Tag Archives: Mount Gambier

This Writing Life: Home Town Homage

14 Replies

As many of you will know from last week’s This Writing Life post, Tales from the Real Rocking Horse Hill, I recently ventured to my home town of Mount Gambier in the lower south-east of South Australia to help celebrate my dad’s 80th birthday.

I was also fortunate enough to be interviewed on ABC South-East radio by Selina Green, which was enormous fun, and by Amelia Pepe from local paper The Border Watch. Amelia wrote a wonderful piece about my long connection to and love for to the area and included a great photo of me with Wayward Heart at the top of Mount Schank.

The Border Watch article

The Border Watch article. Such a thrill to appear on a page in my home town paper!

In case you missed it, there’s a video of me climbing the volcanic crater here, along with more on the inspiration behind the fictional Rocking Horse Hill of my stories.

Besides the 80th birthday bash, I had a wonderful time playing tourist. I adore doing this because of the creative energy it provides, and no matter how well you think you know an area, there are always new and amazing things to see and experience.

Here are some photos from a few of the adventures I had, as well as places that have inspired elements in my stories. I hope you enjoy them.

 

Mount Gambier’s biggest tourist attraction is the stunning Blue Lake. In the winter the lake is a dull grey but from December until March it turns an exquisite cobalt blue. To really appreciate the extraordinary colour it needs to be seen live, but you can get a bit of an idea from this photo.

Besides being beautiful and excellent exercise to walk around, the lake also supplies the town’s water. And no, it doesn’t come out of the tap that colour!

Mount Gambier's famous Blue Lake.

Mount Gambier’s famous Blue Lake.

Once upon a time, we used to have a railway. I can still remember, as a kid, catching the train to a school camp, but the railway closed back in the mid 90s and left a large expanse of land in the centre of town derelict. After a great deal of community consultation, work started on a redevelopment in late 2013. The Railway Lands project was finished in 2015 and it’s brilliant!

I love the “green lungs” concept, the sculptures and interesting playgrounds, and hope the area continues to develop and becomes a community hub.

One of the playground areas at the railway lands.

One of the playground areas at the railway lands.

frog sculpture at the Railway Lands.

Loved this frog sculpture at the Railway Lands.

Shingleback lizard sculpture

Tooling around on a carved shinglenack lizard, as you do.

Mount Gambier also boasts some fine buildings and gardens. This is Jens Hotel in the heart of the town. It’s still a lovely hotel but it must have been an amazing place to stay in its heyday. The main building dates from 1884 but extensions were added in 1904 and 1927, The annex was constructed in 1902 originally as a (rather grand) coffee palace.

The western face of Jens Hotel, Mt Gambier.

The western face of Jens Hotel, Mt Gambier.

Jens Hotel staircase.

Jens Hotel’s grand staircase.

Some of the roses in the Cave Garden in the heart of town.

Some of the roses in the Cave Garden in the heart of town, and which is built around a large sinkhole.

For those of you who have ever wondered what the Australian Arms looks like – the hotel mentioned in Rocking Horse Hill, Wayward Heart, Summer and the Groomsman and where Danny Burroughs works so hard in Santa and the Saddler – then the Gambier Hotel, pictured below and situated on Mount Gambier’s main corner and established in 1862 (although its license originates from 1847), will give you a fair idea.

Isn’t it a great looking pub? My grandmother worked here as a maid in days gone by. As with Jens Hotel, imagine the stories these places could tell.

The Gambier Hotel

The Gambier Hotel on Mount Gambier’s main corner.

We also took a drive down to Nelson, for no other reason than I hadn’t been there for ages. Nelson is a sleepy little town just up from where the Glenelg River meets the sea. It’s a pretty spot, tranquil and with sandy beaches and calm waters, which makes it an excellent place to take the family for a paddle. My dad used to take us night-time fishing on the river estuary when we were kids. Family lore tells that my grandfather ran boxing tournaments here too.

The sandy beach inside the estuary at Nelson.

The sandy beach inside the estuary at Nelson.

Speaking of Santa and the Saddler, every time I see a windmill I think of that book and big-hearted, romantic Danny. For those who haven’t read this story, Danny is a metal fabricator and windmill technician. Despite technological advances, windmills are still used thanks to, among other things, their reliability and endurance.

This windmill was on the road between Nelson and Port MacDonnell, in a major dairy farming area.

Windmill

At Port MacDonnell, a local fishing village, I was delighted to discover this new sculpture by Mount Gambier artist Ivo Tadic. Isn’t it the cutest thing? I’ve since discovered that there’s another limestone sculpture called The Bay Wave at the other end of the port which weighs 50 tonnes, but I missed seeing it. So annoyed! Ah well, another excuse to come back.

The Penguins by Ivo Tadic

The Penguins by Ivo Tadic

Until very recently nearby Cape Northumberland boasted a little (fairy) penguin colony but, sadly, it has been decimated by predators. The hunt is now on to find surviving penguins. And hopefully devise a way to protect them. We need an Oddball!

After a very pleasant stroll about, we enjoyed a lovely lunch at the hugely popular Periwinkles Cafe, where I bumped into one of my old high school teachers, ate boar fish for the first time – delish! – and slurped some very tasty local wines which then needed to be worn off. And what better way than to explore the Port MacDonnell and District Maritime Museum. I’d visited not long after it opened, when I did a talk at the community centre, and it was wonderful to go back. This area has such a rich maritime and agricultural history, and the number of shipwrecks along this coast is astonishing – the SS Admella being being the most famous and one of Australia’s most tragic maritime disasters.

Some of you might recognise the name Admella. It’s the name of the beach outside of Port Andrews where Jasmine from Wayward Heart lives, and where she and her friends Em (from Rocking Horse Hill) and Teagan (from The Falls) love to gallop their horses.

A model of the steamship Admella in the Port MacDonnell and District Maritime Museum.

A model of the steamship Admella in the Port MacDonnell and District Maritime Museum.

This gave me a laugh!!

The donation box at the Port MacDonnell and District Maritime Museum.

The donation box at the Port MacDonnell and District Maritime Museum.

This is Port MacDonnell’s beautiful customs house built in 1863. It’s currently a private residence but a B&B operates as well. It was a multipurpose building, containing the police station and residence, cells, court room, post and telegraph station and school teacher’s residence. Must book a stay here one night. It’d be grand!

Port MacDonnell's lovely customs house.

Port MacDonnell’s lovely customs house.

Here’s me on the foreshore at Port MacDonnell. This is where Danny first kisses Beth in Santa and the Saddler!

Me with Santa and the Saddler on the foreshore at Port MacDonnell

Casterton, across the border in Victoria, is about 70 km from Mount Gambier and famous for its annual Kelpie Muster and a lovely place to visit. The Albion Hotel has recently had a new lease on life and I can’t recommend it enough. Besides being a magnificent old building, the bistro serves fantastic food. The bistro walls are also decorated with old photographs of the district and kept our little group fascinated for ages. And the loos have toilet roll holders made out of old rabbit traps.

Seriously, this place is a must visit!

The Albion Hotel, Casterton, Victoria.

The Albion Hotel, Casterton, Victoria. You need to come here!

A sample of the wonderful photos on the walls of the Albion Hotel.

A sample of the wonderful photos on the walls of the Albion Hotel. They were fascinating. Such a rich history.

One of the loo roll holders made from old rabbit traps.

One of the loo roll holders made from old rabbit traps. So cool!

Casterton is also home to some wonderful artwork celebrating the kelpie and the region’s history.

'On the Sheep's Back' by artist Annette Taylor.

‘On the Sheep’s Back’ by artist Annette Taylor.

'Jack Gleeson' by artist Barb Dobson.

‘Jack Gleeson’ by artist Barb Dobson. Gleeson ‘s kelpie was the start of the breed. Or so the tale goes.

As regular readers will know, my mum has Alzheimer’s Disease and is now in care in a wonderful facility. They were celebrating Australia Day when I went to visit, with a barbecue lunch, a singer and lots of decorations. She looked happy and healthy, which was great to see. Sadly, Mum has no idea who I am anymore, but that’s the progression of the disease. In the meantime, I’ll take what I can, even if it’s a chat that makes no sense at all and a confused smile. She’s my mum and I love her come what may.

Cathryn and her mum

Me and Mum, Australia Day 2017

For those of you who’ve read April’s Rainbow, which is set in Victoria’s far western districts, this is what the landscape around Rainbow looks like. Sigh. I love it here. Think I might have to write another story located in the area. This is on the Glenelg Highway at the start of the drop into Coleraine.

The stunning country around Coleraine.

Beautiful April’s Rainbow country.

Back in Mount Gambier, I called into the tourist office to pick up some maps to use for research later and spotted this chappie in the pond. Cute!

Tourist office tortoise

The cute little tourist office tortoise. He looks quite small here but he was around 20 cm or so in shell length.

The tourist office also has a great discovery centre and a replica of the Lady Nelson, the survey vessel from which Mt Gambier and Mt Schank were spotted and named by its commander Lieutenant James Grant.

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of the special area where I grew up and which continues to provide inspiration for my stories.

If you’re ever in far western Victoria or in south-east South Australia, or simply considering holiday destinations, then please put this too unheralded area on your list. There are natural wonders galore, rich and fascinating histories, gorgeous art and architecture, and produce of a quality you wouldn’t believe. For more information and ideas, contact the Mount Gambier tourist office. You won’t regret it I promise!

 

Click here to join my newsletter today

A (Short) Day At The Races

6 Replies

Ah, the joy of serendipity! As many of you know, I’m currently in South Australia at my parents’ house in Mount Gambier. Being a bit distracted by other matters, I hadn’t paid much attention to any events that might be happening locally and was delighted to discover that the town’s premier race meeting of the year, the Gold Cup, was on while I was home. Even more happily, a family friend was attending, had tickets to a corporate tent, and when she heard I’d still be around on the Friday, promptly invited me along.  You can imagine how fast I said yes!

Myself and family friend, Bernie Tichbom.

Myself and family friend, Bernie Tichbom.

Unfortunately, there would be no Gold Cup. We’d had rain all week and the first day of the cup carnival the day before, and the track started a heavy 10 (the maximum rating and pretty muddy). By the time three races had been run, the turf was that cut up it was looking dangerous. The rollers came out, but when the delay was announced as indefinite it didn’t look promising. At 3pm after a long inspection by the stewards, the meet was abandoned. A shame, especially for all those who put so much effort into the day and its preparations, but the safety of horses and jockeys must take priority.

Mind you, that didn’t stop the partying. Given wind chill had the apparent temperature around 8 degrees, I guess many thought a few drinks would warm them up. But it was all good fun and a happy time appeared to be had by all. Such a pity I won’t be around for the rescheduled race. Maybe next year!

Here are a few photos of the day.

Crowds at the 2015 Mount Gambier Gold Cup

Trackside, early in the afternoon. It was a little more raucous later!

Racing

 See that horse coming last? I backed that one. Sigh.

Steeplechase

In steeplechases it’s not unusual for the jockeys to walk the horses up to the jumps before the race begins.

Steeplechase

 My horse came 2nd. Which would have been fine if I hadn’t backed it only for the win. Not  enough runners for place payouts anyway.

Fashions on the field

There were lots of entrants in the fashions on the field. I thought the girl in ochre on the far right looked fantastic. Sadly she didn’t win. The girl on the far left did.

Fashions on the field

 Trousers suited the day. It was freezing!

Fashions on the field

Gorgeous outfit but perhaps more spring than autumn? I think that’s Amelia Mulcahy of Channel 7 interviewing the ladies. She looked lovely too!

Fashions on the field

With racing halted, all eyes were on the fashions.

Cathryn Hein at the Mount Gambier Gold Cup

No fashions on the field for me. I had no idea the races were on let alone that I’d be going. Otherwise I would have packed a proper hat and gloves, and a ruddy great wool coat!

 

THIS WRITING LIFE: Frocking Up & Other Fun

2 Replies

Cos I’m a proud auntie and because we like a good frock-up here on the blog, I thought you might like to see some of the action from my gorgeous niece’s debutante ball, held recently in my home town of Mount Gambier.

But first, some adventures from the trip south…

We took a bit of detour off the Hume Highway to Holbrook, whose famous submarine, the HMAS Otway, had been yarnbombed and transformed into a true yellow submarine. Doesn’t that make you smile? Even on a gloomy day it’s bright and happy. Holbrook’s a great place to break your drive along the Hume. Call in, if you get the chance.

HMAS Otway covered in yellow crochet squaresAs you can see, the weather wasn’t much chop. Even the poor old Dog on the Tuckerbox at Gundagai looked miserable.

A wet Dog on the Tuckerbox at GundagaiLeading up to the big night, I did a some talks at Ballarat Library, Wiridjil Hall and Warrnambool Library – all fabulous events that I enjoyed hugely. But I’d like to give a special shout out to the wonderful people at Wiridjil, a tiny place a little inland from the Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road. We had the BEST time. Thanks to Margaret and Terry for asking me to come and for organising the event. And thanks to all the people who turned up on such a blustery cold day. It was such a delight to meet and talk with you. We sure warmed that hall up!

Here’s me with fans Cheryl, Kristen and little Harley. As you can see, there were lots of smiles!

Me with fans Cheryl and Kristen at Wiridjil HallJim and I arrived early, so to kill some time we drove down for a look at the Twelve Apostles. Oh boy, was it windy. Good thing there was solid railing or I might never have made it to the talk.

Cathryn at the 12 Apostles, VictoriaAfter the talk and a delicious morning tea, we did a bit of cheese tasting and buying on the way to Warrnambool (as you do). Delicious it was too! But how’s this for a bit of dairy humour at Apostle Whey Cheese. Loved it.

A Loch Ness Cow at Apostle Whey CheeseWith my talks done and a day or so to spare, it was time for a bit of R&R at the old whaling station of Port Fairy. We stayed in the most amazing historic cottage at Seacombe House. Open fire, four-poster bed, massive bathroom with spa and the acclaimed Stag Restaurant almost at the door. Sigh. T’was very romantic. Going to do it again.

Also snuck in some golf at the Port Fairy Golf Links. As you can see, it was a tad nippy. That’s a fleece beanie and fleece ear-warmers, not to mention about five layers of clothing, that I’m wearing in this photo. At least the sun is out at that point. When we teed off the rain was sleeting sideways at us. Urk.

Playing Golf at Port Fairy Golf LinksThen it was on to Mount Gambier and an old-fashioned frock-up!

Hundreds of proud mums, dads, relatives and friends packed the Barn Palais to watch twelve girls make their debut on what was a typical winter night in the lower south-east of SA. In other words, cold, wet and miserable. But it was warm, happy and buzzing inside, and that’s what counts.

Before the ball itself we had some entertainment…

The Blue Lake Highland Pipe Band!

Pipe BandHighland dancers!

Highland dancersAnd fairies! I’d show you a snap but they moved too quick for the camera.

Then the big moment when the girls were presented one by one to the Mayor and Lady Mayoress, complete with super-cute flower girls traipsing behind. All the debs and their partners looked stunning. But none more so than my niece Megan. Must take after her auntie (hee!)

Here she is about to be presented. The Dress Stewart sash and brooch Megan is wearing is the same as I wore for my debut back in 1985.

Megan about to be presented

Doing her debutante dance with partner Mitchell…

Debutante danceAnd here’s me with Megan. Yes, she’s very tall and I’m short…

Me and my beautiful niece Megan

And here are all the debs, their partners and flower girls looking beautiful.

All the debutantesAfter a good time was had by all in Mt Gambier (where I whupped my dad’s butt on the golf course) it was off to Melbourne for more R&R and to see the Italian Masterpieces exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria.

On the way, we ducked into Dartmoor to visit the Memorial Streetscape, which are carvings made from the stumps of a section of the town’s cedar tree Avenue of Honour. A lovely local lady was kind enough to come out into the cold and give us a brochure explaining all the carvings. Wonderful. Very much worth the detour.

Dartmoor Memorial StreetscapeThe Italian Masterpieces exhibition was spectacular, as were these bears in Federation Court by Italian artist Paola Pivi. The installation is called You started it…I finish it. I’m not sure what it all means but aren’t they happy things? So much fun!

Red bear at the NGVBears at the NGV

And because I’m a romance writer and these things appeal to me, here’s a photo of all the locks on the Yarra footbridge at Southbank in Melbourne. Lovers clip the engraved locks to the footbridge’s wire rail and throw the key into the Yarra River as a sign of eternal love. Awww.

Locks on Yarra footbridge, Southbank, MelbourneSo ended our mini-break. Since our return home it’s been settling back into routine and full steam ahead on my next romantic adventure.

After all, gotta keep these books a-coming!

Rocking Horse Hill Release Day!

21 Replies

Rah! It’s here at last. My latest rural romance Rocking Horse Hill has now officially hit the shelves.

Have you spotted it out and about yet? Let me know if you have. Even better, maybe take a pic and share it on my Facebook page, Google+ or Twitter via @CathrynHein.

Now, to celebrate release day (in addition to the bottle of pink fizz awaiting me in the fridge) here are…

TEN SECRET THINGS ABOUT ROCKING HORSE HILL

1/. Josh was originally called Nick.

2/. Originally I wanted to name Em Cashmere. Seriously. Cashmere Wallace-Jones. She then became Emelia before finally settling as Emily.

3/. Rocking Horse Hill is based on Mount Schank, a volcano south of Mount Gambier in South Australia’s lower south-east.

PC261141

4/. Sliding on you bum down the side of a volcano is the best fun ever. I’ve done it!

5/. The inspiration for Rocking Horse Hill’s quarry scar came from Mount Elephant near Derinallum in western Victoria. The quarry was for scoria.

Western quarry scar on Mount Elephant

6/. The book took 7 months to write. Yikes!

7/. Muffy is based on my darling late dog Cooch.

8/. Chelsea was inspired by an Indian runner duck that my brother once kept. That duck could really motor!

9/. Josh bares more than a passing resemblance to Rex in Rome actor Ettore Bassi. I spent a lot of time studying pictures of him for research… as you do.

10/. Donkeys are sweet but can be sneaky little buggers. There are some amazing videos of them around the net, getting up to mischief. Watching them gave me a lot of laughs. Check this too-clever donkey out.

I hope you enjoyed these ten secret things. But most of all I really hope you enjoy the drama and romance of Rocking Horse Hill!

Feeling that itchy urge to buy right now? Then canter on down to your local book shop or chain store, or simply clickety-click on any of these retailers.

Happy reading!

Cathryn

FRIDAY FEAST with Cathryn Hein ie me!

68 Replies

Hoppy Easter, everyone! And welcome to this special Good Friday edition of Friday Feast. I say special a bit tongue-in-cheek because you have ME as your host and guest, something that doesn’t happen often. Actually, you’ll have me this week and next week. Aren’t you lucky!

Unlike my darling football team, who are not.Cathryn holding Rocking Horse Hill

My beloved Sydney Swans, bless them, are currently playing worse football than I’m playing golf, and that’s saying something. And because I still have the footy-sulks you’re going to have to put up with Us Heins Weren’t Meant To Play Golf news instead.

Despite difficult conditions –  ie. the course being as soggy as a soppy sponge and the bunkers being flooded – last week I managed to score less disastrously than I have for a while, which doesn’t mean much, really. However I did at least manage to look particularly fetching in purple tartan shorts teamed with a blue and white floraly patterned polo and pink socks. Stylish. Very stylish indeed.

And now… er… here’s ME!

Well, my book: Rocking Horse Hill, which releases in only five sleeps and which is garnering suuuuper reviews!

ROCKING HORSE HILL

Rocking Horse Hill by Cathryn Hein coverWho do you trust when a stranger threatens to tear your family apart?

Ever since she was a little girl, Emily Wallace-Jones has loved Rocking Horse Hill. The beautiful family property is steeped in history. Everything important in Em’s life has happened there. And even though Em’s brother Digby has inherited the property, he has promised Em it will be her home for as long as she wishes.

When Digby falls in love with sweet Felicity Townsend, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, Em worries about the future. But she is determined not to treat Felicity with the same teenage snobbery that tore apart her relationship with her first love, Josh Sinclair. A man who has now sauntered sexily back into Em’s life and given her a chance for redemption.

But as Felicity settles in, the once tightly knitted Wallace-Jones family begins to fray. Suspicions are raised, Josh voices his distrust, and even Em’s closest friends question where Felicity’s motives lie. Conflicted but determined to make up for the damage caused by her past prejudices, Em sides with her brother and his fiancée until a near tragedy sets in motion a chain of events that will change the family forever.

A cracking family drama and a wonderful romance (if I do say so myself). Why not pre-order the ebook right now? Simply visit Amazon for your Kindle, iBooks, Kobo or Google Play. Do it now and it’ll be delivered right to your device on release day. Easy!

And now more ME!

EASTER TREATS

What are your childhood Easter memories? Are they overloaded with chocolate, camping or perhaps all the glorious colour and action of the Royal Easter Show?

In the Hein household we went to the beach. Marvellous, I hear you say. Lucky you! Er, yes. Lucky us. Except let me tell you a little about the place I’m talking about. Nene Valley is a tiny fishing village right down the very bottom of South Australia. It was named after a barque that was wrecked there in 1854. When I was a kid, at really low tide, you could still see the remains of the wreck but the sea and sand has covered it now. It’s a nice place though. It was then and it still is now, and Mum and Dad’s Mount Gambier limestone shack had everything you could want.

However, think about where it is. Think of Antarctica, think of the Great Southern Ocean, and Map of Australia and Antarctica showing approximate location of Nene Valleythen picture a map of Australia. Bar a few guano-covered islands, between Nene Valley and all those icebergs there is nothing but freezing water and slicing wind. When the weather turns, it’s bloody horrible. And inevitably, so, so perfectly, it would turn Easter weekend.

Ah, Dad, ever the optimist, would head out on Good Friday to lay crayfish pots and nets (you used to be able to net in those days) and rub his hands in glee at the thought of the cray, whiting, bream or snapper soon to be lining his plate. And what would happen, almost without fail? Foul weather. Out there the pots would remain. If we were lucky, the sea would be safe enough in the bay to fetch the nets. But the pots, which were usually laid on the reef where the breakers crashed, had to stay.

So what would we eat instead? Rabbit! Often with the added extra crunch of shotgun pellets. And chocolate, of course. Lots of it because Mum always loaded up. Which was just as well when you consider the seafood situation….

Now, what has that to do with the recipe I’m sharing today or Rocking Horse Hill? Absolutely nothing. But it was fun talking about it anyway.

Seeing as it’s Easter, I thought I’d share my recipe for hot crossed buns, or in this case, uncrossed buns because I’m usually too lazy to make the crosses or glaze them. Who needs that faffing around when they taste good without it anyway?

You can make the recipe the traditional way but why bother if you have a breadmaker? Put the ingredients in the machine in the right order, hit the dough setting and go and read a book. Perfect! It took a bit of experimenting to get the recipe right but it’s pretty foolproof now. The only hard work is kneading in the sultanas and forming the buns and even that takes no time at all. The rest is all done by machine. Lovely!

Hot (Un)Crossed Buns

Hot uncrossed buns

14 grams or so of dried yeast

4 cups plain (bread) flour

1 teaspoon salt

¼ cup sugar

2 teaspoons mixed spice

1 cup sultanas

1 ½ cups warm milk

2 tablespoons melted butter

1 egg, lightly beaten

Mix dry ingredients, including yeast & sultanas, in a large bowl. Add milk, butter and egg. Mix well to form a soft dough. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in volume. Approx. 1 hour.

(This stage can be done in a bread machine – liquid ingredients first, followed by dry, NO SULTANAS, then set to ‘dough’ function.)

Knock down dough, then knead for 1 minute.

(If you’re using a breadmaker, let it finish its cycle, remove the dough and knead in the sultanas.)

Dough ready for sultanas to be kneaded in

Dough ready for sultanas to be kneaded in

Divide dough evenly into 12 pieces. Shape each piece into a bun. Place slightly apart on a lined baking tray. Leave in a warm place to double in size. Approx 1 hour, depending on ambient temperature.

Or, if you’re like me, take a big cake tin (26 x 26 cm), tear off some baking paper to fit. No grease, just plop it in – the paper overhang makes great handles for lifting the buns out afterwards – then roll your 12 buns and place them in the tin and leave to prove. They’ll be a bit more rectangular than square but it’s the taste, not the shape, that counts. Don’t worry about it. Anyway, if they’re too perfect everyone will think you bought them!

Rolled buns in the tin ready for baking

Rolled buns in the tin ready for baking

If you’re feeling cheffy, pipe crosses onto buns. (Make the paste with 1/3 cup plain flour and 1/3 cup water, mixed until smooth).

Just to prove I can add crosses….

Buns with crosses ready for baking

Buns with crosses ready for baking

Okay, so I’m not great with a piping bag…

Bake at 200⁰C for 15-20 minutes. When baked, place buns on a rack and brush with glaze. (Make the glaze by mixing ¼ cup water, 2 tablespoons sugar and ½ teaspoon mixed spice in a saucepan. Bring to boil slowly, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes)

Finished glazed hot cross buns

Finished glazed hot cross buns

See? Easy! And delicious. Plus your house will smell amazing and you’ll have exerted hardly any effort. Stand by for cheers and compliments when you hand out butter-smothered hot (un)crossed buns to grateful family and friends.

Hot crossed buns broken apart

GIVEAWAY

Why not? It’s Easter. So…

For your chance to win not only a signed copy of my fantabulous new rural romance Rocking Horse Hill, the book that everyone is raving about (it’s my blog, I’m allowed enthusiasm!), but some Lindt chocolates too, simply share your favourite Easter memory or treat. Either one, I don’t care. The main thing is to join in the Friday Feast fun!

Did you shiver in a collapsed tent for an entire weekend? Perhaps you ate too many Easter Bilbys (chocolate ones) and couldn’t move for a day? Maybe you have a wonderful family tradition you could share?

Comment away and I’ll put you in the draw.

Giveaway closes midnight AEST Wednesday, 23rd April 2014. Australian postal addresses only.

Take note: I’m be leaving the giveaway open a little longer usual because of the holiday break.

Now, if you’d like to learn more about me, just go exploring the website. But you can also play around on Facebook, Twitter via @CathrynHein and Google+.

Six Sleeps Until Rocking Horse Hill’s Release!

Ha! That heading sounds almost poetic.

Only six sleeps until Rocking Horse Hill officially hits the shelves and one of those nights includes a visit from the Easter Bunny. Well, lots of chocolate anyway. Exciting times… or maybe that’s just the sugar high.

Now for news.

REVIEWS

They’re coming in now and they’re WONDERFUL. I’m thrilled to bits that people are loving Em and Josh’s story. Here’s what a couple have said already:

I absolutely loved Rocking Horse Hill. Aussie author Cathryn Hein has created a masterpiece with this novel, her best yet in my opinion. Her beautiful descriptions are so well done as to make it easy to feel I was there with Emily and her animals, gazing at the cypress trees, laughing at the antics of the duck, and chasing the donkeys when they escaped their enclosure, ransacking Em’s vegetable garden. A wonderful novel which I have no hesitation in recommending highly.

5 stars from Brenda on Goodreads

This is a story that will pull you in from the start the charachters are rich and add so much to the story as do the wonderful pets that Em has on the farm. Josh and Em have a lot to overcome and with a bit of danger added to the mix and Granny B meddling they will get to their HEA. This is a story of family and friendships and love lost and won again don’t miss this one.

5 stars from Helen on Goodreads

A book of charming characters from Emily, Josh and Digby to the infamous Granny B, Rocking Horse Hill is a well written story set in South Australia, that has suspense, friendship, loyalties, family relationships and second chances all put to the test for each of the characters in the book. An enjoyable read that takes the steadfastly close Wallace-Jones family through challenges and circumstances that have you on edge in so many pages. Heart wrenching moments and tension that will keep your eyes to the book. Character stories intertwine to form one big story that was a impressive read.

4 stars from Talking Books

And 5 stars from 1 Girl, 2 Many Books with a review and 2 book giveaway to come. Watch out for the link.

GIVEAWAYS

Six sleeps until release means there are only 6 days to get your Goodreads giveaway entry in. Visit Rocking Horse Hill’s Goodreads page, or click on the graphic below. Simply click the Enter To Win button and you’re in. If you’re not a Goodreads member, it’s easy to sign up. It’s a great place to talk books with others, leave reviews and recommendations, and discover new stories and authors.

Goodreads giveaway image - orange border

If you miss out on Goodreads, there’ll be more opportunities throughout the blogosphere, including tomorrow here on Friday Feast. Stay tuned for details on this blog, on my Facebook page, Google+ and Twitter via @CathrynHein.

EVENTS & APPEARANCES

Come and join me for a booksigning at BigW Katoomba on Saturday 26th April. I’ll be there from 11am for an hour or two. I’d love to see you.

Catch me and fellow rural romance author Rachael Johns for A Romantic Morning at Penrith Library, 10am, Friday May 9th. Rach and I are good buddies so this is going to be a blast.

I’m officially launching Rocking Horse Hill in my home town. Come and help me celebrate at Mount Gambier Library, 7pm Tuesday May 20th.

I’ll be chatting at Hamilton Library on Wednesday May 21st from 5-7pm. This will be a lovely evening. About time I gave a chat here. I’ve been meaning too for ages.

Join me at Balmoral Bush Nursing Centre on Thursday May 22nd at 10am. I’m so looking forward to this visit.

 BLOGS

I’ll be visiting…

18th April – Friday Feast with me, here! I’m sharing my recipe for breadmaker hot cross buns. Or uncrossed buns in this case. There may be a giveaway…

22nd April – Rachael Johns’ Blog. Learn how we became friends. There’s even an embarrassing sample of our email correspondence.

24th April – A fun Q&A on bookblogger site Book’d Out. Discover my (second) favourite scene in Rocking Horse Hill, my love of sticky notes and more.

24th April – Write Note Reviews – My view on writing what you know.

30th April – Another fun Q&A, this time with best-selling rural romance author Fiona Palmer. Discover who I’d get to play Josh in the movie of Rocking Horse Hill.

5th May – I’m revealing my writing space to Helene Young (and the world). Scary!

7th May – Join me and Pamela Cook where I discuss my reading loves. Find out what books made me laugh and those that made be bawl like a baby.

I’ll also be answering Booktopia’s Ten Terrifying Questions – and they were! Plus in another post I’ll be revealing my 5 favourite Australian romantic novels.

 

Phew! Looks like I’m going to be one busy girl. Good thing there’ll be plenty of chocolate on hand!

THIS WRITING LIFE: Hay Bale Art!

I hope you all had a gorgeous Christmas. We spent ours in Mount Gambier with my family, and much to my other half’s shock the weather was lovely!

On the way over we passed through the tiny town of Tarrington, near Hamilton in far western Victoria, and had to smile at the wonderful hay bale art decorating the road. So on our return trip we stopped to take a few photos. They were simply too much fun to resist!

???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????

 

THIS WRITING LIFE: Father Woods Park

I’d rather hoped to be posting photos of my glamour-filled trip to Polo In The City, an event held last weekend in Melbourne’s Albert Park but, alas, it was sold out. Nevermind, that gives me the opportunity to post some photos I’ve been meaning to share for ages.

Father Woods Park is situated about 20 kilometres north of Penola in South Australia’s south east – God’s country as we extremely biased born and breds like to call it. I only discovered the park’s existence during the library tour I did around the area back in May, when we zoomed past late one afternoon on our way from Mount Gambier to Bordertown. I was booked for an afternoon talk in Naracoorte later that week and so vowed to call in then for a proper look at the park. It’s a gorgeous place, filled with wonderful vivid timber sculptures that reflect the life of Father Julian Tenison Woods and his close association with Australia’s first Catholic saint, Saint Mary McKillop of the Cross.

I think you’ll see from the images that this is a must-stop attraction if you’re ever in the area. The sculptures are stunning, the location magnificent and it’s a great way to discover a bit of local history.

 

O

O

O

O

O

O

O

O

THIS WRITING LIFE: My True Blue Home Town

Last weekend Jim and I ventured across to South Australia and my home town of Mt Gambier to wish my grandmother a happy 97th birthday. It was wonderful to see her looking much perkier than during our last visit. Although a bit worn out, she’s not doing too badly for her age and I hope to have her around a few more years yet.

Mt Gambier is famous for its Blue Lake, which formed in one of the craters left behind after the site’s original volcano exploded and collapsed. In the winter the lake is a very dull shade of grey, but come summer it turns an extraordinary electric blue, a colour that has to be seen to be believed.

Right now, the lake is just on the turn. In a few weeks it’ll be amazing tourists and locals with its vibrant blue-ness, and will stay that way until around March.

This is what it looked like on Saturday.

And this is what it will look like come summer. I know it looks quite bright but, believe me, this photo doesn’t do justice to the colour. It’s extraordinary!

Though there’s been great argument over the years as to why the lake changes colour, scientific consensus seems to lean toward warming of the lake surface as the cause, which results in the formation of calcite crystals. As the temperature rises, more crystals precipitate out, removing humic substances from the water and scattering more blue light toward the surface. Or something like that. I’m okay with the bio-chemical bit but my brain starts to hurt at the first mention of light absorption and refraction. If you’re after a proper explanation the geology section of Mt Gambier’s tourism website is fairly comprehensive.

 

This Writing Life: Media stardom

Oh, all right, so it’s not media stardom. But I was still pretty chuffed to score a full page spread about my recent South East South Australia library tour in my hometown paper, The Border Watch.

 

 

Thanks so much to Cathryn Harris and all the staff at the Mount Gambier, Bordertown, Millicent, Naracoorte, and Port MacDonnell libraries for making the tour such a success. I had a ball!

And while I’m here, check out the fantastic hat that the ladies at Port MacDonnell Library presented to me as a thank you gift (along with some other lovely goodies).

 

 

Complete glamourpuss. Yep, that’s me!

For those unfamiliar with the area, Port MacDonnell is a fishing village about 30 kms south of Mount Gambier and “Australia’s Southern Rock Lobster Capital.” The town recently celebrated the opening of its new Port MacDonnell and District Maritime Museum, which I was lucky to catch a sneak peek of during my visit, and it’s wonderful!  Full of interesting exhibits and artefacts from all around the district, but what fascinated me the most were all the shipwreck displays, especially that of the SS Admella in 1859, which claimed 89 of the ship’s 113 passengers and crew.

Two days after the steamer hit Carpenter Reef two brave seamen finally made it to shore. Exhausted, they trekked to the lighthouse at Cape Northumberland, only to discover the lighthouse had no telegraph and the keeper had lost his horse a few days before. It took another trek to a farm followed by a ride to Mount Gambier before authorities were alerted. Thanks to severe swells and inaccurate communication, it wasn’t until 8 days after the wreck that a lifeboat reached the Admella survivors, of which, by now, there were very few. I can’t even begin to imagine how terrifying that must have been.

The history of this wreck and its social and political impact is well worth exploring. So next time you’re planning a trip to South Australia, make sure you include the Limestone Coast and Port MacDonnell. A visit to the museum, fish and chips (or maybe a crayfish sandwich) on the foreshore followed by some local adventuring and you have yourself a mighty fine day.