A few years ago I designed a piece Wildflowers Sutherland for the 2001 Centenary of Federation exhibition ‘Florafed’ held in the Hazelhurst Community Gallery in Gymea, Sutherland Shire, NSW.
It was an important work for me and signified a return to the area where I had grown up.
I grew up near a large valley of bushland with a creek that went down to the Woronora River – where I spent a lot of my childhood exploring. I think this is where my love of native flowers came from. The tall flower spike of the Gymea Lily with it’s broad sweeping palm fronds. To see a waratah in the bush was always greeted with much excitement, flannel flowers large and small with their soft ‘flannel-like’ texture and the strong features of the Banksia serrata.
This linocut design by no means represents anywhere near all the flowers of the Sutherland Shire, just a selection from my childhood growing up in Loftus. The Gymea Lily was the central feature of this design but there are is also a red grevillea, purple flag, grey spider flower, tea-tree, wax flowers, isopogan (drumsticks), hakea, wattle, peas and some ferns.
Loftus is not so much the quiet ‘backwater’ of my childhood anymore with much more infill and denser development. When I was growing up the trams still ran from Sutherland station and there was great excitement as slowly the line was extended for electric trains as far as Waterfall and now Wollongong. There is a tram museum at Loftus now but I remember as I got older there were special tramdays when you could go for a ride on the old trams of Sydney – it was lots of fun.
I enjoyed my childhood and the freedom of ‘exploring’ the bushland – I wonder whether kids theses days are given the same freedoms. We would roam, build cubby houses and cave retreats, set up ropes to abseil down rocks and wander through creeks and waterholes. When we saw the occasional snake we would run like crazy (not the thing to do but we didn’t know) all the way home until we got the courage up to go back. It was a great time of neighbourhood kids playing together, riding billy carts and climbing trees.
Having recently subscribed to your blog, I wanted to say how much I enjoy your work. As a novice printmaker, I’m starting to see design ideas everywhere I look.
Although my home is now on the NSW Mid North Coast, I share your childhood memories of the wildflowers and bush of the Sutherland Shire. The summer months were marked by bushfires in the Royal National Park just across the water from our house on the South Cronulla peninsula and my early adulthood was spent in Engadine.
Growing up around the Royal National Park was certainly special. Lots of freedom to roam around the bushland with adventures and your spot on the water would have been wonderful! The one thing I miss about living on the Far North Coast is this lack of wild bush on my doorstep but I do not miss the city ‘busyness’.
I am glad you are enjoying my blog!