Camp Creative, Bellingen, NSW

Camp Creative

Ten days on the north coast at the beautiful town of Bellingen was great for stimulating the creative juices.  And it’s the home of a fabulous summer school, Camp Creative, where often over 1000 congregate for a week to do a course of their choice.  People from all over: this year a visitor came all the way from Paris, France.

I try to get there every January and have taken classes in Memoir writing, Photography, Video Production, etc and this year, Japanese Shibori.

Shibori is a process that is traditionally done using Indigo dye to produce stunning predominantly blue fabric.

However, on our 5 day course, we used acid dyes on our silk fabrics.  Called thus because they are applied in an acid solution (vinegar in our case, though acetic acid can also be used).

Only a ¼ teaspoon of dye and 1 teaspoon of vinegar was needed to dye a scarf length piece of silk.  We concentrated on scarves, using different techniques, and I certainly had a bundle of scarves to take home.  I also made some for use on a future sculptural wallhanging that I can visualise in my new natural home.

So many beautiful bright colours, orange, blue, red, chocolate hues, green, and we dyed a base coat and followed up with techniques to resist the second colour, by string or elastic bands, sewing etc.  Such lovely women in the class, led by very able Cathy Moon from Brisbane.

Silk scarvesBits and bobs for wallhanging

As usual the whole week was a fantastic cultural feast.  Concerts including accomplished musicians and singers (many of them either at or previously graduated from Bellingen High School); tango dancers, Bollywood troupe, ukulele, drummers…  And not forgetting the international pianist, David Helfgott, carefully managed by his wife Gillian, who treated us to many of his and now our favourite pieces.  They are both patrons of Camp Creative and Gillian is very much involved all year, when not away with David on international tours.

When it was all over, the performance groups had performed, our silks were put away; all there was to look forward to was Bellingen markets on Saturday morning, which is never disappointing.  So many goodies to choose from.

More information:

Bellingen markets1Bellingen markets

Happy New Year 2016!

Picnic on the hill View down the hill

This morning a few of us on site celebrated New Year’s Day by a picnic on our future building lots.  Delicious fruit salad and yoghourt and then back to the Heritage House for coffee afterwards.  Another gorgeous day, not too hot.  It was delightful soaking in the sounds and atmosphere of where our future homes will be in the not too distant future.  We are optimistic and hopeful that the infrastructure necessary will be completed so that we obtain titles to our lots by the end of this year and then can start building. There is sure to be a lot of beavering over house designs and plans in the coming months.

New Year’s Eve we had a gathering in the courtyard and could see and hear the Gosford fireworks in the distance.

Life has been very quiet at Narara Ecovillage over the festive season with family gatherings elsewhere and folks on holiday.  Probably the calm before the storm!


Christmas on Kincumba Mountain

Christmas Bells

Native Australian Christmas Bells to celebrate the festive season.  Happy Christmas to all.

Christmas Eve I was invited by Scilla, who lives in Tasmania, but is planning to live in Narara Ecovillage to join her, her sister from Scotland and great friend of the ecovillage Diane, to visit Kincumba Mountain and view some sacred indigenous people’s sites.  The Aboriginal name “Kincumba” means ‘towards the rising sun.

I’ve been up here before, attending the monthly music jam night “Brackets & Jam”. At the top of a very steep, winding road, there is a large flat rock area on the highest plateau of the mountain which was a meeting place and camp for the Kuringai people.  Magnificent views of the area can be seen and it is surrounded by lush native bush and heaps of leeches!

On the way we admired native Christmas Bells, and then Diane took us down to a gully where we saw rarely flowering orchids.  What goes down has to go up and I collected four leeches on the way which hid in my socks until I got home and introduced them to the Heritage House kitchen floor.

It was a lovely and unexpected excursion and reminds me to make the most of this lovely coast and get out there!

Below – Diane, Linda and Scilla sitting under the storytelling tree and here is Diane focussing on the rare and flowering native orchids.

Diane Linda ScillaDiane and orchids



Australian Heritage Dancers farewell


I joined The Australian Heritage Dancers (AHD)  in 1985 a few months after they formed under the directorship of Dance Historian Nell Challingsworth.  A dance junkie, I went to Beecroft bush dance and met and was invited by Colin Fong to come along to the new group.

From small beginnings AHD developed into what Nell called a “Recreational Dance Group”, depicting life in Colonial times when dance was society’s social glue. We acted out dance scenarios and a favourite of mine was what Nell created called “Crossing the Line”.  On rural properties in Colonial times, just as in “Upstairs Downstairs”, the gentry did not mix with the workers, except at a special dance when the two groups converged.  I acted as the housekeeper who tried to attract the attention of the young master jangling my keys, and sometimes getting to dance Soldier’s Joy or the Polka with him!  In fact on one of our tours to Canada (AHD was invited to many countries including USA, China, Italy) we performed in an ice rink holding over 3,000 people.  I remember being cast as the wallflower because of my errant ways, and the audience said “Aaaaah”, feeling sorry for me as I stood there while the others danced away!  We received a standing ovation which was probably one of the biggest thrills of my life.

We performed at the Sydney Opera House “Folkloric” which was another big thrill, at Darling Harbour, Martin Plaza, at charity functions and festivals and events all over New South Wales.  It was a good ten years for me and the group kept going until last week, December 2015.

Marriages took place, divorces, people joined, people left, some passed on including the wonderful Nell Challingsworth.  Last week a smattering of the original dancers joined the newbees for an evening of dancing and remembering and farewelling AHD.

We’ve known each other for over 30 years now and we’ll meet again at reunions and other dance events.  Thanks for the good times and memories – the Australian Heritage Dancers.


Narara Ecovillage milestones



So much has happened behind the scenes in 2015 as we move towards the civil works starting early in 2016.  None of us could have imagined the hurdles that had to be overcome to get to the stage when we could start building.  We’ll be able to do that once the roads, bridges and other building infrastructure is completed.

In the meantime, seeing the large greenhouse (that we affectionately called “The Long House”) being pulled down to be despatched to a South Australian buyer seems a real visual milestone. Before, it was hard to imagine 5 housing lots in Stage 1 where the greenhouse stood, but now we have a new vista and visualisation is that much easier.

We have happy memories of social events in that space and has been a marvellous party play area for members’ children.


Now all that is left is some plastic, canvas covers, copper wire and other odds and ends.

Longhouse rubbish

A view from the hill


I’ve chosen my block at Narara Ecovillage.  It’s Lot 33, at 666 sq metres.  Contracts can’t be exchanged until all the necessary infrastructure is completed, but we’ve got our gold dots stuck fast on the lot plan in the Visitors Centre.

My block is about 16 metres wide and I plan to build a house in three joined sections: strawbale roundhouse, a small greenhouse and a hobbit earth sheltered studio.

I can visualise it very well though I am leaving the design wide open for creativity other than mine.

The plan is to build through a series of workshops from footings to earth floor and everything in between.  People from far and wide have said they would like to work on the build so I’ll be starting a data base to keep everyone informed.  Hopefully we’ll start digging at the end of 2016.

Living on the Central Coast

McMasters Bch start of walk

I have memories of holidays years ago with my two children at Avoca Beach on the Central Coast.  One of the highlights was visiting The Avoca Picture Theatre, the subject of much controversy these days as the owners attempt to triple the size of the heritage building.

There are many attractions along the Central Coast; pristine beaches, cafes, restaurants, surf lifesaving clubs and the chance that whales might be spotted not too far from the shore.

The 5 Lands Walk in June is now well established, with thousands of people walking from one beautiful beach to another along the coast.  The Ukulele festival is becoming a favourite on the festival timetable and there are so many other magnificent events such as Opera in the Arboretum at Pearl Beach.

It’s good to be a Coastie on the beautiful Central Coast.

Looking for my community

London Bridge

Living in London from 1999 to 2008, I had always planned to return to Australia but selling my Paddington flat took 3 years longer than expected.  Another story! I loved living back in my country, especially London with all it has to offer.  Such diversity, and I enjoyed a rich cultural life in the capital having access to ‘bums on seats’ tickets for just a few pounds.  Ballet, West End theatre, concerts, galleries, private art views, festivals, English pubs, so much to do. Continue reading