Take an art break… at Tweed Regional Gallery

Copyright: Louise Creely

Pursuit (2004) by sculptor John Petrie at the Tweed Regional Gallery

If you’re living or staying on the coast in the NSW Northern Rivers region and you’re feeling a little ‘beached out’, it might be time to head inland to Murwillumbah for a change of scenery – and to visit a simply stunning regional art gallery.

The Lonely Planet describes the Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre as ‘exceptional’ and ‘an architectural delight’ – and you won’t be disappointed.

While it wouldn’t be out of place in a major city, the gallery sits with elegance and attitude in the hills overlooking the Tweed River.

Copyright: Louise Creely

View from the deck…

From Wednesday to Sunday you’ll see an amazing collection of works in a variety of media, along with touring exhibitions of national significance across six exhibition spaces.

The Yellow Room - a plaque at the gallery describes how Ollie painted in different rooms of her home studio, 'following the light around the house as the sun moved across the sky'.

The Yellow Room – a plaque at the gallery describes how Ollie painted in different rooms of her home studio, ‘following the light around the house as the sun moved across the sky’.

And then there is the incredible Margaret Ollie Art Centre.

Here, the celebrated Australian painter’s home studio has been meticulously recreated from photographs taken within 10 days of her passing in 2011.

All that art can work up an appetite, but that’s covered here too.

Step into the Gallery Cafe for some delicious food and bevs, before heading off to soak up the vintage village atmosphere in the township of Murwillumbah.

It’s a perfect way to spend a lazy summer’s day. No sunscreen required.

 

 


A fresh page to write your adventures

Copyright: Louise CreelyIt’s easy to get to the end of a year and wonder where your resolutions went. If you’re like me, you left them at the gym about mid-January.

But don’t despair. This is the perfect time to write your ‘done list’. The big, small, easy, fear-facing, clever, inspired or a little bit dull kind of stuff you actually did in 2015.

Even if it was buying that bike ready for your touring adventures or sticking at swimming when you still feel like a whale caught in a shark net…

Because if you look at what you’ve done, not the un-conquered to-do list, then you’ll feel a whole lot better about you and your life. And that has to be a good thing.

Someday soon you’re going to pack up that touring bike and head off, or have your mermaid or merman moment.

Whatever it is you’re dreaming about, start now – in a great leap or small steps.

Today you turn to a fresh page. It’s time to start writing your adventure story.

Copyright: Louise Creely


First stop, Surry Hills

Copyright: Louise Creely

Last weekend we took a quick trip to Sydney to try out a tandem touring bike (as you do), to catch up with family and, the unplanned bit, to fall in love with Surry Hills.

Located on the city fringe, adjacent to notorious Kings Cross and right near Central Station, Surry Hills was once a bit of a slum area.

Today, it’s a melting pot of cultures, with a delicious retro, arty, entrepreneurial flavour – a happening place that has a village feel and a real sense of community.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Sunday breakfast in Surry Hills

Wander along its tree-lined streets window-shopping, then stop for a coffee (or vino) to watch the world go by.

It’s the perfect way to spend a lazy afternoon – and you’re likely to be served by switched-on wait staff, who are easy going and up for a chat.

If you’re keen to see some great parts of Sydney on foot (I’m with EB, so keen or not…) take a stroll past the Domain to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, then walk along the foreshores of Farm Cove to the Opera House, and back through the city to Surry Hills.

Of course, you can always take the civilised option and jump on a train to Circular Quay to catch a ferry around the harbour… but this 1.5 hour easy walk is worth every step.

The ‘civilised’ option comes later at one of our favourite restaurants, Longrain. It’s just down the road from our hotel and a perfectly delicious way to end a great stay in Surry Hills.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Fort Denison is a former penal colony and defensive facility

Copyright: Louise Creely

A swim with a view – a battle ship docked at the Garden Island Defense Base


Coastal wanderings – Crowdy Bay National Park

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I’ve worked out what it is. I’m a natural woman. Not the Woodstock, flower power flavour of natural (although there have been moments…), but natural in a bushland, beaches, rocky coastlines and wildlife kind of way.

I know there are those for whom ‘natural wonders’ equal five stars and a sea horse swizzle stick in their cocktail, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But for me, I feel the most at home in a national park somewhere.

Copyright: Louise Creely 2015It’s where I feel my chest expanding and I can finally breathe – even while scrambling up or down precarious rocky slopes (and that’s saying something when you have asthma!)

We’ve just arrived at Kylie’s Beach camping area in the stunning Crowdy Bay National Park.

It’s a favourite place of ours, even though the beach is particularly windswept today and the water is so icy it makes your feet ache.

Copyright: Louise Creely 2015

Australian author and poet Kylie Tennant’s writer’s retreat.

Instead of braving the icy waves and strong rip for too long, we head off along the coastal track.

Along the way, we pass the restored hut that was once the writer’s retreat of Australian author and poet Kylie Tennant.

At the peak of the hill, we leave the trail to wind our way down to a rocky, windswept headland.

Copyright: Louise Creely 2015

Here, the waves disappear into sea caves and burst through an arch into an amphitheatre carved by time and tides.

As we enter the impressive amphitheatre, the ground moves with a thousand crabs that swiftly disappear into secret places among the rocks and seaweed.

Copyright: Louise Creely 2015Back at camp, a wallaby and her joey feed on fresh spring grass.

The joey looks at us curiously, then nuzzles into mama’s pouch for a milky snack. Eventually, she bats him away and hops off, leaving him to feed on the grass alone.

Above us, a kookaburra perches on a branch, watching us sipping our crispy chardonnay.

It soon leaves to check out other campers who may have meaty treats to share.

A red aphid-like bug lands on my arm… and there’s a black fly in my chardonnay.

There’s a song in that, EB says.

All around us, bush creatures wake to hunt, mate and play under cover of darkness. The roll of distant thunder is oddly soothing and the waning moon is rising.

Ah, this is perfection – and, for me, this takes five stars to a whole new level. Just sayin’…

Copyright: Louise Creely 2015


Hanging out in Port Stephens

Copyright: Louise Creely

The most striking thing about Port Stephens, on the NSW coast, is the pristine beaches curving around each bay and cupping the gorgeous aquamarine waters.

Somewhere out there in this huge marine park are dolphins, turtles, sponge gardens, fish and more. While there are dolphin tours for all tastes, I was keen to get in there with them in their natural environment with Dolphin Swim Australia.

Talk about bad timing – and a reminder to book ahead if there’s something you really want to do on your holiday – the boat was out of the water being prepared for the tourist season. So… no wild dolphin swims for me.

This didn’t phase EB. He was itching to get me up a hill somewhere and, on the hottest day so far (of course), we headed up to the Tomaree Head Summit. There are a lot of stairs and a lot of locals panting up and down them with their earphones firmly wedged in place.

If you like to do more than just sweat up and down hills, the panoramic views are worth the effort.

You can also see the historic gun emplacements and other reminders that Australia was once ready to protect its shores from invasion.

In World War II, this natural harbour was an ideal entry point for hostile forces, intent on attacking the aerodrome at Williamstown and, more importantly, the Newcastle steelworks.

Steel was a vital wartime commodity, so Fort Tomaree was built here in 1942. It was a perfect vantage point, with 360 degree views covering the coastlines, headlands and surrounds.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Port Stephens is a great place for a family holiday, with beaches the kids (and you) will love.

I admit I was a little disappointed at not spotting a single dolphin, even from the headlands.

But we did have gorgeous early morning swims, and lots of walking and cycling. So I’m leaving fitter than when I arrived…and that has to be a good thing.

Next stop… Crowdy Bay National Park. 


Road trip – first stop Trial Bay

Copyright: Louise Creely 2015

Some of the most surprising places we’ve discovered lately are actually places one of us has been to in another life, another time.

I haven’t visited Trial Bay on the NSW coast for at least 30 years. And I don’t remember it being quite this stunning.

When you’re a kid, you’re into surf, scenery and wildlife. Just not the same kind of scenery and wildlife as now…

This was once my parents’ stomping ground. Their place in the world.

Copyright: Louise Creely

 

For the first time, I understand why they loved it – with its rugged coastline, wild-flowering coastal heathlands and secluded coves, it is one of the true gems in the North Coast region of NSW.

We are in awe as we take the coastal walk from Trial Bay Gaol to Little Bay.

It’s been the first non-travelling day of our holiday and EB has me up at the crack of dawn, breakfast eaten, and cycling into South West Rocks for espresso.

 

 

A short respite and we’re cycling back for a swim, before walking to Little Bay.

Yep, my usually desk-bound butt is feeling it! Perhaps calling this a ‘holiday’ was stretching the point…?

Copyright: Louise Creely

The best thing about road trips, apart from discovering new and amazing places in Australia, is that I always sleep well at night.

But the day is only half done, the tide is rising in the bay and… it’s time for another swim perhaps?

Common Fringed Lily and a scribbly gum...

Common Fringed Lily and a scribbly gum…


Go wild, in a civilised way:

Camping at Arakoon Conservation Area is a great choice if you love nature, coastal walks, pristine beaches and bays, and history – and you like to be a bit civilised too, with showers, toilets and cooking facilities.


Saying goodbye to our kelpie…

Copyright: Louise Creely, 2015On Friday, our escape vehicle was packed and we were ready to head off on our 10-day ‘beat the silly season’ road trip.

Temperatures in Brisbane were soaring, so we were hesitating. Our daughters were looking after our 16 year-old kelpie, Buffy, and we were half-expecting a call…

Buffy’s respiratory issues had been ramping up dramatically over the past two weeks, and the heat always knocked her around.

The call came just as we were about to leave – so instead of heading south, we made a mad dash north to Brisbane.

It was time to say goodbye to our little ‘rarity’. She’d been with us since 2001 and had grown up with our kids.

She was our obsessive foodie, our fierce protector, our friend. And when the time came, she went so peacefully in our arms we didn’t even know she’d gone.

Goodbye beautiful Buffy. Our beach won’t be the same without you…

Copyright: Louise Creely, 2015

Cloud-walking…


Follow your bliss…

We recently went back to Hobart for a few days to sort out an issue with tenants – and to revel in that feeling that we’ve come ‘home’, if only briefly. We’ve wanted to make a move here for six years now, but we  keep putting it off until ‘the time is right’.

Copyright: Louise Creely

It’s a sign (on a building in Hobart). It’s up to us to make stuff happen. We have to create our own story…

Copyright: Louise CreelyThere are moments in your life when you realise you just have to do this thing – plan it, work towards it or just take the leap. Because if you don’t, you’d better get used to living with regret.

And who wants to be 80-something and wishing you took the risk when you had the chance.

The ‘thing’ could be travel, a business venture, changing places or all of the above, like us.

The risk is clear for us – going to a city where we have no jobs (or, in my case, no clients), and missing our family and friends.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Blooming gorgeous…

What I wish for, when we do take that leap, is that our children might not hesitate when faced with a choice in their future – that they’ll be less risk averse and more likely to follow their bliss.

Copyright: Louise RalphBecause sometimes you’ve got to look beyond all the rational reasons and enticing excuses, to the place you need to be and the stuff you need to do to feed your soul.

And here’s another thing… choice is a privilege, and being torn between living in a gorgeous coastal town in northern NSW or a fresh and fabulous city in Tasmania is a blessing, when so many have no choice and no place to call home.

 

 

There’s never
a right time to leap…
there is only belief.


Here’s just some of the reasons we love Hobart and Tassie…

Copyright: Louise Creely

Salamanca markets always give me a sense of possibilities – the relaxed, creative energy entices me back every time and inspires the artist in me…

Copyright: Louise Creely

The water, the air and the food are so fresh and delicious! Coal River Farm (top) has just opened and has delicious cheese, chocolate and other treats. It’s just up the road from our favourite Frogmore Creek Winery – and they’ve got a sensational new menu, including these stunning dumplings (bottom left) and perfect riesling (middle). Back in Salamanca, Cargo has the most amazing Hoi Sin Duck Pizza (right).

Copyright: Louise Creely

TRADE at Brooke Street Pier in Hobart is a market space showcasing unique Tasmanian products and experiences – cheese, wine, whisky, cider, salmon, art, design, jewellery and more. You can also jump on a cruise or ferry here, to places like Mona, Peppermint Bay Cruise and Port Arthur.

Copyright: Louise Creely

We love the village atmosphere here – and those stunning blossoms in spring.

Copyright: Louise Creely

…we’ll be back


No more frantic…

Here’s something you haven’t heard (or thought) lately. Much. It’s been frantic and, with the silly season nearly upon us, it’s not likely to ease up any time soon.

I don’t know about you, but I’m over feeling rushed and pushed – and forgetting to breath.  If ‘busyness’ is a badge of honor, I’m taking it off.

I recently snapped my favourite Dr Seuss words, in a shop window in Hobart…

Copyright: Louise Creely

So…
Be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So… get on you way!

Thanks Dr Seuss, I think I just might…


SWELL’s up at Currumbin Beach

Jellyfish tree by Melissa Hirsch

Jellyfish tree by Melissa Hirsch

For 10 days each September, Currumbin Beach comes alive with creativity and wonder at the annual SWELL Sculpture Festival.

It’s the perfect way to spend a blissful spring day, with over 60 sculptures stretching one kilometre along the beachfront at the southern end of Queensland’s Gold Coast. The only challenge is to pick your favourite.

Created by artists from across Australia and the world, the sculptures range from hugely spectacular to tiny but powerful, with some coming alive at night (in a good way). And each has a story…

Marie-France Rose has created Cirque du Ciel (Circus of the Sky). One of these gorgeously elegant trapeze artists definitely belongs in my garden.

Marie-France Rose has created Cirque du Ciel (Circus of the Sky). One of these gorgeously elegant trapeze artists definitely belongs in my garden.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Tidelines by Tessa Bergen – reflecting the Surfers Paradise skyline, this piece highlights the changing face of our surrounds and the resulting impact on the natural environment…

#thewall by Leonie Rhodes - we've been making wall art since the days of cavemen. It's a valid, expressive and communicative form of art (and I love it!)

#thewall by Leonie Rhodes – we’ve been making wall art since the days of cavemen. It’s a valid, expressive and communicative form of art (and I love it!)

Copyright: Louise Creely

Ghost fish, googlemon and King Coal hit the beach at Currumbin

Roo Shooter by Jimmy Rix:

Roo Shooter by Jimmy Rix: “Some people do it for sport and some people do it for a profession, but I would like to see our Skippy fighting back.”

Magnificient, a life size sculpture of a line by Ivan Lovett - all made out of chicken wire. It really is...magnificent

Magnificient, a life size sculpture of a lion by Ivan Lovett – all made out of chicken wire. It really is…well…magnificent

Ben Carroll does some quick repairs to his sculpture Relics from Atlantis, which won the SWELL environmental award

Winner of the SWELL sculpture aware, Lost and Found by NSW artist Ingrid Morley, reflects

Winner of the SWELL sculpture award, Lost and Found by NSW artist Ingrid Morley, reflects “the tension and final breaking of the rope and the implied loss as the ‘boat’ breaks away”. Morley says her work is “a metaphor for the significant turning points in life”.

I sea by Guiseppe Filardo

I sea by Guiseppe Filardo

Sea tunnel by Adrienne Kenafake

Sea tunnel by Adrienne Kenafake

These are just some of my favourites – but there are so many brilliant works, it’s impossible to choose. I think the last word has to go to Greg Quinton and his Hills Hoist sculpture: You should always know where your towel is.

always know where your towel is


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