At the beginning of June, I went to Darwin, affectionately known as the Top End of Australia.  

It was my first visit to the Northern Territory and I was extra happy to be going because it had been a trip that had been planned for about 2 years so it was a great feeling to actually be going. Over the years I had heard a lot of wonderful things about Darwin and I was about to find out they were all true. 


It was my first flight in quite a while so it was lovely to see the sky look like a sea of clouds.

Extra fluffy clouds!

Coming in to land over beautiful turquoise water! 


I was met at the airport by Christine who I had met before at Quilt Encounter. It's always lovely to be greeted by a friendly face. 
First impressions as I walked outside was that it was so lovely and warm, a welcome change to the wintery cold weather of the Blue Mountains. The other thing I noticed was this colourful mural painted on the ceiling of the awning. 


The colourful adventure continued at our next stop as well, 

Songlines Gallery (55 Stuart Hwy, Stuart Park) is a wonderful showcase of indigenous paintings and prints of all types, not to mention impressive weavings,  but it was the wall of fabrics that caught my attention. 
Floor to ceiling racks displayed hand screen printed indigenous design fabrics in glorious bold colours and patterns. You'll see from the following photos what a strong presence they have. 

It was great talking to Felicity, the owner of the gallery because she was able to share all sorts of information about the fabrics, the designers, where they are from and what the pictures are depicting. 

Lengths of fabric are primarily bought by people to make garments, but as the range of pre-made items in the gallery showed, they are fabulous for bags, cushions, and yes, quilts. 


It was such a feast for the eyes and all of the designs were so striking that I couldn't decide which fabrics I wanted. But never fear,  I did go back later on my trip to buy a couple of pieces. 

There were also clothes, fabulous bags of all types, 

and gorgeous cushions.

There were rugs made up of a mass of embroidery stitches. 

and amazing huge woven pieces that take up a whole wall. This piece was about 2m ( 2 yards) wide. 

A close up of the weaving. 

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That night I presented a trunk show to the Darwin Patchwork and Quilters. It's always fun to see how different guilds or shops present trunk shows. This was quite different from others in that we hung many of the quilts around the room. When it was time for me to talk about the quilt I just pointed out the quilt and told its story. It was clever because it added so much colour to the room and character to the room before I'd even started talking and then they were there hanging after the talk for people to have a closer look at. I did have some extra quilts that we needed to hold up but I chose ones that had interesting backings so I could show both sides. Plus there is something lovely about seeing how soft and flowing a quilt is when it is handled. 

I only have this photo of the evening but it gives you an idea of the quilts on show. 

On Friday we had a Pine Star workshop.
This workshop always flies by with no time for photos except a few quick snaps of some of the beautiful circles produced. 

This one was the most dreamy soft palette. Like soft marshmallows in different flavours. 

I loved this exciting circle for all its use of patterned fabric. It's a wild safari!

So bright and happy, like a birthday party, The spots remind me of fairy bread. 

This is a tropical island with had colours of lush green forest, sand and ocean.

And this wonderful block reminded me of the colours of the vegetables I saw at the Parap markets on Saturday morning.. 



Darwin is famous for is wonderful food markets. Parap markets are the place to be on a Saturday morning, it's where you pick up fruit and veggies, have a laksa or dumplings for breakfast, a freshly made juice or homemade lemonade, browse through stalls with craft or clothes.  

The stand that caught my eye was where the tables were full of Heliconia flowers!

When I was a florist we would sell these sculptural exotic heliconia flowers for $5 -$7.50 per stem so it was amazing to see them on mass like this. They were in big bunches for only $7.50!! If I'd been staying longer I would have bought a bucketful!

Beautiful exotic Crab Claw Heliconias. They look as though they could be from another planet. 


After a wander through the markets I was picked up by Pip in her colourful car, and off we went to spend  a weekend making Pockets Full of Posies quilts. 




It was another action packed workshop, chopping up jeans and sewing them into garden beds for flowers to grow. When it comes to the flowers, I always suggest that people take inspiration from the flowers that grow around them, so while there were cool climate flowers from my pattern like daffodils and tulips, there were lots of wonderful local tropical blooms such as heliconias and frangipanis growing out of pockets. 


Here is are some 3D bougainvillea.




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These quilts are fabulous just as jeans quilts even without the flowers. 


The days flew by in a colourful whirl! I wish more workshops were 3, or 4 or 5 days? but then I guess we'd want them to go for even longer. I'm very thankful for the time spent with the lovely Darwin Quilters.

On the Sunday while I was surrounded by fabric flowers,  Mr Daisy flew from Sydney to Darwin and was there to meet me when the workshop was finished. 
That evening we went to the famous Mindil Beach Sunset Markets, which is renowned for having every type of food you could ever imagine on offer and it truly did. We wandered up and down and tasted all sorts of delicious treats. 

We then went and sat on the beach and watched the sun set over the water. To be on a beach is always a treat for us mountain folk, and to see the sun setting over the water made us feel as though we were in a movie. 

Here we are, a couple of happy daisies, as the sun set on a wonderful day, and fabulous weekend in Darwin. 


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The next day we jumped in our hire car and headed off to Katherine. We drove along big roads at super speeds ( the speed limit is higher in the Northern Territory than other parts of Australia, woohoo!). Beautiful landscapes of red dirt, bluest skies, interesting trees flew by. It was a good 3 hour drive so by the time we arrived and had a late lunch, had a bit of a wander around the town, a swim and then a quiet evening of reading books that was our day done and dusted. 

The next morning we were up bright and early for a river cruise through Katherine Gorge. I'm sending out huge thanks to the Jarwoyn people who are the Traditional owners of the land. We are very lucky that they share this special place with visitors. 


Off we went, cruising up the the river.

As we chuffed along the guide filled us in on the history of the place, about the native flora and fauna, bush tucker and medicine and all sorts of things. 

Every now and then we would get out and walk for a little while to another boat. I really enjoyed getting out to stretch our legs and having a chance to explore the rocks, but then it was also nice to sit and marvel at the spectacular scenery float by, a great balance of both. 

I go from taking hardly any photos in my workshops to taking a zillion when I'm out and about. 


























There was a part where we stopped at a waterhole where people had a chance to swim. 
Mr Daisy relaxed on a rock, 

And I wandered off to take photos of some scarves I've had printed. 

I had notions of getting fabulous photos of them against the rocks. I must have been a bit heat struck at the time because I didn't think the photos were working but now I look at these and think they look pretty good. The colour of the scarf is so vivid against the rocks. 

The tricky part was trying to hold the scarf in place. I was using my drink bottles and keeping them out of the photo but in hindsight it would have looked good with a couple of rocks holding it in place. 

I wandered off and took a photo of a leaf instead. 

...some curly grass, 

and a tiny little flower.

After everyone had been for a refreshing swim it was time to hop back in the boat for some more cruising. 







We had the chance to see ancient rock art, dating back 50 thousand years!! Fifty thousand years- it's so hard to fathom that amount of time. These painting told stories of the food that could be found in the area, of mimi spirits and rainbow serpents. 


Phil looking at rock art

The cruise went for a 3 hours and we both thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. 

We'd experienced the gorge from the river and then we went up to a lookout for another view.





As always, I would spot flowers along the way.

Beautiful scented Frangipanis


Turkey Bush plants added clouds of pink to the landscape.


and beautiful wattle with flowers that look like yellow puffs of sunshine. 



 I'll leave it there.. I'm only half way through the trip but there are a zillion more photos so I'll save the rest for another day. 


P.S.
Back to sewing for a moment,

For all the Ric Rac fans out there - I've listed Ric Rac in my Etsy store. They are bundles of 25 pieces of mixed colours and different sizes, cut to the right length to suit my Tickety-Boo and happy scrappy Ric Rac Razzamatazz quilts, or maybe you'd like some because its pretty and you want to have some to add to your projects.