Tag Archives: South Coast New South Wales

Mystery Bay, Spotted Eucalyptus, Kookaburras and an historic village

On any given morning Canberrans wake up to the sound of Magpies warbling…a lovely song.

If you drive over the mountains to Mystery Bay  on the south coast of New South Wales…

you can hear an entirely different song sheet… that of the Kookaburra.

This bird is the largest member of the Kingfisher family, and is known as the Laughing Kookaburra, because of its raucous dawn call…almost always done in chorus with the whole family.

The name, the Bushman’s Clock was given to the Kookaburra by early settlers because every morning at dawn and then again at sunset the Kookaburras call could be heard.

This is still true today. My parents lived in an area surrounded by Eucalyptus trees and when we visited them, the Kookaburras woke us up earlier than our children!

We are spending a weekend with good friends,  relaxing amongst these magnificent Spotted Eucalyptus trees…

This graceful tree is smooth and cream in colour with grey spots coloured from older bark. The light changes on the bark depending on the time of day..

Sometimes the trunk of the tree looks like grey green silk..

 

 

 

 

 

The Spotted Gums (as they are known) have clusters of fragrant white flowers from autumn to winter. These flowers attract the birds, (especially the Rainbow Lorikeets) and honey bees.

(I can’t imagine the honey bees getting a look-in today with all the Rainbow Lorikeets here)

While we were in Mystery Bay the Rainbow Lorikeets could be heard calling and feeding on the flowers…occasionally coming into the garden to bathe or drink in the birdbaths.

They are canny little birds and here they have reversed into the birdbath, for a quick get-away if needed.

Under the Spotted Gums the Satin Bower bird is looking almost iridescent in the sunshine..

Here is his nest and lots of blue objects to impress the female in his life..

….I hope she is impressed!

Nearby is a plant called Heliotrope, and it is known for its wonderful vanilla scent, almost as if a cake is baking nearby….. I was hoping we could grow this in Canberra, but it doesn’t tolerate frost very well.

Whenever we go to Mystery Bay we visit the markets in the nearby  picturesque historic town of Tilba Tilba.

Traditional owners of the land are the Yuin people and their dreamtime stories live on in the dramatic rocks and volcanic landscape. Gulaga mountain is the sacred mother mountain of the region.

Historic town of Tilba: Eurobodalla Tourism photo

European settlement began in the 1800s. The rich volcanic soil around the mountain was ideal for dairy farming.  Later gold was found in the surrounding mountains, and this brought prosperity and more settlement to this region.

The historic town of Tilba is now full of  galleries, traditional crafts, coffee shops and cafes, and markets on Saturday.

When we visit the markets I usually buy some jam and chutney, and warm knitted clothes. I bought a soft felt lined pure wool beanie (hat) for the winter and a knitted hat for my granddaughter.

The gold mining dwindled in the early 1900s..

but the diary industry continued and thrived, and Tilba became the home of some world famous cheeses.

ABC Cheese Factory: Photo from Eurobodalla Tourism

On the way home we passed a farm set at the foot of Gulaga Mountain.(Mt Dromedary)

This farm was used in the filming of the TV series, River Cottage Australia (taken from the British series of the same name)  The series was about sustainable farming, growing produce to sell locally, cooking and sharing food and farming skills. The local community were often part of the film crew.

Once the series had finished, the house and contents were sold, and, Paul West, the central character of the show, said all the animals found good homes!

On our travels around Tilba we also found (surprise surprise) the Tilba Nursery…full of interesting plants..

With our new garden border just waiting to be filled by new plants, we couldn’t resist these two plants. The nursery man assures me they are hardy and frost tolerant.

Eryngium planum “Silver Santino” and Cephalonia alpina

There is just time to get back to Mystery Bay for a walk along the beach, on a glorious autumn afternoon….

It is amazing just how many world problems you can solve while walking on a lovely beach with  old friends…

I hope you are enjoying your green spaces where ever you are in the world….

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

 

Spring time at the coast

December is such a hectic Christmas month, I’m taking a nostalgic look at our visit to the South Coast of New South Wales in spring

…a stroll along the beach early on a soft spring day

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plenty of time to take in the details……

patterns in the water…

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……..on the sand and the rocks

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and little worlds,  all going about their day

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Later, we had coffee looking out over the Narooma breakwater….

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then we walked along  the craggy path to the headlands… I wished I’d had this photo while I was still teaching..

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We watched seals sunbaking on the rocks at the headlands…..regardless of the waves crashing up against them…

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Turning back from the headlands, is Narooma with Gulaga (Mt Dromedary) in the background.

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I love the inlets around Narooma, so still and calm…I’d rather be a pelican than a seal any day!

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On the way home we passed a valley full of lilies…yet I have trouble growing one or two in Canberra..

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Here is a hedge surrounding the car park at the local supermarket, a master-stroke of design for a public place, hardy and useful for birds. Grevilleas are planted along the southern side.

 

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The wattle birds and parrots are feeding and chatting everywhere

 

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On the side of a busy road, this New Zealand Christmas bush was flowering in all its splendour

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We took a quiet back track through a small forest of spotted gum trees on our way home.

A curious Red-necked Pademelon, (related to a Wallaby) stood looking at us..It was so quiet he stayed for a while

….and made our day.

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When we arrived back at our friend’s house, (Gardener Extraordinaire), her neighbours had given her some kangaroo paws and bottlebrushes from the garden.

So much to see and do on a spring day at the coast!

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All photos copyright to Gerrie Mackey

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canberra’s south coast……birds, shrubs and drama at sea

Many people in Canberra consider the South Coast of New South Wales as a second home. It is a commutable distance from Canberra, the climate is more temperate and the sea….

 

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…..no wonder it is called the Sapphire coast!

A  good friend and gardener extraordinaire, invited us to stay for a few days.

Her garden is full of colour, from bird antics….

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this King Parrot is a regular in the garden, named Winston…….because he never gives up

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…and it always pays off!

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a visiting Kookaburra nesting in the nearby spotted gum trees..

 

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Rainbow Lorikeets…always up to something!

 

to diverse shrubs……

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Grevillea Sylvia

 

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Grevillea Superb

 

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Tree Fuchsia Arborescens..attract bees particularly the Blue-banded bee

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Blue mist plant, with the lovely trunk of the Spotted gum trees behind it…

Whenever we go down to the beach at this time of the year, we look out for a whale sighting

Each year, in late winter and spring this coastline is a route for migrating whales. They swim south from their northern breeding grounds to a summer of intense feeding in the Antarctic Ocean.

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This migration has been going on for millennia with coastal Aboriginal people witnessing their passing and occasionally feasting on a beached whale.

With colonisation came the whaling industry which almost brought the whale population to extinction. Now that whales are protected, almost worldwide, the populations of whales have made a slow but steady recovery.

Montague Island is nearby, and the area is well known for being rich in krill and close to the continental shelf, making it a popular feeding ground for whales, especially female whales and feeding calves.

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Unfortunately yesterday, a young Humpback whale (with its mother) had been spotted entangled in fishing tackle. As there were high winds, and its mother was naturally protective, it was impossible to attempt any rescue.

The Marine Parks Authority staff, the National Parks and Wildlife services and many volunteers became involved in the rescue attempt. They tied floatation Buoys to the fishing tackle around the calf to keep track of them and also to stop them from diving down.

 

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When we took this photo they were waiting in an inflatable rescue boat alongside the mother and calf for an opportunity to cut the calf free.

While we waited we walked along the coastline……IMG_5767 (1024x706) (979x634)

And had a look at all the marine life along the jetty at Narooma…

 

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IMG_5831 (1024x768)and a little Sooty Oyster Catcher, looking as if he was made of black and orange velvet.

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Just on dusk, we heard the team had managed to cut 150 metres of nylon fishing tackle from the young whale. They used hook-shaped knives on long poles, a dangerous operation.. as the NPWS operation coordinator said

while conditions were good, agitated whales always make for a dangerous operation. It was very satisfying to see the calf re-join its mother and the pair continued to head south in the evening.”‘

 

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I think a collective cheer must have rippled along the coast as people waited to hear the news…and what a brave rescue crew, facing an understandably agitated mother and calf whale.

A beautiful evening walk along the beach was made all the sweeter.