Thursday, July 14, 2011

Winding down in Ballarat

On Wednesday evening, we escaped from boarding school and went out into the countryside for dinner at the lovely home of a friend whom Daniella had met in Korea. Rosalind, and her Irish husband Paddy built the place themselves with adobe bricks, hand- hewn beams from their own trees, and beautiful river stones. Every inch of the place was beautiful, and they made a lovely dinner for us, a welcome break from the daily boarding school meals we have been eating here. It's not that the food is bad, but I wouldn't call it good either.

Then yesterday we had another little break when we went into central Ballarat for the first time to visit a little gallery. The downtown looks remarkably like many of the California gold-rush towns, all historically preserved to tell the story of Australia's great gold rush years. The photo above is a quick shot of the street.

In the middle of yesterday afternoons class, Pamela, the resident Aboriginal artist, came into our workshop and gave a talk about the history of Australia's indigenous people. The map she is holding shows how Australia was held by different tribal peoples before the arrival of the white population. She is an amazing resource, and has a wealth of cultural knowledge to share.

Each class gets to decorate the "head table" in our freezing cold dining room with art work from the class. Our class contributed the little folded boats. Can you believe that D. has been folding boats all over Australia and gotten a whole bunch of people to join her?!

Today is the last day of class. For the most part (if you don't count the icy cold weather and lack of heat) it has been a great time. The women here are a resilient, joyful, and rowdy bunch. They work hard, love a good laugh, and are amazingly creative and enthusiastic. We have made some amazing friendships over the five days together. Yesterday D. was invited to come back in April, 2013 to do it all over again. We will think about that. Meanwhile today we have to pack up all the equipment by 3 pm, when it will be picked up by truck to ship to Sydney for our next adventure. Tomorrow we return to beloved Melbourne for two more nights at the Hotel Victoria.

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Location:Ballarat, AU

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