Pichi Richi Train in Quorn

My last post for this trip is about another train journey. This time a step back in time.

In 1878, construction commenced on the Port Augusta and Government Gums Railway. The line was extended to Oodnadatta in 1891 and further to Alice Springs in 1929, establishing an important rail link to Central Australia.

The famous Ghan passenger train travelled this way from 1923 to 1956, and on the northern part of this route until 1980. Such a pity the Ghan doesn’t stop here now ut would be a great place to break the journey.

This historic train bring back the romance of train travel, as it was in its heyday a century ago. The name “Pichi Richi” came from the section of track between Port Augusta and Quorn, through the Pichi Richi Pass, which was first opened back in 1879.

During the war years this was a major junction for trains carrying troops. At one point 43 trains came through a day. The local women would feed the men in the local hall during a break in the trip. Quorn would have been a bustling town.

So the train is old. Today it is run entirely by volunteers. And what a variety of train enthusiasts offer their services to keep this historic train ride operating.

David, one such enthusiast met us at our assigned carriage to clip our ticket and welcome us aboard.

David looked the part – covered in train badges

We settled into our bench seats with other train buffs on this sellout Sunday morning short run through the Pichi Richi pass to Woolshed Flats.

David gave us a run down on the train and it’s history, speaking faster than the train was moving !

He told us that the carriage we were in named Warana was the one Mel Gibson sat in for the scene for the movie Gallipoli.

Many movies have used Quorn and this train in their scenes. Gallipoli, The Shiralee, The Water Diviner, Wolf Creek, Sundowners, The Tourist, to name just a few.

It’s such a popular attraction people stop their cars by the side of the road to watch & wave to those on board. Today with the marathon on with runners having started in Port Augusta it was extra busy.

We moved through the countryside through the pass and arrived at Woolshed Flat. Here you disembark and have morning tea while the engine is detached and moved around, in a move to then put it at the front of the train. Great to watch.

The engine moving to the front of the train for its return journey.

We spent half an hour chatting to other train buffs watching the engine manoeuvres. Our driver, an 82 year old man is assisted by his son and his 18 year old grandson who shovelled the coal. Trains run in the family.

David welcomed us back on board for the return journey. Our fellow passengers had bonded over the journey. There were four sisters away for a weekend who were joking, laughing and having a ball. A few caravaners on holidays and a family with two little children. The two year old boy was hooked. He loved this Thomas the Tank engine experience.

If you are in this area do yourself a favour and do a Pichi Richi train trip. At $61 it was a great experience and the money goes directly to its maintenance.

Good Morning Darwin

Our day had a alarming start to it. At 5am there was a loud beeping noise. Awaking suddenly I thought we had a bird in the room!

No it wasn’t………. it was the fire alarm outside our bedroom. We all came stumbling out half asleep to both alarms beeping loudly. And this was meant to be our sleep in day after two early touring days.

No fire. So we quickly rang reception. “Send help we called.” Jill appeared with a broom and Steve thought she was going to do a little sweeping. No, it was to push the off button.

It took at least half an hour of ear piercing alarm before the maintenance man arrived and removed the battery !

After a cup of tea we headed back to bed for another 2 hours sleep.

A little treat this morning. A lovely walk back to the waterfront precinct where we had dinner last night. This area really has added a lot of life to Darwin.

There are gardens with lovely seating and lounges, restaurants, a wave pool, a protected swimming area, a very long jetty out to the Royal Flying Doctors, and new apartments.

The swimming area
The wave pool
Looking toward the long jetty with the RFD

We enjoyed brunch and a little people watching before continuing our walk out to Mr Barra for prawns for dinner.

We decided on a quieter day. The Wilsons have been out touring Kakadu and are ready for a ‘down’ day.

We got very hot walking so headed to the pool for a swim and another walk up to Mitchell Street and to seek out some street art.

We finished the afternoon on our verandah having a few cool glasses of Prosecco and beer and playing cards! Great fun

Let’s hope we don’t have the alarm go off again tonight!

Thank you Adelaide.

Adelaide really turned it on for us.

This year has been so hard with covid. Restrictions, closed borders, no live shows, restaurants and businesses closed.

Living in Queensland has been better than most states. We’ve had very few local covid infections. We’ve been lucky.

Now we are able to move around between states and things are opening up.

These past 12 days in Adelaide have been a return to live music, concerts. A Festival – probably the first in the world to go ahead.

Today Tuesday was our last day. I had one last long walk. Beautiful homes and gardens.

A favourite is in Avenue St. The house is beautiful. Not overly big or grand but just lovely. Pale sandstone, bricks, little Juliette style verandah, a sunken pond, a gazebo and best of all – a fairy garden.

Then, a new coffee shop. There are lots of great little coffee shops nearby. But today we visited a beautiful one in Norwood. Along with a bookshop.

I had to visit what is probably the best – certainly the biggest bookshop in Adelaide. Dillons Bookshop in Norwood is amazing. Don’t miss it. Norwood is a great area for shopping. The Parade is the High St shopping area with lots of great shops and beautiful buildings.

In the afternoon we head up to the Adelaide Hills to visit niece Vashti, Jeremy and their four children. They have a small farm with chickens, alpacas, dogs and a dam. The children had gone blackberry gathering so we had them along with champagne and little sausage rolls Marg made. They are really nut, oat, feta rolls and so delicious.

We sat around the fire pit – but the weather was so nice. No fire needed.

Our last night we went to our last Fringe show. But before it we had dinner at a very popular Afghan restaurant called Pawana. You may have heard about it. Run by a couple who migrated here in 1987. Please click on the link and read about the family and the restaurant.

https://www.parwana.com.au

Read the story. They welcome you to the restaurant like into their home.

The owners of the restaurant receiving an award from the Afghani Ambassador.

We had a beautiful meal – delicious dumplings and an eggplant dish so delicious I could eat it every night.

The cook book from the restaurant

Following dinner we moved onto the Grace Emily Hotel. It has seen better days, is a little moth eaten but is a small hotel full of charm.

An eccentric little nativity scene! I think! Look closely.

We saw The Ukulele Death Squad. Mmmm some very strange named Fringe shows. We thought it would be more of a ukulele band but it was two ukuleles and three other singers. They sang Nick Cave songs. Quite well actually and we enjoyed it.

So my ten days in Adelaide is over. It’s been great.

I recommend a visit to the Adelaide Festival. Writers Week. The Fringe, Womad. Take it all in.

I know I’ll be back.

The Adelaide Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music

The day started with a long walk up and down the streets of Fullerton and Unley.

I choose a different route each day. The walking is tree lined and flat. Ideal.

Today I looked at the furniture people place on their verandahs. I love the variety.

Four types of seating.

There is also a walking trail you can follow.

Great for exploring

An old barn and community garden.

Little bits of history everywhere
A street library. Very popular in this area.

The old and the new.

Which do you prefer?

I stop at a different coffee shop on Duthy St. This time I did see Lycra! Two men arrived on their bikes and sat near me as I perched on a stool in the sun. They apologised for ruining my view!

I returned to our house and we had lunch with the family.

Then off we set for the Adelaide Hills. Ukaria Cultural Centre is perched in the hills near Mt Barker. It is a purpose built 220 seat theatre for chamber music. It hosts concerts and recitals all year. It has the most beautiful setting.

You arrive looking up to the Centre through beautiful gardens.

In 1985, Ulrike Klein AO co-founded the internationally acclaimed skincare label, Jurlique. The state-of-the-art and environmentally sustainable UKARIA Cultural Centre, which opened on 29 August 2015, was funded by the Klein Family and built on what was once the Jurlique Farm, where many of the herbs, flowers and plants were grown for natural skin care products.

Today we were here for a 4.15 composers talk and concert at 5pm. There have been concerts all weekend as part of the Adelaide festival.

We listened to Elena Kats-Chenin, a Russian born Australian composer. Her music is beautiful. Modern but still tuneful!

She is a colourful lady in style as well as music.

She autographs with a few bars of music.

Inside the auditorium it was quite light when the concert started and we sat looking out at the beautiful hills and gardens.

By the concert end the light had changed and light rain had started. Very beautiful.
The art through the centre reflects its aboriginal heritage.

Another lovely cultural day.

Wednesday Day 5 at the Adelaide Festival.

I walked a different way to the bus stop today. That’s what I love about visiting a new city. Discovering.

I walked the leafy streets of Highgate towards Unley. The houses are a style so different to the timber houses of Brisbane. They are stone, solid, traditional.

The gardens are lovely though dry. The grass out front only green when lovingly tended & watered. Front fences are a mixture of brush, picket and stone. Except for my sister in law who has created a very Australian style using corrugated iron.

I walked along Unley past Waldorf College where my niece Vashti teaches instrumental work.

This is the city of churches and in a few blocks I passed several.

Some beautiful Memorial gates.

I arrived at the Writers Festival marvelling at the glorious weather. I sat under the trees listening to Sigrid Nynez.

She wrote What are You Going Through ? A book about a woman who helps her friend prepare for death after a cancer diagnosis. Not an easy topic but obviously written with feeling.

Next up was Australian Steven Conte. Author of The Zookeepers Wife – which was also made into a movie but today he spoke about The Tolstoy Estate his book set in 1941 in Russia.

I caught the bus home and got ready for a 6pm start of the Opera Midsummers Nights Dream. Shakespeare set to music by Benjamin Britten.

Directed by Neil Armfield a wonderful Australian director we knew this would be different.

The costumes were wonderful as was the staging. I thought the first two acts were way too long ! The individual singers were great but the music by Britten was not tuneful enough for me.

The theatre was great. Big foyer and everyone had to wear masks from the moment you set foot inside.

This included during the performance. You could only remove it to sip a drink.

So another great day in beautiful Adelaide.

Tuesday Day 4: Adelaide Writers Week

The pace of Writer’s Week starts to catch up ! A slightly slower morning before heading off to hear a few more writers.

What a line up. And the crowds continued to arrive. The weather is still beautiful. A little windy but sunny and no humidity. Such a treat for a Queenslander.

Statue honouring the Vietnamese boat people

We parking near the river and walked back to the park. We found seats in a dappled shade area and enjoyed listening to Irishman, Colum McCann streamed from NY. His novel Apeirogon is about ……An Israeli, against the Occupation. A Palestinian, studying the Holocaust.” United by the devastation of losing a daughter to political violence, Bassam Aramin and Rami Elhanan together tell their daughters’ stories over and over, to anyone that will listen, in an attempt to bring a peaceful resolution to the endless conflict.

I love listening to the Irish lilt. They know how to tell a story. So this one will be added to my ever growing list.

Then it was time for Christopher Pyne. A local, people love listening to him no matter what side of the political fence you sit.

He’s a very funny man with a deep knowledge of politics and a wit to tell the stories. I’m enjoying his book The Insider. The Scoops, the Scandals and the Serious Business within the Canberra Bubble,

Christopher looking dapper

Interviewed by Sally Warhuft, she seemed more interested in talking about the present dreadful happenings in Canberra. He commented but was keen to talk more about Canberra and its workings and the personalities.

I must say he’s a very entertaining speaker. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

We decided that was enough and walked a block up the hill to the Art Gallery. The Clarice Beckett exhibition is on at this lovely gallery and I was keen to visit.

It’s a large exhibition 130 paintings and beautifully curated. Her work has a mystical look and is divided into time periods of the day.

Daylight-the beach. Painted around the Sandringham, Beaumaris beach areas of Melbourne, they capture the misty early morning beautifully.

Her water reflections and wet sand is a feature.

The exhibition moved through Sunsets, Moonlight, Nocturne and Lights

She had some solo exhibitions in her lifetime but didn’t sell much. She didn’t travel overseas but studied with Max Meldrum in Melbourne who himself had his critics.

It was until many after her early death at 48 that her paintings were discovered. Read in……

A great reduce indeed.

A beautiful exhibition.

I left via the fun room for kids activities.

Home via the shops on Fullerton Rd. I’m cooking dinner tonight as we’re taking the night off.

I’m doing the vegetarian dish made popular on tic tok! Not that I’m on tic tok ! I found it on Instagram.

It’s lots of little tomatoes, a red onion, garlic, a block of feta, pepper, roasted for 40min in a hot oven. When roasted mix in pasta – bows or shells. Add lots of fresh basil and mix up. The cheese melts and softens through. Top with Parmesan and have with crunchy bread and a glass of wine. Delicious.

Adelaide Writer’s Week : Day 3

Today Marg came with me to the Writer’s festival. Over the years she has been many times and has given me all the tips for a good visit.

We walked down past Government House and the Memorial walk.

A beautiful Government House right in the city.

It’s surprising how busy it still is – for a Monday. But book lovers are passionate lot! I love observing the crowd at festivals and events like this. Definitely there are people of a certain age! Comfortable walking shoes, pants, hats, little backpacks. I cut a different figure. Each day I’ve worn a dress! With sandals. The weather has been beautiful so I’m taking advantage of no Queensland humidity.

We arrived in time for coffee and to find a shaded seat for our first session. Robert Dessaix’s new book is for those pondering how to age well, The Time of Our Lives: Growing Older Well. He claims that we need a rich inner life is key to both

Robert is of an age where he doesn’t care about what people think about him. So he says what he thinks!

Think about friendships

Loneliness is the worst thing about aging.

Be animated. Invigorated. 120% alive.

Develop an inner life.

Love English, Music, concerts, read

At the end of the day it’s not about what you achieved it’s ….were you happy.

All good advice for those of us lucky enough to be living a long life. Chaired by the very funny Chris Flynn, an Irish Australian.

After the session we met up with Margs friend from her early school days. She met Jane when she was 9 and had arrived in London. Then again at 14 in Canberra. They have been friends ever since.

After our long chat I listened to Debra Adelaide and Tegan Bennett Daylight. They talked about their love of reading. How they became readers. What they liked to read and ultimately how they became writers. But it all starts with books and reading.

When I worked as a teacher Librarian I often said to the children – you’ll never be lonely with a good book.

Next up

Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai. She wrote….The Mountains Sing is the epic, multigenerational tale of the Tran family, set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. Spanning the French colonial period to the present day, it follows the lives of matriarch Diệu Lan and her granddaughter Huang.

I haven’t read it yet. But it’s high on my list. She’s a beautiful funny intelligent Vietnamese woman. With a huge talent.

I moved across to the East stage for Craig Silvey. He has written the most moving book – Honeybee. He spoke so well about this book and it’s character Sam Watson, a young trans boy. It has such insight and sensitivity. A must read.

By now I’m ready for a change. So it was off to the Wheatsheaf hotel for some jazz.

The hotel is old, with many rooms where friends gather for a drink. A food truck – tonight a taco van was outside and people were tucking into the delicious smelling tacos and retried beans dishes.

One of the art works on the hotel wall.

Steve arrived from Brisbane, Marg brought Soraya, my niece’s 13 year old and we gathered in the courtyard at the back for the Alex Moss big band. A Fringe Festival act.

It just happens my niece, a freelance musician is also in this band. Her main instrument is bass sax but she also plays clarinet and flute. Lots of talent.

Great music.

Another full fun day at the Adelaide festivals.

Weekend in Adelaide

Adelaide is definitely the festival state, the event capital – an all round ‘there’s always something on’ capital.

I’ve been browsing various brochures for all the events on now and coming soon.

The Adelaide Festival is on in March. You should check it out. It looks wonderful.

https://www.adelaidefestival.com.au

This weekend is more about family for us though. The family came for dinner on Friday. Always fun with the children.

Saturday and Saturday mornings Steve and I tried the pools nearby. Saturday it was Unley pool.

Sunday it was Burnside.

Both pools are lovely. The lifeguards here take sunsafety very seriously. They wear long pants and long sleeved shirts topped off with shady hats. The pools are also partly shaded. We could learn a lesson in Sunny Qld.

On Saturday afternoon we headed into the Adelaide Hills. Niece Vashti,her husband Jeremy and their 4 children have bought a small farm. It’s not far from Hahndorf , has a creek running through it, wonderful big trees, a dam, 3 alpacas and a very large dog!

Inside the house there are multiple musical instruments and ten year old Soraya played the double bass for us. Very talented she is too!

We drove to Ambleside Gin Distillery and had a sampler flute of three different gins. I’m becoming a bit of a gin fan. In the hot weather it’s really the perfect drink!

https://www.amblesidedistillers.com

It’s in a beautiful spot and is the perfect place to go on a lazy Saturday afternoon. There were some very trendy young people there but we managed to not disgrace ourselves.

Then it was back to the farm for a walk and dinner before finishing with marshmallows on the fire.

Sunday afternoon we visited yet another historic house in Adelaide. It belonged to Edward Ayers ( a certain large rock was named after the family)

It was an interactive museum. You could touch things, use things and make things. Great for children.

The ball room where they now have concerts

The lovely dining room

They even had a dress up box which I took advantage of!

The weather has changed again. It very hot today. At least 32. So our plan for a drink on the roof top bar changed. We headed home for our own gin tasting.

Ayers House.

http://www.ayershousemuseum.org.au/events/signatureseries2018/

Adelaide’s Carrick Hill: a gem.

Adelaide is home to many historic houses.

Yesterday it was the David Roach House. Today the Carrick Hill House.

Located just 10 minutes from where I’m staying in Fullerton, this house sits on 100 areas of land. It is the most intact 20th century house in Australia.

The beautiful Carrick Hill estate was the result of a marriage, in 1935, of members of two of Adelaide’s most prominent families. Edward (Bill) Hayward was a son of the wealthy merchant family that for more than 100 years owned John Martin’s Ltd, once Adelaide’s greatest department store. Ursula Barr Smith, his bride, was a daughter of an even wealthier family of Scottish descent whose involvement in mining and pastoral activities was vital to the development of South Australia.

Her father gave them the land and during a year long honeymoon to England they bought and had shipped back 17th C wood paneling, a grand staircase, fireplace, windows, furniture from a house called Beaudesert, a Tudor manor in Staffordshire, England.

The Haywards had four houses but this was their home. They didn’t have children so left the house to the people of South Australia. What a gift. It’s lovely.

Arthur Streeton Art

They collected art, silver and beautiful William Morris fabrics for curtains and soft furnishings.

We took a tour and the house is so different to the one we saw yesterday. David Roach House was full of collectibles. This one is restrained and carefully curated.

There is beautiful art. Author Streeton, Tom Roberts, Gauguin plus many international artists. Then there are sculptures, glassware and tapestry.

Beautiful William Morris screen

1950’s bathroom.

Grand bedroom with Dior dress and Lalique

The house was built between 1937-39 and is now open to the public.

It has exhibitions regularly and at the moment there is an May Gibbs exhibition. It’s charming and makes me want to read Snuggle Pie and Cuddle Pot all over again.

The gardens are vast and spill down the hill towards the ocean.

There is a rose garden which frequently hosts weddings.

There is s children’s story time trail.

Even elephants!

The house holds many events and the one at Christmas sounds a treat. They open the grounds for carols and the ‘turn on the lights ‘ event. What could be better.

If you’re in Adelaide you should visit this gorgeous gem.

http://www.carrickhill.sa.gov.au/the-story/artworks/antibes

Decorative Arts in Adelaide.

Visiting another city, even one you’ve been to before can offer opportunities for something new.

I had heard about the David Roach House Museum when talking to ADFAS friends.

ADFAS for those who haven’t heard of it is the Australian Decorative & Fine Arts Society and I am Chairman of the Brisbane Society. We have lectures on things of a decorative & fine arts nature: it can be painting, sculpture, gardens, music, fashion, porcelain…….

My sister in law booked us into the 10am tour this morning. It’s in Melbourne Street North Adelaide, a fairly trendy area with beautiful home and many coffee shops.

We arrived in plenty of time for our tour and were greeted at the door by name. The Director of the Museum Martyn Cook met us, introduced himself and took us to the stylish reception room. We were the only two for the 10am tour. Yesterday it was booked out.

Take a tour with me now. Let me know what you think!

The Reception Room

Our guide John then took over. He was super informed and gave us a very good commentary on all aspects of the house and it’s collection.

David J Roche AM (1930–2013), a collector for almost sixty years, spent his lifetime developing what has become The David Roche Collection. The collection, which spans the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and includes European furniture, ceramics, metal ware, clocks and paintings, is remarkable in its quality and range. 

House exterior

The central hall

He came from a large Irish Catholic family and moved to Adelaide as a child. He had a passion for dogs! He had around 53 dogs and was a world renowned judge and often a winner of Best in Show. It’s definitely reflected in the paintings, ceramics and collectibles around the house.

The house is not big. He lived there by himself and often had guests stay in the one extra bedroom. Every inch of the house is decorative. All furnishings were custom made with no expense spared. The effect is overwhelming but somehow, beautiful. The collections are vast and stunning. From walking sticks, to hat pins, jugs, vases …….

The Russian room

Mr Roach’s bedroom

The sitting room

The Library.

The kitchen collectibles

Then the urn where Mr Roach’s ashes are kept.

We had a wonderful tour for 2! I urge you to visit.

http://www.rochefoundation.com.au