Category Archives: travels closer to home

Beyond the city walls but still in Oz.

The healing place …

Along a dusty road, past many twists and turns, there is a place with no phones.

And no computers.

Some thought they were a little crazy to buy it.

But then they visited.

And they too fell under its spell …

blue reeds

What there is – in great supply – is time, too rare a commodity thesedays.


Three little huts, built with love – and this past weekend filled with friends – cling to a hidden hillside and look down the barrel of the Clyde.


It really is a piece of paradise.

A healing place for a family that had been to hell and back. In the process of buying it, someone tried to gazump them, but the elderly owner said no, this family needs this place.


He must have been a wise old soul.

I would cue the frogs if I could and lend you the slap of oars on water, but all I can offer is some fading light this evening. More to come, I promise…

0s5a1960 0s5a1963 0s5a1967

You just need to be a little bit patient with me 😉



Sculpture in the Vineyards

“Trust me,” I said. “When have I ever given you a bum steer with accommodation?”

“Well there was the night we landed in Damascus at two in the morning … No sheets, no blankets, no lock on the door.”

I conceded that one. It was a shocker. In fairness though, it was the wrong hotel. We found the right one the next day, but not after a lot of nervous giggling and very little sleep. Would that we could wind back time.


But this was different.

Yes, it wasn’t your typical motel. In actual fact The Vine Valley Inn is an old hotel, right in the main street of Cessnock but it has been converted with love and an artistic eye and a funkiness that I couldn’t resist.

“It’s on top of a bloody pet shop,”

“Trust me,” I said.

vine valley inn

And the moment we walked in he was hooked too, chatting away to Simon the owner and enjoying the crazy mix of art and kitsch.

vine valley inn simon and steve

vine valley inn cassock

In the space of a week we’d gone from 35 degrees in Delhi, to six inches of snow in Duckmaloi (in mid October!), to the main street of Cessnock to deliver a sculpture to Sculpture in the Vineyards, an annual sculpture competition and exhibition held at four different vineyards in the beautiful Wollombi Valley about two hours north of Sydney.

Sculpture in the Vineyards 2014

Our friend (and artist) Harrie Fasher, has been encouraging Steve to start putting his work out there so he was very chuffed to be accepted into this year’s exhibition. His piece is on display at the Stonehurst Cellar Door. Thanks Haz x


And I was very chuffed to be able to tag along with camera in hand, especially when I laid eyes on the Stonehurst cellar doors!

Stonehurst Cellar Door

Suddenly India didn’t feel so far away …

Stonehurst Cellar Door

Stonehurst Cellar Door

It’s a really big deal making the leap towards making art, putting yourself out there, opening your work up to criticism.

This week he launched a website: and a Facebook page – with a little help of course 😉

Steve and The Australia Policy

The Australia Policy

And today is his birthday. Happy to you my clever boy. mwah x


The girls get a turn at Duckmaloi :)

By complete coincidence one of my old university friend’s close friend booked Duckmaloi* for the long weekend. And when my friend made the connection she rang mid week and said come out and join us on Saturday night.

Duckmaloi River

Serendipity. One of my favourite words in the English language.

Duckmaloi River

A gang of eight girls from all walks of life … clever, funny, welcoming and wise.

The kind of wise that only a few chapters of life can grant you.

girls out walking

Thrown together in a house full of slippers, warmth and laughter.

Duckmaloi Park Guesthouse

Duckmaloi Guesthouse

Frosty nights and big long walks. Red wine and chocolate. Cups of tea and conversation.

Duckmaloi Valley

I can’t tell you the last time I had a couple of days away with a group of women.

Duckmaloi River

And I have to admit I was a little nervous heading out to the guesthouse. These girls knew each other well. They had a shared history. But Saturday became Sunday. And Sunday became Monday. And somehow … over the course of a night that became a weekend … strangers became friends.

Duckmaloi Guesthouse verandah

And I feel very lucky to have been a part of it all. Thanks girls xxxxxxx

How very special are female friendships? Where would we be without them?

*Duckmaloi Park Lodge is in the Duckmaloi Valley about 10 minutes east of Oberon, on the western fringe of the Blue Mountains. It was built by Steve’s grandparents in 1940, as a guesthouse. Steve’s brother Gerard runs it thesedays as self contained accommodation. In a particularly pretty valley amidst rolling hills reminiscent of Irish countryside it sleeps 15 and is a great place for a getaway with friends or family. One of the girls was saying it’d be great for book club weekends or even as a writer’s retreat. Normally it’s the boys who are out there for golfing weekends so it was good to see the girls give it a run 😉

If you like this you might also like …

Duckmaloi revisited … because that’s where her story began

Duckmaloi … yes it’s a place

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