Thursday, December 30, 2010

Kinchega 2010

The Darling River at Wilcannia.

It was with some excitement that I booked the shearers quarters for our traditional stay at this wonderful national park. It was with some sadness that some people who said "yes" really meant "no". Buuuut.. refusing to be disappointed I decided to go anyway, and so, David and I set of for the 2400km round trip - keen to see just how the rains and floods had affected the region.

BBQ area at the shearers quarters

The Darling River is like the grand Mississippi River- life to a region, flowing thousands of km providing the water for cotton farms, fruit growers, sheep and cattle stations along the way. It has been abused through ignorance and neglect, as well as deliberate acts of vandalasim. Can it survive?

Emu Lake. Full after being dry for man many years!

Well, I can say the results are amazing. New growth on old river gums, bird life and general wildlife abounds and there is a feeling of luxury about it. However, it is vital for all of us not to fall into a false sense of security. The river system has been abused for over 100 years, much has changed and will never be returned to how it was. We need to be proactive, and ensure the government puts in place legislation that protects, not only the river, but our food supply and the communities that live along its banks.

Emus! Yep- at Emu lake!

Dave and I enjoyed bird watching and fishing for perch. as well as walking through the semi desert conditions. At the end of the day enjoying a BBQ and a beer ( a lemonade for Dave of course!). There were many smaller birds too but we ran out of time

Me! At the ruins of the old homestead.

Happy NEW Year to all!!!

Birds seen:-Red-kneed Dotterel, Blue-winged Parrot, Budgerigar, (huge flock!!), Major Mitchell, Great Egret, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Australian Pelican, Splendid Wren, Emu, Silver Gull, Red-backed Kingfisher, Peaceful Dove, Little Corella, Singing Honey Eater, Cockatiel, Australian Pipit, Fairy Martin, House Sparrow, Welcome Swallow, Black-tailed Gallinules, Blue Bonnet Parrot, Sacred Kingfisher, Grey Shrike-thrush, Diamond Dove, Wattle bird, (Spiny-cheeked), Yellow-throated Miner, White-winged Triller, Willy Wagtail, Masked Lapwing, White-necked Heron, Pied Butcherbird, Australian White Ibis, Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Australasian Shoveler, Australian Grey Teal, Rainbow Bee-eater, Masked Wood Swallow, Australian Raven, Crested Pigeon, Apostle Bird, Satin Bower Bird, (spotted leaving home), White-winged Chough, Galah, Eastern Rosella, Hard Head, White-faced Heron, Australian Wood Duck, Square-tailed Falcon, Black Falcon, Black Kite, Black- shouldered kite, Nankeen Kestrel, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Yellow-tailed Cockatoo, Black-faced Cuckoo Shrike, Bell Miner, Noisy Miner, Pee Wee, Australian Magpie.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Whenever I fall

a beautiful song....

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Merry Christmas

Fresh gum leaves
To all my friends I want to wish you all the very best for the season peace, joy and happiness too! I am on holidays for a few weeks so Bitsnbobs will be quiet. Here are some photos from the Australian outback at Christmas

Dry lake beds and

Golden Sunsets

Merry "Aussie" Christmas to you all!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Evans Crown

The track.

With the end of year being hectic, it was time to get out, get some fresh air and do some walking. I have often driven past the sign saying "Evans Crown" and so with the weather closing in, I thought it's time to explore it.

Some of the Rock formations at the top

Situated in Honey Suckle Road,in the mountains near Tarana, this interesting rock formation was formed by an ancient volcano and is regarded by the Aboriginals as a sacred site. As we drove up to the car park the smell of honey filled the air- simply delightful. We parked the car, loaded our camel backs and set off.

A lizard ( yet to be identified)

It was not too long before we were greeted by Eastern Spinebills- delightful nectar birds with a sweet song, as well as Eastern and Crimson Rosellas.The air was filled with bird song and purfume. As we climbed the humidity began to give way and a cool breeze felt really good. We nearly stepped on the lizard that was none too happy to be disturbed.

Superb Views

As we reached the crown it is easy to see why the Aboriginals see this place a sacred- there are large caves, the "feeling" of the place is different to the surrounding country and the distant views are superb. I have only felt this in another place - Monolith Valley, where there is a sense of calm, rather like walking into a cathedral.

A turtle rescued.

Sadly my camera gave up the ghost and many of the good photos were "damaged". After lunch on top of the world we descended back to the car. A great way to spent a few hours.

Track notes- Described as difficult by Nat Parks, The walk is fine for the average person. 3- 6km depending on what you explore at the top. The only things to watch out for are water on rocks as they are like glass when wet. Also be aware of the edge of the boulders- Its a long way down! Oh, and watch out for snakes. Finally-respect the area. No fires and take your rubbish with you!

On the way to the Tarana pub we rescued a turtle.

Birds Seen:- Eastern Spinebill. Eastern Rosella, Crimson Rosella, Nakeen Kestrel, Whip Bird, Great Egret, Pacific Black Duck, Australian Wood Duck, Australian Magpie, Australian Raven, Little Raven, Noisy Miner, Starling, House Sparrow, Pee Wee, Bell Miner, Galah, Little Cormorant, Pied Cormorant, Black Faced Cuckoo-shrike. ( more to come..I left my list in the landcruiser...and I will try to identify the lizard lol)

UPDATE- Lizard is a Cunninghams Skink....they eat leaves, small shoots and eat insects when young.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Trout, Trails and Birding.

The Fish River.

With the weekend weather perfect it was time to hitch the trailer, load the motorbike, pack the esky, bbq and head for Tarana. Set high in the mountains the Fish River is teaming with trout and bird life. We are privileged enough to have a friend who has a nice working farm with one kilometre of river front.

The campsite with motor bike,fly fishing rods and Binoculars at the ready!

With recent rains and warm sunshine the crops and grasses were as high as the landcruiser bonnet making for interesting, (read exciting), riding. Trout constantly leapt out of the water and a platypus swam to and fro. It was a classic spring day with everything in abundance.

Dollar Bird

David and I spent the day riding, fly fishing and bird watching. There were some interesting species- particularly the Dollar Bird which I have not seen for a number of years. Sitting under huge pines on the banks of a fast flowing river, trying our luck with fly fishing and lures is a top way to spend a weekend!

Small Rainbow Trout

We were invited back and look forward to spending more time there.

Birds seen:- Dollar Bird, Noisy Friar Bird, Brown Tree Creeper, Grey Fantail, Currawong, Red Rumped Parrot, Turquoise Parrot, Galah, Superb Fairy Wren, Willy Wagtail, Wedge Tailed Eagle, Pacific Black Duck, King Parrot,Bell Miner, Pee Wee, Australian Magpie, Laughing Kookaburra, Chrimson Rosella, Welcome Swallow, Restless Flycatcher.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mountain Heath Dragons

To the west of where I live is an area called the Devils Wilderness. There are numerous fire trails in this area for obvious reasons- being in the national park also means being in an extreme fire risk area. The last time a Bulldozer cleared the trails was about 2003. Here is a short clip of the trail which is now very overgrown. Lucky my Landcruiser has brush guards to protect the body work. There is one section where you can see the camera bounce a round a bit as a rock gives way under the tyres and rolled over the edge.

In the area at the end of the trail an interesting lizard can be found. These are called Mountain Heath Dragons, and are found usually where the heath meets the sandstone outcrops. Harmless and full of energy,(when its sunny),They add a bit of colour and action to the bush! They also change colour to blend in with the rocks and darker hues of burnt timber.

This is one David caught and is a larger example than most.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Satin Bower Birds

Our 7 year old male Satin Bower bird.

We have a young Satin Bower bird which has made a bower to attract a mate right in our garden. Male Bower birds are green until they hit full maturity at about 7 years of age. At 5 years of age they begin to change from green to a dark blue. A 5 year old male will make a bower and collect blue items to attract a mate, and the 7 year old male will come through and destroy the bower. I have witness the building and rebuilding of this fellows bower time and time again. This is not my video, but it is a video of a Bower bird about the same age as ours and doing his dance. Enjoy

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Outback

The shearing shed.
One of my favorite places to spend Christmas is Kinchega National Park. A former glorious sheep station (the largest in the world) it ran from the 1860's through to the 1960s. Situated along the might Darling river and the Menindee lake system. It has a fabulous history. The Wool shed is amazing, as too are the shearers quarters and kitchen.

The shearing stands- You can sense ghosts here.

There is ample to see and do with lots of wildlife, fishing and swimming. Yes it get hot, (in fact it was 50c last time we were there),but you know what I like the most? No Computers, no T.V., no Radio and no phone signal. Its a reminder of how it was 100 years ago. Its peaceful and so iconic Australian

The shearers accommodation

With the wide spread rain it will be very exciting to see all the dry lakes full of water and the bird life that they support.

A Goanna enjoying a sun bake on a table

I am also looking forward to the trip as my son has promised to teach me how to paint....

Emu on dry lake bed

So that will make the 12 hour drive even more worth while!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

English Shores and walks

When I travel I think a lot. About why we do things, both simple and complex. Here are some photos of some places I walked whilst in England

It funny how just the simple act of "walking" can make you think....

Walking and bird watching are very popular in England for a number of reasons.

Its a great excuse for a walk and it makes you stop and search for birds, which means you have to really look at everything...

I makes you appreciate the environment, and leads to healthy discussion about global warming, manmade impacts and the like..

Sometimes it makes you appreciate the smell of salt air, of farmers ploughing fields, and of good friends

Who are always in search of that something over the horizon...

And coming back to the Black Dog Inn for a pint in front of the coal fire!

A sincere "thank you" to Jim, Pam and Ken who put up with me almost every year and show me sights I will never forget.
Pam has broken her knee cap in a fall and I wish her a speedy recovery. Also a HUGE "thank you" to Worzel and Trudy for providing accommodation during the volcanic eruption and getting me to the airport.
Lastly a BIG "thank you" to the people I met, will never know, yet extended me every courtesy at every opportunity.. from the best pies shop in the world- Mables Pies, to even the co-op staff.... Lets not forget the Black Dog Inn- superb food, the best ales and friendly service..I hope to get back to Shetland soon too!

Heres to the next beer on Askam Pier!

Monday, October 25, 2010


These are my Scarpa Attack walking boots. I bought them 25-30 years ago and they have been a faithful, comfortable travel companion. They have covered many local and international national parks. Sadly, whilst in Cumbria, walking Skiddaw Peak, I ran out of traction and the descent was awkward. It was time to retire them. They cost me $300.00 all those years ago, that was a lot for a school boy.

These are my new Scarpa Walking boots! Amazing! they are ready for walking immediately,(no breaking in), and offer me more support for my ankles. Whilst I do not think they will last me 25-30 years, I am sure they will last a while with care! They cost me $350.00.

These are my new Black Diamond walking poles. Whilst ego prevented me from using these in the past, a purchase of a single pole in Cumbria taught me the benefits of using them, especially with the arthritis I have. They provide stability down hill and reduce fatigue by about 10%. They also fold up pretty small too!

This new equipment was tested on the weekend and will allow me to enjoy this....

And this, for many years to come! My only sadness is- the boots are no longer made in Italy but rather Romania. Still... better then being made in China IMO...

The short walk in the rain on the weekend proved the boots comfort and the poles improvement in stability, so I am a "happy camper"!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


On the weekend David and his mate went into the "Devils Wilderness" to catch yabbies for their fish tanks. For my overseas friends, yabbies are a freshwater crayfish, like a lobster. They are generally blue or red in colour and vary in size. They have the capacity to live in water with very low oxygen, mud and can survive out of water as long as their gills are moist.

The yabbie in the tank. ( dreadful photo and will find another soon)

The boys brought home a very large one (about 25cm) and placed it in Dave's tank.

The following morning Dave had found it had got out of the tank and was climbing onto his bed! The nippers are strong enough to take a finger off!
I thought Dave looked a little "green"....

I don't think the yabbie was happy with its new accommodation so today we will return it to its water hole.....

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Summer is Coming!

I have posted this before but Matthew from "No visible Lycra" blog asked me about our Python. So I will tell the story:- Monty was discovered in our hedge by me, several years ago, and I was lucky not to have injured her. I called the National Parks to have her removed as I was concerned for her safety as well as the safety of my small dogs and cats. They came and took her away. 3 months later she was back.

I later learned that they are extremely territorial, stress when removed and unless you move them over 15km ( 10 miles) away they will make every effort to return "home". So- we have learned to live with her. She lives in the roof of the house, lifting a tile to enter and exit and she hibernates above my head in the TV room. Sometimes you can hear her moving about- she sounds like a heavy rope. I will often find her draped in a hedge, (of which i have heaps), or in the grape vine, or lounging in the gutters of the roof grabbing some sun. We live right on the edge of the National park, (called the Devils wilderness), and we had a major problem with possums, bush rats and mice. Not to mention poisonous snakes too.

Monty ( as we call her), cleans them out for us and has grown into a mature full size python that does not seem too worried by us or our dogs. I sometimes have to move her in order to trim a hedge- this she does not mind. Yesterday my eldest daughters boyfriend saw Monty- and jumped out of his skin...hahahaha! I hope Monty is with us for years to come.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My truck in Australia at Webbs creek

Within the woodlands flowery gladed
By the oak tree's mossy moot,
The shining grass-blades, timber-shaded,
Now do quiver under foot;
And birds do whistle overhead,
And water's bubbling in its bed,
And there for me the apple tree
Do lean down low in Linden Lea.

Webbs creek itself.

When leaves that lately were a-springing
Now do fade within the copse,
And painted birds do hush their singing
Up upon the timber tops;
And brown-leaved fruit's a-turning red,
In cloudless sunshine, overhead,
With fruit for me, the apple tree
Do lean down low in Linden Lea.

Oops! Me in the Lakes district North England in winter...

Let other folk make money faster
In the air of dark-roomed towns,
I don't dread a peevish master;
Though no man do heed my frowns,
I be free to go abroad,
Or take again my homeward road
To where, for me, the apple tree
Do lean down low in Linden Lea.

Frankly, I love this poem. It is so much of who I am... ( yes I know thats my truck and I love it too!)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The week that was

Dave preparing the mountain bikes before we set off.

Dave and I did a Mountain Bike ride through the Wollemi National Park, starting at Mountain Lagoon- a beautiful spot. Not a difficult ride, but a few hills to keep you on your toes and fresh mountain air to keep the lungs invigorated.
The Lagoon itself.

My Cannondale is going well, with the service on the front suspension making a real difference in rebound and dampening. Money well spent to make it a pleasure to ride once more.

Later on we went fishing along the Webb Creek, where a flat head was caught. A fraction undersized it was returned. A cup of billy tea boiled on the back of the landcruiser hit the spot at the conclusion of a top weekend

Sunday, October 3, 2010

"Koala Bear Grilles"

Well, its the long weekend and its pouring. So here was our choice- sit around, or get out and do a bush walk. No contest! Time for a bushwalk. Disclaimer:- The area we walked in is dangerous. People have died and have been lost in this area. Last year an English tourist did the walk we have done but ended up lost in Cedar Valley.Its important to:- 1. Plan your walk and never exceed your fitness level. 2. Tell people where you are going, including family, friends, the authorities eg police, national parks. 3. Walk with a minimum of 2- preferably 3 walkers. 4. Always carry water, enough food for emergencies, fire lighting abilities, first aid kit, and carry the correct clothing. 5. Never exceed your abilities and, if in a group, NEVER walk off, or get ahead of the slowest walker. 6. If you get lost- don't panic, rest, think and relax. The best outcome is one without panic. These basic skill will help you survive and enjoy our rugged wilderness. I hope you will take these following videos in the light they were made!

Our walk commenced at the Golden Stairs descending into the Jamison Valley, following the old railway track towards the 600m ascent to the Ruined Castle. What most people are unaware of is the history of this region and if you look carefully you can see the remains of buildings, fireplaces, and shale mines. There is even one mine you can crawl through from one side of the Narrow Neck cliff line to the other side emerging into the Megalong Valley, its hundreds of metres long and is for experienced cavers only!

It was not too long before we had reached the top with rain bucketing down, wind and clouds racing across the sky. A quick snack of oranges and an energy bar, and we were ready to return, all our clothes and belongings soaked and boots full of water. We picked off leeches when we got home. A top way to spend a few hours!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Skateboard cat

Midnight likes to skateboard. As a 15 year old cat he seems obsessed with it. Here is a short video as a birthday present for fellow blogger Susan from Bricolage. Here Midnight is kicking back, but I have witnessed him on the move too.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Garden from the window

Life is good. I mean really good. To wake up to this view from my window is very special, sadly it will be gone in a week or two. ( well worth clicking on the photo for a better look)

So.. after having a week to recover from my treatment- Its time to get out and go for a ride before returning and spending some time keep the garden in shape... See you all in Blogging land.

Sunday, September 19, 2010