Destination China

In  part four of our travelling staff series, Tricia talks about her travels through China. The land of the ‘unexpected’  – a vast and complex country with many layers of culture, political upheaval and history and amazing contrasts of ultra modern mega cities and beautiful idyllic wilderness.

Visiting China for 3 weeks only scratches the surface of this nation of friendly and inquisitive people we gave it our best shot visiting of the most well-known sites.


Xian, The Forbidden City

First stop was the walled city of Xian.  Xian typifies China with its mix of ancient architecture, culture and antiquities contrasting with the modern business and hotel districts.  Followed by Beijing, including the Olympic village and a number of amazing cultural shows combining Chinese acrobatics, humour and culture with wonderful banquets. Treasures such as the Terracotta Warriors, The Great Wall of China, The Forbidden City, Tai Chi in the park, the Winter Palace and so much more were explored and climbed and photographed! Our  Library travel guide was invaluable for locating many of these sites.She recites a hilarious misunderstanding on her last day:

Our guide  in China was a lovely, friendly man called Sandy ( his western name) who promised to give us a special present at the end.

What could we give him in return that wasn’t the usual kangaroo or koala made in China?  I decided we should give Sandy my tube of Vegemite which, I have to travel with no matter how far that may be. It was a sacrifice I was prepared to make to ensure our gift was of a comparable nature and cultural significance to the one he’d no doubt provide us.

Sandi was gracious in his acceptance and promptly proceeded to smear it all over his arms, face and neck. “It’s a sunscreen right?” 

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The Boat of ‘Purity and Ease’ in Beijing

If we had to choose just one adjective to describe our China adventure I think it would be unexpected. Unexpectedly easy to travel within, organised, beautiful, charming, contrasting and comfortable. The people are friendly, knowledgeable, more open than we expected in discussing Chinese politics and we felt very lucky and privileged to have had even this small trip to such a great destination.

The Library has a range of travel guides for China, from basic overviews, to guide on Beijing, Shanghai and Xian specifically. We also have heaps of DVDs on this region too!

Stay tuned for next travel post when we go Island hopping!


The further adventures of our travelling staff

In the past couple of weeks we’ve reported on some of the exploits of our well-travelled staff.  Sonya & Chris talked about overseas adventures in the US and Africa, and Kathy outlined one of her recent inland Australia treks.

This time we turn to Japan, a favourite of Penny and Helen.

japan generic

Mt Fuji from the famous Chureito pagoda

Penny first visited Tokyo as a 17-year-old exchange student, and dreamt of returning some time to live and work.  Ten years later she realised this;
At 27, I quit my job, to live in the Land of the Rising Sun becoming an English teacher in primary schools. I lived in the regional city of Takatsuki, located halfway between Osaka and Kyoto, making it the perfect base for exploring and domestic travel. I travelled to Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima several times, which are all amazing places but some of the most interesting places I visited are much less-known. 


Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Pumpkin’ scultpure viewable from the shore of Naoshima

One of these was the island of  Naoshima, which is located off the coast of Okayama. Naoshima is dotted with contemporary art galleries, built into the hills to soak up ocean and island views. One of the main galleries, Benesse House, consists of four buildings all designed by renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando. It’s filled with works from artists all over the world, including Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock and Yayoi Kusama. One of the main pleasures of  the island is encountering the large sculptures and artworks outside, whilst taking in the views of Japan’s Inland Sea region. For those who like their art near the sea, I cannot recommend it highly enough. 

Shigaraki ceramics

Shigaraki ceramics

Another highlight for me was Shigaraki, a small town world famous for pottery located in the central Shiga Prefecture. Artisans have been making pottery here since ancient times and the area is rich with locally mined clay. The entire main street was lined with stores selling ceramics and in each store I visited, you could see ceramic artists working on their new designs. I bought 3 well-priced, hand-crafted ceramic teapots and they always remind me of Shigaraki whenever I drink my favourite hot beverage green tea.


Shinkansen – commonly know in the western world as ‘The Bullet Train’

Helen adds for prospective Japan tourists;  A visit to a cat cafe or a maid cafe is always a highlight! For transport gunzels, travelling by Shinkansen up and the country is a fabulous experience. Ensure you pick-up food from the supermarket before you jump aboard…. And if you are unable to identify it there is no doubt it will be fabulous!

Even though it’s 8000km due north, Japan shares the same timezone as us, so it’s generally jetlag free!

Over on our Facebook we talked about some new Japan resources that had recently come in. If you’ve been to Japan head over to that post and add what you recommend to see. Also, if you’re planning a trip, we have the most recent Lonely Planet and Eyewitness guides as well as a huge range of other Japan highlights books.

Oh the Joys of Toys!

Lauren Hunt, runs a blog called Teacher Types, a blog ‘where teachers and parents of young children can be inspired‘ and is a regular user of the Tea Tree Gully Toy Library, situated within the regular Library space. She recently wrote a great post about the Toy Library, we thought we’d share some of it here.

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Toy Library space – photo by teacher types

‘All year our family have been members of the Tea Tree Gully Toy Library and it’s become one of my favourite places to visit. We probably go once every 3-4 weeks for a play and a borrow (I love that littlies are encouraged to stay and play). The Toy Library is run by a wonderful group of volunteers and is a not for profit community organisation.

Fun Facts!

  • The Toy Library is located within the City of Tea Tree Gully Library (571 Montague Road Modbury SA)
  • There are more than 3000 items in the Toy Library to choose from.
  • There are 600+ families who borrow those toys.
  • There are 17 friendly volunteers who make the Toy Library run smoothly.
  • It only costs $30 a year to be a member.
  • You can borrow two toys and one puzzle per visit.
  • Their website is here
  • You can pop in to borrow Tuesday & Thursday 10:00 am – 3:00 pm and Wednesday 2:00 pm – 7:30 pm
  • If you go on a Thursday be sure to also check out Baby Bounce & Rhyme for under 2s from 10:30 – 11am or Toddler Time (2-4s) at 11:30 am in the children’s library area
  • They also lend out the bigger items for party hire – bouncy castle, cars, ball pit, bubble machine, play gym, slide, roller coaster…and much more!
  • Most importantly – young children learn through play, so a community resource like the Toy Library is a way to always have new toys in your home to engage your little one in valuable learning experiences.
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A very popular choice! Cars available for party hire. – photo by teacher types

And they even have costumes you can borrow! Keep this in mind for Book Week next year.

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Some of the costumes to borrow – photo by teacher types

Oooohhh and I nearly forgot to mention, there is even a cafe in the main Library foyer! So you can stop for coffee, lunch or morning/afternoon tea when you borrow your toys and/or books. Very child friendly atmosphere with highchairs, couches and comfy arm chairs.

Thank you TTG Toy Library for helping the littlest members of your community bring the joy of play into their homes. If you live in the area, please consider joining up and supporting a wonderful local organisation.’

Thanks Lauren for such a great user perspective of the Toy Library. It’s awesome to hear how much it is appreciated.

Outback adventures with Kathy

Following on from the globetrotting journeys of Sonya and Chris as reported last week, staff member Kathy shows us some of her equally stunning exploits a little closer to home.

A quiet falt campsite a little way from the dustbowl the main camping ground became

A quiet flat campsite a little way from the dustbowl the main camping ground would become.

An avid 4WD adventurer, Kathy and her family recently returned from far west Queensland where they attended the Big Red Bash, an outback concert on the largest sand dune in the Simpson Desert. Not for the faint-hearted, a trip to Big Red requires some hefty 4 wheel drive work after a less-than-leisurely 1500km trek north from Adelaide to Birdsville.

As they say, the journey is half the fun with stop-overs in remote and character filled locales like Leigh Creek, Maree, Clayton Station and Mungerannie Pub along the way.

big red attempt

It’s a steady slog up Big Red

After finding the perfect campsite at Big Red, a 4WD adventure isn’t complete without actually driving up the dunes! After some Pajero practice out in the desert, Kathy’s daughter Stacey tackled the big one with a successful ascent on her first attempt!


Starting just after dinner, the outback concert carried on over two nights featuring classic Aussie rockers, Darryl Braithwaite,  James Reyne and Ross Wilson.

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The concert with Big Red as the glorious backdrop

It’s not a 4WD adventure without the obligatory breakage of something, this time a starter motor problem ensured Kathy and family had a legitimate excuse to stay in the bush for a couple of extra days!

big red - susnset at Birdsville

Who wouldn’t want to stay an extra day or so with this on your doorstep?

The Library  has an extensive  range of 4WD and Australian adventure resources, so come see us (and Kathy!) if you’re planning an outback Australia  journey.

Stay tuned for further adventures of our travelling staff!

Travellers abound at Tea Tree Gully

With Winter now really behind us, it’s been interesting to hear some of the travel stories from our staff who choose to escape the cold for a few weeks for warmer climates.

Hp-Theme-Park-the-wizarding-world-of-harry-potter-13691411-600-450Sonya, no rookie when it comes to overseas travel, has visited six of the seven continents on this planet. On a recent US visit she visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, open now for four years. She says: I just went to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!  It’s at Universal Studios, Orlando Florida.  There’s a miniature sized snow topped Hogsmeade Village with all the favourite Harry Potter characters. The centrepiece is Hogwarts Castle and inside is a great simulator ride that has you on a roller coaster adventure with Harry, Ron and Hermione.  As you roam the village you can have lunch, (a hearty English fare) at the 3 Broomsticks,  and tuck in to some yummy butterbeer!  Actors roam the streets in robes and perform small skits for visitors. 

We have loads of travel books on the US, and also some of the states including Florida. And of course we carry the entire Harry Potter saga by JK Rowling.

From the first world to the third, Chris talks about his unscheduled, yet life changing stop in the African village of Mpumba.

mpumba kidsSitting beside me on the old rickety mini bus late at night was a young local girl and her friend. Eventually I spoke up, and introduced myself. We discussed the usual – of where I had been and where I was going.  I could see they were not sure of my ability to continue alone, and so Pamela, the one sitting closest to me asked if I would prefer to stay at their house for the night, and make my way to the hostel in town tomorrow during daylight. Chris took the offer and followed them back through their village to their house. He was introduced to the family, who were tobacco farmers. He continues: After an hour, Pamela returned, she brought out an impressive dinner. She has spent the last hour over a fire cooking away to feed us all. We sat in a circle, sharing this food, and I could not help but smile. I was invited into a home, fed, given a bed and treated as a life long friend and I had only just met them a few hours before on a bus in the middle of Africa. My friendship grew with this family and I stayed and worked with them for many days. Whether it was fetching water, working to the tobacco farms, helping to cook, I was treated as a true brother. They truly shared the pure kindness of a human being.

You can read the full story of Chris’ African family here. Check out our full range of travel books and DVDs on the catalogue, you may find ideas for your next adventure!

Stay tuned for further adventures of our travelling staff.



It’s Book Week! Saturday 16 to Friday 22 August

CBCAThe Children’s Book Council of Australia has announced this year’s Children’s Books of the Year.

rules of summerPicture Book of the Year:
Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan – A story about two boys, one older and one younger, and the kind of ‘rules’ that might govern any relationship between close friends or siblings. Rules that are often so strange or arbitrary, they seem impossible to understand from the outside…

the-swapEarly Childhood Book of the Year:
The Swap by Jan Ormerod – Caroline Crocodile’s baby brother dribbles. But all Mama crocodile Ever says is how Gorgeous he is. Caroline is very jealous. So she goes to the Baby shop and tries to swap her dribbly brother for a new baby. The trouble is, there’s just something not quite right with any of them…

very unusual pursuitYounger Readers Book of the Year:
City of Orphans: A very unusual pursuit by Catherine Jinks –  Monsters have been infesting London’s dark places for centuries, eating every child who gets too close. That’s why ten-year-old Birdie McAdam works for Alfred Bunce, the bogler. With her beautiful voice and dainty looks, Birdie is the bait that draws bogles from their lairs. One  day, Alfred and Birdie are approached by two very different women. Both of them threaten the only life Birdie’s ever known.

wildifeOlder Readers Book of the Year:
Wildlife by Fiona Wood – In the holidays before the dreaded term at Crowthorne Grammar’s outdoor education camp two things out of the ordinary happened. A picture of me was plastered all over a twenty-metre billboard. And I kissed Ben Capaldi… Boarding for a term in the wilderness, sixteen-year-old Sibylla expects the gruesome outdoor education program – but friendship complications, and love that goes wrong? They’re extra-curricula.

jeremyEve Pownall Award for Information Books:
Jeremy by Christopher Faille – A tiny kookaburra, only a few days old, falls out of his nest and is brought home by the family cat; the family name him “Jeremy”. Luckily, Jeremy is a fighter and as the weeks go by he grows stronger and stronger, until the time comes when he must say goodbye.

All of the CBCA winners are available from the Library, you can find them on our catalogue.






Even more books-to-film 2014

To follow on from last week’s post about books making the transition to film in late 2014 here’s a few further titles coming to the big screen.

Mockingjay-Bird1The Hunger Games has become a phenomena (and money spinner), based on Suzanne Collins’ saga set in the dystopian future of totalitarian Panem. Katniss Everdeen is now the reluctant hero of the revolution against the Capital. The film’s production team have followed the style of Harry Potter and Twilight franchises by splitting the final novel into two films. Mockingjay Part 1 is due for release November 20, with the second film slated for release in late 2015.


paddingtonThere’s a couple for the kids coming too. Paddington,  the ageless classic series by Michael Bond, featuring the Peruvian teddy bear lost in urban London will hit screens in a CGI & live action film on December 11. It stars the new Doctor Who, Peter Capaldi, with Paddington’s voice supplied by Ben Whishaw. Judith Viort’s Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day has been produced by Disney and starring Steve Carrell. Alexander’s bad day begins with gum in his hair, and progressively gets worse by the time he gets to bed he’s fed up and wants to move to Timbuktu. Look out for this one in mid October.


maze runnerThe Maze Runner, by James Dashner is another 2009 novel, this time a young adult sci-fi about Thomas who wakes up in ‘The Glade’ with no memory and must find his way through a maze picking up clues along the way. The book spawned two sequels and a prequel.  The film is released on September 18.




Finally the infamous graphic novel series by Frank Miller,  Sin City will see a sequel to 2005’s film released called Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. Loosely based on some of the Sin City stories, this film reunites Marv, Hartigan, Nancy and crew for another artistic noir outing which is sure to become a cult classic.


There are loads more books being made into film this year and the list for 2015 is already pretty long. What are you most looking forward to, or what titles do you think I should have included in this list?

Myth confirmed – book friction!

In celebration of the Mythbusters tour of Australia this week, we thought we’d put to the test one of the simple experiments featured on the show. Back in 2008 the Mythbusters team demonstrated the power of friction using a couple of phone books. We set up our own version with a pair of debited books.

1. We grabbed a pair of debited books destined for recycling, enabling them to contribute to library science one more time prior to retirement.Book friction 1
2. Placing them next to each other, we interfiled the pages by fanning, similar to shuffling a deck of cards. book friction 2

3. We ensured every page, or close to every page, was interfiled. Book friction 3

4. The books are totally interfiled. You can already feel the power of science radiating from them.Book friction 5

5. Benjamin and Hannah each grabbed a book by the spine.Book friction 6

6. Check out the tug-of-war that ensues:


So what’s actually happening here?

Pages of books are not perfectly smooth, like all surfaces there are minute imperfections. Rubbing two surfaces together produces friction due to these tiny imperfections. In this case we are demonstrating static friction, which causes two bodies resistant to sliding past each other. A pair of single pages will not generate much friction at all, however the combined total of hundreds of pages interlocked will create huge amounts of friction. The books are impossible to pull apart!
If you want to see the Mythbusters version they used two phone books, which produced so much friction they could tow a car with it!

More books-to-film 2014

2014 is shaping up to be a huge year for books that have transitioned to film. In January I wrote about a few that were due early in the piece, most have since been released, but there’s still over 20 more that are scheduled for the next few months.

The-Hobbit-The-Battle-Of-The-Five-Armies-Movie-Poster-Wallpaper-1024x768[1]Arguably the most popularly awaited is the final installment of the adventures of hobbit Bilbo Baggins, titled The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies.  Acclaimed director Peter Jackson’s expanded story is bound to culminate in some fantastic imagery and character fun, it’s grown much larger and somewhat darker than the children’s book upon which it was based. It’ll be interesting to see if any further fan service occurs in the form of LOTR characters who appear who are not actually present in the book. The changes made by Jackson and his crew usually do add value however, and it should be an action packed and emotional finale. The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies is due for release on December 26.

dark-places-book-coverGillian Flynn has had a massive year, with both of her popular books Dark Places (2009) and Gone Girl (2012) due for release in coming months. Charlize Theron and Christina Hendricks star in Dark Places, the 1980’s set story about the survivor of a massacre in a small US rural town, thought to be perpetrated by a Satanic cult. The bestseller Gone Girl, about a dysfunctional family, narrated by unreliable accounts is due for release on October 2 starring Ben Affleck and Rosamunde Pike.

If-I-StayAnother 2009 novel to hit the big screen is Gaye Forman’s If I Stay, a young adult novel that deals with some difficult themes. The main character Mia, played by Chloe Grace Mortiz (a significant change from her previous character of Hit Girl!) is comatose after a near fatal accident, reliving her life and possible future life depending on whether she chooses to live or to let go. If I Stay is due out in a couple of weeks on August 28.

Stay tuned for more books-to-film next week!


Adelaide Parklands: a social history

parklands1A new hardcover copy of The Adelaide Parklands: a social history came across my desk this week,  a Wakefield Press title, written by 2013 SA’s Historian of the year Patricia Sumerling.

This is a glorious book, full of rich social history, and fabulous photographs of the parklands throughout the past century. It traces the early days from Colonel Light’s initial plan in 1837 to the present day.

From the Wakefield Press synopsis: Where crowds once thronged for a public execution, or to see Blondin, the tightrope walker of Niagara Falls fame, now thousands gather for car races and cultural festivals. Adelaideans play sport in the Park Lands, get married, enjoy picnics, and meet for secret assignations. Many simply seek tranquil retreat in the Park Lands – although, as Patricia Sumerling shows, controversy has been never far away.

Sumerling talks about the political influences upon their development, the various festivals and celebrations the parklands have seen and some of the complaints from citizens about these uses. One that stood out from the early 1900’s was a complaint that the parklands on weekends and evenings were full of  ‘loose behaviour of hundreds of couples lying about in all directions..,’ and I think ostrich harness racing probably wins the weird event prize.

Patricia Sumerling will be speaking at the Library about her book and a history of the Parklands in late October so watch this space for details.