Category Archives: Fab Things


An appropriate portrait

Once while riding through beautiful Centennial Park, I discovered a white gum forest & was determined to do a guerilla-like shoot here at some stage. Shhh! Don’t tell the council. The opportunity arose when I dove into my dress-up box to shoot my portrait for my upcoming book, The Biography of a Bowerbird.

I donned several outfits and grabbed my brother/photographer Chris. It was a glorious early morning – although extremely muddy after heavy rainfall. Here are the results.


Q Station

I met my sister at the Q Station recently on a magical Sydney Summer day. It is part of the larger historical Quarantine Station that now has a cafe and restaurant. The buildings have been gently restored & are beautiful. Just wander around & look at the brickwork & lovely hardware & doors. In the rock face, shields & flags have been carved with dates & names. Otherwise just bake on the sand & swim in the harbour. You can catch the shuttle bus up & down or as I did, tackle the stairs & check out the glasshouse near the bend.


Mr G Rice

Whilst researching my next book, Biography of a Bowerbird at the Macleay Museum, I stumbled upon Mr George Rice. Intrigued, I delved into my research by contacting the Caroline Simpson Library. I poured over old surveyor’s maps from the late 1800s and discovered he owned The Curio Shop, 232 Lower George St Sydney from 1860-1877.

Pics from the National Library of Australia archives.

Around the corner on Pitt St was Mrs Palmer & Sons, a furrier & taxidermist. I have used this research & inspiration for the latest bar I have designed with Kelvin Ho. It is opening in April and is called Palmer & co.


Paper Bag Rose Case Study #1


Periwinkles & Limpets

Do you ever grow out of exploring rockpools? The discoveries that can be made at low tide. My first attraction is usually the lovely worn rocks that are the structure & house for the creatures, broken shells, seaweed trapped fish, crabs, starfish, anemones. They are little worlds of wonder that house an entire universe.


Fern Collecting Craze

For women in particular, the plant-hunting phenomenon (including the Victorian Fern Craze) became a hugely popular & socially favoured pastime. It allowed women some aesthetic & scientific pursuit otherwise denied. Although it was considered a leisure activity rather than a ‘career’, they did contribute to the advancement of study & understanding of botanical nature through handmade, mounted & illustrated albums, most notably of seaweed, algae, fern & wildflowers. These books were one-of-a-kind and often with little regard for Linnaean specimen order or categorisation.

Considering this fieldwork was taking place in the countryside & at the seashore, it was mostly conducted by the educated middle-class who had leisure time for ramblings & combing their locale.

As research for my next book, Biography of a Bowerbird, I spent an afternoon pouring over & conversing about women’s works at the Caroline Simpson Library: pressed fern albums, scrapbooks & handmade albums containing cursive handwritten poems, sketches portraits, watercolour flowers, pressed flowers & other musings. A variety of seaweed collecting manuals as well as the very personal albums are reflective of the time & creator. All housed at the resourceful library where I enjoy the treasures that unfold with the help of librarians, Matthew & Michael.