Archibald Prize lured us to Healesville. E drove through winding foggy roads with Kraut Rock on the stereo while I knitted and Sylvia sang "London Bridge is Falling Down". We arrived in Healesville for a spot of lunch before heading out to Tarrawarra Gallery.
Mocha and Lime. We found it cosy and crowded. No room for us. This was the first inkling of what an impact the Archibald Prize has on the town. We wandered onwards and decided Healesville Harvest was worth a try. It is the more casual cousin of the Healesville Hotel. It was busy but there was space for us.
The woman in front of me started telling me how good the salad was and we struck up a conversation. She worked at the gallery where we were headed. Apparently when the Archibald Prize finalists were displayed in Melbourne city years ago it wasn't as popular as it has been in the beautiful surroundings of Healesville. She also advised that we could order chips from the Healesville Hotel bar if we sat outside between the bar and the Harvest cafe.
Kitchen and Butcher shop next door to the Healesville Harvest (yet another cousin in the Harvest family). I bought nigella seeds because I was excited to see they stocked Herbies spices. I also had to have the wild garlic salt because I am really into flavoured salts lately. Sylvia chose the packet of "Toffee Apples" - dried apple drizzled with toffee. I might not have agreed to buy the toffee apples if I had known it was over $15 but they are delicious.
TarraWarra Museum of Art to view the Archibald Prize finalists. The gallery is a modern building sitting atop the ridge of a vineyard. As we arrived, a gentle autumnal sun lit the landscape, glowing warmly on the honey coloured walls of of the gallery. Spectacular views of rows of vines and mountains greeted us when gazing out from the archways or the generous windows.
We took it in turns to view the artwork and mind Sylvia. The Archibald Prize is Australia's most prestigious portrait painting prize. It has a high profile in the mainstream media here. Yet there is nothing like being there. I loved seeing the vast canvases, standing close, standing back, noticing each brush stroke, reading the notes. Then Sylvia would insist we went to see the big bad wolf or Tiny Tim yet again. I loved so many of the portraits that it was hard to pick a favourite. The exhibition is on until 8 July 2012. I highly recommend it.
256 Maroondah Highway, Healesville
03 5962 4002