Sunday, June 12, 2011

Furnishing the Cell Block

The restoration of the heritage cell block in Brooklyn jail, was no mean feat. When the work started, the space consisted of room after room of bare concrete, steel vaulted ceilings, leaky toilets, possums, and all manner of seemingly impossible issues.
The team at Denise O'Regan Design (Sydney stylists) got to work with no fuss. Concrete was sterilized, walls painted, possums relocated into their own little outdoor 'penthouses', and in what seemed only an instant we had ourselves a slightly French Provincial holiday apartment.
Everyone who stays in our little converted jail, comments on the sound sleep they have. The king bedroom above, has virtually no natural light, steel ceiling and double-brick walls. This encourages the most wonderfully long and peaceful sleep. In the hot summer, this room is cool, and in the cold of winter, it is so easily warmed.
Whether it be the cosy lounge, the atrium reading nook, or the little well lit dining room, Cell Block B is a testament to the Sydney team of Denise O'Regan Design who rolled up their sleeves and got on with the job

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I left this massage, with the swagger and confidence of a Yogi

On every account of a Miri Miri massage shared with me immediately after the event, the recipient of said massage appears to speak with their eyes glazed over, their movements elegant and gazelle-like, almost like the rest of the world is simply 'background noise'. 
I have often wondered what on earth happens 
behind the hallowed doors of our local Miri Miri masseuse.

Firstly though, a Miri Miri massage is a sort of heavenly, spiritual, massage performed in the traditional technique of the New Zealand Maori. 
It is deeply linked to Maori culture and custom and is very much a holistic form of massage. Catering to the physical, emotional, spiritual and family needs of the people, it varies from Western massage because of its diverse applications. 

Despite living in the Northern suburbs of Sydney (in fact the tiny hamlet of Brooklyn) we are genuinely delighted to have our own resident expert in Miri Miri. An ex-patriot New Zealander, the skilled and gentle Rawi Pere offers a Miri Miri massage which is as relaxing as it is medicinal. Wondering what all the fuss was about, I scheduled a time with Rawi to give my muscles, soul, brain (and any other baggage) a workout, and she gave a virtuoso performance.

Wow, treat yourself. If you live within cooee of Brooklyn on the Hawkesbury River, then a Miri Miri in the Cellblock of 11 Bridge St - Brooklyn should be on your list.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the amazing carving skills of Rawis' husband Ngawati. How blessed are we? A tiny community, & we have such latent talent amongst us.

I love the symbolic shapes of the Maori culture.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The tenders of Parsley Bay

For those who have not had the pleasure of viewing the variety of assembled tenders, stacked against the weathered rock cliffs of Parsley Bay in Brooklyn, you are seriously missing a visual treat.

If you relish the powerful images created when the detritus of life is cast aside in haste....dropped, ready to be re-gathered when the need arises, Parsley Bay should be on your agenda. The simplicity of life, and the indestructable structure of some of lifes specific necessities, in a tiny but strategic place like Parsley Bay, can be soothing to the eye.

I love the quaint-sounding Parsley Bay. I love the jingle of the yachts as they all sit moored in the bay on a windy day. I love seeing toughened yachties as they row ashore with their familys' in tiny tenders. The whole scene often reminds me of an illustration from the fairytale "Rub a dub dub - Three men in a tub" as they bob towards land.

Later, when safely on land, I watch as they drag their little tenders up the tiny sandy strip of beach (using the term loosely) to lean them against the rock, where they will be faithfully waiting for them maybe months later. On the next visit the tender may be boasting new graffiti, new scratches and dents, or could even have become a shelter to a recently homeless person harbouring beneath the rocks, but it will still float, and it will still successfully transport its owners to its 'big sister' waiting offshore.

I have started painting a series of works featuring the Tenders of Parsley Bay. I am hoping the relevant owners will be able to identify my interpretations of their little boats, despite the evolving appearance of these gems of Parsley Bay. Here is an early viewing of my first incomplete & humble painting.

The Cell Toilet is now the Bedroom Chair

When converting our heritage cell block into Cell Block B holiday accommodation in Brooklyn, one of the enigmas was the leaky, stainless steel toilet basin that came as a fixture of the particular cell that was to be the new King bedroom.

Enter Denise O'Regan Design and lo and behold we had ourselves a lovely bedroom chair. The first step was to turn off the water and flush out the toilet before filling it with disinfected sand.The toilet basin was then treated with a sealant and lacquered with several coats of pearlized aqua paint.

The D.O.D.upholsterer then fixed a padded seat and back, with the seat featuring a fabric with a cute metallic aqua logo. The flush button still sits proudly on the wall behind the 'chair', and the handy chair is put to good use by guests.

Our unique bedroom chair still incites giggles from guests, and the refurbish by Denise O'Regan Design has helped maintain the integrity of this significant element of Brooklyns old jail and the authenticity of building as a whole.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The geographic starting point for the best oysters in Sydney

For those of you who are keen to spend your weekends 'hitting the farm gate trail' then you truly cannot pass up this treat whilst in the Hawkesbury area.

If you have not yet experienced the full flavour of Les Wadham oysters, then you have missed out on a treat beyond belief.

Les is an oyster farmer of renown in the Hawkesbury River / Brooklyn region. He has won awards at the Oyster Farmers functions, and to watch Les open an oyster (he shuns the word 'shuck'), is like poetry in motion.

He sells them opened or unopened, from his shed beside the riverbank at Lot 243 Kowan Road. This is just down from the Mooney Mooney Workers Club, and just off the freeway.

Les will hold you enthralled with his passion for oysters, whether they be Broken Bay oysters, or Sydney Rock oysters. Depending on seasons, both are available.

On a weekend, Les Wadham Oysters opens to the public between 8.00am and 4.00pm generally. Weekdays they are available by phoning an order to Les on (02) 9985 9704 or 0410 410 551.

Better still, bring along your own drinks of choice, and perch beside the riverbank to enjoy your oysters on the banks of the gorgeous Hawkesbury River. Les supplies his well loved rustic table and chairs by the waters edge, and all the necessary condiments to enhance your oyster experience. Now doesn't that sound like a great way to wile away a few hours on a weekend with friends and family.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The other Brooklyn (Brooklyn on the Hawkesbury River)

Dotted with marinas, sprinkled with vessels of all shapes and sizes, the Hawkesbury River is home to many small, creative communities. Some of these communities are water access only, some are boat-only residents, some are cave dwellers (I kid you not) and some are land-lubbers who wallow in the tranquility of these beautiful shores. Communities along the river can be accessed via beautiful winding roads distributing off the Pacific Highway north of Sydney.
To access Brooklyn (driving South) one must depart the Pacific Highway just seconds before crossing the stunning, and wide, Hawkesbury River. Cross the bridge by accident and you have a big problem.
This may well be why the little community of Brooklyn, has maintained its level of mystique, and frankly sailed 'under the radar' for so long. This is certainly the way many of its creative and talented residents would like it to stay.
It may also be the reason that the thriving oyster farming community on the river continues to consistently produce award-winning oysters that must be seen to be believed. The waters of the Hawkesbury contain just the right amount of salt for oysters to thrive, and thrive they do. In saying that, so does the fish, which is served so beautifully at the tiny cafes, restaurants and takeaway outlets along the river. Bream, Blackfish, Jewfish, name it. The seafood here is legendary, and the community of Brooklyn gets top marks for understanding how it should be served.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Why not Brooklyn? Why not Dangar Island

This is a foggy view from Brooklyn across to Dangar Island taken last week. For those who are unfamiliar with the area, we have a large residential population on Dangar Island. These are water-access properties. Australias last riverboat postman services the river communities along the Hawkesbury River, and this trip is open to the public.
Many of Australias significant creatives call Dangar Island and Brooklyn home. We have authors, poets, potters, artists, musicians, graphic designers, illustrators, film makers, interior designers, and even a little store called Broken Spines bookshop which recycles wonderful old books. Businesses such as Denise O'Regan Design, The Edge Art Space, Kingtide Restaurant, and River Dreams gifts are all based here.
Pay us a visit some time soon.

Full House in the Cell Block at the moment

Our last guests to check in are refusing to leave. They love Cell Block B and they love Brooklyn. It seems we are indefinitely booked-out.

That does not mean a visit to Brooklyn is not warranted. Far from it, we have a new Thai restauarant, the usual JJ's Seafood kiosk, Kingtide Restaurant at the Marina, Lifeboat Seafood, and the Anglers Rest. All serve fresh seafood harvested from the beautiful Hawkesbury River daily.
In addition we have houseboat hire, the quaint Broken Spines bookshop for recycled books, and the wonderful Edge Art Space at 120 Brooklyn Road. We also have the new Brooklyn Motel.
Our bushwalking tracks are superb, our fishing legendary, we also have Australias last riverboat postman, and of course the regular ferry to Dangar Island and Little Wobby.
We look forward to seeing you soon.