Friday, 9 October 2009

Work and Play at Avoca

When we were last over in Australia, I think maybe it was in 2003 or 2004, Chris and Jane had recently purchased their place at Avoca Beach, an hour or so north of Sydney in the car.

Their house isn't right on the beach, but about a 10 minute walk down a hill. It isn't so much a house but a tri-plex, if there is such a word, with 1 large and 2 smaller 2 bedroom apartments. All have their own living / kitchen areas,
bathrooms of course, and open onto a balcony (two of the 10 squillion).

The larger unit has two sitting areas, one with fireplace

a large kitchen and a laundry area in the bathroom.
I gather that these are second homes for most people in the area. In addition to Chris and Jane going up many long weekends and being joined by friends, it is also used by their 3 kids for various occasions.

It sounds as though the neighbours' houses don't get used nearly so often and so it is relatively quiet, except for the noise of building work. There has been plenty of work going on at their place as well.

Building work -- even noise aside -- is always a major pain; I know, as we are having some done even as I write (more about this later). Chris and sons have done enormous renovations themselves, but Chris had recently had a new driveway put in and he was anxious to go see how it turned out. It's a very steep drive and, before the new surface, very slippery when wet.

I was anxious to see what they'd done with the wall paper in the small flats. It was the kind that you love to visit but might not want to live with. Fortunately, as everyone was so struck by the 60's psychedelia, Jane decided to save some, or if not she saved sheets to frame and hang.

Bill was willingly press ganged into helping rescue the telephone wire from a tree branch. This involved climbing around on the big balcony in ways that frightened Jane; I just didn't watch. Fortunately, all went well, particularly as Chris had more projects in mind for Bill.

Jane had to return to Sydney to teach her English-as-a-second-language class the next day. Chris took her to the train station and Bill and I took a walk on the beach, copying Jane and Chris' usual pattern for morning and afternoon when they are there. I took many pictures, though it was another disappointingly dull day and everyone was bundled up against the cold.

At one end of the beach is a rock-enclosed area sheltered enough for children to paddle when the tide is in. Beyond that the rock shelf continues around the headland and one finds fishermen and cross-legged computer users meditating on the normally green sea. The patterns on the rocks there are sufficiently unusual and intriguing that I'm certain many photographers have been enthralled. Simon and I have hundreds of snaps between us, I would bet.

In my genealogy research I discovered a cousin, Ellen, who became Sister Mary Camillas and taught at Sacred Heart Mission in Avoca, Oklahoma, a place name I'd never seen before. Her elder brother (my great-grandfather) was an ironstone miner in Dalry, Scotland. When we walked along the rock shelf at Avoca Beach, Australia, Bill pointed out the seam of ironstone that added to the interesting pattern of the rocks.

It seems an amazing coincidence until one considers that Avoca is also a name in Ireland, that Australia was settled by convicts from Britain, that being poor and indebted was a crime and that the Irish were amongst the poorest of the lot. Mining is one of Australia's main industries. This all just reminded me how very lucky I am to get to travel to see and ponder these 'coincidences'.


Anonymous said...

I didn't find a Avoca, OK but did find an Avard, OK. It is up in Woods County. maybe about 20 miles Southwest of Alva. Or a Avant, OK in Osage County about 25 miles South of Bartlesville. I wonder if it is town that has been covered with water when a lake was formed. Inquiring minds want to know. Joanne

Shelley said...

You are right that Avoca OK doesn't exist anymore, but I'm not sure why, other than it wasn't ever very large to start with. I'm thinking that a lot of towns depended upon railways that didn't always stay put. See,_Oklahoma

It mentions the Sacred Heart Mission. I believe Sister Mary Camillas died in Oklahoma City; whether this was because she was 'stationed' there in her later years or was in hospital, I don't know.

Anonymous said...

That was interesting. I need to get with the program because the first place I look for information is not the internet. I need to be reprogramed. Joanne

Shelley said...

Gosh, Joanne! You do need to join the 21st century. Where on earth do you look for your info first if not on the net? I can't remember the last time I owned a set of encyclopedias. Bet I would really enjoy sitting down and just reading them now, not like in the old days when they were just for homework. I can't imagine living without Google now!