Subject: Shoalhaven, Australia - art & architecture
Hi Everyone,

Picking up the theme of weekend trips, there are many options out of Sydney - and I will come back later with a note on options from Melbourne also.

Among the obvious trips from Sydney are the Blue Mountains, the Hunter Valley and the northern beaches but one we used for recent overseas visitors was a little less travelled. As a way of seeing some of the countryside, as well as the usual fare of harbour and beaches, we took visitors on a day trip - which could easily translate into a weekend break - to the Shoalhaven region, about three hours drive south from Sydney's centre.

For anyone interested in art, Bundanon was the home of Arthur Boyd, one of Australia's pre-eminent artists. He and his family gave the Bundanon property in Trust to the nation, and it now houses a collection of Boyd family art, along with contributions from Sidney Nolan, Perceval, Joy Hester, Blackman, Whitely and other predominantly Australian artists.

On the neighbouring property, Riversdale, is the Arthur and Yvonne Boyd Education Centre, designed by renowned architect (and recent winner of a prestigious International Architecture prize) Glenn Murcutt - a fascinating structure, designed to fit seamlessly into the glorious landscape that is celebrated in the Shoalhaven paintings. Groups of artists or others can hire the Centre for short courses or other such events, and it has simple but interesting accommodation in bunk rooms with stunning views. Web site at:

Appointments for visits to the Education Centre are a must - but the Bundanon homestead and the collection are now open to the public every Sunday from 10.30 am to 4 pm, although numbers are restricted. (See the website for details.)

The river and the sweeping countryside around Riversdale are a wonderful part of the Australian landscape - and a great place for picnics. Myriads of birds - kookaburras, parrots, maggies, of course, and a host of others. We were fortunate too to share our picnic lunch with a pair of wombats, who were obviously confused by the dry weather and didn't realise that they are nocturnal animals anyway and were supposed to be hibernating.

Of course, if all this is too tame as a weekend break out of Sydney, you can always organise leave for Friday and Monday - and skip out of the workplace a little early on Thursday afternoon. Then: 1. Go straight to the airport, hop aboard a flight to London, Paris - or wherever the fancy takes you. 2. Arrive at dawn on Friday morning (local time UK - having gained 11 hours or so!) 3. Enjoy the delights of the Big Smoke for the next three days - theatre, galleries, the latest restaurant sensations, visiting friends etc etc etc 4. Board a return flight to Australia late on Sunday (Lose eleven hours, do not pass Go!) 5. Catch a movie - or seven! Have four or five breakfasts. Shop for goodies in Bangkok or Singapore in the hour or two of your stopover. 6. Arrive at 5am Tuesday morning, just in time for a shower, another breakfast and back to work!

Just don't try it every weekend!

Cheers all, Joan Melbourne, Australia