GWK

On a balmy Balinese morning, we journeyed south from our villa at Seseh to experience Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park. GWK, as it is known, is a 60 hectare park devoted to the Hindu God, Wisnu and his mythical half-man, half-bird companion, Garuda. There are different areas used for various art & cultural performances. We first encountered Kura Kura Plaza, or Turtle Plaza. The turtle sculptures are believed to guard the earth from natural disasters.

1.Kura Kura Plaza

The views were spectacular from the elevated position of the park, looking over the ocean and Denpasar.

2.view-Denpasar on right

There is an ongoing project at GWK, the creation of one of the largest statues in the world. The finished copper and brass monument, portraying Wisnu riding on the back of Garuda, will apparently be 120 metres tall and Garuda will have 65 metre long wings.

3.Garuda Wishnu Kencana

Started in 1997 by Balinese sculptor Nyoman Nuarta, some parts of the statue have been completed. The first sight of the 20 metre high Wisnu was absolutely breathtaking.

4.Wisnu

Wisnu Plaza is on the highest part of GWK and is the setting for traditional Balinese art performances.

5.Wisnu Plaza

It must be awe inspiring to present a show under the watchful eye of Wisnu.

6.Wisnu

We passed this Hindu shrine

7.shrine

on the way to Garuda Plaza.

8.Garuda Plaza

This part of the statue was not as tall, but equally as impressive as Wisnu.

9.Garuda Plaza

The largest outdoor venue in the park is called Lotus Pond. It isn’t actually a pond but the massive limestone pillars around the perimeter make it a fascinating venue for big events such as music concerts.

10.Lotus Pond

It is also the perfect setting for a Segway ride. Michael soon mastered the balancing act and there was no stopping him.

With the beautiful limestone columns as a backdrop, Nyoman Nuarta has weaved his magic again. The magnificent Peace Memorial is dedicated to all the Bali bombing victims in the hope of uniting the world into a peaceful, harmonious community.

14.Peace Memorial

Tepi Laut Villas

Unlike a great percentage of Australians (according to Redgum in 1984), we never had a desire to visit Bali. We don’t cope very well with heat and humidity and weren’t too enthused about the crowds. When our friends from Darwin said they were going with the family and renting a private villa with room for two more, it was the perfect opportunity to spend time with them and experience the culture across the sea. After a long day of travel (it’s a fair distance from Tasmania), we landed at Denpasar airport along with, it seemed, every other flight from across the globe, just before midnight. After obtaining a visa (that’s another story), we stepped outside into the stifling heat and, just before we were overcome with secondhand cigarette smoke, we spied our friends. They had come to rescue us in the villa car which was, thankfully, air-conditioned. Sitting in the middle of the back seat of the SUV, I had a perfect view of the chaos that is Bali traffic. I closed my eyes to prevent my heart from stopping and we eventually arrived, dazed and disheveled, at the villa. It was Nirvana. Awakened at 6am by the chanting from the temple in the neighbouring village, I peered over the balcony

1.from balcony2.from balcony

and made my way downstairs. The open living area was beautiful, there was no doubt we were in Bali.

3.living area4.living area

Our room was upstairs on the right,

5.outside

an air-conditioned sanctuary from the heat of the day.

The bathroom was exquisite, every amenity catered for.

There was plenty of space for lounging around the pool,

and the secluded bale was inviting on a hot afternoon.

The edge of the water feature at the entrance (or exit, depending on whether you are coming or going), was dotted with fresh frangipani blossoms.

17.entrance

There were five villas in the group at Tepi Laut surrounded by rice fields, away from the madding crowd, at Seseh Beach.

18.exterior

Our villa, Villa Sungai, was on the edge of the complex overlooking a river and the small fishing village of Seseh.

19.exterior

It was a pleasure to return to the tranquility after a day out,

the villa dog was probably the luckiest dog in Bali.

22.villa dog

The night lights were cute, like someone hiding in the foliage wearing a hat.

23.exterior

A relaxing dip in the pool was always welcome

24.view from the pool

and offered a different perspective of the garden.

We were well looked after by the wonderful villa staff and enjoyed some fabulous meals

28.dining table

prepared and cooked in our own kitchen.

29.kitchen30.our villa staff

We experienced a spectacular monsoonal downpour one day, a brief respite from the heat.

31.rain32.rain

It was fun to return after a day out to find a new menagerie awaiting us. Apparently, it is known as towel origami.

Assisi

Following our wonderful morning exploring Spello, we drove to Assisi, another ancient town dating back to 1000BC. Sometimes it is difficult to discern where the roads end and pedestrian ways begin when entering these old towns. I was more than a little alarmed to find myself driving into the main piazza. I hastily retreated down the first apparent exit and sought a car park outside the town walls. We re-enacted the initial entry, sans vehicle, and proceeded with our Assisi adventure.

1.Piazza del Comune2.Piazza del Comune

In 238AD, Assisi was converted to Christianity by Bishop Rufino, his remains rest in Assisi Cathedral. Built in the 12th century and dedicated to San Rufino, it was in this church that Saint Francis of Assisi was baptized in 1182.

We wandered the streets of this beautiful town

6.Assisi

10.Assisi

17.Assisi

before enjoying a delicious lunch at La Lanterna. I finally got the chance to try cinghiale (wild boar) in a sensational stew and Michael had superbly cooked maialino (suckling pig).

18.La Laterna

We walked off our lunch climbing to Rocca Maggiore,

19.Rocca Maggiore

a huge medieval castle built as a military fortress around 1174 on the summit of the hill.

20.Rocca Maggiore22.Rocca Maggiore23.Rocca Maggiore

Stopping to catch our breath, we were rewarded with spectacular views of Assisi.

24.Assisi

The 13th century Basilica of Saint Clare featured majestically in the landscape.

25.Basilica of St Clare26.Spoleto Valley

There was much to explore at Rocca Maggiore.

35.Rocca Maggiore

41.Rocca Maggiore

47.Rocca Maggiore

This inscription commemorates Pope Pius II

48.Rocca Maggiore polygonal tower

who completed the polygonal tower in 1460,

49.Rocca Maggiore polygonal tower

as well as the passages linking it to the main fortifications.

50.Rocca Maggiore51.Rocca Maggiore

The castle was extensively renovated in 2002 and there are fantastic exhibitions of medieval life, weaponry and musical instruments.

From the top, the 360° views across the Spoleto Valley and Assisi were breathtaking.

69.view from Rocca Maggiore65.view from Rocca Maggiore66.view from Rocca Maggiore67.view from Rocca Maggiore70.view from Rocca Maggiore71.view from Rocca Maggiore

We ambled down the hill to town, had one last gelato for the road,

72.gelato

and returned for our final night at Il Castagno.

BOFA

We recently ventured to Launceston to experience the Breath of Fresh Air (BOFA) Film Festival. Michael had an entry selected for screening in the short film competition and we thought it a great excuse for a weekend away.

1-bofa

The festival was held at the Inveresk Precinct. Originally Tasmania’s largest industrial site, it is now an education and arts hub. The original industrial buildings remain

2-academy-of-the-arts

and are now interfused with some modern elements.

3-art

6-big-picture-school

I love this tree outside the Big Picture School.

7-tree

The movies were shown in various buildings throughout the precinct, our first viewing was in The Annexe.

8-the-annexe

A fabulous gabion rhinoceros stood guard at the entrance

12-gabion-rhino

or was he heading for the coffee van?

13-gabion-rhino

We relaxed with a coffee in the comfortable lounge

14-bofa-lounge

before viewing a wonderful movie, Kedi. Although not particularly cat lovers, we enjoyed the story of the cats in Istanbul and the interaction with the people in their lives. Perhaps humans could learn a thing or two from cats after all. http://www.kedifilm.com/about/#aboutkedi
We lunched at Blue Café Bar at the precinct, the wood fired pizzas were amazing – we chose pulled pork shoulder, pickled jalapeño, avocado, coriander & crème fraiche.

15-pizza

Also located at the Inveresk Precinct is the Launceston Tramway Museum. You can step back to the 1940s with a ride on Tram No. 29, Launceston’s only surviving double bogie tram,

16-tram

lovingly restored over seven years.

20-tram

We returned later to the Festival Lounge to enjoy beverages and the award presentation

21-bofa-lounge

before a walk in the rain and superb dining experience at Brisbane Street Bistro (sorry, I didn’t take photos). Next morning, we started the day with a hearty breakfast at Café one0six. The Breakfast Burger and Eggs Benedict hit the spot.

We headed back to Inveresk for one more movie, the Romanian film, Graduation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBCPZhdJYLA It was quite sombre and gave us much to ponder on our drive home.
Michael’s entry in the short film competition, Invisible, can be viewed here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdGHAmIEjM8