Banksia Picnic Area at Strickland State Forest

Located on the Central Coast of New South Wales, the Banksia picnic area in Strickland State Forest is a good school holiday destination.  It’s a great place to enjoy the natural bushland and go for a leisurely walk on one of the many walking tracks, or just relax and have a picnic.
The Banksia picnic area has picnic tables, fire pits and a large area for children to play. They can make a swing, a bush Teepee/cubby house, or a fairy house – like the one made by our granddaughters (pictured above).

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Raku-fired pottery

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The vase and small sculptured wizard (both pictured in the slideshow) were hand built using Feeneys white raku clay. My first exposure to Raku-firing occurred during pottery classes at the Potters workshop at East Gosford (on the Central Coast of New South Wales), where these pots were made.
The vase was created using slabs of rolled out clay, which were joined,  patterned and decorated. The top of the vase was made on a pottery wheel, then shaped to fit the rectangular vase and attached to form the neck. The handles were made from extruded, shaped lengths of clay.
As my first attempt, I was very relieved when this vase survived the extreme Raku-firing.
Showing the variety of colours which Raku-firing can produce – when reduction occurs – the wizard-like figure was assembled using rolled slabs of clay. The slabs used to form the coat were rolled in ball clay to cause the crackled pattern (which are visible on the sleeve).  Two pinch pots were made and joined together to assemble the head, extruded clay was used for the beard.

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On the Verandah #2

Found at a kerbside clean-up, this lovely little cupboard makes a wonderful storage unit for small gardening tools, gloves, and potting equipment.
Also used as a convenient table near the back door on which to place a cup of tea or a snack, this unit has become a favourite addition to our verandah.

This old metal sculpture (which belongs to our daughter) is an interesting addition to the brick wall.  Showing its age with rust spots, the cross -which is  decorated with ivy leaves – is quite unique.  The whimsical  insect with its long legs and bug eyes, was added for a touch of fun.

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Apple Tea Cake

4 oz. butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups self raising flour, sifted
1 teas. vanilla essence
4 tablespoons milk
2 apples, peeled and thinly sliced
nutmeg and cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar together,
add the beaten eggs and vanilla and mix well.
Stir in the sifted flour alternately with the milk.
Pour mixture into a greased and lined 20cm round tin.
Arrange the sliced apple around the top of the cake
and sprinkle with nutmeg and cinnamon.
Bake in a moderate oven 160°c for about 35-40 minutes
or until a skewer comes out clean.

This Apple Tea Cake is best served with butter and, of course, tea or coffee. One of my mother’s recipes, it is an old family favourite and can be baked as two tea cakes by using smaller cake tins. Alternately, the mixture could be halved for a small afternoon tea cake.

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Goodaywang Wharf Reserve

Goodaywang Wharf at Point Clare in New South Wales was built in 1841 from sandstone blocks obtained from the local area.
The above information – on a plaque erected near the site of the wharf – shows the original homestead (now delineated by a few stone markers on the site), the fence used to direct livestock onto waiting vessels, the swimming pool and the Goodaywang Wharf (with a small waiting shed) in the background.
In later years a stone swimming pool was erected on the site but it has now been dismantled.
The Marine Rescue Central Coast is located in Goodaywang Reserve at the end of Kurrawa Avenue Point Clare, not far from the wharf site.
There is a pleasant picnic area with views of Brisbane Water and a walking track which is also part of the Gosford to Woy Woy bicycle track.

I took the photographs above, to show some views of the reserve.
– A beautiful high tide lapping over sandstone stepping blocks.
– The new stone retaining wall with steps to access the sandy beach.
– One of the picnic tables situated near the walking track, with views over Brisbane Water.

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Design and transformation: Our amazing new verandah

In 2012, when we moved into our new house, the rear garden was accessed by this rather dark patio area. Only suitable for storage – and several steps down from the floor level of our house – we decided a transformation was necessary.

After drawing up plans for a raised verandah with a polycarbonate roof – to let more light into some very dark rooms – we contacted a local builder who began the transformation.
The roof line was pared back and a new gutter was installed to match the existing gutters. Luckily, there was a nicely built block wall which the new deck could butt up against.

The deck height was able to be raised to just below the inside floor level, making it a pleasure to walk outside.
Posts were erected to support the pergola style roof and new hardwood (spotted gum) timber decking was installed.

The finished verandah makes an enjoyable extension to our home and has brought much needed light into the rooms at the rear of our house, as well as connecting us to the garden.

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Watercolour flowers

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Using small brushes for fine detail, these watercolour paintings were intended for use in greeting cards.
The ‘View from the window’ was painted in four sections, to suit a shaped card.
The ‘White flower’ was painted using washes, leaving a section of unpainted paper to highlight the flower.

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Strickland state forest NSW

Fire-pit at Banksia picnic area
A covered table at Banksia picnic area
Views from the Strickland Falls track
A mossy creek on the Strickland Falls track

Strickland State Forest is a 10 minute drive from Gosford on the Central Coast of New South Wales. It has extensive walking tracks through varying forest types – past waterfalls, under cabbage tree palms and along creeks.
There are excellent facilities at Banksia Picnic Area, including picnic tables and wood burning pit-fires. A short walk from the picnic area is a large rock platform with views to Gosford and Brisbane Waters. This area is also the starting point for some of the walking tracks, which were built and are maintained by the Friends of Strickland (a volunteer group).
Gymea lilies, waratahs, rock orchids, ferns, banksias, and cabbage tree palms – as well as creeks, waterfalls and rainforests – can all be viewed along the walking tracks.
Our family have been gathering at the Banksia picnic area for more than 30 years, to celebrate special occasions, or just because we want to have a family get-together, light the fire, have a barbecue and go for a walk.

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Blue Ginger

The beautiful blue ginger (Dichorisandra thyrsiflora) – while not belonging to the ginger family – has ginger-like, arching stems and vibrant, purple/blue flowers in autumn.
Planted in a shady position in our garden, the blue ginger makes a vibrant statement in early autumn. The long striped stems are very decorative and the new flower buds – with their spiky green tips – give a first glimpse of the beautiful blue flowers.
Growing near a native ginger and a cordyline, the blue ginger blends in well and looks very spectacular when flowering.

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The Tree House

The tree house in our garden is partly hidden behind a group of cardamon plants.  Surrounded by lilly pilly trees, a magnolia, a cheese tree and a bird of paradise plant, this play area for our grandchildren is well camouflaged.
A favourite game is to set up a cafe in the tree house and write a menu on the blackboard. Pretend meals of flowers, leaves, herbs and gum nuts are among the ‘tastyofferings served in the cafe.

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