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Articles on this Page
- 07/20/15--20:46: _Wendy Whiteley and ...
- 07/22/15--22:28: _Maryanne Shearer
- 07/22/15--22:46: _T2: The Book
- 07/22/15--22:55: _T2 world
- 07/22/15--23:01: _Choc chip chai date...
- 07/22/15--23:08: _New York breakfast ...
- 07/22/15--23:38: _Guillaume: Food for...
- 08/04/15--21:24: _Boat
- 08/04/15--21:34: _Taroona
- 08/04/15--21:54: _Nerida
- 08/04/15--22:13: _Fleetwood
- 10/12/15--21:52: _Tempura prawns with...
- 10/12/15--21:57: _Wagyu flank with ch...
- 10/12/15--22:13: _Introduction
- 10/12/15--23:17: _Wendy's Gift
- 10/12/15--23:21: _Secret Garden entrance
- 10/13/15--19:47: _Kara Rosenlund
- 10/13/15--20:13: _Wendy makes a start
- 10/13/15--21:58: _Shelter: How Austra...
- 10/13/15--22:24: _Luke Sciberras
- 07/20/15--20:46: Wendy Whiteley and the Secret Garden
- 07/22/15--22:28: Maryanne Shearer
- 07/22/15--22:46: T2: The Book
- 07/22/15--22:55: T2 world
- 07/22/15--23:01: Choc chip chai date loaf
- Preheat the oven to 170°C. Lightly grease a 23 x 12 cm loaf tin and line with baking paper.
- Add the chai mix to the boiling water and set aside for 3 minutes. Strain the liquid, discarding the chai mix. Combine the brewed chai, dates and bicarbonate of soda in a small heatproof bowl and set aside for 10 minutes. Transfer to a small food processor or use a stick mixer to blend until smooth.
- Put the brown sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, orange zest and cinnamon into a bowl and use an electric mixer to beat until smooth and combined.
- Sift the flour over the butter mixture and mix until combined. Mix in the date mixture. Spoon into the prepared tin and bake for 40–50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes to cool slightly before turning out onto a wire rack.
- Serve warm or at room temperature, dusted with icing sugar.
- 07/22/15--23:08: New York breakfast sticky date pudding
- Preheat oven to 180°C and lightly grease 8 holes of a regular muffin tin.
- Brew the tea in the boiling water for 3 minutes, then discard the leaves. Combine the tea with the dates and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor, add the butter and sugar and mix until well combined.
- Add the eggs and flour and process until just combined. Pour the batter into the greased muffin holes and bake for 30–35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to individual serving plates.
- Meanwhile, to make the toffee sauce, place the butter, cream and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the butter has melted. Bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes or until thickened slightly. Spoon over the puddings and serve with thick cream.
- 07/22/15--23:38: Guillaume: Food for Family
- 08/04/15--21:24: Boat
- 08/04/15--21:34: Taroona
- 08/04/15--21:54: Nerida
- 08/04/15--22:13: Fleetwood
- 10/12/15--21:52: Tempura prawns with soy mayonnaise and yuzu flakes
- To make the batter, combine the Trisol, flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and slowly whisk in 100 ml of water. Cover with plastic film and leave it to rest for at least 2 hours.
- For the soy mayonnaise, whisk together the soy and mayonnaise and set aside in the fridge.
- Pour the vegetable or canola oil into a deep-fryer or deep saucepan until two-thirds full and bring it to 175°C.
- Dip the prawns into the batter, leaving the tail exposed, and allow the excess batter to drip off. Carefully lower the prawns into the oil and fry for 3 minutes or until golden brown, gently tossing them around to ensure they colour evenly. Remove the prawns from the oil and drain on paper towel.
- Sprinkle the prawns with salt and yuzu flakes. Serve with the soy mayonnaise.
- 10/12/15--21:57: Wagyu flank with chimichurri
- For the chimichurri, preheat the oven to 180°C. Roast the capsicum according to the method on page 44, then peel and discard the seeds. If you are using the jalapeño, roast it for about 20 minutes until nicely browned, then transfer it to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic film. Leave to stand for 20 minutes, then peel the skin and discard the seeds.
- Finely dice the roasted capsicum and jalapeño. Place in a bowl with the diced garlic, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika and ground coriander. Mix well, then stir in the vinegar and olive oil. Add the chopped coriander and parsley, and combine.
- Remove the flank from the fridge and bring up to room temperature.
- Preheat the barbecue to medium–high. Season the wagyu with salt and pepper. Place on the barbecue and seal for 4 minutes on one side, then turn the beef on an angle (to achieve a criss-cross pattern) and leave for 4 minutes. Flip the beef over and seal other side for 4 minutes and then turn again to criss-cross and leave for another 4 minutes. Remove and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
- Cut the steak into 1 cm thick slices on an angle, spoon over the chimichurri and serve.
- 10/12/15--22:13: Introduction
- 10/12/15--23:17: Wendy's Gift
- 10/12/15--23:21: Secret Garden entrance
- 10/13/15--19:47: Kara Rosenlund
- 10/13/15--20:13: Wendy makes a start
- 10/13/15--21:58: Shelter: How Australians Live
- 10/13/15--22:24: Luke Sciberras
For more than twenty years Wendy Whiteley has worked to create a public garden at the foot of her harbourside home in Sydney's Lavender Bay. This is the extraordinary story of how a determined, passionate and deeply creative woman has slowly transformed an overgrown wasteland into a beautiful sanctuary for everyone to enjoy - and in the process, transformed herself.
Wendy Whiteley was Brett Whiteley's wife, muse and model. An artist herself, with a finely honed aesthetic sense, she also created the interiors at the heart of Brett's iconic paintings of their Lavender Bay home. When Brett died, followed by the death nine years later of their daughter Arkie, Wendy threw her grief and creativity into making an enchanting hidden oasis out of derelict land owned by the New South Wales Government. This glorious guerrilla garden is Wendy's living artwork, designed with daubs of colour, sinuous shapes and shafts of light.
This is Wendy's story but it's also the story of the countless people who cherish the Secret Garden.
'I've loved making this garden. It's been a great gift to my life. It let me find myself again, and it's my gift to share with the public.' Wendy Whiteley
Photography by Jason Busch
With a background in fashion retail and merchandising, Maryanne Shearer and her business partner, Jan O'Connor, opened their first T2 store in the heart of Melbourne, Fitzroy's Brunswick Street, in 1996. It was a retail concept like no other - T2 based the entire retail experience on how they wanted the customers to feel, see, smell and taste. The business took off and in 2012 Maryanne was awarded Veuve Clicquot's Australian Business Woman of the Year. T2 continues to grow nationally and internationally and employs over 700 people. In 2013 T2 was sold to Unilever but Maryanne remains as Creative Director and is passionate about global expansion of the brand.
T2 Creative Director Maryanne Shearer brings you T2's playful and hip take on tea from leaf to cup: how to pick, process, brew, drink and share it. Maryanne tells her story of how T2 began and the secrets of its success through the sensory theatre of the stores, the colourful tea paraphernalia, Maryanne's penchant for black and her desire to encourage tea drinkers to take risks and try new flavours. Fascinating facts about the history of tea, how tea it is grown, picked and processed and the many different varieties are presented with vibrant and stylish imagery that is distinctively T2. There's info on how to make the perfect cuppa, when to add milk and sugar and the bag versus loose leaf debate. Tea ceremonies from around the world are explored as well as the health benefits of tea and recipes for delicious tea-infused dishes.
We love to create brews that take you on a journey, so we travel the planet to source tea from many different places. Our view of the world is tea-skewed, and looks something like this . . . it’s all about tea!
By Kate Lles
Serve hot from the oven (we love it smothered with butter!), for an afternoon treat like no other. Add ½ cup (95 g) choc chips to the batter if you’re feeling naughty. You can use regular Chai mix if you prefer, and you can change the orange zest to lemon zest.
4 scoops Choc Chip Chai mix
1 cup (250 ml) boiling water
2 cups (280 g) pitted dried dates, chopped
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
¾ cup (165 g) brown sugar
150 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1¼ cups (185 g) self-raising flour
sifted icing sugar, for garnish
By Steven Nash
Dessert for breakfast in New York or New York Breakfast in a dessert? We’ll take both, please!
1 tablespoon New York Breakfast tea leaves
1 cup (250 ml) boiling water
1½ cups (210 g) chopped pitted dates
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
100 g butter, chopped
¾ cup (165 g) brown sugar
1 cup (150 g) self-raising flour
thick cream, to serve
150 g butter, chopped
1 cup (250 ml) pouring cream
1½ cups (330 g) brown sugar
In Food for Family, celebrated French–Australian chef Guillaume Brahimi visits some of Australia's most charming and stylish homes, creating delicious menus inspired by the people and place, and discovering what makes a house a home.
Join Guillaume as he prepares a laidback lunch for restaurateur Justin Hemmes at his harbourside home, cooks up a Greek feast at the heritage cottage of The Apprentice's Mark Bouris, and serves a hearty winter luncheon hosted by actor Cate Blanchett in an iconic country woolshed.
Guillaume then shares his own family's favourite recipes, relaxed, easy meals designed to satisfy a household of hungry children (and a busy French chef), including Crispy potato cakes with speck, garlic and thyme. Chicken risotto with peas and lemon, and Pineapple crumble.
This is big-hearted, full-flavoured food, perfect for sharing with those you love.
Royalties from the book will support the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
Photography by Anson Smart and Earl Carter
The Boat — a vessel for escape, adventure, trade and travel. This mode of transport is one of infinite variety and inspires serious passion, whether made of workmanlike bolted steel, sleek modern fibreglass or lovingly hand-burnished timber.
Photographer Simon Griffiths has paced docksides and jetties all over Australia to bring us this stunning salute to the character and craftsmanship of all sorts of boats and boatbuilders — from old whaling boats to elegant yachts, from fishing dinghies to paddle steamers, rowboats and ferries.
Photography by Simon Griffiths
This St Ayles Skiff was built by the Taroona Community Association as a community development project funded by the Kingborough Council to encourage rowing along the beautiful coastline south of Hobart, Tasmania.
The first St Ayles Skiff was commissioned in 2009 by the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Fife and was designed by Iain Oughtred, an expert in historic boats. His brief was to design a fast, attractive and safe skiff that was easy and relatively cheap to build and could be rowed by the people who built it. He designed a 22-foot clinker plywood rowing skiff for four rowers and a cox. The boat comes as a kit, with pre-milled plywood planks and components, and requires about 500 hours’ labour.
The St Ayles Skiff has been a successful community project in over 100 coastal communities in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Nerida is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful and celebrated yachts on Sydney Harbour. She was built for Tom Hardy, father of her current owner, Sir James Hardy, to a design by Messrs A. Mylne and Co. in Glasgow. She launched in 1933.
Tom Hardy was tragically killed in an air crash in 1938 and Nerida left the family for a period of time. She was refitted into a yawl and her tiller was replaced by a wheel. She won the 1950 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race with this configuration.
Thomas Hardy & Sons purchased her in 1971 and Sir James had her restored to her original configuration, with tiller. In 2007, during a severe storm, a yacht moored near Nerida broke loose and hit her, leaving a gaping hole. In a second storm one week later, she slowly sank. Sir James was devastated.
The Nerida was raised and once again restored to her former glory. The only change to her original design was the addition of electric winch-halyards for the main sail, making her easier to operate. Sir James’ son David Hardy continues the family tradition by sailing Nerida.
There is something really pleasing about the mirror-finish varnish and the detailing on a beautiful Chris Craft speedboat; it’s the type of boat you expect to see a Hollywood star travelling in, and indeed Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and JFK all owned boats made by this prestigious American company. The Chris Craft is considered by many to be the quintessential American 1950s runabout.
Fleetwood,a classic 18-foot replica of an 1950 Chris Craft Riviera, was built by Gordon Scrim in Tasmania. Riviera was Chris Craft’s most popular design. It took Gordon three years to build Fleetwood, with her beautiful detail and finish, using a balsa core with ply and glass and finishing her with Philippine mahogany topsides and deck.
It is obvious how much care Gordon lavishes on his pride and joy; from her crisp, red upholstery to her wooden wheel and the red Chris Craft logo flag that flutters on her bow, she’s a real star.
Yuzu flakes, made from the Japanese yuzu fruit, bring a splash of citrus to this dish. They’re available at Japanese supermarkets, but you can always use lemon or lime juice instead.
vegetable oil or canola oil, for deep-frying
16 large green (raw) prawns, peeled and deveined, tails intact
yuzu flakes, for sprinkling
60 g Trisol
65 g plain flour
small pinch of yeast
pinch of salt
pinch of sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
¼ cup (75 g) mayonnaise
This wagyu flank cooked beautifully on the Argentinian-style barbecue at Gillon’s home. I have since been fortunate enough to receive my own version of this parilla from Gillon. It makes my regular everyday barbie seem very boring! You can replace the wagyu flank with sirloin or rib eye if you like.
3 kg wagyu flank
sea salt and cracked black pepper
1 red capsicum (pepper)
1 jalapeño pepper (optional)
½ clove garlic, finely diced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
¼ cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
2 bunches coriander, leaves finely chopped
2 bunches flat-leaf parsley, leaves finely chopped
Delighted with the response to our first book, Food for Friends, my wife, Sanchia, and I relished the opportunity to write a follow-up. In Food for Family we again feature different chapter hosts, a diverse group of interesting and dynamic Australians who are all devoted to their families. Each of the hosts devises a dream menu and my job is then to make that dream an appetising reality!
Justin Hemmes opens the doors to his home, The Hermitage. With uninterrupted views of Sydney Harbour, we idle the afternoon away with Justin, his beloved mother, Merivale, and sister, Bettina, as well as a close-knit bunch of friends. We eat buffet style, enjoying mud crab, split prawns with romesco sauce, and roast chicken with truffle, finishing with a decadent raspberry and pistachio trifle.
A seasoned entertainer and matriarch to a large and loving family, Toni Ryan’s Easter luncheon features recipes that are close to perfect. It’s a great thrill to get into the kitchen with her and prepare a lunch for a small army of guests i.e. the Ryan clan. We enjoy lobster and leek terrine, glazed ham, roast turkey (with Toni’s mother’s secret stuffing) and, as there are lots of children on board, two desserts: frozen lemon nougat and an apple tart tatin.
Mollymook is Kellie Hush’s space to unwind and reboot with her family and friends. Kellie organises a très chic picnic for the little ones, while I prepare a leisurely seafood lunch for the parents. The day comes to a fun-filled end in the garden with a plate of cheese, a little more burgundy and game of bocce.
Cate Blanchett is someone who wears many hats: award-winning actress, philanthropist, environmentalist and of course devoted mother. But talking to Cate you forget all the accolades and just enjoy the company of a woman who is funny, candid and refreshingly real. Andrew and Cate host a lunch in a woolshed property for good friends and family. Over duck ragout with green olives and coriander, Cate reveals that Andrew is in actual fact a wonderful cook. She also tells me the family have a weakness for sticky date pudding and brussels sprouts!
A charming heritage cottage in Watson’s Bay is home to Mark Bouris and his family. Overlooking Camp Cove, it is a tropical paradise that loses none of its sparkle even in the winter months. Mark’s four sons and father, George, come together for a Mediterranean feast al fresco. The day involves much ribbing, hugging and laughter, not to mention impromptu Greek dancing.
Gillon McLachlan’s schedule as CEO of AFL is fast-paced, so making time for family and good friends is paramount. Gillon and I enjoy preparing an Argentinian-inspired barbecue. (As his wife, Laura, says, if Gillon is cooking, it usually involves ‘meat and fire’.) I serve kingfish ceviche with lime, coriander and chilli and a plate of pork, spinach and manchego empanadas to begin, followed by beef short ribs served with an irresistible barbecue sauce.
According to Marco Meneguzzi, he’d quite happily spend every weekend at his bolthole in Bowral, and after spending a riotous afternoon with Marco’s good friends, I understand why. We spice things up with a Marrakesh moment in the Southern Highlands. The aromas of herbs and spices entice everyone into the kitchen, where plates soon become laden with meatballs, lamb tagine and fresh peas with feta and mint.
On New Year’s Eve 2013, I delivered my very last service at Guillaume at Bennelong. As they say when one door closes, another opens . . . and for me this was true. Chapter 1 features the very first time we opened the doors of Guillaume’s. As royalties from this book will support the National Breast Cancer Foundation, we asked our good friend and NBCF patron Sarah Murdoch to help us host a pink-hued luncheon. As guests assembled for a glass of champagne and crab sandwich, you could still smell the fresh paint lingering in the air. It was a day that will forever be etched in my mind.
Our Brahimi family life has changed too, most specially with the addition of a new member, Loïc. The girls often say they can barely remember life without him, a sentiment I share. Balancing the demands of a busy family life, with an intense restaurant schedule, can create its own set of unique challenges. Also at chez Brahimi it feels like we cater for completely different age brackets (think toddler and teenager) – so suddenly the set menu is becoming à la carte! Hopefully some of the recipes in our family chapter will help simplify your Monday to Friday madness too . . . and make downtime on the weekends exactly that. So with a little help, you too can enjoy good food and spend more time with the people who count most – votre famille.
Sometimes the story of a garden is also the story of a life, and so it is with Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden.
The tiny secret garden that seven-year-old Wendy burrowed inside a bamboo thicket in her backyard to nurture her childhood imagination has now come full circle, and evolved into the huge Lavender Bay Secret Garden she’s been creating since 1992.
Wendy’s Secret Garden carries an inspiring metaphor, as it’s brought about a double regeneration. It’s seen the regeneration of Wendy Whiteley from a grief-ravaged shell into a calmer, fuller person with a kinder wisdom and a more encompassing sense of happiness and fulfilment. And it has delivered the magical regeneration of a once-ravaged site in Lavender Bay, transforming it into a unique tranquil haven that members of the public now cherish.
‘Good on you, State Railways, for keeping this land vacant for so long, giving me the chance to fix it up,’ Wendy says, her face spreading into a smile as she stands in front of her huge guerrilla garden. ‘And good on you State Railways again, if you very kindly hand over to North Sydney Council this vacant land that you’ve never used since 1890, so it can become a permanent public park.’
Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden at Lavender Bay is now a well-established, sought-out Sydney landmark with an international reputation.
While the Secret Garden is absolutely Wendy Whiteley’s oeuvre, Brett Whiteley’s spirit is also forever there: in every glistening Moreton Bay fig leaf, languid palm tree, fragrant frangipani and seductive harbour glimpse.
‘Brett’s here, and Arkie’s here with me in the garden,’ Wendy says lovingly. ‘I have happy thoughts about them both and feel very close to them. They both stay forever young and beautiful in my mind, whilst I grow older and older and my limbs begin to creak.’
Brett was entranced by the ultramarine vision and tranquillity of Lavender Bay, the curvilinear harmony of the water’s edge, the Bridge and Opera House, the boats with their trails of wash and circling birdlife.
In one of his artist’s notebooks, Brett wrote, ‘Two-thirds of Braque’s work is tabletops, there’s Morandi’s bottles, Lloyd Rees’s hills … My repeating theme – a subject I will always go back to until I die – Lavender Bay.’
Brett’s lyrical paintings of Sydney Harbour and Lavender Bay have become classic national icons, representing Australia’s beloved harbour and sensual, summery identity.
The linkage of Brett and Wendy Whiteley’s creative oeuvres – Brett’s paintings and Wendy’s Secret Garden – now offers a vast, glorious Whiteley artwork for public enjoyment. This Lavender Bay ensemble of both Brett and Wendy’s work into one huge Australian cultural icon seems as though it was destined to be.
Wendy reflects, ‘I doubt I could have made this garden if Brett was still alive and we’d stayed together. We were both so busy living life, and Brett’s art and everything associated with it took up most of our time. I believed in his art so strongly that it truly did absorb most of both our lives.’
A myriad of different personal reasons draws visitors to the Secret Garden. Wendy observes, ‘I see it in many people – that they are responding to something other than the actual garden – they’re responding more to something inside themselves that the garden evokes.
‘Perhaps it’s knowing that it began as a garden associated with private grieving. But it’s not an elegiac garden; it’s gone far beyond this and grown into a life-affirming gift garden for everyone to share.
‘And it’s a garden made by one woman; not by a committee or a council, or a professional landscape designer for a client. It’s made by one obsessive woman, approaching it like a painting. But you can’t control a garden the way you can control a painting; the garden is alive and always changing itself with a force of its own. And you can’t control the weather, which might sabotage your vision or help it along.’
Often, I hear people express how they love being alone in a garden, listening to their own drifting thoughts. One strong appeal of Wendy’s garden lies in the way it allows this, by offering private recesses like tiny leafy chapels. Places to tuck yourself away, enjoy the calm solitude and rebalance your day, places to reflect on simple truths or contemplate profound thoughts. Perhaps to experience one of those small epiphanies that bring meaning to our lives.
‘I constantly see people walking into the garden, looking stressed and wary about the state of the world or their own lives,’ says Wendy. ‘Then they glimpse something joyous, like new buds bursting on a branch, or a wattle bird probing its slim curved bill inside flowers to sip nectar. Then they decide, well, the world isn’t such a terrible place after all.
‘So the garden is communicating something other than itself. That’s what art is all about, a work of art communicates something other than itself. A painting isn’t finished until it’s viewed; a book isn’t finished until it’s read; a garden isn’t finished until it’s shared.
‘I hope that people who come here find it inspiring, and leave wanting to do something more in their own lives. I know that creating this garden has changed me, and I’m very grateful.’
I’ve heard many international travellers compare Wendy’s Secret Garden with the High Line in New York. Both are immensely successful urban renewal projects dreamed up and forged by inspired amateurs; and therein lies their special appeal. Interestingly, both sites have their genesis in railways.
The High Line is a 2.5 kilometre-long elevated public park, created on a disused freight rail line in Manhattan’s Lower West Side. It was due to be demolished, when artist Robert Hammond and travel writer Joshua David, who lived in the neighbourhood, had a crazy dream that it could be saved and revitalised as a public park.
The pair had no experience in urban planning or landscape architecture, but their immense enthusiasm turned the crazy dream into a reality. Hammond maintains that having no professional skills was an advantage. The charm of the High Line comes from the fact that it was started from the bottom up, by amateurs. Later on, New York City became involved. But he says if city authorities had started the project from the top down, the High Line would never have been as innovative and personalised as it now is.
Wendy echoes Hammond’s notion: that if government authorities had converted the Lavender Bay wasteland into a park, it would have been another sanitised, over-regulated public park, instead of her wonderfully crazy artistic dream.
Wendy’s dilemma today is that the Secret Garden has become so well-known; copious numbers of spellbound Australian and international visitors have posted photographs and comments on internet websites and blogs. So it’s become difficult for Wendy to work in the garden undisturbed and incognito, the way she prefers, in old clothes and with a scarf tied around her head.
When visitors spot Wendy working alone or beside her gardeners and feel the urge to say something, most are charming, respectful, even humble in the way they approach her. I’ve seen numerous people with glowing faces go up to her and simply say, ‘Thank you Wendy, thank you for making the garden. It’s beautiful.’
Wendy periodically tries to stop and chat, but admits, ‘It’s getting harder now with so many people wanting to talk to me. If I stop and talk to them all I’ll never get any work done. Most ask the same questions, expecting me to go over the history of the garden again and again. I’ll be delighted to be able to say – please just go and read the book!
‘I do have a great empathy with the gardening groups who visit. But when they expect me to rattle out botanical names for plants, I’m useless, as I’ve forgotten them or never bothered learning them in the first place. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, because through this garden I’ve met all sorts of people I’d never normally have met, especially people from outside the art world.’
Frequently someone will appear from Wendy’s past, using the garden as a way to reconnect with her. ‘Someone will come up saying, “Do you remember me, we were at primary school together?”
‘Others make a real effort to find me, because they want to tell me something about Brett, or Arkie. Women in particular have told me they’ve endured some terrible tragedy, then found that starting a garden can bring crucial nourishment and purpose into their lives to help them carry on. I’m touched by their stories, and would love to invite them up to the house for a cup of tea and a long chat, but these days I just don’t have time.’
Wendy admits her pleasure when certain people have reconnected with her via the garden. ‘One day I was dead-heading roses, snip, snip, snip with the secateurs, when Robert Graves’ son, Juan, turned up to say hello. It’s over thirty years since I last saw him, as a teenager in Majorca. We soon reminisced about evenings spent together in Deia, when Brett and I went to Majorca in the summers and always visited the wonderful old poet Robert Graves and his family.’
The entrance to the Secret Garden, seen from just in front of the Whiteley house, with Margaret Olley’s beloved antique cupid fountain at the top and the giant Moreton Bay fig on the right. Before 1992, all of this was smothered in impenetrable vines, weeds and dumped rubbish.
Kara Rosenlund is an Australian photographer, stylist, adventurer and travelling vintage wares retailer. She was the youngest person to win the much acclaimed Canon Australian Institute of Professional Photography 'AIPP Photographer of the Year' title, and built a successful freelance career taking photographs for magazines and advertising campaigns. Her work has also been included in many prestigious exhibitions and acquired in permanent collections both locally and abroad, most notably a solo exhibition at the Sydney Opera House. Relocating from Sydney to London in 2007, she pursued her love for interiors through prop styling, sourcing and buying throughout Europe. Returning to Australia in 2010 she created the much loved 'Travelling Wares' caravan pop up – housed in a 1956 caravan called Frankie, touring the nation selling utilitarian vintage pieces for the home. Kara also teaches popular Vignette styling classes at Megan Morton's The School. She was recently named by UK interiors 'bible' Elle Decoration as 'A Modern Day Martha Stewart' and can be found at kararosenlund.com.
‘This is me, right at the beginning, in the mid-nineties, clearing the hill in the rain. I’d keep working unless it was absolutely pouring. I’m pulling out lantana, blackberry and other invasive weeds, reducing the site to a skeleton, section by section. We planted elephants’ ears to stabilise the soil.
‘When I look at this now I remember how exciting it was. It was hard work, but there was a real point to it. We were creating something from nothing. Any transformative work is very satisfying. It is fantastic to be able to look back and see what you’ve done.’
Driving down a dirt track one day photographer, stylist and adventurer Kara Rosenlund came across a beautiful but dilapidated farmhouse. Its lonely, worn loveliness kindled a passion in Kara to photograph and celebrate Australia's authentic, intriguing rural homes and the people who live in them. As she travelled the country, documenting raw and real interiors and landscapes, she found shelter – under the roofs of beach shacks, grand homesteads, sheep stations and shipping containers, and in the welcome of strangers.
Photography by Kara Rosenlund
The closer I got to the old gold rush town in country New South Wales, the more I started to hear the name of artist Luke Sciberras.
Down as far as the Southern Highlands, then back up in Sydney and out to the west, people would say the same thing. ‘Are you going to photograph Luke Sciberras’ house? You would love it,’ then they would pause and smile, ‘He is very charming, he will probably try to seduce you.’
I remember being stopped in my tracks by an article on him in Vogue Living about fourteen years ago. He was wearing a Panama hat and entertaining in his rambling backyard. The scene was intoxicating: a long table, a lunch thrown together, and a small group of artistic types, effortlessly enjoying each other’s company. I had never seen the bush look so stylish and I certainly had never read about a man quite like Luke Sciberras. Whatever I absorbed from those pages stayed with me for years.
I had planned to visit a couple of people in the small village and Luke Sciberras was not on my list. By coincidence, or rather because that’s how things happen in the country, his neighbour insisted I go and knock on his door, so I did. There was no answer. ‘Ah, that’s right,’ he said. ‘I think he’s gone canoeing.’
I checked into the pub, paying $40 a night for a room upstairs with a veranda. It looked just as you would imagine. The local bushies, all wearing well-worn hats as the last rays of light disappeared, had just started singing songs out the front of the old pub when the silhouette of a car with a canoe strapped to the roof slowly pulled up. Well, I reckon I know who this might be. Sure enough, a rugged man in a navy blue jumper appeared.
Inside the pub, I suddenly felt a woollen jumper brushing against my back as someone leaned in close from behind. ‘Whooo are you?’ a voice said, just like when Alice met the caterpillar in Wonderland. Surprised and matching his tone, I replied,‘Whooo are you?’ knowing exactly who it was. With the widest of smiles he said, ‘I’m Luke. What brings you to my town?’ So I told him.
‘Oh, a photographer. You must come to my house then,’ he said jovially. He had the confidence of someone accustomed to getting his own way, so I replied, ‘Actually, I already visited your house this afternoon and you weren’t home, you were out canoeing. Honestly, I’m not sure if I’m going to waste the petrol going back’. This turned out to be the ‘best worst’ thing I could have said, igniting a spark.
The next morning I woke up feeling a bit dusty. I fumbled around in my bag, searching for my car keys and in that moment I felt … wool. I carefully pulled out a navy knitted jumper, handling it as if it were alive. How did I end up with Luke Sciberras’ jumper? And why were my car keys missing? I ran downstairs, where the barmaid was expecting me.
‘Someone didn’t want you to get away,’ she said dryly, sliding my car keys over to me. In that moment I realised that someone must have gone through my bag last night, putting my car keys behind the bar and replacing them with a wool jumper. So, it looked like I would be visiting the home of Luke Sciberras after all.
Later that afternoon as I was dashing out of the pub I heard Luke yell out, ‘Kara. C’mon over here. Where are you off to all sparkly tonight?’ I looked down at my sequinned top, maybe a little out of place for the sleepy town. ‘I’ve been invited for a roast chicken.’
‘Oh, that sounds lovely. With anyone I know?’ he asked playfully. ‘No one you know,’ which was a lie; he knows everyone. ‘You would never guess, I ended up with a navy blue jumper in my bag last night. Know anything about that?’
‘Oh Kara, that’s my jumper, it’s my absolute favourite. I must have lost it last night. I’ve been asking everyone about it,’ he said, waving his hands in the air, gesturing with a smirk to the invisible crowds behind him. ‘You didn’t come to visit me today. I thought you would. When are you coming to photograph my house?’
I looked at him, not wanting to laugh, but it was impossible. ‘In the morning, I’ll be seeing you in the morning, Luke Sciberras.’
The thing about Luke Sciberras is that he gets under your skin in the most endearing, unforgettable way. His manner is charming and seductive – just like his paintings.
When I arrived at Luke’s house the next morning I couldn’t figure out why there was a quince on his bed. I soon discovered that his home is much like him, authentic and spirited, with that bohemian atmosphere I was so taken with all those years ago. Just as I was finishing taking photographs, he called out from his bedroom, ‘Kara, come in here. Do you know what a fresh quince smells like? Maggie Beer told me always to keep a quince in my underwear drawer. Come in here and smell this. It’s from my garden’.
It turns out that what they say about Luke Sciberras is true, every captivating word of it. I had no need to smell the quince. I already knew what a quince smelt like as I had caught its sweet fragrance in his garden, which had caught my eye so many years ago.
batterie de cuisine