Spring has sprung

Spring has sprung
Roses at the Cottage

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park

If you feel like a drive out of town then just an hour south towards the Mornington Peninsula (well worth a visit as well) the McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park is in a wonderful location where you can wander amongst a myriad of amazing sculptures dotted around the park. With more than 100 sculptures I'm sure that you will find some that you love and some that 'just don't do it for you'. But that's the marvellous thing about having a wander and coming upon something weird and wonderful. The setting with its lakes and natural woodland is always full of surprises and there are lots of hidden nooks and crannies. It's a place where you can take and much or as little time as you wish to explore and if you have children then they will be able to run freely, climb on the sculptures, hide inside them or actually enjoy looking at them. There seems to be something for everyone - and the cafe is terrific. 

Here are just some of the sculptures that you will find on your visit. 
As smooth as a baby's bottom and eminently strokable!

The lake, the sculptures, the gallery and the cafe - gorgeous

Strong, powerful and perfectly located

Sweeping valleys dotted with sculptures - those you can see and those that are hidden

Love him or hate him - well he ain't my cup of tea but....I have to admit he is fun!

Nothing like a good climb to get rid of all that childish energy
Make a day of it or combine it with a visit to the nearby Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne (see earlier post here) It's just a 40 minute drive from Melbourne and is well worth it.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

It's called progress

When I first moved into my home (not far from the cottage) there was a huge piece of land at the back of some of the houses that faced onto Waltham Street. I called a friend who lived nearby to ask what the scenario was with a particular house which had land running in an L down to a charming laneway - called Waltham Place (it runs off Church Street). "Don't worry nothing will happen" was the reply "it belongs to Jack. He owned Hudson's Stores which used to be in Bourke Street, down near what is now Southern Cross Station. I went in there once and asked for a spanner. Jack sized me up and said he didn't have any. I think he's probably still got it and it is  'stored' on the land with the rest of his 'unsold' goods." 
What is left of Jack's home. Fortunately it can't be knocked down but....
Well sadly Jack died and the house and land was sold. Jack was a Richmond identity who died about 2 or 3 years ago. He would have been in his late 90's and lived alone in the house. I used to see him riding his wobbly old rusty bike wearing an old hat pulled down over his eyes (no crash helmet for Jack) and bicycle clips on his pants. It was said that the house didn't have electricity. He owned half the properties in Richmond (there is one in Highett Street (opposite the oval) just near the corner of Church Street - you can just make out the sign) where more 'spare' 'unsold' spanners and ephemera were 'stored' - for a rainy day perhaps!? It confirms my belief that 'nothing is ever as it seems'. Jack was a millionaire who lived like a pauper.
Yet another storage for rusty bolts and nails
And a close up of the sign in the window - Hudson's Stores - Hardware and Disposals (it's just that they didn't want to dispose!)
Hudson's was considered the place to go for a bolt, a tool, or a piece of equipment. I loved his brothers' explanation "We have got dead stock. If it was popular, every other store would have it. We are trying to reduce stock so that we can get out if necessary". Don't you love it!
Not a bolt or a sprinkler left - or a tree. All those rusty tools are gone, gone, gone - the Pelaco sign in the background
The land behind the house was enormous and I always meant to take a photo but ..... It was filled to the brim with rusty 'dead stock' that Jack wasn't going to sell to anyone (particularly my friend!) The stock included an old black metal lawn sprinkler which was described by Alex as a work of art and wouldn't be sold because a price just couldn't be arrived at!
The rear of Jack's home. Like the house - the soul of Richmond is being bulldozed
But just as I feared a decade ago, now that Jack is gone (and I suspect Alex) the developers have moved in and removed the lot! I wonder if they had any appreciation of all that Jack and Alex had horded just in case the right buyer came along and they settled on a price.

You'll find the front of the house in Waltham Street on the T intersection with Goodwood Street. The land (no spare rusty nails or even a treet left) can be seen from Waltham Place. 

Bowen Cottage client comment: No further improvements needed - it's perfect as is! Everything we needed was here.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The Golden Mile

Melbourne's Golden Mile is a 4 km trail that takes you along the major streets of the city past many of our famed buildings many of which are open to the public. It's the story of this city from 1835 - 1901. And it's FREE. All you need to do is follow the brass discs which are set in the pavements - the smaller ones are to follow and the larger discs keep you 'on track'.
Just follow the gold (yes they are) dots on the footpath

In the Gold Rush Era which began in the 1850's Melbourne was a city paved in gold!  The trail begins at the Immigration Museum (a must) in Flinders Street and ends at the Royal Exhibition Building (another must!) But it is what is in between that is just as fascinating. If you were to do the trail - which is divided into 10 precincts - it would take 2.5 - 3.5 hours but it can be taken either in pieces or just as you are wandering the city streets.
Just follow the Golden Mile (well 3.9 kms actually) to learn about Marvellous Melbourne
If you are really serious about the trail then either collect the brochure at the Cottage or from the Visitor Information Centre at Federation Square (a good place to stop to familiarise yourself with all that Melbourne has to offer) or see details below regarding a free app for the tour. Personally I like to just come upon the brass discs as I am walking through the city and follow those en route to my next port-of-call. 
Don't get confused with the footpath dining boundary dots - they are silver!
The brochure covers in detail all that you will pass and gives a great, if brief, account of what you are passing.Some of the highlights include:
Venice of the South - the Rialto Hotel
Marvellous Smellbourne!
A fortune to be won and lost!
Where gentlemen prefer bonds (note the spelling!)
Savages in suits
There is a tavern in the town
A cathedral for capitalists
The hidden dome
The Treasury - built on gold
Ghosts and spiders
A philanthropic failure
The madam and the mace

Remarkably Melbourne Museum has an app (iphone and android) for The Golden Mile so why not download it onto your phone and off you go (details here) It's up to you to find the reason for naming the above - make it a city adventure!

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

the pointy end of the footy season

Well the footy finals are upon us and with the mighty MCG within walking distance of the cottage how could I neglect to mention this important month on the sporting calendar. It always amazes me that 8 teams reach the finals - I thought the finals were - well - the finals - but we seem to have to draw out the event until the real finals finally come around and we're all exhausted by the last Saturday in September (and hopefully our team wins!)

There is an extra buzz this year as the local Richmond team (the Tigers) has 'come from nowhere' to reach the final 8. And they did it by winning their last 9 games in a row - pretty amazing as they were languishing near the bottom of the ladder until their surge. 

Richmond followers have gone into what can only be described as 'tiger hysteria'. They have waited years just to get to this point. It's been a long time since Richmond won the flag in 1980 so the fans have much to celebrate to get into the top 8. Will they win the flag - it would mean 13 straight wins - now that really would be a miracle (as a Geelong Cats supporter I must say I hope we win and not the Tigers but...)
A Tiger doing the splits!
Renowned artist Nick Howson must have 'felt the future' when he painted a massive mural in Swan Street close to the Richmond Station (between Lennox Street and Punt Road). Over a three month period he struggled to get 'official' approval to paint the mural with 'the powers that be' handballing  him back and forth until he just went ahead and painted it. It will now be 'classified' by all Richmond supporters and I dare any bureaucrat to have it removed (even if the Tigers don't make the Grand Final). There is a marvellous article in The Age (click here) explaining how the mural came about. He did it in a day - with meticulous planning - and wasn't questioned by anyone!! And it's interesting to note that Howson is actually a - I can hardly bring myself to say it - a Collingwood supporter!
Tiger Legend - both the footy player and now the artist Nick Howson (The Age)
I'll leave you with the story of the Pelaco Girls which I wrote about here  in which the 'girls' from the nearby Pelaco Factory would down sewing machines and head to the ground where  '..a canopy had to be constructed over the Richmond players' entry onto the field because women, angry at some of the performances, were poking them with knitting needles. There is a long tradition of Richmond fans actively haranguing their team'.  Well things have finally changed for the knitting needle brigade this year. How far they go is anyone's guess but with the current hysteria you just never know!

So in your wanders do pop down to see the mural - it will have heritage listing soon!