A Moment Of Reflection

Today is the second-last day of 2019 here in Australia and in a moment of reflection, I scanned one of our bookshelves (looking for something else) and came across some old copies of National Geographic.

Over time I have picked up the occasional copy, particularly if it has content that I would be interested in reading. I also have a couple of copies of Australian Geographic somewhere.

In flipping though the pages, it started to make me think of the ‘Golden Era of the Magazine…’ quality photojournalism and social documentation that the magazines of the past had given us.

Magazines like ‘LIFE, ‘National Geographic and similar that many excellent photographers (one of my favourites, Margaret Bourke-White comes to mind) and journalists contributed to for many years.

Each of the magazines delved into various different subjects, offering an insight into a way of life, historical facts and/or offer a subjective opinion which would enlighten the reader.


Yes, I know that information like this is available on the Internet, however, there is something magical in picking up an old copy of the aforementioned magazines and flipping though the pages. I just don’t get the same experience browsing the Internet.

Picking up a copy of an old National Geographic is like stepping back into a moment in time, particularly if they are capturing life in a town or city for example.

One of the National Geographic magazines I have was dedicated to the Australian Bicentennial in 1988. 31 years on it is fascinating to look back on an event that I experienced and think about how far we have come as a Nation since.

It was like opening up a Time Capsule, seeing prominent faces of the time and looking back at the cultural experiences of the time.

I could look up about the Bicentennial, Benjamin Franklin etc online and find multitudes of information but right now, I’m just enjoying stepping back in time, flipping through the pages of an old (quality) magazine and enjoying a rather nice cup of Tea.

Written by David Johnson
30 December 2019

Which Medium?

Which Medium_

Book Treasure

In my last article, I spoke about our trip to Berrima every year. Within that trip is a visit to Berkelouw’s Book Barn which is situated just North of the Village, Berrima.

On a November weekend, 25 years in a row we have visited the bookshop. As mentioned previously, it used to contain approx. 300,000 books, though these days it only holds approx. 200,000 due to the owner diversifying to keep the business afloat.

It has a Wedding Reception, a Wine-Tasting facility and a Coffee Shop/Restaurant within it’s grounds plus a small Colonial Cottage which is used as a Guest House. All-in-all a nice retreat.

Each time we go there, we set ourselves a budget so that we don’t ‘go overboard.’ Seeing how both my Wife, Susan an I are both ‘Book-Fiends’ this is a great idea.

They have books ranging from a few dollars to in the ’000’s, thus it caters for all tastes in price and  indeed, subject matter.

For many years the Photography section would be my first point of call, followed by the Art section then, Poetry, Sci-Fi, Garden and Self-Development and Poetry.

For the past few years I have been hitting the Art section first, then Poetry and I will have a quick skim of Photography followed by other sections.

We generally spend 1 1/2 – 2 hours there and sometimes it takes a half or all of that before I find books I want to buy.

This visit saw me purchase three books:

  • Matthew Arnold: A Selection Of His Finest Poems
  • The Making Of A Poem: A Norton Anthology Of Poetic Forms
  • How To Read A Poem and Fall In Love With Poetry: Edward Hirsch

I found all of them in the space of 20 minutes when I arrived at the Poetry section. All three books I love though I think the ‘How To Read A Poem’ book is my early favourite and possible one of the best book purchases I have ever made!


It looks such a beautiful read. I look forward to savouring it over time.

Three more books to add to the “Book Treasure” I have discovered at Berkelouw’s Book Barn, Berrima.

If you are in the area, why not pay them a visit or visit them online. You just might discover some “Book Treasure” of your own.
Great hunting!

Written By David Johnson
22 December 2019

An Artists Interpretation

An Artists interpretation

25th Anniversary!

Last month, it marked 25 years since Susan and I went out to dinner for the first time. Every year since, we’ve celebrated the occasion by spending either the weekend or the day on or close to the day in November. We’ve been married now for over 22 years.


We normally celebrate it in Berrima, NSW as it was in Berrima that Susan finally said yes to going out with me (after saying no, 5 times). What changed, you might ask? There’s a little more to it but that’s a story for another day.

Berrima, as ‘Aussie Towns’ states is ‘a historic village driven by tourism and handicrafts surrounded by farming and grazing, coal mining and cement manufacture.’

We always have a meal or two down there and although the order of things has changed over the years, there are shops/places within the town that we always visit and others that ‘come and go.’

One such place we used to love was ’Sprinkles’, a Christmas shop with all manner of decorations for sale including those charming musical and voice or movement-activated decorations. It was such a treat and we used to by a special decoration there each year. Sadly, the owner retired a couple of years ago and closed it down.

Another special place is Berkeleouw’s Book Barn which used to have 300,000 second-hand books. It now only holds 200,000 as the owners diversified (to stay afloat). It now has a Wedding Reception Centre, a Wine-Tasting facility and a coffee alcove and a restaurant where the eating space can be enlarged as some of the sturdy bookshelves are on wheels, thus can be wheeled towards the other bookshelves that line the walls to create more room for tables.

Berkeleouw’s Book Barn

As a bookshop it has a different charm now to what it used to have. Not better, just different and we still enjoy ‘unearthing book treasure there!’ It’s great that they also retained the grand, old fireplace which is surely needed in the colder months in the Southern Highlands.


There are many other shops, including ‘Mrs Old Bucks Pantry’, ’Six Impossible Things’,’The Bay Tree Gallery’ (that has a wide variety of Artistic endeavours on display/sale’, ’Sticky Beaks Vintage Emporium’ (which is like 10 shops in one), ’The Little Hand-Stirred Jam Shop’, ‘The Brown Shutter’ but to name a few.

As you can see, we love our trips to Berrima. It’s a special time for us and our visits there have added so many more special memories along the way.

Written by David Johnson

The Blank Canvas

The Blank Canvas

Words Cascade

Words cascade

Millthorpe – A Picturesque and Historical Village

As the ‘Aussie Towns’ weblink* says, “Millthorpe is a picturesque and historic village set amidst gently rolling hills.”


What has drawn us to visit this lovely little Village over that number of years is a connection that started back when my wife, Susan met Diane and David at school back in the 1970’s and they remain close friends to this day. Diane and David have 6 boys, 3 of which are still at home.

Over the years we have been up there many times, though usually it was for Christenings, a Wedding and Family functions of different sorts or just visiting.

In that entire time, I had never really spent much time in the centre of the Village so went we went up earlier last month, I seized my chance, both on an observation, photographic and sketching level.


I had a lovely time wandering the streets, visiting a community gallery, a gallery/guest house, RoseBank, in an old Bank building as you might have guessed and a private gallery with innumerable types of Art in it.

With my DSLR camera I photographed the quiet country streets, one which had a beautiful arrangement of Flora on the Nature-strip and the Heritage-listed buildings. I sketched a couple of the churches and took many reference photos with my phone.



After so many years, it was so good just to wander around the Village.

If you are looking for a quiet, out-of-the-way stay and a base to explore this region, then pop in and have a look at the sleepy Village of Millthorpe. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Written by David Johnson