Thursday, December 31, 2009

My first trip to OZ - 1999

My very first trip to Australia / OZ / The Land Down Under - 1999.

I traveled with three dear friends: Eileen LaPorte, Sandy Whalen, and Jean Cadmus May. Our month-long trip included eight days in Sydney, a trip up the coast to attend the Basketmakers' Gathering in Lennox Head, and a driving tour of NewZealand.

Sydney was just as special as expected. We were on the move; we traveled by ferry, bus, catamaran, monorail, and taxi to see the sights of this very beautiful city. We went to many museums and art centers, and learned about Australian and aboriginal history.

As we traveled, we did taste tests of 20 different Australian beers. Careful records were kept. Although there was really no clear winner, my personal favorite was Monteith Black.

Our favorite part of the trip was the Basketmakers' Gathering. It happens every two years, in different states of Australia. The basketmakers gather, teach and learn from each other, and share stories and wonderful times. This Gathering was right on the coast. We were made to feel so very welcome. We learned a lot about Australia and Australians, things you just don't learn from a guide book.

One of the very special things that happened was meeting Janet De Boer, director of TAFTA - The Australian Forum for Textile Arts. Here she is, with the four other Americans at the Gathering. (She was born in Loveland, Colorado.) Janet has had a major impact on my life, as well as the lives of many other textile artists in Australia.

Our last stop was New Zealand. We traveled from Auckland in the North Island, to Christchurch in the South Island. It was not nearly enough time.

We did arrive in time to see the front page of the paper -- New Zealand lost to their arch rivals Australia.

Our last stop in Christchurch included visiting the very beautiful Arts Centre. The arts, including textiles, are alive and well.