This is what we woke to this morning (it's much redder than that in realz). I hope the rain holds off until it settles or it will be raining red mud. As someone said last night, "I don't know whose topsoil that is, but they can't have much left."
I assume this is in honour of me passing my test so easily yesterday - my first Aussie dust storm in nearly twelve years.
More pics here from James and very vivid ones in the Herald article here. And here's a great photo of the Quad building up the boulevard from my office.
I've gone back through my blog, and for some reason this time of the year always seems to tire me out and my blogging drops off. Something to do with a rise in my allergy symptoms, I expect.
But it's all about the purple chez witty knitter. You've marvelled at our purple wall, now gasp in awe at our purple bedspread. We had two perfectly good but rather faded beige cotton doona covers, so we spent around $30 on violet dye and tons of salt, and successfully refreshed both of them. Here's one on the bed. With the grey walls and grey carpets it really puts a zing in the room. We're now eyeing off the beige towels, but that feels a bit more risky (purple skin is not really the look for us), so we will probably wait until they are ragged and replace them with violet ones. And don't tell Sandra, but when we finish painting the downstairs bedrooms, I think I'd like to do the doors of the built-in cupboards in purple too.
I've finished the knitting on the remake of the Noro jumper - only the sewing up to do. Of course, it's now far too hot to wear it. I've tried really hard not to match any stripes, and I think I've succeeded. I'm very happy with this, and there will enough left for a granddaughter vest. It was a really quick knit and an easy pattern to follow.
Finally, I'm remaking myself in a small way. This morning I have my interview and will sit the knowledge test to become an Aussie. I've swotted for at least four hours (popn 21 million, First Prime Minister Edmund Barton, 6 states and 2 territories, Philip landed in 1788) so I should be fine. I need to get 14 questions right out of 20, and I have 45 minutes to do it. Short of a major brain fart I should be fine.
Edited to add: I passed, 100%, and it took me less than 5
minutes. Now I just have to wait 90 days for confirmation that I am
indeed a dinkum ocker.
Last night we saw Streetcar at Sydney Theatre. I've been having flashbacks all morning. It was stunning, superb, everything we hoped it would be. The Herald agrees.
There's something about Cate Blanchett that, quite simply, rivets your attention to her on the stage. And she's on the stage for pretty much every scene in this play. I've said it before, but it bears repeating: you know you're in the presence of greatness when you're watching her. Her descent from tidy, prim ante-bellum lady to distressed, hopeless, helpless waif happens while you watch. Three hours pass in a flash.
In other news, I'm back at work, busy and engaged but pining for freedom. No holiday is ever going to be long enough for me, apparently. Knitting progresses, but nothing is finished: three pairs of unfinished socks, one shawl with half its edging, 1/3 of a fairisle cardigan for Hannah, less than the body ribbing for an fine alpaca cardigan for me (mind you, it starts with nearly 600 stitches!). I need to finish something to keep me sane so I'm working on the reknit of a Noro jumper into a cardigan which I will probably not need for six months or more.
After a lazy morning we finally walked up to the lighthouse at Cape Byron today. This is the most easterly point of Australia, and there is nothing between the platform below and South America. There are amazing views of the coastline - the picture is of the beach below Byron, Tallow Beach, that stretches about 15 km down to Broken Head. This is the beach for all the swimming location shots in East of Everything. The rocks on the ocean side of the point are wicked.
You will have to take it on faith, but the first picture on the right contains a whale spout. There were several whales off the point, but sadly none of them were breaching today. Lots of spouts, but nothing more. However, we did spot a brush turkey on the way home. Not as majestic as a whale, and someone passing told me that they are a pest in the campground where we saw this one - he had lost a bunch of bananas to one this morning.
This is our last evening in Byron Bay. Tomorrow we will drive part of the way back to Sydney - probably to the Foster/Tuncurry area - to spend our last night away from home. (Yes, that is a quiet sob you can hear.)
If you live in Nimbin, quite a lot. Here's one I snapped, and we saw a 'Grasshoppers' tours on the side of a bus.
Other Nimbin photos (click to see details):
Despite the colourful murals, I found Nimbin to be a depressing and miserable little town. There was a kind of frightening anxiety in the air - and it wasn't only coming from the group of older people from a Probus club wandering around, the women clutching their handbags nervously and not daring to look properly at anything.
Lennox Head, on the other hand, was lovely. Kids learning to sail on the peaceful lake, its water soft and brown from the ti-trees, and a stunning beach and a funky little township. Ballina's old fishing wharves on the river have been remodelled into a pleasant open area where they serve excellent seafood and we just happened to be there at lunchtime. The fish sculpture remembers the area's original use.
We also drove through Lismore, which is a nice enough country town, and Alstonville and Bangalow, both extremely pretty.
I'm still alive, just worn out, I think. Last week really took it out of me, and I'm only just starting to get it into perspective. Thank heavens I still have the rest of this week on holiday.
The post-training holiday began with a couple of nights at Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast. I hadn't visited the Gold Coast before and it wasn't nearly as bad as I'd feared. Parts of it are even really nice. You can avoid the high rises, the shops and the tacky crap, and concentrate on what made it the mecca that it is: the lovely beaches. As it's only just spring, and the weather has been fine but coolish, most of them are deserted, and we were easily able to explore the little local shopping centres. Sandra knows the area very well, having spent a lot of her childhood there and many holidays since, and she showed me some of her favourite spots. These included a delicious Italian meal in Broad Beach, the local shops at Burleigh and the charming shopping street of Kingscliff. Of course, they'd be quite different in the high season, but I really enjoyed our couple of days.
We came to Byron Bay on Saturday, and I'm glad we did. I don't think I'd stay here again - accommodation is incredibly, ridiculously expensive. The very basic little self-contained unit we are staying in, which doesn't have beach access and can sleep only three people, costs $2,500 for one week in the summer. Say, whut? Even at winter rates (about 1/3) it is far too much for what is provided - but it's cheaper than any other place we could find. But Byron is very interesting - quirky and pretty, although expensive and overcrowded, at least at the weekends. And this is the low season. I'd really hate to be here in summer - how do people walk or drive anywhere, we wondered, as we pushed through the crowds at the weekend? In keeping with the still hippyish, green vibe of the town, there are no high-rises here - nothing above two stories that we could see - which of course keeps the prices of what is here very high.
But the countryside is beautiful, the food in the town is of high quality - exquisite fish and chips and the apple/cinnamon pancakes with raspberries and honeycomb butter made the walk to town for breakfast worthwhile - and the unit is peaceful with free 12 hours of wi-fi. We've watched drummers on the beach under a full moon, found anenomes and barnacle trails in the rock pools at Watego's Beach, and seen a real hippy bus on the beachfront.
We've read and knitted, walked and eaten. We would love this to go on for ever.
I'm having trouble blogging the training/conference. I suppose that means I haven't got distance on it yet. It's going well for me; I'm getting a lot out of it. The hotel is very comfortable and Coolangatta is nicer than I expected.That is all.