Fordson manufactured small, lightweight, affordable tractors that went into mass production in Dearborn, Michigan, in 1917. Eleven years and more than half a million tractors later, production was transferred to Ireland and then later to England. I chanced upon this old Fordson tractor along the New England Highway when I was stopping to look at something else. It was obviously no longer in use, but it looked like it had been well cared for and it was still in pretty good nick. The most corroded part was this grille, and although I like the typography, it is the grille I find most interesting: a modern art bas-relief sculpture at the side of the road.
Tomorrow is the first Tuesday in November, which makes it Melbourne Cup Day, one of the most significant days in the Australian calendar. The Melbourne Cup, held at Flemington Racecourse, is a 3200 metre thoroughbred horse race. It’s a public holiday in metropolitan Melbourne, and around the country pretty much everyone stops to watch the race on tv, glass of champagne in one hand, betting slips in the other. One year I got my American friend involved. I sent him the form guide, he picked the horse, I placed the bet, and to my great astonishment the horse won! Kneipp’s Saddle and Harness Emporium, in Tenterfield, certainly won’t be supplying any gear this year. In the late 1800s Frederick Kneipp offered ‘a new improved saddle’, but all that’s left of the building, after it was destroyed by fire in 2011, is this burnt and blistered facade.
It’s bushfire season, and there was a particularly severe few days last week when the air was thick with smoke for hundred of kilometres from the fires to the north, south and west of Sydney. I was about 300 kilometres north, in Taree, when I saw this richly lit facade. The building is painted a kind of pale yellowy off-white — the rich honey colour has nothing to do with the name of the building, but comes from the late afternoon sun filtered through smoke haze. A couple of days later, on my return home, I noticed an unusual amount of bee activity under my studio window, and discovered hundreds of bees attempting to build a hive. Coincidence or not, they had to be moved!
This is one of the more surprising installations I have come across. Drive along Australia’s number one highway (no less!) through Cobargo and there it is, on the western side of the road: a patch of sandy, weed-ridden vacant land, made home to a collection of garden gnomes. Great care has obviously been taken with the sign that stakes their claim. You can still see traces of the pencil guide lines and it is constructed well enough to withstand the blustery wet weather of the day I first saw them.
I can’t remember if the first time I went to the Bega Cheese factory was on a school excursion or a family road trip, but either way, I seem to have always known, along with everyone else in NSW, about Bega cheese. Once, every drive down the far south coast leg of the Princes Highway involved a visit to the museum and cheese shop, so naturally my recent stay in Cobargo, just up the road, necessitated just such a trip down memory lane. This window, with its painted figures, overlooks the carpark, and although I have never noticed it before it has probably been there forever.
Last week I attended an artist’s book course at the Sturt Centre in Mittagong. Each afternoon the sun blazed onto this brick wall just outside our classroom, making the shadow of the clothesline particularly striking against the stark clarity of the various brick colours and textures. Despite the uncomfortable heatwave conditions, the reflected heat from the bricks was strangely soothing, like getting into a car that has been parked in the sun on a clear winter’s day.