The event that might have rivalled my sister’s wedding in appeal fortunately happened the morning after. Walking in the direction of breakfast we crossed paths with my uncle and aunt, who advised us that Dad and co. were sitting at the garden tables watching the koala.
We picked up the pace pausing only to be disappointed as we passed the non-functioning coffee machine, resorting to instant coffee to carry out with us.
The koala, which at first I couldn’t see obliged by moving and draping itself over the limb of the Casuarina (she-oak tree) where it was soaking up the sun over the beach, and becoming visible. After breakfast we walked down and snapped a few pics of the only koala I’d ever seen in the wild.
After which the G.O. and I did a circuit of the beach. Upon returning, at the tap washing the sand off my feet I saw a lump move in the tree above me. The koala was on its descent, it was lunch-time so perhaps looking for a snack in one of the neighbouring eucalypts.
I sat where I was, the G.O. a little further back. The koala paused, settled, regarded me, and resumed its downward path. On the ground it gave me a glance then moved toward a slender gum about 2 metres away, and ascended almost to the top where it paused, ate a few leaf tips, ascended further and settled.
On Sunday morning the koala had moved from where we’d last seen it, and nor was it the she-oak. Eagle-eye G.O. spotted it nearby in a different eucalypt, luckily as we’d been about to walk adjacent to it to return to the hotel, just as the koala made its presence known to me by taking an elevated pee.
*How much can a koala bear? Australiana, Austen Tayshus
The G.O. didn’t take much convincing to go up to Port Stephens the day before my youngest sister’s wedding, so we left Sydney at a civilized hour and arrived at d’Albora Marinas in Nelson Bay in time for lunch overlooking the water.
After lunch we strolled around the marina and spotted 3 pods of dolphins cruising the bay. Of course, the phone-camera we had to hand wasn’t up to capturing pics.
Post-stroll we headed around to our accommodation, the ibis Styles Port Stephens Salamander Shores Hotel at Soldiers Point, also the wedding reception venue, set in beautiful gardens on Salamander Bay.
After a brief chat with family who’d arrived we wandered down to Wanda Beach for a quick walk before getting ready for an evening of pre-wedding drinks and dinner. That was the beginning of not only socialising with family and friends but what seemed to be non-stop wildlife encounters.
We walked along the jetty looking down into water so clear that if you’d had a fishing rod you could see a delicious dinner of black fish or whiting, as well as myriad tiny neons.
On the sand I slipped my thongs (flip-flops) off to go for a paddle, looking back to suggest the G.O. do the same… wondering why he was wearing joggers on the beach.
As I stepped further into the water, I looked down, luckily, as right at my feet was a baby stingray which checked them out then seeing the G.O’s feet also, decided to move off just far enough.
Not far along from that encounter the Cancerian G.O. met up with a crabby cohort and nearly dunked his good watch attempting to shake hands-pincers.
Returning to our room, our balcony was beset with native birds, who maintained a constant presence over the weekend, one cheeky native myna bird even venturing inside.
At the start of our next morning walk we were greeted at the beach by a pelican who led the way towards a bevy of black swans, a threesome of white ibis, the good ship pelican, a flock of seagulls, a brace of mallards, and a raft of wood ducks – all of which made daily repeat appearances.
We had only had one other glimpse of dolphins in the bay from the balcony of my sister’s 5th floor honeymoon suite. So, on Saturday afternoon a little before dusk the G.O., my uncle, aunt and I drove around to The Anchorage Marina at Corlette where the G.O. and I stayed previously and saw dolphins dining late in the day, but to no avail this time.
Heading back to the car, disappointment somewhat mollified by the spectacular sunset, there was just enough light left in the day for us witness a wild rabbit nibbling the lawn near the car park supervised by a black cat from its vantage point on the brick wall.
Earlier in the day walking along the beach, seeing many people with dogs, I’d jokingly commented to the G.O. the only thing we haven’t seen is a cat [who’d appreciate the beach as a big litter tray]. Well, now we had, with a bonus bunny thrown in the mix.
Added to all of that, enroute driving along the the freeway I’d spotted a trio of big white billy goats lounging in the morning sun on the edge of a cutting way up high, and on the way home a couple of kangaroo’s reclining on a front lawn.
“Each day provides its own gifts”, Marcus Aurelius
…But there was one other wildlife encounter, wonderful enough that it deserves its own post.
[Click on the image thumbnails, and they’ll open up into (slightly) larger images]
Bushfires ravage the periphery of Sydney and around the state. The weather has been hot, windy and dry. Bad. It’s only October. And it’s getting worse. There’s a cooler southerly change expected that only means the wind will change direction. There are already more than 90 fires burning and 100 homes lost in less than 24 hours. It’s hell on earth for the residents and firefighters.
The G.O. and I are in no danger. But, this is what the we saw from the inner city and south western Sydney late this afternoon. The city may not be burned, but its skies are bruised.
The G.O. and I are absentee gardeners, and spend a few hours each time we go up to our house on the Mid North Coast of NSW keeping the garden presentable, and for me in particular enjoying the time spent in the sun pruning and weeding. During the recent long weekend we spent there, as well as the foodie country offerings of elladee_words there were modest garden offerings which thrilled us.
We occupied several hours of the weekend on maintenance jobs and gardening what at the moment is a very parched yard as the usually verdant area heads into summer having had not much winter rain. Our garden is dry but there were a couple of gems. The yellow iris rewarded the G.O.’s sprinklings of water by offering up all its blooms the morning we left. Our yellow climbing rose flowered for the first time, pale but triumphant. Our elegant champagne standard rose decided glamorous crimson climber suited it better
“We come from the earth.
We return to the earth.
And in between we garden.”
Sadly the sun will not rise again for Henry, one of our local Sydney Park swans, who was found dead in the pond reeds Saturday last week. Henry was the father of last years cygnets, the first born in the park. It’s believed he and Matilda had mated again earlier this month, and we were hoping for more cygnets. The park is an off leash dog area but dogs are not allowed in the wet land area which is partially fenced. There is not near enough interaction in the park by the council rangers, and some dog owners could act more responsibly. Last year I witnessed an off leash dog, whose owner had no leash and no control, kill a peahen. I often have dogs run up and jump on me, including while I was taking the sunrise in the west pic.
I’m 5′ 7″, fond and not scared of dogs. Imagine if that wasn’t the case. Henry’s previous mate was mauled and killed by a dog a few years ago. Without knowing if a dog was the cause of Henry’s death, it has added to ongoing controversy.
Many park regulars have contacted City of Sydney Councillors voicing their concerns in the hope council will put up better fencing, so it will be safer for the swans and other water birds, and provide greater presence of rangers without restricting the dogs. I received a number of pleasant and/or interested acknowledgments to my own email but only one noteworthy response.
Thank you for letting me know about Henry and his death. It is incredibly sad when a well-known member of the community passes, and this also applies to the local birdlife. Swans are so elegant and graceful and just make you feel calmer by watching them.
Without any evidence of the cause of Henry’s death, there is nothing that can be done, I am sorry. If you witness any acts of dog attacks on birdlife, or anything for that matter and you have a phone with you, please take photos and send them to Council as it will allow an investigation to proceed. The fencing off of water areas is complex. Some people believe that there should be no restriction of access and there is the counter argument that you raise. The best option, I think, is for comprehensive dog training to be part of dog ownership so we can all share the spaces without negative results.
“Now wakes the hour
Now sleeps the swan
Behold the dream
The dream is gone.”
Swan death sparks resident push for tigher off-leash dog areas at Sydney Park,
Daily Telegraph news story
Arachnophobes will be happy to know the spiders weren’t evident, only their webs.
We spent the Queen’s Birthday June long weekend at Taylors Arm, industrious by day, tidying, gardening and maintaining our home. We spent the evenings by the wood fire.
The morning sun was warm and illuminated the creations of the industrious nocturnal crafters in their Gardenia tree home adjacent to our front verandah.
Spider Alert! Arachnophobes before you look too closely at the photos, the mosaic below includes a pic of our kitchen spider… it’s lovely – doesn’t jump, bite or wander about at night – just keeps to itself in the corner. For the brave there are also pics of a wallaby and joey, birds and flowers…
As we do, the G.O. and I escaped Sydney, early this year on a full moon lit Wednesday night and headed to our house in the rural village of Taylors Arm for an Easter break. We knew from experience there’d be cleaning and gardening courtesy of the earlier few months of hot rainy summer. After we attended to business we relaxed and enjoyed a few days of fine Autumn weather.
On Easter Sunday rather than going to church, I listened to the singing from the congregation waft down the hill as I pottered in the garden and wandered around with a camera. The G.O. went off on his motor bike into town and had a cup of tea with his mum while she had a good yarn. Later I relaxed in my usual manner on the verandah futon reading Vohktah by A.C. Flory of Meeka’s Mind on my phone, and hoped to read Dianne Gray’s The Everything Theory but there’s never enough time so I now have a date with it and the futon on our ANZAC long weekend.
Even though the laptop stayed in the city because I couldn’t be bothered dealing with dodgy internet coverage – the aerial connected to new phones finally gives us mobile coverage and 3G data – the WordPress blogging community so much inspires me to know one day I will be able to embrace the “retreat” lifestyle permanently, and invisibly accompanies me… in my: kitchen; garden; weather; insects; wildlife; nature; ideas, food; thoughts; words; goals and walks .
Easter is my favourite time of year… and as well as 5 tiny Lindt bunnies for the chocolate loving G.O., ok, 4 tiny bunnies if you count the one I ate, there was an abundance of non-chocolate Easter treats.
*Wildlife photo credits: the G.O.
Since returning from holidays I’ve been taking the path up the dreaded hill, as opposed to walking across not because I’m virtuous and fit but because the grass across the hill has been long and damp.
Autumn greeted me as I crested the hill, so I whipped out the camera and dancing in circles recorded the moments of light.
Autumn arrives in early morning, but spring at the close of a winter day.” Elizabeth Bowen
Tawny Frog Mouth owls in the tree in front of my aunt’s house at Stuarts Point, NSW, Australia. They stay for a few months during Summer, and have increased over the last few years from 2 to 4, in number.