complete with the often-cited “carpet of wildflowers”, birds, lizards and many, many flies) and a short drive to Mulka’s Cave to view the Rock Art.

Next day we drove south, past the amazing colours and textures of the salt lakes around Lake Grace. This crusty desolate-looking landscape was only metres from wheatfields on just slightly higher land.
In the township of Lake Grace we visited the Australian Inland Mission Hospital Museum, then on through the Stirling Range to the port of Albany where we arrived in time for a dusk walk around the old parts of the town.
The highlight of the next day was the Valley of the Giants near Walpole. The link has a video which gives an idea of the 40 metre high pathway among the trees – you can see its shadow on the ground below in my photo.
The second part of the walk took us down and around the trees, where mum and I posed for the obligatory photo.
Driving on, we had our picnic lunch at a lookout over the Great Australian Bight towards the Southern Ocean, then reached Bunbury in time for dinner watching sunset over the Indian Ocean.
In the morning we drove on to Perth in time for midday ringing at the Bell Tower. No photos, so follow the link or even better, go visit when you’re in Perth. My mother, who has been ringing since 1940-something, was really excited to be able to watch the bells swinging – normally we just see ropes vanishing through holes in a ceiling, but here you can go up to the level of the bells and see it all happen (with very effective soundproof glass so you can still have a conversation). It was really fun to chat with visitors and explain some of the finer points of our usually invisible but highly audible craft. The rest of the day was a stroll through Perth followed by collapsing in our apartment.
Morning coffee with mum’s god-daughter was followed by a sobering visit to the Katta Djinoong gallery at the Western Australian Museum, learning about the history and culture of Aboriginal peoples of Western Australia. Harsh and all too common stories. The gallery name means “see and understand us” and perhaps I was able to, at least a little.
The afternoon, in total contrast, we spent at the Princely Treasures exhibition at the Art Gallery. The beautiful, opulent pieces from the Victoria and Albert Museum were magnificent, but rather cold and impersonal after the morning’s experience. It was all about flaunting power and prestige – which is not to say I didn’t admire the beauty and craftsmanship displayed, in particular a bed cover and a table top spinning wheel.
The next day we spent in Fremantle where I indulged my fascination with rust, but our primary focus was the Shipwreck Galleries, part of the Western Australian Museum, and in particular the Batavia (wrecked in 1629). The large exhibit was timbers from the ship that have been reconstructed on a steel frame, but for me the most exciting were actual textile fragments – lace (and lace bobbins), twill, and knit. The lace was found in concretion and there was sufficient for Rosemary Shepherd to produce a pattern.
Our final day was spent in Kings Park and Botanic Garden. Great views over Perth and an amazing variety of plants.

One disappointment was the very nice shop, Aspects of Kings Park. I made a point of going in to see Shirley Treasure‘s weaving. Her work didn’t disappoint and there were other talented textile artists represented – but I felt the manner of “display” did them a grave disservice. Work was stored in large drawers, in a general jumble. Bits were trailing out higgledy-piggledy, very difficult to see and appreciate – and I was making a conscious effort! Another issue for me came up when browsing the jewellery, where many of the artists came from interstate. I would have preferred that the gallery did more editing of their artists and concentrate on those of Western Australia and presenting them really well, rather than cramming in so much.

We had a wonderful holiday. We ticked off everything on our “must do” list and were left wanting more time to explore everywhere we went. On the flight home I re-read all my OCA course notes from the beginning – and was left feeling I’ve strayed from the path in the latest exercises. I did do a little sketching and stitching while away, plus take heaps of photos of texture – rust, rocks, bark, flowers… But that’s a topic for another day.

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Fabulous figure sculpting workshop with Kassandra Bossell!

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