Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lyre Bird feather

This is a Lyre bird tail feather. I found it along the track I was riding. To see it in real life..well, it's just beautiful. About 45cm long and feels like spider web!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Sir Joseph Banks

The bike ready to go

Over the past 4 weeks there has been a great TV documentary called "Cook". Vanessa Collingridge narrates this wonderful walk through Cooks life, his partners, adventures and discoveries.
A lot of what was discovered in Australia,(botanically,) can be attributed to Cook's botanist Joseph Banks. He was one crazy/runcible guy!

Vanessa Collingridge.

Having received a nice email from Vanessa, and with her work on my mind, I thought I would ride the fire trails that lead to Mt Banks! I also wanted to look at how the BANKSIA was affected by the HUGE bush fires 12 months ago.
So, with the mountain bike loaded, the back pack equipped with the essentials e.g. water, insect repellent, lip chap, binoculars, camera, note book, pen, first aid kit and a banana, I set off.

Banksia recovering from fire.

Mt Banks is about a 30 minute drive west of Kurrajong on the Bells Line of Road. You can't really miss it. It's this great big LUMP that sits to the south of the road. Popular with rock climbers, and picnickers, Mt Banks provides some of the best views into the Grose River Gorge you will ever see.

The ride itself is easy, with just a couple of sections that are very rocky and soft.

View of track from my bikes headlights point of view.

Two things struck me. One was the lack of birds, the other was the absolute noise of the cicada! It was an absolute din!

A Tiger Prince Cicada!

The bush has been all but wiped out by the intense bush fires that occurred 12 months ago, but the bush needs fire. Evidence of recovery can be seen right across the mountain.

Banksia burnt!

Beautiful flowers were everywhere.


Lunch with a fantastic view completed the ride.... All I had to do was to get back to the Troopie. After a total of 3 hours and wonderful look at a superb Lyre Bird, I thought what Captain James Cook and his crew went through and what they thought of Australia....

Rough track

As for Sir Joseph Banks? Well, he could not keep his hands off the ladies ... but thats another story. Watch Vanessa's documentary!..........

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Birding on the run.

Eastern Whip Bird. Photo courtesy of NSW National Parks & Wildlife.

Yesterday we had huge storms over the Mountain. For some reason, when the rain stops, the birds come out beside the road. I can only assume it's because of the steam or humidity off the tar that attracts them. I decided to do some bird spotting on the run.

The road itself to the top of our mountain is narrow, twisting and the bush grows right to the edge. It is a mixture of natural,lantana, and bamboo. Maalie knows of the location (its where the bell minors "ding" mate). I immediately was greeted by a Whipbird! I knew the male was in this location because I have heard him constantly. But this is the first time I had seen him. Bell minors too, with their distinct colour and sound were apparent. A short drive on and a family of Superb Wrens flitted about the road side and the low brush. I counted a dozen.

Superb Fairy Wrens. photo courtesy of NSW National Parks & Wildlife.

A superb Bower Bird dark blue, almost black, flew quickly past as too did gallahs.

In this short period of time there was such a burst of bird activity. The climb up the mountain is about 3km, and I was delighted by the numbers of birds I saw.

I had almost reached the top and was greeted by Bronzewing and Crested pigeons. These birds appeared sluggish on the road.
When I got home our resident White Faced Heron was preparing to nest.

Frankly, it was a great way to end the day!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Walk along a fire trail

Sometimes there is not a lot to be said. Just a walk along familiar trails provides the relaxation I need.

The trail heads south towards the Grose River Gorge. Wild flowers, banksias and gums line the trail...

It's part of a fire trail network that I ride on my bike regularly, but there is always somthing new to discover or see.

When I get home a new visitor is at the bird feeder......

Saturday, November 17, 2007

When Roger met Howard

It was a day like any other in my garden. I got Roger Rover, the mower, out of his shed. 25 years of faithful service without complaint. He never had an oil change, no new spark plug, no new air filter. He was the typical Aussie. Tough, strong, can suffer abuse and never complain. But he drank a lot. Oil and unleaded. Towards the end he began to mix them. He became wobbly. A tough guy who was at his end, and today it came. There was a knock in his bottom end. He could no longer "perform" (ladies- you know what I mean). It was time to let him go, to introduce a new mower to the garden- Howard Honda. I know "It did not matter...we could take him to the doctor etc..., but performance IS everything in this day and age.

Howard Honda is sophisticated! He is a mix of Aussie "know how" and Japanese understanding. A perfect blend. He sipped his drink slowly. He is environmental and caring. He could mulch or catch- What ever you wanted. He even had big ball-bearings in his wheels. Like Roger, he was a four stroke. Unlike Roger, he was computer literate and well versed. He even had galvanized parts. He cares about what your garden wants.
I placed dear old Roger in the garage, thanked him for the work he did for 25 years. I hope Howard the Honda lasts as long. Howard took to the lawn with care and consideration.

Me? Well I mowed and said hello to a Black Prince Cicada who chose my shirt as a nice landing place... whilst I worked.

And a grub moved happily across a daisy,

Such is my garden.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

My Garden

At the moment I am doing 60 hours a week plus at work... Needless to say I am busy and stressed. But in life you have to "make hay whilst the sun shines" and this is what I am doing.

My garden provides me with a refuge and this weekend I put in a few new "bits". I have a new water tank and fire fighting pump and hoses as well as new bird bath and rosemary herb garden. The birds love it and I love it too!

The addition of camellias,hedges and new deck add to the overall "feel". I find it relaxing and so does the wild life. Today I was excited to find that Monty had come out of hibernation, shed her skin, and was on patrol for bush rats.

For those of you who are new to the blog, Monty is our resident Diamond Python. Large, fat, and healthy. She lives in our roof in winter and comes out onto our deck for a sun, a drink and to shed her skin. Sometimes I have to move her out of the way when I am trimming hedges etc. Frankly I love it! She makes me feel as if my garden is a living thing as too does the possums, rats, and birds...

The garden is ok despite the drought. My grandfather would say " If its green let it grow!" This is what I do. Some of the plants are pests, but they are life, and as such are welcome. The lack of water makes it so.

I get wonderful visitors during the day, birds, possums, snakes etc you name it. One night I even found a kangaroo grazing on my lawn.......

That is the nature of where I live. every animal, and reptile is a welcome guest. Sadly our Tenterfield Terrier does not always share my love, and he will kill any poisonous snake that ventures onto our place. I do not like it, but what to do??

Still, when I am stessed, I come here, and the butcher bird feeds on my arm, and see the garden, the birds, the bees, and reptiles and think... "Well, if they think it is ok... it must be..."

It gives me the strength to get going for the next 60+ hours......

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

First day of school

Most "first day at school" photos usually amount to a picture taken of your child standing awkwardly in front of the house trying to look "happy" with a school case, pants pulled up too high, shirt tucked in and shoes a fraction too big.

But not David, he was in fact ready to ride to school on his own, shirt out, sunglasses on, cap on back to front, no bag....

As Maalie would say " a Runcible fellow!"

P.S. This was taken a few years ago. he now rides up to 25km and can keep up with me at age nine

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Narrow Neck

Well, seeing that I lost my previous posts and seeing that I had not ridden it for a while it was time on Sunday to revisit an old Favorite:- The Narrow Neck. Situated at Katoomba and heading south off Cliff Drive, the Narrow Neck is Popular for the sports walker, mountain biker and those that just love fresh air and spectacular views.

The area is well know world wide for the magic of the three sisters, a rock formation, Mt Solitary and the Ruined Castle.

The area , like most areas was mined for shale oil and many of the walking tracks exist today as a result of early rail and road.

In the 1970s the Narrow Neck fire trail was locked as a rare frog was discovered in a swampy part near Wall Pass. But in reality, it was to keep idiot four wheel drivers out from destroying a pristine area.

The track is well maintained to the fire tower and has only 4 steep climbs. Basically onto the Narrow Neck itself. Climbing back requires excellent balance and the ability to pace yourself, or you will "blow up".

The day was very cold with strong winds blowing from the south. This caught me completely off guard. Fortunately I did have thermals packed in the troopcarrier, and set off without the stress of being under prepared.

Because of the wind there were very few birds about. New Holland Honey eater being the exception. however there were a number of small lizards trying to warm up for the day by basking on the track. It took a keen eye not to run them over!

New Holland Honey Eater

The views at the end are simply the best you will see. Unlimited blue mountains that look like a rolling ocean, Lake Burragorang and far in the distance on the curve of the earth, the Sydney landscape. Some enjoy to be able to see the skyscrapers so far away, for me they are an intrusion.

All up the ride is about 25km, grade easy to moderate. A nice way to spend a few hours in one of the best places on earth.