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Wednesday, 28 December 2016

2016 Favourites

Looking back on the places and events I saw in 2016, here are the ones that stood out as favourites for me.

I visited Shanghai for the first time and really liked it, to the extent that I want to go back and have a longer visit. I only saw a small part of it, the weather was beautiful the day I arrived and managed to get this great picture. 

Nanshi, the beautifully restored old Chinese area of Shanghai. What made it even more special was that I didn't even know it existed! Sometimes it's good not to over research a place you're visiting! I was going to the Yuyuan Gardens which are in the Nanshi area, so was delighted to see the surrounding traditional buildings. Really beautiful and now something I highly recommend to anyone visiting Shanghai.

Sunset at Karon Beach, Phuket. Just stunning each night, a lovely way to end each day.

Old Phuket Town, Sino-Portuguese homes. Another surprise as I just thought of Phuket as a beach holiday area and knew nothing of its past. Discovered Old Phuket Town with its interesting architecture going back to when traders and miners came to Phuket to work in the tin mines.

The lightshow at Gardens by the Bay was an absolute highlight of 2016. I love the area anyway, but this year I found out about the lightshow which is synchronised to music (the night I was there it was music from musical theatre), it was just fabulous! And all free! Singapore still has my number 1 spot for best Asian country to visit!

The Drawing Room at Martindale Hall, an English stately home in the middle of the Australian rural landscape. I hadn't visited in years so was nice to see it again, and to marvel at its 'fish out of water' setting!

The wetlands at Banrock Station, I'd been meaning to visit for quite a while and it was nice this year to have lunch at the restaurant and then stroll around the wetlands.

I saw two exhibitions that I really enjoyed, both to do with fashion.

Ayers House Museum in Adelaide, capitalised on its successful Miss Fisher exhibition in 2015 to bring the costumes from the film The Dressmaker. Loved the film and loved the costumes even more!

The Viktor and Rolf exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria. Great exhibition and what made it great, was not just the outfits displayed but also all the video footage of the parades themselves. It really gave someone like me who's not really into haute couture fashion, an understanding and appreciation as to the theatricality of fashion and fashion design.

Not an exhibition but an experience. I loved the Butterfly garden at Kuranda, there's something really uplifting being surrounded by lots of pretty butterflies fluttering around you.

A perennial favourite of mine, the Mortlock library, just love it! These are the second floor study areas.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Christmas Trees

Merry Christmas

I love all kinds of Christmas decorations and feel sad when shops don't decorate for Christmas. Whilst out and about this past week I took photos of some of the different trees I saw.

Live trees in Rundle Mall, they're also lit up at night.

Regent Arcade. The arcade had been an old ornate movie theatre, from the glory days of movies, before the arrival of television. It was later converted into a shopping arcade and the name of the theatre remained. 

Tree in Adelaide Arcade, this is an actual historic arcade, the oldest one in Adelaide and restored to its heritage appearance.

Entrance to a modern shopping arcade.

Saw this one while stocking up on reading material for the holidays! In the local public library.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Christmas in Adelaide

Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere is lovely, it's all warm, bright and shiny. Northern traditions are held, but there's no freezing weather to accompany them!

Houses are decorated with lights.

This particular inner city suburb is quite well known for people in the one street all decorating their houses with lights. People then come and stroll down looking at all the lights or drive slowly past. This picture did make me chuckle, it was bin night so the bins are out on the street as well!

I don't think this one photographed that well, but it was my favourite. The house is made with white stone so the colour of the lighting had a frosty, frozen feel to it.

I'm a traditionalist when it comes to Christmas decorations, I like garlands, greenery, trees and baubles! This is the Adelaide Arcade, the oldest shopping arcade in the city centre, restored years ago to its original state. The Christmas decorations match that traditional look.

During the Christmas season the heritage carousel is brought out and placed in the main shopping thoroughfare Rundle Mall. The carousel has been restored and it's wonderful to see children ride around on it.

Rundle Mall is where you'll find the buskers as well. There are times when I think that every child that's ever learnt to play the violin in Adelaide comes to busk in the Mall at Christmas time! This day there was an indigenous man adding to the Christmas feel.

Decorations on the gates of Government House. Australia is a constitutional monarchy, QEII lives in the UK so she has a representative in each state, who is the governor. The current South Australian governor is a former Vietnamese refugee who arrived in Australia in the early 1980s. The governor lives and works at Government House, it's open several days a year for people to visit and there are events held there are well. I've been a few times.

The decorated Town Hall. Adelaide Town Hall's main claim to fame is that it has the balcony on which the members of the Beatles stood on waving to the largest crowd that ever came to see them. Quite impressive when you consider how small Adelaide was in 1964, a huge percentage of the population stood outside and around the Town Hall trying to see them.

The geographic centre of Adelaide, Victoria Square. Adelaide was planned out by a surveyor so it has a geographic centre. The city itself was named for the wife of King William IV, Queen Adelaide, but by the time it was actually settled William had died and his niece Victoria was queen. So many things were named for her, including the tower on the left, the post office tower. I read the plaque as I walked past and learnt it's called the Victoria Tower! Foundation stone laid by Victoria's son Alfred when he visited in 1867, the first British royal to come to Australia. (There are also quite a few things named after Alfred in Australia too! Hospitals, schools)

With the warm weather it's quite common to see children playing in water features like they are here.

Just next to Victoria Square is the catholic cathedral St. Francis Xavier's, the Advent purple is out preparing for Christmas.

The Nativity inside the cathedral. The manger is empty as the tradition is the baby Jesus is placed there on Christmas day.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 14 December 2016


Far North Queensland

Cairns is the best known destination for tourists who want to travel to north Queensland. Mainly, I suspect, as there is an international airport at Cairns and therefore foreign tourists have convenient access to the area.

As much as people travel to north Queensland for the beaches, Cairns itself doesn't actually have sandy beaches! The city does have a 'lagoon' as part of the esplanade, it's free has toilet and changing room facilities and it's popular with tourist and locals. There are a variety of market stalls closeby.

There's a boardwalk along the water's edge and at low tide the mudflats can be seen.

The tide coming back in, looking north towards the airport and a plane taking off. The beaches are the past the airport going north.

The marina.

A lovely tree canopy walk from the marina to the lagoon.

Cairns was originally establish in the 1870s to serve the miners who were going to the inland goldfields, later the fertile land around the Barron river was used for agriculture. During World War II it was a major training base for the Pacific war, and after the war tourists started coming to the area. The biggest explosion of tourist numbers came with the opening of the international airport in the 1980s. Cairns is a major destination for tourists who come to Australia to visit the Great Barrier Reef.

I happily traipsed around the small city centre looking for historic buildings and found some, along with signs giving information about the building. I'm a local historical society's dream tourist, I avidly read all their information signs!

It has a regional art gallery.

The Palace, now a backpackers, but it had been a dancehall. I loved the story on the regional history sign. The dancehall didn't serve alcohol, so the local men would take their girlfriends to the dance and then go across the road to the Hides Corner hotel to drink. That left a lot of girls on their own at the dancehall, much to the delight of the immigrant workers who had come up to work in the cane fields.

The Hides Corner Hotel, there's been a hotel on this site since 1885, the current one dates to 1928. It's a Cairns landmark, the hotel goes around the corner and has a larger frontage on that side.

Initially when I saw the sign 'The Cairns Post' I thought "Oh the postoffice"!! Then realised it's the newspaper, still being published today.

Pretty much the largest building in any Australia town is the pub or pubs, and Cairns didn't disappoint! The Central Hotel, covered verandahs and iron lace.

The tourism industry in Cairns offers visitors more than just going out to the reef. Outside the town, all basically next to each other are the Skywalk, the cable car up to Kuranda.

Tjapukai, an aboriginal heritage centre.

And a museum of armour and artillery.

You do need a car to visit these sites, but there are also tours you can book from Cairns that will take you out to Smithfield where these places are situated.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Penwortham and Sevenhill

Adjacent villages in the Clare Valley

Penwortham was the site of the first white settlement north of Adelaide and Gawler. An Englishman named John Horrocks came up from Adelaide in 1839, less than 3 years after the first white settlers arrived, and settled on land on the Hutt River and built a stone cottage there.

The local historical society has since restored the cottage and it's open the first Sunday of each month.

As well as the cottage, there are also outbuildings such as a stable. The main road from Gawler to Clare is called the Horrocks Highway after John Horrocks.

He named the area Penwortham after the town he was from in Lancashire in the U.K.

The Little Red Grape bakery which was doing a roaring trade the Sunday morning I was there! 

Vineyards behind the town, well village, as it is now, of Penwortham.

Skillogalee restaurant and winery, the old cottage dates back to the 1850s. The property was originally a farm, then an orchard and finally in the 1970s vines were planted for producing wine. The name 'skillogalee' comes from John Horrocks, he led an expedition inland that ran out of food, so they had to make 'skillogalee' a gruel of water and grass seeds. When he returned to Penwortham he named a creek there Skillogalee to remember that expedition. The winery takes its name from the creek that runs through the property.

Skillogalee vines plus a windmill which is part of many a rural landscape in Australia. The windmills pump underground water to the surface.

Kilikanoon Winery which comes highly recommended as one of the must visit wineries in the Clare Valley.

The outdoor garden at the Kilikanoon cellar door.

Sevenhill is the village that grew around the college and cellars the Jesuits established.

The Sevenhill Hotel, a popular venue for events in the area, there was a wedding reception there the previous evening with cars parked everywhere!

I love this old advertising mural on the side of the cottage, in the past they were painted on the local grocery store wall. Rosella to me will always be a brand of canned soup! Seems they also had pickles, it was a long time before I learnt that a Rosella is a native Australia bird with brightly coloured feathers!

I'm an avid watcher of the British show Grand Designs which often has people in the U.K. doing a barn conversion. I was surprised to see some barn conversions in the Clare Valley, this one seems to have been a stable and now converted to a private home.

This cottage looked as though it was being restored, I love that people see the value of restoring these old buildings and breathing new life into them.

The towns and villages in the Clare Valley are connected by something called the Reisling Trail, it's possible to ride a bike along the trail from town to town, winery to winery!