a garden in a mirror


Mary Magdalene by George Baldessin

I took the train from Melbourne to Heidelberg four days before christmas. The city was busy as usual, all the seats and tables on Chapel Street occupied with breakfast meet ups. Avocado Feta smash on toast, baked beans and poached eggs, scrumbled eggs with pesto and mushrooms. It was time to leave the hustle for a day and to find some time and space to breath and think.

I chose the Heide museum. In 1934, Sunday Reed moved here with her husband John. They created a home for national and international artists, writers and intellectuals – like Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker and Joy Hester. In the inspirational space and calmness of the garden and the house, they created paintings, drawings, poems. It was a home for friends. An artist haven. A getaway from the city. Something like a little utopia. Since 1981, it has been a museum with three gallery houses.

behind Heide II

Heide I


When I got out of the train in Heidelberg I smelled the pine trees and sunscreen. Travelling is wonderful; but christmas is always a time I’d rather be home. I needed some time on my own to tell myself it was all okay and I could still find another inspirational place to feel home for a few hours. I walked around the gallery houses Heide I, Heide II and Heide III, through the kitchen garden, along the field. There were single benches everywhere, on the open field, underneath trees, in the sun, in the shade. Places to create. I chose one underneath a tree, I saw a corner of Heide II, statues next to trees, the sun was shining, and I wrote into my journal and it was all better.

heide bücherkreise

heide heart

Only a few weeks later, in Sydney, I found “Dear Sun”, a book of letters between Sunday Reed and her best friend – artist and poet – Joy Hester. It gave me another insight into Heide, and while reading the letters on a bus going around Sydney, it brought me back and forth from where I had been to where I was –

I have thought of Heide for the last three nights – the last thing that flitted through my head has been Heide and then I feel to sleep. I see Heide as a flat pattern like a sampler, with all the fields, the house, the road and river standing perpendicular and flat, not hilly as it is, but greener in a dry way, as though one has one’s back to it and was looking at the reflection in a small hand mirror. (…) It all fits in like an unruffled jigsaw puzzle, still, green, and very beautiful. (Joy Hester in Dear Sun. p. 121)

I read about Joy’s experiences in Sydney in places I had been as well, and even little descriptions felt like a confirmation I was at the right place in the right time with the right book.

The evenings across the harbour look like Heide in the mist. (Joy Hester in Dear Sun. p.94)

And I am still reading the letters, slowly reaching the end of the book, and I am still thinking of Heide as an inspirational and calm place I can take with me in my memory like a small hand mirror.

the kitchen garden

living with strangers


Lara's world


christmas sea

christmas by the beachbrighton


cycle everywhereAlberto

Truck crew

We lived together for many weeks; we shared the bathroom, the kitchen, the red couch on the veranda; we shared stories, countries, travels; we spent christmas and new year’s eve together; there is a quick intimacy in hostel friendships. “What happens here within a month would have probably taken a year back home”, we kept on saying. Everybody arrives on their own, some in two, some in three – but we are all here to get to know other people, stories and the country. We’ve got the travel in common, and we are curious about everything else. And at the end of the day, it is so sad saying goodbye again – but we know, we now have friends all over the world.

There are not many hostels like this: other hostels are too loud, too crowded and drunk all the time, you pay deposit for the sheets, you fight for clean pots and try to escape silly converstations about other drunk nights. Luckily there are still a few of the good hostels out there in Australia, the little and cozy ones, where you can spend the days in good company on the couch or a few hours on your own on the balcony and it feels indeed a bit like a home far away from home.

All photos above taken at Back of Chapel in Melbourne. 

Wir wohnten einige Wochen zusammen; wir teilten uns die Badezimmer, die Küche, die rote Couch auf der Veranda; wir teilten Geschichten, Länder, Reisen; wir verbrachten Weihnachten und Silvester gemeinsam; eine schnelle Vertrautheit entwickelt sich in Hostelfreundschaften. “Was hier in einem Monat passiert, hätte ein Jahr zuhause gebraucht”, sagten wir immer mal wieder. Jeder kommt alleine an, oder zu zweit, einige auch zu dritt – aber wir sind alle hier um andere Leute, Geschichten und Länder kennenzulernen. Das Reisen ist unsere Gemeinsamkeit, und wir sind neugierig auf alles weitere. Und am Ende des Tages ist es schade, wieder Tschüss sagen zu müssen – aber wir wissen, wir haben nun Freunde auf der ganzen Welt.

Es gibt nicht so viele Hostel wie dieses: andere Hostels sind zu laut, zu voll und die ganze Zeit zu betrunken, man zahlt eine Kaution für Bettlaken, man kämpft für saubere Töpfe und versucht vor dummen Unterhaltungen zu flüchten. Glücklicherweise gibt es noch ein paar der guten Sorte da draußen in Australien, die kleinen und gemütlichen, wo man die Tage in guter Gesellschaft auf der Couch oder für ein paar Stunden alleine auf dem Balkon verbringen kann und es sich tatsächlich ein bisschen wie ein Zuhause weit weg anfühlt.

around the island

island cut



A cloudy day on Philip Island in December, and I agreed with the weather that the grey sky was just the better frame for this landscape than a deep summer blue one. The island is not far away from Melbourne. It seems to be too small for all the things it collects: the penguins, the MotoGP, the tourists, schoolies, and the locals. There is space for everybody. I was happy to stay at a friend’s place, to get to know her favourite places, walk along the beach and enjoy her beautiful garden. Thanks for the wonderful stay, Helen!

Ein bewölkter Tag auf Philip Island im Dezember, und ich stimmte mit dem Wetter überein, dass der graue Himmel einfach der besserer Rahmen für die Landschaft war statt eines tiefblau-sommerlichen Rahmens. Die Insel ist nicht weit weg von Melbourne. Sie scheint zu klein zu sein für all die Dinge, die sie versammelt: die Pinguine, MotoGP, die Touris, die Schüler auf Abschlussfahrt, die Einheimischen. Doch es ist Platz für jeden. Glücklicherweise durfte ich bei einer Freundin übernachten, und ihre Lieblingsorte kennenlernen, am Strand entlanglaufen und ihren hübschen Garten genießen. Danke für die schöne Zeit, Helen!

green window

helen's garden II

helen's garden III

helen's garden I

dropping into the water








“To slide into the domed reading room at ten each morning, specially in summer, off the hot street outside, was a sensation as delicious as dropping into the water off the concrete edge of the Fitzroy Baths.”


I like to follow traces: whether it is a literary trace or a friend’s trace or another trace I come across when reading or listening or looking. A trace can just be a suggestion, a recommendation: go there, have a look, I’ve been there before. I was sitting in the La Trobe Reading Room in the State Library of Victoria, not writing but reading all the quotes on the walls above the book shelves. One of quotes was by Helen Garner, whose novel Monkey Grip I adore. I took the suggestion and went from the library to the swimming pool. It wasn’t has hot on that day as she describes it, but she found me a new pretty place in Melbourne.

Ich folge gerne Spuren: seien es Spuren der Literatur oder von Freunden oder andere Spuren, die auftauchen, wenn ich lese oder zuhöre oder schaue. Eine Spur kann ein Vorschlag sein: Geh dorthin, schau es dir an, ich war dort schon. Ich saß im La Trobe Reading Room in der Staatsbibliothek von Victoria, ich schrieb nicht sondern las all die Zitate an der Wand über den Bücherregalen. Eines dieser Zitate war von Helen Garner, deren Roman Monkey Grip ich so liebe. Ich nahm ihren Vorschlag an und ging von der Bibliothek zum Schwimmbad. Es war an diesem Tag nicht so wie sie es beschreibt, aber sie hatte mir einen neuen schönen Ort in Melbourne gefunden.