As Australia burns, I’m staying clear of sunsets and sunrises and anything red, and choosing a cool water photo for this post, although it has nothing to do with what I have to say.
This website has been going since 2007 and is, like me, getting on. Worse than me, it is starting to malfunction. It needs to be totally renewed, so in the interim there will be interruptions and the end result will look different. A clever and very kind friend, Al, is doing this work for me.
Not that I’ve had time to write any posts here since Clive Palmer’s Waratah Coal notified they were making the last moves needed to progress their Galilee Coal mine over my friend Paola Cassoni’s Bimblebox Nature Refuge.
This is my current full time unpaid job — to save Bimblebox — and even though the EDO will represent us in the Land Court, there is much work to be done for them and to raise funds for the battle ahead. If you can help in any way, we’d be grateful…
Although there is no standing water in my yard, the wetlands lagoon nearby attracts waterbirds who occasionally drop in to my garden to see what my vegetation might hold.
This elegant creature is a White-faced Heron, apparently common enough all over Australia, but not seen by me anywhere else I have lived.
It flew in for a brief visit, had a good look about and seemed to decide against what was on offer. The long brownish feathers on the chest and those sweeping grey ones on its back are called ‘nuptial plumes’.
Its legs look too spindly to support it, and as it high-stepped around, it undulated its very long neck in ripples back and forwards, as if swallowing something.
Its very perfunctory check of my back yard was clearly a negative result, except for the pleasure it brought me to see it!
Now that my bottlebrush tree is flaunting hundreds of bright red brush-like blossoms, the Rainbow Lorikeets are holding parrot parties. Like all lorikeets, they have a specialised ‘brush-like’ tongue to be able to feed on nectar, but these are the only lorikeets to have a blue head.
Their brilliant colours warrant their name. They are not, however, blessed with a sweet song, and as they feed in flocks, the combined shrill screeching makes me greatly miss the musical calls of my Mountain’s Crimson Rosellas.
My other visiting parrots have been the Galahs; rarely seen here on the coast, they are very common, often in huge flocks, in open country.
Only two came to see what my yard had to offer in the way of food. I assume they didn’t find much to their taste, as they were only here for a day. Surprising, given their wide range of feeding habits: seeds, grain, fruit, blossom, shoots, as well as insects and their larvae.
I am always grateful not to be a haven for Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, given their raucous screeching, but Galahs are not much better, their calls described by my bird book as ‘loud whistles, strident shrieks and screams’!
Taree is not a big town, nor particularly environmentally alert. At the last school strike for climate day there I think there’d have been less than a dozen kids, and mostly from elsewhere, like Gloucester; more adults without kids.
But on Friday 20th September the impact of the rising tides (pun intended) were clear.
Hundreds flocked to the riverside park to hear impassioned speeches, show support and share concerns — parents with babies, very small children and primary schoolchildren, secondary students on their own or in groups, adults on their own.
One of the most impressive young speakers, 11-year-old Evie Wood McGuire from Cundletown Primary, was inspired after an XR family day at Nabiac. She then started her own blog to encourage specific personal action — in an innovative way!
All the kids who spoke were articulate, strongly behind Greta Thunberg, and clear on what they wanted: ‘Climate Action NOW.’
I gathered, from speaking to a large group from St Clare’s, that such protest seems to have become the ‘in’ thing, which is just what needs to happen!
Some went really public and stood up on the roadside with their signs, attracting many supportive honks from passing cars.
While I have never understood why Taree’s war memorial is guarded by two child-size soldier statues (did they run out of money, choose two minis for the price of one full size?).
I know that the real soldiers would be horrified to think that the land and clean water and air they fought for are no longer our governments’ priorities.
And that the right to protest, such as this, was what they fought to keep for Australians.
While NO new coal is critical, as evidenced by the many Stop Adani signs, I was especially taken with the variety of very positive pro-active approaches, such as looking after bees, and trees, regenerative farming and local produce, as in the Young Farmers Connect group.
One of the Young Farmers’ children carried this very pointed sign. What are you doing?
Prioritising the future of all children was the primary message from the older generation. I bridled a bit when one young speaker said, ‘We’ll stick it to the Boomers’, given I am one; the grey-haired lady next to me had the same reaction and said, ’So should I leave now?’
Others pointed out the truth; some acknowledged that we oldies aren’t all bad…
And of course the Knitting Nannas were there to support ‘the kiddies’, for whose future they work, as always.
But it is the politicians we need to impress; if our Taree turnup wasn’t enough to convert our state Nationals from climate denial, how about the 10,000 people in Newcastle or the 50,000 in Sydney? Or, Trumpian sidekick Morrison, how about the 300,000 nationwide??!! A few votes there…
At one end of a beach at Bermagui, south coast NSW, an ancient creature lies half buried in the sand. Its long snout sucks up water at high tide, its dark eyes watch for whales… and inquisitive dogs.
For this is a dog-friendly beach, allowing romping dogs with their walking and stick-throwing owners.
These caves are mostly small hollows, some forming see-through tunnels in the strangely muscular rocks.
But above the sand and creature level, the rocks are no longer sea-moulded smooth, but striated and layered with other ancient deposits, interspersed with soft and powdery decomposing stone…waiting to be washed to join the sands below.
In other places they are carved and etched, leaving odd sculptured shapes, intriguing furrows and horizontally scratched hieroglyphics in vertical messages.
Some seem to have been shaded into relief by an artist’s pen. I am again ignorant as to how these varied effects have been created… perhaps by the ancient sand mammoth before it became immobilised?
Now very little lives on the rocks – a determined spider, the odd desperate plant.
I wish they could talk to explain the mysteries of their so-diverse rocky habitat. Yet it is almost enough just to be in awe at this show of Nature’s art – again!
An extinct volcano near the Tilba region of NSW, Gulaga Mountain holds great spiritualsignificance for the local Yuin people. You can imagine why, as the rocks near its top are no ordinary rocks. In 2006 Gulaga, previously called Mount Dromedary, was returned to its traditional owners.
At about 800 metres above sea level, the walk up the dirt track is long, fairly relentlessly steep but not arduous; the walk down is, with slipping over at least once a certainty!
It is worth it to meet these extraordinary and evocative tors, either soaring solitary between the trees or balanced in almost incredible giant-flung piles.
The smoothed shapes vary; all defy my geology-deprived understanding, and all demand awe.
Gulaga’s rocks leave memorable impressions. Victoria’s Hanging Rock is not unique in harbouring strange emanations, which touch even the clumsy and ignorant like me.
The walking track through the Gulaga National Park to the saddle is actually a road. It passes by masses of tree ferns, tall ones that nestle up to mossy and lichened rocks, and shorter hairy ones that give shelter to tiny ferns.
Few plants are flowering, so this Correa (?) catches my eye.
Grandeur … and tiny details. All free food for the soul from Nature.
Alerted to look up from my desk by whirling aerial activity outside, I saw about six Welcome Swallows flying round and round the back yard airspace. It looked as frenetic as when the young first fly, but I haven’t noticed any nests on my verandahs or eaves.
There seemed to be other birds in the mix.
When some peeled off to perch, I spotted a Willy Wagtail, who typically did not stop still long enough to be more than a blur.
Then I gasped at this unmistakable fishtail shape.
A Spangled Drongo!
I know; in Australia it sounds like a joke…
I have only seen this bird twice before. It is the only Australian species of drongo, and it is most handsome, with its iridescent feathers, blueish spangle, and bright red eyes.
Today there were two, so I hope they will nest nearby.
Like swallows, they can catch insects on the wing.
However, my bird book says they are migratory, ‘arriving in October and leaving in March’. We are still in August. Like the fire season, is August the new October?
One of the other dapper black-feathered birds in the yard at the same time was an Australian Magpie-Lark, female I think.
I have usually called them Pee-Wees (after their call) and berated them for attacking my windows, but now I have hung feathers in corks outside, they do not bother with those reflected birds.
As they mostly catch their insects on the ground, they were not competing with the flying food frenzy above. So they are back ready to nest too; theirs is of mud, and has been in the Jacaranda tree in the past. Hmm; but will they find some mud in this drought?
I was waiting for the last Autumn leaves to fall from my ornamental grapevine before pruning it, as I have always done.
But this crazily warm Winter weather has confused the vine into sending forth new Spring growth shoots of leaves and flowers.
All along its length the bright green new leaves have lost patience with the old brown clingers, saying ‘Don’t you know it’s Spring?’
Only it’s not.
I check in the yard: the Mulberry tree, properly wintry bare two days ago, has lost the plot too. Good luck, I think.
The small Native Finger Lime tree is covered in tiny buds and blossoms, but this is the right time for it.
Will there be ‘right times’ ahead for deciduous plants to awake?
How would they know to stay asleep until after the last frosts of winter?
When people in T-shirts at mid-day in mid-winter’s July say ‘What a lovely day!’, I can’t agree.
‘Actually, no, I find it scary that’s it’s so warm.’
Because this is wrong, out-of-kilter; I’m a human who can put clothes on or off, buy food out of season.
Plants and insects and birds and animals are inter-dependent; species are being thrown into not just confusion, but extinction.
Now, on 1st August, I read that:
‘Tinder-dry conditions in NSW have forced the Rural Fire Service to bring forward its bushfire danger period for parts of the state’s east coast and Northern Tablelands. Twelve areas — Armidale, Bega Valley, Eurobodalla, Glen Innes Severn, Inverell, Kempsey, Mid Coast, Nambucca, Port Macquarie Hastings, Tenterfield, Uralla and Walcha — will all start their bushfire danger period from August 1, the RFS announced on Thursday.’
Traditionally, the official start to the danger period is October 1.’