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Posts Tagged ‘photography’

I am the Grassman

“You have to go. It really is amazing,” says the middle-aged assistant in Marysville’s Tourist Information Centre.

“And…” she adds, pausing – as much for effect as to allow her eyes to glaze over and stare longingly into the middle distance, “the sculptor, Bruno, is good-looking too. He’s got everything.”

Now I don’t know about Fran, but Bruce’s intentions for heading into the Yarra Ranges did not encompass hunting down Gallic-sounding woodland artists who do a certain je ne sais quoi to women of a certain age. But, the promise of a wild garden full of fantastical sculptures proved alluring enough.

Do come in

The presence of a donation box rather than manned kiosk at the entrance (alongside a sculpture of a particularly hangdog old chap in saggy dungarees) was a good omen: either Bruno is confident enough in his skills to know everyone will pay up willingly or, as the subject matter of his artworks would suggest, he is too much of a stoner to make the short journey from home to garden to ask for your money.

Either way, once inside, words cannot do justice to his creation. Taking his influences from nature, the world of fantasy and some of the more esoteric religions and philosophies of the world, Bruno has created his own little Garden of Eden for the twisted: men made up of animals and tools; beautiful maidens sliding from shells; unicorns and buddhas. A sign advises you to allow 20 minutes to explore the narrow paths and manmade tunnels through the lush forest that passes for his backyard; it might as well add (for those who are that way minded): “Or come to an agreement with Bruno and head back for an overnight stay armed with tent, ‘shrooms and Tim Tams“.

Lord, rain down your love upon me

As unexpected a pleasure as turning up to work in your undies, only to realise you were dreaming and don’t even have a job to go to so can return to dreaming, the Sculpture Garden is as good a reason to head northeast from Melbourne as the Yarra Valley wine.

And, if Bruno was indeed the slight, bearded fellow sweeping up leaves on the driveway, then any bachelors bearing more than a passing resemblance to Matthew Corbett should head to Marysville asap; your bride awaiteth…

Picnic time

For more – and bigger – images, click here

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Feeling just vine

Call it luck, but I can’t imagine Bruce and Fran could have picked a better time to cruise into the Yarra Valley. With Autumn finally setting it, the vines may have been yellowing and threadbare, but were more than compensated for by the glorious shades of red, orange and yellow that were swarming over the tree-covered hill sides.

Pulling up outside their apartment in Healesville (thanks to a welcome tip off from Sam in the Prince Wine Shop, off Fitzroy Street. He’s a lovely man), it was remarkable to think this was little more than an hour from central Melbourne, well, if you can resist the urge to stop for a mid-afternoon Hungry Jacks en route – Fran couldn’t. What was as remarkable was that it turned so lovely so soon after the outer suburban horrors of places like Ringwood – Home of the Hoon TM.

Healesville itself is no real charmer; its setting is all, cradled in the arms of a valley and populated by hundreds of noisy cockatoos and galahs. It is home to a number of delights, however, from the Healesville Hotel (which had the one off Coopers Vintage Ale on tap – 7% alcohol and a meal in itself) with its log fire lounges and top class restaurant, to the delis lining the main street and its own winery – Giant Steps – just before the road leaves town for Marysville.

Should have cleaned the glass first, perhaps...

Wine tasting

Sadly, expecting Bruce or Fran to hold off the booze for a day’s wine-tasting is like expecting Hillary Clinton to stop being a poisonous, lying cow – you can’t teach these old dogs new tricks – so $90pp had to be handed over to Yarra Valley Winery Tours for the pleasure of being driven around for the day. Five wineries were included: Boat O’Craigo, where Bruce was surprised by his love o’Chardonnay; some full-flavoured reds at Riverstone; lunch and a blistering family argument between some of the fellow day-trippers at Domain Chandon; the discovery that Viognier is a white grape and tastes like peach juice at Punt Road (they’re such amateurs… (Bruce and Fran, that is, not the guys at Punt Road)); two wonderful $75 reserves – Pinot Noir and Shiraz Viognier – at Yering Station thanks to an earlier visit by a renowned wine writer. By the time they staggered back from Giant Steps to the apartment (armed with a 2001 Shiraz and a fortified vintage red), Fran was in need of a three-hour pre-dinner kip.

Bruce is not one for advertising (the unstoppable curse of modern media), but the Healesville Apartments, where they stayed deserve a glowing mention. The Treetops apartment, for just $140 a night, contained a king sized bed under Japanese style decor, comfortable lounge and outdoor balcony with great views of the surrounding hills, dining room set up for two, well-equipped kitchen, spa bath for two and matching his and hers robes. Oh, and great fresh bread and locally made preserve and granola for brekkie.

Fran post-wine slumber

They’re sweets, not “lollies”

The following day took in the spectacular drive to Marysville, through awe-inspiring corridors of towering trees and dozens of scurrying lyrebirds (like scuzzy peacocks). What Healesville lacks in beauty as a town, Marysville makes up for, reminiscent of the New England havens scattered around Vermont and New Hampshire. A smattering of waterfalls, forest walks, an incredible sculpture garden and an old school sweet shop (OK, lolly shop), where Bruce learnt that Victorian health and safety rules prevent Aunty Val from mixing two types of sweet in one bag. Government weirdos. And for a real drive into the wilderness, you can head practically offroad to Yarra Glen from just west of Marysville, but expect a bumpy ride (we didn’t).

Bruce and Fran have 21 more Victorian wine regions to check out yet, but will be back in the Yarra Valley soon enough. The only way it could have been better was if we’d had a teetotaller or obedient Muslim with a driver’s licence along for the ride.

American Beauty, but with winter clothes

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A few new pages and posts belatedly added…

Que?

 

 

Que?

 

 

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“For the lucky few who own breweries the temptation to test the famous idiom and organise regular piss-ups must be nigh on irresistible. Yet resist they do…”

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“Watch out for the ones who run the ball back to the centre after a goal: their little legs go so fast and they do a fantastic little hop, skip and pirouette at the end, which is quite marvellous”

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Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition

Cleese keeps a watchful eye on Fran

Feel freeMelbourne is awash with splendid graffiti, from huge building-seized murals to witty stencils. In places, such as the underpass at St Kilda Junction tram stop, it is positively encouraged by the council. In others, such as parts of the inner western suburbs, there are schemes in place to cut it short.

I guess they’re not happy with the quality of some of the workmanship and have to admit, some of the efforts in my local vicinity leave a lot to be desired. Take Little Grey Street, where the primary concern of the artists seems to be to try and come up with ever more comical rude phrases, “Cunt Flaps,” in black italics, being a real standout.

Boobz

Among the random swear words, insults and tags, one word holds sway. That word is “Boobz”. Credit where it’s due, the artist responsible has at least gone to the trouble of putting dots inside both of the O’s, making them look a little bit like, you’ve guessed it, boobs. Heaven knows what the power-mongers on Maribyrnong City Council would make if it made it to their side of the city.

Finding the culprit may not prove too troubling, however…

Mr Boobz\' getaway vehicle

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