All Things Sustainable

ecology, economy, community


Four Winds at Easter

Four Winds is a biennial Festival held at Easter on alternate years in the little town Bermagui and at an amazing outdoor location in Barragga Bay. It is a festival of music and artistic endeavour and it takes place over four days.
There is always a free concert held in Bermagui and this year it was held at the Bermagui Fishermen’s Wharf. The proceedings opened with a Welcome to Country, a sandy space had been created for the Djaadjawan indigenous female dancers who were part of the welcome.
GE
The Pelican, an ocean going research catamaran formed the stage and performers were ferried to their destination on a punt.

Taking a punt, a great way to travel to the gig.

Taking a punt, a great way to travel to the gig.


As the evening progressed the Pelican revealed she was really well dressed for the occasion, the sun went down and the lights came on..The Pelican at 4 Winds
It was great evening although some of us on the balcony found that from time to time the chatter drowned out the music. But this was Friday and just the start of a weekend full of magical music in a location widely referred to as Nature’s Concert Hall. It is hard to imagine a more beautiful or more appropriate setting for such musical talent. The Sound Shell that provides brilliant acoustics, the natural amphitheater, the lake and the water lilies that could have been taken from a Monet painting…GE
And of course the music. Whether it was the string quintet performing against a backdrop of waterlilies, music so beautiful it catches at your throat and almost brings tears to your eyes..4 Winds string quintet or Dejan Lazic demonstrating the depth of his talents on the new Overs piano took us on trip through time with the work of three composers that stretched across three centuries. Domenico Scarlatti who was writing in the early1700s, Franz Liszt from the nineteenth century and finishing with twentieth century composer Bela Bartok… or Giovanni Sollima who can do such wonderful things with a cello that you think he must have somebody else with another instrument hidden somewhere close by…GE
Four Winds was all this and so much more.


Canberra – a well kept secret?

GEI am sure that Canberra must be Australia’s best kept secret, there are often groaning sounds of boredom when the name is mentioned but I really enjoy it and always find interesting things to do and places to visit.
My most recent visit was a weekend in August, I had arranged it with family members and travelled up the Clyde Mountain road on a Friday afternoon, we met for drinks and dinner that night at The Pot Belly in Belconnen. The Pot Belly is something like a local pub with overtones of an old fashioned jazz cellar and a bistro with live music. It has good food and a great atmosphere, I had fried peppers stuffed with feta cheese coated in a tempura type batter. Really good, mild at first and then a warm chilli taste as you reach the last bite, No photos of this dish (which is a shame because it was served on a bread board) nor of the venue I’m afraid but they do have a Facebook page you can check out.
The next notable event was a visit to Geoscience Australia, the national agency for geoscience and geospatial information. Does this sound boring? Well it isn’t. This establishment opens its doors to the public for one day each year and offers an insight into their work.

Geoscience Australia opened its doors to the public and it was a great success

Geoscience Australia opened its doors to the public and it was a great success

The open day is really successful, engaging children and awakening their curiosity and their interest in science. However there is also plenty of information and activity interesting and complex enough to engage the enquiring adult as well and the day included several 30 minute talks on diverse subjects covering some of the ways that geoscience is being applied to important challenges such as managing ground water and refining GPS to centimeter accurate positioning. There was a tour of the Tsunami Warning Centre, a tour of the laboratory and something called “Fossil Fun” (bookings essential for this one) and around 35 or 40 displays.
This was a demonstrate of how a volcano erupts, it was very popular but the timing was a bit unpredictable

This was a demonstration of how a volcano erupts, it was very popular but the timing was a bit unpredictable


One of the displays included seismic surveys – it had sensors set up outside along the fence line and a pad near an instrument centre housed in a tented enclosure. Children were invited to hit the pad with a mallet and look at the effects on the instruments. I didn’t get to see the instruments or hear exactly what was being revealed below the ground because the display was popular, the queue was long and there were so many other things to see.
The activities aimed at children and families were just brilliant, everything from a “GPS geocache adventure” to an appearance by a TRex dinosaur on the balcony.
T Rex appeared on the balcony with great snapping teeth and a loud roar.

T Rex appeared on the balcony with great snapping teeth and a loud roar.

And then it got out
T Rex escaped into the grounds.....

T Rex escaped into the grounds…..

And attacked a visitor. Who said science was boring?
GE
After all this excitement my next Canberra experience was a complete contrast, I went to the Art Gallery with a pre-booked ticket to the Turner From the Tate exhibition, peaceful, calm and colourful this magnificent exhibition was a wonderful counterbalance to the immediacy of the Geoscience experience. I wandered through gallery complete with the hired audio tour which I felt was of limited use although it did draw my attention to one or two things I might otherwise have missed. I have long admired and enjoyed Turner’s work and this exhibition was a joy. Amazingly we were allowed to take photos as long as a flash was not used. Never the less I somehow felt constrained not to photograph the works until I saw the very last watercolour at which point I overcame my reticence and photographed just this one.
An exquisite Turner watercolour.

An exquisite Turner watercolour.


But my wonderful weekend had not yet ended. Without my being aware of it high tea at the Wedgewood tearoom had been booked so the afternoon ended with Champagne, Earl Grey tea and a selection of delicate sandwiches, savories and sweets served on fine china.
I love Canberra.


South East Harvest Regional Food Festival

South East Harvest Festival in Moruya 2013

South East Harvest Festival in Moruya 2013


I spent the last Saturday in July at the South East Harvest Regional Food Festival in Moruya, it was a great day which concentrated on gathering local producers and creating a family friendly event. As usual I managed to leave the camera at home and had to rely on the mobile phone for photos which made life a bit difficult as it was a really bright sunny day and as a result I was shooting blind. It was a perfect day for the solar panels that grace so many of Moruya’s rooftops, the winter sun was warm but not hot and there was no wind, a great day for pumpkin rolling and sack races, for drummers drumming, choirs singing and dancers dancing all of which happened through the day.
Pumpkin rolling competition at the SE Harvest Festival

Pumpkin rolling competition at the SE Harvest Festival


ABC TV Gardening Austraia host, Costa interviewed stallholders, directed the childrens’ games and put in a word on behalf of small producers, many of whom are struggling with regulation changes that seem almost designed to put them out of business.

I was there to help with the SCPA South East Producers stall which showcased information about Bega Seed Savers, sold seedlings from NoDig Gardens and bushfood flavours and preserves from Karibara Bushfoods. The day was an interesting mixture, on one hand the rediscovery of the value of food grown locally for local consumption, a sense that maybe producers need to stand together, to use cooperatives or maybe community owned formats to claw back the autonomy that has been ceded to multinationals. A desire to end the “get big or get out” mindset which has turned food into a commodity, flooded the world with chemicals and given us an obesity epidemic that is undermining our health. On the other hand there was also a gentle nostalgia with seating near the food stalls and randomly located straw bales that made for a very relaxed atmosphere. The requirement for the bulk of the food sold at the event to be locally sourced helped this because suddenly everyone was eating real food well cooked and well flavoured.
A week later the election was called and now there is frenetic action by politicians with the two major parties trying to persuade us all that the other side are dangerous lunatics. Tony Abbott about to destroy renewable energy and Kevin Rudd trying to win the gold medal for being horrid to refugees and asylum seekers. Oh the joys of democracy. I just hope the Greens manage to keep the balance of power and bring some honour back into politics.


The Locavores on display

Locavores in action

Locavores in action

The 30km dinner in Cobargo certainly lived up to its promise, the 120 tickets were gone within 3 weeks of coming on sale and many would-be diners missed out. The locals pulled together to assemble a great range of produce and to create a lively atmosphere in the Cobargo School of Arts Hall, Bega TAFE students presented the food in fine style, red and white wines were available to complement an excellent degustation menu produced under the guidance of local chef, Linda Sang. The range of the produce was remarkable in itself. Wapengo oysters, local fish, beef, chicken, lamb, kangaroo, rabbit, eggs, cheese, a variety of beers, cider and wines all grown, caught, harvested or produced within the 30km radius.
When I arrived I thought I might try the cider so I purchased a ticket and headed to the bar, where, OMG, I was confronted by an enormous bottle of cider, I knew I would never drink it all! Fortunately a charming man by the name of Colin came to my rescue and offered me half a bottle of lager instead. I think it was one of the nicest lagers I have ever tasted. The tables had elegant black circular place settings…. well actually they were old LPs fulfilling the re-use part of the three Rs (Reduce Re-use Recycle) as were the cake stands, which were constructed from LPs and EPs by the Mens’ Shed, used to serve the sweets and then sold at the close of the evening for $10.00 each. Intermittent trivia with totally unrealistic questions and strange answers devised by the management (who were open to bribery) plus raffles, door prizes, ticket sales and donations raised $5,000.00 for maintenance of the School of Arts Hall. These old halls are important to the villages but they don’t bring in an adequate return for their upkeep so events like this are used by local communities to make sure they remain open. Beautifully Mad (Tony King and Nina Vox), with their eclectic music mix entertained us in the latter part of the evening and once the meal was finished and the dance floor was clear they kept us moving and our feet tapping with everything from blues to The Sultans of Swing. Beautifully Mad were performing at Old Parliament House in Canberra later in the month so we were lucky to have them at the dinner. Their music is available from the web http://www.reverbnation.com/beautifullymad.