Category Archives: Mystery Art Making Writing Tours

Intensive Journal Writing – Give Voice to the Sacred Fool

It is time for play. The more bizarre, left field, unexpected and apparently ridiculous the better. This may not feel safe or appropriate at first. That is okay. That is good actually. It is a sign that you are breaking with your self-imposed conventions. It is time to move beyond them now because a bigger life adventure is calling you.
Sacred Rebels – Alana Fairchild

The Great Escape – An Intensive Journal Writing Course begins on Wednesday the 16th of October at the Castlemaine Community House.

This is a time when we can unleash and play with the Sacred Fool. The fool is a great rebel, able to thwart conventions and tell the truth without restraint.

Our journals provide a safe space to let the fool, who does not give a hoot about what the mind is saying, have free reign. In an intensive journal writing class, we do not have to worry about being socially acceptable or what others may think of us when we sit outside reading children’s books to the trees.

The day time class provides the opportunity for us to sling our creative medicine bags, filled with supplies, over our shoulders and wander around Castlemaine. For example, in order to position ourselves in the now, we may take time to visit the nearby collectible place and see what items demand to be given a voice within our journals. We may sit outside the nearby coffee house, visit the art gallery and step inside artwork, check out what is going on at the Railway Station or just wander down some streets and see what endless variety of nothing turns out to provide a rich vein of gold.

For details check out the Castlemaine Community House. Alternatively, if you are interested in joining a small evening group in a private home, contact me for details.

Offering Endless Variety of Nothing

It was Grand Final Day and crowds were packing the MCG. This is the day everything seems to stop in Melbourne and the city takes on the feeling of being a ghost town as people gather in venues to watch the match. It is the day of bar-b-ques and general partying.

Not being vaguely interested in football,  the big match or for that matter being in a crowd, I was feeling a little restless.

Sensing my need for broad open spaces on land where there is a whole lot of nothing, Akari (my beloved Mazda 3) rattled her wheels and said she was up for one of our mystery tours. So, without stopping to gather any supplies, the Lappies (my two Finnish Laphaunds) and I set off on one of our expeditions.

We headed west from Castlemaine, through Maldon, stopping briefly for a sniff run at Eddington and then on beyond Dunolly to Bealiba.

The area around Bealiba was originally known as Cochrane’s, after John and James Cochrane, who took up a pastoral run in 1853. When gold was discovered in 1855-56 the area was known as Cochrane’s Diggings, but the surveyor who laid out the township in 1862 adopted the name of the pastoral run, ‘Bealaba’, later Bealiba. It is thought that the name is derived from Aboriginal words meaning red gum creek.

Once a hub for those seeking gold today Bealiba is a quiet little town. With nothing open to visit, I was content to go to the historic cemetery where one is inevitably confronted with the grief that people who lived in this harsh place endured. As the headstone I photographed testifies, the mortality rate amongst infants was very high. The loss endured by John and Mary Jones is hard to imagine.

Glancing at the petrol gauge Akari and I agreed that it was best to head towards St Arnaud. The drive from Bealiba to this gracious old town seemed to take forever and Akari and I muttered to one another about the folly of deciding to wander about in a part of the world where there is hardly a car to be seen. But we pressed on, relieved to finally reach our destination and stop to refuel, for me to savour coffee and a packet of mixed sandwiches. As I looked at the beautifully manicured park across the road I did think that next time we spontaneously decided to head bush I might pack my picnic basket.

Logan, with its endless variety of absolutely nothing, represents outstanding paucity of value for the tourist dollar. Situated in an area that boasts some superb scenic, high speed, touring roads with extremely low traffic density this is a shabby scrap of dying history

So journey to Logan and relive the shocking hardship of those wretched souls who opened up this land for reasons that no historian has ever been able to fathom.

All roads lead to the Logan Pub.

Sourced from Logan Pub Website – a delightful must read.

As we left St Arnaud I contemplated how far it was to get back to Castlemaine. It was a pleasant surprise to stumble upon the Logan Pub in The Scrub a hotel which promotes itself as offering old fashioned hospitality. The hotel’s quirky website informs us that Logan, a rustic and historically significant hamlet in North Central Victoria, offers the genuine tourist a wealth of valuable experiences.

The perfect place to wait and meet Godot I wondered?

Over a lemon-lime and bitters and a bag of potato crisps, I stopped to chat with the bartender (look carefully you will find him in the photo I took) and took in my surroundings. I mentally noted the assorted items that were hanging from the roof and adorning the shelves. Nearby the huge screen revealed that the big match had started and an array of country folk began to materialize to watch it. I was happy to slip quietly away and head home via Tarnagulla.

A day spent in a land where there is supposedly nothing revealed that there is always something. There never was nothing in the beginning and it turns out that there is something very special in a part of the world that proclaims to be a place where there is a whole lot of nothing.

Footnote: This post is taken from a journal entry. I am offering an intensive journal writing course at the Castlemaine Community House beginning on October 16th. An online version is available at Trains of Thought but only subscribers can view this. Feel free to contact me for more details.

Dog Rocks – Still-observing

 

Today I was called upon to drive up to Dog Rocks on nearby Mount Alexander to still-observe. The call was quite insistent! I considered finding a space closer to home but the voice calling me would not be silenced.

Dog Rocks are near the peak of Mt Alexander. They comprise of huge, picturesque granite outcrops. Over the years, they’ve become a favourite stopover landmark for bushwalkers and a popular spot for climbers and artists. Rock climbers were working the main area so I clambered into a quieter space, hoping that a ‘significant’ creature would make its presence felt. However, only the Australian Blowflies buzzed noisily around me as I examined a vulva like a passageway leading through an outcrop.

I quickly decided that blowflies are far from insignificant. They do make their presence felt! Blowflies have been deemed to be vehicles of death, decay and destruction; envoys of evil, sin and pestilence by the Christians. However, some African tribes celebrate a Fly-god, with the fly revered as an embodiment of the soul. As such flies are never killed.

I have been guilty of being homicidal with blowflies but I was rehabilitated after vomiting repeatedly when cleaning up a mass of dead flies seven years ago. Now I quietly encourage them to leave the premises; refrain from having toxic sprays in the house.

As I contemplated the blowflies I thought of the small house fly who has quite literally been the ‘fly on the wall’over recent days! This small creature has been persistently invading my space, eavesdropping, circling around my fingers as I type, soaking up knowledge, urging me to develop my senses and become more observant.

Let’s face it! It is almost impossible to dissuade flies from persistently swarming about us when we are outdoors. The presence of flies affirms the quick and abrupt changes in my thoughts, emotions and endeavours. Rapid changes in all aspects of my life are currently taking place and the ever-persistent fly is reminding me not to give up. It is persistence which will enable me to reach goals and bear fruit sooner than later.

Even if it means annoying others or being selfish for a while I do have the ability to accomplish my goals. My current goals are to trust the process and complete the final year of my Masters of Social Work; spend 52 weeks learning from Australian birds and animals. Still hunting is a part of the 52 week process! I am carefully recording my observations.

As I sat at Dog Rocks I noted the call of the Kookaburra and the footfall of rock climbers clambering to find places to test their skills. But it was the brown butterflies who danced around me and who led me to find a small magic circle, formed by ancient granite.

Butterfly seemed to be asking me to go on with the clearance I have been facing, embrace changes in my environment and to work with my emotional body. The energy supporting a physical transformation of energy was all about me. It is time to release any expectations and simply allow change to flow through and around me.

An Inner World Revealed

This is a collection of drawings I did while I was travelling, with a host of companions,   in Lemuria. Many of these are self-portraits!  Over a five year period,  while my late husband was battling cancer, and often confined to bed, I spent my nights drawing, Looking at these drawing now I can see that I managed to capture the inner world that sustained me during those long years. After walking away from my life in the city, and reinventing myself, my pencils have lain idle! They served me well! Today I give thanks to them, and to all those who fearlessly travelled those Lemurian roads with my multiple personalities!
Heather Blakey
Pencil Drawings – Enhanced in Photoshop! 2005 – 2010

Akari Writes Her Own Adventures

I am sure you remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books, where you’re chased by a tiger.  You can escape it by leaping into the ocean 50 feet below (go to page 48) or face the tiger with your homemade slingshot (go to page 128).

Akari (my Mazda 3) loves driving through roads with avenues of white-trunked eucalypts. Side roads beckon! It is hard for her to resist them. However, while she could be talked into some sophisticated adventuring, Akari is no risk taker. For the moment she finds it is exciting enough to explore hidden valleys and go down unmade roads that are not only reserved for four-wheel drives.

Akari and I were out messing about today and we wandered along out of the way, an unmade bush road called Providence Gully Road. When we turned off the road, along another unmade road, to head towards civilisation, we came upon this rather dramatic entrance to a property. We thought this might be just the setting to write your own adventure.

The gate is open!

You take the time talk to all the bones and heads that are decorating the gate to learn more about what really lies within.

OR

Thinking that Baba Yaga may live here and give you the creative fire you decide to ignore all the DO NOT ENTER signs and step through the portal into this private world.

OR

Because you are so imaginative you think of something else!

Melissa Pilakowski puts forward a fun version of writing your own adventure using Hamlet as a kick starter.

 

 

Faded Central Victorian Beauty

“Elegance is the only beauty that never fades…. -Audrey Hepburn

I beg to differ…
there are many beauties…..
such as…

Fading Victoria

Cemetery Exploring With Akari

Workers and players have earned their repose.
Soon on their names all in vain we shall call,
For even the grandest old landmarks must fall.
Just a warm hand-clasp ere one disappears—
These are the last of the old pioneers.
John Sandes

Turn off the Castlemaine to Maldon road onto the gravel Sandy Creek road and follow the old Cobb & Co route, past the old hotel, where they stopped for a break and drive on  towards Welshman’s Reef through Box-ironbark country.

Welshmans Reef is a former gold mining town 15 km west of Castlemaine and 110 km north-west of Melbourne. The name presumably came about from a Welshman discovering the gold-bearing reef: there were numerous Welsh and Methodist settlers at neighbouring townships such as Fryerstown and Vaughan.

West of Welshmans Reef there were the Loddon flats, which enabled miners to diversify into farming. A school was opened in 1877. The place was seldom more than a hamlet and its peak pre-twenty-first-century census population of 215 persons was in 1915. In 1956 the Cairn Curran Reservoir was completed, inundating much of the river flats.

As you approach the hamlet a sign points to the old Sandy Creek Cemetery, a cemetery that was closed in 1956. Many pioneers who came seeking gold lie here. Noting our arrival a large mob of kangaroos took off, bounding across the creek.

The sight of so many small white, numbered markers, combined with the fact that there were only a few headstones, took my breath away. Memorials placed by descendants revealed that this  is a place to honour the pioneers who came here.

The Past Dwells Here

An entire past comes to dwell here!
Gaston Bachelard ‘Poetics of Space’

In the summer of 2011, on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula on Scotland’s west coast, excavations revealed the only known Viking boat burial to be excavated on the British mainland in modern times. The vessel survived in the form of more than 200 rivets, many in their original location, and indicated a small clinker boat. It contained a sword, an axe, a spear, a ladle, an Irish bronze ring-pin and the bronze rim of a drinking horn. These items indicate that it was a remarkably rich Viking boat burial of a warrior. Positioned beside the warship Roskilde 6, the Ardnamurchan boat burial represents the final journey of a Viking warrior, sailing into the afterlife. Source: A History of the Viking World

An African proverb says that ‘when an old man dies, a library burns to the ground’.

Here at the Glenlyon Cemetery there may not be a rich treasury of artefacts, but rich memories lie here. One grave holds an image, perhaps created by the lad who died, forever young, who is mourned by his family.

Another tombstone in the Sutton Grange Cemetery includes images of a young lad skiing. A photo of his beloved dog watches over him. Nearby the crystals, of ‘a woman with a gentle soul’ are mingled among the stones of a beautiful modern memorial.

It is may not be as fashionable to spend time in cemeteries now but a graveyard can be  a great place to explore local history and genealogy, take a peaceful seasonal walk and contemplate the pasts that lie there.

It is also a great place to meditate, make art and enjoy a flask of coffee!

Interpreting Spaces

In an age of so much homogenised space, so much shoddy, cramped, dimly lit, low ceilinged space, these resting places offer a fresh way of interpreting and understanding space. In an era suffused by television and video games, fluorescent lighting and plastic floors, air conditioning and badly built houses these memorials demonstrate the poetry of space and love.

from forward to ‘The Poetics of Space’ written by John R Stilgoe

 

If I were asked to name the chief benefit of the house, I should say the house shelters daydreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.

All inhabited space bears the essence of home.
Gaston Bachelard

Peeking at Abandoned/Overlooked Central Victoria

Sometimes, when Akari asks ‘where does that road go?’ we go to places where there is nothing, yet there is everything. Places are never really empty!

Abandoned Places

Lost Baringhup

33 Abandoned Places in Australia

Decay Down Under

Inside Australia’s Ghost Towns

Abandoned Places Photography of Mark Hassed

Beautiful Abandoned Places

Local Cemetery Exploration

This Sutton Grange Cemetery enjoys scenic views across to Mount Alexander and the green stone quarry of special significance to the aboriginal people who first lived here.

What used to be a thriving town during the prosperous days of the early 19th century, Sutton Grange has now been reduced to a population of around 150 people, after a typically devastating Australian bushfire ravaged the town, burning down most of the area’s established civic buildings and homes, and leaving behind nothing but scorched earth on the land that remained. Today, the town survives off the back of a few determined farming families who raise sheep and cattle, breed thoroughbred horses, and grow wine.

The Glenlyon Cemetery is another quiet, beautifully maintained, peaceful space.

 

Headstone Story Boards

A storyboard helps you:
Define the parameters of a story within available resources and time
Organize and focus a story
Figure out what medium to use for each part of the story

Akari, my adventuring little Mazda 3, seemed determined to increase my knowledge of this region, a region I was drawn to when my life changed so completely after multiple losses. During a semester break over winter, I learned about exploring cemeteries. I discovered rich history lying quietly in historic old cemeteries. As my collection of regional headstones grew, so did the picture of just how much the Gold Rush impacted on the lives of those who came here. It was certainly not an easy life. The Pennyweight Cemetery where over 200 children lie buried, is perhaps, the most poignant. However there was one headstone that inspired me to use Pablo Neruda’s line, Tonight I write the saddest lines!

The more I travelled, the more I found windows to the past. The grave of Elizabeth Escott and her daughter Fanny lies in bushland on the east side of the road to Fryerstown. When Elizabeth’s husband died, she left England with her eleven children to make a new life in Australia. She was one of many who were beaten by the hardships of life on the diggings. Fanny was sixteen when she died of consumption at Blacksmith’s Gully in 1856, and Elizabeth died six months later. Another daughter, Mary, had died in 1855.

Margaret and Stephen Symons, of Moliagal, suffered the pain of losing their eight year old daughter in 1895. But it is likely that, the loss of their beloved son to the 1918 war, broke Margaret’s heart. She died in the same year.

There are many activities that can stem from a visit to a cemetery

On a recent trip to Penang, my daughter and I found the Historic Protestant Cemetery captivating. I am happy to simply create a post about this hauntingly beautiful cemetery. However, going to this cemetery could kick start a whole lot of other creative activities, including further research into Penang’s amazing history.

ACMI has a story board generator for those who want to build a background for their films. Aside from the use of storyboarding, as envisaged by Walt Disney, storyboards will enable you to see an entire novel at a glance.

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