WANDERING: CAPE SCHANCK

We left home in the dark, driving south down the peninsula with only a rough idea of where we might go. The world turned dusky and grey around us while we drove, the day starting to seep in along tree tops and horizon edges. We stopped in an empty car park, then set off down a track, down some stairs. More colours steadily leeched in with the daylight.

And just as we headed around into a little cove, the sun broke over the distant headlands, throwing all it's flashy, fluorescent colours up onto the low clouds. Celebratory colours because it wasn't raining, because we weren't it the city, weren't at work, stuck in traffic or on commuter trains full of sad suits. Celebratory colours because we were somewhere alone, quiet, empty. Not sharing space with strangers. Or with concrete and plastic and mechanical sounds.

Just us and the big ocean. 

Just us and a little window on the quiet wild world. 

WANDERING: HOME

Joe Cocker and John Steinbeck, Jenny Lewis and Charles Manson biographies. Ciders and sketchbooks on a picnic rug in the dappled shade. Coffee at 5am watching the sun rise, walking with bare feet across the dewy lawn to get a better photograph. Watching the neighbour brush her graceful black horses in the soft light of a crisp evening. Tiny nieces and nephews. Mandarin and lime-scents, fresh off the tree. Pandanus palms and pale pink barnacles, collected among the rocks on a lagoon-like beach. Pitch-dark nights and soft beds, and more than anything, peace. 

WANDERING: PETERBOROUGH

The real upside of Victoria having kinda petulantly unpleasant weather throughout nine months of the year is that sometimes you get a weekend of perfect sunshine blue, and no one has planned for it. 
That means when you show up at a well-situated dog-friendly camping ground somewhere along the Great Ocean Road, there's no one else there except for a German couple in a campervan who probably would have been there even if it was snowing. 

Another upside of the Great Ocean Road is that the Twelve Apostles is an incredibly famous Australian landmark, and just a far enough trek out of Melbourne to make it the end point of the journey for most people, before they need to turn around and head back because everyone is now tired, hungry and over it. But on the other side of the Apostles, the Peterborough side, there's still so many more beautiful coastal landmarks to visit, from Loch Ard Gorge to the Bay of Martyrs, which are a bit less crowded.

All along that coastline, the intensity of the orange earth against turquoise water was incredible. Maybe everything just seemed more vibrant because it was our first bright, outdoorsy day after a long stint of dreary, drizzly, overcast days. Whatever the cause, I was completely taken with winding walks through coastal scrub, looking down into canyons of ochre-hued cliff-faces filled with restless, rich blue, wandering along deserted beaches strewn with cuttlebones, and finally sprawling out on springy green grass to have an afternoon rest with the Beany dog while Scotty hunted around for fishing spots. 

It's pretty idyllic stuff. 

 

 

AUTUMN HUES

Vintage boots, hat and scarf; Volcom Gypsom romper; Three Arrows Leather stash pouch; Penguin Books 'Book of Longing' by Leonard Cohen; Pony Gold 'Myola' shell bolo tie; YSL Black Opium perfume; Sailor Jerry spiced rum.  

It's the late-night conversations around fires, over-roasted marshmallows, strong whiskey drinks warming the belly, meandering conversations about travel ambitions to shake off the thought of an impending winter. The empty park at 6am, the rising sun on crisp dewy grass, Humble bouncing in circles, full of bottomless happiness and optimism. It's booking flights, reading books, cooking warm food and drawing cold air into a runner's warm lungs. It's planning the next big leap or tiny step, trying to work out what idea you want to chase most: erasing, redrawing, failing succeeding. It's the ciders and pizza and heaters and records and games and memories. The new boots and old jackets. The warmest socks and the shortest days. 

A RED DRESS IN A HAWK'S NEST

Vintage dress, rings vintage and Cobracult, vintage turquoise necklace, the 2 Bandits Wrangler neck cuff,

This is the place.
You know how I said I stood under a stand of gum trees while two baby hawks fought over prey right over my head? These are the trees.

This is my front yard, growing up, where we saw a big carpet python, where we rode steady horses through long grass, where I collected gum leaves and insects, where we let off a bag of fireworks we found in the shed, where we hauled logs and tidied up when my sister got married.

I started the year sitting on my parents' verandah: listening to the summer rainstorms, working on drawings, occasionally playing Shovels&Rope out of my laptop. But mostly I just observed the daily schedules of the local birdsongs, grabbing my camera, racing across the lawn and jumping the fence whenever I heard the baby hawks in the trees. (I never got a good shot of them... but my mum and her friends did). 

So here it is: where I grew up, wearing my father's hat, blossoms from the swamp gum my mother nutured, wearing a dress, bandana and necklace from the markets and op-shops I haunted for all my teenage years. But also rings from one of my long-time favourite silversmiths across the Pacific Ocean – Cobracult. 

Truly some of my favourite things. 

  
 


WANDERING: MYOLA/JERVIS BAY

I've written about Myola before, but on our most recent stay we saw another face of this perfectly sleepy beachside town... long, lazy, rainy afternoons full of naps and holiday reading, one stunningly bright day of stand-up paddle-boarding and kayaking along the river to the sea, chasing hordes of soldier crabs across the estuary flats, long hikes across headlands and rocks to find fishing spots, impromptu pub dinners across the river at Huskisson, crystal waters at Green Patch, geography lessons about exactly what state you're in around Jervis Bay (part of it's ACT, as it turns out...), tame wallabies, killer mosquitos, dead stingrays, early morning beach treks in light rain chasing black cockatoos, and watching through the kitchen window as huge roos hop down the middle of the empty street.

Just writing about it now has me ready to pack the car, shirk responsibility, and speed off up the Hume to a better horizon...

Anti-bad Vibes Shield towel by Volcom, glasses by Sportsgirl, tassel tank from Zara, jewellery by Rejoice the Hands and The 2 Bandits. 

HOWL

I want to fill books with good drawings and turn the Stones up real loud and drink on my back verandah and light a fire and howl at the moon and not be afraid of anything. But most of all, I want to remember to do the things that make me feel like doing those kind of things. 

LOVABLE: MARCH THINGS



A bit late with this one, but some of my favourite things from the past month ...

Lerderderg camping, wandering, night sky watching; Humble’s warm breath on my feet on cold mornings; meeting my lover at the skatepark at dusk; this paisley-and-velvet number; catching up with travelling musician friends like Timberwolf and Morgan Joanel; Mexican and movie nights with an old friend – talking energy and light and life paths with a new one; putting together one of my favourite installments for the Volcom blog; planting winter vegetables and propagating my mum’s indestructible succulent strain; Idylwild’s ‘Wild Horses’ thermal; (slowly) learning Cripple Creek and Foggy Mountain Breakdown on my banjo; clean sheets on winter nights; the artwork of Edith Rewa; and my new Moth Vine Moon print.

LOVEABLE: FEBRUARY THINGS


Things I loved in the past far-too-short month:
Melbourne finally having a few summer days Δ playing banjo, still, maybe forever Δ Dexter reruns Δ Lester Bangs and Ken Kesey biographies Δ camping under the stars in the Murray River borderlands Δ this Watershot housing for taking photos of Humble trying to swim Δ daylight savings evening swims Δ these Souvenir Sabbath jewels Δ quitting commission work to focus on personal projects Δ hungover foodtruck dinners in the park with friends and dogs Δ throwing our first house party in the new place Δ wild rice and mushroom soup Δ collecting wild everlastings and cockatoo feathers Δ Loving Hut vegan food Δ Pretty in Pink/any John Hughes films Δ drinking games around the campfire Δ Jeffrey Eugenides Δ finally purchasing this Flynn Skye Eterie maxi Δ and the work of Australia artist Rachel Newling -- I'm a sucker for a beautifully drawn osprey Δ

SUMMER MISCHIEF


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Volcom 'Granada' bikini; Reef sun products; necklaces: Ishka, Spellbox, Quick Brown Fox, vintage; rings: Rejoice the Hands, Coyote Negro, Millie Savage Silver, Lo and Chlo Jewelry, vintage; Keith Haring book.


My sister and I used to skip classes during the summer months – this was once I was a bit older and we got along OK, and she had her P-plater licence and would sometimes drive my dad’s truck to school.
She would drive us out to the nearest beach town; just not the one with the bay, not the one with the easy, gentle white sand dunes. We’d go to the one where you had to clamber down the rocks and it wasn’t so good for swimming, where people parked their cars on the headland, and where you couldn’t see who was on the beach from the carpark.
I don’t know about my sister, but I was always nervous on the drive out there. We lived in a tiny valley, and it was just as likely we’d run into someone who knew our parents and would dob us in. But once we were down the rocks we were safe and hidden. Never mind that our dad’s truck – parked alone in the headland carpark – was instantly recognisable to anyone who knew him. It was, and still is, I suppose, the kind of town where you know everyone else’s number plates.

But that was our summer mischief. We’d spend the afternoon swimming and lying in the sun, talking and occasionally flicking through study notes so we didn’t feel so bad about skipping classes. Because that’s the kind of badasses we were – lucky ones, beachside skipping school with study-guilt. 

A DAY TO REMEMBER


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Today in Melbourne it is kinda cold and drizzly, and I'm sticking to my challenge of not drinking for the month of January. So today I'm finding myself even more out of step with our national holiday than usual. 

For those of you not attuned to Antipodean goings-on, today is Australia Day. This is an occasion usually marked with standard ocker practices like drinking beer, hitting the beach, frying in the sun, being enthusiastic about cricket/tennis/whatever, and barbecuing some stuff while listening to the wireless (radio, that is). 

It's also slightly troublesome because it celebrates the day white people landed on the continent, which, for our country's Indigenous people, doesn't mark the happy anniversary of our country's foundation, but is actually the starting point of decades of genocide, racism, dislocation, and attacks on their ancient and enduring civilisation. 

As a beneficiary of our country's sad history -- i.e., if not for white settlement in Australia, I'd probably be anywhere in Scotland, Ireland or Germany -- I'm in two minds about this day. I'd like to celebrate this incredible land that we are so, so lucky to live on, but perhaps not today. Not if demonstrating our love for this country comes at the expense of respect for the traditional inhabitants, who themselves understand and love her much more than we ever could, and who today have every right to mourn.  

So, today I'm going to stay inside and draw some more, I'll think about all the things I love -- from gum blossoms to weird birds, wide skies to wild oceans, horse dust to Akubras, VB tins to seventies-era Holdens -- and remember at just what cost I get to love those things. 


WANDERING: FARM HUES


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On the last two times I've visited my parents' farm, I've found something that I didn't even believe existed there. First, it was the turtles in the river; which, in my 18 years haunting those riverbanks, I never saw. 

More recently, it was a tree-dweller I'd never even looked for. 

So, yesterday we were driving up the side of a mountain in my dad's 4WD. We headed through state forest and into National Parks' land, ricocheting along a washed-out fire trail, past grass trees and native orchids and towering eucalypts that made me feel vertiginous and insignificant and tied to the spiritus mundi all at once. 

I was staring out the opposite backseat window -- looking through the canopy onto the mountains below -- and thinking about how heights make me nervous and acknowledging that I'm an unequivocal valley/coastline dweller, when I spotted someone staring right back at me. 

A koala -- probably 200 metres away -- was sitting up on a branch of a giant, exposed gum, watching our white truck labouring up the mountainside track. And at first, I genuinely thought it was staring at me, personally. 

I yelled for dad to stop the truck, jumped out and ran to the edge of the track to watch the koala more closely. In all our time living with a back fence of bushland, we'd never seen a koala in our area or any neighbouring farms, so were considerably stoked and impressed as he clambered into a more leafy part of the tree and disappeared from view again. 

And while it might seem like just another weird and unexpected animal sighting, for me it underlined the thing I love most about the natural world: that every secret revealed, and every gift received is all blind luck. To me, seeing wild animals in their environment, or finding feathers or skulls or snakeskins, has always felt like finding something so rare and precious and privileged ... and I'm infinitely grateful that I was taught to feel that way about it. 




SKETCHBOOK: LOST IN PARADISE


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What else do you do when you're lost in paradise?

Sit around looking at verdant expanses: watching for rain, for kingfishers, for visitors coming up the otherwise empty road. Spend time talking with old friends about love and expectations and how to identify birds, listen to playlists from when you were in high school, breathe the scent of the horses your neighbours rode over for drinks. Draw, pick hydrangeas, don't walk anywhere without first looking for snakes. Dive into the river -- just once -- without checking for submerged logs. Stand in the kitchen and think about how perfect are the wildflower weeds, the Warhol print, the ginger plants in the blown-glass vase, the pomegranates and the mangoes, the bottle emblazoned with the name of my dad's hometown.

   And I guess that's kinda it.

HOME, HOME, HOME


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Here’s something I’m not proud of, but can at least be honest about: I love going on plane trips largely because it means I get to do sweet FA for a couple of hours. I told my partner this last time we were about to embark on a long-haul flight, and he looked mildly disgusted, maybe partly amused, but mostly, not at all impressed.

For most of my life, I was, by nature, a hugely lazy person. But I am now, by necessity, a hugely industrious person.

So the great thing about plane rides, for me, is that I get to indulge my latent lazy person with little-to-no-guilt. There is part of me that recognises that I could be using this air-time to work on my completely analogue profession: i.e., drawing. However, if I’m sitting next to someone I don’t know – which is likely – I don’t really feel comfortable with it.

So mostly I just sit, read, eat snacks, listen to Bowie, wriggle around impatiently, and have passive-elbow-battles for the arm rest.

And this afternoon, I am really, really looking forward to going through all that indulgent time-wasting. Because when I step off the plane it will just be going dark at the tiny regional airport that is edged on one side by a stand of low coastal scrub, and beyond that, the sea. And when I wake up customarily early the next morning, I’ll look straight out a full-height glass window, past a gumtree that changes colour in the rain of summer thunderstorms, onto a green valley, probably still thick with mist pending the rising sun, and I’ll know I’m home, home, home. 

GO HOME


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Volcom 'Holy Smokes' tank, 'Runaways' jacket; vintage/markets necklaces; Rejoice the Hands, Millie Savage Silver and vintage/markets rings. 


The world I know best feels softer, especially in summer. Although, I’m still afraid of snakes and I suffer in the midday sun, I can’t wait to get home to the places I navigate by instinct, and know as second nature.
There the water is gentler and the shade is sweeter. I know exactly the tree lines of the horizon even as I turn away from them; it’s the east and west I've looked to more times than anywhere else. I know what certain clouds foreshadow, and I know what changes in the weather taste like on the air. 

It is exactly how I remember summer.

Of course, I love summer for the sun that thaws out my now-southern bones. I like lazing in the afternoon sun with my dog, lying around on the grass and not caring about it sticking in my clothes. I like finally being able to swim again, anywhere, salt or fresh. I like drinking a cold beer and holding the can against my forehead between sips. I like John Lee Hooker playing while I’m making a cool, fresh salad in the shade of the kitchen. I like reading All the Pretty Horses, again, in front of a struggling pedestal fan. I like watching live music and feeling crowded and humid and young. I like stone fruit and will probably eat nectarines and cherries every day for the next couple of months. I like everything blossoming and verdant and giving off the heat of life that is photosynthesis, that is growing, that is energy transforming.


But most of all, what I like about summer, is going home. It’s sitting on my teenage bed, re-reading the books that changed my mind; it’s walking through my mother’s garden, and stealing my dad’s tins of beer; it’s looking at the bones and feathers and stones they've collected while I was gone. It’s the late sunset finally hushing the unbearable cicada chorus in the bushland behind the house, while we sit under lights in the back garden, ignoring flying Christmas beetles and picking apart fresh ocean fish. It’s walking across the paddocks, sharp with the sound of noonday crickets, to my sister’s house at the bottom of the hill – the first cute and creaking farmhouse my parents ever bought – with her dogs already out to greet me, and the plums and the mangoes and the mulberry trees all where they've always been.

LOVEABLE: NOVEMBER THINGS


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Things that have been excellent in November: 

A new house in a new suburb, with crazy warped floors and a weird log-cabin vibe Δ bushwalks with Humble and Scotty Δ Talking Heads Δ ciders in the sun in our back yard Δ eating quesadillas and watching Louis Theroux Δ this Coyote Negro ring Δ this new shoot from Three Arrows Leather Δ any image created by Dana Trippe Δ Chuck Palahniuk books Δ stealing flowers from all the crazy gardens along our new street Δ these Strong Medicine fire keepers at Sugarhigh and Lovestoned Δ catching my housemate Ben Whiting playing live shows around Melbourne Δ this scaly-sequinned mermaid-on-the-morph dress from Portmans Δ the new Volcom blog Δ flicking through Twoone’s new Psychological Portraits II on a lazy daylight-savings afternoon Δ Moroccan hair oil and coconut body mist from the Body Shop Δ the buzzy, end-of-year anticipation feeling that has me daydreaming about drinking tins in the river on the farm and eating long lazy late-twilight dinners and laughing lots with my family … Δ

WILDER


It’s a weird feeling, packing everything into boxes, deciding what to keep and what to discard, winnowing away at all that life detritus and accumulation.

I’m a terrible hoarder: in every corner of the house there was something hidden or taped to a wall or safeguarded in a wooden box or a glass jar. There was a piece of ivy growing in a green bottle on the windowsill. Dried paper daisies that I’d collected on the walk back from Nethercote waterfalls during the past summer in Eden. Buckets of urchins on the front porch where my dog couldn’t get them. Polaroids, taken everywhere from Iceland to Barcelona, from Brisbane to Las Vegas. A box of kangaroos jaw bones I bought before Northern this year. Flowers pinned to the wall with electrical tape next to my desk. Leatherworking tools from my dad. Books from my sister. Invitations to weddings, funerals, engagements, christenings.

But I had to sort through it all, and make sure it fitted into a smaller volume than previously. I hope I didn’t throw away anything I’m going to miss.

All because we now live in a new house, in a new suburb, and the vibe seems good. It’s spring, so everyone along the street has amazing gardens, and our little lemon tree still had a couple of stragglers on board when we arrived. There’s a tree on our neighbour’s place that hangs over the fence and almost touches the ground, like a willow, making a little green room at the back of the yard. The floor boards are all twisted and the walls are a bit cracked, but there’s French doors and wooden window sills, and Humble can stand on our bed and stick her head out the window to see who’s come in the front gate. There’s a good Mexican place at the end of our street. Yesterday we found a park with a creek and a dog park and a lookout and miles of native bushland.


And last week I sat at the table on the back veranda and painted and drank and listened to Talking Heads and Notorious BIG until it got dark, and it all seemed really excellent. So I promise I’ll be back again soon, making things and taking photos and chasing ideas around … because, yes, the vibe seems good. 

TIME AND MEMORY

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You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, back home to romantic love, back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame, back home to exile, to escape to Europe and some foreign land, back home to lyricism, to singing just for singing's sake, back home to aestheticism, to one's youthful idea of 'the artist' and the all-sufficiency of 'art' and 'beauty' and 'love', back home to the ivory tower, back home to places in the country, to the cottage in Bermude, away from all the strife and conflict of the world, back home to the father you have lost and have been looking for, back home to someone who can help you, save you, ease the burden for you, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time – back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.
- Thomas Wolfe

SKETCHBOOK: LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL

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So, I've been away travelling for the past six weeks, around Europe and a little time back home on the north coast of New South Wales. Most of the above pages are from Italy and Spain, except the first few, which were drawn on my parents' farm, the product of 3am-jetlag-wake-ups and about 10 cups of tea in a row, as I celebrated my reunion with the good black leaves.

I'm now back in my normal world in Melbourne: I wake up to familiar bird calls and distant traffic hums; the tapwater tastes as it should; I no longer have to be alert to train stations as they slide past on the way to work; I know where to eat, where to shop, where to avoid; my desk in the office is the same as I left it, and the computer still has the same quirks; I pass the same people at lunchtime, and on the commute home; and, at the end of the day, the ignition, steering wheel and pedals of my car are all comfortingly mine. 


Which all sounds entirely mundane.


And maybe it is, but I've realised that I actually thrive on routine and repetition; in days largely constructed of auto-pilot and well-worn paths. Because it is in the spaces around those routines, in the times when I can just let my mind wander, that I explore the other avenues and let my mind expand into different ideas and territories. For me -- and this is, of course, not for everyone -- routine creates a scaffolding of things-I-don't-have-to-think-too-hard-about, upon which I can hang a whole bunch of other weird magic musings and half-spun plans.

So I guess that means I'm happy to be home. At least, until the next bout of restless unease or wretched homesickness for the coast sets in ...