island life

Weekend adventures are made of sandy feet and salty breezes, of camping in the dunes and cooking under the stars. They’re made of friends who become family and family who become friends, of sunshine spliced with rain, learning to drive on the beach and beers in the shallows as the sun goes down. Weekend adventures like this one. North Stradbroke, January 2017.

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Hobart

Old but fun, quiet but alive, artistic yet practical, robust but pretty, extreme yet charming. Hobart, how I saw it one November long weekend.

I also wrote a story about my time in Hobart for Flight Centre Australia. You can read it here. 

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Fleurs

Spring. When the air takes a turn to the warmth, the rains dampen everything just enough to tint the greenery with a fluorescent glow, and flowers burst into life, a happiness that spreads across the fields. Especially where I grew up, the winters are cold and dark and the frost biting. Springtime is a welcome relief. Last weekend I went home. I often think about floristry, the art that goes with flowers. But while that dream stays a dream, I’ll continue roping mum into picking flowers from her garden so I can photograph them. Thanks mum. x

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Sydney lives here

How I feel about a place is often heavily influenced by my feelings toward the architecture. Late century mission brown or light brick homes, identical, one after the other in an estate? I start to get a bit squirmy. Quaint Queenslanders, all multi-coloured with plants overflowing on the balconies? My heart does a sigh of happiness.

Sydney is just so damn pretty. The harbour, the big blue sea, abruptly met by sheer cliffs, topped with rows of Art Deco flats with perfectly rounded corners. Ah, my word. When I nostalgically think of the great Australian dream and summertime in suburbia down under, Sydney is exactly what I think of. In fact, I remember when I was a kid, obsessed with maps and houses, my mum or dad picked up a book at a garage sale called Above Sydney. It’s still one of my favourite books. I distinctly remember the aerial shots, not just of the city, but of the rows of houses, pools in the backyard, Victorian verandah out the front. It was my first taste of Sydney and one that I still romanticise when wandering the streets of the Inner West.

When it recently came time to say farewell to this beautiful big town, I realised one thing I would miss the most. The houses and apartment blocks, terraces and townhouses that make Sydney Sydney. Victorian and Art Deco, Mid Century and Modern, the ugly and the charming. I’ve already written an ode to my favourite terraces, which you can read here. So here is a little collection of some of my other favourites, from the apartment block named Eltina, to the place that looks like it’s come straight out of the Med.

Sydney lives here.

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The Terrace

I’ve always had a soft spot for the humble Sydney terrace.

I’ve never lived in one, so I’ve always romanticised terrace life. The lacework balustrades, bundles of pot plants overflowing onto the footpath, French doors opening out to the balcony upstairs, crisp white linen just visible in the shadows.

I’ve always imagined a chic inner city life in these terraces. With a stylish modernised kitchen, and perfectly preserved period features. The front, a vision of time gone by, the back a spacious oasis of indoors and out, flowing seamlessly into a hidden garden tucked away from the outside world.

It would be a romantic life of kids playing in the street where cars slow down, neighbours enjoying coffee together on the porch, and where the community garden is tended to and enjoyed by the whole street. It would be quiet, calm and warm.

I romanticise this life in much the same way I have romanticised living in other places around the world. Namely my beloved Paris. Just as the precious features of the terraces here grab by eye, my mind often floats to Parisian life on the fifth floor. The parquetry floors, tall double entrance doors, tiny balconies with big views and the smell of fresh bread wafting up from the Boulanger down below. There are many similarities between these two lives I realise. They both reflect the spirit, and community of life in the city. Compact, economical on space and time, precious with light and large on living together.

I think I romanticise this life because I know it’s not something I ever really, truly want. In fact I like it that way, a dream I don’t really need to consider. A dream that can’t be shattered if it’s kept a dream.

I often wander the streets of inner Sydney, sneaking glances into open terrace doors and lightened windows. Admiring rows of pretty, uniform facades, some wide-fronted and four stories tall, others low to the ground, with brightly painted front doors. Rows of similarity, and touches of vibrant individuality.

I admire the uniform pitch of the terrace roofs, the lacework on their balconies, and clusters of plants huddled around doorways barely off the footpath. I think of when these terraces were built, who lived there then, what they did, and what this neighbourhood would have been like. I wonder, who lives here now, do they love it? And how these lives would be so different.

I love everything about these Sydney terraces. The ones with tiny iron balconies, the ones with quaint overgrown front yards, the ones with no front yards at all. The ones with makeshift decks atop the garage out the back, the ones with miniature spiral staircases making room for extra living, the ones with ornate balustrades, stair runners and lead light windows down the hall. The ones above shopfronts, the ones down back alleyways. The ones built from iconic Sydney sandstone, the ones painted red, or white, or green. The ones with windows flung open and curtains billowing out in the breeze. The ones with a dog keeping watch from the open front door.

Sydney wouldn’t be Sydney without these terraces. I do hope they rarely change.

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weekend in the wild

Waking up here everything feels different. As I stir, there is a crunching noise somewhere to my left, a bush turkey perhaps, or maybe a possum. A faint light starts peeking through my eyes, and a kookaburra’s cackle erupts nearby. Further away, yet not too far comes a howl, a dingo, searching for something. I lay, not quite awake and listen. The rumble of the ocean, the swaying of the trees in the breeze, it’s never silent, never still. The bush is alive and always moving. As my limbs stretch and fold, I become aware of something else just outside. A crackle, a warmth, a campfire and the distinct smell of coffee brewing. It’s a new day in the bush, where adventures await. Our own little slice of heaven, over the dunes and faraway.

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first light

Just before the sun peeped her head over the sea, there was a group of boys standing just at the edge of the sand, waiting. Rugged up in hoodies, all looking out across the ocean. Then, anticipating the moment, right as the first golden light flooded across the beach, they were stripped down, just wetsuits and surfboards, sprinting toward the waves. Their laughter filled the air, the squeak of the sand trailing behind as they flew across toward the water. None would have been older than 12, all with a confidence of having done this for years. Their faces shining in the golden morning glow. The curfew was lifted with first light. They were in and ready to surf.

A selection of these photos are available to purchase as prints via The Travel Print Shop.

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