Friday, January 13, 2012

Photos from Fountaindale


Fountaindale Manor.

After a couple of "So where are the photos?" prods from Nick, I've finally found the time to sit down and write a quick photo-blog about my trip to Fountaindale Manor in Robertson, NSW last year. If you want some more background about the trip, you can find the details of the clinic and the Cave project here.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to find my DSLR's charger in time for the trip, so I was only able to get a few quick snaps with my phone during those few times we had free moments to entertain ourselves. Therefore the quality of the pictures aren't so great, so perhaps treat this as a friend's album of happy snaps instead of a nicely processed report.

Petals of matrimonial ceremonies past.

Needless to say, when a building has a history of becoming decommissioned as a hotel a few years after being awarded the Most Luxurious Hotel in the Commonwealth, recommissioned for private use as a country club, repurposed into a pilot's hospice for WWII, then a Franciscan friary, and eventually settled back into a hotel once more, there's going to be a lot of creepy stories floating around. And to be honest, the groundskeepers seemed quite happy to keep some of the peculiarities of the grounds intact - perhaps to maintain that Shining vibe, or perhaps because it was just so ingrained into the building that no amount of paint and lawnmowing would stop you thinking you're about to tread into the middle a pagan burial site.

One of the many garden paths leading nowhere in particular.

The grounds of the manor were huge, and talking to the relatively-newly established owners it was obvious it was no small task to keep the immense gardens under control. Which is cool. However...

An actual stone altar.

What I said about blundering into a potential seance site? No joke.

Note the seating arrangement is a pentagon.

This is a tree that was part of a Treasure Hunt we took part in. We also found an abandoned charm bracelet right here, which at first we assumed was a clue for another team. After confirming with Mike that he hadn't left it there, well... given the overall theme of the event, I was content to leave it for someone else to find (ie. be cursed by).


What manor estate is complete without an abandoned caretaker's hut?

We weren't spared the haunted vibe inside either. Plenty of attic stairways and tucked away rooms and nooks. I don't mind admitting the first night, while most everyone else was settling in to their rooms, I was wandering around trying to find the most likely haunted spots. (Turns out I was way off - it's a small room on the second floor by the bathrooms.)

This chair, however, pretended to sit in the same position every morning. I knew its secret though.

Hauntings aside, take away the creepy ghost meta-story we all seemed quite happy to throw over the top of the experience, the Manor was a gorgeous venue. (And perfect for a Murder Mystery dinner.)

Scenes like this made for stunning morning walks.

And of course, at the end of the day, it's the company you keep that makes the memory last.

Generally the first recipient of my "Good mornings!" each morning that week. (This was taken on the Friday of our departure. I pretended it was disconsolateness - and not relief - in his expression.)

The clinic was an amazing experience. I didn't even touch on the incredible mentors, or working with both the Cave team and members of other teams, or the consistently delicious meals. I'm still in the process of reviewing all of my notes, and weeks later I'm still finding inspiration from the presentations, exercises and individual chats I had throughout that intense week.

Thankyou again to everyone involved, and I wish all the best for the teams and projects as they continue to develop.

-Anthony

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