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.