With my swag all on my shoulder Black billy in my hand
I travelled the bush of Australia
Like a true-born native man

The FJ Holden A favourite Australian car Don Loffler 230 x 210 PB 336 PP (48 COL) 500 PHOTOS 1862545839 $49.95 Cars / Illustrated History APN 9781862545830 Wakefield Press

Published to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the famous FJ Holden in 2003, this book follows Don Loffler’s previous best-sellers She’s a Beauty: The Story of the First Holdens and Still Holden Together. The FJ Holden is a loving book devoted to the most popular classic Holden model commonly known as the FJ model. It is gorgeously illustrated with 48 pages of full colour and over 500 photographs in black and white, and includes a wealth of history, stories and information about Australia’s best known car.

Old Ghost Towns
A Summer Excursion.

"Things are so permanent in England,' remarked an Australian traveller on returning to his homeland. "Even the tracks of a Roman chariot can still be seen on a grassy Roman road."

Meanwhile, in Australia towns of several hundred inhabitants rose and disappeared within a century. Australia has many ghost towns and villages of long forgotten mining booms. Tucked away, well off the beaten track, lie abandoned places.

Walhalla is Gippsland's most evocative and loved historic town. Hidden in a deep, steep sided valley, Walhalla is home to fewer than 20 permanent residents who keep the spirit and memories of this once thriving village alive.

Walhalla was one of Australias richest towns after gold was discovered here in 1863. Almost 3,500 people lived and worked in the area at its peak during tile 1880s. Fires, flood and disease were just some of the pioneering hardships to endure during the gold era.

Life in Walhalla may have been tough, but the lure of gold made this mountain outpost a vibrant and proud place, with 10 hotels, 7 churches, several dance halls and more than 30 shops. When the gold ran out in 1914, Walhalla's decline was rapid. Many houses were removed on the newly built railway from Moe, while others were simply abandoned. For almost all of the 20th century, Walhalla was virtually frozen in time. Electricity was only connected in 1998 and, after nearly a century, of being it ghost town, many of its buildings are now being lovingly restored or rebuilt.

If you live in Victoria, Australia, pack a picnic, fire up the old Holden and head off to Walhalla for the day. If you have international visitors make a point to take them to this quirky old town. If not, make sure to use all the Walhalla links and take a virtual tour of the place.

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Creative Summer Holiday Excursions

When I was growing up in country Victoria in the 1950's we used to pile into the old Holden and head out most Sundays, up the Dargo road to The Arches, an eccentric little cottage, hidden amid the blooms of banskia roses. The Arches perched near the gurgling Freestone Creek, not far from the Blue Pools, our favourite swimming hole.

The Arches were the home of Archie and Edna Hair, a couple my parents befriended and we children loved everything about them, their tiny house and the Australian bush that they had come to call home.

These days, when I want to voyage within and find the mythical Australia of my childhood all I need to do is ride on the wings of memory to that enchanting place outside Briagalong. This land that I visit is a land of similes and metaphor. The scent of the gum restores my doubting heart and I cock my head to listen as the kookaburra, perched on a limb, laughs rowdily, like an old larrikin on a bar stool with a glass of Fosters Beer in his hand.

Terra Australis.

Voyage within you, on the fabled ocean,
And you will find that Southern Continent,
Quiros' vision - his hidago heart
And mythical Australia, where reside
All things in their imagined couterpart.

It is your land of similies: the wattle
Scatters its pollen on the doubting heart:
The flowers are wide-awake; the air gives ease.
There you come home; the magpies call you Jack
And whistle like larrikins at you from the trees.

extract from Terra Australis by James McCauley

Creative Excursions to Re-fuel

Julia Cameron coined the term 'Artist Dates' in 'The Artist's Way' and there is no doubt that our creative spirit needs such nurturing. You can 'voyage within yourself' without going out your front door but some excursions may just give you the creative edge. Lap swimming does wonders for me. But physical exercise like this is not for everyone.

A favourite summer destination of mine is the Melbourne Zoo. I love to stop to talk to folks like the Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo and to chat with the Southern Hairy-Nosed Womabats about the benefits of safely burrowing. "Excellent protection against bushfires and predators such as the dingo, Australia's wild dog", one authorative wombat assured me.

Another wonderful outing is a visit to the cemetary to look at the old headstones. Many Australian luminaries have ended up at Waverly Gardens which is a beautiful cemetary by the sea in Sydney.

Not all cemetaries remain in their original location. On the death of Lieutenant John Oxley, a noted Australian Explorer, the Government of New South Wales accorded him a state funeral. He was buried in the Devonshire Street Cemetary, Sydney. In later years, when the Central Railway Station was built on the site the remains of those buried there were removed elsewhere. Oxley's grave could not be located. Then his tombstone turned up, being used as a doorstep in a Sydney residence. It seems the pillaging of tomstones for use in homes was a frequent occurrence.
yarn from Tales of Old Australia by Bill Beatty.

Head off with your backpack filled with nourishment and spend some quiet time in an old cemetary. A chat with a resident could prove quite enlightening.

Recommended Projects and Activities

1. Pack lunch and visit your local zoological gardens and stop to talk to the animals.

2. Instead of going out you might like to consider getting away from the page and stimulating your creative process by doing some patchwork with a friend. Recently a Patron of this celebrated cafe sent images of her quilts and inspired this suggestion from a fellow creative.

"I marvel at beautiful quilts and the stories they bring with them: At school we brought out patches and made a quilt that was raffled for various much needed funds but it was our mothers who gathered and had a bee for the quilting. At home my mother saved the bits from all of our various summer clothes, sewed them together and when winter came Dad set up the frames in our living room and we quilted while we listened to the radio (Major Bowes anyone?). Each of my mother's quilts told the story of our lives in the previous year. When any one of the women in the community had made a quilt she invited everyone to a bee. Sometimes there was a donation to the local women's group as thanks. We had two types of batts for quilts : warm woolen and cotton. When my son was younger he and his girl friend made denim quilts for his camper van but my dear daughter seldom owns a needle!" Fran Sbrocchi.

Maybe you are not a sewer. Remember that you can quilt with images from magazines. I love the idea of collecting scraps from old clothes that tell a story.