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Sunday, 30 October 2016

Martindale Hall, Mintaro South Australia

An English stately home in the Australian countryside

Martindale Hall fascinates me as it's such a 'fish out of water' a stately home sitting in the middle of the Australian landscape. 

It was built by a wealthy pastoralist, what makes it stand out is the 'Englishness' of home he built. Other large houses were built to suit the Australian climate with wide verandahs, not Martindale Hall. The original owner Edmund Bowman imported 20 English craftsmen to build the hall, during the 2 year construction period they lived in tents in the grounds. Very hot in summer and freezing during the winter!

Edmund Bowman lived a grand life, there was a polo field in the grounds, a cricket pitch where the English XI played during a trip to Australia.

It's been beautifully preserved, Edmund Bowman had to sell the Hall as his fortunes suffered badly during the 1891 Depression after a long period of drought. The family that bought it, also lived a grand life, but slowly died out, with the last male dying in 1950 and his widow donated the Hall to Adelaide University. The university handed it over to the State government and it was open to the public.


Each room has an explanation of what can be seen, this is the Drawing room and the fireplace is made of Corrara marble.

From the drawing room you enter into the dining room.

Just next to the dining room is the butler's pantry, I loved the wine bottle arrangement. This room gave me major Downton Abbey flashbacks to the scenes where Hudson decants the wine for the meals.

The 'smoking room' where the male guests would retire to after dinner (the ladies went to the drawing room). Really this house could not be more English! John Mortlock who owned the house in the early 20th century was quite the collector and this room houses much of his collection. Unlike the other rooms in the house, this one is roped off, you can't just walk around looking at the individual items.

One of the items he collected was this 16th century samurai armour.

The billiards room with a full size billiards table. The Mortlocks ran a sheep station and the pictures on the walls are some of their prize rams.

The master bedroom with William Morris wallpaper, all imported from England.

The ensuite bathroom.




The upstairs gallery, more Downton Abbey flashes. It seems as though, the architecture style of the stately English home of the late 19th century was basically the same, grand staircase, leading up to gallery, curved arches and bedrooms off the gallery and corridors beyond leading to more bedrooms. But this stately home is in the middle of an Australian paddock!

Martindale Hall had livein staff and this was the staff sitting room.

This room is another link with my fascination with Martindale Hall. As a teenager I read the book by Joan Lindsay Picnic at Hanging Rock. It was made into a movie and Martingale Hall was used as the school. According to the sign on the bed, this room was used as Miranda's (the main character's) room in the movie. I loved the book and the movie was just so etherial and spookier than the book! 

The coach-house, by the 1930s it was converted to a very ornate garage! Martindale Hall is very isolated even now, it's about 2 hours from Adelaide, it's just near the small town (village) of Mintaro which isn't on a main highway. It's amazing to think of the horses and carriages arriving there.

An avenue of trees on the driveway from the road to the houses.

I love visiting Martindale Hall and would put it on the must see list for anyone visiting the Clare Valley.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Kuranda, Far North Queensland

'A Village in the Rainforest'

Kuranda is a small town on the Atherton Tableland which is the destination of the Skyrail. The Skyrail station is a short walk from the town centre. (There is also a free shuttle bus for those who don't want to walk)

The Kuranda Hotel, the first major building you pass walking into town. Beautiful old Queensland style hotel with wide wooden verandahs. It says established 1880 which is very close to when the surrounding area was cleared for farming (in 1876) It seems farmers were a thirsty lot, or an entrepreneurial farmer saw a business opportunity!

Kuranda was established as a farming area, with coffee being grown there at first. Then timber became its main industry, tourism soon followed and now the town is reliant on the tourism industry.

The main street, the businesses all cater to tourists.

I liked how the main street railings, barriers and bollards are artworks, they're functional as well as decorative.





The town had a reputation as a place that attracted people searching for an 'alternative' lifestyle who were artistic. Popular local markets were set up for these artisans to sell their handiwork, these markets still exist but aren't as large as they were at their peak.


The Rainforest market.


And the Heritage Market.


Just outside the Heritage market, I heard this consistent loud noise like a tantruming young child. It was this bird making the noise!

Kuranda is a pretty little town, a nice destination once you disembark from the Skyrail. It's well set up for tourists with a variety of places to eat and a few different places to experience. And multiple places to shop at!!




Sunday, 23 October 2016

The Dressmaker exhibition

Hosted at Ayers House, Adelaide

Last year Ayers House hosted the very successfully Miss Fisher's costume exhibition and I was thrilled to see that this year, the costumes from the Dressmaker were to be exhibited.



The movie The Dressmaker starred Kate Winslet and is set in the 1950s, in rural Australia. Kate Winslet's character of Tilly Dunnage returns to the small town she grew up in, in the intervening years she had worked in the Paris fashion industry. (I won't give any more away about the movie, it's great though! The movie is based on the book The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham) The costumes are a vital part of the story. This exhibition has various costumes that the characters wear, designed by Marion Boyce and 'Tilly Dunnage' designs by Margot Wilson.


One of the 'Tilly Dunnage' designs which I loved. I called it the 'winged dress' as the cape to me looks like bird's wings, the pleats being the feathers. I think the official description lists it as 'fanned'.



The formal dining room is the first room that you enter and has the largest collection of costumes. Each display has explanations of the costumes and the materials used to create them.


This 'Tilly Dunnage' design is the first spectacular dress Tilly makes for another character. Unfortunately the photo doesn't catch the sparkles from the crystals in the netting of the dress.


Another favourite of mine, a Tilly Dunnage day dress, which is also being used on the poster of the exhibition.


The 'hideous' wedding dress made by a rival designer. A parody I thought on Lady Di's wedding dress, complete with enormous puffy sleeves, lace inserts large bow on the bodice and huge bow at the back of the dress!
The mannequins all have knitted booties on which made me laugh!


A Tilly Dunnage creation at the front as well as 2 plainer outfits worn by the townsfolk.



Loved the hat display!


Tilly makes costumes for an amateur dramatics society, this is "Three Little Maids from School" from the Mikado. Beautifully done, if not totally authentic (the obi (belts) were too small!) kimonos.


A wedding party, the blue dress is the 'Mother of the Bride' outfit.




Tilly's workroom.

The exhibition was lovely and Ayers House is the perfect setting to display the costumes. Having just recently visited Ayers House I was really impressed at how much effort went into creating the display. The various rooms had to be emptied of the furniture and other artefacts that make up the displays. All would  need to be carefully packed away and stored. Then the actual exhibition situated around the rooms, the hallway was used as well as the upstairs landing. A truly lovely exhibition in a delightful setting. It runs through until December 11th, I'm looking forward to what next year's exhibition will be!

Here's last year's exhibition of the costumes from Miss Fisher investigates.

Miss Fisher Exhibition

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Skyrail, Cairns

Glide up above the rainforest

Skyrail is the cableway that takes you above the rainforest, through to the small town of Kuranda. The embarkation point near Cairns is at Smithfield, about 15 minutes from the city centre of Cairns. The cableway itself is 7.5km long and there are 2 stops on the way.




The temptation when going up is to look up the mountain, but the best view is actually looking back the way you come.

Red Peak is the first stop and there's a boardwalk to walk in the rainforest.

These frames really made me laugh, they're instagram frames. I had to wait quite a long time to take a picture of them as people were posing with them!


The view from the lookout with the instagram frames. The gap in the far right of the picture is the weir at the Barron river which is part of the first hydro-electric plant in Australia, it was built in 1935. Quite the feat in those days!

The rainforest.

I thought I would pay the extra and go for 'Diamond view' the carriage had a perspex floor so you could look down into the canopy. Not great if you're scared of heights! I regretted getting the Diamond view, I am fine with heights, it was more that you had to wait longer for the right carriage! There's one in every 10, so people were quickly getting on a regular carriage while you waited for your special one.

View of Barron Falls from the Skyrail.

Barron Falls, October is the end of the dry season, so the falls weren't huge and there wasn't a large amount of water going over them.

This was an interesting display at the Barron Falls stop. Behind the falls is a hydro-electric plant, originally built in 1935, to get up into the rainforest to work on it, people and materials needed to come up over the forest. They used a Flying Fox (I had to really think what they're called outside of Australia. It came to me eventually 'a zipline') This was the last type they used, as they became more sophisticated, it had a roof!

Going over the Barron River just before coming into Kuranda.

The Skyrail station at Kuranda.

Using the cableway to travel over the rainforest was lovely, it's very quiet and you just glide along looking at the view.