Christmas trees


Corrugated iron is one of those materials that lends itself to a multitude of uses. And like rust, so many people like it! My roof is made of corrugated iron (fortunately without any accompanying rust), and when it rains I can barely hear myself think, and I have a pet dog called Lulu made of corrugated iron (she not only has some rust, but some peeling off paint too!). On a recent visit to the south coast I came upon these corrugated iron christmas trees adorning the fence of a christmas tree farm.

Corrugated iron


I love this sculptural gate, which is in the grounds of a vineyard on the Bellarine Peninsula. The vineyard is a huge concern, with a cafe, restaurant, accommodation and cellar door—all very impressive. But what I enjoyed most about my visit there was a wander around the grounds, which were full of things like rusted, once-functional machinery (some of it just lying around, some of it repurposed), a whole garden of succulents planted in teapots, rescued buoys hanging from a clothesline. I was in awe of the vision that inspired the overall plan, and the apparent ease with which it all seemed to come together, despite the fact that it must have taken a huge amount of hard work.

Hula circle


The hula circle, on the lawn in front of Maui’s Winery at Ulupalakua Ranch, was originally a ring of cypress trees planted by King David Kalakaua in the 1870s. The circle, in which his dancers would perform, symbolised an era of reawakening for Hawaiian culture and tradition. In 2012, two of the 145-foot trees were destroyed by a late winter storm, and others were subsequently found to be unsafe. To preserve the deep meaning of the circle, artist Tim Garcia was asked to carve the remaining stumps in a way that told their story. The result is an arresting and beautiful sight: three hula dancers, three guardians, two obelisks, an infinity vessel and a figure representing Kalakaua, his arm raised in a welcoming gesture for all to come and celebrate the legacy of Ulupalakua. Halau—hula schools—come from around the world to dance in this circle, which the locals say has become more defined with the loss of height. And the salvageable wood from the old trees was milled onsite for new fencing.

The Royal


The Royal theatre, in Quirindi NSW, dates from 1930. It closed in 2006 but a couple of years later the building was bought by the shire council with the aim of restoring it to its former glory. The community rallied, and volunteers  helped with the clean up and painting. In April 2010 the theatre officially re-opened with a live performance, and by September, movie screenings were resumed. I would have loved to have seen inside, even caught a show, but it was closed on the day I was there so I had to be content with admiring the name above the door.

Gnome Alley


Not only do the gnomes have a new home, but this time there is no fear of them being ousted, because they now have their own street sign. I liked how my view of the sign sat with the garden centre sign a little further down the street. There’s a mess of typefaces here, although the mix is fairly restrained compared to that which can be seen in the main streets of the seaside towns nearby.

New home


The Cobargo gnomes have a new home. The block of vacant land they previously occupied has been developed, but the locals were not prepared to see the gnomes displaced. Incorporated into an improved and landscaped garden setting at the side of the new building are all the old gnomes, plus a new intake of residents including this gardener, philosopher and sage, as well as, a little further along, a painted grey statue named Grey Gnom-ad.



At this time of year the snakes are more likely to be hibernating, but it’s a funny thing to come across a warning such as this, at a roadside rest stop, spraypainted onto the concrete path between the car park and the restroom. It could well make the unwary traveller more than a little nervous to discover that the facilities are the eco-self-composting-hole-in-the-ground variety rather than safe and civilised autoflushers! Although perhaps, given that the rest area is off the Federal Highway, en route to Canberra, this warning could be interpreted as a political statement.

Happy hens


These magnificent birds loom large on the roadside about half way between Geelong and Ballarat, overseeing the entrance to a free-range egg farm. The egg farm prides itself on its humane practices and healthy birds, and if the chooks are anywhere near as jolly as their giant metal guardians appear to be, then they are happy chooks indeed. The surrounding landscape is scrubby and flat, which makes the metal sculptures—there are three of them—an even more arresting sight to behold.



This is a satisfyingly eccentric yet understated 1927. The ball terminals on the 9 and 2 bring to mind quotation marks, and the swell and kick of the 2’s horizontal stroke make it quite swan-like. In fact the whole thing is rather graceful and lighthearted. The numbers are not overly ornate yet they exude a great deal of character.

Root pills


Dr Morse’s Indian Root Pills were first made in 1854 in Buffalo, New York, and were distributed in Australia by the Comstock Company until the 1990s. The pills contained herbal ingredients that were claimed to cleanse the blood, and as blood impurity was believed to be the cause of all disease, it is no surprise that it was one of the most successful patent medicines ever made. I had never heard of Dr Morse’s root pills, but driving along the road to Morpeth, NSW, this barn was hard to miss. It’s a dramatic sight—a big old ramshackle barn surrounded by fields, painted on two sides, vibrant in the harsh summer sun—but I particularly liked the close up view of the rust and patchwork corrugated iron and its contrast with the much more recent paintwork. The letters are hand drawn, but they are Copperplate Gothic in style.