Category Archives: Matched Set

Matched Set: Canberra Quilts

The city of Canberra is made beautiful by more than the exteriors of buildings, the sparkling surfaces of lakes and its open landscapes.  Canberra is also home to a very special kind of beauty, not normally visible anywhere but inside the homes of some of the best craftspeople in the city – the richly coloured and intricate artworks of our quilters.

Two fixed points in my calendar are the autumn Royal Canberra Show and the winter Canberra Craft and Quilt Fair. I love these two events for many reasons, but best of all, I love that for a few days the quilt art festooning the walls of quilt-crafters’ homes all around Canberra come out into exhibition halls for us to see.

In this ‘matched set’ I offer photographs of some of the quilts from that touched my sense of beauty, whimsy, and yes, even touched my heart. Perhaps you will feel the magic too.


Lyn Steele, “A Dream Garden,” Wall Quilts, Non-Professional 80 x 127 cm
2007 Canberra Quilters Exhibition, entry #37

I love the luscious colours and textures in Steele’s idealised garden scene.  I can imagine myself taking tea on the patio to the left while contemplating the peacocks in the foreground and the reflective waters.


Margo Hardie, “Floriade” (detail)
2006 Bernina Best of Show and Best Use of Colour

Margo Hardie describes her quilt as “Made in Baltimore style from my own patterns, sketched from many photos and pictures of vintage quilts and museum exhibits.”




Daphne Mahon, “Le Stelle” 60 x 60 cm
2007 Canberra Quilters Exhibit – Wall quilt Non-professional, entry #53

This geometrical pattern coupled with the rich organic patterns of the featured cloth squares and subtle embroidered border are in perfect and beautiful balance. It was entered in a non-professional category, but it looks pretty professional to me!



Carolyn Greig, Naïve Patchwork, Royal Canberra Show
2007 1st in Class (Class 938 #1172)

Carolyn Greig’s lovely hand-stiched quilt appears on the surface to be whimsical, but beneath the whimsy the quilt is a moving tribute to a loved one, figured as an angel.


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Carole Medley, “Japanese Dreaming”258 x 201 cm
2007 Canberra Quilters Exhibit – Bed quilt, non-professional, entry #17



Susan Wood,  2013 Royal Canberra Show
(Class 666 #962)

The shading Wood creates with the tiny pieces of differing hued fabrics creates such a wonderful sense of movement and balance!



Janette James,  Naïve Patchwork, Royal Canberra Show
2007 2nd in Class (Class 938 #1207)

This teddy bear couple are just gorgeous!


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Margaret Davies, “Girls Night Out on a Hot August Night”
Challenge Quilts 70 x 50 cm, 2007 Canberra Quilters Exhibition, Entry #153

By now you might be getting the impression that I gravitate towards the quilts that feature images and vignettes.  You’re not wrong!  This quilt features an elegant woman with an impeccable sense of fashion.  Genius!



Margaret Ferrett, “Interpretation of Animals in the Wild”
2nd Prize, 2012 Royal Canberra Show, Class 800, #1082

Sulfur-crested cockatoos in a quilt – what’s not to love? I particularly like the way Ferrett created a sense of abundance for this small flock of happy parrots by making the tree leaves look almost like an endless supply of seeds.



Pat Parker, “Autumn Transitions” 108 x 137 cm
Canberra Quilters Exhibition, Wall Quilts Non-Professional, #57

And last, but definitely not least, an abstract representation of autumn. Doesn’t Parker’s fabric choices create a sense of the last splashes of summer colour becoming enveloped in a blanket of fallen leaves? Very apropos at the moment here as we drift into the start of autumn.




All of the quilt photographs by Sabrina Caldwell.  Photos have been cropped to show detail, and resized for web use.  No other changes have been applied.
Maker and quilt information from exhibit cards.
Vector graphic of sewing needle by Pixabay free art.

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Matched Set: Kangaroos

Who doesn’t love kangaroos? They are an iconic animal woven into the fabric of the Australian landscape. After more than twenty years living in Australia, I can confirm that they are indeed able to be seen in their natural environments with only a modicum of effort. Here is a photo of an Eastern Grey Kangaroo in the bracken of an empty campground taken in 2004 on a family road trip around the NSW snowfields. Looking back on it, I realise that I really was too close for comfort (no zoom used) because if he’d viewed me as a threat he could have done me some damage with those powerful hind legs, but fortunately for me he didn’t seem to mind.

Eastern Grey Kangaroo in the welcome rain Geehi, NSW 2004

Eastern Grey Kangaroo in the welcome rain
Geehi, NSW 2004

Another place to find kangaroos near Canberra is at Tidbinbilla Nature Park. Just be sure while you’re photographing that imposing kangaroo in the next field

Kangaroo, Tidbinbilla

Kangaroo, Tidbinbilla


that you don’t leave your barbecue untended for your lunch to be stolen right off the grill by stealthy emus and swooping kookaburras.


Our friends Don and Robin live in a suburb north of Bateman’s Bay with many patches of remnant native forest. These patches are inhabited by a resident mob of kangaroos. As we came to visit one day in June of this year, three of them were reclining on a street corner enjoying the early morning sun (the curb not visible but I took this through the open car window).

Life is good.

Life is good.

Residents of the area are quite accustomed to giving way to these local inhabitants as they hop about the suburb, but there is much angst when prize roses are on the kangaroos’ menu.

Of course, sometimes kangaroos don’t want to be seen. I don’t even know how I managed to spot this one on the shores of Coila Lake – can you see him in the photo?


Lurking in the shadows

The same kangaroo pictured above did something unexpected not long after I photographed him in the shadows. He jumped into Coila Lake and taught me something that I didn’t know: kangaroos can swim.

Swimming in the brackish waters of Coila Lake

Swimming in the brackish waters of Coila Lake

It is particularly special to run across kangaroos in unexpected places. I have seen a kangaroo hopping down Barry Drive in Canberra City, and others hopping along the boardwalk in Tuross Head.  Once, in the wee hours of the night while sitting out under the pergola in Kaleen, I heard the quiet tippy-toe hops of a large kangaroo passing along the other side of our backyard fence, invisible behind the thick hedge of cottage roses. Wherever you find them, and no matter how often you see them, kangaroos are unique and magical. With their doe-eyes, soft fur, bounding leaps and gentle natures, they are one of the things that make Australia special.

And, apparently kangaroos seek the serenity of the beach as much as we do.




A few days after publishing this post, a snow storm hit Australia, and my friend Marina Lobastov shared with me this Facebook photo of kangaroos in the blizzard by Christie Panozzo. It is wildly popular for good reason; I love the way it shows the resilience of these lovely creatures.

Christie Panozzo, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, 5 August 2015

Christie Panozzo, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, 5 August 2015


With the exception of the kangaroos in the snow photograph, all photographs by Sabrina Caldwell; other than resizing for web use, no alterations have been done to the photographs.

The kangaroos in the snow photograph is by Christie Panozzo, Ballarat, Victoria, taken on 5 August 2015. It is not known if any alterations were made to this photograph, but it is likely to have been cropped.


Photo post at Accessed 5 August 2015.

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My photo “Fog on the Ocean” on ABC News Breakfast

The weather conditions yesterday on the ocean were amazing. As the sun rose, it hit the ocean waves in the cold winter air and fog rose in a rippling blanket across the water. As I stood shivering in the cold grass with bare feet after racing over to photograph this beautiful phenomenon, a neighbour out walking her dog suggested that Vanessa O’Hanlon, the weather lady at the ABC would be interested in such photos.  She was right!

Vanessa O'Hanlon presenting my photograph of fog on the ocean, ABC Breakfast Show 4 June 2015

Vanessa O’Hanlon presenting my photograph of fog on the ocean, ABC News Breakfast show 4 June 2015

For those of you who would like to see more, here are a couple more photos from the morning, including a V formation of seabirds who flew across the sky at just the right moment.

Flock of seabirds fly out of the sunrise on a foggy ocean day

Flock of seabirds fly out of the sunrise on a foggy ocean day

Fog on the ocean, Tuross Head

Fog on the ocean, Tuross Head


Fog on the ocean by Sabrina Caldwell; other than resizing for web use no alterations have been done. Flock of seabirds fly out of the sunrise on a foggy ocean day by Sabrina Caldwell, rotated and cropped, resized for web use. Vanessa O’Hanlon presenting my photograph of fog on the ocean provided by ABC Network: Giulio Saggin, Photo Editor, ABC News Online 4 June 2015.



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Matched Set: A few lighthouses of Australia and New Zealand

Matched Set: A few lighthouses of Australia and New Zealand

Australia is the only country that is also a continent.  With about 30,000 kilometers of coastline [1] and a robust shipping industry, safeguarding sea-going vessels from dangerous shores is a high priority. It was this that prompted the proliferation of lighthouses in Australia during the twentieth century.  Today we have 350 lighthouses and other navigational aids. Australia’s cousin to the east, New Zealand, experienced a similar trajectory, and their 23 lighthouses and 70 light beacons stand as evidence.

These are a few of their stories.

Montague Island lighthouse

Montague Island Lighthouse South Coast, NSW 2003

Montague Island lighthouse
South Coast, NSW 2003

Lantern of Montague Island lighthouse 2003

Lantern Room of Montague Island lighthouse 2003










The island of Montague near Narooma on the South Coast of New South Wales is only 9 kilometers off the coast of Australia, and enough of a danger to shipping that it has its own fully operational lighthouse. Certainly my experience of visiting the island demonstrated the dangers; on our return we passed a container ship ‘threading the needle’ by which I mean that rather than skirting Montague Island on the seaward side it was traveling North through the gap between the island and the mainland.

The lighthouse is currently a solar-powered unmanned revolving 120,000 candela light, but at its height (1969-1986) it was an electric powered beacon of 1,000,000 candelas. [2]

Though lighthouses are meant as a visual warning to vessels, it is inevitable that they afford stunning ocean vistas. In the case of the Montague Island lighthouse, this also includes views of the Eurobodalla Shire coastline.

View of Australian coast from Montague Island lighthouse 2003

View of Australian coast from Montague Island lighthouse 2003

In the adjacent photo of the Australian coastline seen from Montague Island, Mount Dromedary dominates the landscape. Mount Dromedary was and still is known to Australian Aboriginal Walbunja and Yuin peoples as Gulaga. In their dreamtime stories Gulaga is the mother of Barunguba (Montague Island). Gulaga allowed her son Barunguba to go on an adventure out to sea, where he stays to this day.[3]

Large Fur Seal and Little Penguin colonies live at Montague Island and it is the breeding location in spring and summer for Gulls, Crested Terns and Shearwaters. [4]

The island offers a beautiful viewing place for Humpback and Southern Right whales as they biannually migrate back and forth, particularly in spring when the females are shepherding their slow moving calves from the warm waters of the tropics to their Antarctic feeding grounds.

A tale of two lighthouses: Cape St George and Point Perpendicular

Point Perpendicular Lighthouse Jervis Bay, NSW Australia December 2012

Point Perpendicular lighthouse
Jervis Bay, NSW Australia, December 2012

The Point Perpendicular lighthouse, still standing today, operated successfully for 94 years, from 1899 to 1993. When built in 1899, it produced 100,000 candelas of light via a kerosene mantle burning system, much like the mantle light of a Coleman camping lantern. After two further upgrades, the lighthouse was converted to electricity in 1964 at which time the brightness of the beacon increased to 1,200,000 candelas.

The Point Perpendicular lighthouse was built to replace the woefully inadequate Cape St George lighthouse (1860-1899), an erection more expressive of government bungling and the greed of its contracted builder than maritime safety.

According to Lighthouses of Australia the government did not consult with the appropriate authority (the Pilots Board)  when identifying the site for the Cape St George lighthouse, and the site turned out to have little visibility.

Furthermore, the contractor built the lighthouse 2 1/2 miles north of where it was intended perhaps so that he could be closer to the quarry supplying the building materials. (While it might seem impossible to believe that a building could be misplaced in this way, it is possible in a vast and undeveloped land such as Australia was in the latter half of the 19th century.)

After 39 years being barely visible from the sea on the southern cape of Wreck Bay, the loss of 23 ships and many lives, and the deaths of a lighthouse keeper (probably taken by sharks) and a lighthouse keeper’s daughter (accidentally shot by the head keeper’s daughter), the Cape St George Lighthouse was decommissioned and later summarily destroyed by being used by the Australian Navy for target practice.[5]

Cape St George Lighthouse Ruins

Cape St George lighthouse Ruins

The new lighthouse, Point Perpendicular lighthouse, was well-positioned and constructed on the north point of the bay. Point Perpendicular is so named because the cliff face falls away to the sea 93 meters below at a 90 degree angle.[6]

The lighthouse, designed by Charles Harding of the NSW Department of Public Works, was the first in NSW to be constructed of pre-cast concrete blocks using aggregate of local stone, and the lantern is of iron and copper.[7]

From the point vast sweeps of the ocean extend in all directions other than the western inland, and from this elevated perspective ships can seen far out at sea, and whales of all types including Humpback, Southern Right, Sperm and even 200 tonne Blue whales have been sighted. [8]

Akaroa Head lighthouse, New Zealand

Finding a lighthouse was the last thing I expected when in 2009 my family and I toured the Christchurch area of New Zealand’s South Island and visited the lovely town of Akaroa deep within a protected harbour.  But nestled on the shores of the windy bay there it was.

Akaroa Head lighthouse in its new location in Akaroa Town

Akaroa Head lighthouse in its new location in Akaroa Town 2009

At first glance it looks quaint, a mere 28 feet high, copper domed wood structure of Victorian design.

However, from 1880 to 1977 this seemingly charming little lighthouse played a crucial role in guiding ships into the safety of Akaroa Harbour. Perched on top of Akaroa Head of Banks Peninsula, the lighthouse’s beacon shone from 270 feet above sea level, reaching 37 kilometers into the Southern Pacific Ocean.[9] To withstand the winds buffeting the structure, the walls were built as double walls and filled with ballast.

Its current position resulted from the efforts of the Akaroa Lighthouse Preservation Society, who rescued the tower after it was replaced by an automated lighthouse in 1977. The Society moved the lighthouse in three pieces to what is now known as Lighthouse Point on the edge of town.

According to the New Zealand Government, the lighthouse marked the last landfall of Captain Scott before he sailed for the South Pole In 1911. The lighthouse also served as a weather station; from 1907 until its decommissioning, the keepers reported on the weather 4 times a day to the New Zealand Meteorological Service, amounting to over 80,000 weather reports.[9]

These days, rather than presiding over the harbour mouth on a bluff scoured by high winds, Akaroa Head lighthouse is enjoying its retirement presiding over French Bay.


All photographs by Sabrina Caldwell and other than re-sizing for webuse, have not been altered in any way.


[1] Estimates vary from 25,000 to over 50,000, so this is a conservative estimate within this range. Accessed May 2014.
[2] Lighthouses of Australia, Inc. The Montague Island Lighthouse. Accessed May 2014.
[3] Indigenous Sites: Eurobodalla coast and its hinterland are steeped in cultural significance. Accessed May 2014.
[4] NSW Government. Destination New South Wales  Montague Island Tours. Accessed May 2014.
[5] Lighthouses of Australia Inc. The Ill-Fated Cape St George Lighthouse. Accessed May 2014.
[6] Lighthouses of Australia Inc. The Point Perpendicular Lighthouse at Jervis Bay. Accessed May 2014
[7] Defence Environment Team. Point Perpendicular Lightstation. In situ signage.
[8] Defence Environment Team. Whales and Whale Watching. In situ signage.
[9]New Zealand Government Department of Conservation. Historic Akaroa Head. Accessed May 2014.

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Matched set – busy waterbirds

Don’t we love to watch the serenity of a duck floating on a pond or a cormorant contentedly drying itself with spread wings in the afternoon sun? But waterbirds are actually very busy creatures who must keep warm and dry in the midst of their watery world, raise families, be social, fly from place to place in search of amenable climates and food sources, keep a wary eye out for predators and compete for food.  This matched set of photos attempts to illuminate some of this hustle and bustle.

Swan family on an outing at Floriade

The first time I saw a black swan I was startled; I didn’t know they could be black.  I looked at the graceful neck of the glossy black bird and its smooth progress across a still lake in a Sydney park and knew it could be nothing other than a swan, but not as I knew them.

Australian Black Swans are native to Australia and New Zealand, and were unknown to western civilisation until 1697 when Dutch captain Willem de Vlamingh discovered them in the Western Australian river he later named Swan River. Later, in 1790 John Latham, a noted English naturalist formally described them.[1] It seems that before their discovery, a truism used in Europe was “all swans are white.” Australian Black Swans certainly played havoc with that saying.

The photograph below is of a mother (known as a ‘pen’) and her four young cygnets swimming in Canberra’s Lake Burly Griffen.  The father (the ‘cob’), while not in this photo, was nearby. I love the way the cygnets look so unaware and distracted – it says a lot about how difficult a job it must be for the parents.

Swan family on an outing at Floriade

Australian Black Swan and her cygnets on an outing on Lake Burly Griffen during Floriade

Sleeping with one eye open

Sleeping with one eye open, Ducks resting at the side of Sullivan's Creek, The Australian National University

Sleeping with one eye open, Ducks resting at the side of Sullivan’s Creek, The Australian National University

I came upon these Australian Wood Ducks resting by Sullivan’s Creek at The Australian National University. I took the photo in 1999, but it could be any day at ANU because these ducks are a well-loved feature of the landscape.

I have always liked this photo because of the contrast between the alert eye and the sleeping position of the duck on the left, as well as the guarding position of the duck on the right. While humans are seldom a threat, they are vulnerable to foxes, dogs and cats.

Clearly, even while slumbering a duck needs to be aware of its surroundings.  And it helps to have a mate.

Navigating the world of man

Navigating the world of man, Geese crossing a country road

Navigating the world of man,
geese crossing a rainy country road

Every animal in the world, geese included, evolved in the absence of roads and cars.

These Pilgrim Geese waddled across the road in front of our car with only the tiniest of acceleration after seeing us.

Fortunately they live on a very slow road by a 90 degree bend winding through a rural Australian town and are likely seldom in danger.

After meandering across to the other side, they began nibbling in the grass and ignored our presence.

A Silver Gull takes wing

I entitled this last photograph A Silver Gull takes wing because it would be easy to think the gull in the mid-ground of the photo was either flying past or landing. But if you look to its right, you can see the splashes indenting the surface of Tuross Lake where the gull pushed off on takeoff. I took this photo from a boat dock where fishermen were cleaning their catch. These Australian Pelicans and Silver Gulls knew well that tasty tidbits could be expected to be thrown to them and were making their way over. The yellow rings around the eyes of the pelicans indicate that these two individuals are non-breeding adults.

A Silver Gull takes wing Tuross Lake boat ramp, Tuross Head, NSW

A Silver Gull takes wing
Tuross Lake boat ramp, Tuross Head, NSW

Despite their often bucolic-seeming existence, waterbirds actually live very complex lives.  They are constantly vigilant against threats and on the look out for opportunities.  They need to be fit and resourceful, and need a lot of water, land and air to survive and thrive. Certainly they are deserving of our respect, admiration and conservation.

PHOTOGRAPHS: All photographs by Sabrina Caldwell, and other than resizing for web use, no alterations have been done to the photographs.


[1] Black Swan, Wikipedia., Accessed 22 March 2014.

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Matched set – nature’s mellow, yellow-gold

Just as I described sometimes wanting to do more with The Photographicalist [1], sometimes I want to do less. When this mood assails me, it is a great opportunity for me to explore another of my interests – synergy and symmetry between ideas, patterns, landscapes, people, lines, curves, functions. The idea is to find ways to illustrate photographically how patterns repeat in nature and society.

So occasionally I will forgo the essay and assemble a set of photographs that have aligned sympathies in some facet of their essence.

The inaugural ‘matched set’ appears below. I have entitled it Nature’s mellow, yellow-gold, because nature seems to love these hues.


Sunset at the Top of the World
Jenolan Caves, Blue Mountains, NSW Australia
26 March 2002


Rainbow Lorikeet Pair
At home in Tuross Head, NSW Australia
15 September 2001


Yellow Ranunculus
Floriade, ACT Australia
10 November, 2002

PHOTOGRAPHS: All photographs by Sabrina Caldwell, and other than resizing for web use, no alterations have been done to the photographs.
[1]  Critiquing photography: A different perspective 23 Feb 2014

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