Monthly Archives: March 2017

Leaving Uralla .. but not !

SO left Uralla! the planned one day, two nights, turning into four.
Stopped at Walcha for morning coffee and to pick up some lamb chops and vegies for a stew,

Checked out the bridge and the Main Street…..Amazing !..Somebody has taken a chainsaw to all the posts of the big wide verandas of the Main drag and artfully converted them into sculpture ! Swirling spirals, cunning hatching, figurative forms and the like! .. The same person has done a few others around the town and there is a large steel sculptural structure on the traffic circle.. Up a side street is a shopfront , “The Antepodian Tynker” I think it’s called .. repurposed machine parts and all sorts of found objects sculpted into automation like objects.. I wonder if it’s the same person who doing the timber ?… I don’t think so but I’ve been known to be wrong…( we were too early in town for the places to be open… including the gallery on the Main Street , “WAoG” I think .. looked good through the window. Nice town Walcha!

Now we are camped on the Manning river, down off the high country and about forty K’s from Gloucester, (We can spell That now!) and planning to spend a second night here before heading to Gloucester (see!again!) to Suss out the second hand bookshops Rosie’s brother Mike told us about.
But now I have to finish up the Uralla story! .. It is such a vibrant little town Uralla is… with Armidale close by with all its academics and artists and squatocracy who visit and play and help keep it a-buzz….So…. 

“Chaucer on Bridge Street Gallery” ( …With Michael Evans’s beautiful large scale pots and urn-like, richly glazed creations… his father David’s amazing paintings and his mothers fabulous illustrated story books and Textiles !…Michael saw me sneaking a picture of him at his kiln, through a window from the gallery and came out to Chat … 

What friendly, interesting man! .. he is working on a commission for a very large platter, some 1000mm diameter, for which he has had to install a larger gas kiln and construct a large sort-of “lazy Susan” wheel to build it on!… 

Anyway, he introduced us to the incredible works of his late father, David Evans….


David Evans, Scholar and Artist extrodinaire , Creator of the wonderful illuminated and illustrated calligraphic translation, from the old Norse, of the ancient classic Beowulf sagas,… a copy of which is on view in a dedicated room off the gallery, where there are also large postcard sized examples of his illuminated calligraphy on the form of “The Lords Prayer” as well as some original poetry, for sale ..

Michael showed us an old painting of a tall, distinguished looking Negro man, posed, violin in hand , before some of the (then new) buildings of the gold rush town of Hillend, NSW. (Now largely a ghost town and long time favourite subject of artists of all caliber)…It turns out that this is a portrait of his great great grandfather who came out to the colony from America and was married to the matron of Hillend Hospital .. I hope I have the stories straightish Michael ! And thank you for your hospitality !

barking dog gallery


The domain for the last thirty five years of the wonderful Ceramicist, Christine Ball !

A small gallery, a-stock with the works of various artist’s works in ceramic, glass and wood.

It’s a pleasure to talk with Christine , seated as she was behind her desk/counter in an obviously well loved and eclectic space with the comfortable feel of years worth of organic fellowship. This gallery and Christine have been an integral part of the culture of Uralla, as I am reliably informed by Rosie !

The Uralla Wool Room ! (

I have had a fairly long time relationship with this treasure of a shop, having supplied the owner, the incorrigibly warm hearted Nicola Wilkins, ( with my range of stainless steel scarf pins, Celtic annular and penannular brooches and kilt pins, for years.

Uralla is in the high country of the New England Tablelands and I imagine the Wool Room is an essential service here !.. Here you will find an incredible range of quality knitwear from the best of Australian and New Zealand’s artisans and makers !…(about 80% Au and NZ, Nicola tells me)..A festival of colour and warmth!… including Nicola’s beautiful hand dyed yarns and accessories… The yarns which she supplies to Steiner Schools country wide !…The place is also a knitting and crochet school and more ! Be warm !

 New England Brewing co.

Hipster Heaven in Uralla !… well… anybody’s really.
Rosie and I were heading to the Top Pub (good grub! And convivial!) when we passed a big tin shed all aglow with lights and a-babble with conversation and good cheer.. Hmmmm!..we thinks….. …. … but the lure of dinner drew us on into the night.

However ! .. Saturday Arvo !

 was soon apron us and we somehow (?!?!) found our way back to sample a very decent Pale Ale… and I like nothing better then an ale in a shed. (as well some aquaintences may attest?)…. Anyhow .. YAY !

Oh ! .. and overheard at a Cake Stall at the “Seasons of Uralla, 100 Stall expo”…..,

“You could put my mothers mock-cream between two bricks and it would still hold up.”

And I should be less bloggered , blogging on this, rather than this iPad ?

Still too HOT !….. Headed South ……

The Alternate Root Cafe, Uralla

With a name to cogitate on “…This is a brilliant place!.. Great big space, beautifully renovated with the pressed tin ceiling, lead light skylights ,massive seating area, great staff and tasty food … Run by the friendly Rachel on the Main Street of Uralla.

We have spent some quality time here while I’ve been wrestling with the incompatibility of myself, images and my web site … but I have managed to compose myself long enough to compose a couple of blogs on this remarkable little town and some of its artists and artisans…. anyway ! … check Instagram. @thealternaterootcafe ! 

The Old Phoenix Foundry… Uralla NSW


Kerry, Paul And myself in the Old Phoenix Foundry

Kerry, Paul And myself in the Old Phoenix Foundry


The reason we’re here in Uralla this time was to meet up with Kerry Varley, the owner of the old Phoenix Foundry, as she was interested in talking to a blacksmith/Foundryman and getting a bit of an assessment of what may be of historic value and what may be junk left behind be various former owners.


Kerry is a retired Theatre Nurse with a passion to preserve the technology as a museum for folk a hundred years hence…. To that end, she is keen to establish a sort of “Friends of Phoenix”  group of Foundrymen, Engineers, Blacksmiths, Steam Buffs etc ( current or retired) to help with the organising of the place , the upkeep and restoration of same and most urgently the patching of some serious leaks in the rambling timber and tin structure.


This foundry has a collections of the original architectural cast iron lace that they sent to the Sydney market, along with the old smelting cupola.. the crucible and pouring gantry, the mould ovens, belt driven machinery, the old stem engine to drive them, a fully functioning blacksmith shop with numerous tools , swages and dies, power hammer (ont so ancient !)… A veritable treasure trove of historical metal that has to be seen to be believed!…. I have loved this place since I first saw it about fifteen years ago and fantasised being young and frisky and owning it.

So if you are interested in being a friend of the Old Phoenix Foundry, perhaps you could email me and I may be able to put you in touch with Kerry.

URALLA… My kind of town

My kind of town

My kind of town

A brewery of its own.. a campsite with a fireplace,(Managed by a good mate of mine, Paul, from Tassie days !) A Foundry/blacksmith shop, print gallery, several galleries in fact.. the wool shop, Coffee everywhere, a yummy meal at the Top pub! and this weekend , the annual art exhibition, craft show and lantern parade! .. Really guys ! Thanks!…Ya should’na !
The Uralla Print Gallery !
This beautiful space, Directed and curated by Rhonda Ellem, herself a very accomplished printmaker and fabric artist whom we (Rosie and I), last visited in her studio in Armidale in 2014 and featured in the blog then .. … Well her new venture (since July 2016), is an exhibiting gallery, the current exhibition being the photographic works of “traveling photographer”, Nico Coblyn…amazing landscapes, glad we caught this show ! You will also find Rhonda’s works on display, most notably a large woodblock print “Pandanis” on green fabric as well as the works of several other printmakers. Check them out on Instagram…… The Uralla Print Gallery .

So ! .. massive day in Uralla… heaps more to come … the incredible national treasure that is the old Phoenix foundry…( a call for volunteers). a story of a scholar and artist”s translation  of the Norse Beowulf classic scribed  with impeccable calligraphy …. ceramic artists .. and more ..much more…. too much for one post .. it’s doing my head in ! (Thanks Rosie for tech assistance! XXX!)

The Uralla Print Gallery

The Uralla Print Gallery





We, Rosie and I, are heading out on our annual Autumn Road trip….Hoping for the rain to clear before we leave in a day or two… We will take a couple of days to get up onto the New England Tablelands NSW and visit the old PHOENIX FOUNDRY in Uralla, near Armidale where we will also visit a couple of favourites of ours,  The New England Regional Art Museum NERAM  and The Armidale Art Gallery

We plan to travel down to the NSW South Coast below Batemans Bay and then across to Kosciuszko, , on into the Victorian Alps , over to Central Vic. (Dalesford etc) and from there, head back North to Barraba in central NSW, via Bathurst and the Turon River at Sofala…. 

We are hoping to connect and re-connect with Artists, Artisans and Galleries as we go and Blog it here…. Stay Tuned !