Not quite a day in Melbourne: second half

After a fascinating visit into the vaults of Melbourne Museum, I ventured through the fern gully (oh so appropriate seeing my book of choice for the flight was ‘The Victorian Fern Craze’). I had heard there was a bowerbird & bower within but could not locate it, although the brightly coloured fairy wrens darting around were a lovely distraction.

Through the dinosaur walk, the the ‘Wild’ exhibit. A glorious, stopped exhibit of mounted taxidermy animals from around the world. Although I adore a diorama, this was as though visiting a minimal version of Imperato’s Cabinet of Curiosity from the 14th Century…A flying squirrel eyeballs you from the top viewing platform; a long legged wading bird peers with curiosity from a great height; bears, bats, zebras, kangaroos & wild cats are amongst the menagerie tiered floor to ceiling, flying overhead & mounted to the walls. You gotta go!

A cab to check out Hermes’ new windows on Collins St showcasing my good friend, Anna Wili’s equine masks & mounts. They were originally made for an Hermes party held in Sydney, just for display & to be worn. I so want one of the horse full-masks for my next masked ball.

Across the way to Flinders Lane to Cumulus. I always enjoy what Arc One has on show so I slipped in before lunch & viewed the Robbie Rowlands show, ‘The Gardener’. 3D art & sculpture using found objects relating to backyards & gardens, given a new view & life. An old hills hoist becomes a giant swimming octopus- just like the one I saw in a Greek documentary last week.

I last dined at Cumulus with my BFF Donna Hay & the Masterchef crew. As an often lone traveller, I appreciate the restaurants that offer a choice of seating & eating options: take away, dining, at the open kitchen/bar or just casual high. I sit at the marble bar where there is a hook for my bag. A copy of broadsheets are placed next to me if I so please to read & half serves of plates are offered- I am delighted & surprised.

My meal: Mineral German Riesling

Half serve of salad greens with dill (under-rated herb) & radish

Half serve of tuna tartare: generous cubes of sashimi tuna served on smashed peas, yoghurt & mint


Quick skip across to Collins to Haighs for a bag of freckles (dark chic ones now available but for me, it’s milk) & on my way to the airport for my 3.15pm flight.

A perfect day.


Wading birds

Long legged wetland wading birds fascinate me. Flamingos for examples, other than they are pink because they eat so much shrimp (cool fact or is it fiction?) are the most amazing looking creatures & they can fly. I have felted ones at the shop at present, along with a menagerie of other creatures & critters from an American artist.

I recently viewed this beautiful wetland, full of crazy long-legged birds to be transfixed by (yes, I am on sabbatical at present). It is time to incorporate wading birds into your interiors, through the wish listed Meret Oppenheim’s 1939 table, Chicago’s Jayson Home new range of candlesticks or a Fiona Hall piece that I first saw exhibited at the Museum of Sydney forever ago! Or just some random cast feet from Swallow, Brooklyn. Go check out the wading birds in the Louis Vuitton windows in Sydney CBD!



Whilst researching for my next book, I have gained access to various local museums housing interesting collections where I have long-wanted to get into the vaults & back-of-house. The Herbarium’s Collections Manager, Dale, was generous both in time and information. It is affectionately known as the Red Box, a name derived from the boxes that house the mounted specimens stacked so neatly in racks & carefully piled high. The NSW Herbarium has a signed First Edition copy of  Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’ amongst photographs and specimens found & mounted on Cook’s voyage by Banks (the $$$ man) & Solander (the Scientist), Burke & Wills adventurers. After a long chat with Dale covering topics from modern day collecting techniques to borrowing & lending between herbariums & museums & heritage-listed bottles from the Domain (which was once a tip!), I was keen to see the specimens bottled in alcohol! Mostly, I just like the packaging: the old paper labels stuck on the front of the vessels, handwritten & documenting the contents. The glass vessels range from 5cm-40cm in height with varying diameters, many are footed with straight sides & a fitted glass lid. Others appear to be old pickling jars & some of the tiny ones are in flat based test tube shapes with corks fixed in the tops. The glass-topped vessels, although aesthetically appealing, do not hold tight their alcoholic liquid which often evaporates or leaks. Although some are suspended in liquid, others are dry: seeds, pods, spores, leaves, samplings etc.

I am looking forward to my next visit & viewing the moss albums as well as photographs of the original Herbarium in the Botanical Gardens.


The Boathouse

I love this place. It is located on a pier on the Pittwater side of Palm Beach with the Beaver Seaplane Company above, carnival lights, glass louvres, lots of different seating options, amazing oversized agave & flora & fauna (more still-life than arrangement): magnolia & frangipani branches, stones & pebbles galore, fresh flowers & produce for sale as well as the best food ever.

I met these guys at a book signing she Etcetera etc. was launched and fell for them & their aesthetic. You order at the counter & grab a seat (be warned: it can be packed, make sure you take a pocket full of patience- it is well worth the wait). Even the numbers for the table are hand painted birds on driftwood. They are open for breakfast & lunch everyday and fingers crossed they’ll be opening for dinner in Summer. You can book out the whole space for functions. I would get married here if anyone would ask me!



There’s something lovely about having wood underfoot as you walk through a virgin (well, almost) terrain. I love the aspect you get as you dip & turn & follow, just hovering above the earth. You have time to take in your surrounds as there is no tripping over gnarly roots, mossy rocks & the like. There is an intimacy, a fantasy element- it is almost as though it’s a secret & you must speak in a whisper or not at all.

I have some favourites, including one I traced early this evening in Byron Bay. The walk from The Spit to Manly is one and these pictures show boardwalks in the South Island of NZ I did on a trip with a good-looking boy called Jack. A not-to-miss is the finger walks of Savannah, Georgia- not quite a boardwalk but similar enough!


Glenmore House

At one of the Society inc. workshops, we were lucky enough to meet Mickey of Glenmore House in Camden. She told romantic stories of her Garden of Eden in the not-so-far outer burb of Sydney. When I first started my styling career I was shooting out that way & had to find some plants at very short notice. In my Dad’s ute, I followed some signs to a local nursery. To my great delight I had discovered a camellia farm showcasing very old, huge specimen trees of every variety. If this was not enough, they also had a grass croquet lawns that looked over a tree-drenched valley. I have never found (or actually looked) for this again but Camden remained a fond memory.

It is a very old part of outer Sydney that city sprawl has finally & perhaps disappointedly caught up with. Upon arrival we realised (my photographer brother Chris & Hannah) it was all true. This was Eden. Mickey practices traditional farming as well as running cooking & demonstrating workshops where produce is picked from the garden.

Glenmore House is a spattering of old (or re-assembled) outhouses that are built from the original materials and/or purpose or blueprint. There are hedges galore, an orchard encased by a stone wall, espaliers, grapes, raspberries, beans & peas, lettuce, leeks, all your other kitchen necessities & fruit trees (that were in bloom on my visit). It is all set in manageable beds in intimate settings. Don’t think a sprawling farm, this is a beautiful petite garden to feed & demonstrate how sustainable living can work.

This is escape at its best- I wanted to set up a teepee and live amongst the trees! Mickey & I are looking to do a collaborative workshop in the next few months on decorating the Christmas table from the garden & cooking seasonal fresh produce.

Please email us if this is something that interests you: shop@thesocietyinc.com.au