Whale Migration and Seismic Testing

Seismic testing has been given the go ahead along Newcastle’s coastline. It involves sending repetitive sonic blasts into the ocean floor to identify natural gas deposits, which in turn has the potential to effect everything pretty much everything through the marine life chain.

These pictures are from last weekends protest rally here in Newcastle, NSW, where it seems  someone forgot to ask the community if they actually wanted a potential offshore gas field along their beautiful coastline. The testing also coincides with annual whale migration, meaning both testing and consequences of potentially having an offshore oil or gas field surely need to be seriously reconsidered.

Further reading can be found here.

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It’s all coming together

the sunrise swimmers

The next few weeks are filled with preparations, lists slowly being whittled down, installing, and rather a lot of strong coffee, (ahhh yes, coffee.)

And after all that coffee is drunk? The Sunrise Swimmers exhibition officially launches.

My book also launches. That launch week will see a crazy amount of people coming to celebrate the delicious joy of sea swimming at sunrise.

From here on in, the boxes of beautiful shiny books are standing by the wall. The bottles of wine are ready to go by the door. The invitations have been sent out, posters are being placed in corners of this wonderful city, and encouraging words are being gathering by all kinds of lovely people.

Seeing this project slowly unfurl, piece by piece has been amazing, but to stand here now and watch these last few weeks really come together, well THAT is very exciting!

 

The Sunrise Swimmers

Nearly two years ago I loosely started a project as a way of reconnecting to a city I hadn’t called home for a really long time. All I knew is, it would involve a camera and the ocean. As time went on this delicious project evolved into The Sunrise Swimmers. It’s something I’ve put my whole heart into, and next month this collection of portraits, seascapes and stories from the early morning swimmers of Newcastle’s iconic, Merewether Ocean Baths is launched. My solo exhibition is supported by Olympus and will be on for 7 weeks at Newcastle Library, and along with it, a limited edition book.

Am I excited? You betcha. I feel incredibly lucky to have been a part of this project and to have met so many wonderful, wonderful people because of it. Connecting with community is something that is incredibly important to me, and through this project I’ve done just that. Tapped into the most wonderful, sea loving community of people, while being able to tell a tiny part of their stories. Yep I’ve loved every part of it!

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To register for tickets (it’s free, yay!) for both the exhibition and book launch event. Please clickity click here.

For the love of bees

Native Stingless Bees Australia || cityhippyfarmgirlNative Stingless Bees || cityhippyfarmgirl

I hadn’t seen the bees for awhile now. It being winter and actually feeling like winter, I’m like a concerned parent. Silently hoping for a day over 18 degrees, just so I can check in on them all, make sure the hive is ok. A reassuring healthy buzzing bee off on a foraging trip, that’s all I need to see.

That day comes, it’s warm, it’s crazy warm and the first thing I do after ripping my too hot woollen scarf draped around my neck is scamper up the hillside (err, slight slope in the very urban backyard but who’s paying attention to those details) to see if the bees are out. They are! My little native stingless friends are out and about and there is rather a lot of them.

In summer, first thing in the morning. I can sit outside, close my eyes, and hear a bunch of different bees and other pollinators amongst the tomato flowers. Opening my eyes I would often find a variety of different bees crowding a flower peppered plumbago. The hedge really should have been pruned back long ago but I can’t seem to do it with so many bees sourcing their daily foraging needs within the blue flower buds. It would feel a bit mean.

Ever since I did a Native Stingless Bee course, bees have been a constant source of intrigue and curiosity. Not just the native stingless ones, but the whole lot of them. European honey bees, solitary bees, they really are incredibly interesting creatures.

Gina Cranson

I adore this poster by Gina Cranson. Copies of the poster can be bought through a variety of places, but you can start with her Etsy site if you are keen, (there also now available QLD versions). One of these posters sits above my desk- learning the different types just by glancing at the pictures several times a day.

When we lived in Sydney, I had organised for our local council to fund some native stingless bee hives to set up residence within the school grounds. There were 3 when we left which opens up the possibilities for either splitting the hives and passing another on to another school or harvesting the honey. Either way it’s a wonderful lesson for school kids, and I’m hoping to do the same here at our new school.

Another option for bee lovers is to host a honey bee hive. Not technically yours for keeps, but a wonderful alternative, which gives a pollinated garden and proportion of the honey as a trade off. It’s a winning system I tell you.

insect hotel || cityhippyfarmgirl

More reading and information for all the bee enthusiasts out there

Earth Garden magazine frequently writes on a variety of our wonderful bees.

Awhile back I wrote about how to create your own Insect Hotel, over on Milkwood.

Tim Heard is the Native Stingless Bee master with his book The Australian Bee Book, (he also does frequent talks and workshops up and down the East Coast of Australia several times a year.)

Urban Hum hosts hives if you are in Newcastle, NSW.

Doug Purdie from The Urban Beehive, has you covered for all things honey bee related.

 

 

Seven kinds of lovely

Hunter Valley 6 || cityhippyfarmgirlHunter Valley 5 || cityhippyfarmgirlHunter Valley 1 || cityhippyfarmgirlHunter Valley 3 || cityhippyfarmgirl

Hunter Valley 2 || cityhippyfarmgirlHunter Valley 7 || cityhippyfarmgirlHunter Valley 4 || cityhippyfarmgirl

It doesn’t happen often, so when it does, it’s lovely… Seven kinds of lovely.

Lovely big quiet spaces to explore

Lovely log fires to practise fire making skills

Lovely misty mornings

Lovely smokin’ hot tea

Lovely little towns to walk to for coffee

Lovely visiting dogs

Lovely little family break.

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Hope your tea is hot and your toes are warm this week people.

Also, thank you so much to all the lovely kind people who dropped in and said hello in my last past. It was really wonderful seeing all the comments trickle in from long term commenters, to people who had often lurked in the shadows and commented before. Thank you!

 

Autumn, you are confused…and I’m worried

sea || cityhippyfarmgirl
tomatoes || cityhippyfarmgirl autumn 01 || cityhippyfarmgirlutumn 00 || cityhippyfarmgirl

With 10 days to go before winter technically starts, Autumn isn’t looking overly well…autumnal.

As I write this it’s a sunny 26C, the sea temperature is as lovely as it was in peak summer. The tomatoes are still flourishing, again like mid summer. The sun is still with a bite to it that makes you seek shade, sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat, (responsible sun use in this country is not something to be taken lightly.)

While a recent trip to the Blue Mountains saw lots of beautiful Autumn colour changes, this isn’t particularly evident closer to sea level. It’s simply too warm, too dry and with that I have a garden regularly gasping for water.

I live in an area where there should be seasonal changes showing by now, and when those differences are rather minute?

I can’t help but be a bit worried.

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How about you? Are your seasons as they should be? Is there rain? 

Getting the balance right… in Bellingen

Dorrigo || cityhippyfarmgirl

Time to be creative, in making, in music, in words and in play.

Time to talk, time to think, time to just be.

Tell me, why does it seem so damn tricky to find this beautiful balance on a regular basis?

How do you balance it? The creative time, the music making, the thinking, and the play time? Is it a juggle? Does it only ever happen on holidays? Is it even a priority? I’m curious…

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Some time in the last week was spent in the beautiful township and surrounding area of Bellingen. I don’t do reviews on this blog, but I do, ‘do’ experiences, and for this place? Five, crystal clear illuminating stars. A stunningly beautiful part of the world, that I’m dead keen on getting back to.

The Hyde || cityhippyfarmgirl

Gold in the sky, Hill End

Hill End || cityhippyfarmgirl

The clocked slowed down, I’m sure of it. Somewhere over the Blue Mountains it gained time, (or lost depending on which way you looked at it.) There’s no other explanation for it. How else could you combine climbing through an old gold mine, historical street wanders, bush walks, long hot coffees, games of cricket, museums, river explorations, meandering meal times and copious amounts of rock scrutiny? This is what happens when you spend a long weekend in Hill End, you gain time, by going back in time.

If you hadn’t heard of Hill End, you probably wouldn’t be the first. It’s a tiny old gold rush town that used to boast 10,000 people living within it’s gold encrusted hills. Not now though, now it has a whittled down community of about 120 permanent people apparently.

Along with gold, Hill End has also been a draw card for many artists. Peter Adams did an incredible photographic series (and stories) of all the long term locals that had lived in the area. (This book is absolutely divine, and I’m kicking myself for not getting it when I was there.)

Russell Drysdale and Donald Friend were also regulars going back a bit further, with the iconic Australian painting- The Cricketers (R. Drysdale) set there.

The tiny township has (and is) being preserved for its historical past as a part of National Parks and Wildlife. What this means is that, you can walk down the street, and really imagine how it all used to be. Signs and photos help bring this old gold town to life again. You can imagine the muddy streets, the noise of the mine work and the smell of the days that once were. Amazing stuff.

Hill End || cityhippyfarmgirl

Another thing that makes this town a bit special is that I have family buried here. For someone who thinks quite a lot, my brain got quite a work out imaging the lives of some of these people while wandering through the old graveyard.

Hill End || cityhippyfarmgirl

Hill End || cityhippyfarmgirl

Orange, reds, brown and blue. There were many trees still with their autumnal colours in the tiny town. A most vivid of blue sky, and stars, so many stars.

You can easily forget just how magnificent the stars truly are when you live in a big city. Sitting out in the pub’s beer garden on one of the cold nights, all rugged up and eating our food, I quietly wondered whether the gold seekers over the years had ever looked up.

I hope so. Looking up at the sky on our last night, it looked like the night was littered with all the gold specks that the miners themselves had been so desperately seeking. It seems it was there in the sky all along.

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Hill End

A wonderful place to visit if you want a tiny snapshot of Australia’s gold rush history. 

Seasonal Eats- The Winter Edition

brussel sprouts || cityhippyfarmgirlbeetroot || cityhippyfarmgirl

The eggplant and basil have slowly slipped away and been replaced with potatoes, brussel sprouts and beetroot. Meals are being planned around pumpkin, mandarins are being snacked on and kale? Well kale is fairly consistently there.

I’ve said it before, but I will say it again. I feel that we are incredibly lucky living in an area that has such abundance in food varieties, despite the different seasons. The cooler seasons where in some parts of the world, the eating would start getting incredibly restrictive, here just gives us a different array of colours, tastes and still we get to keep it relatively local. That right there, is pretty damn wonderful.

Some delicious things to look out for coming into the winter season

beetroot (roasted and turned into dip)

broccoli (served olive oil and awesome salt)

cabbage (sauerkraut yes please)

cauliflower 

daikon (pickled)

kale (sausage rolls yes indeed, recipe to come for that one)

leek (leek and potato soup)

potatoes

carrots

limes

mandarins

quince

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What’s cooking in your kitchen at the moment? Is it now the beginnings of Winter or Summer for you?

If by chance you live in Sydney and you would like to try out a seasonal-delivered to your door fruit/vegetable box- OOOOBY is offering any readers $15 off your first box if you type in CITYHIPPYFARMGIRL as a referral code.