I am waking up around 5.30 a.m. here, and I am realising that, just as on my other mountain, I will be rewarded with ephemeral treats like this one when I do so.
There is so much to do that I don’t even want to stay in bed!
This house is built on a cut-and-fill site – much like where I was – but it’s quite a steep drop off the level strip in front of the house. By the time the sun was hitting the site, I’d breakfasted and unpacked three boxes of books.
Then I saw, through the rather grubby sliding glass doors, a pair of ears visible above the level of the bank.
A young male, I think, and the same Eastern Redneck Wallaby variety that I am used to.
I said ‘Hello, you! Are you on your own? Welcome!! No harm here, mate; no dogs!’
He looked unimpressed, and took off across the slope. I saw him join a mate over on my boundary treeline.
I am overjoyed; there is wildlife here of the hoppy native sort, when I’d been half expecting rabbits.
As you see, I have moved from what was my mountain and its range to a new set of mountains. This is what I woke up to the very first morning. So I (and you) can look forward to many good sunrises.
I am tucked into the side of the hill in this mountain-ringed narrow valley, with the little creek forming the border of my rural five acres.
It was a wet and soggy mountain I left and an even soggier hill I reached; four-wheel drive needed as I sank into the ‘lawn’.
As I get time to explore I will share my nature discoveries here… I am just waiting for the first snake. But already I know there are kooks, carolling magpies, crazy wattle birds and many small birds — and a pair of Welcome Swallows are nesting on the verandah just outside where I sit.
I can’t tell you for sure what the little birds are yet as I haven’t found my bird books; they’re in one of the dozens of boxes that tower teeteringly everywhere in here amidst the stranded furniture that I can’t think how to fit in.
How did I ever fit it all in before, in my little cabin? It looked so sadly sweet as I said goodbye after 36 years.
But good people have bought it and will love it and make it their own.
Of course a rural rather than a bush block brings a different set of challenges. Instead of conserving natural values, here I must replace them and rescue them from the onslaught of weeds, from fireweed, dock, wild ageratum and lantana to the ubiquitous Camphor Laurel trees.
If I thought I was moving to an easier life, I was temporarily deranged. When I am sorted out more here, and in between spending time at Gloucester to help them fight AGL’s CSG project in that beautiful valley — please visit the Gloucester Groundswell site.
I think I feel another book coming on.
On my last day here on this mountain, nature is turning it all on for me. A little glimpse of the things that symbolise what I love most here.
Wallabies and their joeys were all around, the camellias and bulbs were still in flower, and the bush beyond was glistening with sunshine and dew.
The spring-fed primary perched swamp was full of water, even after the long dry spell, and the mighty ancient Angophora arched out over it as protectively as ever.
Last week there was a light dusting of snow on the higher mountains opposite… very light, but still…
Next week I will be in my new mountainside home, with different wildlife and mountain views — and a creek! — to share with you all. I look forward to sharing my discoveries of its nature.
As my last week here begins with sunshine — for a change — I have been snapping the wallaby mums and joeys as they feed their way over the ‘lawn’. I shall miss them.
This very leggy young one (above) was unsteady out of the pouch, but nibbling along beside mum in beween ducking its head back into the pouch for a drink. It could barely fit under her; she ignored it when she wanted to move on. It just had to catch up and re-connect.
But then I noticed that over near the Nashis another joey was still lying in the same position as an hour earlier. Its mum was just sitting nearby.
The joey was clearly dead… and cold. No evident injury. Mum stayed near there for hours, even after the joey was removed. Normally she’d have moved further in her grazing. She looked sad — or was she unwell too?
I wish I knew what they felt or thought…
After a few days of welcome (if inconvenient for moving house) heavy rain, the bare trees are glistening in the morning sunlight, and the bulbs beneath them are struggling to lift their heads.
I love winter birches: for their bark and the lichen it attracts, for their bobbles and fine branchlets and twigs and the raindrops they cherish.
Some of the fat snowflake clumps are flattened…
…the first shy daffodil heads are about to unfold, and the fallen autumn leaves escape the wind by huddling amongst new iris leaves.
The large man-made Lake St Clair can create fabulous effects at times. Sadly, many trees were drowned in its making, but their standing skeletons can be beautiful… and eerie.
If I pass it early enough on a winter morning the sun hasn’t lightened the night’s cloud creations enough for them to totally dissipate and head back up to where they belong.
As I look back towards Mt Royal across the sunlit lake-trapped sea of clouds, I cherish such short-lived effects.
Especially as I know there are only a limited number of times that I will make this trip before I move.
As I pack and move out 36 years’ worth of my magpie collection, the cabin is far emptier than ever since it was built. I am appreciating the texture of the more revealed expanse of mud walls, freshly emphasised with the repainting (with natural paints of course).
I am admiring each treasure before I pack it away, and loving the flowers that winter here gives me for brightening indoors.
Sometimes I’m almost too late to catch a fleeting beauty on offer…
…like the last low rays of the sunset through my front door leadlight…
…or the coloured glass window in front of my desk.
Fortunately some of the most sweetly scented bulb blooms are at their best in Winter. Erlicheer are my favourite, on the plant and in a vase. They have naturalised and multiplied here, need no care, and the critters don’t eat them. In other words, a wonder plant!
Next to my bird bath I planted this Lilli-Pilli to provide some cover for the sipping or bathing birds. The bonus for them — and me — is its abundant crop of pinkish-mauve berries. They make a great ‘flower’ arrangement indoors too, keeping their colour for weeks.
But even the bare vines on my Winter verandah are beautiful in their shapes. The wisteria and the ornamental grape intertwine and twist around themselves and each other to provide a decorative lacework that’s better than any static iron verandah ‘lace’.
I suspect it won’t be long before I lose that linear treat, as the wisteria seems about to bud. Hang on, there’s still a whole month of Winter to go.