Kiama Coast Walk in Numbers

By Vita Forest


Werri Lagoon, near Gerringong

Another post hand-written while on holidays…

By Vita Forest

2 walkers – Saskia and Vita.

1 stop on the train – Kiama to Gerringong. $4 for my train ticket (because I left my opal card at home… $2 for Saskia, she remembered hers).

2 legs of the Kiama Coast Walk – Gerringong to Loves Bay and Loves Bay to Blowhole Point.

14km walk from start to finish.

3km walk from Gerringong station to the start of the walk at Werri Lagoon.

2 pairs of wooden dream poles covered with local indigenous symbols, at either end of the Gerringong to Loves Bay leg.

Dream poles, Kiama coast walk

Dream poles, Kiama coast walk

1 herd of black and white cows huddled together in an adjoining paddock.

Millions of golden dandelions covering the hills.

Dandelion covered hills, Kiama Coast walk

Dandelion covered hills, Kiama Coast walk

1 woman using the hillls over Werri Lagoon as an outdoor gym – interval training, jogging up and down the steep hill and stopping at the top to do push-ups or squats…

Millions of hidden insects in the swaying grasses, chirping and clicking.

Thousands of visible bugs in the vegetation – butterflies, crickets, flies hitching rides on the back of our backpacks.

2 girls overtook us on the walk.

1 train line disappearing into dark caverns beneath the hills.

1 handful of delicious, wild, sun-ripened blackberries picked from the bushes along the path.



Thousands of purple wildflowers tumbling down the steep escarpments.

Wildflowers on Kiama Coast walk

Wildflowers on Kiama Coast walk

4 sea kayakers passing below the cliffs as we walked in the opposite direction, 2 with tiny sails to take advantage of the sea.

8 pelicans flying in formation.

Pelicans on the Kiama Coast Walk

Pelicans on the Kiama Coast Walk

1 electric blue fairy wren balancing delicately on the barbed wire fence beside the path.

4 patrolled beaches along the route (Werri, Easts, Kendalls and Surf).

Near Easts Beach

Near Easts Beach

3 caravan parks.

1 stile over a dry stone wall near Easts Beach.

1 heron that stood silent and still before launching off over the cliffs at Easts Beach when I ventured too close.

1 amazingly refreshing swim at Kendalls beach.

Storm approaching, Kendalls Beach

Storm approaching, Kendalls Beach

Several rumbles of thunder and flashes of lightening as we neared the Surf Beach.

1 downpour just as we neared our holiday flat.

1 blister on the bottom of my right big toe.

29 degrees C in the middle of the day, 22 degrees after the storm.

2 tired but happy explorers sitting on the balcony with a cup of tea watching the rain.


Surf Beach


This week

By Vita Forest


Surf Beach, Kiama

This week I have been

READING The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George (I’m afraid I would not recommend it. Saskia lent it to me to see if I would feel the same way she did about it. And I did. Thanks Saskia!!)

WRITING with a sharp lead pencil in my notebook as I’ve been –

VISITING Kiama and its surrounds on holiday with Betty and Saskia

SWIMMING in the glorious glittering ocean and in the beautiful Blowhole Point rock pool.

WATCHING dolphins swim around the rock pool at Blowhole Point!

WALKING around the coast at Kiama, two legs of the Kiama Coast Walk, the track at Minnamurra Rainforest.

CHATTING with Betty and Saskia.

PLANNING lots of writing.

LISTENING to Opera in the Domain in Sydney with some lovely work colleagues.

WAITING to get somewhere to write up and publish these posts! (working on the iPhone did not prove easy – any tips?)

Ones and Twos and Threes

Minnamurra rainforest

Scenes from the rainforest

By Vita Forest

I have been “off-air” for a little while as I’ve been on holiday then had internet issues at home.  So here is a post hand-written in a notebook last week…

Let me tell you about our lovely holiday Tuesday in Kiama.

Betty, Saskia and I had travelled south for some rest, relaxation and rejuvenation. We had a day of different groupings – ones and twos and threes.

We began the day differently with our own waking times and solitary adventures. I crept out while the sun was low and walked the meandering coastal track along the headland to Blowhole Point. Saskia headed south in sneakers and swimmers and jogged, stretched and swam at Kendalls Beach. Betty relaxed on the balcony looking out over the ocean.

We breakfasted, then Betty and I descended to the Surf Beach and revived in the clear sparkling water – scrubbing clean both mind and body. A dip to remember.

Taking advantage of having a car, Saskia and I were happily chauffeured by Betty to Minnamurra Rainforest, nestled in the mountains beyond Jamberoo. We strolled the boardwalks and crossed the river on suspension bridges, craning our necks to see the light shining through the birds’ nest ferns growing on ancient fig trees, to notice the endless different forms a leaf can take. Rather than the steady crash of waves, here was the quieter tumble of the river over mossy boulders and smooth pebbles. Saskia and I climbed higher to sit tranquil before Minnamurra Falls, Betty returned to wait by the soothing river, put off by the word “steep”.

We ate lunch by the river – last night’s salmon, leafy greens, boiled eggs, BBQ chook, sweet rockmelon and Betty’s famous friands. We talked dreams, betrayals, kids, homes and workplace machinations.

Later we left the cool of the rainforest and headed to the heat of Berry. The car rolled up and down the narrow country roads in the verdant hills. There were cabbage palms and fig trees dotted over the smooth green pastures, remnants of the rainforest that used to stretch all the way to the sea before the cedar hunters came. There were dry stone walls to spot, red-roofed houses and the blinking stares of black and white cows.

After a stroll, a snack and a browse for ‘special things’, we returned to the cooler coast and took another swim in the ocean.

There was lots of conversation and lots of quiet. There was company and solitude, exercise and relaxation, commiseration, confidences and celebration. Betty had to head back to Sydney the next day, Saskia and I were lucky enough to stay on a bit longer.

This week


By Vita Forest

El Anatsui: Five Decades exhibition

El Anatsui: Five Decades exhibition

This week I have been

    • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
    • El Anatsui: Five Decades exhibition at Carriageworks
    • The Famous Spiegeltent at Hyde Park to see Knee Deep by Casus Circus
  • MAKING the sails for my Ann Wood paper mache ship
  • ADDING buttons to the hull to hold the rigging
  • LISTENING to the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at Symphony under the Stars in the Domain
The hull, after lacquer and buttons for the rigging

The hull, after lacquer and buttons for the rigging

Low on cost, high on life

By Vita Forest

Shelly Beach Manly

Go to the beach

It’s summer school holidays here in Sydney.  We tend to look for adventures that are low on cost but high on fun.  Here are ten things we do to explore, relax and have fun without breaking the bank.

  1. Have a picnic, day or night in a beautiful spot.  Sometimes we will have night-time picnics sitting on a rock overlooking the harbour – hard to beat!  Picnic with friends, or by yourself with a good book. Cost: food and drink (prepared at home).
  2. Take a swim at the beach.  It costs less than going to a pool and you get to enjoy the natural world too.  Cost: Free
  3. Take a walk in the bush or in the city, there is so much to explore.  Check out local council websites to find hints from the locals about interesting walks in the area, join a Meetup group of like-minded walkers.  Cost: Free or token payment for Meetup groups.
  4. Take public transport.  Step lightly, catch a train, bus (or if you are in Sydney – a ferry).  Take a trip to a new place and spend the day, take time to look out the window on the way.  On Sundays, we use our Opal cards for $2.50 all day travel in Sydney and its surrounds (up to the Blue Mountains, down to the South Coast or Southern Highlands etc). Cost: $2.50 on Sundays, more during the rest of the week (but maximum $15 for the day).
  5. Visit an art gallery.  We are lucky to have lots of excellent free art galleries here – the MCA, the Art Gallery of NSW, the White Rabbit Gallery, the Brett Whiteley studio, to name just a few.  Cost: Free
  6. Visit your local library.   We have fantastic local libraries with books, of course, but also excellent DVD and music collections.  Our recent “Alfred Hitchcock Film festival” was sourced through visits to local libraries.  Cost: Free
  7. Take time to read.  What could be more enjoyable than having time to read?  Sleep in and read all day, or take your book on a picnic (see Number 1).  These holidays, Lucy has been working her way through Melina Marchetta’s Lumatere Chronicles, while Max is enjoying the Skullduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy.  Cost: Free (from a library) or raid your own or a friend’s bookshelf.
  8. Listen to a podcast or the radio.   These holidays I have been listening to interesting interviews on Radio National, including discussions from festivals that have taken place earlier in the year.  Lots of food for thought.  Cost: Free
  9. Do some craft.  While listening to the radio…  My Ann Wood boat building continues, I have also finished a cowl for Lucy and made some Christmas decorations.  Check out Pinterest for ideas.  Cost: craft materials or look in your cupboards and make use of old supplies.
  10. Be on the look out for free events.  At this time of the year, the Sydney Festival is on with lots of fantastic free events (Fabulous Flying Fox anyone?).  Last night we joined thousands of people for a picnic at the Domain to enjoy Symphony under the Stars.  Cost: Free

What do you do for a low-cost high-life adventure?


Fabulous Flying Fox at the Fortieth Festival

By Vita Forest

Ephemeral City, Sydney Festival 2016

Ephemeral City at Barangaroo, can you see the flyer on the ceiling?

Yesterday Lucy and I flew, yes flew! over the Cutaway at Barangaroo.  If you head there before the 24th January, you can too.  As part of the Sydney Festival (Number 40) Olivier Grossetete (should be an accent on that second e) is building an Ephemeral City in the Cutaway.  Huge buildings are being raised out of cardboard and packing tape (you can join in) while smaller participants can build swords and tiaras out of the same medium (don’t you love cardboard?)  Above it all, loops a flying fox for the adventurous amongst us.

Lucy and I decided we would fly despite the wait.  But then the wait became fun.  When you are surrounded by people who are curious and expectant, and watching others who are engaged in work that they are carrying out with a lot of care and good humour, the wait becomes enjoyable.

Ephemeral City, Sydney Festival

Flying over Barangaroo on the Flying Fox, can you see the rail on the ceiling?

We opened our eyes, relaxed and tried to work out all the “systems” on display.  The line snaked around through cardboard-covered barriers, feeding people into different centres – what were they all for?  We noticed the crowd had different coloured wristbands (allocated by time?  How many of each?)  We realised there were lockers for bags and anything that was not tied on  (getting closer we were told, there was to be absolutely nothing in our pockets, if you wore glasses, they had to be strapped on).  We watched the flyers get kitted up in harnesses with complicated straps.  We saw them try on helmets of different colours and tried to work out the system (were they colour-coded by size?  Yes they were!)

And most of all, we watched the staff.  It was a labour-intensive fun machine.  There was the “concierge” where you signed in and were given a wristband, the bag check person, a couple of “kitter-uppers”, a helmeted fellow who did the final launching of flyers out into the abyss, a gloved guy who pulleyed up loads of just-used helmets and harnesses from down below, and a couple of staff who ferried up the triangular swings that were used to attach the harnesses to the flying fox railing (they appeared at regular intervals with their arms slung through metal triangles carried on their shoulders with yet more in their hands.  I hope they used the lift.)  They all seemed extremely enthusiastic and dexterous – helping each individual into their complicated harnesses and demonstrating arm movements to pull buckles tight.  They even tracked down some tape (from the cardboard city I guess) to strap on summer footwear that would have flown off otherwise.  The flyers were very appreciative and mirrored the staff with their exuberant kicks to check that their shoes would not indeed fly off.  And when it was my turn, our helper made me try on a couple of helmets, declaring I had a child-size head (who knew?) and procuring me one from the dumb-waiter pulley system.

And every now and then, we would hear a whoop from over the balustrade and a bunch of people would rush to look over and report back that the cardboard tower below had been raised another level by the team of city builders.

Ephemeral City, Sydney Festival 2016

Raising the tower

The time passed quickly and soon we were close enough to hear the French accents of some of the workers who called for adult volunteers to jump the queue as they waited for child-size harnesses (alas Lucy wouldn’t let me).  And then it was time to enter the cage of the launching pad and be clipped onto the triangle.  Then gripping tightly onto the rails, launching off into space…

This week

By Vita Forest


Sydney in the rain

This week I have been

    • The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer
    • The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell
    • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
  • MAKING the knitted cowl for Lucy (nearly done).
    • my kids looking puzzled and then disturbed when Robert Wilson came on stage at the Drama Theatre at the Sydney Opera House to give the keynote address for the 2016 Sydney Festival and then proceeded to stand there without speaking for a good few minutes.  We had a good conversation about that later…
    • the new Star Wars movie (woo hoo!)
    • The White Rabbit Gallery
    • Dresden Optics in Newtown – how fabulous are they?
  • DOING lots of yoga
  • TRYING not to get too wet (there has been a lot of rain in Sydney this week).


Down the rabbit hole

By Vita Forest

Detail of Square, 2014 by Zhang Dali

Detail of Square, 2014 by Zhang Dali

Yesterday Lucy and I “hopped” (geddit?) on a train and went to explore the White Rabbit Gallery in Chippendale.  It is a private gallery specializing in 21st Century Chinese art, and its owner, Judith Neilson, generously opens its doors to the public for free.

The current exhibition is called PARADI$E BITCH and explores ideas of spirituality, enlightenment and the afterlife with issues of culture clash – East meets West and traditional meets high tech, old versus new.

Which way is up?

Which way is up?  Eternity, 2014 by Xu Zhen

When you first enter the light-filled entrance atrium, you are confronted by Eternity, 2014 by Xu Zhen, where replicas of Ancient Greek statues, are topped by replicas of classical Buddhas.  So, reclining draped figures that could be the Three Graces, are “reflected” upwards into vertical columns of a stylized serene Buddhas.  Both types of statues are missing limbs and heads but are completed by their opposite, they are joined at the neck as if the other is their head, where their thoughts reside.  Which side is up?  How can one balance on the other?  As you can see, it is rich in metaphor.

Detail of Eternity, 2014 by Xu Zhen

Detail of Eternity, 2014 by Xu Zhen

The exhibition continues over three more floors in a wide range of media – neon signs, animation, drawing, sculpture, photography and installations.  One of our favourites was Cage, 2006 – 2011 by Li Hui, a small dark room that you entered via a sliding door that was closed behind you.  When your eyes adjusted to the darkness you became aware of “cages” mapped out with wire-thin green lasers.  The effect was so startling that we found ourselves stepping over the lasers as they gave the illusion of solid lines.  They were not real but they looked real.  Lucy amused herself by squeezing through the “bars” of the prison on her belly, trying to move from inside to out without being caught in the laser’s beam.

Outside this area was Square, 2014 by Zhang Dali, an art work created to mark the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.  Pigeons alight on a collection of life-size ghostly figures, modeled on members of China’s rural poor who come to Beijing to search for work.  There are no pigeons in Tiananmen Square and these people don’t exist officially, so gallery-goers walk amongst ghosts.  It was a combination of unsettling eeriness and dreamy peacefulness.

Square, 2014

Square, 2014 by Zhang Dali

We also liked the slowly spinning paper sculptures by Mia Liu entitled Guggen’ Dizzy, 2013, which were made from painted tickets from the Guggenheim museum.  The designs slowly changed as you watched, inviting you to slow down and reflect on this modern-day mandala made of disposable materials.

Guggen' Dizzy by

Guggen’ Dizzy, 2013 by Mia Liu

Afterwards, we sat beneath the gently swaying birdcage installation in the Tea House, listening to the soft clink of the cages above us.  Lucy slurped on a large foggy glass of lychee iced tea with real lychees bumping around at its base  (she used chopsticks to remove the soft balls of white fruit once she finished drinking).  I had a white tea with the tightly wrapped tea leaves slowing unfurling inside the glass tea pot to reveal a scarlet Amaranth blossom in their centre.  I nearly applauded!

A highly recommended outing.  And do stop for tea.

Boat building

By Vita Forest


Boat building

One of my very favourite books is Possession by A.S. Byatt.  It is a great woolly novel following two literary scholars as they try to uncover the mysterious connection between two Victorian poets.  The time frames flick back and forth, the relationships are compared and contrasted, the narrative moves along through poems, letters, diary entries, multiple points of views and even fairy tales.

It is a challenging book to read, but I am one of those people who doesn’t skip the poetry, who reads every word.  I know it will be worth it.  I know I will discover something new.  And I know it will last me through a trip away, when packing space is limited and I can only take one book (not a great fan of electronic versions people).

Needless to say, my original copy is faded, stained and now shedding pages.  The edges of the pages are yellowing as if it is a book from a previous century, which is kind of apt really.  But the state of that book has been bothering me, the vessel now distracts from the words…

Until Christmas Day.

One of my holiday projects is to make an Ann Wood Paper mache ship.  I purchased her instructions last year and it has been on my list of Delightful Things to Do…  Prior to Christmas, I had got the ball rolling and carefully cut out the cardboard pattern pieces for the hull of the ship (using old brown postage packages) and was about to move onto the paper mache phase.  Ann Wood uses newspaper for the outer-most layer and part of the charm is seeing the text wrapping over the surface of the hull.

Anyway, on Christmas Day I spent part of the day at my parents’ place, and a part of that in the Community room of their Over-55s apartment block with a bunch of other residents.  My sister Briony and I were browsing the large bookshelves full of double layers of pre-loved, discarded books and somehow we started to sort them.  Those oldies really like (or perhaps really don’t like – these books had been “gifted” to the community room after all) books of the crime genre.  We sorted books into “Crime” and “Non-crime” and then grouped them alphabetically by author.  We had an amused audience, one of whom (Bruce) was the oracle of whether an unknown book was “Crime” or “Non-crime”.  We worked steadily for some time, and in between making towering piles of books on the table and stacking them in some semblance of order on the book shelves, I found – a practically new copy of Possession…

It ended up being “gifted” to me…  Payment for services rendered, you might say.

So, it got me thinking about what I could do with my old copy.

As you may have guessed from the photo, its pages have now been carefully scoured for favourite lines and scenes and descriptions, and these have been lifted out with scissors, (which  seems somewhat sacrilegious, but still, I did it).  I then spent an enjoyable time collaging the lines onto the galleon, running quotations together, juxtaposing past with present, fairy tale with diary.  (There were even lines about sleeping in ships and fierce storms over the ocean).  It all made new sense as I swathed lines around and around the hull.

The hull is now drying, newly lacquered in my laundry, away from cats (particularly Isaboe who likes to chew cardboard).  It is a slow, painstaking process, boat building, but no doubt there will be more missives from the voyage.