Sydney harbour and Barangaroo Reserve

Has anyone told Sydney it is the middle of winter in Australia?

Paul and I have come to visit my brother and sister-in-law in Sydney. It is mid-winter in Australia, and we left our home in Canberra very early in the morning, frost melting on the grass. Four hours later, here we are sitting in Barangaroo Reserve, peeling off jackets and coats, and reaching for hats and sun cream, and looking at Sydney harbour.

Paul and I sat on a bench eating our lunch looking at this view…..

It is always a miracle when a prime piece of real estate is partly given over to parkland and public use, and this beautiful, relatively new piece of green space in Sydney, is one such miracle.

The former Prime Minister, Paul Keating, a long term resident of Sydney, was an early advocate for a public reserve. His vision was to return the area, known as Miller’s Point, to a ”naturalistic park”.

One of Sydney’s oldest industrial sites on the Harbour has now been transformed into a six hectare headland of open spaces. The planting and landscape is designed to replicate the vegetation before European settlement, making it as natural as possible.

Views of the harbour, on this glorious winter’s day.

Huge blocks of sandstone re-create the original harbour foreshore, and the sandstone is weathering and changing with time.

Over 76,000 plants and native trees, palms and tree ferns, native shrubs, small trees, native ground covers, grasses and ferns, have been planted in the last few years. Needless to say the native birds love this natural habitat.

The Barangaroo Reserve stands on the land of the Gadigal clan. Barangaroo is named after an indigenous woman who was married to Bennelong. She was a spokesperson between indigenous Australians and the new British penal colony… and was, from all accounts, proud of her culture, and a feisty character at a time when she needed to be so!

The Rainbow Lorikeets feeding from the Banksia bushes

Many years ago I lived in Sydney, near Balls Head Reserve, and Paul has taken a photo of me with a view of my old ”stomping ground” in the background.

Happy memories!

As you can see around this area, there is plenty of construction work going on with apartments, hotels, restaurants, being built on the right hand side of the harbour.

Buildings around the harbour with the distinctive Crown Sydney Casino looking very like The Shard in London.

The walking and cycling pathways take us to the edge of the city, not far from The Rocks (where you can see some of the original houses of early Sydney.) It is possible to walk to well known parts of the city, from here, for example, Darling Harbour and The Rocks and Circular Quay.

We chose to take the steps to the top of the Reserve, and have one last view of Sydney Harbour.

Salute to Paul Keating and many others who persisted in this vision, we now have a wonderful reserve for everyone to share.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog today, and may your day be as bright as a winter Sydney day!

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.

Canberra Magpies on border patrol..

As we adjust to our ”new normal”,  Paul and I decided to make sure we went for a long walk every day, to help us keep fit, and sleep well.

Fortunately, Canberra has been designed to have corridors of bushland between suburbs, and there are many fire trails (backtracks) that skirt around suburbs.

Crimson Rosella

Life in the bush is thriving again since the recent rain, and to our delight, we saw quite a few birds as we walked.

Rainbow Lorikeets

I noticed a splash of colour and saw two baby Rainbow Lorikeets preening themselves in the hollow of a gnarled old Eucalyptus tree.

A juvenile Galah

and this endearing little Galah also resting and nesting in the same tree……all unhurried and blissfully unaware of world events around them..

The Brindabella Mountains are recovering from the dreadful summer fires and now there are only clouds overhead, rather than smoke rising from them.

In the distance we could see Sulphur Crested Cockatoos swirling and swooping through the suburbs like shining white kites. (unfortunately hard to capture without a good lens on the camera)

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos are not very common in Canberra, but since the fires, many of these parrots have come to Canberra for the water and vegetation.

They are the smallest  bird in the Cockatoo family, and make a sound like a creaking door. They mate for life, and live in family groups, and they are very low-key compared with their cousins, the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo.

My mother used to say the black cockatoos bring the rain……we would welcome the rain and the cockatoos any day.

On the way back home we saw a group of Magpies; very familar to all Canberrans.

They stood together, warbling softly to each other..indignation written all over those intense stares…

There is certainly something going on here…

The problem is the Magpie in the nearby tree. She has long white markings on her back.

This Magpie is  a ”ring-in” …… an outsider. Her striking white markings suggest she is a coastal Magpie… and not from this area.

This Magpie comes from the State of New South Wales, not our state, known as the Australian Capital Territory.

She hasn’t heard the news…the borders are closed!

Never mind, the Canberra Magpies border patrol  are on to it!

We left them to it , and I hope all went well.

A day in the sunshine, walking and looking at the birds, cheered us up immensely.

Less news and more walking is our plan!

Hard not to smile at these two …absolutely no social distancing going on in the koala world. (photo from Pinterest)

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, and may you enjoy at least a little of each day in these unpredictable times !

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved 

 

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.