Search This Blog

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Coastal Walk, New Plymouth

Walk a section of the west coast of New Zealand

So, it's actually a small section of the west coast! The Coastal Walkway is a 12.7km path than can be walked or cycled, even skateboarded along the coast from the town of New Plymouth.

The walkway goes from Port Taranaki, way in the distance of this photo! (The industrial chimney in this picture fascinated me as it's right next to a natural landmark. The chimney isn't used anymore but it has navigation lights at the top. Also used by the locals as an 'on the spot' weather report. If you can't see the chimney (because of fog) during the day, the airport is shut!) The rock is Paritutu Rock and can be climbed. The  beaches are popular with local holiday makers and really popular with kite surfers (saw 2 kite surfing in a storm!!) and surfers in general. Lots of driftwood on the beach due to all the storm activity that hits the west coast. Not just a few small pieces but large logs!

As the walkway meanders up the coast, Mt. Taranaki can be seen in the distance.

Mt. Taranaki behind the golf course. The Tom Cruise movie The Last Samurai was filmed in New Zealand and Mt. Taranaki was used as a standin for Mt. Fuji, from this side, it very much looks like Mt. Fuji. From the other side, you can see the parasite volcano on Mt. Taranaki so the similarity ends.

The walkway crosses the Waiwakaiho River and this pedestrian bridge was purpose built. It's the Te Rewa Rewa bridge and I love the architectural design that went into it. It's placed so people can look across the bridge to Mt. Taranaki in the distance. The curves of the bridge can be either a whale skeleton (which is the image I see) or a crashing wave. The original design had the curves opening up in the other direction (towards the sea), it was turned around so that it opened up to Mt. Taranaki. I love everything about this design, it goes to show that modern architecture can be just as interesting and imaginative as historic architecture. (Excluding Brutalism, I hate the South Bank architecture in London!!)

So back to the pretty bridge!

The walkway is very popular with locals as well as visitors, there are campsites next to it as well as a caravan park. The bridge is a very popular photo spot, I had to wait quite a while to get pictures with no people in them! There was a large family group all wanting individual photos at one point! The walkway is well maintained, wheelchair uses were able to use it independently. I didn't walk the entire length, just a few kilometres, but probably the most scenic parts of it! 

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

ANZAC Day 2017

Memorials in Australia and New Zealand

Last year I commented that in travelling around Australia, it was quite noticeable how many towns had war memorials. Generally they all dated back to the 1920s and were originally erected to commemorate the fallen from what was then called The Great War. (Now World War I as other wars followed) Australia suffered a huge loss of life and there was a desire to have permanent memorials as so many lives were touched by that loss.

City councils, local councils and the councils from small towns ran fundraising drives for memorials to be placed in their area. After World War II, many were upgraded and the names of the fallen from that war were added. Names from further conflicts can also be found on the memorials, many have been restored as younger generations have become more interested in Australia's military past.

The memorials too, seem to reflect the population of the area, smaller places have similar memorials, large cities have a grand memorial.

This past year I've been quite conscious of looking to see if there's a memorial and here are the ones I've come across. With a trip to New Zealand, I've been able to include memorials there as well.


The Crafers memorial, Crafers was (and still is) a small town/village in the Adelaide Hills. A simple memorial with crossed rifles embossed in the plinth, by the looks of the lettering this memorial has been restored.

Memorial at Aldinga, at the time a small village so another simple memorial. It's on a main road, now a very busy main road and I didn't want to risk an arm or leg trying to cross speeding traffic to get a closer view!

The Auburn memorial in the Clare Valley.

Renmark, in the South Australian riverland. The Institute building is behind it, the queue outside is for the Rose Festival display held in October.

The Cairns memorial, on the top is a soldier with his slouched hat, the most common image on the memorials was the soldier leaning on his rifle.

The figure on this memorial at Burnside (a suburb of Adelaide) is the most unusual one I've seen on a memorial. The soldier has a tin hat, he's bending down and it seems he's pushing up the rifle. Not a very clear photo as it was a quick one taken on my phone, as I walked past.

The Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, each of the trees has a plaque as they commemorate a particular military unit.

New Zealand


Rotorua, the memorial is in the Government Gardens.


Wellington, the National War Memorial. The tower part houses the Carllion, a series of bells that can be rung.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Gardens around the world (Part 1!)

I really love gardens!

I noticed that I had quite a few photos of different gardens around the world and in particular close ups of flowers!

Part of the parterre garden at Versailles, just outside Paris, France. It was spring so plenty of bulbs, it was just gorgeous! The park is worth visiting on its own, even if you don't want to see inside the palace. The park is huge with different areas to visit, including the Petit Trianon which was Marie Antoinette's private escape from the formalities of the Parisian court.

Shanghai, China, this was actually a traffic island! I spotted these topiary sculptures in other public spaces in the city. This one is at the top of The Bund, near Suzhou Creek (which is more of a river than a creek!)

Banksia in the North Head National Park, Sydney, Australia.

Hydrangea path, loved the purple ones! Tupare, New Plymouth, New Zealand.

Blue hydrangea, the flower heads were enormous! This one looked like an old lady's hat from the 1960s! 

Purple hydrangea, this one was new to me, I'm used to seeing hydrangeas in either pink or blue. (Mainly pink, most of the ones I saw in New Zealand were the blue variety)

Orchid from the National Orchid Garden in the Singapore Botanic Gardens. (The Botanic Gardens are free to enter there is a fee to get into the Orchid Garden)

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore, Cloud Forest, the tropical rainforest conservatory, complete with waterfalls and white orchids.

Cornflowers in the garden at Sans Souci, Potsdam, Germany. I was quite excited to see cornflowers, I don't think I've ever seen them in Australia. I loved the vivid blue colouring and it reminded me of all the descriptions I had read in books where someone had 'cornflower blue eyes' or 'wore an outfit of cornflower blue'.

The Women's Cross of Sacrifice in the Pennington Gardens, Adelaide, Australia. St. Peter's Cathedral in the distance. 

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The Barossa Valley, South Australia

A premier wine region of Australia

This week the Barossa hosts the Vintage Festival, so I thought it would be a good time to post about the area. The Barossa Valley was listed on European maps by Colonel William Light he was the surveyor who planned Adelaide. (Unlike other Australian cities, Adelaide's claim to fame was that it was a planned city created for paying immigrants, no convicts to be seen!)
William Light fought in the 'Battle of Barrossa' and named the ranges and valley after that battle, there was a mistake in the cartographer's office and the name was misspelt as Barossa, and the valley has been known by that name ever since.

European settlement came with people from Prussia seeking religious freedom. The King of Prussia at the time tried to force Lutherans to unite with the Reformed Church, anyone who was caught attending a Lutheran service was fined or imprisoned. A Lutheran minister called Pastor Kaval, organised for his congregation to move to a country where they could practise their religion freely. After a few false starts he met with George Fife Angas of The South Australia Company and with his financial support was able to bring his people to South Australia. Their first stop was what's now the Adelaide suburb of Klemzig (named after the town they were from) then Hahndorf (today still known as the German village in the Adelaide Hills) and finally the area know as the Barossa 
Valley. Which they named New Silesia as they were from Silesia, now part of Germany and also a section in Poland. (Had to actually look this up!)

As freedom of religion was the main reason to move across the world from all that was familiar to them, the Barossa has various historic Lutheran churches. (It's not just all wineries and vineyards!)

The first settlement was established at what's now known as Bethany, originally known as Bethanien. The village was established in 1842, with a schoolhouse established the following year and the church in 1845. The 'New Church' is what's there now, was built in 1883. Bethany was overtaken by Tanunda as the main town and currently it's a sleepy little village with a church, some homes and a winery.

The next settlement was Langmeil (now just outside Tanunda) and this is the Langmeil Church and pioneer cemetery. Langmeil was established in 1843, so the year after Bethany, a school and church were built and progressively the numbers of Lutheran settlers increased as those who were already there encouraged others to migrate. The current church was built in 1888.

The main street of Tanunda has the Tabor Lutheran Church. The original church was built in 1850, then rebuilt in 1870 and the tower is relatively new, it was added in 1910. 

All 3 churches are within 2 or 3 kilometres of each other, yet each had its own congregation and community around it.

My favourite church to see has to be Gnadenfrei Church as it can be seen over the vineyards.

It still has that country church feel and look to me, the church is actually called St. Michael's, Gnadenfrei is the name of the area before the anti-German feeling of World War I had German place names changed. Gnadenfrei become Greenock, although the church is just outside the village of Maranaga. The current church (again the new church!) replaced an older one in 1867, there is a pioneer cemetery behind the church.

The highest point in the valley is Mengele's Hill and there's a lookout over the valley and a sculpture park, just below the lookout.

The original Lutherans who settled in the area planted what they knew and that included grapes to create wine. That was the foundation of the wine industry that can be found in the Barossa today. The Seppelt family were one of these pioneers and the winery that they established is still one of the best known in the Barossa.

Seppeltfields Road with the palms, the owner of Seppeltfields had the palms planted during the Depression as a work project for unemployed locals. They are now one of the most photographed parts of the Barossa.

The path leading up to the Seppelt family mausoleum, with palms!

Location sign at the Jacob's Creek winery with vineyards beyond.

The Week of April 19th to 23rd, the Barossa is hosting its Vintage Festival with various activities in the local towns and wineries. 

Friday, 14 April 2017

Sacred Garden, Adelaide

At the Monastery, Glen Osmond

Today is Good Friday, the day Catholics traditionally pray the Stations of the Cross. (The events leading up to Jesus' death) Adelaide has a garden with marble sculptures of the Stations, even for those who aren't religious it's quite lovely to visit.

The sculptures are made from Carrara Marble and they were commissioned by the Passionist Priests in the early 1950s. They're considered significant works of art and are from Ferdinando Palla Studio in Pietrasanta, Tuscany. Each Station is carved from one block of marble and they weigh about a ton. It took several years for them to be shipped out to Australia, as each one took about 8 months to sculpt. The Stations were commissioned from the Passionists' novitiate (training college for would be priests) in Goulburn is country New South Wales.

When the Passionists sold the property in 1974, they Stations were packed and moved to the Sisters of Mercy novitiate (this one's a training college for nuns), still in Goulburn, until that too was closed in 2000.

Plans were then made to bring the sculptures to Adelaide and establish the Sacred Garden at the Passionist Monastery. New plinths were made for the sculptures and historic walls and pathways restored. It's now a lovely peaceful and reflective garden, open every day.

The first Station as you enter the garden, each Station was designed as a tableau of 3 or 4 figures.

Jesus falls.

The garden area was already part of The Monastery, so there were established trees there already, such as this huge Morton Bay Fig.

Simon carries the cross.

A heritage path of cobblestones with olive trees either side, dropping olives onto the path. At both sides of the path there is a warning sign that the surface is very uneven, take care and walk on it at your own risk. (A bit sad I thought that it was necessary to have such a sign in a reflective garden, but probably just an indication of the times we live in.)

Jesus' body is carried from the cross.

The Way of the Cross (the Stations) date back to the 5th century and become widespread in the 12th and 13th centuries. As churches had no seating, it was a way of congregations connecting with the story of Jesus' death. Catholic churches have the stations on their walls depicted as paintings, or pictures, or 3D type pictures with the Stations numbered in Roman Numerals. Good Friday is when Catholics traditionally pray at each station as they walk the path that led to Jesus' crucifixion. 

The Sacred Garden is another way that people can pray at the Stations, and today there will be groups of people praying at each station.

The sculptures are listed with the National Trust and The Monastery has a very helpful website where I got all the historic information about them.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Clare, South Australia

A base from which to explore the Clare Valley

The town of Clare is the main urban centre (if a town of just of 3,000 people can be called urban!) in the Clare Valley. It was established in 1842, and named after Clare in Ireland.

It's been a prosperous town, as well as the surrounding wine areas, the local area is a major producer of fine wool. The historic buildings in Clare reflect its past prosperity (and current) as they've been restored and are still being used. The building on the right was the Institute Building, built in 1872, most country towns have an institute building and it was always a fairly substantial one. The building on the left is the Court House, built in 1880.

An indicator of how prosperous a town had been is the amount of major buildings in the main street that are banks. Not all the banks have survived but the buildings have, this one is still a bank. It dates back to 1877.

A slightly more modern bank, this one constructed in 1881! Still a bank today.

Former bank, now a real estate office, going by the external decorations this one is 20th century.

This is the old town hall, the tower has blank clock faces as the town ran out of money and never completed it!

The Clare Town Hall, a local philanthropist gave money to build a larger town hall on an unsightly section of the main road. The hall was completed in 1926 and it does have a clock!

This is now privately owned but was built and owned by a major company in Clare, it was locally called the castle.

The Bentley Hotel, classic Australian pub architecture, wide verandahs and balconies, with the wine region touch of grape vines!

The Clare Hotel, no wide verandahs!

Roscrow B&B, this had been a church and has been converted to bed and breakfast accommodation.

St. Michael's Catholic Church, it dates back to 1883, it's now in the catholic school's yard, the school has grown around it.

The town of Clare is a good base for exploring the Clare Valley, the old railway line that ran from Clare to Riverton has been converted to a cycling and walking trail and it's a pleasant way to move between the various small towns and wineries.

Clare is the major regional centre, it has the local hospital, the high school, police and fire station, and it's a popular stop for a weekend break as the town offers plenty of accommodation for those wanting to explore the local area.