2019 in retrospect
I have made an effort to record the events of 2019 as it was a very different year, with international travel and not working as a teacher. I haven’t really done justice to the travels we did in Europe, but I do have several hand written Travel Journals with my illustrations which I will scan at some time. Meanwhile, here is an account of my 2019 for anyone who is interested.
2019 was a year of changes. Firstly, it was the first year in 25 years that I did not return to teaching in late January. This enabled me to go on a papermaking weekend at Tenterfield with experienced paper maker Liz Powell. We made paper over two days with a group of dedicated ladies from the Paper Artists of Queensland group, a group I have belonged to for over 15 years.
I decided to make a priority of my Doctoral project examining the life and legacy of John Sinclair. He died on February 3 and instead of being at the bedside, Glen and I went on a working bee at Eurong, K’gari (Fraser Island) in the company of Suzanne Wilson and Maria Miller, weeding some demonstration gardens at the resort there and working in the plant nursery shared with QPWS.
I took the daring step of taking leave without pay, but several offers soon came my way that gave me a small income stream, from bush tucker catering and writing for Gympie Living magazine. The Bunya Dreaming event on Australia Day was held at Ewen Maddock Dam by Auntie Beverly Hand and her helpers. I had a great day and caught up with friends including Clare Cox, Sue Davis, Jennie Harvey and Sandra and Navin Naidoo. Glen seemed surprised that my Bunya pesto was all eaten by the attendees!
The Bunya crop was an abundant one, and I was blessed with a good supply, including several fertilizer bags full donated by Ray Zerner from Conondale who dropped them in to MRCCC. Some were pretty far gone, but the abundance gave my friend Joolie and I a chance to experiment with making Bunya paper and Bunya ink. Plenty of bunyas would be needed, as I had requests to cater for Gympie Garden Expo, Relish Food and Wine Festival in Maryborough and Tiaro Landcare Field Day. I was very inspired to create new recipes and tested some on the willing tasters at the MRCCC including Lemon Myrtle crisps and sticky bunya date pudding.
I also had some kind invitations to attend events, the first of which was the Biosphere Conference in Maryborough organized by the Burnett Mary Regional Group (BMRG). Deb Seal offered for me to go as a delegate from MRCCC (Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee) and I stayed at Cecile’s lovely old Eco-house at Treasure Street, not far from my childhood home in Lennox Street. There I enjoyed the company of Lindy Orwin from Coast Care Rainbow Beach, a dedicated organizer of the Biobltizes I have attended the last two years. The conference was an inspiring event with a session hosted by Costa showcasing the achievement of local schools and a Butchulla dance and welcome to Country by the river. Robyn Yates from Tinana SS gave an inspiring address. On the Friday trip to K’gari, I got to fly over the perched lakes in a light plane. I was nervous but I asked myself, “What would John do?” and I went for it! April
At the Gympie Garden Expo I was on the bill after local cooking legend Matt Golinski, who turned out to be a very collegial fellow and was very encouraging to my fledgling public cooking attempts. I had help from my friend Tammy’s young daughter Talim, who took samples around to the audience.
Another event I attended by invitation in early May with Glen was the Department of Environment and Science’s Waste Education seminar, a 2-day event in Brisbane and we stayed overnight at our favourite handy accommodation in Brisbane, situated right beside my beloved William Jolly Bridge, the Riverside Motel. We were able to catch up with Wyatt and have dinner. Interesting day with a lot of attendees from outdoor and environmental centres, councils and schools.
May was also the time of the second Rainbow Beach Bioblitz, a citizen science initiative initiated by John Sinclair. It was the first year he was not with us which made it bittersweet. However the weather was amazing and the recent rain brought forth an extensive flush of fungi on the track to Lake Poona. I was privileged to walk this track with Ian Norris, John’s dear friend, nicknamed “Uncle Longnose” by his Aboriginal students in the far North. We talked about John and explored the vegetation of the Lake Poona area.
Relish Festival in June was a huge day and I could not have coped without the capable help of my sister Lyndall. The food was very mush enjoyed (relished?) by the public and our stall was so popular that people were moving chairs from other areas to join us. As always, we met other resourceful cooks who shared tips for using Warrigal greens, lilly pillies and other forage-able local foods. Our supplies of Warrigal greens seed and plants quickly ran out. Marilyn Connell was there for my talk on the Bunya Feasts of yesterday and that resulted in another gig, the Tiaro Landcare Day, which was another very successful event. Glen had the stall and I did the Talk and Taste, again with Matt Golinski on the same bill.
Rainbow Beach Bioblitz First one without JS very sad. Wonderful walk through the fungi forest with Ian Nosrris and Adrian Looney.
I returned to K’gari later in June to do further invasive plant control, in the company of Peter Shooter and Chris B, also Sophie Munns, artist extraordinaire and some others named Larry, Barry and Taj. The weeds we targeted were Abrus and Easter Cassia, but Sophie and I also removed a lot of the ubiquitous Mossman Burr. A beach stone curlew hung around in the yard and posed for a sketch. We went on a trip to the Barracks near Lake Allom which FIDO apparently owns. With some work, especially a new water tank, this could be a future venue for art workshops as a fund raiser for FIDO.
Soon after returning, Sophie and I rendezvoused at the Artist in residence at Maroochy Botanical Gardens of Melissa Stannard, artist of nature! Annette Geurts came with me on the trip and very mush enjoyed meeting Melissa and doing some hands-on play with the inks she made from plants and berries (“Squish berries”) growing in the gardens.
Over the last weekend of June, my studio welcomed over 60 visitors as part of the Gallery’s Studio Trail. Many enjoyed the garden especially young Alex Robinson, who really enjoyed Carambolas (5-corner fruits) picked straight from the tree. There were good sales of paper and artworks.
July – a by-invitation QAGOMA trip to K’gari gave me another free trip to the island. Joolie, Meaghan Shelton and I represented the Gympie region in this “Think Tank” to design locally based Art units for students, and to collaborate with other regions in innovative programs such as sharing artists in residence and bringing overseas artists and exhibitions to the regions. We enjoyed the company of Terry Neal and Henri Nordenberg from QAGOMA. We had a plant walk with Nai Nai and a wonderful evening on the beach. Fiona Foley took over on the rest of the program with her art expertise. We worked in teams to create arts installations on the beach, and to plan further activities.
Later in July came my exhibition, Plea for Plankton, featuring Kombucha assemblages, at Bundaberg Regional Gallery. This came after a period of intensive work in the new studio, with a re-appraisal of my previous work in weathered wood. Some of those wooden works were incorporated, especially in “Saviour of the Seven Seas” which used twine handmade from seven different plant fibres. A theme of the Cabinet of Curiosities emerged and I want to do more work on this theme. I did a radio interview and visited a school, Kalkie SS, where Judith Stutchbury, a supporter of the late bilby man, Frank Manthey, teaches. I read Melly and the Bilby to her class of Year 2s. The show was opened by my friend Marine ecologist Sue Sargent with a toast of kombucha “wine”! At the end of July, we had a few days at Coolum with Rowan and Wyatt and some of their friends and took my Mum out for lunch. On the final day I climbed Mount Coolum with Wyatt and his friend and housemate, Scott.
Glen and I made a trip to Brisbane to see a Performance of Storm Boy with amazing “puppets” and caught up with Wyatt almost last thing before going overseas on August 16.
On August 3 and 4, I spent a delightful weekend at Rainbow Beach with Joolie and the other artists of the Wildflower Women and curator Sue Davis of Central Queensland University. Another walk in the wallum revisited some of the sites from the Bioblitz.
Porto – Portugal
Our first cruise was a week on the Douro River aboard the Douro Serenity, during which we explored the port wine growing pocket of schist soils that have supported this unique industry for centuries. We had a variety of bus trips every day to quaint villages and museums. The Tour director, Isabel, was charming and helpful. Frederico, Fatima and Idalina each accompanied a bus tour and provided commentary. The revitalisation of the cork industry was very instructive and I bought a cork hat and bag, as well as some cork “cloth”. I enjoyed doing some watercolours of the landscape and portraits of several of the passengers and crew. We attended a Fado performance in Porto after disembarking.
On the way south towards Lisbon, we visited the charming Bussaco Palace, with its extensive blue tile murals telling the story of Portugal’s maritime victories in the fifteenth century, charming fountains and colonnades. We had lunch there. A place to definitely avoid is the crowded and crass Pena Place, probably the only really bad part of our Portugal adventure. We found a good place to eat at 100 Manieres, in Lisbon with quirky waitress Diana.
Our next location was a villa in the provincial French city of Besancon, capital of the Franche-Comte region near the Jura mountains, where we shared Comte cheese adventures with Percy, Rowan and Clare. It was my birthday while we were there, and they took me to dinner at Le Salamander.
For three days in Prague we had to design our own adventure, That turned out to be easy, due to wonderful musical opportunities and a run of luck with food. By chance we discovered a restaurant downstairs with décor like a cave with Classical characters like the Medusa and Cerberus, the hell hound. We had lunch there and were very impressed. I wrote a Trip Advisor review mentioning that we were disappointed that they didn’t offer a vegetarian degustation menu. When we arrived for our booked dinner, they had read out review and the chef, Tomas Hovac, had developed one!!! He came out and met us after wards and served a very special pistachio dessert. Afterwards, we found the café Le Louvre, where Dr Rudolf Steiner had given a lecture in 1915. Of course, we had to go and sit there and try the hot chocolate.
Our next cruise left from Budapest, and took us through Austria, Bavaria and finished in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. It was a longer cruise than the Porto one, and we were invited to dinner at the Captain’s table on the final night. Again, I did some pencil sketches and watercolours of the people and places. The captain was a wise old Serbian who spoke 5 languages but drew the line at German. He was happy to let the Tour Director, Anja, handle that side of things. A day trip to Bratislava was a highlight. There was a very charming tree-lined avenue where we found a restaurant for lunch and some art galleries and interesting shops. We had a very humorous local guide and learned a lot about the more positive aspects of the communist regime. We even had a tipple on the bus back to the ship.
Vienna, Austria was the venue for a wonderful classical music concert (with dance) as an optional extra with the cruise, and we really enjoyed it. We stopped at various towns along the Bavarian part of Germany, while the ship negotiated many locks along the Danube and then the Rhine rivers. An interesting experience was a home visit in Miltenberg, with a very hospitable couple who made a very good cup of coffee. Sarah and Matt, the entertainment directors, accompanied us on a walk up a mountain in the village of Durnstein, to a ruin where according to legend, Richard the Lionheart was kept prisoner while the English raised his ransom.
In each town, a local guide took us to see some sights and gave some interesting historical background. The Prince-bishops of these large prosperous towns really had a it made, with the combination of spiritual and secular powers! Melk Abbey is an actual monastery with young monks living in. It houses an International School which still teaches Latin and Greek.
Time spent in London allowed us to spend time with young Percy and take him for some walks and to the park. The next leg was to be a 23 day self-drive trip around Ireland and Scotland. However we had a shock when we arrived at our hotel in Cardiff, as the entire planned trip had been cancelled due to the financial collapse of a major travel company, of which Tempo must have been a subsidiary of some sort. After a traumatic episode, we found a room at the Hilton and went on to the next place which was a B&B, and found a wonderful restaurant, Coast, at nearby Saundersfoot. Rowan came and “rescued” us and we spent a couple of days with him and Percy on the Jurassic coast at pretty places like the Durdle Door.
Reluctant to miss out on seeing Dublin, we booked accommodation at the Art Deco Grafton Hotel, and took a plane flight across the channel. I gave a speech at the Temple Bar Toastmasters club, where Glen won the Best Table Topics ribbon for his tale of how the collapse of the travel company, Thomas Cook, had disrupted our holiday plans for a self-drive tour of Ireland and Scotland. We also got away in the hire car to the charming Cotswold Hills, where we spent a whole day at a Falconry Centre and had lunch with sprightly 90 year old Doris, mother of one of our friends in Gympie. Another charming part of Wales is Pembroke Castle, which we toured with a very erudite guide called Gareth. We gained a greater appreciation of William Marshall, the first Knight of England, and his selfless role in difficult times.
We continued into the English countryside through the Derbyshire Dales and Ludlow, revisiting Tewkesbury Cathedral where we had gone for Christmas Day service in 2017.
A day in the Edwinstowe Visitors Centre in Sherwood forest was very refreshing, while Nottingham Museum of Crime and Justice was a very entertaining interactive kind of museum. We also did a rather grisly tour with an enthusiastic young lady called Rachel.
We were back in London in time for the Extinction rebellion climate change occupation of Trafalgar Square.
The return home on October 16 gave me just enough time to finalise the program for Yabba Yarning, the Speaker’s program of the Mary River Festival. This year it was the tenth anniversary of the decision not to build the Traveston Crossing Dam, and Peter Garrett joined us for the occasion. He was the Rudd government environment minister who quashed the project. We had a panel discussion hosted by Jerry Coleby-Williams and a performance of the Vandal Stakes by Victor Hill. After so long away, it was wonderful to get back into the studio and do some papermaking. Glen helped me give the studio a good sort-out and re-organise after the chaos of the Kombucha exhibition just before we left.
November – saw Asia Pacific Triennial at GOMA. Impressive highlights were Aisha Khalid’s wall hanging in the Pakistani tradition, but themed about asylum seekers with tiny life rings along the borders. Jakkai Siributr’s embroidered garments were moving and remarkable. The remarkable assemblage (murmuration) by Aboriginal artist Jonathon Jones, advised by Stan Grant senior, was a stand-out.
The renovation of the kitchen and bathroom was the pressing business when we got home. After some time without a bathroom we grew rather tired of bucket showers on the backyard, but finally both were done and very successfully. Other projects such as cleaning our under the house kept us pretty active, and many evenings we went for a cool-off at the pool.
A celebration dinner for our 33rd wedding anniversary at The Long Apron on Spicers Estate gave me the idea to spend a break in the Montville area. This lead to spending four days just before Christmas at Kondalilla Eco-resort where we were joined by Wyatt and Troy.