Five Beautiful Places: or, what I’ve been doing with my weekends.

  1. Mt Tambourine. Deb and I walked the Witches Falls Circuit through the vertical rainforest and hung over the lookout platform, staring at the great hexagonal columns gradually detaching themselves from the mountain, and at the slight waterfall which fell and fell and never seemed to stop falling, and the endless trees. We saw hollow trunks and massive whorled cavernous shells of trees, and on the way back lyrebirds crossed our path. I’ve never been bushwalking in a skirt before, but it did make me feel very Isabella Bird, and was quite comfortable and airy.
  2. Mt Kosciuszko. Very high, very clear, very beautiful. On the mountain, everything is grey-green and pure and cold and fantastical rock formations and clear pools shape and reflect the sky. From the skilift, while the other subeditor’s brother threatened to rock it, the world was distant and perfect and the grass far below was blonde and soft and restless. I hadn’t planned this trip and was only warned a week out that I would be going with my sister to “the highest mountain on the lowest and flattest continent”. I want to go back and be quiet somewhere up near the summit and keep trying to capture the peculiar blue of the hills and clarity of the air. Coincidentally, it was where my parents had spent their honeymoon on the same weekend 29 years before.
  3. Mt Coot-tha. We had our Good Friday breakfast in a new location – orange juice, barbequed bacon and eggs, hot cross buns crunchy from being toasted in the oils on the barbeque, pancakes with lemon and sugar, or with chocolate eggs wrapped in them and melted. While the various fires were being lit, a few of us ran up the hill which was green and lawn-like and sparkling, and spelled Emily! with our shadows near the top (because there were six of us and she had the shortest name).
  4. Hatton Vale. We have horses in the back half of my parents’ yard now, and a labyrinth of butterfly-leaved bushes at the front. I sat out on a blanket with a shady hat and drew both and ate dark Lindt chocolate.
  5. The road to Dalby. I went out for Aimee’s birthday – halfway to what used to be home. I hadn’t forgotten how beautiful the country on that side of the range was, but it has been too long since I’ve seen it. Out past Oakey and the upturned bowl of Gowrie Mountain, the world levels out. The sky is a great blue dish, plumed on one side, and the world is so flat it seems tiny under that immense sky. The highway straightens and becomes blue, the trees and powerlines march away, the grass is tawny and the sorghum russet-red and when the sun sets the world turns gold and candy-pink and scarlet. It is so soon like home, and there is a claustrophobic feeling attendant on returning through Toowoomba and sinking down the range into the little, gnarly, pocketed, miniature landscapes of the valley, which are dim and beautiful and every changing like a little world in a fairy tale. But not so vacantly majestic, nor so nearly home.

Illustration Friday: Excess


This week’s Illustration Friday topic is “excess”. Rapunzel is contemplating donating her hair to Locks of Love.

Thanks to /Karen/, who did, and Aimee, who had it.

Illustration in biro (bic) on the back of a business card.


The Soldier Flower Disrobes

When I was small and we lived for a few years in Brisbane, my father showed me how these flowers looked like little soldiers, and how you could remove their helmet and coat and tunic and leave them cold and bare in their long pale underwear.

Most of the rest of the world knows them only in troops, the bunched flowers of the Cockspur Coral tree – Erythrina crista-galli. I found that out this week.

I collected this one from the bitumen on my street. The wriggly pattern is probably bug damage, from its shape.

Drawn in my pocket Moleskine sketchbook with Faber Castel manga markers.

The Soldier Flower Decays

I let this one decay for a day on my desk. He turned from brilliant scarlet to being shot through with purples and greens.

Drawn in my pocket Moleskine sketchbook with my beloved Prismacolours (beloved at least among coloured pencils).

(So you see, I am conquering my resistance to using a Moleskine on other than special occasions).

Christmas at Macy’s








We lost ourselves for a while in the Christmas displays at Macy’s – dozens of trees, beautifully dressed – red or white or pink or peacock-coloured. There was even an upside down tree (I think it’s “Christmas at Macy’s 13” if you link through to my Flickr album).

Christmas at Macy’s 12

Beach, Lake Erie

Beach, Lake Erie

Originally uploaded by tanaudel

I’ve posted some more photos on Flickr, this time from the shores of Lake Erie.

We could see the lake from my aunt’s house and my mother and I went exploring, through vineyards and across the road, down between groves and gardens and guest houses to the lonely shore. It is a shale beach, covered with flat, clinking stones, that ring and shift like coins underfoot. The rocks are carved and sculpted in fluid shapes by the grey waves, and the cliffs are of finely stacked, brittle layers of stone, supporting here and there broken and stranded boat ramps, or rusted ladders that end a metre or more above the stones, or stairs that have fallen away and been replaced with uncertain landings of shale-slabs balanced on pebbles.

Moths and Lightning

It has been weather for moths and lightning. Oppressive spring days burn scarlet with bougainvillea, gold with silky-oak, and rise in a haze of blue and purple smoke as the jacarandas put out their pale, leafless canopies. The nights are still and humid, or restless with a wind that is warm as blood and carries no relief, only a note of rising panic. The house, a cage of wooden openwork, fills with moths – sober desert camouflage moths, moths like lace, like cigarette dust, horned gothic fantasies, dusky rose plush – fluttering and clinging and blowing across the floor.
Storms come swiftly and inevitably. First the heavy, slow, warm rain, then pure white lightening which lights the night pale blue, then the insistent hail.


moth is consummate couturier
pays all attention to detail
such subtelty such understatement

moth makes an entrance effortless
is past punctuality travels by day
to arrive prompt as thought to evening

moth is civil no noise no sudden movement
panic itself is velvet edged
and if asked politely will move aside

moth is old fashioned brown printed corduroy
pink velour the sensibility of shag pile
muted hooked rugs and macrame owls

moth is self effacing yet glamorous
will gamble all on the glint of gold
leave at the last a trail of silver dust upon a sleeve

Finding Beauty

Many beauty routines are for the sake of the one being beautified. Mine – particularly my eyebrow topiary – are for the comfort of others. I don’t have to look at The Eyebrows. I don’t have nightmares about them growing together and then down the side of my face.

“You have the most wonderful eyebrows!” said the beautician. “You can hear them rip.” She sounded genuinely delighted.
“I’m glad I could brighten your day,” I said.
We then discussed Regency banquets and I discover now that she had a very good time with my eyebrows. They are narrower than they have ever been and look rather lost in my face.

This did not seem to bother my Macedonian taxi driver, who told me I was beautiful, and was I married? did I have a boyfriend? was I looking for one? because he knew how hard it must be to find a guy who wasn’t “a pisspot, stupid or not right” when you work until after 10pm, and promised to look for a suitable husband for me.