Whilst on my walks I see some truly magnificent trees. One is this Cape Chestnut. A native of Southern Africa Calodendrum capense is beautiful at this time of year and must be amazing in its native habitat.
I haven’t written about climate change for a while as this blog was about my travel adventures. But it is an issue I feel very strongly about.
However, I’ve been in lockdown for a long time and I think I would like to visit the South Australian coast. So I am waiting for the new year when school holidays are over and I can travel interstate.
In the mean time I have been working on the garden. And there is a lot to do. It is really overgrown. I used to spend a lot of time gardening but with full time work and then getting sick I have left it slide. It’s nice to discover some of the things I planted a long time ago continuing to thrive.
I planted a lot of native shrubs and small trees hoping to invite birds and other wildlife into the garden. So my idea is to reveal what I have planted and put in lots of other bird and bee attracting natives. There is a lot of hard work to go, but I’ve made the start. I’m a bit battered and bruised and sore but it is very rewarding.
The thing that I am not happy about is the continued politicisation of climate change. I have written before about the need to keep to the commitment of limiting green house gas emissions at 1.5% to save the Great Barrier Reef. This has not changed.
I know that I will not see the worst of climate change in my lifetime, but we must do it now for my children and theirs.
On the most important issue for generations to come the Prime Minister Scott Morrison is simply looking at doing the very least he can while still wedging the Labor Party, in the lead up to an election. It is simply not good enough.
I try to keep an interest in things going on around me. My daily walks with Poppy the dog make is a perfect opportunity to see what changes in the landscape.
It was fantastic to catch up with my son, Ben and one of my daughters, Ellen on the weekend. We had a really nice time in Sydney. Still one daughter to go. I can’t go North as yet because the Hunter remains a no go area. But in a couple of weeks time we can have the birthday party for Kate’s 30th. The one she couldn’t have in July. So that will be terrific.
It is a beautiful day outside and I have been sitting inside all morning. I volunteer for Wildlife ARC, a local organisation which cares for injured or distressed wildlife. So I am now off to walk the dog and enjoy this incredible day.
In April 2020 the Federal government granted Australia Post a temporary suspension of its service standards. These standards were around length of time it takes to deliver letters and mail delivery times in metropolitan areas.
It was supposed to be temporary. It was to apply until June 2021. Australia Post argued it was so that they could catch up with parcel delivery which had ben exacerbated by the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic. With shops closed and more people at home ordering on line goods Australia Post needed that time to get parcel delivery times back to normal.
Yet the situation has got worse not better. There is a significantly longer wait on parcel delivery and it is October and the mail is still being delivered every other day. This situation has to change. Australia Post has to get back to its core business.
It appears that we are being softened up to the privatisation of Australia Post. But this would be a disaster for rural and regional areas especially. It is a service we should be proud of. A service which reaches all Australians not just those who live in metropolitan Australia. It is owned by all Australian and is an essential service for all Australians.
Currently it cant just lop off non-profit making services, but we would have no say in a privatised postal service.
We must make our voices heard and ensure the Australia Post returns to its service obligations and that this government doesn’t use the cover of the pandemic to privatise Australia Post
Today I went for my usual walk. I decided to walk along the water to the football oval. I stopped at one of the public wharfs and saw a man in his canoe circling this black object sitting out of the water. I could not work out what it was and it was too far to get a decent photo. A man was putting in his kayak and told me it was a fur seal.
The seal or one of his mates had been visiting us at Saratoga for the last couple of years. He is most likely a male from a group who usually hang out at Barrenjoey.
It really made my day. I’ll make sure I look out for him again.
Poppy and I walk everyday and yesterday we visited the pool at Yattalunga. Poppy loves the water but only up to the bottom of her tummy.
It is a beautiful place to be in lock down and the weather has been fantastic. People are out enjoying picnics in the park, sunbaking on the pool deck and walking and riding their bikes. I have walked everyday for a number of years and I have never seen so many people enjoying the great outdoors.
While everything is good in the sunshine I can only wonder how awful it must be for people whose work and housing is precarious.
We are still stuck in Lock Down so I have been having a bit of fun with my kids by appearing in wonderful and very strange places. This ones for Kate.
There are 22 new COVID cases on the Central Coast today. Most were out and about while infectious. For Poppy and me that means continuing on our walks and discovering new sights. It would be nice to be travelling but obviously people continuing to travel is causing the virus to spread.
I know people are not as lucky as I am to have all this within 5 kilometres from home. I can even stop and get coffee. But I have not seen my family since early June. But I talk to them everyday and even managed to face time Katie accidently today.
Also we are 100% fully vaccinated. So my message to everybody is stay home, wear your mask and get vaccinated.
Australia has nearly two thousand threatened species. Some are drop dead beautiful like the little Greater Glider. Some are easy to love like koalas and the northern hairy nosed wombat, but some are a little less cute like the little Boggomoss Snail.
You can find the list of threatened species her at the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.
Habitat loss and climate change is the most direct threat to these beautiful and unique animals. The NSW Government has reduced funding to National Parks and have supported and increased habitat clearance.
Campaign for a Threatened Species
Well what can we to protect threatened species? Some ideas from me.
Champion an in danger species.
Pick one or two of the threatened species and learn everything about them. Then write to your environment ministers asking them to be protected. Tell you family, friends and acquaintances about the animals you have championed and ask for their help. Write letters, educate and raise money for local campaigns to save our threatened species.
You can always adopt a threatened species from an organisation like the WWF, but that’s just about you giving money to their campaign for threatened species. Make a difference and become active. Go and visit their habitat. Educate your community about your endangered species.
Of course there are other things we can do. And we can do them locally as well.
Contact me if you need help. But I’m going to champion the Dasyurus hallucatus or the Northern Quoll which is endangered because of habitat destruction and feral cat predation.
Than Saratoga. These photos are from Saratoga looking over the water to Woy Woy. This is the route the ferry takes from Woy Woy to Saratoga and back. On land it is the one I take when I am taking Poppy for a walk.
It was glorious today. The breeze off the water, these magnificent views and the mangroves and little secluded beaches that dot the waterways make this part of the world so special. The slight smoke haze from hazard reduction burns in Brisbane Water Natural Park.
After 30 years of living here it still takes my breath away. An hour and 15 minutes from the centre of Sydney is it any wonder that the area has be discovered by Sydney siders looking for an alternative life style.
She awoke flapping around like a wet fish. Emma fought her way back to some sort of cognition and realised she had had a fall. On her stomach heading down hill. And where was that bloody dog. The pain in her left shoulder was intense, although didn’t worry her right away. She had tripped and gone head and left shoulder first into a fence. Not just an ordinary fence but a brick one with metal inserts. God what were they trying to keep out. Emma struggled to sit up and saw the dog circling her, barking at some young men who had come to her assistance. A woman appeared and between them they called an ambulance.
For the second time in two years she found herself in the emergency ward of the local hospital. Scans MRI’s, old fashioned x-rays. Her face bloodied and bruised, cleaned up and glued back together. Despite being knocked out there was no concussion and she was allowed home. It was later in the week a telephone call from the emergency department informed her that her left shoulder was fractured. A scan showed the extent of the damage and the day after visiting the fracture clinic as the hospital she was in surgery with what she was told, was fairly complex surgery.
She loved the public hospital system, for all its faults and there are some, the food better have some nutritional value because it is disgusting, it has to be the best in the world. The surgeon she saw for about 5 minutes. But he was not any old surgeon, he was the superman of shoulder surgery. Using the latest in pain management. Tall and good looking to boot. She was sure that if had leisure time he did something cool. Emma thought he might surf but mixed martial arts sounds a better fit. And that’s all she needed to know. She didn’t want her bubbles bursting.
Emma awoke this time somewhat euphoric, not in all dancing and singing way, but just relaxed, not worried about the past or future but just the nice slow, drowsy present. She was aware of her surroundings and a dull throb in my shoulder. But there was nothing to be fearful of. In retrospect, the drugs were doing their job. All was going along as it should until discharge the following day. There was some delay in gathering all her drugs to take home so she found herself being wheeled into the “Transit Lounge”.
Images of a futuristic bar in some galactic pit stop leapt into her mind. Like in a Star Wars movie. Giant glass windows looking out onto a foreign universe. Populated by a diverse range of creatures of different sizes and shape. Space craft of all sizes whizzing around, some coming some going.
Or maybe an art deco hotel in Paris in the 30’s, the Salle de Transit, a world of spies and glamour, intrigue and romance. Of refugees and Army Officers. Of emigres and titles. People coming and going, uncertainty about the future. Who would still be there the next night? Flight, exile, death. All possible, most unknown. A man and a woman elegantly dressed, drinking champagne from those shallow wide brimmed glasses called coupes. The wait staff in the crisp white and black uniforms topping up drinks and taking orders. Men in uniform. People watching people. Images from an Alan Furst novel keep entering her head.
Instead she found myself in a rather large spare bits cupboard. It was a square room with no windows. It was full of chairs which looked like this was their second or third home. All colours all shapes. There were four men, sitting in chairs on the left of the room and another man on a trolley to her right.
There were two nurses behind a barrier to the front of the room. There was a TV, and a toilet. No public policy imperatives to spend any money on the room, to make it calming or relaxing. They were either waiting, like her, for drugs, or to be picked up, like the guy on the trolley who was waiting for an ambulance to return him to his nursing home.
But it was warm and the large green chair was surprisingly comfortable and as she relaxed into her chair and the murmur of the men’s conversation washed over her, she went to sleep. And dreamed of where she had been.
Save the Great Barrier Reef
This is my reminder to myself and anybody else who will listen that to save important Eco-systems we must act on Climate Change NOW.
Pretty In Pink
If you love walking and fantastic views then this is the place for you. The park stretches just north of the Hawkesbury River and to Gosford and the adjacent coast. It takes in the pretty township of Patonga and these photos were taken on the headland above Patonga.
There are lots of easy walks in the park and some difficult ones. These photos were taken not 20 metres from my car so its great for those that find walking difficult. From now till summer the wildflowers put on a bit of a show. These are some of the early ones.
Cliffside Path, Isle of Capri, ItalyCliffside Path, Isle of Capri, Italy
I forgot the photo. My comments make a lot more sense when you see this great photo that was on Lucas Odom’s blog
One of the nice things about being a blogger is you wake in the morning and get overwhelmed with all the wonderful photos fellow bloggers have put up while you were sleeping.
It is nice to see that the world keeps turning when you are in lock down.
In 1981 the Great Barrier Reef was listed as World Heritage. It was in the same year the then Liberal Government of Malcolm Fraser established the Human Rights Commission. Both enduring and significant acts of a Liberal government.
UNESCO are due to meet about whether to place the Great Barrier Reef as “in Danger’ but this Liberal government is attempting to stop that proposal going ahead. Whether it does or doesn’t it is testimony to the fact that this government plays politics even with the most important of decisions.
Regardless of UNESCO’s decision it doesn’t alter the fact that the Great Barrier Reef is IN DANGER.
Only we the Australian people can save the Reef because our government wont. We must demand action on climate change now.
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot With a pink hotel, a boutique, and a swinging hot spot Don't it always seem to go That you don't know what you got 'til it's gone They paved paradise and put up a parking lot (Joni Mitchell Yellow Taxi 1970)
I am old enough to remember when the Liberal National Parties had actual conservationists in their ranks. People who would have cared that the Great Barrier Reef was in danger due to climate change. But they all now sit on the cross bench’s as Independents.
We can no longer believe that the current Federal Government cares at all about Climate Change. The only thing to make them care is not to vote for them.
Four years ago Kate and I were getting organised for our visit to Scotland, London, Paris and Berlin. Today it feels like a dream. I fell in love with Paris and would love to go back. But that is all a bit academic at the moment.
At the moment I can’t even travel outside the Central Coast and who knows when lock down will end. But I did managed to get fully vaccinated and have even got my flu shot. We have postponed Katie’s birthday celebrations and hoping we will get out of lock down to celebrate a dual birthday party with her brother Ben.
I’m planning my trip through western NSW and looking at places to stay and things to do and sights to visit. I don’t know when I will be going but hopefully soon.
I had my second vaccination for Astra Zeneca yesterday so all good to go but where? Well nowhere really until the COVID numbers come down in Sydney. So back to living like a hermit although there isn’t a lot of difference really to the way I live all the time.
Looking forward to getting back on the road again. I thought I might go and visit the west of NSW. Living by the ocean we forget that there is a whole wonderful part of Australia that most people never visit.
Coonabarabran to Moree to Walgett and Lightning Ridge and to Bourke. On the way back through Cobar, Nyngan and Dubbo. Need to do it soonish before it gets too hot.
I cant wait.
ACT NOW ON CLIMATE CHANGE
We can not afford to wait for the Australian Government to act on climate change. We must demand they act in the interests of our young people and commit to reaching the Paris Agreement of 1.5 % increase in temperature.
We are reading in our newspapers daily about the death of glaciers in Europe, wildfires in California and record breaking temperatures in the Pacific north-west.
We must act today!
Save the Reef
Gaslighting is a term that is used to describe behaviour used by one person to make another doubt their own sense of reality. Although it was coined as early as 1936 in a play called Gas Light where a husband used systemic, psychological manipulation on his wife to convince her and others that she was insane, it has come into regular use now because of a couple of different trends.(Thanks Wikipedia).
We hear the word a lot nowadays to describe political campaigning and also around the debate on coercive control as a form of domestic violence. It is a term that although used to describe the behaviour of politicians like Bill Clinton, and of Vladimir Putin, it is a term most commonly associated with Donald Trump.
All politicians use gaslighting as a political tool. Some are highly skilled at it. All politicians want us to believe in them and their policies. But it does rely on a few things to be successful.
The main one is a disengaged electorate. People often say to me that for more people to be engaged in politics the education system needs to improve its teaching of whatever we are talking about at the time. But I believe that the education system does a good job. There is nothing really wrong with the way they teach civics and the like in our schools.
But people who engage in politics do not seem to recognise that just not everyone is interested as them. There are whole lots of people who are so involved in living their own lives they just want to hear or read the news and that’s where their level of engagement is at. And there is nothing wrong with that. The political system in Australia is complex. There are three levels of government, two houses in some state and not others, two house in the Federal system. There are multiple voting systems which apply and different government are responsible for different things except when they are not. It can be horribly confusing for an initiate let along a novice.
The secret to gaslighting is to state your position early and often and with lots of confusing “facts”. So that anybody trying to argue with you has to first deal with all the confusing “facts”. Of course the best gas lighters just lie. They take a statement with just a grain of truth in it and turn everything on that one inconsequential grain. The media buy into it because even if you know the facts are you going to call a politician a liar to their face.
This is precisely what the government has done with the UNESCO deliberations about putting the Great Barrier Reef on the in danger list.
The Government insists that everything is hunky dory and no government has invested more in time and resources to protect the Great Barrier Reef. This is the great big lie. The lie that is so big people who are just listening to politics as it goes by them on the radio or the TV hear first. Nobody says it a lie and would a government really lie about something so important? And we are talking about a committee of an UN body and a Chinese person chairs that committee. So it must be true. Its a conspiracy.
But its not true. None of it. There have been multiple reports and research projects into the reef, some done by the federal government that says the reef is in a poor or very poor state. UNESCO may have listed the reef in danger in 2016, but for some last minute lobbying by Australia and a promise to do better in future.
This is an extract from the cover page the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority sent to Susan Ley, Minster for the Environment with their 2019 Report on the Health of the Reef.
“While the Great Barrier Reef is retaining its outstanding universal value as a World Heritage Area, its integrity is being increasingly challenged. Cumulative pressures, predominantly from climate change, combined with the time required for the recovery of key habitats, species and ecosystem processes, have caused the continued deterioration of the overall health of the Great Barrier Reef. The accumulation of impacts, through time and over an increasing area, is reducing its ability to recover from disturbances, with implications for Reef-dependent communities and industries.
Even with the recent management initiatives to reduce threats and improve resilience, the overall outlook for the Great Barrier Reef is very poor.
These findings will be best addressed through timely and coordinated action across governments, industries and the community to address climate change, improve water quality and strengthen effective on-ground management actions. “
The reality is that the government knows about the damage that is being done to the reef. It knows climate change is the single biggest threat to the continued existence of the reef. And what are they doing? It was even tabled in the House of Representatives. So all MP’s should know.
They are Gaslighting the Reef
Today here are some facts about how wonderful, unique and big the Great Barrier Reef is. If you want to know more just follow the links.
The Great Barrier Reef is unique as it extends over 14 degrees of latitude, from shallow estuarine areas to deep oceanic waters. Within this vast expanse are a unique range of ecological communities, habitats and species – all of which make the Reef one of the most complex natural ecosystems in the world. (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority).
The Reef comprises 400 different species of coral, 4000 different species of mollusc, and many other kinds of invertebrates. There are 500 species of seaweed, 16 species of sea snake, 1500 species of fish, and 215 bird species, plus dugong and sea turtles.
Individual reefs are of two main types: platform reefs formed from radial growths, and wall reefs resulting from elongated growths, often in areas of strong water currents.
There are also fringing reefs on sub-tidal rock of the main coastline or continental islands. Each reef has a thin layer of living coral capping a structure made up mainly of calcareous sand and rubble from the breakdown and consolidation of coral and other skeletal material.
Many of the present reef areas were once hills on a former coastal plain, and these became islands when the water level rose after the last Ice Age, to be colonised by coral polyps. Each coral polyp lives inside a shell of aragonite (calcium carbonate), and the shells of dead coral are eventually cemented together and covered with more calcium carbonate, from encrusting calcareous algae. The polyps can only grow in shallow warm water, less than about 30 m depth and water temperatures above about 18° C. (Australian Museum).
UNESCO the body responsible for identifying places of world significance wants to place the Great Barrier Reef on the in danger list. A responsible government should have known this was coming. In 2015 UNESCO considered doing this but a lobbying effort by Australia and other countries saw it postponed.
The government says it has been blind-sided by this decision. It has not. It was inevitable. The Federal Government always looks for a political fix never the solution. They will blame everyone except themselves.
A natural phenomenon as iconic to Australia as that other great natural landmark Uluru is being allowed to die because of inaction by the Federal Government.
The Great Barrier Reef was World Heritage listed in 1981. It has been described as one of the seven natural wonders of the world. It stretches for 3000 kilometres from Bundaberg in the south to the Cape York in the north. It attracts millions of tourists a year to see the colorful corals and the diverse marine and bird life that live in and around the coral.
The Great Barrier Reef is dying. Climate Change and run off from land based industry has caused unprecedented bleaching of the coral. We must act now. Not only will the coral die but so too all the diverse wildlife that depends on it. And a wonderful colorful piece of the planet, a place which surpasses all the images of it, where you can experience nature in a big and bold fantastic dance, will die and our lives will so much poorer for it.
We must do everything we can to save this iconic and magnificent natural wonder.
I stopped at Lake Bolac on my way north. I had been through here many of times when I was younger. But I think this was the first time I stopped to look at the lake. Before Europeans arrived Lake Bolac was a meeting place for many of the Indigenous clans of the region. They met to celebrate and share the work and feast on the eels which inhabited Lake Bolac. Thousands of Indigenous people were observed at Lake Bolac in the early days of European colonisation.
Apparently, there were permanent shelters around the lake, so it is likely that people had lived here for many, many thousands of years.
Lake Bolac was recently in the news because a careless farmer removed rocks from a large eel shaped formation on land just outside the town. The stone arrangement known as Kooyang (short finned eel) had about 60 metres of its tail removed in April 2021.
There is not much to see at Rossbridge but it is important to me personally. In February 1863, there was a tragedy which is marked by a memorial. Four children died in a fire in a shepherds hut. John Keith MacDougall, poet, writer and founding member of the Australian Labor Party in Victoria, fenced off the site and in 1981 The Ararat Historical Society along with the family, my family erected a memorial.
The four Murphy children who died, John 9, William 6, Elizabeth 4, and Michael 2 years old were the children of my 2nd Great Grand Parents Michael and Catherine Murphy. My Great Grand Father John William was born in 1865. It is likely that Catherine was pregnant with Mary Ann who was born in 1863. It must have been deeply traumatic for Catherine and Michael. In her later years Catherine was supposed to have stated that she have suffered her purgatory on earth and surely would go straight to heaven. Of the 11 children that Catherine and Michael had only 3, including my great grandfather survived to adulthood.
John Keith MacDougall was a poet and farmer and politician who went on to become the Labor Member for Wannon. He was painfully shy and a romantic and he let his writing do his talking for him.
Part One: A journey Back in Time
I very recently visited my sister and brother who both live in Cobden.
My sister and her partner are planning a trip to Central Australia later this month. I went to Warrnambool with them to pick up a few things at the local BCF. I haven’t been to Warrnambool for many years. We drove around the foreshore which had been badly hit by heavy seas the week before. The smell of sea weed was pretty intense so we didn’t stop.
The last time I had driven the Great Ocean Road from Peterborough to Princetown it had been wall to wall tourists. The pandemic has seen numbers greatly reduced. There was one other car when we stopped at Peterborough and a lone fisherperson on the beach where my brothers and I had fished as kids. Although I had always been more interested in day dreaming than fishing. The Schomburg was wrecked here at the mouth of the Curdies River, Boxing Day 1855. The Captain James “Bully” Forbes had quite the story to tell.
Princetown was always a wonderful adventure when were kids. We had the place to ourselves. You would have to park and walk through the sand along the shores of the Gellibrand River to the sea. The width of the river at this spot was dependent on access to the ocean and it would occasionally flow into the sea at incredible speed. It was forever changing and was a place of wonder. Not far from here is Gibson’ Steps. Even today a long and treacherous decent to the sandy beach. For me always a place of awe and adventure.
The road that leads inland was our local road. Where the reeds grow close to the road I had seen a tiger snake there on more than one occasion. Thankfully I was in a car at the time. But I suspect there were plenty around.
A little further on is a Pony Club carved out of the bush where we rode our horses to and back. It was a long ride. We would always look forward to riding through the forest, me trotting along on my little pony, along sandy tracks and the occasional jump that even my pony could manage. It was magical and you could imagine yourself all alone in this fantastic world.
Hell or Melbourne
This is the motto of the Captain of the Marco Polo, James “Bully” Forbes. He became famous in Australia and England in 1852 when as Captain of the Marco Polo, he broke the record for the quickest time to travel from Liverpool to Port Phillip. He made the journey in 68 days, which was remarkable for the time. He had 900 passengers on board. Nearly all were highland Scots who were, in a wonderful irony, being displaced by sheep in the highlands and islands of Scotland to be sent to Australia to tend the sheep of the squatters.
The most wonderful part is that a lot of the squatters were in fact Scottish themselves. But things would be a little different in Australia.
The Marco Polo was initially a cargo ship. It was converted to take passengers. In fact it was historic for a number of reasons the Marco Polo. Nearly 100 people died on the way out, many were children who died of measles. It was by all accounts a miserable journey. Sanitation was non existent, the highlanders were enclosed in damp, stinking and rancid accommodation. Faecal matter and urine seeped through the upper decks soaking the highlanders.
Captain Bully Forbes used the Roaring Forties to maximise speed. The Roaring Forties were the easterly winds that roared out of the southern ocean. The captains of these ships would sail down the coast of Africa and after reaching Cape Town, the bravest like Forbes, would sail deep into the southern ocean to make use of the winds. It was the subject of much bravado in the pubs of Liverpool and Port Phillip.
For these tiny vessels sailed into the biggest wilderness on the planet, where no man lived and where the smallest and largest of creatures had existed for millennia. Where the winds and currents brought the coldest water to the surface of the ocean and phytoplankton turned the water green so that great mountains of water blue, green, and grey would break over the little ships and send water through every opening in the decks, breaking off hinges and near drowning the passengers crammed between decks.
If they had of been allowed on deck they would have seen as they crested a wave, the valleys and hills of this watery world. The noise of the wind, the crash of the waves, the scream of the sails and the humming of rope and gear a terrifying soundtrack.
What they couldn’t have known that a giant ice block, adrift from the vast shelf, its roots deep in the freezing waters, invisible in the mist and dark of an Antarctic spring could send them to the bottom , or a late cold snap could see them embayed in the ice until all aboard starved. Captain Forbes tried unsuccessfully to break his own record but it was not to be. By the time he was in charge of the Schomberg, the gold rush was in full swing and there were far more paying customers. The Schomberg left Liverpool for Melbourne on 6 October 1855 and was wrecked off a reef off Peterborough on 26 December 1855.
Captain Forbes who if witnesses are to be believed was still celebrating Christmas over drinks and cards with a couple of the female passengers ignored the warnings from his crew that he was too close to shore. The passengers sued the company believing that Forbes in a fit of pique, he let the ship sink, because of the slowness of the voyage.
Although he was absolved of blame because the sandbar was not charted he ended up down and out in Calcutta for a while before getting the Captaincy of General Wyndham.
Menindee is just over a thousand kilometres north west of Sydney. It is fed by the Barka/Darling River. It is culturally and environmentally important. The Barkindji gaining Native Title rights in 2015, but to the land not the water of the Barka. It is an important habitat for birds and fish species when it is in flood.
This is photo I took while camped at Lake Pamamaroo near the town of Menindee, NSW. I have always wanted to go here. When I was a young environmental activist it was a dream of mine to visit sometime. I finally did it. Just me and my dog Poppy. Its a long way from anywhere and a bit scary when your on your own. But now i have been once, I want to go again. It is quite magical.
The water is still flowing into Lake Pamamaroo. It is amazing to think that this water has come from tropical rain many thousands of kilometres away in southern Queensland.
This is what the country looks like from Broken Hill to Menindee. The main features in this part of the drive are the dead kangaroos beside the road and the dozens of crows attracted to the roadkill.
Mistletoe is a parasitic plant growing on another plant using the water and nutrients of its host. This little Mistletoe was everywhere where I was camped. It provides a bit of colour in the landscape.
I am re-publishing this story, because of the recent news about the Federal Government opening up an area near this spot for gas exploration. The story is of a wonderful adventure I went on with my Dad , Marko, his friend, Fred, and my two brothers Stephen and Mark.
Gibson’s Steps and the Great Ocean Road have changed dramatically since this adventure. It would have been in the mid 1970’s I guess. But it is still an area of outstanding beauty and on its day wild fury.
It was my back yard when I was a young person. I can remember sitting on a cliff watching the waters form giant whirlpools while the next day I could scramble down to a tiny sandy beach. It was always magical and absolutely awe inspiring.
Gas exploration has no business being anywhere near here.
Dad would occasionally take the boys out fishing, for crayfish usually. He went out with a neighbour, Fred, a quiet man from memory.
Crazy stuff, fishing alongside the Apostles, riding mighty waves powered by the southern swells. My brothers told me of a time returning early, trying to outrace a fast moving storm, their boat had rode a huge wave that brought them safely to harbour.
I wish I had listened to the stories more, because they were full of playful dolphins and pesky sharks. Of rogue waves and giant rock stacks. Of danger and adventure. But it happened mostly at night time and the stories took on a dream like state. Although the crayfish were very real. Dad would put them in the old concrete sinks in the laundry.
But today he was going to “the beach” and I was invited. I jumped at the chance. I think “the beach” was for mum’s sake, to ease her anxiety and give her a false sense of security. I was excited. I don’t think I had been fishing with dad since we had been out on the Wacol after Murray cod.
I was still thinking about a nice day at the beach when we arrived at Gibson’s Steps. Today the steps are made out of timber and concrete and as long as you’re fit anyone can make it down and back. Back then, they were carved out of the cliff face. There were definitely steps, in places, no hand rails and sometimes you were a footstep away from disaster. The fall may have been on to sand but it was a long way down.
They had been named after Gibson, owner of Glenample Station during the middle part of the 19 Century. The beach and steps probably had a much older name but I can find no record of that now.
It was low tide and it was a pleasant walk along the beach. The reef was on our left as we walked towards the very end of the beach. It was a beautiful day. Made more beautiful because we were the only ones there. There was a gentle breeze and the sun was shining.
We had learnt never to take the conditions of this coastline for granted. We never swam in the ocean except at Port Campbell, off the beach and the pier. We swam in the river not far from here. But never at the beach. Currents converging into a rip that roared into the southern ocean. Someone had died there when I was young. A visitor, a local wouldn’t have swum there. A tragedy for some family. But people I knew had died underestimating the sea. Washed away while fishing high up on the cliffs.
Beaches were for sightseeing and fishing. We had reached the end of the beach and we entered another world. At some stage in the past water had carved a tunnel through the limestone cliff.
Much as the ocean had formed the Apostles that brought the tourists, it was in the process of creating another. The tunnel was long and could only be accessed at low tide. It had a gate on the eastern side. To keep out the foxes I was told.
We entered the tunnel, no light, and pitch dark. The floor was sandy and there was plenty of room. We pretty quickly saw light coming from the other end. You just had to hold your breath and not think about rogue waves or earth tremors.
Out the other side, it was a scramble over some rocks and small beaches only visible at low tide. The cliffs, sheer, 100 metres tall, no escape there, just had to hurry now. There was nothing to hold the water back when it came. The beaches sloped down into the water. We raced towards rocks above the water line and a small beach protected by the rocks.
I was a bit late rounding the last point but luckily just got wet, just had nowhere else to go. Could see it coming, thought I had time, but it just got bigger and bigger. The wave smacked into me. Luckily we had a change of clothes.
Dad and his mate disappeared to fish and left us three kids to entertain ourselves. Dad and Fred were after crayfish and it probably didn’t matter to them if they caught any. The exhilaration of fishing in a place no one knew about was enough.
There were lots of little footprints in the sand and we discovered pretty quickly that they belonged to the Little Penguins. Despite us meaning them no harm the few that were out and about quickly retreated to their homes in the rocks and we entertained ourselves for a short time by sticking our fingers into their homes and getting them bitten.
We didn’t know then that for the Little Penguin life was pretty tough on the mainland of Australia. Predation by foxes, dogs and cats had made life precarious, which explained the gate at the entrance. But for a few hours we spent happily sun baking, exploring, and eating our sandwiches. In a short time evidence of our visit would be all gone and the Little Penguins would reappear to go fishing.
When the tide turned we made our way out. You get a sense of just how violent this coast is, even on this calm and sunny day. We were nearly at the tunnel entrance and one of my brothers decided to risk the ocean side of a large rock and ended up to his neck in the sea water that had remained as the tide had receded. Both funny and terrible at the same time.
The tunnel no longer exists. It would not be safe for the millions of tourists that come to see this wild and wonderful coastline. The Little Penguins can continue to flourish on their rock covered beaches without the presence of foxes, cats and dogs and humans. And I can be thankful to my Dad and Fred for giving me a most wonderful adventure.
I am going to install Solar on the van. There are some things I am going to have to ask the experts about. Like, just how much wattage I need for a small fridge, some lighting, a small stove and backing up my phone and laptop. So I would welcome any suggestions.
I am a sixty something year old woman. I have spent a large part of my life involved in progressive politics. I got quite sick a few years ago and although I still have an interest in politics, politics has lost its interest in me. So I’m going to embrace the invisibility that my age and gender have given me and head out in my van, with my dog Poppy and enjoy the freedom of it all. I will be blogging my adventures starting at the beginning so join me.
Whilst I am yet to get started in my new life, I have been camping out in places I find of interest. I might just give you a taste of that as Poppy and I get set for our adventures.
My favourite photo from my trip to the Menindee Lakes
Yesterday I was walking along a pretty well worn track along the water. There are quite a few houses fronting on to a reserve. Unfortunately the reserve is home to a lot of weeds.
There are little tussocks of dianella with its tiny blue flowers which grows pretty well here. But I saw this little native orchid amongst all the weeds.
For the last few months I have been volunteering for a wildlife rescue organisation. It has been both rewarding and educative.
Rewarding because you get to help save native wildlife from birds of every type to snakes, echidnas, wallabies and even a sting ray. And of course meeting all the carers and rescuers who look after wildlife.
Educative because I am learning heaps about our wildlife and the things we can do to make things a bit better for them.
Here is me helping rescue a sting ray. The following was on Wildlife ARC Facebook page.
“Something a little different than usual……
Monday afternoon, one of our wildlife A.R.C members Sue, was walking her dog along the waterfront reserve at Yattalunga.
She had stopped to look at some of the work a bushcare regenerator had been doing when She spotted something flapping in the water. As She approached, She saw it was a estuary ray, sitting among the oyster beds.
She spoke to Nathan, who was there doing the bushcare regeneration and he said it was the second time it had beached itself.
She then called on the wonderful knowledge of the Wildlife ARC community and was given a number for Sea Shelter.
While waiting for more help to arrive, she was concerned that it if she lost sight of the ray, it could get lost among the mangroves and would suffer a terrible fate from its injuries out there on it’s own, so what did she do? She waded into the water and stood with the ray.
Eventually after over an hour of watching over him like a guardian angel, a rescuer from Sea Shelter arrived to help get the injured ray into care for treatment.
The rescuer placed the ray in a small toy swimming pool and Nathan walked the ray about 200 metres in the mangrove mud to a nearby boat ramp.
The Ray was taken into care and we are thrilled to hear he is alive and getting the much needed treatment he deserves.”