Whenever I fluke a morning sky like this, my day starts well.

No wonder artists are inspired by nature!

Even if, like me, you’re not a fan of the colour pink on handbags or cars or bedroom walls, when you see the absolute delicacy of the pink hues in a sunrise sky — you’d have to agree our colourists have gone wrong in their translation from the original.

Season of moss and lichen

After being cabinbound for a week, when a morning came with no rain threatening, I seized the camera, donned gumboots and went a-walking.

Most blatantly rainloving of all were the mosses, drab in dry times, at their party best now.

On rocks in the gullies they glowed like textured velvet in a rich range of shades of green, with shapes and heights varying as the best of garden designers would recommend.

Set off by the splotches and splatters of the hardy lichens, decorated with an occasional fallen leaf or wallaby scat, my moss gardens are at their best.

On the rocks of the drier ridges, I find the plumped-up mosses glowing less in rainforest brights than in sage and thyme blues, honey browns. Here the lichens stand up amongst it like vivid corals – the flowers in this garden.

Remarkable women

Recently my publisher, Exisle, arranged a few joint talks at libraries, by myself and two other of their female authors. One talk was accompanied by supper, the other by a high morning tea. All very civilised.

They titled the talks, ‘True stories of remarkable women’. We were all as different as our stories.

Cheryl Koenig had written the very personal Paper Cranes, a journey of renewal and courage as she and her husband helped her son Jonathan recover from a serious car accident and brain damage.

Jane Mundy had told of her impulsive leap into adventure and romance as she travelled around Bolivia with a newly met potential partner. Cholas in Bowlers is funny and informative.

And me, well, I just spoke about my mountain life as usual.

Spring or autumn or?

Some of my garden shrubs are exhibiting extremely strange behaviour this autumn. Like the May bush, the Banksia rose, and the honeysuckle that smothers the outdoor loo.

It would seem they aren’t sure what season it is. When they ought to be winding down and closing up shop for the winter, they are putting out just one or two isolated sprays of blossom!

Totally out of season, but the plants, like the animals, have been so confused by the strange weather this last year that they seem to be having a bet each way.

Just in case this autumn is spring, and the other spring doesn’t come, their genes have told them to bloom, but only tentatively.

Moonset morning

There is something absolutely pure about the white orb of a full moon, even though I know it’s a great lump of pitted rock and dust.

I’m not sure that I wanted to know or that the knowledge has done mankind any good. I think the money for the space projects would have been better spent down here on poor old earth.

But when I wake up and see that perfect globe still hanging up there above my pink-flushed morning skyline, I can imagine it still holds all the mystery and magical powers that it used to.

The softness of she-oaks

Some consider the Australian bush harsh. Even in my rich mountain forests, there are areas where the dry furrowed bark of big stringybark trees dominate, with only bare ground and rocks, sticks and dry leaves beneath.

But it cannot be called harsh where she-oaks of any sort grow. These trees, properly called casuarinas, have what appear to be delicate bunches of slender drooping leaves.

Only they are virtually leafless, with the ‘leaves’ reduced to small teeth or scales arranged around the branchlets that we see as leaves.

The red she-oak timber, once used for shingles, is now prized for cabinetry. Most of the casuarina family burn with great heat and were in demand for bakers’ ovens.

But for me the standing trees have greatest value, rain or shine, for they grace the bush with their elegance, filter sunlight like fine lace, and turn raindrops into diamonds.
she-oak raindrops

Bangladeshi coal battle

We in the Hunter Valley think we have problems with the coal companies wrecking communities and lifestyles with their spreading, polluting coalmines.

Last week I heard a far worse tale, from Bangladeshi coal and climate change activist and economics Professor, Anu Muhammad, on an Aidwatch speaking tour.

Proposals such as the Phubari Coal Project, in a heavily populated, intensively farmed and very wet delta region, are obviously disastrous for the people and the environment, and make no economic sense – and yet they get the backing of so-called humanitarian institutions like the Asia Development Bank.

Australia is heavily involved in this, both as proposer and backer.

We didn’t pull the triggers on the guns that in 2006 fired on the 50,000 people protesting against the mine, but we are as responsible for the resulting deaths and injuries.

As we will be for the forced relocation of 50,000-150,000 people and the environmental vandalism.

Bush rat babies

For weeks I’d been trying to find and block every hole where a bush rat had been getting into my cabin.

It tunnelled anew under the rock and cement footings each night. It gnawed plastic, seeds, photo albums and – unforgivably – books.

It had to go. I borrowed a live trap big enough to take the critter I saw race along the same rafter each night.

The friend lent me two so I set them both, using apple spread with peanut butter as ‘bait’.

Next morning I had two mini bush rats – ‘it’ must have been a ‘she’.

Quite cute for rats, but nevertheless they were relocated.

The next day I caught Mum. I was heading to Sydney that day so she rode with me to the spot where the kids had been ejected.

So for the next few days in the city it was not only the dried mud on the Suzi but the rat cage in the back that gave us away as bushies.

Library nursery

wasp nest
My little cabin is lined where possible with bookshelves, unfortunately only one of which has glazed doors. They are all tightly packed. I need more house for more walls for more bookshelves.

If I haven’t disturbed a section of the open shelves for a while, it often happens that when I go to extract a book, it resists.

More determined tugging brings forth not only the book but a shower of dried mud and small spiders – or perhaps fat grubs.

For wasps like books too. They sandwich the tops together with a mud honeycomb of egg chambers, sealing within each a stunned spider for the larvae to eat when they hatch.

Clever, yes, but pretty disgusting for the would-be reader.

Autumn again

It’s hard to believe that a year has passed since I began this blog, but the leaves were definitely turning and falling in those first photos.

I was reminded of this the other day when I saw a crimson rosella clearly visible amongst the thinning vine cover on the verandah in front of me, where before they’d been peeping out from a densely green and then red leafy curtain.

The querulous poses it was adopting were as clear as its presence: ‘So where’s the tucker??’


It’s autumn, but it feels like winter. There’s a cool wind blowing. I’m walking through the damp forest early this morning, with the sun only reaching small patches here and there.

I need to keep my eyes on the narrow wallaby track so I don’t trip over the many fallen branches, but a brightness up the hill draws my attention.

In the pool of sunlight allowed by a small clearing, a wallaby mum and her teenage joey are propped, sunsoaking, sunspotlit – almost incandescent in contrast to the surrounding dark forest of fire-blackened stringybarks.