Tag Archives: Nature

A Room With a View …

Room with a view

What a wonderful country we have.

Friday Fungi

I do know it’s not Friday – you’ll just have to pretend! At last I have some new fungi fotos to post. These were taken at Port Stephens growing in the leaf litter that the gardeners throw over the edge of the lawn into the bush:

Three fungi - big to little

It was amazing to find them still intact – usually someone can’t resist knocking them over.

The biggest - about 10" across.


A view of the underneath - not much of a photo, but I love it.

Now for the middle-sized one:

Again the lantana to provide some perspective.


Top view - isn't it beautiful.


And finally, the baby –

The beautiful baby with its small scales still showing.


And the top view:

Magic!

There’s no place like Oz ….

Just a few animal photos from our Lake Eyre trip:

The emus have been breeding prolifically because of all the rain and the new growth it brings. We saw quite a few emu families with young.


Also quite a few goannas and scaly back lizards (no photos of those).

These yellow footed rock wallabies were put on the endangered species list a few years ago, but again, the wet weather and the resultant prolific growth of the native plants has seen their numbers increase recently. These wallabies are so well camouflaged amongst the rocks that they are hard to see unless they move. They have a distinctive striped tail – only just visible here. If you look hard you can see that this is a female with a pouch – I can’t see the little one though.

Well, off again tomorrow but locally this time. be back soon.

Off the air – in the air – Outback

Despite having been on a rampage of posting over the last couple of days, I have been very post deficient this year, and last year. In fact, as I’ve talked about before, I’ve lost my blogging mojo since we moved – and to a lesser extent, my knitting mojo. Maybe it’s because I seem to be so busy – being retired!! A common complaint. But I’ve been retired much longer than I’ve lived here, so that really doesn’t wash. Whatever the reason, I’m pleased that it has returned for at least a little while.

Over the last three years we have been away a lot, but it never seems to make the blog. But this time, it has – I’ve been off the air because I’ve been outback – and to a much lesser extent in the air. We set out with some adventurous members of the local PROBUS club to visit lake Eyre and the Corner Country. First, the 14 hour train trip to Broken Hill which was surprisingly comfortable although the food bore an uncanny resemblance to airline food – but what the heck – that’s what the joys and memories of holidays are all about – the unexpected. And we had the unexpected!

We travelled with a company called Fringe of the Desert Tours and they used another company called Outback Experience Tours. On our first day out of Broken Hill we spent most of the day bogged up to the axles in mud – shades of my childhood. We used to travel in outback NSW with my father and I well remember dad getting rather excited because Mum revved the engine too much, splattering him with mud or sand, while he was trying to get a plank under the bogged wheel. In those days there were no mobile phones, satellite phones or two-way radios, no car fridges. We had a canvas bag of water hanging off the bumper bar at the front and that was the coolest you got. If you couldn’t get out of trouble, you just had to wait for someone to come along and offer to help – which everyone did. But it might be hours before that happened.

Ooops! The ground's a bit soft ....


Ooops! from the outside.


Deeper. ever deeper ...


I’m pleased to say that this bog was slightly different. After many efforts to tow the big 4 wheel drive bus out by the smaller 4 wheel drive bus, much digging ensued, which only seemed to drop the bus deeper into the bog. Fortunately a friendly farmer, called Nick, came to the rescue – but to no avail. After many hours of breaking any number of snatch straps, chains, ropes and whatever else could be found in the neighbouring farms,the bus was freed at last and arrived at our next destination, Blinman, at about 12 midnight.

Typical of country communities, the hotel owners had stayed up until the bus arrived to provide meals. Fortunately, for everyone, only a snack was needed.

In one of the waiting periods between getting fresh supplies of chains, Jingo, Dick and Simon, our drivers/guides had built a fire and produced a barbecue meal which they ate while the sun set.

Magic.

Once a year day …

… and it’s time for the Granny Smith Festival at Eastwood. This festival is named in honour of … you guessed it! … Granny Smith of apple fame. It’s not all that long ago that Eastwood and Epping were covered in small farm holdings, including orchards. Granny Smith noticed a different apple on her tree, presumably a mutation or a hybrid and the Granny Smith Apple was born. For those of you who are not familiar with this apple, it has green skin, is crisp and tartish in taste – my mother always called it a “cooking apple”, but I remember loving to eat them fresh when I was a child. Somehow, over the years, apples seemed to lose their flavour or texture and it’s not an apple I’d eat fresh by choice now.

So festival time is marked by street closures, a large street parade, dozens of the usual street stalls, five stages around the shopping centre and oval, barbecues, fairy floss, show rides – and a lot of people – and some sort of “bake-off” involving apples, Grannies of course!).

Usually I’m there at the crack of dawn, helping set up the stall for the Friends of The Shack. The Shack is the local youth outreach centre and it receives no recurrent funding from any government department relying on grants, donations and fund raising for its survival. But today, I was rostered on in the middle of the day. It was quite cold and soooo windy. We nearly blew away several times. We seemed to sell a lot of things – it’s amazing how many people want to buy scarves and beanies when it’s unseasonally cold. I usually take orchid “pups” along – an epiphyte whose name I don’t know, but a beautiful orchid. It looks rather like this. But it’s hard work selling them for a few dollars by the time I explain to people how to grow them – then re-explain it – then confirm that they can buy sphagnum moss locally – then re-explain how to attach them to a tree or post – then …. you get the picture. Next year I’ll have to remember to print some information off to hand out with each sale. In our old house I used to attach them to pieces of wood some months before the festival, but we have nowhere suitable to do that in our new place – we don’t have a wood-heap anymore, for starters, but the main problem is finding a shady spot for them in the hot months. My “mother orchid” is 40 or 50 years old and it was spectacular when I could hang it under a tree. I thought I was going to lose it at the new place because of the sun, but since I’ve buried it in the corner of two walls and behind a camellia and a climbing geranium. it is beginning to look more like its old self.

Tomorrow is another “once a year day” – the Cherryhills sale – and very surprisingly 🙂 I have decided to go, despite the fact that I need no more knitting yarn!!

Updates …

I’m way behind with my blogging program, but getting better at reducing the time I spend on the internet … beautiful Bargara will have to wait while I update a few things …

So .. Fungi .. this running-late-Friday’s-fungi foto was taken in Norway – – I can’t remember where, as our travel diary with our photo list was in a bag that was stolen in London on our way home. A big loss indeed. I have no idea what type of fungus this is. ?one of the bracket fungi? mrfricative identified one of my “lichen” as being a bracket fungi. And he sent a great link to a website of Irish fungi – check it out if you are a fungi fancier!

Reader’s Digest has continued to send emails and letters all with the misleading gumph that I have come to know and be fascinated by. I have put my name on the Direct Marketing Association’s “no mail from …” list, and I sent an email to Reader’s Digest requesting them to desist from further contact – surprisingly I got a reply!:

Thank you for your email request to be removed from our mailing list.

I have located an account in your name at the PO Box (A?C #C 7266 8932) and
have marked the record accordingly. As our mailing packages are prepared
up to 8-12 weeks in advance you may receive 2 – 3 more promotional offers
after which time they will cease.

I also checked the street address and was not able to find an account at
that address. If you should receive any mail at your street address can
you please email me and let me know the reference number.

Time will tell.

Lilith
The birthday is in 3 days time, and I will not be finished in time. The skirt is done, waiting to be hand sewn, stitch by stitch to the yoke.
The yoke is blocked and in the process of being duplicate stitched. One sleeve is finished and the second yet to be started.

Birthday Boy
Not an update, but a happening. The baby and only boy of the family, all 6′ 5″ of him, turned 41 yesterday. How did this happen? When did he grow up? How can I be old enough to have a child that old? He finds his mother’s ramblings on this subject very amusing! So a belated happy birthday to the big boy flea. Thanks for being such a great son.

Heaven on earth continued ….

The dive shop lends visitors a snorkel, face mask and flippers for the duration of their stay. My face mask gave me so much trouble, filling up with water, that I went to the snorkelling lesson in the pool – turns out my technique was fine, but I needed a new mask which was of a much better quality and did not leak. Getting into the water in my flippers was quite another story and I thank my lucky stars that Grandpa Flea didn’t have a camera with him!

The first time I entered the water backwards with my flippers already on – big mistake – they filled up with little bits of coral grit that HURT when I moved. Attempting to wash them out, I fell over in the little swell and was then dragged backwards and forwards like a beached whale!
I was sure I’d be covered in grazes from the dead coral pieces, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover no injuries other than a mighty bruise which no one else could see!

I didn’t have the flipper problem when I snorkelled in Fiji, but I was 20 years younger and slimmer then ….. suffice to say, that after my mortification, I lost all self-consciousness about waddling around in a swimsuit or beaching! Eventually I got into the water and didn’t look back. Because I’m not a strong swimmer I had a noodle tucked under my armpits – magic! Much better than the bubble I wore in Fiji! I came away from my snorkelling adventures intent on buying a waterproof camera for my next visit ….

The fish life in the eastern lagoon was quite varied, but my big thrill came the day we were leaving. We were having one last snorkel before we had to vacate our room. I was about to get out when I spotted an enormous turtle feeding on the algae on the coral – I could have reached out and stroked it – and I could have stayed watching it all day. Next time …..

My memory of the reef lagoon on Castaway Island in Fiji is that there were more fish and they were more colourful. But memory is a funny thing, and with a longer stay and more confidence to snorkel on the western side of the island, I suspect that the comparison would be meaningless. We did snorkel off the glass-bottomed boat on the western side of Lady Elliot where the water is much deeper with large coral crevasses and there were more fish of many different colours and shapes. Next visit (said with a note of optimism), I won’t be as nervous in the deep water and will venture out into the deep water from the beach.

On our second evening, we walked around the island. On the western side of the island, the recent cyclone had blown the coral grit up in tiers on the shore. This photo doesn’t really capture the extent of the tiering, but being all white, it was hard to get a good shot:
Don’t be put off by the coral – there is a sandy beach in front of the lagoon. You are told to wear reef shoes when walking on the beach and in the water because of the coral and the various creatures that are not very friendly when trodden on – stone fish, cone shells etc The reef shoes that are on loan turned out to be a large collection of old sneakers and mangled reef walkers, presumably left there by previous visitors. It was very difficult to find something suitable. Next time I’ll be taking my own.

Lady Elliot is a nature reserve and is inhabited by thousands of birds – white crested terns or “noddys” are the predominant species. They are everywhere, as are the droppings – in fact Lady Elliot was mined for guano in the early 20th century – they removed a metre of guano and soil from the top of the island, and in the process destroyed all the native vegetation except for a small stand of now enormous pisoonia trees.
The island was re-vegetated in the 1960s by the first tourism operator, but along with coastal casuarinas which are effective but not native to the island, there are heaps of exotic weeds from the lighthouse keepers’ gardens – lantana, a poinsettia looking thing, philodendrons, a huge chilli bush, impatiens, mother-in-law’s tongue etc etc. The revegetation policy now is that nothing is to be removed, but as it dies it will be replaced with pisoonia trees. I’m sorry I don’t have photos, but my camera is very old and, don’t laugh, has only a 64mb card with two 16mb cards as back up! I feel that new waterproof camera coming on!

On with the walk … on the western side we saw a fishing boat moored just off the island. The staff had earlier called the police who came out to make sure it hadn’t anchored in the coral (it hadn’t) and that it wasn’t fishing (it wasn’t). Because this is a protected area the staff are very vigilant and shoot first (well, call the cops) and ask questions later when strange vessels come calling. You can see the birds in the sky, returning to the island as the sun is setting. We got a bit distracted here, watching the birds, the boat and the sea, and it was starting to get dark with half the circumference to go. As we approached the corner to the northern side, the moon suddenly came into view – have I said magic before? It was heavenly ….. ( This photo had to be “enhanced” because it was too dark, hence the grainy texture.) Then, as we rounded the corner, there was the moon, reflecting on the water – I’d say magic again, but it might say repetitive 🙂 It is indeed heavenly …

So, two and a half days on lady Elliot felt like a month away from civilisation – I’d still be there if I were able. Unfortunately we had to leave in another small plane: We circled the island one more time, then it was back to Bundaberg and the beautiful beachside at Bargara.