monkey business

The last thing you expect to find in a city park is a troop of Japanese macaques. Launceston City Park has been home to a few different beasts over the years, from thylacines to brown bear and deer. It was home to a group of Rhesus monkeys from the late 1800s until the last one died in 1979. The council wanted to continue the monkey tradition and, after much research, decided the Japanese macaque is best suited to the Tasmanian climate. A fitting choice, as Ikeda City in Japan became a sister city with Launceston in 1965. The enclosure reflects the natural environment of the monkeys with plenty to keep them occupied as well as a much loved swimming pool.

1.enclosure

Time slipped away as we watched, mesmerised, these gorgeous creatures and their antics. Some sat quietly, contemplating

2.thinking

while others were in the mood to play.

3.let's play

Japanese macaques are omnivorous, although their diet here is quite different to that in the wild. Their menu includes barbecue chicken, scrambled eggs and honey sandwiches as well as fruit and vegetables. Some were intently picking through the mulch, probably looking for treats of dog biscuits and bird seed that had been hidden there.

There was much grooming going on, a way of maintaining social bonds

but it wasn’t going to interrupt breakfast for this youngster.

The babies are adorable,

some stayed close to mum.

Relaxing peacefully in the sunshine was enough for others on this beautiful Sunday morning.

26.contemplation

29.how shall i spend the day?

I wonder whether the monkeys wait each day for the human exhibit to arrive?

City Park

A stroll through Launceston City Park on a perfect spring morning is a lovely way to start the day.

1.City Park2.City Park

Established in the 1820s by the Launceston Horticultural Society, the park was handed over to Launceston City Council in 1863. Entering the western gate, the 19th century former caretakers cottage, now the studios of City Park Radio, has one of Australia’s oldest wisteria vines, planted in 1837.

3.City Park Radio

The John Hart Conservatory was erected from the John Hart bequest in 1932 and refurbished in 2010. John Hart was a mariner, merchant and parliamentarian who spent most of his career in the 1800s in South Australia. He died in 1873 at his home, Glanville Hall, at Port Adelaide. He must have felt some connection to Launceston having arrived there on the ship, Isabella, from London in 1837, even though his stay was brief. The same plans were used to build a conservatory at Parramatta Creek in the 1970s. You can see that post here, The Conservatory

4.John Hart Conservatory5.John Hart Conservatory

The garden beds at the front of the building were blooming with a stunning display of violas.

Myriad plantings edged the spacious interior, the tranquil ambience invited us to linger.

8.John Hart Conservatory

9.John Hart Conservatory

Majestic orchids thrived amidst lush greenery.

Outside, colourful poppies bounced in the breeze and the bees were already busy collecting their nectar.

There are many magnificent mature trees in the park. Apparently, the English Elms are all clones of a single tree brought to England by the Romans. Their descendants arrived in Australia on ships hundreds of years later to be planted in parks like this one. The tallest trees, the Sequoias, presumably arrived in the same manner.

The band rotunda was built in 1908 and is dedicated to Chester Edwards who joined the Launceston City Band at the age of 10 and conducted from 1906 until 1958. A plaque reads, “Erected in appreciation of the sterling services rendered by Chester Edwards in the musical activities of the City of Launceston.”

29.rotunda

The ornate drinking fountain was intended to be a gift from the children of Launceston to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887.

30.Jubilee Fountain

Things didn’t go quite according to plan. The fountain was ordered from Saracen Foundry in Scotland, however, the funds were not raised in time and the installation was postponed until the Diamond Jubilee in 1897. The moulded shields above the arches depict both dates as well as a bust of Queen Victoria.

The fountain was initially positioned outside the main gates and was moved inside the park in 1908. The design incorporates symbolism popular in Victorian times; griffins are guardians of priceless possessions, lions symbolise guardianship, cranes for vigilance and eagles represent immortality.

34.Jubilee Fountain

A bronze statue of Ronald Campbell Gunn stands proudly in the shade. Arriving in Tasmania in 1830, he became Superintendent of Convicts and Police Magistrate. His career path soon led to politics but he is best known as a botanist. He collected, recorded and sent many specimens back to England (as well as a living Tasmanian tiger in 1858).

35.Ronald Campbell Gunn

The ‘Senses Garden’ was created in 1978, raised beds are filled with plants selected for their aroma or texture

36.Senses Garden

and the terracotta dolphin fountain has centre stage. The fountain was initially erected in a different area of the park in 1861 and is the second oldest fountain in Australia (the oldest being the Val d’Osne Fountain in Princes Square, less than a kilometre away).

37.Senses Garden

Reluctantly, we tore ourselves away from the garden, there were more adventures awaiting.

40.Senses Garden

Artentwine

I recently spent a weekend in Launceston with my sister who was here on holiday. Not that we needed an excuse to visit wineries, but the Artentwine sculpture exhibition was added incentive. The biennial competition started in 2014 and features contemporary sculptures by Australian and international artists, displayed at five wineries in the West Tamar. After driving up the East Tamar, we crossed the Batman Bridge and began our adventure at Goaty Hill. The three sculptures on display were set against the backdrop of beautiful vistas and vineyards. The bronze Seated Figure by Jason Farrow caught my eye and was still my favourite at the end of the day. I’m not going to include all the artist statements or this would be a very long post, but I found Jason’s summation quite moving; “Walking under the iconic coke sign of Kings Cross, Sydney, I noticed this guy, sitting there on the steps. Deep in thought, lost in anguish, you couldn’t really tell. Wherever he was, was a long way from here.”

1.Seated Figure

Jason Farrow, ‘Seated Figure’

2.My Other Half

Nicole Allen, ‘My Other Half’

3.CAUTION. This Is Not a Life Saving Device

Christopher Trotter, ‘CAUTION: This is not a life saving device’

Armed with two bottles of 2016 Goaty Hill Riesling, we moved on to Iron Pot Bay Vineyard. We only saw four of the five sculptures as they were positioned in rooms where people were eating and a little difficult to view. Simon Pankhurst’s, The Battle Between Needs and Wants, had been displayed upside down, not the best angle.

4.Wintery Mood

Peter Steller, ‘Wintery Mood’

7.The Night Hunter

Mela Cooke, ‘The Night Hunter’

The man in blue, poised in the garden, sported an outfit knitted with baling twine. My sister and I had been at Deloraine Craft Fair the previous weekend where we had seen numerous knitters eagerly creating something with the blue baling twine. It seems artist, Grietje van Randen, has enlisted volunteers to help complete a double life size Blue Farmer to be sited on a local farm to raise awareness of those living with depression and as a reminder for us all to be Looking Out For Each Other.

We added a bottle of 2016 Pinot Grigio to our collection and drove the short distance to neighbouring Holm Oak Vineyard where a further eight sculptures awaited. The setting was magnificent, unfortunately Smultronstalle and Impression VI were presented back to front, a little disappointing for the artist I would imagine.

18.Smultronstalle

Christie Lange, ‘Smultronstalle’

20.Impression VI

Paul Murphy, ‘Impression VI’

11.Monument of Indifference

Gene McLaren, ‘Monument of Indifference’

14.Water Light

Lisa de Boer, ‘Water Light’

15.Fisherman & Fisherwoman

Sallie Portnoy, ‘Fisherman & Fisherwoman’

19.Perpetual Growth

Vlase Nikoleski, ‘Perpetual Growth’

21.Tall Poppy

Peter Rozario, ‘Tall Poppy’

The competition was won by Wayne Hudson for Pledged which will become a one and a half metre diameter sculpture for the public. A light will be positioned below the ring and shine through the centre, I think it will be quite spectacular.

12.Pledged

Wayne Hudson, ‘Pledged’

A bottle of Duffy 2018 Rosé accompanied us to the next location, Moores Hill Estate. Some of the twelve sculptures were difficult to photograph against the background of corrugated iron and I was disappointed to see Fate had been damaged – the boat should be suspended within the frame but the supporting wires had broken.

23.Fate

Jamie Dobbs, ‘Fate’

Ask and thou shalt receive by Al Roberts was my close second favourite, the man’s face had so much character. It is no wonder it won the People’s Choice award. The artist’s statement is worth sharing here; “ I wanted a turtle dove as an artistic reference for a potential sculpture. I spoke to a friend of mine that is a hunter and she agreed to acquire one for me on her next hunt. Shortly after our conversation my friend arrived home, and by strange twist of fate, she immediately heard a thud behind her on the glass door. She looked down on the ground outside to see a small turtle dove twitch and take its last breath. Feeling guilty, even though the bird died of natural causes, and unsure what to do now my ‘wish’ had been granted, I decided that I needed to make the most out of its life by immortalizing it as part of my sculpture. As with many things in nature and life, we have been given exactly what we need, but still have no idea how to make to the most of it.”

22.Evidence of Passing

David Doyle, ‘Evidence of passing’

25.Changing Tracks

Mary vandenBroek, ‘Changing Tracks’

24.Kanamaluka

Catherine Phillips, ‘Kanamaluka’

29.Illusion

Ben Fasham, ‘Illusion’

30.Continuous

Ben Beams, ‘Continuous’

31.Star Finder

Di West, ‘Star Finder’

32.Nudibranchor

Dan Kershaw & Sara Ferrington, ‘Nudibranchor’

33.Bait

Lynette Griffiths, ‘Bait’

35.curious dream of an architect

Fatih Semiz, ‘curious dream of an architect’

37.Twitter Birds

Cheryl Sims, ‘Twitter Birds’

The views from Moores Hill were breathtaking, as was the 2016 Chardonnay and 2017 Riesling that I just couldn’t leave behind.

38.Moores Hill Vineyard39.Moores Hill Vineyard

Our final venue for the day was Tamar Ridge Cellar Door, in an enviable position with magnificent panoramas of the Tamar River.

40.Tamar Ridge Vineyard

Ten sculptures were on display throughout the extensive premises, although we only found eight. We didn’t partake of tastings here, I will have to return on my next trip to Launceston.

41.Changing Landscape

Keith Smith, ‘Changing Landscape’

43.Finding the Lost

Anita Denholm, ‘Finding the Lost’

44.Brigid of the West

Robert Boldkald, ‘Brigid of the West’

45.Estuary

Rob Ikin, ‘Estuary’

47.Discourse

Craig Ashton, ‘Discourse’

50.Formation

Ben Beams, ‘Formation’

51.Panspermia

Christina Palacios, ‘Panspermia’

52.Above and Below

Barry Smith, ‘Above and Below’

For more insight into the sculptures, the artist statements can be found in the catalogue.

Artentwine 2018 Catalogue

bespoke bureau

Having finished the back room renovation, our thoughts turned to furnishings. We searched for a suitable sideboard but couldn’t find anything that was just right, though we did get a few ideas. The answer was to create our own. We had some old timbers lying around and supplemented our supply with a visit to the salvage yard where we also found four wooden crates (there were two A.B. Tonic ones).

I cleaned up the crates while Michael slaved over the frame using various reclaimed hardwood timbers

and some old fence palings. I found a recipe for rusting nails and it worked a treat.

6.shelves

A few coats of Cabothane brought out the natural hues as well as the perfect defects.

We kept changing our minds about what to use for the centre front and side panels so Michael experimented with rust effects on steel. The polyurethane coating has preserved the colours well.

9.rusted steel panels

Precision placed finger holes and felt lining completed the crates.

Over the years, we have accumulated some beautiful timber slabs and we selected a Huon pine for this project. Trimmed and prepared,

it was fixed to the frame

15.finished

and the steel took its place in the front and sides.

Some more Cabothane on the top highlighted the grain.

We are very happy with the result.

23.finished

beautiful firetail

Venturing out for another bout of gardening, I saw movement from the corner of my eye. Expecting to see the resident fairy wrens bobbing around, I was excited to see two little birds I haven’t seen before.

1.beautiful firetail

I wasted no time grabbing my camera and returned to find they were still in the orchard. They certainly weren’t disturbed by my presence.

2.beautiful firetail

I consulted our Guide to Australian Birds book and found out they are beautiful firetail finches. The only finch endemic to Tasmania, (the European goldfinch and greenfinch are introduced) appear to have an olive green head but it actually has the same fine dark barring as the white body.

3.beautiful firetail

The bright red rump and beak, highlighted against black tail and mask, co-ordinate perfectly.

4.beautiful firetail

Males have a black centre of abdomen and undertail, their plumage darkens and eye ring becomes bluer during breeding season.

5.beautiful firetail

Usually seen in pairs, the beautiful firetail eats mainly grass as well as casuarina and tea tree seeds. I don’t know what they were finding so tasty on this occasion, either the grass or some small insects to complement the herbivore diet?

6.beautiful firetail

These birds share an equal partnership, both construct the nest, incubate the eggs and care for the young. Fortunately, their conservation status is secure, hopefully they will visit again.

7.beautiful firetail