Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Woodstock Street Art Captures

I stumbled upon this elephant just roaming around one of the more residential suburbs of Cape Town. After a little online research, I found that Woodstock was an area rich in street art, and these are my finds from out there.

Woodstock is full of cafes and art galleries, as well as regular residential streets. It wasn't very far out of the city itself, by car, and it was pretty easy to start walking around and spotting the creative marks along the streets.

As I wandered along, taking photos of each find and becoming more and more focused on the art, a man approached me and told me it was dangerous to be walking around here on my own. He eluded to gang activity, and fully spooked me - I returned to the main street and checked out the Side Street Studio - where an artist brought me lunch on a whim! A balance of experience!

Art with a message, and some that was just stunning and impressive. This suburb was worth being scared out of the street during daylight, for the sight of some of these gems!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Aspects Of Open House Melbourne

Open House Melbourne was on this weekend - the chance to wander around the city peeking into buildings you have always wondered "what's in there?" 111 buildings were open this year across the weekend, and I managed to get in for a look at eight.

I popped into the RMIT Design Hub first, after wanting to see this last year. Being first up, not much was open nor directed, but I got to look out to the city through the unique discs. I took this shot, maybe my photo of the weekend, from the cafe on the side of the building.

Next up I popped into the State Library to have a look at the Queen's Hall. This grand hall has been closed off to the public since 2003. It's columns and impressive light fixtures were enhanced with the lighting of the room, really showing it off.

While I was here, it was hard to resist sitting in the gorgeous La Trobe Reading Room to take in the dome and the stunning desks and surrounding library walls.

My next stop was another building I had wanted to see last year - the Urban Workshop. The foyer of this modern highrise pays tribute to the large block of land's past - a community from the beginning of the settlement of Melbourne. Artifacts from the archaeological dig are on show in glass cabinets, like this teacup. The tour gave insights into the history of the area, before being taken up to the 33rd floor for incredible views of the city, north and south.

Council House 2 was next on my list, which is an impressive office building with self-sufficient energy features, effectively paying for itself since it opened as a building for the City Of Melbourne. Another building with amazing city views from the rooftop.

Around the corner from here was the Russell Place Substation, which always gets such rave reviews for OHM. The line was no too crazy so I joined it, for a look into a live, active power station.

Loads of technical electrical lingo, the PowerCorp guides were enthusiastic in showing off their little plant - particularly the mercury arc rectifiers, eerie blue light globes as ghosts of the DC power supply past to the city.

On Sunday I met up with my sister and we joined the line to see inside the Argus Building, on the corner of Elizabeth and LaTrobe Street. This is a building that has been boarded up and covered in graffiti, in a total state of derelict for years and years - and this year the restoration will be completed. It took a couple of hours for our turn, but the tour with the Project Manager was totally worth it.

Entering the stunning white, high-ceiling-ed Advertising Hall had picture boards showing the history of this once grand Melbourne building - the home of the Argus newspaper. This was the first newspaper to feature colour around the world, and was printed right here.

Our tour then took us up to the second and third floors, with insights into the preservation of the facade and the columns, and also the original beams that will stay in the new life of this building. There were little whispers of the graffiti that has coated this gutted building for it's forgotten years, and an explanation of the uses of the newly created spaces. An impressive Melbourne icon, reborn!

After then popping into Space & Co, I got down to tour the new NAB building next to Etihad Stadium. Another office building, of which I have actually been into for work purposes late last year, seeing the open plan spaces and triangle features right through it. Hearing of the energy and space efficiencies, and the change in the way the NAB has setting up work for it's staff, was really impressive.

My Open House Melbourne weekend finished off with another amazing view of the city from the rooftop here.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Riding South Africa's Bongos

Getting around any one of the cities in South Africa is as easy as waving down a communal mini-van, and jumping in. The driver will take you where you want to go, timing based on where the others in the van want to go too. A perfect system!

This form of transport is the bongo bus - and you can pick it out from the other vehicles on the road because it is white, and has the South African rainbow colours in a strip down it's side.

In Pretoria, a group of us flagged down one when we were out sight-seeing, and persevered in helping us find the cemetery of Breaker Morant's final resting place, despite not having a clue what we were talking about and reviewing our very vague directions. We made many other stops first, into neighbourhoods we definitely would not have seen, before he took us to where he thought we meant. And he was spot on. He also waiting, and took us back to the train station when we were done.

In Port Elizabeth, I caught the bongo to the cricket on a few of the mornings. Our tour, Waving The Flag, usually provides transport, and he did for this test, but I will always choose a sleep in and the chance to see something else on the way in to the ground, rather than getting to the stadium and watching the grass grow before play. For these rides I tried my luck on the main road near our hotel - a fixer was riding in the front seat, picking out new passengers as they went along. It never took long for a bongo to come along.

Jumping in and figuring out the pay system, and then smiling hello to the other people on board, these trips into the cricket felt liberating! Real travel, riding the locals transport, and getting a glimpse into their every day lives.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lost In Wilderness

It was actually too hard to get lost in the little town called Wilderness along the Garden Route roadtrip in South Africa. However, working up the courage to kayak along the Touws River, into the forest areas, allowed some time and peace to lose myself, and escape the world.

Another stop I made on my return trip along the Garden Route, Wilderness captured my heart. The people were friendly, the air was fresh, the scenery of forest and river and beach was spectacular, the food was great, the pace was chilled, and there was loads to do, whatever you are in to.

Being a non-swimmer, I had to psych myself up for the little solo paddle along the river, but right from the first drive through of the town, I was keen to do it.

I needed to enter the National Park, before I got to the landing spot of Eden Adventures and arranged the hire of my vessel. Laughing at myself with the staff who helped me launch, I think they thought I was joking when I asked them to come find me if I wasn't back after a reasonable time.

The valley was still covered in thick morning fog at the mouth of the river, towards the road and ocean, which made everything seem still, eerie and quiet.

Heading off up the river, life jacket on, camera tied on to myself, I glided down under the bridge and through to the section of the river with forest-covered slopes towered on both sides. Once past the camping site on one side of the river, I was alone with all that nature, so dense all I could see was trees.

I turned back when my arms had had enough, which was well before the waterfall that could be part of such a day outing. On my way back, I passed couples and families paddling out to swim and picnic down further.

I was pretty impressed with myself for doing it, when I reached the landing point again - to a relieved looking staff member. It was a beautiful way to spend the morning, before returning to the road for the remainder of the solo portion of my Garden Route roadtrip.

Pulling out of Wilderness, I felt sad to be leaving the little town, and I am sure I will be back one day for another escape from the big, crazy world.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Faces Of Adelaide

At the very end of the Words To Go Blogger conference I attended, I spotted some impressive pieces of street art on my way back to the hotel. A new-to-me area of the city of Adelaide too.

The top two faces are familiar works to me, from all the street art spotting I have done in Melbourne. The top one, found on the side of a terrace-sized building along Leigh Street is a Rune piece, and the striking middle piece is an Adnate work of art. Don't recognise the boy, but he is a mischievous paste up that also caught my eye along the same pedestrian strip.
The Bridge Beauty was still there, too. Adelaide does have some life about it after all, if you going looking for it!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Rugged And Pristine Robberg

Mentioning on Facebook to me friends that I was in Plettenburg Bay for the evening, a South African friend replied to say I could not miss a visit to the pristine Robberg Reserve.

A quick little bit of research online, through mainly Google Image, I set myself an early sunrise alarm for the next morning.

This was part of my Garden Route roadtrip, and one of the stops I returned to for some more time on the way back, because it impressed me the first time.

Being so early, to beat the heat, actually meant that I was one of only a handful of people on the Nature Reserve that morning. Robberg is about a 4km jut of pristine land, featuring cliff faces, natural wildlife, and untouched beaches.

I started out from the carpark, and made my way along the high cliffs, facing Plett, the bay and the mountains beyond. From this initial trail, it wasn't long before I could smell, and then hear, the colony of Cape fur seals. Basking in the morning sun, they were just down below at the waters edge, on the rocks below.

Further along was expanse of Witsand, which was a bank of sand dune right across the jut of land. I took this path, as the warnings on everything I read talked about danger at high tide, and I had done minimal research!

Taking in the isolated, hidden cove with the extra jut of rock out past the end of the Witsand - where it was just me, the sounds of the ocean, and the birds - magical!

These footprints to the left are just mine, on that amazing little sand bank.

This recommended find really brought up the idea of the Garden Route to my roadtrip, with spectacular views at every step. Clean beach at one point, crazy jungle-like rainforest bush land at other sections of the walk.

Definitely worth the early morning wake up for this special morning, all to my self.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Port Elizabeth's Faceless Lady

Standing on Donkin Reserve in the middle of Port Elizabeth is a tribute to the founder of the city's wife, Elizabeth Donkin. But also, as the artist Anton Momberg explained, she is a symbol of the nanny, the slave, the faceless helping woman servant. A nod to all the women who contributed to the development of the city.

She stands in line with the city's settlers landing site, and faces directly toward Elizabeth Donkin's memorial on the Reserve. She's striking, and beautiful, and with no explanation around the art installation, strangely intriguing.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Couple Of Interstate Matches

Thwarted at last minute attempts to go to this weekend's match in Adelaide, given that I have been unexpectedly grounded from work, - the match was sold out over a week ago! - I have managed to see the Hawks play at a few more interstate matches this season. More interstate than home at the MCG, in fact.

The first of these latest ones was a much anticipated match up against trade traitor Buddy Franklin - the Hawks played the Swans at ANZ Stadium on a Friday night before I was due to go back to work, and fit in perfectly.

A gathering came together in outer Sydney, before we all made our way to the match. B and her parents, Cass and Flash, Melissa and LB and myself found ourselves our seats right in the middle of the Hawthorn supporters section - a delight for the home supporters in our group!

Nervous about the match ups, as this game was and is always a real test for the two sides, we were most impressed with our Hawks for much of the game. Buddy seemed to have a usual match for him - inaccuracy after frustrating inaccuracy, and his deflection did not seem to bother us at all. But then he had a third quarter burst of brilliance, as he is want to do, and blew the game apart. Bloody Buddy!

The next match, many weeks later, was down in Tasmania. An annual trip for me, I got down to Launceston bemused after reading a ridiculous article about how the footy experiment in Tassie wasn't working out.

Laura, and her mates joined me from across the country and from down in Hobart, for the match, between Hawthorn and West Coast.

The Hawks had a great day out, as this Tassie jaunt often gives us a happy hunting ground, and the lads were cheered off with enthusiastic cheers and singing.

All throughout the weekend - spying Hawks and Eagles colours of people in the streets on the Saturday morning before the match, seeing a pretty decent crowd at Aurora Stadium, and then spotting Hawks fans all over the town that night, and still more brown and yellow to be seen on the roads leading south, all the way to Hobart - I couldn't help be reminded of that spiteful article. Yeah, footy down in Tassie is not working at all!

Our group alone enjoyed the little city for a night, sampled the ciders, the beers and the wines. I vaguely remember some local food being consumed also. Then we took in some local sights before roadtripping to Hobart. The trip to Tassie for the footy is such a great Winter getaway.

Haven't been to a live match since, stuck with waking in the early hours over my recent travels and streaming the radio coverage. Still, the Hawks are looking good to me this year, again!
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