GOODBYE WINTER

Volcom skirt and knit; vintage Harley Davidson boots and shirt. 

The last month of the Melbourne winter is a good time to visit the northern hemisphere. When your resources for dealing with freezing mornings and too-long nights are all but worn through, it's nice to go somewhere warm, humid and wild. Somewhere dense and lush with summer life; somewhere with sunlight so sharp you involuntarily shield your eyes; somewhere very far away from the memory of toes aching in your boots and ice sparkling on the train-station wheelie bins. 

So when I return from the northern hemisphere this weekend, I'm hoping that winter will be gone.  Hoping that Melbourne will be changing into more agreeable garb: something patched together out of daylight savings, weekend camping escapes, afternoon beers in the sun, and rambling walks with the dog. And I'll be hoping that it's time to put away the coats and jumpers and start cutting the sleeves off my shirts and the legs off my jeans... well, maybe in a couple of months. 

 

 

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. 

FREEWHEELIN'

I'm so excited to share my newest creation – so excited, in fact, that I haven't even worn it out the house myself yet, just got straight to the photo snapping!

For a while, I've been playing around with the idea of how to share my painted denim jackets with other people... or at least, something along those lines. A jacket with something bold and weird and pretty spangled across the back. And while the painting allows for big, detailed pieces, it's hugely labour intensive and I'm never really sure the paint isn't going to fade or crack or run... after all, I created them as art pieces. 

So, a fabric equivalent. The Freewheelin' patch is my first attempt at capturing some of that painted/customised denim vibe... And hopefully I can come up with a few other interpretations. 

Limited run of 100 patches, available in my online store here.  

LOVABLE: THE YEAR SO FAR

So, it's been a long time since I've provided a comprehensive run-down on all the things that receive my love and appreciation. And it's important to show appreciation, right? 

So, firstly, massive 90s-nostalgic, lazy X-files series binges are my hands-down favourite thing right now. But there's also smoothies (did I mention I work for a frozen fruit company?), Thao and the Get Down Stay Down always on the radio, lemon-and-hot-water before sunrise, this golden wonder-piece from Lenni, killer earrings, killer rings, opals, sadness over boots that I cannot afford, a warm Humble dog on a cold morning, gum blossoms starting to peek out, sunshine appreciation in the lead-up to winter, my tiny niece's lounge room ballets, ambitious and audacious plans, talking to old friends about going home and growing old, Link Wray, amazing American road trip stories, heavy sleep and weird dreams, fruit wine by the campfire, and solitude but not loneliness. 

I'm sure there's more, but I'll save them for next time. 

Crochet dress by Spell and the Gypsy Collective, rug and swimmers by Volcom, rings from Rejoice the Hands, Southset, Lo & Chlo, and Millie Savage.

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. 

  
 


LOCAL MAGIC

Volcom dress, Wandering Coyote boots, Vanessa Mooney necklace, all else vintage. 

I'm trying to keep an eye out for that unseen everyday wonder. Trying to stay sharp to the notion of encountering something new, special, unexpected. To the idea that tiny natural miracles are taking place all the time: quietly, amazingly, and totally unperturbed by the lack of audience, in a kinda tree-falling-in-the-woods manner. But it's hard to keep a hold of these thoughts in the suburbs, in a place dominated by humans and all the things we make and consume, and are so deeply familiar with. While impressive in their own right, the things we make, control, consume have a distinct lack of mystery or wonder – because they're ours. 

But I was overwhelmed by this kind of local magic when I visited the farm over summer. All the time, everywhere you look – if you look, quietly, long enough – there's something strange and beautiful to encounter. Baby hawks fought for prey right over my head. I stumbled over a clutch of unearthed water dragon eggs in the paddock bordered by the creek. Streaks of light skated across wide, silent, star-crowded skies. Flowers bloomed and died within hours. What was there one day, was never the same the next. 

And all the time, all these things are working hard at whatever it is they're compelled to do. Quietly, wonderfully. 

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. 

ESCAPES OF TIME AND MEMORY


Vintage hat, fringed jacket and Harley Davidson boots (via Vintage Sole), Volcom 'Chilled out' dress, jewellery from The 2 Bandits, Rejoice the Hands, Tree of Life, Coyote Negro, and Lo and Chlo. 

You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood ... back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame ... back home to places in the country, 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

STARTING AUTUMN


Sometime around a week, or maybe two weeks, ago, Melbourne just dropped the seasonal switch and it suddenly became cold, windy, and drizzly in general and miserable in particular. This is the kind of climate-specific event that sends all expatriate northerners into a deep depression. When I call my parents back on the NSW north coast, they’re still talking about sweltering heat and swimming in the creek, and cracking their first tin of icy beer for the afternoon.
It’s a thing we complain about every year, and we usually spend the next five or six months (because that’s how long winter is – at least – in Melbourne) sketching out plans to move home. I’m sure the city’s surly weather has beaten back more than its fair share of northern migrants who just can not stand, any longer, the idea of only being able to swim for one month of the year. 
Regardless of how good the city might be.

But anyway, I’m just writing all this down to remind myself that I feel this way every year. And that every year, we just batten down and try not to get too sad about the short days and the wet shoes. Because there’s things like paisley velvet, heavy leather, stiff denim and black lace; hot chocolates and T.S. Eliot; extended banjo sessions; weird winter blooms; sketchbooks to fill; infinite variations on turquoise, silver and brass jewellery; a medium-sized brown dog; road trips in knits and blankets; fires and whiskey; new moon night skies; a lover and a warm bed; 80s movies and TV shows; Eaten by Dogs and John Lee Hooker; and a spring that will eventually show up. 

WANDERING: BELGIUM TO SWEDEN

We landed in Brussels half-delirious and totally over it … the 30-hour long-haul flight from Australia was replete with all the usual horrors: loudly airsick person across the aisle, hysterically crying child a few rows back, water doled out in tiny drink bottles begetting perpetual thirst, weak sleeping pills, weird food options, bad rom-coms …
But looking out the window on the way down and seeing all the funny neat houses with their austere-middle-management-type architecture, all the green fields and white wind turbines, all the crisp early light, was a new kind of radical. That’s fucking Belgium down there! We’re going to be in this place, the opposite side of the world, where we don’t know anything, and hardly anyone.
It was probably seven or eight in the morning by this time, and we were met by two friends in a turquoise-green van, papered with DIY skate company stickers and harbouring a case of warm Jupiler tins. This van – along with another of the same make and model, only red, and with a better built-in fridge – would be our home for the next week, as our gang of eight drove from Antwerp to Malmo, questing for skate parks, sunny days and strong beer.
All of which is a fun idea until you’ve built up five days’ worth of hangovers, food poisoning and skating sweat without any showers.
But whatever, the highlights were things like …

ANTWERP

Antwerp was one of my favourite cities on our whole trip – the first place we went into was a shop with skulls and urchins, but I didn’t buy any because I still had to pass customs in five or six more countries. And the last place we went into was essentially a beer café. I have never drunk so much beer in my life. I also didn’t drink beer again for the rest of the trip, and probably not for another three months once we were back in Australia.  

DOEL
Doel is an abandoned town/doomed city in East Flanders. It’s supposed to be demolished en masse to expand Antwerp’s harbour. But it’s got this beautiful thing happening where colourful street art is climbing the walls of all the empty houses and shops like rough Ironlak ivy. There was also Roa artwork and a windmill, all of which I was impressed by. And no venomous snakes or spiders in any of the overgrown houses (natural Australian instincts were in overdrive).

ON THE ROAD
Things like driving on the Autobahn, spotting deer and buzzards, keeping an eye out for wolves, collecting wild poppies and acorns in a vacant lot, photographing nature collections, finding the odd jellyfish, the best spiced whiskey I've ever had (can someone in Europe send me a box of William Lawson Super Spiced Whiskey?) …

GERMANY
The DIY camp in Hannover, Germany gave me a taste for year-round Christmas decorations in outdoor trees, as well as fortresses made of pallets, fake plants, and plastic jewels.
Hamburg was colourful, dirty, scary and cool – we parked the vans in the parking lot, got drunk and barbecued bratwurst … I probably laughed the hardest I’ve ever laughed in that city. I was also the second-most scared I’ve ever been when I was trying to sleep in the van while a homeless man circled outside, muttering and yelling into the night. And in German, no less.   

COPENHAGEN/CHRISTIANIA
In Copenhagen we slept in the vans on the outskirts of Christiania, a ‘free town’ that to my Australian mind was just completely incomprehensible. And before we slept, we trekked out to a little beach on the shore of Christiania’s lake – past beautiful handmade houses and strange rambling constructions – built a fire and drank beers and laughed until the early hours.

SWEDEN
There was a festival in Malmo, Sweden, when we got there – we caught the end of a Graveyard set, ate burritos and drank Coronas, somewhat culturally inexplicably. We walked for miles through the rain to some scary-loose pub to find two ex-pat Australians, who would lead us through the city and the bars and eventually get us so dead-lost we ended up on the grounds of what was possibly a mental hospital, carrying a cardboard cut-out clown, all arguing about how to get back to the hostel. I also remember laughing a lot playing a weird board game in a pub in Malmo – I think it was called Caromse or something, going by the drunken scrawling in my notebook.


And after all that, we waved to the guys in the vans at Copenhagen airport and turned our sights to Iceland … with the hope of a big of rehab and rest, and whatever the strangest place in the world had in store for us. 

LOVEABLE: JANUARY THINGS


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Vintage turquoise necklaces, Asos shirt, rings: vintage and Rejoice the Hands.

Things I loved in January:
Fireworks from rooftops Δ quitting drinking for a month Δ driving lost through bushland listening to Alabama Shakes Δ surprising a wedge-tail eagle drinking from a roadside pond Δ new soles on my Harley boots Δ more Millie Savage silver Δ finding new local florists vs. stealing flowers from gardens and roadsides Δ Tom Robbins autobiography (Tibetan Peach Pie) Δ this cute Lykke Wullf shirt Δ forcing Weenie Mutt to swim in icy southern waters on 40°C days Δ ginger ale (sans whiskey) Δ banjo playing and my black Tanglewood beauty Δ painting native Australian birds and plants in vibrant colours Δ re-watching Arrested Development episodes Δ these coconut goods Δ B52s and Jackson Five Δ long floral 90s dresses with chunky boots and Harley tees Δ crisp summer mornings in southern Australia Δ new Three Arrows Leather goods made of the softest magical leather Δ daydreaming up plans for our future home of wood and glass and solar and plants …



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. 

ON THE WAY


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Rings by Rejoice the Hands, Coyote Negro and Southset (now Of Earth and Stars); Volcom pants; Jo Mercer shoes; Cait Miers Washed Elegance photo book. 

So, I acquired three really excellent things last week – a car, a banjo, and my Harley boots back from the re-solers – but I have none of them actually here. To wit, the banjo is en route from the supplier, the car is back at the farm approximately 2000km away, and I had to take my boots back to the shop because the glue didn’t take properly in one spot.

These kind of occurrences are totally indicative of my life in general … happy – occasionally disappointing and frustrating – but mostly happy, and forever in anticipation of something good in the works, which isn’t quite here yet. 

ALSO, there was one more excellent arrival in my life last week ...
When we were moving house last year, we found a weird, tentacle-y, potted succulent in our backyard, hidden under a bush. As with anything vaguely interesting that I stumble across, I took it with me.
Then last week it sent out some unusual looking shoots, and I started to second-guess my assessment of it as a benign alien-plant.
It was up to something. 
But, as it turns out, it was just flowering; producing one perfect, five-petaled bloom. I've been told it's a carrion flower -- Stapelia -- which is kind of gross, but the stink is definitely outweighed by the weirdness and beauty. 

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. 




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. 

SUMMER VIBES


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One week left in the office, one week left in this dry, southern city. 

My sister sent me a text last week -- excited about me coming home to the north coast of NSW -- saying something along the lines of: "We're going to make amazing cocktails, hunt through antique stores, and swim in the river!"

It's a fairly accurate summary of life on the farm over the summer holidays … and I cannot wait. 

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.