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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… 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.







12 Replies to “Canberra’s south coast……birds, shrubs and drama at sea”

  1. What a wonderful life of freedom wandering this beautiful country we live in. Almost feel as if I am there – almost, but not quite!

    1. I agree what a wonderful life! Free to wander on these lovely beaches…and knowing your lovely Queensland beaches are, very obligingly, ready for next winter!

    1. The south coast is a lovely part of the world….. well maybe we can bring a splash of colour to your winter and you can do the same for us in your summer.
      Thanks for the ocean clean up site……will look it up.

    1. Actually that is the first black Oystercatcher I’ve seen. The common variety here is white and grey.
      Those rescue teams on beaches do an amazing job don’t they? Facing an anxious whale and calf could be a death sentence…judging by the huge whale tail we once saw splashing out of the water.

  2. Glad the whale story had a happy ending. But I can’t get over those birds! I would so love to have King Parrots in our garden. Your Kookaboora looks just a bit like our Hairy Woodpecker.

    1. The King Parrots are amazing, I agree….the colours are hard to believe. I’ll look out for a chance to write about some of the other parrots around at this time of the year. Yes, I’m sure the kookaburra must be part of the Woodpecker family…sure looks the part. I was just about to comment on your interesting post, so will do that now!

  3. Just beautiful photos as always – great one of the king parrot up close… not to mention the beach shots! Sapphire coast it sure is. What a heartwarming story of the little whale, thank goodness they got him out. I love seeing humans band together to help animals like that.

    1. The south coast is an easy place to take photos! Yes, I agree about humans helping animals, and whales do seem to have some sort of sixth sense about humans. Thanks for the comment..

  4. Thank goodness the story had a happy ending. The beaches look fabulous. And the wildlife! We are hoping to get across to Australia next year but it is far from certain yet. Something I’ve been looking forward to for a very long time.

    1. That’s lovely, I hope you do get to Australia, it is hard to beat the beaches and sunshine and it is always nice to plan a holiday no matter how long it takes to happen!

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