Posted by: jkirkby8712 | February 21, 2011

Sunday, 20th February 2011 – more time in Ballarat

Ballarat has a reputation [largely undeserved] for being a cold and wet place. Certainly this morning that reputation was more than justified, because by 10.30 am, it was just that –  wet, and relatively cold, although there were I noted, various scantily dressed backpackers venturing out of some of the establishments in Lydiard Street seemingly oblivious that the sun wasn’t shining, far from it in fact!  Mind you, earlier, the situation had been a little different  – at 7.30am,  there was bright sunshine outside the motel window, and numerous early morning joggers and walkers were passing in summer clothes as though e were in for a hot day, although I’m sure at that time it was already quite cool. I was waiting for breakfast to arrive – for the first time in a long while, I’d decided to have a cooked breakfast, no doubt of all the things I shouldn’t in one go these days – sausages, bacon, tomato and a large poached egg!!  I enjoyed it anyway! Whilst waiting, I got tuck into the Courier’s large weekend crossword – what a pity the solution would not appear until tomorrow’s paper which I would not be able to obtain!

James was heading back to Sunbury this morning, but I intended to stay a little longer – to some extent, that depended upon when Susie was leaving home for her ‘temporary’ move up to Bendigo where she was to study for most of the year. I kind of wanted to be home when she left, and had gained the impression it would be mid to late afternoon. However, a text enquiry later revealed that she would be ‘well gone’ by the 3pm arrival time I had suggested for myself. Jimmy was driving up there also, two carloads of belongings, and I guess she probably preferred to be on her way before Dad got home and began ’fussing’ about careful driving, etc!! So at that point, I decided not to rush – in fact would go back out to Enfield and have lunch, as invited with my sister & family.

But that was later! Left the motel at around 10am, and drove back to the lake, wanted to take a couple of photos of a nearly replenished and full Lake Wendouree. I got my photos, but my visit to that area was somewhat negated, as most of the Wendouree Parade [the road which travels the circumference of the lake, had been taken over by cyclists. There was obviously a family charity ride of some sort this morning – bikes everywhere ridden by all ages of kids and adults. Apparently, later this afternoon, there was to be a 100 kilometre cycling classic [around the lake I presume], and I would discover later that friends in Sunbury were actually down here today to compete in that event. Ironically, as I got there this morning, and the family event was getting under way, that’s when the weather deteriorated somewhat, and it began to rain,  and suddenly became quite cold. The rain was not heavy, more of a steady drizzle which would continue over the next hour or so.

From Lake Wendouree, I headed back into the central business district of the town, travelling via the little narrow street that my grandparents had lived in  – 50 Loch Avenue which had remained in the family from around the 1930s I think until a few years ago after my Dad’s sister passed away. I’d noticed in the ‘Courier’ that there was a similar house to the old family home, for sale just up the road. It was actually a bit difficult to get up that street this morning, as a furniture van was taking up much of the road space.  His was a very old area, and there were no new homes that I had noticed in the street for many years. The house for sale was at No. 43, and was described as a solid brick Victorian terrace home on a 360m2 site with side car access [at least one could park off street, many of the nearby properties didn’t have that option]. I notice it was advertised seeking a new owner  to restore the house to it’s former glory, which indicated that perhaps some work was required –  certainly looked in fair condition from out the front. This is the way it was described  – perhaps odd in view of the many beautiful new modern homes coming available around Sunbury, that I should be even taking note of such a vintage place, but with possible thoughts of coming back to Ballarat in the future, I had felt  that I’d like a smaller and traditional old home to settle into  –    original home which features high ceilings with ceiling roses and paneled doors with ceramic knobs and push plates. Comprises full width from verandah with intact cast iron lacework, wide central hallway, 3 large bedrooms, lounge, separate dining room, walk-in pantry with steps down to cellar, plus study/store room. Open fire places to 4 rooms, original kitchen with wood burner IXL stove, quaint bathroom, and enclosed rear verandah. All built on exceptionally solid bluestone foundations. I noticed ‘too late] that it had been open for inspection yesterday afternoon, and was to be auctioned on the 19 March. Temptation to come down then, and have a look – even though, failing a windfall in the next few weeks, your writer doesn’t have the money to buy a house at present, and it is a bit late in life to attempt to obtain anything as substantial as a housing loan!!  Dream on Bill!

Putting dreams aside, my next stop was the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery where I spent about an hour, wandering again through the Gallery’s magnificent collection of art works. Also purchased a couple of print by Australian artists,  my intention being to have them framed eventually, for display at home. One was a painting by Tom Roberts, pained in 1886 and called ‘A Summer Morning Tiff’, while the second was by Hans Heyson entitled ‘’The Three Gums’, painted between 1915-1920. I’m trying to build p a little collection of prints of Australian paintings – generally the prints are inexpensive, but the framing, etc, is where all the payout goes to. This painting was first exhibited as White gums in 1915, and the Trustees of the National Gallery of Victoria were interested in purchasing it. But they deferred a decision about the purchase of the painting because they questioned Heysen’s nationality. Heysen subsequently re-painted the foreground and re-titled it The three gums before selling it to the Ballarat Art Gallery in 1921.

Below: The Three Gums by Hans Heyson

Meanwhile, with the rain still falling lightly, and the air temperature quite low, I turned the car back towards the southern part of Ballarat, to drive out to Jean & Ross’s place again. I had the radio tuned into the local ‘community radio’ station – called themselves 99.9FM – the ‘Voice’ [of Ballarat] – and immediately began thinking of trying to join up with that station if I ever came down here permanently. Their program formats etc seemed to be similar to that of Sunbury, and as Jean would mention later, they were always looking for new volunteers! I actually kept the station tuned for part of the rest of the day, until the reception disappeared halfway to Melbourne.

One reason for returning to Jean’s place was in the hope of getting the opportunity to talk to her about the problems surrounding one of our brothers, up north in Queensland. No opportunity of that last night because of the large numbers present –  but I should have guessed. There is seldom ever ‘just family’ at Jean’s place, and why would today be any different. At least half a dozen other ‘visitors’ there during the course of my stay [over lunch], so about from a few brief words as I was leaving later, there was little opportunity, once again, to raise the subject!  One thing about these two – Jean and Ross –  they will never die ‘lonely’, there is always someone on call, and Jean has this knack of maintaining contact with many of Mum’s old friends and contacts [as per Jean Blomely last night]  – good on her, a great attribute irrespective of anything else!!

One of the 2011 activities in Sunbury, as part of this town’s 150 Year Celebrations, is a recognition of  175 individuals who have contributed to the life of Sunbury. With that in mind, I was interested to see that in Ballarat, organizers of the Volunteer Recogmition wards 2011 are encouraging Ballarat people to nominate the region’s unsung heroes, those nominees to be presented in a ceremony at the end of National Volunteers’ Week, on May 14th. A spokesman noted that although the world seemed full of critics, cynics and negativity at times, the aim of the awards was to celebrate something good happening in the community. ‘That thing going good is the 30,000 people who are out there in the community without wanting anything from it. There is so much that happens in our community that just wouldn’t happen if people didn’t give what they have. People in our community deserve our recognition and our appreciation because they give of themselves’. There was a real need to nominate volunteers so that others would know what people are doing. In most cases, volunteers were unsung heroes and were active in all sectors such as the environment, health, emergency services, education, sport, social justice, heritage and the arts. ‘They don’t do it for the recognition or awards, but it is nice for them to get the tap on the shoulder’.  I can appreciate those words exactly, having been a volunteer for most of my adult life in some format or other. I will be interested to find out the outcome of this Ballarat project.

Returned to Sunbury mid afternoon. Called in off the freeway to Melton [the equivalent ‘satellite’ style township to Sunbury, but to the west of Melbourne, for an iced coffee at a large coffee lounge in the town. Have an old friend living here from ‘single’ days, who is also on her own these days. Would love to call in and say hi, but I can never bring myself to do that unannounced.  So as I was about to leave for the final leg of the trip to Sunbury, sent off a ‘safe’ text message, just enquiring as to how she and her family were doing. Her mother, up in Wangaratta was in her 90s now, and virtually blind now I think, but somehow she still manages to send a Christmas greeting each year to one of her daughter’s old boyfriends of 40 years ago!! That daughter’s response came later in the evening, not quite what I was hoping for, but nevertheless, the reply of an old friend, all one can ask for these days. ‘Thank you for thinking of me while in town. Family all well. Mum has her days but at 90 so would we all’.  Very true indeed. My own mother-in-law [as she was] is turning 90 in a few weeks time, still thinks she is about 15 years younger than she is!

At home, the place was deserted. Not so unusual, except this time, unusual circumstances. Susie had taken  a few belongings and moved up to Bendigo for the duration of her study year. Jimmy drove up with her [in his car] with a friend for company on his return, and to help with some of her belongings.  I did talk to Susie later in the evening – she rang me actually, although I think that was at the instigation of Shirley who had rung me wanting to know how the move had gone, and about Ross’s party.  It felt a little strange [lonely maybe] knowing she would not be back during the week though intended to be back here each weekend when she had a couple of shifts rostered at the local Big W. I was thinking that might change if she could find some casual work up there, but of course the boyfriend is still down here! An extra incentive to ‘come home’ each weekend!   Anyway, a quiet night for me –only TV was the news briefly, and a light meal, having already eaten substantially today already  – however, I did manage to avoid any of the various sweets that Jean offered up over the weekend. Though probably spoilt that by eating a chocolate Easter egg for dessert this evening!!

The World Cup cricket continued today with two games played:

Game 2 [20 Feb]: New Zealand 0-72 defeated Kenya 69

Game 3: Sri Lanka 7-332 defeated Canada 122

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