Bendigo Easter Festival 2017
April 27, 2017

For our local regional city, Bendigo, Easter means the Bendigo Easter Festival and an essential feature of the festival is………..dragons. Chinese dragons to be exact.

The Easter Festival began as the Bendigo Easter Fair in 1871. The highlight of the Fair was the Gala Parade. The local Chinese community first participated in the parade in 1879 and in 1892 provided a dragon for the parade….thus began a long standing tradition.

I  headed up to Bendigo Easter Sunday to observe the celebrations outside the Golden Dragon Museum as the Chinese cultural component of the Festival prepared to join the parade.

I arrived there early so I could be in the front row behind the barriers.

The initial proceedings were colourful but relatively low key.

Banners which are stored inside the museum were brought out and participants stood around until they were given the signal to move off

Helllllooooo…….I believe that is Lisa Chesters, Federal Member of Parliament for Bendigo.

The men with the bright red sleeves are part of the fireworks brigade.

The pace really began to pick up when the lion dancing troupes arrived. These young people are from the Chinese Youth Society of Melbourne.

Alert!! Who is coming??????

This is who is coming!

By now the fire crackers are being let off, the drums are beating and the cymbals are clashing. The noise is tremendous!

This is one of the dragons which emerged to participate in the Gala Parade.

The excitement is building and the lion dancing troupes form a guard of honour.

The lions are bored…..waiting, waiting, waiting.

Attention!…He’s coming!

Yes, He is coming!

AND HERE HE IS!!!!!…..This is what the fuss is all about  – Sun Loong, the world’s longest, imperial, processional dragon.

The air becomes misty with the smoke from all the firecrackers which crackle on his appearance.

Sun Loong goes off to join the Gala Parade where he is undoubtedly the star.

Sun Loong has one of the cushiest jobs in the world. He snoozes all year to be woken up the day before the parade. The Easter parade is his sole outing for the year.

There is plenty to see when the marchers return to the museum.

The Chinese lions continue to protect the dragons as they return.

This lion troupe in their hot, tropical colours came all the way from Cairns in Far North Queensland.

Sun Loong is the last to return to the museum. He enters tail first.

Sun Loong is given a tremendous send off as he bids farewell for another year.

The celebrations continued after Sun Loong disappeared…… the lions demonstrating their athleticism. The performance concluded with the lions rearing right up tall, parading in a tight circle.

There are no photographs, I was too busy clapping and cheering. I loved every minute of it.

Sun Loong retires in 2018. Bendigo is raising funds so his successor, Dai Gum Loong, can be made.

This video provides more information about Bendigo’s dragons.

Glorious Mica Grange in Autumn 2017
April 20, 2017

Castlemaine’s glorious autumn weather continued over Easter and Mica Grange looked at its shiniest best when I visited on Easter Saturday. The country from the slopes of Mt. Alexander down the Sutton Grange Valley was bathed in bright sunshine.

The roses were in fine form.

 

 

 

The rose hips glowed.

There were potted delights.

 

 

Deciduous trees were clothed in their autumn glory.

 

The orchard and tubs growing vegetables were full of abundance.

 

 

The sculptures and garden art were delightful.

The autumn sculpture exhibition will feature in my next post about Mica Grange.

Frogmore Revisited 2017
April 14, 2017

We have been having gorgeous autumn weather in Castlemaine recently – mild temperatures, warm sunshine and calm days. It was even gorgeous on the Great Dividing Range on Wednesday the 12th of April when a friend and I visited Frogmore Nursery and Gardens near Newbury.

The nursery specialises in rare and unusual bulbs and perennials. The gardens are bliss for flower lovers with an abundance of flowering plants suited to a cool, moist climate and rich volcanic soils. They are only open to the public for a few days in autumn.

I last visited Frogmore in 2014 so I was interested to see how the gardens looked on my second visit.

Zinnias are rarely seen in gardens.

 

Frogmore’s owner was grateful for the fine day as it had been raining since the weekend. He was worried the blooms would begin to rot if they couldn’t dry out.

 

 

 

 

There are lovely views across the garden to the Wombat Forest.

 

 

Some shrubs were in full autumn finery.

 

Shiny, red berries glowed like jewels in the autumn  sunshine.

 

The prairie garden was looking particularly splendid. Only a few days  before in driving rain and winds, the grasses were lying flat. On Wednesday, they were looking their best.

 

 

 

 

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Frogmore again. It is quite different from other open gardens I visit in Central Victoria. The prairie garden is unique for this area.

 

 

 

Taradale House, Taradale
March 8, 2017

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Taradale House is the setting for weddings and celebrations providing accommodation and a venue for these events. It was open to the general public during the 2016 Castlemaine and District Festival of Gardens

The gardens have been designed to complement the purpose of this events business.

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Yellow was the dominant colour in the walled garden.

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This is the detail of the back of a garden seat.

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White Night Melbourne, 18th February 2017
March 1, 2017

In its 5th year, Melbourne’s White Night is a cultural event held over a 12 hour period from Saturday, 7.00pm to Sunday 7.00am.

A friend and I decided to test our boundaries by travelling down to Melbourne by train on Saturday, the 18th for our first experience of this event. We decided the attractions in the Carlton Gardens – Melbourne Museum area would be enough to occupy us for the night.

This is a YouTube rich post as what we saw was beyond words. We were picking our jaws off the ground a good deal as we experienced the attractions of the night.

It was impossible to ignore the projection show, Rhythms of the Night, on the exterior of the Royal Exhibition Building

 

The projection depicted what happens during the cycles of our sleep. Mmmmmm…..I am still waiting for a night’s sleep like this.

Nebulous was an eye catching art installation in front of the Melbourne Museum.

My friend and I wandered over to a large illuminated model of a boat made from tubes but with 7 people aboard, The Pyrophone Juggernaut turned into a rip snorting, flame spurting percussion/wind instrument complete with the occasional explosion. Yes, as we stood amazed at the spectacle before us, my friend said: ‘It was worth coming just for this!’

We were further entertained by the Sonic Light Bubble, artificial possums with glowing red eyes lodged in the branches of trees (I suspect any self respecting brush tailed possum would have vacated the Carlton Gardens for the night) and two stilt walkers dressed as flamingos.

Crowd members got into the spirit of the night with children wearing twinkling footwear running by and adults dressed up. The merchandise sellers were doing well going on the numbers of light sabres being waved and the illuminated head wear being worn.

We felt well rewarded for our efforts as we boarded the last train home before midnight.

The price of our adventure? Food and drink only. We used our free Seniors travel vouchers for the trains and trams and the attractions were free.

 

Two Castlemaine Town Gardens
February 5, 2017

Amners Garden and Serendipity are two Castlemaine town gardens I visited in Spring of 2016.

Amners is a large garden on a slope leading down to Campbell’s Creek whilst Serendipity is small and compact.

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Amners has a large productive and ornamental garden where permaculture principles are implemented.

For special interest groups, Jo Amner conducts tours of the garden and demonstrates how to propagate plants from cuttings.

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With Serendipity, Heather demonstrates how to make maximum use of a small site of 420 square metres.

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Plants are packed in and the illusion of space created by the use of mirrors.

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Vegetables are grown outside the front fence on the nature strip. A wire compost bin sits at the end of the vegetable bed.

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Guildford Landscape
January 30, 2017

Recently, on a rare, cool and breezy day, I drove to the top of a hill which gives views of the township of Guildford and the surrounding countryside.

I spent some time making this charcoal drawing of the country whilst Katie sniffed about at the foot of the lookout.

Satisfied with my drawing, we proceeded to Guildford where I lunched in the cafe in the old general store – pumpkin and blue cheese tart – Yum, Yum!

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Phillip Island
January 17, 2017

It is high summer so I thought a post about the seaside would be appropriate.

I have been sorting through my photographs and happened upon my 2007 holiday on Phillip Island.

Phillip Island is a major holiday destination in Victoria being an easy drive from Melbourne. It has many attractions for holiday makers and day visitors including international visitors.

Probably the most popular attraction is the Penguin Parade in the warmer months of the year when Little (Fairy) Penguins emerge from the ocean at dusk and scurry across the beach to climb into the sand hills to their underground nests where their hungry chicks are waiting to be fed. It is not easy being a penguin parent, out fishing all day, returning to shore exhausted in the evening, checking for predators, then a dash across the beach in front of excited humans, followed by an arduous climb home. …………then out again before dawn next day.

Whilst this post contains no images of penguins, it does illustrate other island features which appeal to me.

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There are rugged coastlines and surging seas on the ocean side of the island.

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The sheltered,Western Port, side of the island has beaches where you can swim, paddle and fossick to your heart’s content.

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There is coastal vegetation to admire……..

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…. flowering pig faces

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……… grassy tussocks ……….

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……… and enough lichen to keep lichen lovers satisfied.

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In addition to penguins, there is this seagull rookery at the Nobbies, koalas and seals.

Fryerstown Cemetery
January 4, 2017

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Fryerstown is another former booming gold town whose glory days are behind it. Once home to 15,000 people and boasting 25 hotels and 5 breweries, it is now a quiet township of approximately 320 people.

As with other towns in the district, the cemetery is an interesting place to wander around.

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There are the old and modern graves.

 

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Old head stones tell the story of the pioneer families.

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New head stones have been erected by a current generation of Australians to honour their pioneering ancestors.

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These grave sites are distinguished by distinctive images, words and ornamentation.

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Lichen at Llandia, Taradale
December 28, 2016

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Llandia was another garden I visited during the 2016 Castlemaine and District Festival of Gardens.

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Australian natives were flowering including grevilleas………

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………and this mint bush.

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The lichen growing on mature deciduous trees was very photogenic.

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It was very pleasant sitting on the verandah enjoying afternoon tea whilst looking out over the garden in the gently falling rain.