Monday, March 31, 2008

NSW Railways - a great site

This post simply records the link to a great site I found on the NSW railway system including its history. I am posting it so that I do not lose it. Rolfe Bozier should be congratulated for his work!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hidden New England - Comboyne Plateau

Photo: Comboyne Plateau, view from Mt Gibraltar.

There is so much of New England that I have yet to visit properly. This includes the Comboyne Plateau.

When my father retired and had more time, he took to long drives. As part of this, he and mum just spent time driving around the Comboyne taking photos.

The Comboyne Plateau lies between the valleys of the Manning River to the south and the Hastings River to the north. It is about 60km south-west of Port Macquarie, 35km west of Kew and 54km north-west of Taree.

The Plateau has an area of approximately 180 square kilometres. The topography is unique; it is a volcanic plateau, ranging from 600 – 800 metres above sea level. The region has deep red basalt soils and a high rainfall. The plateau was originally covered by spectacular rainforests, but extensive clearing has left only a few pockets of remnant vegetation.

The plateau edges are surrounded by several State Forests and Reserves. Since white settlement, about 100 years ago, the region has been a prime dairy farming area. Over recent years a number of horticultural enterprises have been established. These include plantings of avocados, macadamias, blueberries and other fruits and vegetables.

Photo: Comboyne village.

Today there are approximately 800 people on the Comboyne Plateau, with less than 200 in Comboyne village.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Bush Wedding 1896

This photo from the Manning Valley Historical Society shows the 1896 marriage of Hugh White and Janet Minns.

First look at the surrounds. This is bush, not a park.

Now look at the clothes. Very formal. Imagine what it would have been like to wear this gear.

Think about getting ready. Then travelling by horse or sulky or buggy to get there.

Friday, March 21, 2008

New England poet Peter Skrzynecki's Summer in the Country

Browsing around I came across a reference to a joint show done by New England poets' Peter Skrzynecki and Julian Croft. I mentioned Peter in passing in a post back in 2006 in an early story on New England writers.

Still browsing, I came across this poem on Neil Whitfield's English site.

Summer in the Country

Summer in the country

was brushing away
flies from your face
and wiping sweat from your eyes—

The flies, always a plague in sheep country. Hiking with the scouts, with packs flapping on backs, clouds of flies would be attracted by the salt in our sweat.

watching grasses and grains
shimmer in paddocks
or sheep and cattle
grazing beyond a windbreak of pines

Pines are a common windbreak on the New England Tablelands and immediate slopes..

Galahs clanged over the homestead.
A windmill turned
when a breeze sprung up.
Cockatoos screeched from the pepper tree

Windmills were a common sight, tall metal structures clanking in the moving air. Whereas the normal gum provides light shade, shade from pepper trees is dense. A self-sown one grew in the chook yard at home. We used to rub the leaves between our fingers to get the pepper smell.

Only crows frightened me
with their sorrowful cries
and the way they flew slowly
like black crosses.

There is something very lonely about the crow's call. On hot days when everything else is still, the call echoes across the paddocks.

The old slab-split shed
was a treasure-trove
of harnesses, bridles, farm
machinery, forty-four-gallon drums—

To a kid, these sheds are a treasure trove. The forty-four gallon drum or, earlier, the kerosene tin, was used for many things. In our case, cut in half with holes in the bottom, for catching yabbies.

its walls covered
with cobwebs that housed
unimaginable spiders
but where it was cool inside.

I hate spiders! Their webs were everywhere in those old sheds.

I didn’t miss Europe
like my parents did—
nor a Christmas without snow
I’d hear them talking about.

Poland was a long way from Australia.

Summer in the country
was being given a glass of cold lemonade
and falling asleep
under a red-gum’s shade.

The verse does capture the nostalgia of the past. Still, speaking from my own experience, the ground is bloody hard without some form of blanket!

Somewhat later

Neil suggested that this memories of childhood poem was probably set in the Parkes area rather than New England since Peter's early years were spent at Parkes.

I think that Neil is right. Still, like many good poems, it can be translated to another area and set of experiences. However, I needed to make the correction.

A post on my personal blog, Saturday Morning Musings - literature, locale and license, extends my overall analysis on New England writing.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Armidale-Kempsey Road - pretty but difficult

This photo by Gordon Smith shows the main road between the central New England Tablelands and the Macleay Valley.

The road is very pretty, but for some obscure reason most people take the longer, more roundabout, route. The distance between Kempsey and Armidale is not great, but I would not recommend trying the road at night.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

New England Tablelands-North West Events Calendar Autumn 2008

The people from Big Sky Tourism have supplied the following event Autumn details for New England-North West.


March 28-30 – Quilters and Patchworkers of New England Exhibition, Armidale. Quality local quilts on display, with the opportunity to purchase. Legacy Hall, Faulkner Street. Phone 02 67 71 2734.

March 29 – Narrabri Picnic Races. Traditional Picnic Race Day at the Narrabri Racecourse from 12 noon. Phone 02 6792 1198.

March 29 & 30 – Autumn Festival, Armidale. A wonderful street parade of local schools, car clubs, businesses and culture. Phone Armidale Visitor Information Centre 02 6772 4655.

March 30 – Markets in the Mall, Armidale. Beardy Street Mall, Armidale. Contact Matthew from the PCYC 02 6772 1023.


April 4-6 – Oracles of the Bush, Tenterfield. Enjoy a feast of Australian bush culture including literature, music, bush poetry, plays and concerts at this four day event. A gathering of classic bush characters with plenty of Aussie spirit. Phone Tenterfield Visitor Information Centre 02 6736 1082. Admission prices vary please check the website for costs

April 4 & 5 – Relay for Life, Inverell. Held at Varley Oval from 6pm to 6pm. Visit

April 5 – Gypsy Willow Markets, Narrabri. Phone 02 6799 6760.

April 5 – Gunnedah Bird Sale and Expo, Gunnedah Showground. The Gunnedah Bird Sale & Expo has grown to be the biggest bird sale in Australia. Admission is $2, canteen facilities, doors open at 10am. Phone Greg Brandon 0447 749 971.

April 5 – Nosh on the Namoi, Narrabri. A showcase of the region's great foods and fine wines, held on the banks of the Namoi River.

Relax to a jazz band while you sample delicious foods. Learn the cooking secrets of guest chef Ed Halmagyi from Better Homes & Gardens, or dance the night away at Nosh Night Out, a market style dinner with food, wine and entertainment from 4pm-10pm. Phone Narrabri Visitor Information Centre 02 6799 6761. Admission free. Sample plates for sale at various prices.

April 5 & 6 – Wee Waa Campdraft. Wee Waa Showground. Phone Narrabri Visitor Information Centre 02 6799 6761.

April 5 & 6 – Open Gardens, Wanderriby, Armidale. Astonishing array of trees, flowering shrubs, perennials and bulbs in an all-seasons garden. Over 200 camellias, towering rhododendrons, azaleas, prunus, magnolias and peonies. Open 10am to 4.30pm. Phone Liz Chappell 02 6734 4260.

April 6 – Jellicoe Park Markets, Moree. Plants, fresh fruit and vegetable produce, home baked goods, clothing, handcrafted furniture, poultry, a selection of food stalls, craft and novelty items, beading supplies, jewellery and crystals and more. Phone Tourism Moree 02 6757 3350.

April 6 – Inverell Hobby Markets. Campbell Park, Inverell Phone 02 6722 4693.

April 11-13 – Narrabri Show. This annual show includes horse events, wood chopping, cooking, photography, crafts, sideshows, fireworks trotting, showjumping and a Ute competition. Phone Narrabri Visitor Information 02 6799 6760.

April 13 – Glen Innes Markets. 8.00am to midday, Grey Street, Glen Innes. Contact Jenny Hodder 02 6732 5329.

April 13 – Kootingal Pumpkin Festival. All shapes and sizes of pumpkins, pumpkin products, pumpkin cooking, pumpkin bowling, pumpkin racing as well as food, wines, craft and products from all over the area. Phone 0429 602 352 or visit

April 18-20 – Gunnedah Show and Open Rodeo. Enjoy the pleasures, sights and sounds of a country show-the grand parade, pavilion displays, Spectacular fireworks, sideshow alley and an action packed rodeo! Gunnedah Showgrounds. Phone Gunnedah Show Society Office: Jackie Weston, Secretary 02 6742 1867 or George Avard, President 02 6742 4141.

April 18-20 – Colours of Autumn Art and Craft Show, Bendemeer. This exciting show features notable artists from across Australia and includes folk art, oils, pastels, pencils and more! A great opportunity to purchase some arts and craft works for your collection. Admission by gold coin. Food and refreshments available on site. Phone Ruth Matthews 02 6769 6558.

April 18-20 – New England Caravan Camping 4WD and Boat Show. Tamworth Showgrounds. A complete outdoor recreation event, combining commercial and educational exhibitors for the outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors will be able to experience everything from caravans and motorhomes, camping, boats, the great outdoors, travel and touring. Adults $12; Aged Pensioners and Seniors Card Holders $9 (Government Issued Only); children up to 16 free. Phone: 02 6760 9544.

April 19 – Gunnedah Country Markets. From 8.30am at Wolseley Park, Conadilly Street, Gunnedah. Entry is Free. A wonderful choice of goods to be purchased, from delicious cakes/jams, pottery and craft to second hand goods/books/clothes. Contact 02 6742 2565.

April 20 – Peel St Cottage Craft Fair & Regional Produce Markets, Tamworth. Phone Tourism Tamworth 02 6767 5300.

April 25-27 – North West Autumn Classic Championship Dog Show, Gunnedah. This is an amazing dog show with all breeds under the sun-well worth a visit for any dog lover. Gunnedah Kennel Club Complex, Oxley Highway. Contact 02 6744 7866 or 02 6744 7892.

April 27 – Markets in the Mall, Armidale. Beardy Street Mall, Armidale. Contact Matthew from the PCYC 02 6772 1023.

April 25-28 – Drovers Campfire Weekend, Narrabri. Do you have a caravan, motorhome, camper 4x4, ute, tent or swag? A fun filled weekend – camp oven cooking, drover dressups, entertainment, craft displays, local tours, bush poetry and a chance to meet fellow campers and caravanners. Site fees from $5. Register via the website or phone Geoff Eather 02 6743 4469.


May 1 to 4 – Australian Celtic Festival, Glen Innes. Enjoy the culture, colour and pageantry of this great Celtic Festival at the only National Celtic monument in Australia – The Australian Standing Stones. A spectacular array of anything and everything Celtic. Special ceremonies for the Welsh, Manx, Scottish, Irish, Cornish and the Guardians of the Australian Standing Stones.

Saturday is the street parade and entertainment at the Standing Stones site. Thursday and Friday the entertainment is within the town and main street. Dog trials are held on Saturday and Sunday at the festival site. Detailed programs from the Glen Innes Visitor Information Centre 02 6730 2400. Day pass $25, weekend pass $30, children under 12 free. Visit

May 1 to 4 – Australian Line Dance Festival, Tamworth. Australia's only Line Dance Festival featuring International and national celebrities. Over 16 workshops, ICE International qualifying competition, socials, vendors, and street line dancing. Contact Tourism Tamworth 02 6767 5300.

May 3 – Gypsy Willow Markets, Narrabri. Phone 02 6799 6760.

May 3 & 4 – Quirindi Heritage Rally. Quirindi Rural Heritage Village is holding its 10th Annual Rally and Swap Meet at the Heritage Village site, on the Kamilaroi Highway. Highlights include completion of the 750m circular miniature railway, working dairy displays, blacksmith’s shop and tractor pull. English manufactured tractors and engines will feature along with other vintage tractors, steam engines, Army vehicles, cars, motor bikes and displays. Catering and bush camping facilities are available and over 120 swap sites will operate. Phone Beryl Mannion 02 6746 1479 or visit the website

May 4 – Jellicoe Park Markets, Moree. Plants, fresh fruit and vegetable produce, home baked goods, clothing, handcrafted furniture, poultry, a selection of food stalls, craft and novelty items, beading supplies, jewellery and crystals and more. Phone Tourism Moree 02 6757 3350.

May 4 – Inverell Hobby Markets. Campbell Park, Inverell Phone 02 6722 4693.

May 4 – Great Nundle Dog Race. Nundle Recreational Ground. Join in all the fun, featuring canine and human events with all funds raised going towards the Nundle Public School. Free admission but bring your money for the food and activities. Phone Joy 02 6769 3253.

May 7-11 – Narrabri Veterans Golf Week. Narrabri Golf Club 02 6792 2148.

May 8 -11 – New England Bach Festival, Armidale. Leading Baroque performers from Australia and overseas, including Hans-Georg Wimmer, The Tall Poppeas, Australian Baroque Brass, Claire Edwardes. Phone Benjamin Thorn: 02 6772 5889.

May 9 & 10 – Moree on a Plate. Fabulous food and wine showcasing some of New England North West’s finest food products. Friday night is food and music at The Max Centre with John Field and his band, while Saturday is cooking classes with Womens Weekly celebrity chef Lydney Milan and a day of sampling delicious food at the Moree Secondary College. Sample plates for sale at various prices. Phone Moree Tourism 02 6757 3350.

May 9-11 – New England Wool Expo, Armidale. From paddock to parade and plate - yard dog championships, shearing and fleece spectaculars, alpacas, fashion parades, wool crafts, regional food and wine, rural and retail exhibitors, 'kindergarten to PhD' education sectors in New England and family entertainment. Visit Phone 02 6772 8974.

May 11 – Gunnedah Mother's Day Race Meeting. For a great day of country racing make a day of it at Gunnedah Riverside Racecourse, full TAB facilities. Phone Debbie Watson Club Secretary 02 6742 0093.

May 11 – Glen Innes Markets. 8.00am to midday, Grey Street, Glen Innes. Contact Jenny Hodder 02 6732 5329.

May 16 & 17 – Wee Waa Country Show. Wee Waa's annual show is renowned for featuring some of the western plains' of NSW finest sheep and cattle. "Fashions in the Pen" is a special segment where fashion designers submit creative entries made from wool or cotton. Phone 02 6795 4315.

May 17 – Gunnedah Country Markets. From 8.30am at Wolseley Park, Conadilly Street, Gunnedah. Entry is Free. A wonderful choice of goods to be purchased, from delicious cakes/jams, pottery and craft to second hand goods/books/clothes. Contact 02 6742 2565.

May 17 & 18 – Bingara Show. The annual show with all the traditional and popular events. Phone Bingara Show Society President Kelly Holland 02 6724 1201.

May 18 – Peel St Cottage Craft Fair & Regional Produce Markets, Tamworth. Phone Tourism Tamworth 02 6767 5300.

May 25 – Markets in the Mall, Armidale. Beardy Street Mall, Armidale. Contact Matthew from the PCYC 02 6772 1023.

May 28 & 29 – Australian National Cotton Trade Show, Moree. Moree TAFE Agricultural Centre. Celebrating 10 years, this is the largest single industry trade show in Australia, with over 200 exhibitors. Visit Phone Brian O’Connell 07 4659 3555.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

New England Australia film: Nundle's Japanese western - Koya No Toseinin (The Drifting Avenger) 1968

Many years ago on my first visit to Nundle, I stopped to have a beer at the local pub. Sitting outside on the shady verandah, I was struck by a movie poster on the wall, a Japanese western apparently shot in Nundle. All these years later, I have finally got round to tracing the film.

Made in 1968, Koya No Toseinin (The Drifting Avenger) stared Ken Takakura,, an actor known for his brooding, stoic, style.

Known, in IMB's words, as the "Clint Eastwood" of Japan, Takakura gained his streetwise swagger and tough guy persona watching yakuza turf battles over the lucrative black market and racketeering in postwar Fukuoka. This subject was covered in one of his most famous movies, Showa zankyo-den (1965) in which he played an honorable old-school yakuza among the violent post-war gurentai.

One commentator on the IMB site described the movie this way:

While in the US Air Force and stationed in Japan, I had the opportunity to be an extra in this movie. I had understood it to be an Australian movie where the indoor scenes were shot in Japan. However, maybe it was just a low budget American film with the outdoor shots made in Australia and the indoors shots in Japan. It was about a Japanese family settled in the old west and a group of stagecoach robbers sought refuge in the Japanese family house. The young son hid under a bed and the bad guys killed his parents. He therefore became the Drifting Avenger. I would like to get my hands on a copy as in one scene my image filled the sliver screen!

This led to a follow-up comment:

My uncle was "Mike the boy" in this movie alongside the very famous Japanese actor Ken Takakura. The movie itself is okay, but I too am trying to get my hands on a copy of this movie simply because my relative was in it. The movie was originally shot in English and then dubbed over in Japanese. Although I have the Japanese version, I am trying to get a copy of the original. The National Film and Sound archive in Australia has a copy, but Toei, the Japanese company that produced the movie is refusing to give permission to make a copy for personal use. Anyhow, any help would be greatly be appreciated. A Japanese western? Can't say that there are too many of these. Can't say there would be any reason for Japanese to be dressed as cowboys, except that someone thought that it would be fun to ride horses and shoot people.

This is as much as I know at present. I, too, would like to see the film. It was apparently never released in Australia.

New England Film Entry Page

You will find the site entry page on New England film here.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

New England films - Streetsweeper

My thanks to ABC Newcastle (July 16 2007) for this story on Streetsweeper.

Ten years ago Newcastle-based filmmaker Neil Mansfield started collecting found notes on the streets of Sydney and his new adopted hometown. Now those "fragments of other people's lives" have been turned into an art house feature film.

Shot on location in four days for less than $20,000, the film explores the beauty and ugliness of city street streets through the eyes of a "a loner who finds poetry in the ordinary", played by actor and co-writer Marin Mimica.

"As the director I don't want to be too prescriptive about who he is, because then I think it might change the way people read the film," says Mr Mansfield, a cinematographer, who has previously directed one feature, Fresh Air, in 1997. "It's a very simple film about one character and his simple journey over three days."

I guess it's what archaeologists do, they go and they try and piece together what a society is like from the fragments that are left behind."

In the film's credits Mr Mansfield thanks "the people of Newcastle for being themselves", as many of the scenes include exchanges between the actor and pedestrians. It was an approach the director was worrying about up until the night before the first day of shooting.

"I actually started to panic and think 'hang on, we're about to make this film with only one actor, and maybe I need to get some other actors to pretend to be pedestrians and set up more conventional encounters'," he said.

The result is a film in which chance encounters with the public enhance and even change the way the story unfolds.

"Part of my philosophy was if you go out on the street, and stand there long enough, something interesting happens," he says. "The timing of some of these pedestrians was absolutely incredible."

"What makes it work for us is, every time we watch it, is that there's this woman walking her dog," he says. "She just walks her dog right into the shot, right at the very end, and they have this kind of how-are-you-going, have-a-nice-day kind of conversation," he says.

Weather gods smile on production.

"We had too many rainbows, it was just stupid," Mr Mansfield said. "We were filming (Marin) walking up this hill in the back streets of Mayfield, and it started pouring with rain, which was good, because we needed a new element, and it suited the part of the story we were in, and someone goes 'are you gonna shoot that rainbow?'"

"And I'm standing there, looking at the director of photography, and we're looking at the actor, and we're looking at the rainbow, and it was a beautiful, amazing, and we're like (in bored exasperated tone) 'oh okay, I suppose so'."

"And the film was like that, things would present themselves, and we'd be like 'okay we'll shoot that'.

Neil Mansfield uses the found notes as props, while the text in the notes becomes the dialogue of unseen characters in Streetsweeper.

"It started about the time when I was making my first movie, in 1999," he says. "Without being too academic about it, I guess it's what archaeologists do, they go and they try and piece together what a society is like from the fragments that are left behind. I like that ephemeral thing that it's an insight into what's going on inside the houses that are around you."

Following a successful screening at the Perth International Film Festival, Neil is about to take the film on tour of Eastern Australia.

You can find the film web site here. The site includes video clips from the film.

You will find the site entry page on New England film here.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Why I remain a New England New Stater 9 - the price of neglect

Note to readers: This post is one in a series using personal examples to illustrate why I continue to support both agitation for New England self-government and self-government itself. Agitation, because its very existence forces forces the Sydney Government to consider New England interests. Self-government, because there are some things that we cannot achieve without this.

It has been a little while since my last post in this series. I was reminded of the need to start again be a lunch time conversation here in Sydney. It was a work group.

The conversation turned to history. One remarked that the Welsh really just complained, while the Scots had sought independence for a long while. A second, that there had never been an Australian equivalent. I mentioned New England, but was cut off because (to the audience) it seemed odd and irrelevant. Yet the specific example I was giving went back in history to the point at which NSW was on the point of civil war.

Looking round the table, I realised that of the eight of us, only three were born in Australia. Of the three, one had New England links and was interested. Of the overseas born, none had had any access to any form of New England history.

Having one's personal history rejected as not important is obviously a pain. But there is a broader issue.

Those sitting around that table actually make decisions that affect New England. They all see New England in terms of a series of sub-regions with little understanding of the linkages between areas. They also see New England within a metro frame set by NSW statistical divisions and definitions.

There is nothing to force modern decision makers to consider the broader New England interest. Everything becomes fragmented.

In saying this, I am not in any way impugning the character of decision makers in NSW or nationally. Many care passionately about the things they work on. Yet the system they work in works against New England.

In a way we have created this position ourselves.

Since the decline of the New England New State Movement after the 1967 referendum loss, since New Englanders became locked into their narrow local or regional worlds, there has been nothing to force outsiders to consider us as other than a series of small and separate areas.

We cannot expect others to consider our broader needs if we cannot articulate and argue them ourselves.

Return to introductory post.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Margaret Olley's New England connection

Painting: Margaret Olley, 'Eucharist Lilies' 1963

While I have always enjoyed Margaret Olley's art, I did not know that she had a New England connection until I found a 2006 interview with her on ABC North Coast from the Byron Bay Writers Festival.

An edited version of the interview follows. You can find out details of Margaret Olley's life here.

"Biographer Meg Stewart describes Margaret Olley as 'Australia's most-loved living artist', a statement that's reflected by the hoards of fans who pack into a Byron Bay Writers' Festival Marquee to hear her conversation with Stewart...

After Stewart's generous introduction .... Olley proceeds to steadily gather her captivated audience in the palm of her hand. Her slow, thoughtful, precise manner leaves her audience hanging on every word, and beautifully demonstrates her impeccable comic timing.

Along the way though, the audience is treated to a delightful trip down memory lane, as Olley was born in Lismore and lived on the Tweed River for a number of years during her youth.

"That was an idyllic childhood," reminisces Olley, "to live beside a river, with little islands in the river, and fishing and... I don't know, it was just fun. Nobody had any money and in the time of the depression, our father would make stilts or billy carts, and we made our own amusement."

Olley grew up in North Queensland and the Tweed area before going to school in Brisbane. It was at Brisbane's Somerville House that she met one of her early inspirations, her art teacher Caroline Barker, and started on her journey to becoming an artist. "My whole week at school was always looking forward to the art class," remembers Olley, "so when I came to Somerville House and found Caroline Barker, that was bliss.

"She has sparkling eyes and was so full of enthusiasm and encouragement, and I got so carried away I went to the Head Mistress one night - we had to see her every week - and I went and said, 'My mother has written and given me permission to drop French and take an extra art lesson.' So I knew then what I wanted, and she, silly woman, didn't even ask to see the letter."

After studying painting in Brisbane after school, Olley moved to Sydney to attend the East Sydney Technical College. "I just loved the East Sydney Tech," she enthuses. "You could work there day and night and never get enough of it... It was actually the first time I actually got to make friends."

Olley travelled extensively around the world, developing her style, but also experienced dark periods, struggling with alcohol, and recently, depression. She exhibited last year, but admitted that, "I hadn't been painting, I hadn't been showing for a few years, because I'd fallen into that black hole, a dreadful black depression, and I really wanted to kill myself and that is not a place to be in, believe you me. I never thought I'd get to that stage, but luckily there is help. When you're in a state of depression, you really are chemically out of balance... and you're not functioning, but there is help, and you can be helped chemically, so if anyone in this room has any problems, go and seek help."

It was when Olley was recovering from this bout of depression that she decided to embark on the biography with Stewart. "Slowly I picked up and started painting away. I must say, when I was in that black hole, my friend and gallery owner Phillip Bacon said to me one day, 'Oh look, I think you should be answering some of those letters that have come from the publishers. I think it's about time you started thinking about doing a memoir.' [Until then] I'd been just throwing them away... so I thought, why not?"

Olley selected Stewart after being impressed by the biographical work Stewart had already produced. For Stewart, the biography was an artistic challenge. "One of the most rewarding or challenging parts of this project was that, because the writing I'd done before, in book-form, had been pretty directly connected to the world of my parents, with my mother who was an artist and my father who was a writer, with the Margaret Olley book, I really had to plunge in and write about an art world that was wider than that.... But for me it was also quite special because it was my creative coming of age."

.. Since last year's (2005) exhibitions and the release of the biography, Olley has never been busier. "Last year, I've never done so much in my entire life," she says forcefully. "Imagine two exhibitions, and on the opening night of one exhibition, Barry Humphries opened Meg's book at the art gallery, and then I had about 20 people back for a buffet dinner. I must be going out of my mind!

"And then Random House said, 'The next morning, you'll start the interviews.' I said, 'I beg your pardon? You're dealing with somebody over 80. I may want to sleep in,'" she finishes with a cackle. "

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Welcome to Visitor 11,000

Visitor 11,000 arrived last night. They came to the site via a Google search of Australian web pages looking for information on the population of Sydney in 2007.

Well, we do have some of that, although this blog's focus is a little different. We want to reduce Sydney's population.

Welcome. I hope that you come back!