Category Archives: photography

Verandah Resident

“Verandah Resident” coloured pencils 16.5 x 16.5 cm. July 2022

I recently returned from a trip to Donnelly River; a 1950s heritage-listed timber mill town 300 km south of Perth. The mill closed in 1978 and today the village is a peaceful holiday haven – a place where this world still feels good. I was invited to be one of six artists to stay there and then take part in an art exhibition – The 2022 Donnelly Verandah Residencies. I took Matthew along and for several days we soaked up the wintry atmosphere, walked, observed and photographed.

My drawing “Verandah Resident” is of a Red-Winged Fairy Wren who we met on the verandah of the general store.

I will be doing more Donnelly-inspired drawings for the exhibition which will be held at Earlywork in South Fremantle from 19-28 August. Website:

Donnelly is HEAVEN. Here are some of the photographs I took…

Cottages and sheds with kangaroo
Scarlet Robin
Western Spinebill eyeing a bee
The road in showing the general store (and kangaroo)
Twenty Eight Parrot with Matthew
Derelict cottage, winter trees and spring flowers
Dancing emus
Western Whistler
Locals awaiting a phone call
Female Western Rosella (front) with Twenty Eight Parrot (rear)
Male Western Rosella in the rosemary bush
Julie and Kangaroo (photo by Matthew)

Matthew and I were so enthralled by Donnelly River that we will return in spring. If you love birds, animals, trees and peace, this is UTOPIA. Here is the accommodation website – so you can book your own trip

A Late Night Conversation

For several days I have been “in training”. “Each night I stayed up as late as I could and each morning attempted to sleep in. My goal was to adjust my body-clock so that I wouldn’t only be awake until midnight on Wednesday 6th April but also lucid, lively and with a reasonable vocabulary at my disposal.

I had been invited by Ann Kullberg to be her guest on a webcast LIVE from America. West Australian time is 15 hours ahead of U.S. Pacific time. Ouch – hence my “in training” sessions!

Everything worked out perfectly. I had a great time in conversation with Ann and midnight came around as rapidly as it surely had for Cinderalla on another night long ago.

While people tuned in from various parts of America to see the webcast live, in my region you were all in bed fast asleep. Now that you are up and about – here it is.

While some of my artworks are seen on the webcast you can see hundreds of them on my website – from the 1970s to now.

Small Wonder

“Small Wonder” – a drawing of a male Purple Backed Fairy Wren. 21 x 19 cm. December 2021

I have witnessed some big wonders – and drawn them with my coloured pencils. Big wonders in Kyoto, Paris, Venice, Rome, Milan and Florence – seen and drawn from multiple overseas trips prior to 2020.

In 2021 my new wonders are local and tiny, nevertheless they are as gorgeous as the Grand Canal, St Germain des Prés, or geisha of Gion.

My latest muses take patience and stamina to even get a glimpse of – let alone photograph. They lurk in tightly packed undergrowth and fly with kamikaze speed, pausing for mere seconds. The powerful zoom lens I recently purchased to get close-ups weighs a ton. Buzzing biting insects never leave me alone and the sun beats down leaving me hot and breathless. Phew! It’s hard work.

When I took Matthew to see the Purple Backed Fairy Wrens last week, he said we were observing ‘inner space’. I like that. He meant we were peering into a hidden world which many people are unaware of. ‘Inner space’ could also refer to a state of mind – a good, peaceful and receptive one perhaps.

Photos from last week of the Purple Backed Fairy Wrens…

Female Purple-Backed Fairy Wren

Fly away 2021. 2022 is about to land. I wonder what it will bring us? Happy and safe New Year Dear Reader!

Iridescent Morning

“Iridescent Morning” a drawing in wax pastels and coloured pencils. 25.5 x 28.5 cm. September 2021

Mosman Bay is super-charged at sunrise as multiple panes of glass send reflecting flares out across the Swan river. It is blindingly spectacular viewed from Point Walter. Within a couple of minutes the sun rises a little higher – and that particular light show is over to be replaced by a normal riverside view in sunshine.

Here is the source photo for “Iridescent Morning”. When I took the photo in April I focused on the seagull. However later on when thinking about a drawing I envisioned a purely impressionistic landscape. The sharply focused gull was extraneous to this idea so I left him out.

The drawing “Morning on the Swan River” also has a view of Mosman waterfront as seen from Point Walter. It is the area to the right of this view which appears in “Iridescent Morning”.

“Morning on the Swan River” wax pastels and coloured pencils. 34.5 x 42.5 cm. Drawn in May 2021

At present my drawing output is quite low as I concentrate on photography. It is spring in Perth, not yet too hot to be out. The birds are plentiful while it is still a bit chilly for snakes so I am “making hay while the sun shines”. I spend a few hours daily either at river or coastal locations. Here are five observations from yesterday taken at Pelican Point.

An Eastern Great Egret puts down his landing gear.
Willy Wagtail sits on a Kookaburra’s back to encourage him to “GET LOST!”
Willy Wagtail pauses to rethink his strategy. (PS – Kookaburra finally departs.)
A Variegated Fairy Wren (different from the Splendid Fairy Wrens on the blog last week).

Escape to Fairyland

A male Splendid Fairy Wren in the shadows

This week I discover that Fairyland actually exists and that I have access to it. It is 10 minutes’ drive down the road from my house at Woodman Point Regional Park in the City of Cockburn. What may look like rather bland coastal scrub to the uninitiated turns out to be a haven for flora and fauna on closer inspection. I especially go to see the Splendid Fairy Wrens but encounter some other friends along the way.

Come with me…

A Bobtail Skink tries to look invisible

A fledgling New Holland Honeyeater in its tree

This little fluff-ball is a female Splendid Fairy Wren

High up in the trees is a Red Capped Parrot

Three Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos eat lunch…
….while one Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo looks on and laughs

A study of grey on grey as a Grey Thrike Thrush regards my camera

Bird on a wire (in fact – a female Splendid Fairy Wren)

Peter Rabbit appears (because this is a magical place)…
…and nibbles some lunch…

A Splendid Fairy Wren looks coy in flowering wattle bush
Little poser!

Mid-air hopping to it

These birds are so quick I can’t get two in focus at the same time.

More grooming

Wah – fortunate shot!!!

The Hospital Cat

“The Hospital Cat” drawn with coloured pencils on Arches Aquarelle smooth. 30.5 x 27 cm. June 2020.

On our first afternoon in Venice on 2 November 2018 my daughter and I wander into a grand looking edifice.  We don’t know that we are entering the Ospedale Civile or Public Hospital.  Through automatic doors and into a courtyard we walk.  What do we discover?  A cat community!

A courtyard within the grounds of Ospedale Civile, Venice.

The automatic doors appear to be operational for cats as well as humans.  Even though the (slightly spooky) corridor is empty in the photo below, on my second visit I see a cat padding nonchalantly along a section of it, exiting at the door leading to one of the courtyards.

I take a photo of the entrance to the cat house.  The cat in the porch looks like the cat in my drawing.  If it isn’t the same individual surely it must be from the same family.

Though the tabby in my drawing looks rather aloof with a “Why are you bothering me?” expression (typical of felines) the cat community is welcoming and affectionate as the following photos affirm.

Alicia and cats.

Julie and cats.

If it hadn’t been for Covid-19 I would have returned to Venice in March this year and come away with a whole new batch of source photos to draw from.   I would have been spoiled for choice with 2020 material and would almost certainly have overlooked making a drawing from the Venetian hospital visit 17 months ago.  The 2020 world health situation is forcing me to re-evaluate the photo-treasure I already have.

I thank all the brave compassionate people who work in hospitals, especially in the time of a pandemic.  And thank you Venetian Hospital Cats.  I saw visitors (probably their loved ones were patients) sitting on outdoor benches beside you, comforted by your purring presence.



Today in Western Australia we are having a storm.  My camera and I head out to see what’s happening.  First stop is my local beach – South Beach.  Usually this is a big wide beach where dogs and people frolic but today the surf is right up to the dunes – in fact – eroding them before my eyes.

Where we usually sit having coffee is, on this May day, a maelstrom of spray!

Some time last night the waves had ripped off the top of the sea wall.  The sandstone blocks sprawl on the lawn like fallen soldiers.

In Fremantle the tide surges right up to the buildings at Bathers Beach.

I drive a few minutes further up the coast to Cottlesloe.  Have a look at the disappearing man.  Now you see him – now you don’t.

….and from another viewpoint.  It looks like he is taking photos.  (I presume he is a he.  A woman wouldn’t be that daft.)

Each time I get out of my car I can hardly stand up straight due to the force of the westerly winds.   I dodge squally showers to watch Cottlesloe Beach being consumed by the tide.  (Historic Indiana Teahouse on the left will presently be swallowed up too – disappearing into a modern awful-looking redevelopment.)

From Cottlesloe one gets a wide southern view back to the port of Fremantle.  All down the coast the storm-driven tide is battering and eroding land.

I drive back through East Fremantle following Swan River to Point Walter.  As you can see by the jetty, the river is experiencing ‘acqua alta’.

The enormous sand spit which is the main feature of Point Walter is thoroughly submerged.   For most of the year you can walk across the sand spit as far as the little island on the left of the photo below.  (Not that you should walk right to the end – because birds nest there.)   A curtain of rain sweeps across the river.

In East Fremantle the local black swans are busy scrutinizing the water.

They come over in case I have a treat for them.  (I don’t.)

One of them has a big stretch.

What is normally parkland is, at this moment, river.

Finally I drive homewards, stopping at East Street jetty to visit wing-aerating cormorant and darter.  The darter yawns as I photograph him.

The Bureau of Meteorology says this is an unusual and wide-reaching storm.  Not a typical May day.


Postscript:  Aftermath – photos of our beach the next day.


Morsels of Happiness

On my morning walk today I saw six black cockatoos in a tree quite close up.  I didn’t have a camera so you’ll have to take my word for it.  I watched them for about five minutes and do you know, seeing them made me happy.

Can a day be without any happy moments?  Even in these anxious times there are gentle interludes: – look at that cloud formation;  the neighbour’s cat has popped over to be stroked; outside our local cafe Rupert the dog is waiting for his pat;  wow – a cormorant is spreading its wings in front of a rainbow!

Happy moments spontaneously pop up.

I find that if I mentally register these morsels of happiness, they nourish me throughout the day.  Later on I see the news and feel all the things that you are feeling.  But it helps to remember those sweet tastes of positivity.  I remind myself that even if I’m feeling anxiety now, I felt joy earlier – and that helps me not to be overwhelmed.

When I experience a moment of peace, something that provokes a smile, registering it might be the most important thing I do all day.  It is an inoculation against misery.

Two mornings ago I took myself down to the waterfront to visit the birds.  Their presence uplifted me.

What lifts your spirits?



Pretty in Pink

Revisiting Venice in March I am overwhelmed and enchanted by the colour pink.  In sky, water, buildings, lamps, mosaics, paintings, furniture, fabrics, outdoors and indoors – pink is everywhere!   So I give you a pink post.  The photos (taken over seven days)  begin in the early morning, move through the day and finish at night.

Sometimes bright, sometimes subtle – “Pretty in pink, isn’t she?” – “The Psychedelic Furs” ( and by the way, who remembers that song?)







The Coast of Most

Wellington Cable Car

Home is where the heart is – and this past week I’ve been there.  Let me show you ‘my place’ – where I lived for the first eighteen years of my life (the formative years).

Zealandia Ecosanctuary in Karori

I grew up in Karori (the only bit of this post that isn’t on the coast).  Here we find Zealandia, an ecosanctuary where ornithologists are dedicated to studying and re-establishing native bird populations in the Wellington bush and suburbs.  What an inspirational area to visit – and I recommend you do.

A kaka sizes me up.

Matthew and I stay at Island Bay, one of the southern beaches.  The view is so different depending on the weather that throughout this post there are several photos of views from our lounge window.  The hills beyond are the eastern ranges of Pencarrow.  This is a pearl of a morning.  (We watch the planes coming in if it is a northerly and going out if it is a southerly.)

Island Bay calm morning (but cold!)

Several times per day the Interislander ferries sail past us commuting between North and South Islands.

Island Bay stroll.  (These must be locals because they are dressed as if it is warm – which it isn’t.)

The next beach along is Owhiro Bay.  The mountains in the distance are the Kaikoura mountains of the South Island.  They have fresh snow on them – gorgeous – due to a sudden southerly blast the previous day.

Owhiro Bay houses

Owhiro Bay life.

Kaikoura mountains, ferry and SPRAY!

Right in the heart of Wellington city is Oriental Bay.

Oriental Bay

Oriental Bay sky on a breezy afternoon.

Late afternoon lounge view.  The end of a sapphire day in Wellington.

The following morning the weather has changed.  Clouds and northerly gales are the order of the day.

Island Bay view from the lounge

We drive across the Rimutaka Range to Palliser Bay.  To call it windy is a gross understatement!

The coastline at remote and wild Lake Ferry.

Southern black-backed gull

White-fronted terns and black-backed gulls.

Matthew, flying cormorant and tern flock.

Wild windy sky over Lake Onoke.

Further around the coast (another 50 kms) is Ngawi where crayfish are caught.  Lack of a harbour means that bulldozers have to haul the fishing boats up onto the sand.  “A graveyard for bulldozers” is how it is described to me.


New Zealand fur seals live here.


Two friends.

Cape Palliser is the southern-most tip of the North Island.

We approach the lighthouse

250 steps – rather scary as they are so steep!

We make it to the top! And the wind is screaming!!!

On the drive home the northerly gales are so strong that rubber piping on the roof of our hire car actually peels off and starts to flap about!  We have to get out (hold onto the car) and pound it back in with our fists and finger tips.

Sky patterns on the drive back.

Back in the lounge at the end of the day.  (We had been on the other side of those far hills.)

By next morning the wind has changed back to southerly – so in our lounge view planes are taking off.

Southerly morning at Island Bay

A ferry pushes through the swell.

We drive over to Makara to see our dear friends Jenifer and George Welch (who used to own Makara Riding School where I spent as much of my teenage years as I could riding horses).  Jenifer and George give us a huge treat, a history and geography tour over the hills into Terawhiti Station, completely out of bounds to the general public.

Karori Rock lighthouse at Tongue Point.  Kaikouras in the distance.

The wild coast of Cape Terawhiti, and far away a ferry approaches (a distant white dot).

…the white dot has materialized into the ferry…crossing the Cook Strait.

Looking north, wind turbines on the skyline of Makara hills.  Mana and Kapiti Islands beyond.

Our dear friends, Jenifer and George with Tick, at their bach.

Later that afternoon, back in Island Bay…

On the move – cruise ship, plane and seagull.  (Our view again).

I hope the passengers remembered to take their seasick pills.

Finally it is our turn to fly out of Wellington.  We take off to the north.  Can you see our Air New Zealand shadow?

Flying over the bays

Goodbye Fair City – for now.

The Coast of Most what?  Most hills, cliffs, waves, spray, swells, seabirds, winds, rain, clouds, sun, planes, ships, inter-island ferries, rugged landscapes, distant mountains, seaside cafés with great views, friendly locals, narrow winding twisty roads, and constantly changing light.  And because Wellington is just a little bit seismic, what you see today might look different tomorrow.  You just never know.