4 Merlin Attractions of Sydney

Since we are in Sydney for a while to work and enjoy the festive season we plan to try and enjoy the sights and things sydney has to offer…in other words have FUN!!!
So as well as the Sydney Aquarium here are some of the places we have enjoyed since being here:

Madame Tussauds Sydney

The smallest of all Madame Tussauds but the youngest too, being just over a year since opening. Since we had a merlin annual pass it cost us absolutely nothing to enter and we have not managed to see the London attraction we thought it would be a good first attempt.

You have 9 rooms altogether and 60% off the wax figures are Australian so it’s great for learning about the culture. You have History, World Leaders, Sport, Music, History of Madame Tussauds, Culture & Sciene, TV, Film and A-List.

I have to say apart from Mark Webber and Shane Warne I had no idea who most of the sporting hero’s were as they were immortalised at a younger age but it was good to read up about them. The world leaders room was impressive being surrounded by such influential people. My favourite room has to be the music room and the film room as I loved seeing Sandy from Grease and getting dressed up next to her but in the film room you have beautiful Heath Ledger and E.T.

The wax figures were impressive, some needed looking after a bit more but from first glance the faces are so real and I can only imagine how much work goes in to making just one figure. There is plenty to see and do around the attraction with presentations every hour, wax hand making, personalised trophies and videos to show you how the wax figures are made, so for $40 you get to see all this and keep the children entertained but also educated and the staff at the time were nice and didn’t have any issues.

Wildlife Sydney

Wildlife was very interesting, I actually rate it higher then the Aquarium due to the fact I find there is too much to take in at the Aquarium where as in the wildlife attraction there is just enough and the creatures aren’t stuck behind a cage, they gave plenty of space and some even jump/fly around the enclosure quite freely.

The butterfly sanctuary is amazing and if you stand very still you might be lucky enough to have one land on you. The butterflies are kept in a very well heated room to reflect that of their living conditions so it can be quite humid in there but they were amazing to see their size and how beautiful their wings are in colours.

There are many creatures to see here from Cassowarys, Wallaby’s, Birds, Snakes and my favourite Rex the Crocodile. He has a selection of viewing points: one high up looking below, one looking directly in to his enclosure and you even get to see him underwater when he wants to take a dip. We got some great pictures of this and the presentation on him was fascinating as we found out quite a bit about where he came from, why he was here and you can even catch him being fed. Another great presentation was on the Koala rooftop, they tell you all sorts of information about the koalas and what they eat, how the give birth and more, this is another worth while presentation to take part in and at the end you can even pay to get up close to the furry little tree dwellers.

Sydney Tower Eye (Centre Point Tower)

Based in the Westfield shopping center off Pitt Street and found on Level 5, easy to get to and never much of a queue as its open from 9am – 10pm. There is sometimes a slight queue once you enter though which is for the 4D experience in which you get to watch a cinematic view of Sydney and what it has to offer, worth one visit especially with children but you don’t need to see it more then once.

Next you have a security check before entering the lift to get to the high point. You can feel your ears popping as you ride the elevator up to the top floor, gives you an idea of how high you really are. Once we were up we all burst out of the tiny lift eager to see the view, and what an amazing view it was.

You got a 360° view of Sydney and on a very clear day like ours you could see as far as the Blue Mountains as well as Watson’s Bay and Bondi Beach, the people from above looked so small like ants running around the city. The very historical building QVB looked so good from this view and the Bridge in its iconic form nestled in between tall office blocks. You only need to spend 30 mins there to appreciate the view but they do have a cafe and a gift shop so you could spend longer. I recommend seeing the tower both in the day and at night time so maybe visit around 7pm on wards as you will see the sun setting and the lights all turning on to the night so best of both.

Manly Sea Life Sanctuary

The last of the five Merlin Attractions but one to still consider visiting, Manly is just on the note shore adjacent to Watson’s Bay. To get there from the city you are best travelling by Ferry which takes 30 minutes but it is a great journey, very scenic, but is going to be the quickest and cheapest way to get there. Once you are off the ferry you only need to look to your left and it is right on the beach. It is only a small aquarium but it is unique to the Sea Life Aquarium on Darling Harbour.

The sanctuary deals with rescued creatures and ones that need to be nursed back to health for re-releasing back into the ocean. It is a great place to lean about sharks too especially for anyone who has a passion for marine biology, it informs you on the unnecessary harm humans are to Sharks and how killing Sharks will effect the ocean. It really is eye opening to see and I couldn’t recommend it more.

Asides from sharks the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary also has a selection of Lizards, Jellyfish, Sea Horses, Sea Turtles and mini Penguins. The mini Penguin presentation was great to listen to, the lady told us lots of information on the special breed of Penguin, where they live to live and more. While she was doing this the Penguin were being very noisy for such small creatures, trying to get our attention but also to make other Penguins aware what was around them.

I would like to recommend people go visit this attraction as it is always the least visited due to people wanting to go to the bigger aquarium. Being a keen sea life enthusiast I have learnt more from this aquarium and seen more on our impact on the sea life then in the darling harbour site. They had a raft made up of plastic bottles found just on the Manley beach area and it was enough to fit more then a few people on and they apparently tested it and sailed it on the ocean to raise awareness of how much we litter the oceans with. Go check it out and after wards you can enjoy the rest of your day on the beach, visiting the shops and eating good food all before heading back home.

To read our review on the Sea Life Aquarium of Sydney check out our previous posts.

Goodbye Perth, it’s been awesome!

So here we are, an end to our adventures in WA. This post was one we were sad to make. We had enjoyed our time spent here in WA and have some treasured memories that we will not forget. Here’s how it ended.

Our last weekend in Perth and we had planned to have a goodbye meal with Sean’s relatives. Marie and Drew had put on a nice spread for us. It was good to catch up and see everyone but sad to leave not knowing when we would see each other again. We want to thank them for all their help, advise, visits and will stay in touch. Same goes for our housemates Kylee and Ian, good friends couldn’t have expected any better. We had leaving drinks in town, going from a chilled out bar and ending up in a few clubs. It was nice to let our hair down after a jam packed week. We must have danced all night cause I was aching all over the next morning.
Early start too at 7am we had a trip planned to York, about an hour away from Perth. There wasn’t much to see and do especially since it was a Sunday but we made our own fun. Stopping off at a cafe to soak up the alcohol and regain human life, I opted for spaghetti on toast, which tickled kylee and Ian.

Soon after we left and checked out a few shops, found a sweet shop as Ian wanted some ice cream. We all had a selection including bubble gums with a tattoo just for old times sake. The shop keeper kinda freaked us out a bit with her hairy top lip and boggled eyes, I think it was time to get out of there. We then found a cool vantage point up in the hills where we sat over looking the town, a graveyard and vast amounts of nothing but it was a sight none the less.
Later we paid a visit to Ian’s family home where he showed us around, checked out his family photos, his figurine Dragon and even saw our first wild snake out in the garden – not sure what snake it was, Brown with yellow stripe along its side but it was a fast one.

Perth has been a great city to start our trip, we have adjusted to the weather easily, it was not over run with backpackers during our stay in winter, beaches are beautiful and there are plenty of them to choose from, lots of events going on but at the same time if you just want to relax, surf or enjoy the scenery it’s a nice laid back city. Employment was an issue and only I managed to find work and that was a telemarketing job but I can see summer being a better time for work as the tourism industry will probably pick up.
We have bumped into a lot of people that seem to have chosen not to go to WA and many just stay in one state for the majority of their stay in Australia, we can’t understand why you wouldn’t want to explore and see what the rest of the country has to offer. From our 4.5 months in WA we have truly lived as Australians, staying with family, getting a paid job, living with a couple of down to earth Aussies that have become friends and exploring both sides of the state – from the dry lands of the out back up north, city life and the beautiful wine region down south.

Sadly we didn’t get to do everything during our stay. We missed out on visiting Rottsnest Island due to winter weather we were told its much better to visit in summer, it’s a must see place to spend the whole day or even a weekend in the accommodation provided on the island and I’m sure it’s amazing this time of year now since Perth has temperatures of 30°+.

Penguin island in Rockingham was another we didn’t get to visit although we got close, viewing it from the beach.
Exmouth and the Ningaloo Reef was one place we were gutted not to see as it has some of Australia’s beautiful coral reefs attracting a lot of sea life. The cost was a bit too much and we want to see the great barrier reef in Queensland most of all.

With our flight booked to Melbourne (pre paid through STA) we had a 3.5 hour journey, flying with quantas. The flight was long enough for us to watch a film but Sean did have technical issues with his headphones so after speaking to 2 flight attendants who frankly didn’t seem to know what to do, we had to make the lady in front of us switch seats which was very embarrassing but we finally could watch something. I watched the hilarious animation The Croods, a great family film about a family of Neanderthals in the stone age and Sean watched a film starring Sam Rockwell. After a few mediocre bites to eat and refreshments we had finally landed in Melbourne and on to our next adventure…

If there are any questions you would like to ask us, maybe about Perth or maybe just about travelling in general then leave us a comment : ) We are sorry for lack of photos, Sean will be uploading a load so if you haven’t subscribed to our blog already then do so now to receive our updates.

X x

Whale Watching in Perth

One of our must do things we had planned in Australia was to go whale watching. We booked through travel zoo that had a good deal on a 2 hour whale watching experience with Rottnest Express, costing $45 each. We got a stop off in Freo which we were happy about since this would probably be the last time we would be able to visit Fremantle before leaving for Melbourne.

Once we got to Freo to board the second boat we managed to get seats upstairs and waited for the journey to start. The boat soon got full and due to the winds being strong was actually quite bumpy. I tried going to the lower deck at one point and found it extremely hard to walk without being knocked around and losing my stepping.

The guys on deck were quite good and kept us all busy by talking to us about the whales we might see as well as about the sea conditions so we had plenty to keep us interested. One of the members was handing out sick bags too which was funny, a lot of people said they didn’t need one but when I was on the lower deck it was a different story altogether, it had a funny smell to the air and if people weren’t sitting with their heads between their knees they were filling up the bags. I tried not to go down there again and just the thought of it is bringing it all back.

So back on top deck for some well deserved fresh air we were all searching for these whales we had been longing to see. We finally heard a yell ‘there’s a whale at 12′ o clock!’, the boat comes to a stop and everyone looks in the direction, still nothing. Then out of no where a whale breached the surface and soon enough after we spotted more, some even doing huge leaps out of the water. Sean had his Canon 550 camera and managed to capture a few, although it was tough to see where they would come from. The sounds people made when a whale came up to breath was quite funny, you’d hear gasps and even a few sighs when they missed the sightings. The whales we got to see were humpback whales, slightly stocky compared to there cousins the blue but still big creatures growing up to 15 m in size and 40 tonnes in weight.

Sean and myself took a look over the edge of the boat to see if we could see any sea life, we did see some big shadows and were told by the crew they possibly were sharks…oooooooh.
Once the trip had come to an end and everyone below deck had regurgitated their breakfasts we had our stop off in Freo and decided to stay there for the rest of the evening, enjoying some food outside in the incredible heat.

We took a stroll around the town capturing our last few moments in our favourite little beach haven when we came across a really unusual sign saying ‘Come see a Shark in a bus’ we looked closer at this bus to see exactly what was going on. A guy was sitting outside and told us it was a mini museum of his collection of nautical collections, you could look around for free but he did ask for a donation of whatever you thought it was worth and this was to fund his travels around Australia show casing his treasures.

We entered the bus not knowing exactly what to expect but straight away there were some amazing things on show. There were whale bones so thick and the size of my torso, whale teeth decorated by sailors with ink carvings, turtle skulls, old weapons used for fishing and the most awesome but shocking thing that I have seen was the fact there was a real life taxidermy great white shark. It was huge and you could see the blood still on its jaw and the hook in its mouth. I was speechless.

The guy was pretty cool and he even said if we were going up the east coast we could roadtrip with him….that would be a story to take home. He had a strong interest in keeping the beaches clean and had some great posters full of information on how to keep them clean, what happened to Marine life that cane in contact with our rubbish, just makes you want to make a difference.

If your interested in knowing more about Shark in A Bus then check out his Facebook.

Perth to Monkey Mia: Day 3 – Monkey Mia, Hamelin Pool, Eagles Bluff, Kalbarri

Early start for all of us today, we had dolphins to see!! Myself and Sean were excited to actually see one up close as we have never seen a dolphin before. Kelly did tell us that the chances of us being picked were slim as there would be lots of people there and it was school holidays so normally children or elderly people get picked.

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Now we could either watch from the jetty and get good pictures or stand by the shore and try our luck, I decided to try my luck but got trapped at the side and didn’t get much of a view to be fair, Sean found it hard to get pictures of the dolphins and sadly we did not get picked to feed them but a few people from our tour did. During the feed I saw something near the end of the Jetty and I thought it was probably a dolphin but Josie later told me it was a turtle.

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When the feeding had finished we were told there might be another feed around 9:30 but it’s dependent on the dolphins. We lay on the beach and soaked up the rays for a bit enjoying the view if the boats on the water. The time had arrived and lucky for us the dolphins had decided they wanted some more food. Sean and I made our way over with Kelly but this time we took a bit of a seat back not expecting much.

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Feeding time and a dolphin called Surprise, came over by us to get her fish and people started getting picked and one of those people was me!! It was so surreal but I grabbed Sean’s hand and took him to meet our dolphin. We were speechless after and to be truthful a bit shaky (it was our first dolphin encounter after all). Now that’s another thing checked off our bucket list. Me and sean took a dip in the sea but we’re thinking if a dolphin did come and swim by us we’d freak out and think a shark was there so we got out and soaked up some sunshine.

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We had another animal encounter that day too when an Emu came from nowhere, walking along the beach. It came right up to our bags rummaging around in mine and lindseys stuff, cheeky. We got some great pictures though and it was pretty cool being that close to an Emu especially since they are quite dangerous.

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As the day grew on we left Monkey Mia with a whole bunch of new memories, friends and experiences but sadly part of it had to end so we enjoyed the view one last time before we got in to the van for the last time. We drove to a viewpoint called Eagles Bluff next which had an amazing view over the Indian ocean, the sea was crystal clear and even though we were so many feet high on a cliff you could still see the shadows of sea life from turtles, rays, sharks and schools of fish. This place was so beautiful I wish we could have stayed longer and I wanted even more to just jump into the clear waters and swim amongst the fish.

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After our stop off we had one last trip as a group and that was to Hamelin Pool, home to stromatolites. These ancient living rocks provide the oldest record for life itself, pretty interesting. They give us the oxygen we need that make life on earth possible. There was a walkway for people to walk around to view them as they are a protected life form so we had to be careful but I don’t know if it was just me but the air felt so pure and cleansing, I felt glad we had came to view such an amazing site.

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It came that time when we had to say goodbye to an amazing place and not only that but goodbye to a great bunch of people as 5 members were heading on up to Exmouth. We swapped Facebook’s and gave our hugs and sooner then expected we were met by our new guide Mark who was taking us for lunch and then on to our hostel in Kalbarri. We were really envious of the others getting to go up to Ningaloo Reef and snorkelling with all the amazing creatures but the experience would have to wait for us till we visit the great barrier reef.

The journey was long to the hostel and the van was even more smaller for us so when we finally arrived at the hostel, I couldn’t wait to jump in bed but we were given some bad news that evening that our van had broken down (Mark had cut the radiator pipe!) So who knew when we would be able to move on. We hoped it wouldn’t cut in to our last day but for now all I wanted was my head on that pillow.

Perth to Monkey Mia: Day 1- Pinnacles, Jurien Bay, Kalbarri

First off we just want to apologise for the lack of posts if you have been following us, we are still alive and we are still travelling. We have had such a hectic month of planning and stress that we have accumulated a backlog of post updates. Be aware you will be receiving a few posts in a big chunk so that we can get on track.

On with the post….

4 day Monkey Mia Tour

With only a matter of a few weeks left, Sean and I booked a tour through backpackers world travel with a company called Aussie Wanderers. The lady was full of information and helped us decide on the best package for us in terms of cost, time and locations. She was even nice enough to check accommodation in Sydney over New year.

We had originally wanted to go from Perth all the way up to Exmouth for 7days, as we really wanted to do snorkelling in Ningaloo Reef (known for its sea life and beautiful coral reef) but due to the expense at $1000 it was a bit out of our range and since we were planning on doing the Great Barrier Reef we wanted to save for that. Instead we booked a 4 day tour from Perth to Monkey Mia at $575 which is still quite a trip and the itinerary was packed full of things to see and do. The tour included food and accommodation.

On the morning we had to get up pretty early, meeting at arranged pick up. We stopped for a quick coffee to wake up, luckily a little coffee shop called Willys was open and they serve good coffee. All buzzed up we waited for the bus. We met a girl called Josie from Germany, who was on the same tour as us, she was lovely and spoke to her for a while until our bus finally decided to show up (was about half hour late).

We jumped on and found seats together in the back next to Antoine from France. He was quite easy going and once Josiefine joined us, our group was complete. There was 13 of us in total, at the front an older lady called Lainey, a Kiwi house sitting in Australia taking in the sights.
4.5fTRohet, an Israeli lady who became an Australian citizen and was seeing WA. Freya,Robert & Harry, three Chinese Engineer students. Larissa,Jess & Katja three German girls travelling separately. Lindsey, an American girl studying in Perth wanting to see WA and then the 4 of us in the back row. Our driver was called Kelly and she was full of information about wildlife, plants and history.

The bus journey was long and you soon realise how big Australia is. Was glad Sean and I had made friends so quickly otherwise it would have made the journey even longer. We saw a few kangaroos on the way, some unfortunately were dead and pushed off the road but fact is there are more kangaroos in Australia then people.

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First stop on the tour was at Numberg National Park, home to the natural wonders – The Pinnacles. We all squeezed out of the boiling hot bus into the sweltering heat of desert land, phew was it hot and boy were those flys annoying, following us around like a bad smell.

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The pinnacles were a sight to be seen, standing tall in the desert these spires of limestone, formed naturally, cover a vast amount of space and it was quite mesmerizing seeing them all and then Sean goes and gets a picture with a rather phallic looking pinnacle. He would. You would only spend an hour there max as there isn’t much to see after but I’m glad we saw them as not many people can say they have.

Jurien Bay is where we were heading next for lunch so it was back on the hot tin bus. We stopped at a picnic sight with BBQs, it was a really nice place to be, but little did we know that the most gorgeous beach I’ve seen yet was around the corner. Sand, pure white and Sea, so still it could have been mistaken for the sky and not a single person was around, it was as if we had been washed up on an island in the middle of nowhere, I was hoping to get the chance to see this beach again but unfortunately that is one place I will only see again in my dreams.

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After lunch and a bonding session in the park we boarded the bus again. A quick stop for drinks and supplies in Geraldton we passed a lake known for its pink waters, due to the algae (same algea used in the world’s skin creams). Kelly decided she would try and get us to the red cliffs of Kalbarri called red bluff, to get some photos of the sunset. We didn’t quite make sunset but the sight was still photo worthy and we even got a jumping photo on the cliffs which was fun.

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Our final destination of day one was a kalbarri farm stay, I can not remember the name but it was ok, not amazing but the horses and peacocks roaming the farm were nice to see. Facilities were useable but all we cared about right then was to eat and sleep after our long day. Me, Sean, Antoine and Josie all shared a dorm and at lights out I don’t think any of us could be awakened.

To be continued on next post……

Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol & Van Gogh – Art in the City

Van Gogh, Dalí and Beyond: The World Reimagined

22 June – 2 December 2013 – Perth Art Gallery, Northbridge WA

This was a visit we did before we moved in to our current home, so about mid June. I’m not sure why we didn’t get around to doing a post about Perth’s Art Gallery exhibition but I have decided to do one now because it was a really good exhibition, showcasing some of the world’s most iconic paintings by Van Gogh, Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali and Frida Kahlo.

The first painting we got to see was Van Gogh ‘s ‘The Olive Trees’ 1889 – very iconic

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Balthus’s, ‘Joan Miro and His Daughter Dolores’ 1937-38

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Michael Craig-Martin

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One of my new favourite artists, he has a technical design style which I love and the colours are great, I have a passion for pop art and this reminds me of this style very much.

Frida Kahlo’s, ‘Self Portrait with Cropped Hair’ 1940

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This is a really great piece especially as there’s a story behind it that many people can translate to, following her divorce from Rivera, Frida chops her hair off and wears his suit to allow for a male role but wearing her earring and heels she maintains her femininity. Also the text around the frame is a Mexican song translated says: ‘look if I loved you it was because of your hair. Now that you are without hair, I don’t love you anymore.’ All in the name of art.

Salvador Dali had numerous pieces but this being the most popular,

Salvador Dali, ‘Illumined Pleasures’ 1929

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I won’t try to explain his reasoning behind his art as let’s face it its surrealism at its best. I love the styles loo e of work though and sean was so excited to see his paintings up close, being his favorite artist.

I was excited to see Andy Warhols work but was bit disappointed there wasn’t more, the piece that was exhibited though was one of my favorites, Elvis Presley Screen print.

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I love this piece as I’m like the coolness of Elvis Presley and I have a passion for the silk screen technique too. The piece was huge and got Sean to take my picture next to it, yay.

Here’s a few images of some paintings I found visually pleasing, hope you enjoy them too and feel free to leave a comment too.

Chuck Close, ‘Elizabeth’s 1989

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Another artist I had not heard of before this exhibition, Chuck Close. This piece really stood out, not just because of the sheer size but you see it in two ways. When you stand up close you see all these different colored paint strokes and its hypnotic but then when you take a step back you get to take in the whole picture, all the multi colored brush strokes make up this amazing portrait of a lady.


Frantisek Julia, ‘Mme Kupka among Verticles’ 1910-1911

An art piece we both saw in the gallery downstairs that we both thought was amazing was a piece by John Dr Andrea, ‘Allegory: After Courbet’ 1988
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We first entered the gallery space and I thought it was a real life installation piece but on closer inspection they weren’t real, they were so realistic especially due to the fact that they were dressed in real clothing. I will be checking out his other work so should you.

Exhibitions: Mekel Fashion Illustration & Beyond The Pale Rock Posters

Mekel: Perths Fashion Week @ Tu, Northbridge

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Found out that one of the illustrators I follow on instagram, Mekel aka Kelly Coates, was having an exhibition in Perth to celebrate Perth’s fashion week. I was tempted to go check out the opening night but decided on viewing her work minus the big crowd.

It was all based in a boutique store called Tu (French for you/yourself & Mandarin for painting/artform). The store itself is great, selling unique fashions and cute accessories that if I had the money I would buy. And out the back past the exhibition is a tiny cafe called Tea for Tu, which sells some nice food and coffee at a good price. These guys took part in the Northbridge Makeshift activity day (we shall post pics and a post about the Makeshift day).

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The exhibition was small but the work amazingly beautiful! Her style, strong with clean lines and amazing washes of water colours bursting out of the paper. I really like the positioning and quality of her pieces and would love to have one of these up in my home.

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The photos I took were not so great but I shall put them up to show you her work, but I would recommend either checking out her work online Mekel Illustration or follow her on instagram @mekel_illustration. Little did I know until after writing this blog that Kelly Coates has done artwork for a number of big branded companies, this is very impressive. Her clientele, to name but a few are: American Express, Cosmopolitan & Betts

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Anarchy Rock & Ink Posters, Beyond the Pale @ Fremantle Arts Centre

Sat 27th July-15th Sept

Beyond the pale was formed in 1996 by John Harris, an established group of Australian (and one American) artists,  who have since created artwork for some of the worlds biggest bands including: Kiss, The Rolling Stones, Queens of The Stoneage and Kings of Leon.

The artwork taking influence from the 1960s to the rebellious careful punk approach. Artists in this exhibition include: Rhys Cooper, Pat Fox, Daymon Greulich, Chris Grosz, Vance Kelly (USA), Ian McCausland, Craig Phillips, Graeme Webber, Joe Whyte and mine and Seans favourite, Ken Taylor.

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We took as many photos as we could take to show everyone what great work these guys created over the years for some iconic bands. Ken Taylor has a great design style and his imagination is on fire. I especially liked the Eagles of Death Metal, The Black Keys and Kings of Leon posters.

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Some great work and a great day for me and Sean. If you want to check them out and buy yourself some great prints click this link–> Beyond The Pale and why not check out more exhibitions at Fremantle Arts Centre

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Also at the Fremantle Arts Centre that day was a collaboration from Black Cat/Gato Negro, artists, anarchists and activists from 1978. There work very aggressive and definitely makes a statement for example one of the posters against abortion depicted a stick drawing of a lady with a coat hanger between her legs and the words ‘This is the enemy’.

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That was about all we could handle and so on we went to Little Creatures for a pint.