Thursday, 31 May 2007

A moment in the sun

Photo: Lizard, Mount Hay


On an earlier visit to Mount Hay I took this photograph of a lizard basking in the afternoon sun. He was an obliging fellow, holding his position just right for ages. You can’t see it, but the lizard is surveying the fabulous wilderness landscape that keeps drawing me back to Mount Hay.

This time the lizard’s perfect viewing spot was taken by another photographer capturing the frozen pose of more models having their moment in the sun.



Words to walk with:
From Ecclesiastes 1 in the Holy Bible (New International Version)
“Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains for ever.
The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.
The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course …
The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Six months on

After our walk to Fortress Rock we continued the drive to Mount Hay. Earlier in the year I showed some pictures from Mount Hay after the December fires. I had promised myself to go back and see what it looked like some months on.

Photo: View from Mount Hay, early evening

While the ground is green where there was ash in December, there are still plenty of sticks where there were once trees. However, there is also good growth occurring. Click here February 10th to see how it looked soon after the fire and then at the picture below of the same clump of as it appears today.


Words to walk with:
From Fire-Stick Farming by Mark O’Connor a contemporary Australian poet.
"In the hot calm the bees are loud,
working wings and elbows with an angry sound,
as you leap the tussocks, amazed
at your ignorant creation,
the shapes and passions hidden
in a sheet of flame.
And above them all
a new forest rising."

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

So fair, so sweet

In summer time these paths are edged with flannel flowers. On this walk there was just one left. Other tiny flowers taking their place in their own season.


Photo: Flannel Flower, Fortress Ridge Track


Words to walk with:
From So Fair, So Sweet, Withal So Sensitive by William Wordsworth
“So fair, so sweet, withal so sensitive,
Would that the little Flowers were born to live,
Conscious of half the pleasure which they give;

That to this mountain-daisy's self were known
The beauty of its star-shaped shadow, thrown
On the smooth surface of this naked stone!”


Monday, 28 May 2007

The world is too much with us

The bush cocoons with silence. Soft hush of footsteps on the sandy track. A distant toot from a steam train sweeps us to a past era. Jarred by the groan of a motorbike stirring up dirt somewhere through the trees and a helicopter flying like an angry gnat along the cliff face.

Words to walk with:
From the sonnet The World is Too Much With Us by William Wordsworth
“The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!”


Sunday, 27 May 2007

Fortress Rock

This weekend we headed out on the long bumpy road to Mt Hay, breaking the trip part way to walk out to Fortress Rock Lookout. It’s an easy walk mostly along a fire trail, leading to a wonderful 360 degree view of windswept heath and sheer cliff faces.

Photo: View from Fortress Rock Lookout

Words to walk with:
From Psalm 62 from the Holy Bible (New International Version)
“My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Blue

The elusive male bower bird is deep glossy blue, almost black, with lighter blue eyes. He is fond of blue objects which he collects to decorate his bower – an odd assortment of blue feathers, blue plastic bottle tops, blue drinking straws and blue clothes pegs – to impress the bevy of females that are currently frequenting the trees in our garden. These lovely ladies are camouflage green with beautiful sapphire blue eyes. Young males are also green until they are about 7 years old.

Photo: Satin Bower Bird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus)

Words to walk with:
From the Penguin Book of Australian Slang by Lenie Johansen
Bowerbird – Person who collects an astonishing array of sometimes useless objects.

Friday, 25 May 2007

Pink

The Liquid Ambers in the street colour much earlier than the tree in our garden. They are now quite bare and have dropped their spiky seed pods to the ground. Flocks of noisy galahs are feasting on them all day.

Photo: Galah (Eolophus roseicapillus)

Words to walk with:
From the Penguin Book of Australian Slang by Lenie Johansen
Galah – Fool, ineffectual person: e.g.
1. He made a proper galah of himself.
2. That silly galah can’t do anything right!

Thursday, 24 May 2007

The big red

Autumn hits its crescendo. A high point held tremulously until a big wind blows.

Photo: Japanese Maple in my garden

Words to walk with:
Poem by Monk Noin in the Japanese book Hyakunin Isshu an anthology of 100 poems by 100 different poets.
“By the wind storm's blast
From Mimuro's mountain slopes
Maple’s leaves are torn,
Which turn Tatsuta River
Into a rich brocade"

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

More red

Autumn rain falls softly. I watch and wait eagerly. Fairies build silently under the pine trees.

Photo: Fly agaric Amanita muscaria
(not native)

Words to walk with:
From 25 by Emily Dickenson
The mushroom is the elf of plants
At evening it is not;
At morning in a truffled hut
It stops upon a spot …



Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Red

Red is the colour of autumn. As the maple leaves turn red, the flocks of red and green King Parrots move to the red firewheel flowers and the beautiful red rosella’s return to nip and nibble at the twigs while tiny red robins hop around the baring branches.

Photo: Crimson Rosella

Words to walk with:
From Poetry and Religion by Les Murray
“There'll always be religion around while there is poetry
or a lack of it. Both are given, and intermittent,
as the action of those birds - crested pigeon, rosella parrot -
who fly with wings shut, then beating, and again shut.”

Monday, 21 May 2007

Little birds

Flocks of little birds are migrating through the garden. I stalk them, like a cat, but they flit and fidget and fly away together.

Photo: Silvereye in maple tree

Words to walk with:
From Song-Bird by Brian Vrepont
“Listen! He starts … he ends;
A quicksilver run on the blood
Of a bird, a shy bird
In a cotton-tree; all depends
On the stillness, his flood
Would parch if you but stirred
To pluck a bud.”

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Good Neighbours

Photo: Camellia (not a native plant)

At this time of year I look over the fence and admire my neighbour’s garden where camellias are in full flower and the lemon tree is laden with ripening fruit. The shared fence with the neighbour on the other side has passionfruit for me to pick.


Lemon and passionfruit – I love the astringent flavours of these fruits. Check out Jill’s passionfruit butter and give it a go.






Words to walk with:
From Mending Wall by Robert Frost
“There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors'.”

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Summer fades

I have written earlier of belladonna, ginger lily and firewheel which herald the arrival of autumn. In the meanwhile the drying heads of hydrangea hang around for months to whisper of summer past.

Photo: Hydrangea in autumn
(not an Australian native plant)

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? by William Shakespeare
“Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest;
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”

Friday, 18 May 2007

Yellow and hectic red

The wind is blowing hard today and sending the fallen leaves flying.

Photo: Autumn leaf litter

The trees fire on cue every year – first the sugar maple at the front glows golden, the birch trees at the back gleam with yellow leaf, and the virginia creeper on the fence goes crimson. After that, the pear tree on the driveway sparks orange, red and yellow, the weeping maples turn brilliant red, and the smoke bush burns orange. Next the cherries and japanese maples blaze together and it ends with the liquid amber, an afterglow at the bottom of the garden.

Right now the japanese maples are beginning to turn. While I wait eagerly for the colour explosion to occur, I will take a look as some of the other things that make this time of year special in my garden.

Words to walk with:
“O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes …”

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Edible delights

Photo: View from Honeymoon Lookout

We went back to the Prince Henry Cliff Walk and started where we finished the day before, at Honeymoon Lookout. The views are great and the vegetation on this section varied and interesting – blue mountains ash, lots of casurina, banksias, king ferns clustering near a little creek, colourful fungi in the leaf litter and a patch of swamp before popping out at the Cliff Drive near Solitary Restaurant which serves great food. We savoured a leisurely lunch at their kiosk before retracing our steps.

I still haven’t completed the whole of Prince Henry Cliff Walk. I’ll save up the rest for some time in the future.

Words to walk with:
From Mushrooms by Sylvia Plath


“Soft fists insist on
Heaving the needles,
The leafy bedding …

We are shelves, we are
Tables, we are meek,
We are edible”

Nudgers and shovers
In spite of ourselves.
Our kind multiplies:

We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.
Our foot's in the door.”

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Rest at noon

I enjoyed the short stoll along the Prince Henry Cliff Walk so much I persuaded my husband to join me on a longer trek down the path. Before setting off we took in the view at Echo Point while enjoying a picnic lunch in a Flintstone shelter (see Bedrock on 9 April).

The path is smooth and wide and busy with friendly tourists who greet as we pass. Some German girls were having as much trouble a I do with photographing birds so were settling on a shot of banksia. There are lots of lookouts along the track and seats for quiet rest and contemplation though there is no need to stop frequently as the path is not steep.


Photo: A resting spot, Prince Henry Cliff Walk, Katoomba-Leura


Words to walk with:
Poem 714 by Emily Dickinson
"Rest at Night
The Sun from shining,
Nature -- and some Men --
Rest at Noon -- some Men --
While Nature
And the Sun -- go on –"

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Bush echo

It was late afternoon and damp so I only went as far as Lady Carrington lookout where I waited quietly for the bush echo around me.

Photo: Rocks beside path

Bellbirds jangled in the misty eddies below. Chattering rosella’s shot from tree to tree like red flares. Squawking white cockatoos dueled over the vast grey gap. Striped brown wattle birds coughed and nibbled at yellow banksias.

I strolled back, past the name etched trees and rocks, strangely reluctant to leave as night closed in. It’s getting dark early these days.



Words to walk with:
From To an Echo on the Banks of the Hunter by Charles Harpur
"I HEAR thee, echo! And I start to hear thee
With a strange shock, as from among the hills
Thy voice, reverb ring in swift murmurs near me,
Dies down the stream, or with its gurgle low
Blends whisperingly, until my bosom thrills
With gentle tribulations that endear thee,
But speak not of the present. Twas as though
Some spirit of the past were then a-near thee,
Bringing back days of life’s regretted spring,
Waking wild recollections, to evince
How strong the ties that bind me to each thing
Loved, though long since."

Monday, 14 May 2007

Four more sisters

Prince Henry Cliff walk runs from Katoomba to Leura. At Easter time I did some of this walk starting from Gordon Falls in Leura. This week I decided to follow more of it starting at Echo Point in Katoomba.

Echo Point is the place where the three sisters rock formation is seen. I was amused to discover from a sign at the start of the Cliff Walk that the legend of the three sisters is a non-aboriginal story that started in the 1930s. The aboriginal dream time story had 7 sisters.

Photo: View over the big sister’s head

Seven sisters, now that would be a interesting challenge! Yesterday I was thinking of my mother, today I think of my sisters. I was once one of three sisters, now we are two.

Words to walk with:
In the introduction to the book Sisters edited by Drusilla Modjeska she writes of the impact of the loss of a sister
“… brings to us in loss an acute understanding of the complicated, uneven tide of lived feeling that passes between girls who share parents: rivalry and resentment, sensitivity to slights and differences, tears and tantrums, dreams and fantasies, and love as abiding as blood”
Ah yes, there are none better than sisters.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Hairpins

Photo: Hairpin Banksia (Banksia spinolsa)

Each morning my mother brushed her hair, rolled it to the nape of her neck and fixed it in place with thin wire hairpins. She kept that 1940s hairstyle so long I think it could have rolled itself. Today is Mother's Day, I have been thinking of her.


Words to walk with:
Sonnets are full of love by Christina Rosetti
"Sonnets are full of love, and this my tome
Has many sonnets: so here now shall be
One sonnet more, a love sonnet, from me
To her whose heart is my heart’s quiet home,
To my first Love, my Mother, on whose knee
I learnt love-lore that is not troublesome;
Whose service is my special dignity,
And she my loadstar while I go and come
And so because you love me, and because
I love you, Mother, I have woven a wreath
Of rhymes wherewith to crown your honored name:
In you not fourscore years can dim the flame
Of love, whose blessed glow transcends the laws
Of time and change and mortal life and death."

Saturday, 12 May 2007

The return

The Megalong Valley road comes to an end at Dunphy’s camping area so we turned for our journey home. As the sun began to set and rain clouds clustered darkly in the sky, kangaroos grazing by the roadside bounded away to the creek.

Photo: Old ford Reserve at dusk

Words to walk with:
From I saw the beauty go by Dame Mary Gilmore
“There went the kangaroos, that, in hosts,
For their bedding-down grouped at even,
Only the sound of the nibbling lips
Making the sunset steven.”


Friday, 11 May 2007

Dunphys

Photo: Dunphy’s camping area

Megalong Valley road ends at Dunphy’s camping area, a great spot to pitch a tent and take in the peace and beauty of nature. Myles and Milo Dunphy were tireless campaigners for presevation of these special wilderness areas.

Words to walk with:

Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Ye olde days

The first land was taken up in the Megalong Valley in 1838. Today in the valley, a sense of history is imparted by post and rail fences, rusty roofed homesteads and dilapidated sheds. Horse riders wend leisurely paths by a tea room reminiscent of a past era. A draft horse, resting from the plough, lazily munches in a grassy paddock at the Megalong Australian Heritage Centre – a popular tourist attraction where olden ways are demonstrated.

Photo: Old farm, Megalong Valley

Words to walk with:
From Bullocky by Judith Wright. Bullocky is one of the best known poems by this loved modern Australian poet.
"Grass is across the wagon-tracks,
and plough strikes bone across the grass,
and vineyards cover all the slopes
where the dead teams were used to pass."

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Green and Gold

Photo: Farm in Megalong Valley

At the moment the farms of the Megalong Valley are sumptuous in the golden glow of autumn sun on grass now emerald green from recent rains. Green and gold are Australia’s national colours.

Words to walk with:
From A Landscape by J.R. Rowland
“On a day like this, in early autumn
The crow speaks loud across the quiet valley
And the ribbed willows stand at anchor by the river
Yellowing in silence, and slow cows are solemn”


Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Megalong Valley

Over the next few day’s I will share some of the views seen on a recent drive through the Megalong Valley, one of the best driving excursions to be had in the Blue Mountains. A winding road descends from Shipley Plateau through lush rain forest before opening up to grassy farmland bordered by the tall mountain cliffs. Megalong is an Aboriginal word thought to mean ‘valley below the cliffs’


Photo: Megalong Valley

Words to walk with:
From Thinking About Aboriginal Land Rights I Visit the Farm I Will Not Inherit by Les Murray
"The ambient day-tides contain every mouldering and oil
that the bush would need to come back right this day,
not suddenly, but all down the farm slopes ..."



Monday, 7 May 2007

Shadows of eternity



Words to walk with:
From The Retreat by Henry Vaughan
"When on some gilded cloud, or flow'r,
My gazing soul would dwell an hour,
And in those weaker glories spy
Some shadows of eternity:"

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Gum tips

The new growth on eucalypts is often red or pink before turning their familiar olive green.

Photo: Gum Tips, near Minnehaha Falls.

My Mum loved to collect bunches of gum tips and put them in vases around the house, thus enjoying the bush indoors. I don't because I walk in a National Park where it is illegal to pick plants.

Words to Walk With:

"Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints."

Saturday, 5 May 2007

Laughing Water

On the northern side of Katoomba, the opposite side of the ridge to the famous Three Sisters there is a pleasant walk to Minnehaha Falls. The track follows Yosemite Creek which cuts through an unusually large hanging swamp. The grassy swampland is said to have reminded the early walkers of the meadows in the Yosemite National Park in the USA.

Yosemite Creek chuckles cheerily beside the path, descending a steepening ladder of rocks before leaping over a cliff to fall to a quiet pool far below. This pool was once a very deep swimming hole popular with tourists but a century of development in the area has led to siltation in the creek and the water hole is now a shallow pool. Even so, this is a rewarding trek through a different style of bushland to other walks I have done thus far.

Photo: Ladder of Laughing Water leading to Minnehaha Falls, Katoomba

Words to Walk With:
The falls get their name from the poem Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
"In the land of the Dacotahs,
Where the Falls of Minnehaha
Flash and gleam among the oak-trees,
Laugh and leap into the valley.

There the ancient Arrow-maker
Made his arrow-heads of sandstone,
Arrow-heads of chalcedony,
Arrow-heads of flint and jasper,
Smoothed and sharpened at the edges,
Hard and polished, keen and costly.

With him dwelt his dark-eyed daughter,
Wayward as the Minnehaha,
With her moods of shade and sunshine,
Eyes that smiled and frowned alternate,
Feet as rapid as the river,
Tresses flowing like the water,
And as musical a laughter:
And he named her from the river,
From the water-fall he named her,
Minnehaha, Laughing Water."

Friday, 4 May 2007

Ruby paths and walls of coral



Today I am ending my sojourn at the Everglades with images of natures colour so lavishly splashed throughout the garden. I revel in autumn’s brief beauty and golden sunlight. I do hope you have enjoyed it too.

Words to walk with:
From The Passionate Man’s Pilgrimage by Sir Walter Ralegh
“Then the blessed paths we'll travel,
Strowed with rubies thick as gravel ;
Ceilings of diamonds, sapphire floors,
High walls of coral, and pearly bowers.”


Thursday, 3 May 2007

Nature is never spent

We took a picnic at one of the benches in the glades and drunk in the beauty of the natural shapes and textures working within the formal design.

Photo: Everglades garden, Leura

Words to walk with:
God’s Grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins
“The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; Bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs--
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings”

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Sunlight on the garden

The home built for Van de Velde is an art deco gem sitting in delicate harmony with the formal gardens and perfectly positioned to take in sweeping views of the Jamison Valley.

Photo: Van de Velde House, Everglades Leura

Words to walk with:
From The Sunlight on the Garden by Louis MacNiece
“The sunlight on the garden
Hardens and grows cold,
We cannot cage the minute
Within its nets of gold;
When all is told
We cannot beg for pardon.

Our freedom as free lances
Advances towards its end;
The earth compels, upon it
Sonnets and birds descend;
And soon, my friend,
We shall have no time for dances.”


Photo: Cherry terrace