Wattle day is the beginning of spring in Australia, and Canberra is just exploding with lovely soft yellow wattle flowers and colourful birds
This was one of the first photos I took when I began my blog in 2014, and I chose the National Arboretum in Canberra at dawn.
The proposal for the site was to have 100 Forests 100 gardens…and this began to be implemented in 2005.
The building in the distance is the Margaret Whitlam Pavilion and when I took this photo, I never dreamt that one day the younger of our two daughters would be getting married in this Pavilion, and in this beautiful setting.
The wedding is planned for spring time, and we are hoping for a sunny day, but we will enjoy the day regardless of weather.
The grassy rolling hills next to the Pavilion always seem to be a big attraction for children.
There will be children at the wedding and I’m sure they will enjoy a run and play after the wedding.
The Village Centre is not far from the Pavilion, and has an Information Centre, a café, a restaurant and a gift shop.
The photos in this post were taken between 2014 to 2020, and since that time we have had some good years of rain, and the trees are flourishing. The National Arboretum has become a wonderful place of recreation for Canberrans and visitors alike.
Needless to say, for our family, this will be an extra special place in our hearts.
Many thanks for taking the time to read my blog, and I hope your gardens are flourishing regardless of rain, hail or snow!
Canberra is well known for having cold winters (by Australian standards). June to August can be cold, rainy and miserable in Canberra.
Fortunately the temperatures in Far North Queensland are mild and pleasant during these months. Many Australians from the southern states, including our family, go on holiday to Queensland during our winter months.
This year in mid-June, Paul’s much loved mother, at the age of 96, passed away. She had eight children and many grandchildren and great grandchildren, and will be sadly missed by everyone.
The last few months have been very busy, and at times very sad. However, we had planned a holiday in Far North Queensland and a few weeks ago, we packed our bags, and flew to Cairns.
Despite the overcast view that day, it is always a pleasure to see the coastline as the plane turns to land in Cairns.
We decided to start our holiday with a few quiet days in the Atherton Tablelands, despite it being a little colder than along the coast.
Paul found us a small cottage in the Atherton Tablelands and it was called Hemingway’s on the Hill.
It was quiet, rustic and peaceful, and just what we needed….a break away from everything.
On the way to our cottage we stopped at a pretty country town called Yungaburra and bought pizzas, a bottle of wine, and a few extra food supplies for our first meal at Hemingway’s on the Hill.
The cabin had all kinds of interesting books and magazines. The owner of the cottage lived on a farm nearby. She had packed the fridge and kitchen with fruit, eggs, bacon, butter, jams, honey and yogurt.
Everything we ate there came from local farms.. what a feast!
Paul lit the fire on the first evening and we sat quietly watching the sun going down …..it was cold, but a very pleasant quiet time…there is nothing like a flickering fire for relaxing.
In the morning we had better views of the rolling hills, and farms dotted across the mountains. The Atherton Tablelands provides food for many parts of Australia, with its rich volcanic soil there are an amazing amount of crops grown in this area. (more of that in another post)
The owner of the property had left instructions for everything, but this little note at the back of the folder made me smile….be warned of noises when you are in the countryside in Australia.
We did hear the Curlew birds in the night….my impression is that they have a rather sad cry, and always late at night. However, my cousin, who lives not very far from this area, says she loves coming home and listening to their long song.
We have never had bandicoots in our garden, (thank goodness), but possums are a perennial problem and they bounce across our carport roof quite often in the night, usually looking for fruit and vegetables.
Our three days at Hemingway’s cottage was spent eating good nourishing food, having quiet times by the fire, and reading books…..we slept well, and were completely unaware of any night time activity during our stay.
Before we left for our second holiday house at the coast, I took some photos of the two colourful flowers that were growing in the gardens at Hemingway’s. As with all flowers and shrubs in this part of the world, they are large, bright and cheerful.
There are many interesting parts of Far North Queensland to see and enjoy, and I’ll write a few posts on some very different parts of Queensland.
Many thanks for taking the time to read my post today, and may you have some sunshine where ever you are in the world.
There is no doubt about it, although we have a wonderful range of birds in Canberra, the big birds are troublesome in the winter. This year we’ve had an abundance of rain, so there is plenty of greenery, lovely rich soil (thanks to Paul’s hard work) so there are worms aplenty. We also have four birdbaths, with fresh water and/or rain water.
However, a cockatoo on top of the veggie patch is an absolute no-no, and luckily we got home in time to see this… they do humour us by flying off when we chase them. ..but all gardeners know, they’ll be back!
However, this winter we have two breeds of birds that are new to this area. The White-winged Choughs, apparently are very sociable and love to move around in groups of up to ten.
According to the website, Birds in Backyards, White-Winged Choughs have claws a bit like a chicken, and can dig with their beaks and scratch with their claws. While we were away, they took the opportunity to rake over our back garden, and gradually turned over the veggie patch. We had a hard time persuading them to leave their garden paradise.
White winged Choughs are found in southern and eastern Australia, and are only distantly related to the European choughs. However, Kent Wildlife states that Choughs in Britain have a long history in heraldry in glass sculpture, coats of arms, flags, and even signs.
I read that Choughs are connected with kingship, nobility, wisdom and might.
I couldn’t wait to tell Paul our Choughs had long distance prestigious cousins. Paul, perhaps a little garden weary said “we should add that Australian choughs are just a nuisance.”
The Choughs have flown off to greener pastures, thank goodness, because we now have the Bower Birds.
Last year they pecked away at the foliage of our garlic crop, and this year they decimated the rhubarb and any other sign of life in the veggie garden.
Paul says they sound like Ewoks in Star Wars as they seem to chat and whistle to each other in the neighbouring trees. They are still visiting the garden, and we are still chasing them away.
Life is never dull with all these birds in the garden, but every now and then it is just lovely to see a shy King Parrot, patiently waiting for other birds to finish drinking from the bird bath. Perhaps we need a Canberra Coat of Arms for our King Parrot.
One thing about having cockatoos around every corner, we’re never lonely!
Best wishes to everyone, and may you have pleasant weather and enjoy your day.
Yesterday Paul and I intended going out to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, untilthe weather took a turn for the worse, cold and windy and miserable. So, it was definitely a ”stay at home” kind of day.
However I had many photos from previous visits, quite often through winter, so I’ve used these photos and regular readers (over years) will recognise a few.
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is a much loved place, very close to Canberra, with walks and views of animals, all living in their natural habitat. The Reserve also has much needed threatened species breeding programs, and conservation of flora and fauna.
More than anything it gives us all the ability to connect in with nature and conservation.
Considering these photos were taken in winter the kangaroos and koalas are looking very healthy. The joey seems to be quite relaxed in his pouch.
The mother of this joey, instinctively protecting her joey before she continues to graze.
In 2003 we had terrible fires in this region, and also in Canberra. The photo above was taken well after the fires, but still the remnants of the fire remain.
This photo was seen in many parts of the world at that time. Humans and animals desperately trying to survive during this exhausting and fearful time.
Lucky was the only koala to survive the 2003 fires in this region. Unfortunately the only photo of Lucky I could find was one taken just after he was rescued from the fire…all too dreadful to see, but he did survive and thrive until July 2008, and he died of old age.
For five years there were no koalas at Tidbinbilla. In 2013, some koalas were relocated from New South Wales to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. These koalas have been part of special breeding program and have thrived since this time.
The Rangers at Tidbinbilla created a special free-range enclosure which enabled adults and children to see the koalas eating, sleeping, and climbing branches without disturbing them.
This adult koala is tolerantly taking this almost fully grown youngster for a ride.
The brushed-tailed rock wallaby is another animal that survives well in Tidbinbilla. In the mid 1990s there were fewer than 40 southern brush-tailed rock wallabies in the wild and in this area.
In days well past, they were hunted for many years, then lost habitat to feral foxes and feral goats. Tidbinbilla joined the fight to save the brush-tailed wallaby. These days Tidbinbilla has about 70 per cent of the southern Brush-tailed Rock-Wallaby’s captive breeding population in Australia.
In the words of Brett McNamara, the Regional Manager ACT Parks and Conservation Service.(2019)
Next time you visit Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, keep an eye out for the elusive shadow as it takes a giant leap forward, back from the edge of extinction.
Congratulation to all the Rangers and volunteers who work at Tidbinbilla, their dedication over the years has made Tidbinbilla a wonderful place to visit.
Best wishes to all readers and may your days be sunny and mild..
Canberrans often complain about our winters, which are generally colder than coastal areas nearby. However, when I looked through my photos of winter in Canberra I decided to look on the bright side.
Canberra in late autumn, early winter can be beautiful, and for many people it is a time for rowing, cycling, running and walking and taking photos.
One of my favourite occupations is looking out the window into our back garden and taking photos of the birds we often see in winter.
Here are a family of King Parrots who fly in to drink melted water from the gutter of our cabin in the garden. I love watching these beautiful birds because they are very cautious and shy and we hardly ever see them during other seasons.
The male Australian King Parrot has a completely red head, and the females are similar to the males except that they have a completely green head and breast…easier to distinguish in the photo below.
In winter we often go to the Australian Botanic Gardens, there are always a few colourful native plants and an abundance of birds ….especially early in the morning.
Canberra is a planned city with many parks and bushland. We often go for winter walks along Coolaman Ridge Nature Track, which has a winding track around a mountain ridge. Quite often in winter the kangaroos are slow to start the day and you can see a little Joey still half asleep enjoying the warmth of the sunshine on the rocks.
The photo below shows the kangaroos in languish mode, along a track near Mount Taylor, near where we live. This photo was taken a while ago (in winter) and since then this area has become very popular as a walking track, and a place to take dogs for a walk. Fortunately there is a fence between the walking track and the kangaroos, who spend time on the other side of the mountain.
We saw these kangaroos at Weston park, and although they are watchful, they are used to people strolling by and taking photos occasionally.
As the winter sun sets, the view from our street is of the Brindabella Mountains…the colours change from hour to hour. The currawongs call is a familar sound in the evening, time to close the curtains, turn the heater up, and be very, very thankful we live in a peaceful part of the world.
Best wishes to everyone, and I hope you are enjoying your patch of sunshine where ever it may be…
Paul and I have quite a few commitments this month, so rather than writing a post, I’ve chosen some of the photos from one of my favourite autumn holiday destinations, Lake Crackenback. Regular readers may recognise some of the photos.
Lake Crackenback is at the foot of the Snowy Mountains, not far from Canberra, and close to the skiing fields, so it is very popular.
Many kangaroos live all around this area, are often interested in what is going on. (However, we have not been to Lake Crackenback since Covid and a friend of mine tells me they saw no kangaroos, only deer this time.) Deer are an introduced species in Australia, and can cause damage in this Alpine area with their hooves.
This little joey looks both safe, and content, looking out at the world.
Lovely to see the Kangaroos basking in the sun and shade. As our daughters would say ”just chilling”
Everywhere we went there was a “Sticky Beak” (curious Kangaroo), perhaps she/he is the guard or ”scout” for the mob.. (family) of the kangaroos nearby.
We often did some bushwalking around this area, from Charlotte’s Pass down to the head waters of the Snowy River
Here Paul is crossing the Snowy River, while I usually spend time with my feet in the water, taking photos.
Paul and Jessica (our younger daughter) have crossed the river and are heading up the mountain to Blue Lagoon. Paul says it should be recorded that the trek to Blue Lagoon was a tough one!
The views around Lake Crackenback, are fantastic, the light is much less harsh than most other places in Australia. However, it is easy to see how quickly the weather can change, and snow is on the way in the photo below.
One of my favourite photos of all time is the photo below. Australia is unusual in that a single genus of tree, Eucalypt (commonly called Gum trees) can survive from the desert to the mountains, to the sea in Australia.
The Snow Gum trees are very imposing, and their marking are stunning.
I have seen wombats in the bush, but never in the snow. However, around Crackenback there are always a few tunnels around the mountain, where the wombats live.
Last, but not least is the Mountain Pygmy Possum. These little marsupials are capable of surviving for almost two weeks, by bringing their bodies down to low temperatures during times of extreme cold or heat.
I hope you have enjoyed looking at Lake Crackenback and the colder regions of Australia. After putting this post together, I think Paul and I should go back to this lovely part of the world…soon.
Canberra is the capital of Australia, a planned city, with many parks, bush trails, green spaces and lakes. However as with many capital cities, Canberra is often seen as short hand for federal government rather than a landscape where people live. One quote I’ve read is “”Canberra has too many politicians, too many roundabouts and too much cold weather!”
When I retired from teaching in 2013, I decided to write a blog about Canberra, the beauty of the mountains and the lakes, and also the every day life of people living in Canberra.
Many of the photos of Canberra in this post were taken between 2014 and 2017, when I began blogging, and regular readers may recognise some of the photos…
Canberra in autumn is usually sunny, warm and pleasant, the best season of the year for planning gardens, going for walks, runs and rides, and taking photos!
Spring in Canberra can be windy and chilly, but the beautiful Manchurian Pears are out in bloom, which lifts the spirits. The National Library of Australia is one of my favourite buildings, often seen in my blog, I know! The small rather quaint tourist boat has, for many years, taken tourists who prefer a gentle slow tour of the lake.
In our early days of retirement, I was so keen to take photos that I dragged Paul out before dawn to walk around Lake Burley Griffin…. always worth it.
Canberra is full of early morning rowers, riders and walkers.
We often walk around the Parliamentary Triangle, and I love this Federal Government building…amongst others.
All along the paths the trees are changing, and the birds are in attendance.
During summer and autumn we eat breakfast on our deck, overlooking our garden.
At the risk of getting indigestion we often have an interrupted breakfast to chase big and little birds out of the veggie patch..
Thank you for taking the time to read my post today, and may your autumn or spring gardens be full of colour and joy.
We recently spent a week in Sydney, house-sitting for Paul’s brother, Martin and his wife Kris.
Paul’s mother is 96 years old this week, so it was a wonderful opportunity for Paul to spend some time with her every day.
Martin and Kris live in a leafy suburb, with many trees, colourful flowers and cool green lawns. Sydney gets a much higher rainfall than Canberra, so we are always somewhat blinded by this bright sunny green city.
We soon found a walking track with a notice saying, “A Blue Gum High Forest in your Backyard”
Some thoughtful planners have managed to preserve land in the suburb to keep a small amount of Blue Gum forest. There is a path through the forest, and it is a bonus for suburban dwellers to have this small forest within reach of walking every day.
The Blue Gum High Forest only occurs in Northern Sydney. It gets its name from the tall Eucalyptus saligna, or Sydney Blue Gum with its distinctive smooth bark and trunk.
The timber of the Blue Gum high forest was valuable to Sydney’s early settlement, and ongoing clearing, farming, development and weed invasion meant that less than 5% of the original forest remains in the world.
Needless to say, all the birds love the Blue Gums, and cockatoos gather amongst the trees every day. ( a mixed blessing).
Paul and I have also been inspired by the wonderful garden Kris has made…
When we arrived the Flowering Pink Gum tree had just started to flower…
and the day we were leaving the beautiful Flowering Gum put on a show for us, and the Rainbow Lorikeets did the same!
We are back in Canberra now, after an enjoyable week in Sydney.
We are so impressed with Kris’s Flowering Gum Tree, we are going to try growing one ourselves.
Many thanks for reading my blog post today, and best wishes to everyone, especially friends and relatives in New Zealand who have been battling the elements for some time.
Canberra’s usual spring planting was lost to rainy weather. Finally, close to December, the rain stopped falling and the sun came out, but most of us were still struggling with Hayfever, after months of long grasses growing in between suburbs and on verges of gardens.
The rain prevented the lawns and pathways from being mowed.
Once the rain stopped and the sunshine came through, it was lovely to walk through the garden and see it blossoming for summer.
We’ve never tried growing Lupins before, but during Covid we ordered three Lupin plants online, and this was the only one of three that survived, and thrived! The bees loved it.
The Salvias have also attracted the bees, and although I was tempted to trim this red Salvia as it spread, I took my cue from the bees buzzing around me!
When we visited the UK I was amazed to see hedges of fuchsias growing like weeds. They are tricky to grow in this part of Australia, but these two seem hale and hearty.
This hydrangea is loving its place under the plum tree and this year it has the right amount of water and sunshine.
Paul has grown an impressive crop of garlic this year, and to think he was worried that our continual rain in November, might affect the crop. Once the crop has dried out, (in our garden shed) Paul will keep the garlic under the house, in a cool dark shelf.
I have included this lovely plant although it grows in Melbourne, near the home of our daughter and family. Our granddaughter, aged five, said she watched a cartoon about bees, and when they saw tempting flowers, they said to each other “Let’s have a party!”
This gorgeous blue flower is always full of bees having a party, and if we ever have a space in our garden, we’ll try to grow it.
Canberra has many paths between suburbs and plenty of choice of walks. During the summer months Paul and I walk almost every day. One of our favourite walks is near “Five Ways” otherwise known as Ken’s garden, which I featured last year.
We live on the side of Mount Taylor and so we walk up a path called Heartbreak Hill (named by one of our neighbours) and along to Ken’s garden and then back home.
Ken began by planting some Red Hot Pokers and Agapanthus on the verge of his house and garden, and then gradually extended the garden.
It is a wonderful social space where people tend to linger on a summer day, chatting to Ken, his wife, or other passers-by. It is very much valued by the community.
Not to mention birds, and Wattle Birds in particular, as you can see.
The birds in Canberra have never had such a feast of grasses, flowers, seeds and berries. As a result we now have far more big birds than usual, many living on Mount Taylor near us. (Currawongs, Ravens and Cockatoos)
When it comes to Cockatoos, the War of the Roses has nothing on the Wars for space in the best Eucalyptus trees. We live opposite two mature Eucalyptus trees, and this summer, there has been constant screeching and chasing each other in and out of the trees. Their wingspan is incredible and their screeches can be ear-splitting.
When they are in the trees, they often peel the bark and drop it, or they shred flowering trees, (or our Almond tree.)
Mercifully they all seem to fly off to the mountains once their young are mature enough to be self-sufficient.
Paul found this wonderful card in the National Library, and it just sums up cockatoos perfectly……
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog today, and may you be happy and healthy in 2023.
Christmas is such a busy time that I’m going to keep this post, short and sweet.
The first sweet item is a book that I ordered online, through Booktopia. It has arrived in time for Christmas! This book is part of a series, written by Laurie Graves. Laurie lives in Maine, USA and I live in Canberra, Australia, so we couldn’t be further apart, but the wonderful part of blogging is getting to know and enjoy fellow bloggers. I have been reading Laurie’s blog posts for a few years now, and I know just how much time and effort she has put into this series.
We are a family who love stories and reading and we’ll enjoy this book. Many thanks Laurie!
My granddaughter pointed out these Rainbow Lorikeets in the playground, completely oblivious of children playing around them.
This Crimson Rosella has spent some time in our garden this year, without a partner….very unusual, hopefully the new year brings a partner.
Another Crimson Rosella, this time at the coast. He or she is navigating the spiky bush very well considering she has a beak full of food!
We recently bought a Hibiscus shrub to put on our deck, and this is the reward, a regular supply of beautiful flowers.
Another Rainbow Lorikeet swaying in the breeze…
A flashback to winter. Every year we get a visit from a pair of Kookaburras, and this year they had two juvenile Kookaburras with them.
There is something endearing about Kookaburras, and perhaps it is their early morning call, one of the unique sounds of the bush in Australia.
We walk past this plant in a neighbour’s garden almost every day in spring. I don’t know the name of this wonderful plant but it lights up the garden in the early morning.
It looks like Waratah flower with the leaves of a Woolly bush.
Many thanks for taking the time to read my blog post today, and may you all have a peaceful Christmas where ever you are in the world.
PS the header photo is a red flowering Eucalyptus …it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.