Australia – Part 4

Sunday 4th September

For our first full day in day in Sydney, we wandered down George Street intending to get a train to North Sydney, however, due to repair work we ended up going to Circular Quay to catch a ferry to Milsons Point near Luna Park, this took us to Kirribilli, where Graeme stayed when he lived in Sydney many years ago. After a nice coffee and pastry there, we then walked back to the city via the iconic Harbour Bridge, despite it being a little windy on the bridge, it provided great views of the harbour and the city.

The city side of the bridge took us back to The Rocks where we stopped for lunch in the busy market being held there. The morning’s weather was wonderful and we eventually got to a ’taps aff’ situation before it started raining, the only shelter we could find was in a pub, this time the Mercantile Hotel, this was an Irish bar and there were 2 guys, Martin and Shaun, playing some great tunes, so good in fact that we spend the afternoon in the company of a bunch of nice people before heading back to the hotel for a wee rest. I was pleased to see that a piece by Vhils was still in place in the Rocks.

We had a choice of places to go for dinner, but ended up heading north to Surry Hills to visit Hotel Harry which is an old haunts of mine, as expected the food, beer and ambiance was just right for us, a nice leisurely stroll back downtown finished off another great day.

Monday 5th September

I got up early this morning to catch a ferry up river to meet my cousin Betty and her daughter Fiona. Jim stayed behind to go on a tour of the Opera House, intending to join us later. The trip up river on one of the fast river catch ferries was a pleasant way to spend a morning. After lunch at my cousins house we went down to the famous Sydney Rowing Club at Abbotsford, where we met up with Jim after his Opera House tour, later in the evening the rest of the family arrived and we had a lovely family meal. After dinner we returned to the ferry wharf, there were a bunch of guys fishing off the wharf, it was fun to see one of then land a whopper. The trip back down the river was quick and easy, it was great to see the city ablaze with lights.

Jim told us that his tour of the Opera House was very interesting and informative, especially since they have just completed the renovation of the concert halls, this was due to the 50th year celebrations and to provide better acoustics and accessibility. After a stop for lunch, Jim caught a ferry from Circular Quay to join at Abbotsford.

Tuesday 6th September

Another early start for us this morning as we went to catch the bus for our Blue Mountain Tour, unfortunately we had selected the last pickup point and the time we boarded it was pretty full. We then quickly made our way out of the city to our first stop at the Featherdale Wildlife Park, this park was interesting but very similar to the one we stopped at in Melbourne, this gave us the chance to have a quick morning cuppa.

We then headed up into the mountain region stopping at Scenic World where we experienced 3 different cable cars and funicular railways, Jim bottled out on riding on the cable car roof, but he did take a good photograph, all of this is situated around an old mining region which afforded us some spectacular views of the rainforest and the 3 sisters rock formations, we then stopped of at the Echo Falls Viewpoint for even more views.

We returned towards the city sropping at the Olympic Park area to catch a ferry back to Darling Harbour. We returned to the hotel for a chance to recharge (ourselves and phones) before heading out to a Japanese Ramen restaurant on Liverpool Street, for a nice meal, a pint in a pub across the road finished it all off. As Wallace and Grommet would say, we had ‘a grand day out’.

Wednesday 7th September

After a fun morning trying to get the microwave working in our apartment we made our way to Town Hall station to catch one of the double decker trains to Bondi Junction where we hoped to meet Dan’s Challenge to find a Starbucks and Lego Store everywhere we go, we were successful in both. Jim thought it was unusual to sit upstairs on on one of Sydney’s double decker trains. We found the Lego Store easily but were a wee bit disappointed that there was nothing specific to Sydney or Australia in store, after taking a few photographs and having a look around we boarded a bus to Bondi Beach.

It was wonderful at the beach, the sun shone and the water was warm, we both took off our shoes and socks, rolled up our trousers and went for a paddle, the only thing missing was the knotted hankie hat, we strolled along the shore watching all the surfers, settled on the beach for a bit of sun bathing before heading along to the North Bondi RSL for a well earned beer and lunch. Another stroll along the promenade with a brilliant ice cream before heading back to the city on the bus, it was another great way to spend a day.

Once back in the city we went over the Pyrmont bridge to find a laundry for us to visit in the morning, later in the evening we visited the nearby Lal Qila Indian restaurant for a really good meal, then returned to the hotel weary but happy to have had a good day.

Thursday 8th September

An early start for me as I delivered our bag of laundry, (to be collected later), while Jim had his breakfast, we then decided that as it was much warmer, that it was time to break out the shorts. Bags packed we then went down to catch the ferry to Manly Beach for another day of sun, sand and surf. We caught a ferry to Manly and after crossing over to the beach side we quickly discovered the it was much windier than expected, so it wasn’t a day for lounging on the sands, spotting a little sheltered looking bay in the distance, off we went to find Shelly Beach, a nice little spot with a convenient bistro where we sat for a coffee and cake break. There was some interesting wildlife in the area, there loads of Gulls, Australian Brush-turkeys, and we even came across a 6 foot Diamond Python sunning itself on the rocks at the side of the path and we even saw 2 water dragons having a territorial battle on the path side.

We decided to make better use of our time, so after a quick lunch, we headed back on the ferry to pay a visit to the Sydney Tower Eye observation deck, this gave us some stunning 360 degree views over the city rooftops. It was soon time to collect our laundry so we crossed the Pyrmont Bridge to do so, while there we came across a good looking Chinese restaurant and decided to call back later for our evening meal, which did live up to expectations. Another good and interesting day.

Friday 9th September

For our last full day in Sydney we ventured out in a rainy morning and travelled by train to Newtown to find Enmore Street, listed as the 24th coolest street in the world, as Dan had informed us. I had visited there in 2018 and the Enmore Theatre was a regular place for Graeme to see bands when he lived in Sydney.

Newtown is indeed a pretty cool place with many independent shops, restaurants and cafés plus the street art scene is very active with plenty of murals by The likes of Fintan Magee, one of my favourite Australian artists. Surprisingly one of the largest murals was painted by AsOne, a Glasgow artist, on the side wall of a house currently owned by a fellow Scot who we met outside, he told us that it may have to be removed later due to cracks in the building. We had a nice lunch on one of the cafés on King Street before heading back into town to visit Chinatown and Paddy’s Market.

In the evening we went to see the Opera House illuminated specially in tribute to Queen Elizabeth, which was very appropriate and impressive. To use up our remaining travel card credit, we took a ferry ride back to Darling Harbour where we stopped off for a nice Italian meal to finish off our stay in Sydney.

Sydney Opera House Tribute to Elizabeth II

Saturday 10th September

An other early start for our flight to Cairns, fully packed and ready to travel, we waited outside the hotel for our car to the airport where we quickly checked in, passed through security then relaxed in the departure lounge for boarding. The flight left a little late but we arrived in time for pickup to Port Douglas around 1 hour further north. The countryside here certainly is much different from our other stops, with sea and beaches on one side of the road, with rainforest and hills on the other, some sections of the road was like driving on the A82 in the west coast of Scotland but with glorious sunshine. Once checked in to the hotel and having unpacked our cases we went for a stroll around the resort before having dinner in the bistro then having a fairly early night

Sunday 11th September

In the morning before breakfast we took a stroll down to the nearby beach, it was as spectacular as you would expect for North Queensland with miles and miles of pristine sand. A quick shuttle bus service took us into Port Douglas town where there was a local market running, we had a nice breakfast with some local food in the market before exploring the town. We eventually ended up at the marina where we were spoiled for choice on Great Barrier Reef tours, we eventually choose one for tomorrow then went for lunch in Paddy’s, a local bar, only to be served by a young couple from Glasgow. Back at the hotel we lounged by the pool, had a swim and relaxed with our books in the sunshine. Whilst in town earlier we did some shopping, which meant that we could have a nice relaxing dinner on the terrace outside our room with a glass of chilled wine to end this phase of our holiday.

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Australia – Part 3

Sunday 28th August

While Saturdays highlight was for Jim driving on the race track, I had one today too, Briony booked a slot for us all on a street art walking tour in her home town of Frankston, we wandered the streets, led by our guide Steve, to discover more than 50 mammoth murals around the city centre from renown street art artists such as Smug, PichiAvo, DVATE, Vesod, Peata Ead, Phat1 and Lady Diva, it was good to hear all of the stories behind the pieces. It is refreshing to see a community embracing street art the way Frankston has, the tourist information website is full of information about it.

After the tour we all went to General Public, a funky restaurant and venue in Frankston for lunch, there was something for all ages under one place, ten pin bowling lanes, digital arcade games, table tennis, and pool tables. Pat was happy to go back there as he was the manager when the building was a timber merchants.

After lunch Jim and I went with Pat and Kay for a drive down the Mornington Peninsular, stopping off at Arthur’s Seat Eagle. This chair lift had us soaring from 315 metres above sea level to take in the spectacular views across Port Phillip Bay, towards the Melbourne city skyline and beyond.

The Eagle Cable Car at Arthurs Seat

On our return home we ran up the coast road to see just how much Australians love living near the beach, this was another special day for us.

Monday 29th August

As heavy rain and thunderstorms had been predicted, we decided to have a day indoors to rest and recharge our batteries. Jim made the most of this by sitting and watching the Belgian Grand Prix on TV for most of the morning. This continued into the afternoon where we caught up with a coiple of episodes of a series we have been watching. It was indeed a great way to chill out for a bit and to recharge. The turned out to be not as bad as predicted and we also had a nice relaxing lounge about in the yard with Joffrey.

Tuesday 30th August

We were picked up by Pat & Kay this morning and after a stop in their local town of Beaumaris to see the new community mural, before heading to the Bayside Men’s Shed to meet Pat’s mates and have a nice brew and blether, this turned out to be a great place to visit and very interesting.

After lunch in Pat and Kay’s house we paid a visit to Shannon’s, a classic car auction house to see some pretty spectacular vehicles, stopping off at the town of Black Rock to see more new murals. We finished off the day at the Naked Racer Cafe, a cross between a bar and a motorcycle museum, again this was a really great way to spend some time chatting over a couple of beers, we then returned home stopping off at Half Moon Bay to see the wreck of the HMAS Cerberus on the way. Again this was another great day giving us the chance to see parts of Melbourne that most tourists would never see.

Wednesday 31st August

Today we went into the city to follow the city street art walking tour, this self guided tour took us to a number of good locations where quality street art could be found, I had seen many of them when I visited in 2018, but it was good to see all the new additions. After we had finished the tour we found the HER rooftop bar where we had a nice lunch, with really good views across the city

After receiving a text from Dan stating that Gertrude Street in Fitzroy was voted the 2nd coolest Street in the world, Glasgow’s Great Western Road was 3rd, we decided to see how good it really was, we did think that it had a bit of a cool vibe with loads of independent stores, coffee houses and bars. As Fitzroy was near Collingwood we took the opertunity to go and see the tallest mural in the southern hemisphere painted by Matt Adnate, plus one by the American Keith Haring, it certainly was worth the visit.

Once back in the city we went back up to the Night Market to meet Graeme for a bite to eat before returning to Mordialloc, Graeme then took us to his favourite local pub, Mates, where we met Briony for a beer before returning home.

Thursday 1st September

Today we spend most of our time in Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens, this was a great place to spend some time, we enjoyed seeing the exotic plants, giant trees and unusual looking birds. Our visit was made more exciting by following an Augmented Reality exhibition called “Seeing the Invisible“, 3 art installations by national and international artists, it made the walk in the park more fun and interactive. We enjoyed our time in the park so much we stopped to have lunch there.

After leaving the park we walked along the St Kilda Road to try and find the elusive tram 35, the city tour one, to no avail. After a pint we decided to wander along Flinders Street to find some very good street art around the Southern Cross Station, some I had seen before but there was plenty of new ones on display.

We returned to the city centre via the south bank, where we had a bit of fun trying to see the Crown Hotel’s rooftop bar and restaurant, I don’t think we were wearing the right clothes to enter. We decided then to go back to a new/old favourite, The Duke for our dinner, however a message from Graeme directed us towards Curtin House and their rooftop bar, this was a good choice as the food and beverages met our needs and the city with the skyscrapers all lit up look really spectacular. The train journey back to Mordialloc gave us a chance to rest our weary legs after so much walking. Another great day.

Friday 2nd September

For our last full day in Melbourne we stayed local to Graeme’s taking a walk into and around Mordialloc stopping off for lunch on Main Street. A bracing walk on the beach and a pint in the Bridge Hotel topped off a nice day.

In the evening we went for dinner in True South in Black Rock, the venue where Graeme and Briony had their Australian wedding 11 years ago, Graeme and Briony looked so happy to see us all there again, thankfully this time we weren’t wearing our kilts. It was a great way to say goodbye to them and Pat and Kay, we then returned home in time to watch Melbourne play Sydney in the AFL, a game Jim has come to enjoy.

Saturday 3rd September

An early start this morning to get ready for our departure to Sydney, after breakfast and a check around the house to see if we had left anything, we drove to Melbourne Airport and quickly checked in and went through security before settling down to wait for our flight.

On arrival we were met by Russell our driver and taken to the Adina Hotel, in Darling Harbour, the hotel and room is perfectly adequate for our needs and is well within walking distance of all the sights.

After checking in we went for a wander heading for the Circular Quay and the Opera House, we stopped at the Munich Brauhaus in an area known as The Rocks for some dinner in a German styled beer hall, the food and ambiance was very good. The harbour area looks very good at night with the area sparkling with lights, we even had a fireworks display in Darling Harbour on our return to the hotel. This was a nice way to end our second week in Australia.

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Australia – Part 1

I’m back on the road well travelled again, this time I’m revisiting Australia for 6 weeks, finishing off with a week in Singapore, this time I’m travelling with my mate, Jim Lewars, who has never been to OZ before.

We had originally planned to make this trip earlier in the year when Australia reopened its borders, but when we went to make enquiries we were hit with a wall of negativity so decided to delay it until now.

When booking a trip of this size we normally organised it with help from the team at STA, but unfortunately, they went under during the first COVID lockdown, so the search was on to find a replacement, luckily I came across one close to home, Kenneth Macleod Travel just down the road in Giffnock fitted the bill, their agent, Michelle Gemmell, could not have done more for us, she took our preliminary plan and quickly came back to us with 3 options, one of which suited us perfectly, we certainly will be back to see her in the future.

The journey to, and passage through Glasgow airport went fairly well and we had some time to kill until our first flight to Dubai. Our flight on a Boeing 777 boarded on time but we were about 20 minutes late in taking off. The 7hour/4000 mile flight went by seamlessly, with a good selection of on board entertainment and some reasonable food, Jim was pleased that we had ‘real cutlery’. We arrived in Dubai in good time to get to the boarding gate for the next leg of our journey to Melbourne, with only an hour or so to wait.

The next leg was by far the longest, a 12 hour journey of 8000 miles, this time on an Airbus A380 double decker, which was spacious and the upper deck looked to be quite luxurious. this flight was mainly over the Indian ocean with a good part at night, I don’t think we slept much, it was more a case of sitting around uncomfortably with our eyes closed trying to sleep. The cabin crew were, as usual, very attentive keeping us going with a plentiful supply of food and drinks. I don’t know if Covid had much to do with it, but there wasn’t that many newly released movies this time so our books and iPads certainly came in handy.

Once safely through Immigration and customs we were met by Graeme & Briony and after a short drive at their home in Aspendale, we then spent the next couple of hours chatting and catching up before hitting the sack. All in all the whole of of our journey was pleasurable and trouble free.

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Back in Town Again

I got my walking shoes on again and over a couple of days I wandered around Glasgow to see what pieces of street art I could find, and I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the amount I found.
My first walk was a regular for me, from the bottom of Byres Road, and it’s lanes where I photographed a couple of older murals, one by The Rebel Bear created at the start of the pandemic and a fun poster by Conzo & Glöbel on the side of De Courcy’s Arcade , I then headed up to Great Western Road, and walked along to Charing Cross via Georges Cross. A stroll along Sauchiehall Street to Renfield Street and then on to Stockwell Street to get the bus home.

I must admit to a couple of stops along the way, the first was at the Inn Deep Bar where I had a refreshing pint before photographing some of the nice artwork there, mainly from Frodrik and Negative Destination, whose works greet you as you enter from Great Western Road.

Back on Great Western Road again I came across a well decorated electrical junction box painted by Negative Destination, something I would love to see more of, and a colourful mural by Molly Hankinson on Woodlands Drive.  At Charing Cross, in addition to one of  Oh Panda‘s Big Heids, I came across a bright and busy mural by Ursula Kam-Ling Cheng, appropriately called Love on the wall of a bridal wear shop.

On Sauchiehall Street I found another of Frodrik’s monochrome hands.  My next stop was for lunch in another of my haunts , The Raven on Renfield Street before a stop in Buchannan Street to capture Conzo & Glöbel’s fun poster in one of the lanes next to Princes Square.

After being lazy over the past while and missing out on my daily walks, I was certainly quite tired by the time I reached home, but I was glad that I had started again, so much so that I have another walk I have complete to post with more photographs, so watch this space.

Yardworks Mini Fest (& more)

On Sunday, 1st of August, Yardworks held a mini event in the Yard to showcase some of their engagement with local communities through interactive workshops and digital design with young people. During the weekend and for some time beforehand, various local graffiti artists, writers and street artists have been involved, painting mind-blowing large productions and stand-alone walls in the yard and on Eastvale Place itself. The face painting, music, food, drinks and interactive artworks on a large screen all made for a great day out.

In the Yard we had workshops teaching kids to paint on a huge Yardworks sign, assisted by the SWG3 crew including Frodrik and the Guzler, there pieces by The Notorious Gasoline Company, with posters created by Ciaran Glöbel, Tragic O’Hara and Ursula Kam-Ling Cheng at the from recent Workshops held as part of Yardworks Govan on display, Ciaran’s posters, displaying his signwriting skills, highlighted Govan and it’s working class history. Tragic O’Hara’s posters however showed some Heath Robinson-esque elaborate machines built to achieve simple objectives. Ursula’s monochrome posters represented messages of the unity and kindness displayed by many of the Govan female role models such as Mary Barbour and Louisa Jordan.

On Eastvale Place many new works were taking place during the day, there are a couple of good collaborations with one from Frodrik and Mack Colours, who have worked with each other in the past (see linked video), and another from Lightbody107 together with Box Vincent, in both cases the collaborations works well with each artists work complementing the other.

On one wall seven artists, including TKO and Boss City Taio, worked together to create a spectacular display demonstrating how well their individual style can combine to produce harmony.

Individual pieces by King Listy, Alko187, The Guzler and an outstanding wall by James Klinge which tells the tale of Cleopatra seducing the Roman General Marc Anthony by dissolving a pearl from an earring in a glass of wine and then drinking it to demonstrate her indifference to riches.

It all helped turn the street into a riot of colour.

The (rather poor) panorama below should give an indication of how colourful the street looks at the moment, as you can see, there are some blank spaces, so watch this space. While in Eastvale Place it’s always good to pop into Yard Life the urban arts gallery for Glasgow’s street art community where you will find large-scale prints, tiny objects, scrawled illustrations, aerosol masterpieces, and art of all shapes and forms, all designed and created by artists with street art and graffiti roots .

Back on the street again

Once I had recovered from my month long stint at the EUROs, I headed back into town to see if anything new had appeared on the city walls, as usual I was not surprised to find some gems. There was a nice portrait by Frodrik hidden behind some bins in a doorway on Hope Street, I quickly removed the bins, took my photograph and replaced the bins, I then cut down Bath Lane heading to the Raven when I spotted a nice piece by Negativedestination, quite a new and prolific artist on the Glasgow scene, his colourful work is instantly recognisable.

My wanderings then took me to the Broomielaw via Mitchell lane where I stopped for a pint in Bar Tabac, to find a new work next to Klingatron’s Glasgow Panda, I admit that I don’t know who the guy with the headphones is or who painted it, but it is very good. I was also impressed with the little portrait on the walkway on the Broomielaw, it was a pearl that stood out amongst the tagging and graffiti taking over the area, again, as yet, I don’t know the artist who created it.

My next trip out saw me stopping off at the Barn at the Crossroads in the Gorbals to see a brilliant new piece by EJEK98 who paints there regularly and holds art classes for the kids who attend, this piece which Danny describes as ” This mural depicts the second asteroid floating in space with a highland coo relaxing, soaking in the space springs, surrounded by bonsais and magical botanics”.  Again I was surprised to see another colourful work by Negativedirection.  I did notice that a lot of the walls around it were cleared and painted white, I wonder if they are getting ready for some new work by the kids.

Then it was up to Shawlands to see if there were any additions to the Shawlands Art Trail, I wasn’t disappointed, at the back of the Shawlands Arcade pupils from Shawlands Academy were hard at work on two nice murals depicting an underwater scenes, when asked, their teacher explained that their theme was to highlight diversity and strength, something they see in Shawlands every day. It was good to see Gazmac, Frodrik and Mack Colours there to lend a hand and to provide guidance where needed. Just along the road from them at the car park entrance Boiiing was creating a colourful piece with lyrics from the old Will Fyffe song “Bonnie Wee Jeannie McColl” The square in front of the Langside halls was also brightened up with the presence of two giant yellow deck chairs and some of the street furniture were given a makeover by @alicesillustrations, one explained a bit of the history of the halls and how it was dismantled, moved from the city centre and reconstructed on its present location in 1902-03.

I went back down to Shawlands later in the week to see a couple of nice images by a pair of guy who are starting to collaborate more and more these days,  Frodrik’s signature monochrome on gold was evident in his pair of hands at the corner of Minard Road and Pollockshaws Road, while another of Mack Colours fantastically colourful birds was on display further along Pollockshaws Road opposite the bowling club.

Art on the streets once more

Now that things are starting to open up again and the weather has improved a bit, I got out with my camera to capture some of the newest artwork appearing on Glasgow’s wall, I was spoiled for choice.  My first stop was the Viceroy bar at the Paisley Road Toll where Rogue One has certainly brightened up the beer garden, there is even some room for his pets.

I then crossed the river to SWG3 a favourite location for Glasgow’s street art fans, again I wasn’t disappointed, especially with the opening of it’s new gallery “Yard Life”

Out and about on the street also threw up some new pieces, one from Frodrik in Sauchiehall Lane , near Rogue One’s Guitarist was particularly striking.  The Rebel Bear continues to entertain me, this time in the Candleriggs with his falling couple, on my way towards my bus I passed that famous Glasgow landmark where a Katie Smith has created a nice piece on their boarding, it’s just a shame that it is a temporary piece, once on thew southside I headed to the Rum Shack on Pollokshaws Road where I found another of the Southside’s BLM murals by King Listy, this time of the poet Benjamin Zephaniah. 

There won’t be much time for street art this month as I’m committed myself to volunteering at the EURO2020 being held at Hampden and the Fan Zone in Glasgow Green, once things quieten down I’ll share some photographs from the event.

Shawlands Art Trail ~ Again

I was in Shawlands on Sunday to visit the Park Lane Market and while I was there I caught up with local lad Gregor Henderson working away at the back of the Shawlands Arcade.  I liked what I saw of the unfinished piece so I had to go back to see and photograph it today.  The mural is of a view of Queens Park and the text is an extract from, ‘Grey’ a poem by Scotland’s first poet laureate, Edwin Morgan. The poem in full can be read here.

Gregor Henderson

The updated Trail Map can be visited here.

Clutha Vaults 2021

I know I may be a bit late posting these images taken at the Clutha Vaults in Glasgow, but due to lockdowns, it was over a year since I had ventured into that part of the city. It was sad to see the old portraits go, but as they had deteriorated so much it really was time for them to change.

The new ones, the Glasgow Faces, were added in July 2020, by a band of Glasgow’s talented artists, namely Ejek, Michael Corr, Little Book Transfers, Claudine O’Sullivan, Michelle Campbell, Rogue-One, Coll Hamilton, Jody Kelly, Christian Kerr, and Robotic Ewe, they all certainly add a great deal to the Bridgegate corner. One that really caught my fancy was Michelle Campbell’s clever geometric portrait, when I looked at it straight on all I could see were random shapes, looked at through my camera the face appeared, it’s spectacular.

It was also good to see Rogue-One’s portrait of Charles Rennie Mackintosh sporting his face mask. My only disappointment was that the pub was shut.