Wednesday 22 August 2012

A - Z of Australia - M is for Mandurah

Mandurah - originally named Mandjar (meeting place) by the Noongar people who inhabited the South west of WA, was changed by the Europeans to Mandurah possibly due to mispronunciation.

Once a sleepy fishing and crabbing village, located about 70km south of Perth, Mandurah has grown to become one of the top tourist destinations in WA, with first class accommodation, an arts centre and cinema complex, good beaches and the attractive suburbs with million dollar houses built around the man made canals, that crown Mandurah as the area with the most expensive real estate in the Perth regional area.
A boat seems to be an almost compulsory attachment to the mansion
There are still some blocks of land available...just bring your boat!
Apart from a tourist destination, it is also the gateway to the Southwest region of WA, as well as being  a retiree paradise for Perth retirees, due to the good road and train connections into the city, since the opening of the Perth to Mandurah railway line in December 2007.

The centre of Mandurah is built around the Peel inlet and Harvey Estuary which is twice the size of Sydney harbour. This freshwater system feeds into the Indian Ocean, and this area is a haven for pelicans, dolphins, whales and the Blue Manna crabs that have it´s own festival -  Crabfest - held yearly in March.
There are numerous boat tours around the canals, where you might be lucky and spot a couple of dolphins. In December the must see is a Christmas lights boat cruise, when all those fancy houses put on a light show.
If you travel by car, there is plenty of free parking in the city centre and surrounds, which I find is a huge bonus for the day visitor, so don´t miss a chance to visit this iconic destination.
One of the parks on the way to Dolphi Quay shopping centre
Pedestrian bridge to the Dolphin Quay shopping and Marina
Dolphin Quay Shopping centre and Marina

Enjoy some lovely crisp fish and chips by the waterfront (or wedges as I ordered, above) 

The birds were out and about on the Flame trees

Little Venice - the canals around the blocks of apartments near the town centre
Mandurah War Memorial

Another view of some houses by the canals
Aerial view with Marina on left side, Little Venice across through the bridge and on the other side (top) view of houses by the canals.

Monday 13 August 2012

A - Z of Australia - L is for London Court

One of the most visited buildings in the inner city of Perth would be "London Court" - a small shopping mall that reminds you of Old England. London Court attracts local and international visitors with its old world atmosphere and unique architectural style, in contrast to the sky scrapers that surround it.

London Court entrance in St.George´s Terrace
This wonderful building was built in 1937 in the Tudor style, for a wealthy miner and financier - Claude de Bernales, as a combination of commercial and residential property.
In 1978, the National Trust of Australia listed the building as heritage, making it impossible to change the facade and main structure of this beautiful court.

Inside the mall, the Tudor style extends to the tiled floor, narrow stairs to the upper shops and workshops, cute little lead windows, gargoyles, window boxes with flowers, shop plaques, flying banners and two knights in their armour, making a visit to this building a very special shopping experience.
There are lots of mini shops such as jewellery stores, shoe shops, souvenir and antique shops, gourmet chocolates and cafes. Even if you don´t shop here, you can wander through the open roofed arcade to admire the architecture and maybe sit down for a coffee and a pastry while you watch the crowds walk by. Several staircases lead you to the second and third floors and you are then able to admire London Court through the arched iron openings and feel yourself transported to an old era.

London Court´s retail mall links Hay street to St.George´s Terrace.
London Court in "red" on this map of Perth´s CBD
At the Hay street entrance to the mall, the clock - a replica of the "great clock" at Rouen in France,  chimes every 15 minutes. Above the clock, four knights knows as "Tournament of armoured knights" circle in the window when the clock chimes.
Hay street mall entrance to London Court
At the St.George´s terrace entrance, there is another clock, this time a replica of "Big Ben". Above this clock in a window is a miniature of St.George battling with the dragon. (1st photo)

Inside the mall - small shops with awnings and window boxes with flowers . Note the ornamental rubbish bins at left.

As you can see from the city centre map, between Hay street and Murray street, both closed to traffic, there are lots of little malls linking the two streets, but London Court is certainly the most emblematic and interesting to visit.

Sunday 5 August 2012

Tutorial - Box with crackle varnish and decoupage

When I met up with Carole from the lovely blog Piglet in Portugal, in June, while I was in the Algarve, I gave her the prize she had won for commenting on my 100th post competition.  
As my suitcase was already overloaded at my departure to Europe, I decided I would buy the box and painting materials in France, it would be easier, and I wouldn't run the risk of crushing the box either.
(Carole wrote about our meeting in this post and I wrote about it in this post.)

Originally I had planned to paint the box in pink and put some "piglets" made out of clay on the lid.
I went into a crafts shop in Martigues, where my daughter lives, but probably because I couldn't explain my idea in French, and my daughter wasn't available to go with me during the week... I was unable to buy the clay.
But I liked some of the painted boxes they had on display, and with a bit of "Franglish" I conveyed my wishes to buy the materials to paint something similar. 

Materials used:
Papermache Box, 1 soft brush, Primer, 2 contrasting acrylic colours, crackle varnish, Mod Podge, 1 sheet of silk paper or 1 serviette with desired design, bottle of "paillettes" (sequins) in glue and spatula to apply it.

1 - Because it´s a Papermache box, it has to be primed first, inside and out, otherwise it will absorb too much paint, and will need a few coats to cover it well.
If using a wooden box, first sand it with fine sandpaper, wipe clean and apply a primer.

Waiting for the crackle varnish to dry...
2 - Apply your first colour and let dry. You can paint first the dark colour and then light on top or the the other way around. I used both versions in my box, as I wanted the lid and the body of the box to be different colours.
3 - Apply the crackle varnish generously without going over the same spot twice and let dry.

4 - When dry, apply the second contrasting colour generously, also without going over the same spot twice. You will notice the cracks starting to appear. Let the paint dry well.
After applying the second colour, the cracks start to appear

5 - I chose to leave two of the corners without the Crackle varnish, as I wanted to glue some silk paper in those areas for added interest. The paper was cut to size and glued with Mod Podge. The inside of the box was also painted. To finish the box, the edges between the paper and the paint were sealed with a product that had gold "paillettes" - sequins in glue.
The whole box was then painted over with mod podge to act as a glossy sealer. You can use a gloss varnish if you wish.
The sequins in the glue paste, will then become transparent when dry

One side of the box
the other side of the box
The lid - P for Piglet
Details of the crackle and the lid with the gold "paillettes"
 Hope you enjoyed my tutorial and are inspired to do something similar. It´s easy, entertaining and relaxing too.