On any given morning Canberrans wake up to the sound of Magpies warbling…a lovely song.
If you drive over the mountains to Mystery Bay on the south coast of New South Wales…
you can hear an entirely different song sheet… that of the Kookaburra.
This bird is the largest member of the Kingfisher family, and is known as the Laughing Kookaburra, because of its raucous dawn call…almost always done in chorus with the whole family.
The name, the Bushman’s Clock was given to the Kookaburra by early settlers because every morning at dawn and then again at sunset the Kookaburras call could be heard.
This is still true today. My parents lived in an area surrounded by Eucalyptus trees and when we visited them, the Kookaburras woke us up earlier than our children!
We are spending a weekend with good friends, relaxing amongst these magnificent Spotted Eucalyptus trees…
This graceful tree is smooth and cream in colour with grey spots coloured from older bark. The light changes on the bark depending on the time of day..
Sometimes the trunk of the tree looks like grey green silk..
The Spotted Gums (as they are known) have clusters of fragrant white flowers from autumn to winter. These flowers attract the birds, (especially the Rainbow Lorikeets) and honey bees.
(I can’t imagine the honey bees getting a look-in today with all the Rainbow Lorikeets here)
While we were in Mystery Bay the Rainbow Lorikeets could be heard calling and feeding on the flowers…occasionally coming into the garden to bathe or drink in the birdbaths.
They are canny little birds and here they have reversed into the birdbath, for a quick get-away if needed.
Under the Spotted Gums the Satin Bower bird is looking almost iridescent in the sunshine..
Here is his nest and lots of blue objects to impress the female in his life..
….I hope she is impressed!
Nearby is a plant called Heliotrope, and it is known for its wonderful vanilla scent, almost as if a cake is baking nearby….. I was hoping we could grow this in Canberra, but it doesn’t tolerate frost very well.
Whenever we go to Mystery Bay we visit the markets in the nearby picturesque historic town of Tilba Tilba.
Traditional owners of the land are the Yuin people and their dreamtime stories live on in the dramatic rocks and volcanic landscape. Gulaga mountain is the sacred mother mountain of the region.
European settlement began in the 1800s. The rich volcanic soil around the mountain was ideal for dairy farming. Later gold was found in the surrounding mountains, and this brought prosperity and more settlement to this region.
The historic town of Tilba is now full of galleries, traditional crafts, coffee shops and cafes, and markets on Saturday.
When we visit the markets I usually buy some jam and chutney, and warm knitted clothes. I bought a soft felt lined pure wool beanie (hat) for the winter and a knitted hat for my granddaughter.
The gold mining dwindled in the early 1900s..
but the diary industry continued and thrived, and Tilba became the home of some world famous cheeses.
On the way home we passed a farm set at the foot of Gulaga Mountain.(Mt Dromedary)
This farm was used in the filming of the TV series, River Cottage Australia (taken from the British series of the same name) The series was about sustainable farming, growing produce to sell locally, cooking and sharing food and farming skills. The local community were often part of the film crew.
Once the series had finished, the house and contents were sold, and, Paul West, the central character of the show, said all the animals found good homes!
On our travels around Tilba we also found (surprise surprise) the Tilba Nursery…full of interesting plants..
With our new garden border just waiting to be filled by new plants, we couldn’t resist these two plants. The nursery man assures me they are hardy and frost tolerant.
There is just time to get back to Mystery Bay for a walk along the beach, on a glorious autumn afternoon….
It is amazing just how many world problems you can solve while walking on a lovely beach with old friends…
I hope you are enjoying your green spaces where ever you are in the world….
Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.