We hadn’t been on a day trip or out of the house really for a while so last Saturday we decided to head up to Marysville. It was a lovely Spring day which made things very pleasant. We left the house at 8.40am (made easy because Oscar was spending the day with the grandparents) and arrived at about 10.20am, taking the nice drive through the Yarra Ranges National Park. We didn’t really plan out the day, just knowing that there were some waterfalls to see, and there are always some shops in town.
We were too early for lunch so we headed straight for Steavensons Falls, just a short drive out of town. There is car parking near the falls as well, where $3 will get you about an hour and a half of parking which is about right to take a bunch of pictures from a few different angles, or just walking along a short trail or two. Silly me, I’ve been so obsessed with taking multi-exposure photos everywhere that I tried the same thing here hoping for the running water effect; but here, just added the blurry tree effect :(.
This is definitely a place you want to visit during the golden hour, it wasn’t too busy as I was able to mount my tripod and take plenty of pictures, although the grating underfoot didn’t make it particularly easy to get stabilised.
After that we went back to town for lunch, and decided on the Duck Inn, which is the town pub. I went with the parma, and Emmy had the Spaghetti Puttanesca (mistake), when eating at a standard pub, you just have to stick with standard pub fare, burger, fish and chips, etc. The parma was good, nothing special, but no complaints either, the spaghetti had a sweetness to it that was a bit strange considering all of the ingredients were salty haha. I had pictures but Emmy’s phone has died so we’ve lost pretty much all the pictures on her phone for the year :(.
After lunch we wandered around town and visited the shops, there isn’t that much to see but worth a little look nonetheless. Perhaps the population is too small to support the type of shops that abound in the Dandenongs.
From there we needed some culture and headed for Bruno’s Art and Sculpture Garden just a short drive from the centre of town. This place was burnt to the ground in the Black Saturday fires of 2009 but they seem to have made a pretty good recovery as the garden is big and full of sculptures big and small.
The artists/proprietors are very friendly and prolific as the place is full of art works, they’re also very multi-talented as the art work is not just sculptures and paintings but music as well. We spent about an hour and a half there and picked up a couple of CDs as well, definitely well worth a visit.
It was about 2.30pm and almost time to head home but I wanted to see the Taggerty River Cascades which happen to be one of the attractions along Lady Talbot Drive. Phantom Falls, Keppel Falls, and the Beech Forest are also along this route which makes it quite convenient to see many sights. Unfortunately though, the road is currently closed after the Picnic Grounds due to tree hazards (dead trees from the bushfire falling). So that was a bit disappointing, but leaves us something to come back for, maybe we can stay a night to see everything in the best light. Until next time.
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The first part of Emmy’s birthday series involved a pottery class with Shigeru sensei (40 years of pottery making experience!), Emmy found this one herself as she wanted to try something really authentic for her birthday, and of course I wasn’t going to miss out. This was a very personal experience as it was a private class with just Shigeru sensei and the two of us. Located near Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, his studio is in some back street that may as well have been underground, there’s no way we would’ve found it based on the address alone, so it’s a good thing he came out to the entrance of the shrine to lead us to the studio. The shrine itself was quite nice and had quite a number of trees showing there Autumn colours, I didn’t get any pictures as we were on the clock a bit and I didn’t want to hold us up.
It was quite good because Shigeru sensei gave us a little bit of a guided tour through the shrine grounds and explained the correct way to pray/wish and what most people go to the shrine for (academic success FTW!) before leading us through a bit of a maze of small streets to his studio.
He has a little presentation room at the front of the studio and lead us to the back where the magic happens. First we had some theory about the different techniques used in moulding and shaping the clay before we jumped in and started wedging. I wasn’t very good so spiral wedging ended up just squishing the same part over and over, but Emmy’s was better and she got some spiral pattern going on her clay. Once our clay had been wedged appropriately we took a morning tea break and enjoyed some yummy mochi and green tea, all served on some of Shigeru sensei’s custom creations I’m sure. Actually, the mochi was really, really nice, soft and sweet, but not too sweet (and its green colouring was actually from some kind of grass which apparently random old people pull out in random areas around the city). And the tea was a blended green tea with rice.
After that sweet break it was back to the grind, and Shigeru sensei explained the differences between the Japanese pottery wheel and the western pottery wheel before showing us what we needed to do to turn our blobs of clay into works of art.
He makes it looks so easy and explains it in words but also helps guide you as the clay spins around, ever the novice my clay didn’t “die” properly and tried to leap off the wheel before Shigeru sensei captured it and we had another go at killing it and moulding some dtraCorp special art.
Eventually, I (with a very large amount of help) had completed my three pieces, a tea bowl, a bowl for all seasons, and a sake cup, and it was Emmy’s turn to turn some dirt into a work of art. Either Emmy is a natural, or listens and follows instructions very well, or I’m just a complete tragic, because she seemed to have a lot more control of the clay than I did. She was going so well that Shigeru sensei decided to show her a technique of trimming some clay off the top, this didn’t go so well and we lost quite a bit of clay in the process :D. Never fear though, we moved on and completed three more pieces although a disappointed Emmy worked her last item a bit too much and it ended up being a bowl instead of a cup.
So we ended up with six items ready to be baked and glazed as Shigeru sensei sees fit, all going well in a couple months they’ll all arrive (we have to pay for shipping on top of the class fee) looking completely different from how we left them :D. If not all, we should get at least three or four of them and the others will be left to return to the Earth from where they came (or back into the clay pile for future students!).
Shigeru sensei was kind enough to walk us back to the bus stop and lend us an umbrella (as we’d neglected to take one out) so that we could head to Nishiki market for some afternoon snacking. This was a great experience and I would think that we’ll definitely do it again next time we are in Kyoto, it’s not only fun and informative, but you get something out of it (as in some artisan pottery) at the end as well. Two thumbs up, definite recommendation!
P.S. Off topic, but I should mention it, don’t let the gritty nature of Shigeru sensei’s studio workshop fool you, his rest room is in full working order and provides all of the Japanese comforts required for peaceful Zen time in the loo.
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