bench series

Bench Series : December along the Waterfall Way…

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Art Gal Ebor Falls PC 091_4000x3000

Look what I found in the small village of Ebor, along the Waterfall Way,  an hours drive outside Armidale. 

 I am going to take you back in time 4 weeks when we were in Armidale. We only had 2 days to explore this very interesting town.

Day 1 we took a Heritage bus tour. (Check it out here)

Next day we drove along the Waterfall Way. One of Australia’s lesser known, iconic and beautiful drives. It passes through National Parks, the stunning gorges rise on either side of you and then there are the waterfalls. So many of them. But being summer not many will be flowing. So we went to Ebor Falls as it never dries up.

These are some of the things we saw.

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Paddocks of white daisies. When we passed them near Dubbo I thought they were weeds, but Ruth of “Ruth’s arc” informed me in the comments that they are actually Pyrethrum Daisies. She sent me this information…

“Botanical Resources Australia Pty Ltd (BRA) is the Australian grower of over 60 % of the world’s pyrethrum, the botanical insecticide, and runs the most high-tech pyrethrum industry in the world.”

They are very photogenic…

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I think these may be growing wild though…

I will link this to “flowersoverflowers” I’ve been missing in action on this site for a while.

This is the Guy Fawkes river cascading over the gorge. Creating the Ebor Waterfall, described as one of Australia’s most attractive falls.

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A walking track winds around the top of the falls and we find another bench to sit and admire the lookout.

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On the way out we pull up at an old pioneer cemetery.

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How difficult life must’ve been for these hardy pioneers when they settled in this area in the 1800’s.

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After a welcome cup of coffee at the “Fusspot’s Café” it was time to head back to our mini house sit in Armidale.

But one last side trip on the way to see another waterfall.

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Wollomombi Falls was almost totally dried up. Can you see the small pool and the trickle of water falling into it? But look at that massive gorge and imagine the force and power behind the falls in full flow during the winter wet season that has created that. It would be an awesome sight.


Now I have caught up with my travels to this house sit and we only have another 2 weeks here.

Weather up date. After the sweltering heat of 39c+ on Sunday, yesterday the temperatures dropped to mid 20’s and it started to RAIN, and today it is still steadily falling, mana from heaven. I can see the grass and weeds growing as I look at them!!!

Well Jude week 51 of your very popular bench series and only one more week to go…

Categories: Armidale, Australia, bench series, Ebor Falls, flowersoverflowers, National Parks, Pyrethurem, travel, Waterfall Way, waterfalls | Tags: , , , , , , | 36 Comments

Spiritual Ceremony in a Thai Buddhist Temple…

Jack discovered, in Google, that a Thai Buddhist Temple, “Buddharangsee“, was only a 30 minute drive away from the farm, so we decided to have a day out and, with the help of our, now indispensable, GPS, we found it.

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This beautiful Stupa was surrounded by meticulously manicured topiary.

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No one seemed to be around, so, taking his shoes off, Jack went inside what appeared to be the office building. He came back out and  beckoned me to come inside. I took my shoes off and followed him. Passing the kitchens and administration rooms we stood at the entrance to a lavishly decorated Buddhist Temple. Numerous vases of flowers surrounded the Buddhist statues and 4 monks in saffron robes sat cross-legged on a raised platform along the right side of the room. They were being served platters of fruit by local members of the Temple.

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We were welcomed in and invited to sit and join them. Not really knowing what was happening, we tip toed over to the left side, offering the wai greeting of joined hands and lowered ourselves, cross-legged, onto the floor.

As the monks ate, one of the Thai men came over to us and explained that a few days ago a very high-ranking Buddhist monk, in Thailand, had died and this was to be an offering of prayers for his soul.

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This is a photo of the monk, I did not find out his name.

As the monks finished eating they began to chant. I bowed my head and closed my eyes and the waves of chanting rose and fell passing from one to the other and filling the room with a spiritual presence. Suddenly drops of water landed on my head, one of the monks was walking along the small group of local Buddhists members of the temple sprinkling them with holy water.

Then the women in the group took up the chant. I heard a discreet burp and glanced up to see that the monks had been served rice and dishes of Thai food. By now I was wondering how much longer I could stay sitting with my legs crossed and I was thankful to have a wall to lean against. After about 20 minutes it was finished. I found it much harder to struggle to my feet and needed Jack’s helping hand. The local Thais invited us to join them for a meal.

I wondered about taking photos but then saw every one else busy posing and clicking away with their phone cameras.

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This friendly group invited us to stay for a meal.

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It was only a small group of people as being a Monday many of their Buddhist friends could not make it to the ceremony.

After the meal we went for a walk around the grounds. The Monastery had been opened in 1988 and it had been created with care and love to provide a peaceful place for contemplation.

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The golden reclining Buddha had a serene and peaceful face.

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This intricately carved shrine held another Buddha and a statue of the Supreme Monk in Thailand.

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Buddha was everywhere in all his glorious forms. But what else caught my eye was the number of benches strategically placed around for sitting and meditating.

So I took this series for Jude’s last month of her “bench series”.


What an unexpected and interesting day, taking part in this very special and spiritual ceremony, and then enjoying a delicious meal with this friendly group of Buddhists.

Categories: Australia, bench series, Buddharangsee Buddhist Temple, photos, travel | Tags: , , , | 32 Comments

Bench Series : December…

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Outside the Armidale art gallery we found this fun bench/installation/sculpture. What would you call it?

Of course Jack had to try it out…


For the final month of Jude’s challenge we can choose any bench we like.

I will be telling you more about Armidale in future posts. (as time permits…)

Categories: Armidale, Australia, bench series, New South Wales, photos, travel, video | Tags: , , , , | 26 Comments

An incredible Japanese Garden…


On our recent road trip to the farm we are presently looking after, we stayed 2 days in Dubbo. A township in the western outback of New South Wales. Miles from anywhere but a bustling and busy centre where 5 main road systems bisect.  It is linked by national highways north to Brisbane, south to Melbourne, east to Sydney and Newcastle, and west to Broken Hill and Adelaide. Trucks far outnumbered cars on the road.

It also had a Botanic Gardens, always a magnet for me.

Within the gardens was a Japanese Garden.

“Shoyoen” is the name of the Garden. ‘Shoyoen’ means ‘strolling and refreshing garden’. Shoyoen is recognised as being one of the most authentic Japanese Gardens in Australia. It was gifted to Dubbo by our Sister City Minokamo, Japan.

I was entranced by the beauty of this garden and spent hours wandering around absorbing the perfection and tranquillity.

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 Every where the attention to detail and the love of gardening was evident and I stopped to talk to this gardener.

He told me that a team of gardeners came from The Japanese sister city, Minokamo, each year to prune and train the Japanese Black Pine into large forms of Bonsai and supervise the training of the local gardeners in Japanese methods.

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As I strolled around I thought of Jude and her love of gardens and passion for benches. Look how many I found here.

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It was a morning filled with pure sensory delight. The shapes, the textures, the gentle perfume from the many

gardenia, the play of shadows across rock, the ripples across the pond, the sound of the waterfall as it cascaded over the rocks.

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This is the best Japanese Garden I have seen in Australia…

On the way out past the sensory garden look what “EYE” saw…


Categories: Australia, bench series, botanic gardens, Dubbo Japanese Garden, eye, outback, photos, Weekly photo challenge | Tags: , , , , , | 30 Comments

On the road again…

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We are heading over the Great Dividing Range travelling to Sydney via the inland road and it is springtime.

We are travelling in our Toyota Corolla car this time but we see lots of caravans and campers on the road and it reminds us of previous trips in Matilda.

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The scenery is quite spectacular.

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Fields are covered in white daisies and they look like snow.

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 At 1330metres it is the top of the ranges, so we stop in a small township called Guyra,  for a wander around and stretch our legs. It is Sunday and the shops are shut and the streets deserted, but look what we see…

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I have to go over for a closer look.

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A bench with writing on it. Just what Jude is asking for in this months “bench series”

We are now in Armidale doing a 3 day, mini house sit. So much to see in this fascinating heritage city but that must wait for another day…


Categories: Australia, bench series, Great Dividing Range, house sitting, New South Wales, photos, travel | Tags: , , , , | 30 Comments

Weekly Photo Challenge : Boundaries…

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Can you see where the reality ends and the creation starts?

This is a boundary with a difference. It is a boundary of what the mind conceives as reality.

From a distance I thought I could walk through the archway into a magical kingdom. But as I came closer it transformed into a “Tromp L’oeil” 

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This incredible work of art was in the court-yard of an enchanting and extraordinary world of the Crystal Castle. It is in the hinterland, surrounded by lush green hills, near that alternative life style village of Mullumbimby that I visited recently. I will be showing you more, much more of this amazing place, but I am still sorting the 300+ photos I took on the day.

This is just a preview of what is to come. 

(Here’s another bench for the October “Bench Series” that Jude hosts)

Categories: bench series, boundaries, Crystal Castle, Mullumbimby, New South Wales, photos, Weekly photo challenge | Tags: , , , , , | 32 Comments

Early morning walk along the beach…

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We missed the sunrise by about an hour. Being winter I cannot prise myself out of bed in the dark. But when we arrived at the beach by 7am it was still a beautiful sky. The sun tingeing the clouds with apricot and turning the ocean to molten gold.

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Of course we had our cameras with us and it was a perfect morning for a beach photo opportunity. So much activity. People walking, running, surfing, playing. All ages enjoying the sun while it is out.

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I wonder if he is going to catch anything for breakfast. The seagull looks on in anticipation…

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The surf is pumping and the wind whips the spray off the top of the waves in a frenzy of foam. It is a good day for the surfers.

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When I downloaded these photos I noticed the dark shadow in the wave. I wonder if it is a dolphin.

I took photo after photo of the ocean as it crashed endlessly, trying to catch that moment as the wave peaks and the light shines through in an iridescent green. Most of the shots I missed. These 2 above were the closest I got to what I was trying for.

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Walking north the sharks teeth outline of Surfers Paradise is shrouded in the misty ocean spray.

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At the top of the sand this patient pooche guards its masters clothes.

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He looks a bit woebegone…

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This area is the patrolled swimming area and in the distance is the surf life savers yellow hut and vehicle. It is school holidays and the life savers are on patrol from 8am to 6pm. every day. There are dangerous rips in this ocean and every year unsuspecting tourists are dragged out to sea. It is only the vigilance of these dedicated, volunteer life savers that only a few lives are lost each year and they are usually people who swim outside the flags that denote the patrolled, safe areas.

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A lovely morning to build sand castles with the help of  Mom and Gandma, but keep an eye on those waves…

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The tractor has been along the beach grooming the sand ready for another day of fun for the tourists.

Time to turn round and head back south and home for breakfast.

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The fisher man is still trying for that catch…


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One last look back.

The sun is well up now and we go back to where we left our bikes.


They are still there next to this bench that shows the detail of the shape of a surf board. (Jude is looking for benches with unusual detail for July bench series. Couldn’t resist showing you this one…)


Home we go for breakfast…


I am also joining Jo’s cyber walking group this week. Being Wednesday I am a bit late for last Monday, and a bit early for next week (Sorry Jo I’m not following the rules too well… )

Categories: Australia, beach, bench series, Burleigh, Burleigh Beach, Goldcoast, Jo's Monday walks, Ocean, photos | Tags: , , , , , | 64 Comments

The Giant’s House in Akaroa


Akaroa is a charming small town of only 567 residents and the harbour is small. So small the cruise liner has to anchor in the bay and we are ferried ashore in the life boats.

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Can you see our ship?

In 1838 a French whaler, Captain Langlois, decided that Akaroa was an ideal location for a town that could service the whaling ships. He subsequently acquired the peninsula in a dubious land deal with the local Maori. He then returned to France and arranged for a group of French and German families to sail to New Zealand, with the intention of forming a French colony.

After constantly refusing to recognise New Zealand as a British colony the Crown issued an Imperial Proclamation on 15 June 1839, which cited New Zealand as part of the British Realm.

After being informed of the French intent to colonise Akaroa and use further as a whaling port, the English ship the “Britomart” was despatched in order to proclaim sovereignty for the Crown. The “Britomart” arrived in Akaroa on 16 August (although the captain’s log shows this arrival date as 11 August 1840[5]), Captain Stanley raised the British flag and held a court at each of the occupied settlements.

The French arrived on  11 July 1840, where they discovered that the Banks Peninsula had been claimed by the British. But they still established a settlement and many street names still bare reference to these French beginnings.

This is the closest port to Christchurch and many of the passengers took a bus tour there. We stayed to explore this fascinating town, and what a gem we found.


Look what Jack found in a garden and couldn't resist taking a photo

Look what Jack found in a garden and couldn’t resist taking a photo

Benches where every where…

(These are for you Jude)

What a delightful place, I was entranced with its historic buildings and appealing, photogenic homes and gardens.

After wandering around the village we walked up a rather steep street to find the “Giant’s House”

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What we discovered up this drive is the most amazing garden I have ever seen.

Created by Josie Martin an artist, painter and sculptor. When she began 15 years ago there was no garden so she had a blank canvas to work with. Digging the garden she found shards of pottery and lovely old china from the days when there was no rubbish collection. Saving them all, she felt it belonged to the history of the old house. That was the beginning of this magnificent, glorious garden – mosaic steps, an extraordinary sculptural wall mosaic, welded steel sculptures and other creations. Colourful gardens of roses vegetables, citrus, flowers. Very unique. 

I took hundreds of photos of those captivating, quirky, mosaic sculptures. The flower beds where a riot of colour, they demanded my attention. I had a silly grin on my face all the way round and came away hoping that some day I will go back to revisit this very special place.

As we entered the tour bus from the cruise ship also pulled in. “How long will you be here” I asked. “Only 20 minutes” I was told. So we sat in the garden café with a cuppa waiting for the 40+ tourists to move on, then we could savour this amazing place in relative peace.

I hope you enjoy this walk around. I am putting more photos in this post than I have ever done before. I just found them all so fascinating…


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The house was given the name of “Giant’s House” by a girl looking up at it from the valley below who said it is so big it must be the house of a giant. It was built-in 1880. It took 5 years to build using hardwoods of the local Totara and Kauri trees.

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The first thing you see on the front lawn are these larger than life mosaic musicians and the grand piano. Drifting through the air and setting the scene is the soft sound of French accordion music mixing with the singing of birds and trickling of water from a fountain.

Jack gets into the act

Jack gets into the act

Notice the succulents growing in the piano and the mirror under the lid…

The perennial border is a riot of colour

The perennial border is a riot of colour

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The King and Queen

On the top of the hill the King and Queen survey their kingdom, but watch for that suspicious cat-like character lurking behind them in the bushes…

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What are those yellow things above these acrobats?

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Did you see they are waving arms?

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Do you recognise this character?

Do you recognise this character?

Another path, let's see where this one goes

Another path, let’s see where this one goes

Watch out for the wild animals

Watch out for the wild animals

Phew, time for a sit down

Phew, time for a sit down

There's even a very healthy and flourishing veggie garden

There’s even a very healthy and flourishing veggie garden

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These are just a few of the beautiful flowers in the garden.

This is an amazingly life-like sculpture that Josie has done of herself.

We spent over 2 hours wandering around and could’ve stayed longer. Every where I looked I kept seeing another fascinating sculpture or more beautiful garden beds. It is a tribute to one woman’s energy and imagination.

If you are in New Zealand this is a place you must not miss. I would like to come again and next time stay in the Giant’s House as a guest and totally immerse myself in the magic.

“The house has many extraordinary features – a grand entrance hall with mahogany staircase imported from France, original open fireplaces, beautifully proportioned rooms, a conservatory with mosaic floor, a large sunny sheltered verandah, quirky bathrooms, bright yellow farmhouse kitchen, comfortable large bedrooms with unique artistic features and artwork throughout.

At The Giant’s House you will be pampered, and stimulated, in surroundings that will uplift your soul!- a very special experience, quite ‘out of this world’.” (to book a room and find out more click here)


I’d also like to join in with Restless Jo’s walking group this week…

Categories: Akaroa, bench series, cruise, Giant's House garden, Jo's Monday walks, New Zealand, photos, travel | Tags: , , , , , | 77 Comments

Bench Series : March, wooden benches.

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3 more benches to finish off March entries.

I will be back with more, time and internet connections permitting, in April.

In the meantime keep an eye on Jude’s “bench series to see benches from around the world.

Categories: bench series, photos | Tags: , , | 33 Comments

Bench Series : March #1 and a walk through Tyalgum

March is here.

I love March, the weather is not so humid, still hot, but bearable. Also in 2 weeks time we will be travelling again. I’m excited at the thought. AND it is my birthday month, actually Jack and I have our birthday on the same day so double the reason to celebrate.

Not having a car we have not been on many trips lately, but this weekend friends took us for a trip over the border to a small rural village with the strange name of Tyalgum. It is situated close to the rim of Mount Warning, the world’s largest extinct shield volcano.

Mount Warning

Mount Warning

There I found an old style village and benches every where, and they were all wooden. Excellent, as wooden benches is the theme for March.

Next door is a second-hand book shop.

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 I spy another bench…

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Interesting windows too. I love the colour. I’m sure Dawn of “Lingering Look at Windows” will like this one.

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Further along the street is “Flutterbies” I am gong to have a quick peek in here, it looks interesting.

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Did you notice the couple sitting outside having lunch? She had a very distinctive fashion style, very 1950’s.

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This village is famous for its Community Hall as the acoustics are excellent and every year a “Classical Music Festival” is held here in September.

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I enjoyed the day out in the country. Come for a stroll around with me. Here is a gallery of some of the other places around this village.

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Jude of “Travel Words” loves benches and she would like us to share any benches we find on our travels in her “Bench Series”, I hope you don’t mind Jude but this week I have combined the benches with Jo’s “Monday Walks“, and even slipped in a window for Dawn at “Lingering Look at Widows.”

Categories: bench series, Jo's Monday walks, Lingering look at windows, New South Wales, photos, Tyalgum | Tags: , , , , , , | 66 Comments

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