Monday, June 13, 2016

My Weekend with Marilyn

For some reason, Bendigo was the only town in Australia to get the Marilyn Monroe exhibition in collaboration with Twentieth Century Fox. Due to this, and the fact that friends have connections to the place, we decided to visit for a long weekend. 

We stayed at the charming Stonehaven B & B in the delightful Vintage Suite (really comfy bed; large sitting area and huge spa bath!).


It just so happened to be World Gin Day, so we had a wee drop to celebrate.

Dr Kay and Calamity Sue (and gin)
In the evening we went out to dinner at Masons of Bendigo, an award-winning restaurant which proudly uses local produce in its menu. We ate in one of the upstairs private dining rooms and shared the Banquet Menu. All the food was delicious but disappeared far too quickly for photos.

I did manage to get this one of dessert, however, featuring creme brulee, strawberry ice cream sandwich, chocolate pot with coffee soil, macaron, Opera Cake with orange curd, Holy Goat and lychee pannacotta, choc-hazelnut delice, and Favourite Flavours ice cream & Persian fairy floss.

Masons of Bendigo Dessert Tasting Plate
There were stunning frosts in the morning, when we went jogging. 

Bendigo's history and past wealth is largely based on the discovery of gold during the 1850s, which made it one of the most significant Victorian era boomtowns in Australia. News of the finds brought many thousands of Chinese to Bendigo, and within ten years the Chinese miners and merchants made up 20% of the Bendigo population. 

While most of the Chinese gold miners returned home when all the alluvial goldfields declined, a small population remained to form the Bendigo Chinese community, which has continued to influence the city. We strolled around the Chinese Gardens appreciating the enduring legacy they have left behind.

Rosalind Park is also home to hundreds of fruit bats, who hang out in the trees.

Conservatory in Rosalind Park
The following are details of the sculpture Man Fighting Wild Animals presented by Major Harkness in 1899.

Bendigo's goldmines were the highest producing goldfield in Australia in the 19th century, and the largest gold mining economy in Eastern Australia. The huge prosperity of the town can be seen in the ostentatious architecture and flamboyant buildings.

Chase the Dragon sculpture at Dudley House

Bacon and egg toastie, Bendigo style
To complement the exhibition at the Art Gallery, Bendigo secured Seward Johnson's iconic eight metre high sculpture of Marilyn Monroe, Forever Marilyn to display at the corner of the gardens. The sculpture, which has been seen in Chicago and Palm Springs made its international debut in Bendigo, and looks peculiarly incongruous among the Victorian buildings.


After going to the exhibition, we had lunch at The Rifle Brigade Hotel (with its curious mirror which is neither concave nor convex, but looks to be both from different angles). I tried a Clear as Mud Porter by 40 Acres Brewing, which was rich and dark with a complex bitter finish - perfect for a crisp winter's day. (I did have food as well, for those who are curious: a pig pizza made with braised pork, bacon and ham, and barbecue sauce.)

We then visited Wine Bank on View, which is a favourite of our tour guides, as you can see. It's another great building where you can wine and dine with high ceilings but narrow aisles stacked either side with great wines you can buy, including a very healthy local selection.

Mirror in the dining room (please don't break... you can watch yourself while you are eating, etc.)
General Philosopher spoilt for choice
Where oh where is Calamity Sue?
That afternoon we went to Heathcote, where a wine weekend was in full swing, and we sampled some of the local produce.

Heathcote on Show
The Farmer and the Scientist

Him Outdoors and Dr Kay at Mitchelton Wines
Beautiful colours on trees make me feel homesick
We left the next day - it's quite a long drive for a day and a half. Once again we went for a jog in the morning, and once again it was crisp and cold, freezing the water in the bird bath.


Monday, June 6, 2016

Battle of the Brewers and Birds

Several pubs have started holding 'Battle of the Brewers' where a couple of breweries take over the taps for the night and the punters try several of their beers, head to head against each other and vote for their favourite. I think this is a great idea, as one gets to try similar styles with slight differences, and can make informed judgments about one's preferences. This weekend it was the turn of The Old Canberra Inn to host Nomad and Modus, both from Northern Sydney.

Head to head beers
Tap Takeover at The Old Canberra Inn
Beers on offer
My favourite of the evening was the Barrel-Aged Couch Stout from Nomad, which was soft and stout and altogether pleasing. The addition of oatmeal brings a slight sweetness and a full mouthfeel, and the malt is gently roasted and full of comforting cocoa goodness.

And because there were so many decisions to make, the pub appeared to pose an extra toiletry dilemma - over or under? (Always over, in case you're wondering)

While out running, I came across a frozen Tawny Frogmouth. I don't think I've ever seen a live one, although I might have and not been aware of it, as they have amazing camouflaged plumage. 


These beautiful birds are mainly nocturnal and they mate for life. During the colder moths they don't hibernate but enter a state of torpor, which results in energy conservation by significantly slowing down heart-rate and metabolism and lowering their body temperature. They often roost closely together on the same branch for warmth in winter.

I was devastated to think that this little bird had left a cold and lonely partner in a tree somewhere. Winter can be very cruel.