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Category: Slices of Life

Winter Downunder

It’s winter in my little corner of the world.

I have to admit it’s not as cold as it gets in plenty of countries, but “cold” is relative, isn’t it? An overnight low of 2 or 3 C (33-35 F) with an occasional zero degrees is about the coldest it usually gets in Melbourne. A friend in Far North Queensland (which is tropical) thinks it’s cold if she has to put on a cardigan. And though some places—usually in the mountains—get snow, we rarely do. But we do get frost.

So it’s winter, Melbourne has been under strict Lockdown again and I’m looking down the barrel of a deadline, which is why you haven’t had any posts recently.

Instead I’m sharing some photos taken by my friend, urban fantasy author Keri Arthur, who takes her dog and her camera out for a long walk at crack of dawn every morning and generously allows me to share them. (She posts her photos on FB regularly.)

Here the kangaroos are out nibbling on the frosty grass — they come out at dawn and dusk to feed — while the nearer ones are watching Keri and her Very Large Dog with suspicion. One move by the dog and the whole mob will go bounding away.



And here’s a photo of the Very Large Dog. No wonder the ‘roos are wary.

It snowed recently in The Blue Mountains, just outside of Sydney. Australians don’t get snow very often in the areas where people live, so it’s an event for us, and everyone gets excited and takes photos.

A photographer (Gary Hayes) took this stunning photo of King Parrots (red and green) and Crimson Rosellas (red, blue and other colors) in the snowy trees.

I can’t show it here, but am linking to it here. It’s a gorgeous photo, and if you click here, there are many more of the same event.  Or check out his instagram page and I promise you, you’ll be blown away by all the stunning  photographs, mainly of the rugged and beautiful Blue Mountains but also of other sites and some amazing ones of eclipses and the stars of the southern skies. Or visit his site and scroll down to see some beautiful photos of our brilliant native birds.

Whatever weather you’re experiencing at the moment, I hope you’re enjoying it.

Clunes Booktown

Last weekend I visited the little former gold-rush town of Clunes, in central Victoria, to attend a book event. Clunes, as well as being a pretty little historic town, has also reinvented itself as a “BookTown” which I think was a brilliant move. I blogged about my visit on the WordWenches so you can read it there, but I had a lot more photos that I want to share that I couldn’t fit on that blog. So here goes:

Entering ClunesWhen the beige-gold late summer/autumn paddocks, and grey-green eucalyptus forests give way to autumn color, you know you’re getting close to a town or settlement. Australian native vegetation isn’t generally deciduous and doesn’t change color in autumn, so the trees and shrubs that do are exotic (imported) species generally planted by early settlers who wanted a taste of “home

This photo was taken entering the town of Clunes.

I didn’t take this photo of some of the shops in Clunes — my photos all have cars parked in front of the shops and buildings, and I couldn’t get a clear shot, so I couldn’t resist “borrowing” this one to give you a sense of the historic feel of the town.  I think this was taken some years ago.clunes shops


This is another pic of some of the shops in the main street— note the stone and brick construction, again signalling how very prosperous Clunes was after the gold rush.

Most of them are well-preserved historic buildings. There were several very good cafes and restaurants, a number of craft and tourist-style shows and of course the usual kind of shop that any town needs for its residents.



I took quite a few photos of some of the pretty houses around town. Don’t you love the aged slate roofing tiles?

It’s a classic old Australian style, with a veranda going right around the house, or at least on three sides, which helps keep the house cool in summer.

I lived in a house like this when I was 10 and 11 years old, and I loved the verandah so much.



1873 house


Here’s another house I liked.

Built in 1873, it was obviously built by a prosperous miner, not only because it’s made of brick, but that wrought around around the veranda was quite expensive.







There were several magnificent old bluestone churches — Catholic, Protestant and Anglican — a sign of how very prosperous the town was after the gold rush.

One of them was in the process of renovation — another sign of how prosperity is returning to the town.






There are still a few signs of the gold mining left around the town — here are a some mullock heaps — piles of dirt and rocks left after being dig up and mined for gold.

You can often see these in the countryside near old gold towns, a remnant of the times. The mine holes will be covered up for safety reasons, but I’m not sure why these mullock heaps remain — perhaps because they’re also a historic reminder.

I couldn’t help peering closely at them just in case I spotted a few gleaming specks of gold in the glorious autumn sunshine. But alas, it was all worked out years ago.

I loved this big old warehouse in the main street, where huge slabs of native wood were stored, waiting to be bought and polished up and made into table tops or benches.

I love this kind of thing and would love to have a table of a bench with a top like this.

And though it wasn’t really cold, it was nice to have the fire going. Quite a few places had fires going, for the atmosphere as much as anything. I love a real fire, don’t you?



Here are a few more Clunes houses and these are the sort of pretty old houses you’ll find anywhere in Victoria — in the suburbs of Melbourne, in small country towns and regional cities. 

Weatherboard (wood) with corrugated iron roofs, verandas and iron lace or decorative woodwork. And mostly single story — we don’t go for double story houses here very much, except in the city where double storied terrace houses were all the rage in the 1880’s. A lot of the modern house are double story too, but they’re not nearly as pretty in my view. And very few of them have verandas, which I think is a shame.


So that’s it, my visit to lovely Clunes BookTown. I hope you enjoyed it.

 If you want to see more photos of Clunes, go to my Word Wenches blog.




Cat Wrangling

I saw this on FaceBook and it made me laugh. I don’t know how many pills I’ve given cats — but it’s lots! My first ever job was in a cat and dog boarding kennels. I looked after all the cats and a kennel of dogs.  This was before the days of compulsory cat vaccinations, and that year cat ‘flu hit the cats. (Scroll down for the rest of the story.)

I had to give all the cats a tablet twice a day and the sick ones more and different pills and plenty of water, using a squeeze injection thingy  (technical term) to squirt water into their mouths.

I got right into the swing of giving cats pills. The vet showed me how. I tucked the cat into my armpit, gently pulled its head back by the scruff of its neck until its mouth opened, tossed in the pill, and massaged the cat’s throat until it swallowed the pill. (Or not, in which case I retrieved the spat-out pill and repeated the process.) And it was all done and dusted quicker that the time it took to read this.

I was sixteen and as it turned out, I was doing two people’s work. They’d sacked one kennel-maid, and I was given her work in addition to my own. Plus there was the cat-flu. I got no extra help from the people who owned and ran the kennels. It was also high summer, and while they and their two daughters spent their lunch and tea breaks in air-conditioned comfort inside, I was never invited. 

I did the work because I loved the animals, and I cared about the sick ones so took good care of them. The fact that I was exploited didn’t occur to me until much later. I guess it was a life lesson. A lot of us start our working life being exploited, don’t we?