time passed slowly
older family memories
never slip away
My wife Jill and her brother Murray now own this house which was originally built by their great great grandfather in the 1860’s. At this time one of the most productive gold mining areas in the world had developed in the area around the house and in surrounding valleys and was known as the Bendigo gold mine fields in Victoria Australia. The house was built by hand from mud bricks sourced from a nearby stream. Three generations of the family grew up here before it was finally leased for a while then left uninhabited until Jill’s family re-discovered it in the late 1960’s. Jill’s family spent hundreds of hours across many years repairing the mud brick walls and interior. We have enjoyed many picnics at the house and explored the flora of the surrounding area . A regional park adjoins the property and we wander out the back and through the remnants of the once bustling, prosperous gold fields observing nature and taking written records and photos..
Flocks of Little Corellas are quite common in our part of Melbourne. They mainly feed on grass seeds and small bulbs on and around the many sports fields scattered across our suburban city. Corellas tend to pull up bulbs and can cause damage to the surface of a sports oval. When a flock of these birds are on the wing they all cry/laugh at the same time. It is an ear splitting sound especially if they are coming in to roost on trees you may be standing under. Out in the countryside the damage a huge flock can cause to grain crops on agricultural land causes problems for farmers. When frustrated about the lack of food or having been chased off a meal Corellas have been known to descend on a rural community and attack roof fittings, street infrastructure and even cars and clothes lines. Their bills/beaks are hard and sharp. There are of course anti bird rednecks who think such trouble makers should be shot .
This Great Egret was hanging out with two fishermen beside the Moyne River jetty at Port Fairy.
Usually these birds are observed from a distance as they quietly seek out frogs, tadpoles or other small specimens of water/ swamp dwelling life. Not this bird. It was right beside the fishermen who explained it had trying to steal bait from their fishing tackle all afternoon. At one stage it was standing on one man’s car when he hid the bait inside it. Either a very hungry or very tame bird.
It seems they had decided to share some bait with the bird when it clearly was not going to go seek its own food naturally and of course more was asked for. Maybe another consequence of changing conditions out there in nature.
Dawn on the Moyne River at Port Fairy last September. This was an early morning walk Maggie and I took on the town side of the river. The sun was just rising over Killarney Bay behind the sand dunes. Port fairy is a beautiful little town however all relevant Climate Change scientific predictions have almost the entire town inundated by the ocean in the not too distant future. Whenever I now visit this town of my early childhood and where I first met my wife Jill and reflect on the happy memories I struggle to feel optimistic about Australia and most of the world addressing emissions reduction and restricting the looming dangers of decades of ignorant selfish political inaction on climate change.
This is Australia’s carniverous Musk Duck. These photos show a young bird on the Moyne River at Port Fairy. They are solitary birds and spend almost all their time floating on the water or just below the surface with the bill and head partly above to breathe. They spend a lot of time diving to catch crustaceans and also stalk and grab floating fledglings of other water birds. The duck worlds Crocodile. I have only seen 2 of these in my lifetime. They rarely come out of the water as their legs are barely able to support what is a stocky, heavy body. Certainly not just another pretty duck
Recently we took a short holiday in Port Fairy down on the Victorian South West Coast. This was a favourite holiday place for Charlie and Maggie was keen to explore the town as probably the next Afghan Hound to visit the place since 2013.
In the mornings I had to be up early as Maggie expected to go walking. Port Fairy has a unique location as a fishing fleet and tourist town at the mouth of the Moyne River with a long sand dune parallel on the ocean side for the last 3 kilometres to that mouth. A causeway connected Island on the other side of the river is home to a lighthouse and nature reserve that is a Mutton Bird rookery where thousands nest after their return Winter feeding migration from Siberia. They are late this year, in fact none have arrived yet, the worst scenario being they have all died on the flight. Hopefully they are just late however climate change effects from the feeding grounds in Siberia to rest and feed stops down the East Asian Pacific coasts could mean they have all starved on the way.
These trees are in the Gariwerd National park in Western Victoria in Australia. This is an ancient mountain range formed millions of years ago through geological upheaval. The forests are also ancient and regenerate after regular fires usually caused by lightning but occasionally by humans. For thousands of years, we are not sure how many, but possibly 30-40,000 at least, Indigenous Australians lived within these ranges and respected the flora and fauna. There are many thousands of years old rock art galleries sharing the culture of the Indigenous people throughout Gariwerd. Rock art sites are still occasionally discovered by current scientists that indicates the wild nature of some sections of this area . The haiku in this Haibun is a response to RonovanWrites #Weekly #Haiku #Poetry Prompt #Challenge #273 Forest&Whisper go to https://ronovanwrites.com/2019/09/30/ronovanwrites-weekly-haiku-poetry-prompt-challenge-273-forestwhisper/#comments and see lots of other haiku responses to this challenge from Ronovan.
Walking the track out the back of our house in Bendigo is one of our favourite places. There is a small remaining pocket of ground where native orchids still flourish from Winter across into early Spring. These beautiful tiny plants were much more abundant everywhere in this area of The Bendigo Regional Park. However 2 severe wild fire burn offs by the State Government authorities during the last decade has all but eliminated Orchids now except in our special place that lies just at the edge of the burnt areas. We have an impressive photographic record of native orchids from this entire area dating back to the 1970’s, including a couple of species that we have not seen for 30 years. Each year we return with hope and cameras. Both these photos are taken at the same spot on the track. Charlie was trusted off lead in her mature years however Maggie must wait a while before she wanders the track independently.
Whenever we travel to Bendigo The Merchant of Malmsbury is where we break the journey. Len has made this wonderful place his business for travellers like us to stop off and enjoy coffee and home made scones, jam and cream in the garden. His shop is crammed with interesting curios and his own brilliant photography artwork. In another life Len once worked in a Melbourne drafting office which he shared with an Afghan Hound. Hence there was always a warm welcome for Charlie and now Maggie. There is some fascinating historic C19th architecture including The Merchant’s in this small village. The Botanic gardens are also historically significant. Malmsbury is a lovely place to escape the monotony of the Calder Freeway.
Recently we visited the Grampians / Gariwerd National Park North West of Melbourne for the annual first weekend in October Spring native wildflowers exhibitions. At Pomonal the local members of the Society for Growing Australian Native Plants display flowering specimens cut from local bush gardens. These plants represent the Spring flowering plants of Southern Australia. At Halls Gap the Friends of Grampians/Gariwerd National Park display the range of flowering plants found across the park. Rangers collect specimens in the days before this weekend from the park and the friends prepare the display.
We have now regularly visited these displays across the last 12 years and always look forward to the concentrated displays of colour and the aroma of nectar. Because Maggie was with us we could not get out into the tracks of the park looking for flowering plants in their natural environments.
These 3 images are from open gardens at the Pomonal display.