Day 6: Terra Santa – Our tour with the Italian Community

In 2011, my eldest daughter and I joined a group of our Italian community and went on a tour of Israel! Mostly they were nonni, with a few of us young ones thrown in for balance hehehe. Oh my what laughs we had (remember the eye girls? 🤣). What lasting memories. I made this trip for my mum whose short life robbed her of the opportunity to travel. I felt her there at the Church of the Annunciation.

“I could ‘feel’ mum in this church and I was overcome with emotion.”

Some of our traveling companions – the Italian Community

Just like the visits to the Louvre in Paris brought my art books to life, so this tour of the Holy Land breathed life into the Bible for me. 

In the hills around Jericho, “the place where Jesus most probably spent the 40 days in the desert, … I truly thought that if I stayed just looking long enough Jesus would appear…” wandering through that desert and mountainous range.

Sea of Galilee, Israel. My journal, 2011

7 August, 2011 – On the road to Jerusalem

“Leaving Nazareth and onto the road to Jerusalem finds us driving through some amazing landscapes. It goes from green, full of date trees and palms and then – it’s desert! A dry, grey white, then suddenly up pops a town perched on the side of a hill. The cliffs are carved through to allow for the roads and every time one moves in and out of the precincts, we pass a check point. We encounter no problems, everyone just lets us through.”

My journal, 2011

But then….

8 August, 2011 – Bethlehem

“Getting in was fine at the checkpoint. Getting out was a little scary. Armed soldiers boarded the bus and asked to see our passports. Soldiers held machine guns and were very young, but scary nonetheless.” 

9 Agosto, 2011 – following the Passion of the Christ, (no, not the movie)

My journal, 2011

11 August, 2011 – Yad Vashem, a ‘name’ & ‘place’, Holocaust Museum

The Children’s Memorial

“The triangular corridor is dark with 5 candles illuminated and reflected on mirrored walls representing all the children killed. A voice recites all the known victims. The walk through was very sad, words cannot describe the feelings that come, only tears fall from your eyes. You feel their innocent spirits around. [It’s not creepy, it’s sorrowful] The museum doesn’t hold back on images nor on information about the Holocaust.” 

Thanks for reading 🙂

Tomorrow we’re off to London …

Day 5: A day at Villers-Bretonneux

I just cannot leave the Western Front without one more post. I’ve been going through my journal that covers this particular trip and have just come across pages of epitaphs I had documented. Once again those feelings return. I remember walking along the gravestones, many unknown, I can hear the bees, feel the warmth of the sun and the cold of the stone block where I sat teary and emotionally exhausted after I had finished transcribing the messages that had caught my eye. 

11 April 2009 – A place that will never forget the Australians

Just west of the town of Villers-Bretonneux in the Somme, we make a quick stop at the Adelaide Cemetery

“We found the place from where the unknown soldier was taken and is now in Canberra – very emotional moment.”

From here we visited the L’Ecole Victoria. A school dedicated to remembering our diggers from the Great War. I peered in through the windows as the school was closed that day, to find beautifully coloured drawings of Australian animals. The artwork continues on the external walls and a great big sign oversees the playground “DO NOT FORGET AUSTRALIA”. Every classroom looks out onto this sign. ❤️ Never. Ever. Forget.

Do not forget Australia. My journal 2016


My journal, 2011

We then visit Viller’s Memorial to pay our respects.

The epitaphs …

“Time passes but memory clings until we meet again”

“Your memory like the ivy clings”

“A nation’s gain. A parent’s loss. A sad bride. ‘Neath the Southern Cross”

“He has fought the good fight”

“Think what a man should be. He was all that”

“He died that we may live”

“Peace, perfect peace”

“My Pal”

Lest we forget 🌺

Thanks for reading 🙂

Day 4: Our visits to the Western Front 🌺

In 2009 I joined my school group on a tour of the Western Front. It would be the first of several visits in the years to come. I could write lots more, but suffice to say these trips left an indelible mark on me. I will Never. Ever. Forget. 

8 April 2009 – Ypres, Belgium

“The ‘real’ Western Front tour began yesterday … when I woke up this morning, the beautiful Cloth hall in the piazza was still there!” 

The day before we had visited multiple sites traveling from Paris and onto the Western Front. We had our own bus with Fausto at the helm. A loveable character who spoke no English. We loved him, though I have no idea how we managed to tour the Western Front over the two weeks. It was a mix of broken second languages, lots of map pointing and patience but we got there!

The Fausto Express

“Fausto, our bus driver is excellent, the best U-turner in the country. I speak to him in a mix of broken Spanish, Italian & French and he speaks back in Spanish!”

The Western Front experiences were many and varied. Each time we visited I saw and felt new things. We met many well know characters along the way, who openly and graciously shared of their experiences. I have always found it difficult to discuss my experiences of the Western Front and the emotions I felt. My journals were my escape, they were the ones with whom I shared, sometimes hurriedly scribbling what happened, many times just relishing in drawing, cutting and pasting. It was the time where I could pour out my day so that I would have room to ‘feel’ tomorrow. In this post I briefly touch on just 3 moments: seeing Cobbers, Otto Dix exhibition, and the Last Post at Menin Gate.


As we all stood solemnly around the sculpture of Cobbers, listening to Ian as he told the story. I was instantly catapulted back to my under-graduate days and into the sculpture studio at MCAE (Melbourne Uni). You see the sculptor, Peter Corlett, was my lecturer for a bit and here I was in front of the original piece, in Fromelles. (There’s a copy that stands as a memorial to Australian soldiers and their sacrifice at the Battle of Fromelles on July 19, 1916 in the Shrine Reserve in Melbourne if you’re interested in seeing it). However, nothing comes close to the feeling that comes over you standing on this land, in front of this sculpture looking over yonder at VC corner where so many of our boys fought and died.

Otto Dix

It had been a full day but nothing prepared me for the images I saw at an exhibition later that day displaying the war etchings by Otto Dix. Harrowing. I could not draw them fast enough so I could leave and close my journal!!!

My hurried sketches of a skull and a rotting corpse

Menin Gate

In Ypres, every night at 8pm the last post ceremony is held under the Menin Gate. It has taken place every night, whatever the weather, since 11 November 1929. The only exception to this was during the four years of the German occupation of Ypres from 20 May 1940 to 6 September 1944. 

My journal, 2011

Lest we forget 🌺

Thanks for reading 🙂

Day 3: The Louvre during the day

24 May 2007 – Revisiting the Louvre on my own

You’ve probably realised that I’m not going to give a tourist’s guide to the places I have chosen to share with you but rather a personal take using snippets of writing and images or photos from my journals. I have added links if you would like to read more about these places, artworks, relics and people. Otherwise sit back and just enjoy the adventure through my eyes, hand and heart. I would love to hear about your own visits to these places. Feel free to add a comment below.

Assyrian Warrior      8th Century BC

“I spent the last full day in Paris in the Louvre. I went on my own, on the metro. I didn’t get lost! I just went there [again] to see what I wanted to see. I went to say g’day to Mona again. … [but] the highlight had to be finding the monumental Assyrian Lions right there in front of me!”

Their scale dwarfs you. I was not to know that years later I would come face to face with sections of the Ishtar Gates, in Berlin and be reminded again of the era I saw here in Paris. It’s an epic feeling I cannot describe to come face to face with works I have only seen and read about in my art books. I have been known to quietly greet the works as if they were a long lost friend.

“I saw the carved figures of Assyrians that are in my book back home. I couldn’t believe it!”

Hello, so great to see you in person!

“I also wondered through the Madonna and child sculptures. There are so many of them! This place is just amazing and I’m glad I got a chance to go back and enjoy it again.”

Anonymous ‘Madonna and Child’ circa 1400-1450

I have a photo gallery full of the wonderful Madonnas I saw that day from every age.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Day 2: Our first visit to the Louvre in Paris

As promised, two posts in one day to make up for yesterday

19th May, 2007 – Our first visit to the Louvre – at night

Me, very excited, outside the Louvre late at night!

“After dinner we were accompanied by friends to the Louvre so we could take advantage of the all night free entry into museums and galleries. Amazing! The line was short and in 10 minutes we were in!! We headed straight for Mona, but not before running into Victory, Leo’s Madonna of the Rocks and a number of others. Mona was beautiful. … My heart was pounding. We spent about 1.5 hours in there, [lots of people] and … we found Venus and Egyptian art, but by 12:15 am we were really tired, so we headed home along with a horde of people on the metro. We got home at about 1 am. What a day!” 

Thanks for reading 🙂