Welcome to Life Images by Jill

Welcome to Life Images by Jill.........Stepping into the light and bringing together the images and stories of our world.
Through my blog I am
seeking to preserve images and memories of the beautiful world in which we live and the people in it.
I am a Freelance Journalist and Photographer based in Bunbury, Western Australia. My published work specialises in Western Australian travel articles and stories about inspiring everyday people. My passion is photography, writing, travel, wildflower and food photography.
I hope you enjoy scrolling through my blog. To visit other pages, please click on the tabs above, or go to my Blog Archive on the side bar. Please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of any of my posts. I value your messages and look forward to hearing from you.If you like my work, and would like to buy a print, or commission me for some work, please go to my "contact me" tab.
Thank you for visiting my blog and helping me "step into the light".



Sunday, 12 November 2017

Farm Gate Art Trail & Wildflowers - Ravensthorpe, Western Australia

"What was that in the paddock back there?" I exclaimed, twisting my head out the window to look back the way we had come. My hubbie "threw out the anchors" (ie stopped the car), turned the car around, and headed back the way we had come. And there they were, Scarlet Banksias, standing tall and proud on the edge of the paddock. 

But they weren't the usual Scarlet Banksias - Banksia coccinea - that were on our list of wildflowers we hoped to see in the Fitzgerald River National Park. These were made of metal and what looked like street sweeper brushes. You can see a closer view of the art work (but of course I couldn't jump the fence) and the native flowers below. The artists had captured them beautifully.

Later, when looking through our "The Fitzgerald Coast Holiday Guide" booklet, we discovered we were on the Farm Gate Art Trail. Constructed by local farmers through an initiative of the Ravensthorpe Regional Arts Council, the project was sparked to generate interest in the region’s diverse range of wildflowers. The Ravensthorpe Shire lies in the lower eastern part of Western Australia's great southern, famed for its wildflowers in the nearby Fitzgerald River National Park during spring. 

 Fitzgerald River National Park is a biodiversity hotspot, and is one the largest and most botanically significant national parks in Australia. Within the park are found nearly 20 per cent of Western Australia’s flora species, many of which occur only within its boundaries. WA Dept of Parks & Wildlife

The Farm Gate Art Trail also ties in with the Ravensthorpe Wildflower Show held annually in September.

The scarlet banksias had been constructed by Dianne and Greg Belli and erected in their paddock on the Ravensthorpe-Hopetoun Road. There was another of their art works a little further on. These are "Blue Boys", constructed from old tyres, poly water pipe, and sweeper brushes, in the style of the native Grass Trees -Xanthorrhoea.  Brilliant! How creative people are!

But how do old tanks transform into a Cornish Ware tea set, or street sweeper brushes become Scarlet Banksias and Blue Boy heads, or cool drink cans become a tin lady’s dress? There is even a quirky “T” tree. 

We were fascinated, so on a particularly windy day during our stay in Hopetoun we decided to ditch bush walking and instead set out in our car, guided by the tourist holiday guide and map, along the Farm Gate Art Trail. 

This is the "T-Tree" constructed by John and Jan Fletcher, which can been seen on the South Coast Highway, west of Ravensthorpe.

Sculpture workshops were run by Jodie Ditchburn and Tania Spencer in 2012 and 2013, and with the aid of welders, grinders and plasma cutters, bits of scrap metal, old farm implements, plough discs and wire were cut, welded and pushed into position to create the arts works.  

What followed was a lot of fun and late nights as whole families got together to create the art works which were positioned along the road at their farm gates. 

Officially launched in September 2012, the original pieces of the three year project were judged by ABC Gardening Australia presenter Angus Stewart. First prize was awarded to Sue Leighton and Colin Hughes with their entry, a collage of flowers on the side of an old truck, entitled Queen Beatrice, which can be seen in the "Blue Vista" estate just north of Hopetoun.

 Entrance to Blue Vista, a Cornish Ware "A Country High Tea", made from corrugated iron tanks, created by Sue Leighton and Colin Hughes with help from the Belli and Foulds families.

  Farm Gate Art Trail maps can be picked up at the Ravensthorpe Visitor Information Centre. The trail takes you along roads coming into Ravensthorpe from Lake King, Jerramungup, Hopetoun and Esperance. 

It looks like the Ravensthorpe High School also got involved. 

And how about this pair of bikinis made by RRAC, along the Hopetoun-Ravensthorpe Road, along with the Banksia corvijuga which only grows in a small area of Western Australia.

 More info on the Banksia corvijuga and image courtesy of - FloraBase-Banksia corvijuga

Dominating the view coming into Ravensthorpe you can’t miss the towering Ravensthorpe Silos artwork, which follows the flowering cycle of the Banksia. This 25 metre artwork on the grain silos was painted by world renowned street artist Amok Island, along with FORM and CBH in August 2016, and used 338 litres of paint.  There is a pull off area so you can see the artwork more closely. 

 This is part of a growing network of silos art in Australia. Others can be seen at Merredin and Northam in Western Australia. More info here - Public Art Ravensthorpe
and -  The West Australian - silo art project

The Ravensthorpe Regional Arts Council (RRAC) is a non-profit volunteer based organisation that provides a diverse arts and cultural program of events throughout the Ravensthorpe region.
 For more information go to their Facebook page or search for Rave About Arts on the net.

 Below you can see Scarlet Banksias, crafted by Ainsley and Paul Foulds and painted by Andrew Britton. 

Where is it? Ravensthorpe is 541 km south-east of Perth
Allow at least half a day to do the Trail.
Best time to visit: Spring when the wildflowers are in bloom.

I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of the Farm Gate Art Trail. It was a great thing for us to do on a blustery afternoon.
Next week I hope to come back to show you "real" wildflowers from the Fitzgerald River National Park. 

Thank you so much for stopping by. I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week. 

I am linking up to the link-ups below. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!
Life in Reflection

Hello there! I love reading your comments. Just click down here to comment too! 

Monday, 6 November 2017

10 Things to do in Sydney, Australia

Hi everyone, welcome back. Last time I blogged about visiting two of the icons of Sydney - The Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. If you missed it, please click here - Icons of Sydney

Today I'm going to tell you about some more of the fabulous things you can do in Sydney. A mixture of old and new, Sydney is a vibrant and fascinating place to visit, with something to attract almost everyone. 

My list of 10 thing to do in Sydney is far from a full list of everything there is on offer. Check out Destinations Sydney to find out more. 

I mentioned in my last blog that Sydney has a great transport system - trains, buses, ferries, and we found this the easiest way to get around. Services run very regularly so if you miss your train you won't need to wait long for the next one. You can find out more here - Getting Around Sydney 
And the best way to access this transport is by purchasing an Opal Card which you just swipe as you get on and off transport. You can also catch a taxi, but with the busy traffic in central Sydney it is not really economical. 
Walking in Sydney is also a great way to get around the city centre and you see more that way. 

 You can also travel from the Airport to the city centre via the train at a fraction of the cost of an airport transfer.

Before you start it is a good idea to visit a Visitor Information Centre of which there are a few scattered around Sydney. Our closest was within walking distance of our hotel near Darling Harbour.  Armed with a map and pamphlets you are set to go. 

1 - The Sydney Tower Eye located on Level 5 of the Westfield Sydney at the corner of Pitt St and Market St in central Sydney is a great way to see Sydney 250 metres above street level from the 360 degree internal observation deck.  For those with a head for heights add on the optional 45 minute Skywalk experience on a glass floor viewing platform outside the tower. The Sydney Tower is open daily, but unfortunately for us the day we went up into the tower wasn't the best weather for viewing, but you might get an idea from these pics, or head over to their website for information, pics and a video in their gallery - Skywalk 

2 - Sydney Harbour Cruise - Back on ground level, or I should say water level, a great way to see some of Sydney's highlights is on a ferry trip around Sydney Harbour, or aboard a hop-on-hop-off cruise which stops at many of the major attractions around the Harbour, including taking you all the way to Manly.  

We did find it a little difficult to co-ordinate the stops to get the best value for our money and time on the hop-on-hop-off cruise, so we decided it might have been better to use the regular Ferry services to visit the places we wanted to go to, so please investigate what will give you the best value for your money. 


There are stops at Darling Harbour, Circular Quay, Luna Park, Fort Denison, Taronga Zoo, Garden Island, Shark Island, Watsons Bay and Manly. 

Cruising around the Harbour is a great way to spend a lazy afternoon.

Below here you can see some of the sites, and a few links, - from top left to right - 
Explore Sydney's history at Garden Island; Fort Denison; Kirribilli House - official residence of the Australian Prime Minister; Watsons Bay; harbour side residences; yachts at The Heads; Manly Beach; Sydney Harbour Bridge and view to the city from Garden Island.

 4 - Manly beaches
When the heat hits, one of the places to go is Manly, gateway to Sydney's northern beaches. Only 30 minutes by ferry from Circular Quay or 17 minutes by Fast Ferry, Manly should be added to anyone's Sydney visiting list. Beaches, walks, shopping, restaurants, and art and craft markets are just a few of the things on offer at Manly - Click on the link to see what's on - Manly Attractions 

And of course there is always Bondi Beach ....

5 - Sydney Cricket Ground
One of the things my son wanted to do in Sydney was to do a tour of the Sydney Cricket Ground. Tours run Monday to Saturday from 10am and take about 90 minutes. Please click on the link for more info. If cricket is your thing, I would certainly recommend this tour as it takes you behind the scenes as well as into the cricket stadium. You might even see a game in progress.

 The Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) was established on the former 1852 Garrison Ground behind Victoria Barracks, Paddington, by the NSW Cricket Association. Between 1878 and 1909, a substantial building program produced seven spectator stands, a scoreboard and related facilities around the playing field. The ground has hosted athletics, baseball, tennis and cycling, but its major sports have always been cricket and, more recently, various codes of football. In 1988 the Sydney Football Stadium (now Allianz Stadium) was constructed adjacent, and SCG members' facilities expanded and upgraded. 

6Sea-Life Sydney Aquarium
We had very hot weather when we visited Sydney, so looking for places out of the heat was high on our priorities and so a visit to Sea-Life Sydney Aquarium was added to our agenda. Open 7 days a week the Aquarium is located on the city side of Darling Harbour. You can take the ferry to Darling Harbour, hop off the train at Town Hall or Wynyard station, or include the Aquarium in your Big Bus Sydney hop-on-hop-off tour. 

There is lots to see including dugongs, penguins, rays, sharks and lots of different fish species. I must say though that I felt rather sorry for these larges species, especially the dugong, swimming up and down in its tank. You can see it in the picture below.

7 - Also located in Darling Harbour is the Australian National Maritime Museum.
You could easily spend several hours here learning about Australia's maritime history, and touring the vessels - a replica of the Endeavour, the ship which brought Captain Cook to Australia in 1770, the destroyer HMAS Vampire, and submarine HMAS Onslow. 
As I walked around inside these vessels, I was in awe of the men and women who sailed and served on these vessels in such cramped conditions.

In the Maritime Museum itself you can delve more into Australia's maritime history through the changing exhibits. Please click here to find out what is on - ANMM-About Us

8 - Anzac Memorial
Make sure you also include a visit to the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park and spend a few minutes in silent remembrance of those who have served in conflicts. 

9 - Taronga Zoo
If you have kids in tow, then a visit to the Toronga Zoo, just a 12 minute ferry ride from Circular Quay is a must.  Open daily, but plan this for an all day visit. There is a Cafe on site, or bring your own snacks. The giraffes have their own view of Sydney Harbour!

What are you looking at?

10 - streets
And of course there are streets to wander, pubs and restaurants to savor, buildings to admire, parks to walk in, go Chinese in China Town, shops to shop, vibrant nightlife,  markets, museums and galleries to browse through. Sydney has a vibrant night life and pub scene, and there always seems to be people walking out and about the streets, so we felt quite safe, even in the evening. There is so much to see in Sydney, our one week visit went way too quickly.

Let's meet for coffee
Markets in The Rocks

China Town

Queen Victoria Building

Things to make you say...hmmmm....at the Museum of Contemporary Art

Vibrant night life

 And the Home and Away tour to Palm Beach "Summer Bay" for TV fans....

 For more info on Sydney, please click here - Visit Sydney

Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of Sydney. 
I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week. 
I am linking up to the link-ups below. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!

Life in Reflection

Hello there! I love reading your comments. Just click down here to comment too! 

Monday, 23 October 2017

Icons of Sydney, Australia

In February this year we enjoyed a holiday in Sydney in New South Wales, on the east coast of Australia. I have just realised that I haven't blogged about it yet - so here is Part 1 - better late than never as they say. 

Talk to someone who doesn't live in Australia and they probably have heard of Sydney. It is not our nation's capital, (Canberra is our capital city), but it certainly is a city that is recognised world-wide, particularly through its icons - Sydney Harbour, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. 

So for my blog today, I am going to take you for an exploration of the icons of Sydney.

I took this pic from the airplane as we were leaving - can you see all three icons?....

 Our apartment hotel in the Sydney CBD was perfectly located for exploring Sydney's icons. We picked up a free "Free in Sydney Map and Guide" from the hotel front desk and set off to explore.There are lots of tourist maps and information guides in Sydney, but this little free map is great to get you started, and we kept one in our pocket and camera bag the whole time we were in Sydney. There are Sydney Visitor Centres located near Darling Harbour and in The Rocks area. We studied our maps and pamphlets every evening to work out what we were going to do the next day.

Sydney has a great transport system - trains, buses, ferries, and we found this the easiest way to get around. And the best way to access this transport is by purchasing an Opal Card which you just swipe as you get on and off transport. You can buy a card when you arrive in Sydney, but if you are over 50 or have a concession card, I recommend you go onto the Opal Card website and pre-purchase your card before you leave, and you will get an aditional discount. Opal for Interestate Seniors. There are also cards for students, children, veterans, people with disabilities, etc.  When we were in Sydney our travel with our Seniors Opal Card was capped at $2.50 a day, which made it very easy and cheap to get around Sydney.

On our first day in Sydney we decided to walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, also affectionately known as "the coathanger". We caught the underground railway at the Town Hall station opposite our hotel and hopped off at the Milsons Point Station on Sydney's north shore. From here you can walk across the bridge back towards the city. I think this is a great way to do it as you are facing the magnificent city views as you walk across.
And it is free! 

The walk-way runs alongside the road way, separated by barriers, so is quite safe. This walk really gives you the opportunity to see the bridge close up.

 The Sydney Harbour Bridge construction started in 1924 and took 1,400 men eight years to build at a cost of 4.2 million Australian dollars. The general design for the Bridge was prepared by Dr J J C Bradfield and officers of the NSW Department of Public Works. The construction contract was let to English firm Dorman Long and Co of Middlesbrough.  Six million hand driven rivets, 53,000 tonnes of steel and 95,000 cubic metres of concrete, were used in its construction. 272,00 litres of paint was required to give the Bridge its initial three coats of paint. The Bridge was opened on 19 March 19321. It now carries eight traffic lanes and two rail lines, one in each direction.
For more history of the bridge please click here - Australian story - Sydney Harbour Bridge
or here - Sydney Harbour Bridge 

There are fantastic views of Sydney from the bridge walk.... I am sure you can recognise the Sydney Opera House in this pic, but can you see the passenger liner on the right hand side? Amazingly it comes right into Circular Quay. 

These people below are about to set off on the "other" bridge walk - the over the top of the arch bridge walk. The Bridge Climb started in 1998 and attracts tourists and locals. Evidently the views from the top at 134 metres above sea level are absolutely breathtaking. Or so I am told, but the bridge climb wasn't for us. The walk across the bridge suited us just fine. 

 On the Sydney city side of the bridge you can climb up to the Pylon Lookout, for views over the city and see the exhibits about the history and construction of the bridge.

Here we are on the city side of the bridge looking back over towards the Luna Park fun park on the north shore.

 Once on the Sydney city side you are in the iconic Rocks area. (But more about that next time). Near where you exit the walkway you will find the Australian Hotel. There is a vibrant pub and restaurant scene in Sydney and this pub is just one of them. 
The original Australian Hotel was opened in 1824, but was relocated during the plague in 1900. This well preserved Edwardian building is a favourite watering hole for locals and tourists.  

We tried the "Coat of Arms" pizza - half emu, half pepper kangaroo, with bush tomato, capsicum and lemon myrtle mayo. Delicious. They have called this pizza "Coat of Arms" because the emu and kangaroo are on the Australian Coat of Arms. Sorry, but I have no problem eating one of our iconic native animals.

Evidently the kangaroo and emu were chosen for the  Australian Coat of Arms to symbolise a nation moving forward as neither animal can move backwards easily.

Now that we are on the city side we can walk around Circular Quay. A walk around the waterfront at Circular Quay will bring you past the ferry terminals and restaurants to the Sydney Opera House. Whether you see if from the water, land or air, during the day or at night, the Sydney Opera House, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, is truly magnificent.

 "Fusing ancient and modernist influences, and built on a site sacred to the local Gadigal people for thousands of years, the sculptural elegance of the Sydney Opera House has made it one of the most recognisable buildings of the twentieth century, synonymous with inspiration and imagination." - Sydney Opera House History

In 1955, Bennelong Point was declared the site for the proposed new opera house and on 15 February, 1956 Premier Cahill released an international competition to design a National Opera House at Bennelong Point. 

 On 29 January 1957, Premier Cahill announced that the winner of the competition was Design 218 by Jørn Utzon, the unknown 38-year-old Dane from Hellebæk.

The opera house was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 20 October 1973.  The massive construction project was not without its problems. "Pressures piled upon its architect, Jørn Utzon, who left Australia midway through construction, never to return to see the building completed. Nevertheless, Utzon’s masterpiece would define his career, and redefine the image of Australia both to itself and the world."

To read more about the Sydney Opera House, its history and today, please click here Sydney Opera House.

 It's a very popular place for strolling, sitting, meeting up for coffee or a meal in one of the restaurants, enjoying the sights of the harbour and city, and for wedding photos.

We decided to do the guided tour of the inside of the Opera House.  This really is the only way to see inside, and you hear more about the history and stories of the "House". There are several different theatres of different sizes and suitable for varying productions. We would have loved to have gone to see a show, but there wasn't anything on the program when we visited that we thought our son would be interested in. Next time! But the guided tour was a great option.

 During the day, or at night, equally beautiful.

We were in Sydney during Chinese New Year, and there were all sorts of displays, events, entertainment, etc on around Sydney, including light displays around the Circular Quay waterfront, like these roosters beside the Opera House.

Circular Quay has a vibrant nightlife, very different to the bushland which was here when Captain Arthur Phillip landed at Sydney Cove and claimed the colony of New South Wales for Britain on 25th January 1788. You can learn more about Sydney's history by visiting these two websites:
Learn Sydney's History
 The Rocks - History and Heritage

One of the best ways to explore locations around Sydney Harbour, and to view the icons of Sydney from the water is on one of the regular ferry services from Circular Quay or Darling Harbour or during one of the Hop on Hop Off harbour cruises.

The Hop-on-Hop Off cruise we went on did stop at many of the major attractions around the harbour, and went all the way to Manly, but we did find it a little difficult to co-ordinate the stops to get the best value for our money and time. We decided it might have been better to use the regular Ferry services to visit the places we wanted to go to, so please investigate what will give you the best value for your money.

But more about these harbour side locations in my next blog about Sydney. 

Finally I wanted to tell you about our hotel (and no I didn't get a discount for blogging about them). If you are looking for an apartment for your stay in Sydney, you can't go wrong with the Adina Apartment Hotel Sydney Town Hall. It is conveniently located in the Sydney CBD on the corner of Kent Street directly across the corner from the Town Hall underground rail station and within easy walking distance of the restaurants and night life of Darling Harbour. The apartment was spacious with a generous kitchen, separate dining-lounge room, balcony, a washing machine and dryer and different room configurations are available. There is a swimming pool and gym, and a cafe-restaurant attached.  We were very grateful for the washing machine and dryer, as it was very hot when we visited in February, so they were put into use every night.
Click here to find out more about this hotel and the other hotels in the group - Adina Apartment Hotel Sydney Town Hall

For more information about Sydney -
Learn about Sydney - Tourist Information
Things to do in Sydney 

Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope you have enjoyed my little tour today of the icons of Sydney. Have you been to Sydney? What did you enjoy about it? Perhaps you would like to tell us about it in your comments. 
I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Have a wonderful week. 

I hope to return next week with more things to do and see around Sydney.  Until then you might also like - 
Crossing Australia - the Eyre Highway and the Nullarbor 
Searching for Platypus and Great Short Walks in Tasmania 
Rottnest Island Short Break, Western Australia 
I am linking up to the link-ups below. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!
Life in Reflection

Hello there! I love reading your comments. Just click down here to comment too!