We went up to Avalon. You can see up near the top of this map how it's located on a peninsula (thirty miles north of Sydney CBD), with the Pittwater inlet to its east, and the Pacific to the west.
Or, if you live in this house, high up on the peninsula's ridge, here's the Pittwater window:
And here's the Pacific Ocean window (looking across the same painting):
I realize that you can't really see the water in these shots, but you can, really well, see them from the windows.
It's all part of the home of Nada Herman-Witkamp (more here), the third in a line of three generations of Australian painters. Her grandfather was Sali Herman, one of Australia's Official War Artists for World War Two, and four time winner of the Wynne Prize, one of Australia's most prestigious art awards. Her father was Ted Herman, another well known Aussie painter, and the guy who bought the land on which the Avalon house now sits, in the 1950s. There were at the time, Herman-Witkamp told us, hundreds of koalas in the area. Like "an infestation," she said. (There was a sign on the way up to the house with the image of a koala on it, but she said she hadn't seen one in twenty years.)
Herman-Witkamp, and, I'm guessing Witkamp himself—there was a guy there who I thought seemed pretty Witkampy—open the house to the public every weekend during certain times of the year. You can just pop up and walk around the house and grounds. They were there, hanging out in the kitchen. Herman-Witkamp told us to go ahead and make some tea in the kitchen if we liked.
The place is really something. It has one "little" sandstone cottage (that's where mum lives, we were told "Pop in, she won't mind!"), and the big house, made of windows and a bit of nice wood, it seemed, around an open courtyard, and the whole place surrounded by huge old gums. Christine and I decided that, in a pinch, it would do.
The view from the deck of the kitchen, of the Pittwater and a slew of sailboats:
All around the house are examples of her work, much of it, by my untrained eye, really quite good:
Around the grounds (the first pic is looking through one end of the courtyard into the kitchen):
An easel I'd love to have:
The Herman Art House, Avalon, NSW.