Cactus Country

Perth Cactus

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but we like this cactus sculpture. It’s in Forrest Place, in Perth’s CBD, and is the work of James Angus. He named the sculpture “Grow your own” but most people just call it “The Cactus”. The message behind the work of art it actually serious – it’s about organic farming – but it makes a playful addition to a square that needs all the fun it can get.

War and Peace 4

Hong Kong Coastal Defence 1

We saw this interesting World War site in Hong Kong earlier this year. It’s the Museum of Coastal Defence, located in a late 19th century fortification. The site played an important role on the unsuccessful defence of Hong Kong in WW2 and now has a very interesting museum covering 600 years of coastal defence. It’s partly located underground in the old munitions magazines.

Hong Kong Coastal Defence 2

King of the Castle

Chateau Monte Cristo

We see lots of castles in our travels. This one is the Castle of Monte Cristo, in the small village of Marly le Roi on the outskirts of Paris. As you may have guessed, the castle was built for Alexandre Dumas – the author of The Count of Monte Cristo.

In the grounds there is a second fantastical castle, Chateau d’If (below). It is named after the castle near Marseille from which the fictional Count escaped. You can read more about these castles in the article “The Castle of Monte Cristo” in the June/July 2013 issue of French Provincial magazine.

Chateau dIf

Carnaby’s Kitchen

Carnabys Black Cockatoos 7

We saw a large flock of Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos in the Perth suburb of Swanbourne yesterday. There were about 200 of them feasting on the cones on some Norfolk Pines. The smart ones stayed on the ground, eating all the seeds dropped by the ones above.

As we’ve mentioned before, these popular birds are an endangered species, due to loss of their natural habitat. Yet amazingly, there are plans afoot to destroy even more of their territory in Perth. It’s enough to make you attend a demonstration!

Carnabys Black Cockatoos 8

Cold Shoulder

Black shouldered Kite 1

We have noticed Black-shouldered Kites in several parts of Perth recently. These small raptors (birds of prey) are generally described as being common and have been reported in most parts of the Australian mainland. They are not threatened and have benefited from land clearance and agriculture, since they feed almost entirely on mice. This one was beside Stirling Highway in the western suburbs of Perth – another reminder that you don’t have to go bush to see interesting birds.

Black shouldered Kite 2

Small but Perfectly Formed

Vintage Steam Models 1

You may have noticed that we have a soft spot for retro gear – caravans, cars, trucks, steam engines, tractors and so on. But we also like their miniature versions, like these vintage model steam engines. They’re small enough to hold in your hand, but are actually working engines. We saw these ones at a show at Dardanup Heritage Park in the southwest of Western Australia earlier this year. You can read more about them in our article “It’s a Small World” in the June/July 2013 issue of The Old Machinery Magazine.

Vintage Steam Models 2

Old Flame

LAPD Helmets

Here is another fire museum, which we saw a few months back in Los Angeles. It is the Old Plaza Fire House in the El Pueblo historic precinct. It contains plenty of firefighting memorabilia, including old fire helmets and what must be one of the oldest surviving fire engines in the world (below). It was built around 1795-1800 by Ephraim Thayer, who was an apprentice to Paul Revere.

Vintage Fire Engine