Posted in Family, Life, Photography

I got out!

In April 2021, which seems like years ago, I went to Tumut in NSW. My youngest son and his two children were visiting my mother and as I hadn’t seen them for over a year, I thought I’d make the five hour drive north.

I thought I’d be back in Tumut within a month – Mum’s birthday is in June and I thought I’d at least go up to sing her a tuneless but enthusiastic happy birthday.

Alas, it was not to be. 2021, in case your memory doesn’t stretch back that far, was in a time we still considered to be ‘during the pandemic’. In 2022, with COVID deaths higher than they’ve been since the start of the pandemic – a seeming-decade ago in 2020 – we are considered to be living in ‘post-COVID’ times.

2021 was not a good year. We still had active COVID mitigation strategies in place – lockdown being one of them. I can’t remember all the lockdowns, but lockdown was one reason I couldn’t return to Tumut. There were, of course, others.

As we are now living in ‘post-pandemic’ times, travel is unrestricted. I had planned to head to Tasmania in late April, a place I hadn’t visited since early January 2021, but a car crash put paid to that plan. No one was hurt in said crash, apart from the car, but it meant no Tassie trip for me just yet 😦

While Tim has finished his treatment, been jabbed with the COVID vaccine for the 4th time, and had his flu shot, he is still not sufficiently recovered to travel long distances. I, however, felt it was safe for me to leave the state.

Yes, dear reader, I got out.

Mothers Day was as good a time as any for me to head five and a half hours north to see my mother. And my sister and brother, and uncle, and niece, and great neice and nephews.

I stayed in Tumba with my sister because Tumba is a town where things happen. The Snowy Valleys Sculpture Trail is one of those happening things.

Saturday morning was cold. Icily cold. The thermometer inched towards 8C during the day, and then, having hit it, rapidly fell to near zero. You can imagine how cold it was as we headed out the door around 10am, rugged up beautifully. Deb made sure her gloves matched her beanie, channelling the spirit of our grandmother, who used to do the same in the 1950s and 60s (but never with a beanie). Nan would have been very proud of her.

Our first stop was at Forage (rhymes with porridge) for a hot chocolate and a wander around the market.

Forage in Tumbarumba

Mum arrived, the hood of her coat giving the impression she was off to the Arctic, and we wandered down to the creek which was looking decidedly autumnal, to engage with the sculptures.

Mum ditched Deb and I to have lunch with some of Deb’s friends, so I attended a workshop facilitated by Japanese sculptor Keizo Ushio who uses the mobius strip extensively in his sculptures. We made mobius strips with paper and then attempted to carve a bagel – I’d love to see how he does it using stone. You can see Keizo’s sculpture at Tooma if you’re in the area (we didn’t get down there, but I’m very keen to see it).

Sculptor Phil Spelman then led a tour of the Tumba sculptures and we learnt a lot along the way.

Together we are strong – sculpture by Danish artist Keld Moseholm

Together we are strong is a work gifted by the Denmark-based Denmark, New Zealand and Australian Friendship Society.


Pipe and fittings … many cubes – by WA artist Jennifer Cochrane

Jennifer Cochrane works with cubes. They fascinate her. Picture a cube rolling and you’ll see the movement and energy in this work.


Habitat – a sculpture by Marcus Tatton

Marcus Tatton is a New Zealander living in Tasmania, where chimneys dot the landscape. When a house burns down, they are generally the only thing that remain standing. This has inspired Marcus’s work.


Arrowhead Dark Night Shine – Takahiro Hirata

I think this is one of my favourites. This is a piece of granite which is second only to diamonds in terms of its hardness. Takahiro Hirato, a Japanese sculptor, has hand carved and polished this arrowhead. It’s a truly gorgeous piece. The arrowhead sits on a basalt plinth.


Lumina Folds – by NSW artist Philip Spelman

This work by Phil Spelman certainly generated lots of discussion. It’s an abstract work with as many interpretations as people on the tour with us. Some see an ant, others see a bike, I see someone praying … that’s the beauty of abstract work. It doesn’t have to have just one meaning.

There are other sculptures in the area and I’m hoping to get to see them all eventually.


Off to Tumut on Sunday afternoon for a fabulous Mothers Day lunch with my brother and his family. There was so much food they came back for dinner. I must add they they provided all the food … Mum and I just had to turn up!

Later in the afternoon I caught the end of this beautiful sunset.

Tumut sunset

Monday morning and a quick visit from some kangaroos before I headed home.


It was great to catch up with family again after such a terrible year … let’s hope I can get back there within the next one.

Posted in Family, Learning, Life

Mothers Day: Living the realities

I was scrolling through my Twitter feed this morning and came across a story on the ABC News site that caught my eye.

After the birth of her fifth child, Roseann Hall decided to do a photography project on the often ‘unseen’ side of parenting – the mess, the tantrums, the food smeared everywhere, the moments of stress and tension and of the ways new mothers coped with them.

After Roseann had her fifth child and again found herself scrolling through photos that didn’t reflect her experience, she decided to use her skills as a photographer to capture something more authentic.

ABC Radio Brisbane

Hall’s images instantly took me back to my early mothering days and I began to wonder if any of them would have been worth sharing on social media. I highly doubt it.

I have recollections of constant mess: of food-smeared surfaces, of unmade beds and unwashed washing, of piles of unironed clothes and of floors strewn with toys and clothes and the debris of life.

None of it was social media worthy. None of it was worth sharing to a wider audience. But for many of us with young children it was normal. It wasn’t pretty that’s for sure, and mothers and mothers-in-law and aunts and grandmothers would sometimes step in, a working bee would be organised and the house would shine.

For a day.

And then the inevitable inertia and overwhelm of being a mother would take over – the monotony, the everyday struggle, the sameness, the mundane decision-making (should I do the ironing first or the vacuuming?), the inevitability of mundanity. Nothing to look forward to but more mess, more washing, more cleaning, more ironing, more vacuuming, more dusting … the finger run along the mantlepiece when he came home for lunch to see if it was dust free.

It never was.

Mothering has been happening for thousands (and thousands) of years, and while, I imagine, no two mothers’ experiences have been the same across those years, how did we come to decide that ‘normal’ is a tiny box that only some people fit in? And who decides what’s in that box?

How have we come to the point of looking at others’ lives and deciding that their life is “normal” while ours isn’t? Or that their life is different and somehow that means better?

In the ABC article, Divna Haslam, a clinical psychologist and family researcher at the University of Queensland claimed that “we should all normalise all the aspects of parenting, not just the pretty ones.”

When did we stop normalising the unpretty aspects of parenting? Does any mother of young children imagine, when she sees images of others’ lives, that they don’t have unpretty moments as well? That their two-year old doesn’t have temper tantrums that can last for hours? That their toddler, being introduced to a new food, doesn’t spit it out or wipe it over every surface they can find? That their three year old hasn’t ever picked up a crayon and drawn all over the walls with it?

Have we really become that naive?

Maybe it isn’t about that. Maybe it’s not naivety at all. Maybe it’s the visuals and the access to other people’s lives we’ve only experienced in the last 10 years or so.

Social media, the thing that’s allowed us to connect in ways we’d never been able to before its invention, has maybe also caused us to unconnect from reality. We see others’ unreal images and imagine they determine the reality of someone’s life. The totality of their life.

But do we really think we’re the only ones with children who make unreasonable demands in the supermarket at the tops of their voices? That we’re the only ones with children who refuse to get into their car seat? That our newborn is the only one who doesn’t sleep through the night? That our two-year old is the only one to have a temper tantrum in the main street, requiring us to carry them – kicking and screaming up – under one arm while trying to wrangle their trike with the other? That our four-year old is the only one who swears like a trooper when Grandma walks through the door, that our eleven-year old is the only one who verbally baits his sister till she’s in a paroxym of frustration?

It’s sad if we have. But we don’t have to, and I know that may be easier said than done, particularly from my vantage point. We know – in the very core of our being – that the vast majority of little children will be unreasonable at least some time before they’re five. And while we might not want to post images of those moments on social media, let’s not forget what sits behind the cheery images of happy-looking kids and the ‘perfect’ settings in which they live.

If you’re looking at others’ lives on social media, imagine the corner of the room you can’t see, full of life’s debris – the clothes that moments earlier where all over the couch, the bowl from breakfast the child threw on the floor, the toys they’ve been told to put away a million times but never do.

Think of the “perfect” images that appear on social media as museum or gallery pieces. They might be tightly curated images of a life, but they don’t represent reality.