Tag Archives: Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

Canberra’s Space Station, koalas and kangaroos…all on a summer’s day

Canberra is a city surrounded by bush, so it is possible to visit or work at Parliament House, and then drive out of the city into the bush within a very short time.

Last summer we had family and friends visiting our city, so we decided to take them into the bush, rather than the usual tourist places.

We live very close to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, a great place to see native wildlife in their own environment …….

However, not far away, from this Reserve, on 50 hectares (120 acres) is the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex. It shares the Tidbinbilla valley with several sheep and cattle properties…..as incongruous as this sounds!

Exploring our solar system and beyond

This space station is part of the NASA’s Deep Space Network that spans the globe.

As the earth rotates, three sites, Goldstone, California, Madrid, Spain and Canberra, Australia provide 24 hour coverage of the solar system.

When we arrived on this cloudy morning, two of the satellite dishes were facing the sky…

The Space station provides two-way radio contact with dozens of robotic spacecraft and space telescopes exploring our solar system and beyond..

There is a viewing platform where we sat and drank our coffee while we watched a second dish move slowly down…

and as the sun came out and the clouds disappeared, the dish turned slowly and gracefully towards us. Quite a sight…

While we watched, many birds flew backwards and forwards, completely undisturbed and in fact, some Starlings perched on the dish, and stayed there while it moved around. Birds have amazing ability to adapt to their environment don’t they?

The Space Station has an excellent Information Centre, and I realised it deserved a much more detailed post, which I hope I can do in the next year.

However, for a complete change of pace….

….we had also promised our guests a viewing of the some young koalas nearby in the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve…

This handsome young koala is called Billa, and he is one of a few koalas born at Tidbinbilla during the last few years, in a new breeding program started after the appalling bushfires in and around Canberra in 2003.

The koala in the photo below looks as if he has a thick furry black hat on, but this is actually another koala sleeping peacefully behind him.

We were lucky enough to see Billa climb down and hitch a ride with his Mum. This didn’t last long before she gently shook him off……tough love!

On the way out of the koala enclosure, we saw this kangaroo, completely oblivious of us…

As we drove back to the centre of the city, the sky looked promisingly as if it might rain..

and sure enough, as we sat by the lake having a glass of wine, there was some light rain…

and then this magnificent rainbow appeared  just near the Australian Museum

Most people had packed up their picnic suppers and left when the rain came….but the few that stayed were stunned by the sight

This little girl was pointing the to height of the rainbow, little knowing the pot of gold was nearby..

After the rainbow came this glorious sunset…..a wonderful way to end a day of sight-seeing…

I hope you are getting a few rainbows in your life, and perhaps some magnificent sunsets as well!

For those interested in koalas, I have written a previous post about koalas at Tidbinbilla…..

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, fire, rain, water and new life

 

Copyright: Geraldine Mackey All Right Reserved.

Canberra, the bush capital, sun, storms, and season’s greetings

This  wonderful Sturt Desert Pea, from the desert of  Central Australia, seems to be singing..

‘It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas..

Canberra is nowhere near the desert in Central Australia, but the Sturt Desert Pea grows here in the Desert Garden of the Australian National Botanical Gardens.

 

Desert garden in the Australian National Botanic Gardens

Canberra usually becomes very hot, and dry-looking the closer we get to Christmas, but this year we’ve had unexpected rain, and the Brindabella Mountains stayed blue for a long time.

The development of the Arboretum in Canberra was very controversial at first….one hundred forests of trees from all over the world were planted.

This was an act of faith really because a ten year drought had not long ended. However, we have had regular rain since then, and despite the difficulties there may be, the Arboretum looks stunning now,  and is a great tourist attraction….

Not far from the south side of Canberra, (where I live) is Namadgi National Park…

These last couple of years, with abundant grasses and vegetation, there has been an explosion of babies in spring….

a young female Kangaroo with her joey

On the edge of Namadgi is  Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve…used by bushwalkers, and families alike, and it is a joy to see all the animals and birds around after a rainy day..

Kookaburra at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

 

baby koala Ghambi (meaning fire) and his mother..

I believe two new koala babies have been born since our visit…

…closer to home, one kindly gardener has planted red hot pokers, red geraniums, and blue agapanthus along the verge next to her house…it looks wonderful in the morning sunshine, and the red hot pokers are stunning against the white trunk of the Eucalypt tree.

I often walk along the backtracks (fire trails) with Paul and also with friends and neighbours..

Paul had just finished painting the deck  (luckily it was dry) when an unexpected hail storm occurred.

It only lasted about 15 minutes but caused some damage around the neighbourhood.

Luckily no damage for us, but most of the plants looked a bit bedraggled….. one minute it is 33 degrees Celsius and the next minute there are pieces of ice in pot plants!

 

These Liliums and the Gazanias get the prize for resilience….they began flowering again the next day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gazanias  must wonder what is going on here….one day a Sulphur Crested Cockatoo is lopping its flowers, the next….pieces of ice are landing in the pot!

 

My favourite part of summer is sitting on the deck having breakfast, the sound of sprinklers and happy birds flying in and out of the water.

So much fresh stone fruit to add to our breakfast… the birds eat from our fruit trees and we buy ours from the markets…something seems wrong with that equation….but where would be we without them?

yes…its beginning to look a lot like Christmas….

This photo was taken last summer, we read papers online now!

The Good Food website has this variation on a Pavlova (an Australian/New Zealand favourite summer dessert) …and there is another one with honeycomb…they are worth looking at…

slablova …the perfect crowd friendly pavola..

Season’s greeting to everyone, and thank you for your company this year, I’ve enjoyed writing about Canberra’s Green Spaces, and travelling the world through blogs I read, and the people I’ve met.

…best wishes to you all, and may you have enough time to enjoy family and friends and green spaces (or snowy white spaces from the comfort of your warm fire..) where ever you are in the world.

Copyright: Geraldine Mackey All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve …fire, rain, water and new life…

This is Tucker, the first koala to be born at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve for a long time.

He is looking hale and hearty, and living up to his name, (Tucker is an Aussie slang word for food.)

Tucker, oblivious of his local fame, is munching his way through branches of Eucalyptus leaves with gusto!

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Tidbinbilla, set in a beautiful valley about 30 minutes drive from Canberra’s CBD, is part of the Namadgi National Park. It has been a Nature Reserve for 80 years.

This year we are having record breaking spring rainfall and the countryside has never looked so green.

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The very last of the snow in early August

Brett McNamara, the Regional Manager with ACT Parks & Conservation said this is the first year he has ever seen the remarkable occurrence of snow on the Brindabella Mountains……

and a flooded river below.

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In 2003 Canberra and the surrounding region, including the Namadgi National Park,  suffered devastating bushfires.

Those of us living on the southern side of Canberra remember the surrounding mountain fires raging for days afterwards. Wildlife and vegetation was decimated. One koala survived in the Tidbinbilla Reserve and his name became Lucky.

Although the photo below was not taken during the Canberra bushfire, it is, sadly, as poignant  as many images we saw during that time around Canberra.

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While fighting a fire in the neighbouring state of Victoria, this firefighter noticed an extremely distressed koala, and spontaneously offered him a drink from his water bottle.

I kept this photo in my classroom for a few years after the fires…a great discussion starter on many topics, especially how interconnected we are with all that happens in our world.

Now, many years later, such are the vagaries of weather, in spring 2016 here we are driving  over the bridge near Tidbinbilla and heeding warning signs for flooding! This is the Murrumbidgee river, and  the name is derived from the Aboriginal word for ”big water”.

img_6201-1024x740So much rain, so much water….it is a frequent talking point in Canberra this spring. Our annual rainfall is approx. 620 mls (around 25 inches) annually.

This year we have had more rain than usual….and the dams are at 100% capacity.

We’ve come to Tidbinbilla today to enjoy the beginning of spring….and to look for the second star attraction at Tidbinbilla…another baby koala!

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Hardenbergia (Happy wanderer)

 

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Early Nancy (Wurmbea dioica) It gets its name Early Nancy from its early flowering in winter (between July to Oct)

New foliage and new life everywhere!

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Paul took two great shots of a kangaroo and her joey. Isn’t that an efficient way of managing a baby while teaching him how to eat!

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We were standing a good distance away, … but this is a lovely moment of a curious baby being pushed back into the pouch for safety. This sensible young kangaroo is ready to hop away …. Look at those powerful legs, tail and feet!

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Early morning in the bush, and this kookaburra is enjoying a slow start in a shaft of warm spring sunshine.

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Here is a brush-tailed Rock Wallaby. I have read that they survived the fires by hiding in rock crevices.

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This is the plaque for the only koala to survive the fires. . Since Lucky died in 2008 there have been no koalas at Tidbinbilla, until in 2013 when the state of Victoria donated some koalas of breeding age to the Reserve…..

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….along came Tucker in early spring, and now here is the second baby koala.

The Reserve held a competition in the local paper (The Chronicle) for the naming of this little fellow. Two families won the competition because they entered the same name…suggested by the children in both families…

The winning suggestion was  Ghanbi which is an local Aboriginal name for fire.

Best wishes to Ghanbi and Tucker, and the future koala population of Tidbinbilla.

In the words of Walter Burley Griffin designer of Canberra,

The shadows of the clouds and mists as they cross the mountains are very beautiful indeed. As I have said before, it is a grand site for a city.”

I hope you are enjoying your green spaces in whatever part of the world you are living.

Copyright Geraldine Mackey :  All rights reserved.