Tag Archives: Namadgi National Park

Canberra’s summer……heat, fires, hail and rain, and flowers..

The photos below seem like a dream to me now: this was our garden in November….late spring.

We had some rain, which made the garden look quite green.  I looked at these photos at the end of summer and I had to double-check the date on my camera to make sure it was just a few short months ago.

Despite the fairly calm conditions in Canberra in spring, the hot dry winds, the drought in much of Australia, and the early and unusual fires in other parts of Australia, were the warning signs of the terrible summer to come.

Australia’s Parliament House at midday in December. Photo AAP.

During December fires had spread across the country, and the winds blew the thick smoke through Canberra… some days the air quality was the worst of any major city in the world.

The agapanthus flowered valiantly, blue and white balls of colour through our smoky summer days.

The Gardenia flowered so gracefully on one of our hottest days…(40 degrees C) Incredible!

Our home is part of a group of suburbs not far from the Namadgi National Park, with views of the Brindabella Mountains…all mountain photos are taken from our garden or our street.

Inevitably the winds, and the searing hot temperatures spread the fires across the mountains.

Even more apocalyptic was the sight of the fires burning across the mountains at night.

During some of evenings, when our suburbs were on ”high alert” and it was hard to sleep, we shared meals and glasses of wine with neighbours…a memorable time.  There was an acute sense of camaraderie and community during  the  fires.

Then came a sudden chance of rain, which became a freak hail storm…

Paul rushed to get the unexpected hail out of the entrance of the water tank, before the water had a chance to overflow and/or hail damaged the tanks litter strainer.

Finally some nice, steady rain came! The whole garden looked as if it was having a bad hair day!

However, in many parts of Eastern Australia there were floods and road closures …

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…even more trauma and heartbreak for people and particularly wildlife.

Finally, in February the cooler weather and rain enabled the ACT Emergency Services to gradually reduce the fires in the mountains.

Miraculously, everything started to look green again. Canberra, at the end of summer could do with more rain, but all normal weather patterns do not apply this year!

Cautiously at first, the birds are coming back to the garden..

The almond tree had endured hot dry winds, leaves stripped from the hail storm, and reduced water…

but it has flourished and has a bumper crop of almonds this year..who know why?

”…and he said, and she said….””

The cockatoos are back….noisily cracking almond nuts and gossiping in the trees…..life is back to normal.

During the last few months many animals have been moved out of Namadgi National Park for their safety. Amongst them, platypus, koalas, rock wallabies and even Northern Corrobboree Frogs. I hope to do a post on their return soon.

After seeing the plight of so many koalas this summer,  here is a link to a video clip of an endearing young koala called Willow, and her first encounter with a butterfly. 

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-03/butterfly-photobombing-koala-joey-goes-viral/7897804

 

I hope your season, summer or winter, has been less traumatic than ours, and that you are ready, as we are, to enjoy the mellow days of autumn.

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.