The magical New England National Park

On the way in to the New England National Park I began passing snow gums and trees so hoary with mosses and lichens that I couldn’t say what they were underneath.

At over 1500m above sea level, this park has spectacular views looking out but also looking in.
Gondwanaland plants like Antarctic Beech and tree ferns make some of the walks here as eerie and green as a trip into the land of Lord of the Rings.
Treading gingerly over damp tracks and beween giant mossy rocks on the side of the escarpment brought me to the Weeping Rock – whose tears were frozen mid-fall.
And thence to Point Lookout itself, where I wasn’t game – yet again– to venture on to the cantilevered viewing platform.

By the time I got to the Wollomombi Falls, the highest in Australia, the sun had sunk too low to get a good photo of these rugged and quite scary falls. You’ll have to go there yourself!
But I walked a little and heard so many bird calls, one after the other, that I knew a lyrebird was about. And then I saw him! In a small copse of shrubs, singing through his wide repertoire of mimickings, and displaying his beautiful tail. What a treat!
Aren’t national parks great?

Tree light

tree-light-1As Autumn becomes Winter, under perpetual grey skies, the intermittent thin drizzle keeps the saturated ground weeping down the hillside.

In all the dimmed-down garden and bushland, one light shines each day to greet and cheer me with its brightness.
My Liquid Amber tree is incandescent with warm colour, from yellow to purple and every pink and red in between, yet it still holds some green at its heart. The ambient daylight is so low my camera admonishes me to use the flash, but I trust my tree light.

This tree was burnt to a dead stick in the 2002 bushfire but it shot back from the roots and grew strongly to be the tall beauty it now is, seven years later.

I wonder if, forged in the intensity of that fire, it was given new genes, genes that hold the memory of the colours of fire, to warm my heart with the sight.


While south-east Queensland and the New South Wales north coast were hit by wild weather and floods – again – here it was much milder.

Yet when high winds follow long wet spells, the ground is saturated and trees are at risk on these ridges and slopes.
Those with less extensive holds from their roots or weakness at their bases can be bowled over as easily as we would flick a fallen leaf.

When the weather eased, I found that even in my fairly protected yard, part of the lemon ti-tree and two small Mudgee wattles had come down.

Fearing worse damage closer to the top of the ridge, I walked up to my gate, in case of fallen trees across the track.
There were none, but right by that gate a fairly large tree had simply snapped off, probably partly hollowed from past fires, and now lay prostrate. Fortunately it had fallen downhill, so not across the track. 

Soon it would be tree no longer – just timber. But in the meantime, as the leaves slowly die, it will sadden me to pass it by. Like a terminal patient’s silent plea to which I have no solution, only sympathy.

Tree homes

elkhorn farAs you might expect, given that I live in forest country, I love trees.
elkhorn closeup

On my place I keep planting more where they haven’t managed to regenerate by themselves after the clearing and burning and grazing of years ago.

Mostly I look at the forest as a wall, I suppose—and thus miss the individuality of the trees.

I ought to look up into my treetops more often, for koalas, not seen here since the 2002 fires.

I keep hoping, as I think I heard one a few months ago.

No koalas yet, but other things live in trees, like this beautifully healthy and quite old elkhorn high up in a casuarina.

When they get this big they can be too heavy for the tree or branch, and hence vulnerable to snapping off in a storm.

broken treeEven when a tree is totally destroyed, its trunk broken off and laid low, taken from skydweller to ground hugger, it takes on new life as host. Like this mighty ancient, which blocked the track for some time until a big enough chainsaw came along.

Where possums and birds may have lived in it before, now termites and beetles and fungi are residents.

fungoid colony
This fungus colony has taken shelter in the horizontal overhang created by what was once vertical.

Nothing is wasted in nature.

Looking up

angophora growthWhen walking along the forest tracks, I am usually so busy keeping my eyes directed downwards for snakes—and currently for the rare dry strips between the puddles—that I don’t often look up to the treetops.

And besides, to do so I’d have to stop, which is when the army of leeches gets its chance.

‘Up and at’ er!’ comes the order, and within seconds the troops are climbing up my gumboots.

But last week I did stop, and in all the years I’ve driven past this spot, I’ve never noticed this particular angophora tree.

Angophoras twist and turn by nature, but I haven’t seen one pout before!