Luminous lake

Queens Lake is large, and to walk around its shores is an ever-changing feast for the eyes. On this day the return walk was late, and the setting sun threw an especially vivid display of fiery gold across the water.

A little further on, and a hazard reduction burn far off across the lake punctuated the oyster leases with its plume of dark smoke.

Then the smoke became a cloud of its own, joining the mackerel sky in the water.

So many swift and ephemeral visual treats; fit for a Queen indeed!

Freshwater fans

I love the patterns moving water makes, on the surface below and on itself, and in its reflections.

At this beach, usually my eye is taken by those made the receding tide. But today this little stream of fresh water is coming from the land above, and it is one of many, although not all so vividly coloured. Croissants topped with apricot jam, anyone?

Kattang Nature Reserve rises above this beach, and today joins it with water.

As it makes its way to the salt sea, its ripples remind me of the cooling ‘skin’ when you test your homemade toffee or jam for setting.

I can hear water trickling further along from my amber stream, and see that there is is a steady veil of droplets from the bank onto the rocks.

This becomes a most beautiful series of convoluted fans of pebbles and sand and rutile, like layers of drapery, some creamily sheer, some bejewelled.

In other places, where no pebbles can contribute to the richness, the sand simply swirls with fine black traceries, fanning out to be lost on the smooth wet beach.

I feel so lucky to have seen these further examples of the extraordinary complexity of design and colour in nature., especially as they may not be there when next I visit this beach.

Sea changes

I am looking down on the same rocks where my ‘Wild edge’ images were taken. But oh, what a difference in the sea at that edge today!

Gently lapping, not crashing; small frills of white instead of furious frothing breakers.  Even a few surfers paddling.

I have walked to the Charles Hamey Lookout in Kattang Nature Reserve and it does offer a view beyond my sea edge, a view of this amazing coastal complex of waterways, right up to brooding North Brother Mountain and beyond.

It is the combination of mountain and sea that appeals to me here so strongly.

But any tourist postcard can show scenic views; I am more attracted by details, often ephemeral.

If I look the other way from here, today it is the sea itself that takes my eye.

Peacefully rippling all the way to the horizon; not a whale in sight, but endless permutations of colour.

In the shallower waters near the land edge it is crystal clear and green. I have never been to the Mediterranean, but now I wonder how it could better this.

Then it deepens to blue-green, secretive of the ocean world beneath, and then to blue watered silk moiré, growing paler as it recedes to the sky edge.

As I retrace my steps I have to admire this rugged coast and its changeable neighbour, today deceptively gentle in its blues and greens beneath the equally unpredictable sky.

But if I look further north, the sea has turned silver, sparkling in sunshine.

What a visual treat it is to be witness to such free shows on offer from Nature!

Wild edge

This wintry weather comes with warnings of dangerous surf conditions — not that I’m likely to be trying! But I did want to look at such a sea.

And it was impressive. An awesomely powerful and persistent pounding.

The waves seemed to be doing their best to demolish the coastal rocks, rising like leviathans and crashing down in a lather of white and stormy brown.

On the horizon a chorus line of clouds meekly kept its distance from all this fury.

Each rock formation offered different resistance, allowing waterfalls of varying shapes to be created by the smashed waves. There was always another coming…

The rocks always won, directing the white flows to follow their lead, with no more choice than bridal trains.

It is a testament to the hardness of these edging rocks that they are not worn down but also an explanation of how the channels in between have been created.

Reacquainting

While I’ve been away, there has been a great deal of rain, and the swamp that this dirt road aims to bisect is reasserting itself.

Of course the swollen swamp needs to flow across the road, and has succeeded in closing that road while the water follows its natural course.

The road leads to the beach, so my feet are wet before I get there, but what a lovely set of early morning reflections!

The sun is already up when I reach the sandhills… and a 4WD has already despoiled the night’s tide marks on the sand.

This beach rarely has shells washed up, and it is only in a small stretch that today I see them scattered like tiny treasures for me to find.

Walking home, wading through the reasserted swamp, I see two trees are newly flowering since I was away. This small wattle (Acacia suaveolens) has blossoms of a pretty creamy white, not the yellow we are used to. It is one of the earliest flowering wattles.

Equally sparkling white are the flowers of this Broad-leaved Paperbark tree, Melaleuca quinquinervia, common on this stretch. Being a swamp dweller, it does not mind wet feet.

Early rising

While I used to easily see dramatic sunrises on my Mountain, here I am more likely to catch the gentle pearly colours of early morning clouds, or the mist rising above the mangroves to blanket the mountain on its way to join those clouds.

Reflections in still water are an added bonus.  I spot a solitary pelican sedately cruising over the glassy surface.

And then maybe it sees me, because it takes off with long deep flaps of those massive wings. And, always amazingly to me, that heavy body becomes airborne.

I apologise to it for disturbing the peace, and for perhaps causing its early rising.

Beach bounty

Not being a fan of bright summer sunlight and blue skies, I go early to the beach near me. My mate Fred shares The Cloud Appreciation Society newsletter with me each month and I have to agree with them that clouds are far more interesting than cloudless skies!

If I am lucky the clouds part just enough for those angels up there to take a peek, shining a spotlight on the restless sea below.

At other times the clouds part in a less focused way, to light up a patch of sea and reflect in the wet sand. Light is always more interesting when paired with darkness or dullness.

But looking down and up close is just as interesting.

If I’m sitting long enough, the sand itself can reveal fascinating sights. Like this portrait of a hairy big-eyed creature… made by busy crabs…and birds?

The tiny crabs move fast when they detect any motion nearby, to disappear down their burrows. I wonder how they keep the sand out of those eyes on stalks?

Sea shapings

Boxed rocks with green velvet and creamy fillings, tightwaisted sand escapees… nature’s gallery of shapes so varied I never tire of looking.

Reminding us that shells are not fixed decorations, but meandering muscles with sun protection homes on their backs, these whelks and limpets have created their own patterns as they wait for the rising tide to refresh and cool them.

More ephemeral, sun and water make their own rippling rings of light.

The tide that went out has left endless versions of sand art, etched in line drawings and moulded into soft sculptures.

Some form escarpments and runnelled foothills, carve and capture pools and lakes.

Others twist into fancifully embossed tails of Art Nouveau.

Elaborate minarets from Arabia? Or a curving creature with snub nose and dragon spine?

Each tide will leave a different set of artworks, shaped from all different directions by the sea.

Cause for wonder, cause for gratitude…

Seashore spot colours

At last I managed to be at this rock platform at low enough tide to see its treasures. It’s Wash House Beach near Camden Head.

Beaches are cream and brown; rock platforms are that too, but with extra arrays of greens and pinks… and some surprising spots of vivid colour, like these shy red starfish.

One very bright red slash caught my eye; it moved… a bird. Then it doubled.

Two Sooty Oystercatchers, glossy black, unmistakable with those red eyes, legs and bill, poking their way like automatons across the cunjevoi-covered rocks.

Amongst the pretty underwater garden plants a single orange ‘finger’ was waving; attached, was it a slug or… ?

Bigger and brighter orange splashes showed in the lichen on rocky crevices nearer the sea. This one was home to the only sea urchin I saw.

Blue was also present. Below the galeolaria sea worm casings these clusters of pale blue were attached. They reminded me of shellback ticks…I touched one with the back of a fingernail and it felt soft… not hard like a barnacle.

And blue there certainly was in this sole bluebottle jellyfish, stranded by the tide, looking more like a plastic bath toy than the giver of very painful stings I recall from childhood. Occasionally there would be mass beachings of them, and their long stinging tentacles were not always visible to us kids hopping amongst them.  We learnt!