History Books : Part Two : Australian Prehistory

In my last post, I discussed some of my favourite general books on archaeology and the prehistory of mankind. Today, I am focusing on Australian Prehistory, beginning with three books by the celebrated paleobotanist, Mary E White. The Greening of Gondwana and After the Greening are the first two books of her trilogy on the evolution of Australia, the continent and its biota, over 400 million years, the third volume being Listen.. Our Land is Crying. They are all beautiful hardback publications with luscious glossy photographs by Jim Frazier! I am only discussing the first two, as those are the books we own.

The Greening of Gondwana by Mary E White  Third Edition 1998

This book tells the story of Australia’s floral heritage from the earliest times, when all life was aquatic; the emergence of the first land plants, 400 million years ago; and the evolution of Australia’s modern flora and the Gondwanan broad-leaf conifer forests, when Australia finally separated from Antarctica 45 million years ago and moved northward.

There are over 400 wonderful photographs of fossils and living plants, as well as palaeographic maps, artist’s drawings and diagram and tables (Geological eras; Linnaean plant classification; Evolution of the plant kingdom; Australia’s fossil pollen record; and Fossil age and locality).

Part One starts with a description of the rocks of the earth’s crust; the dawn of life; the first unicellular life forms: the Western Australian stromatolites (fossil reefs of cyanobacteria, 3 500 million years old) and unicellular algae; and the formation of plant fossils (macro-fossils and microscopic spores and pollen).

The book then goes on to discuss the theories of continental drift and plate tectonics; Australia’s Gondwanan heritage; and the evolution of an Australian flora from the ancestral Gondwanan flora, which developed in isolation for 30 million years without any significant input from migrants, despite Australia’s proximity to South-East Asia.

While Eucalypts and Acacias predominate, 80 per cent of all the plant species and 30 per cent of Australia’s genera are endemic, accounting for the distinctive Australian character of the flora: its leathery, hard, spiny or reduced leaves, an adaptation to the low nutrient status of the Australian soils and the dry arid conditions called scleromorphy, these plants being called sclerophylls.

Australian plants also have many adaptations to fire: thick insulating protective bark or the shedding of outer layers of bark, so there is no build up of inflammable matter; new buds produced along the length of the stem after fire has destroyed the crown of the tree and underground lignotubers; and hard woody fruits and seeds, which can survive intense heat and often need the stimulus of fire to burst open and start to grow.

Part Two examines Australia’s fossil record in detail:

Life in the early seas (Cambrian, Ordovician and Early to Mid Silurian times);

First land plants of the Late Silurian and Early Devonian periods;

Giant club mosses of the Late Devonian and early Carboniferous periods;

Primitive seed ferns of the mid to late Carboniferous and early Permian years;

Glossopteris flora of the Permian period, when cool temperate swamps formed the early coal deposits and early gingkos, cycad ancestors, conifers and tree ferns were abundant;

Dicroidium flora of the Triassic period;

Age of the Conifers and the cycads of the Jurassic period;

Dawn of the Angiosperms (or Flowering Plants) in the Cretaceous Era;   and

The sequence of events in the Gondwanan breakup and its effect on the flora.

Australia became an ark with a living cargo of Gondwanan plants (predominated by flowering plants) and animals (marsupials, monotremes, large monitors, penguins and emus, parrots and frogmouths, pollinating honeyeaters, Southern Frogs and Side-Necked Turtles) during the Tertiary period, moving northward and having no outside contact for 30 million years.

Specific families are discussed in the book:

Antarctic Beeches Fagaceae (genus Nothofagus);

Winteraceae, one of the most primitive angiosperm families alive today, which includes native pepper Tasmannia;

Proteaceae (Banksia, Proteas and Leucospermum, Persoonia, Telopea, and Macadamia);

Casuarinaceae (She-oaks, Desert Oaks and River-Oaks);

Myrtaceae (Eucalyptus, Leptospermums, Baeckea, Syzgium and Angophoras);

Salt bushes Chenopodiaceae;

Mistletoes Loranthaceae; and

Wattles of Mimosaceae (genus Acacia).

The final chapters discuss Australia’s modern flora from the Quarternary period on, including vegetation types and a map (alpine, rainforest, wet sclerophyll, dry sclerophyll, woodlands, mallee woodlands and scrub, mulga scrub, desert and semi-desert, salt-bush scrub, grasslands and mangroves), as well as a brief mention of the intrusion of northern plants and animals, which came with man, especially after European colonization.BlogPreHxBooksReszd20%Image (591)

After the Greening: The Browning of Australia  by Mary E White 1994

This book continues the story of Australia’s prehistory and the geological processes behind the rifting (160 to 45 million years ago), drifting (15 to 2.4 million years ago) and drying (2.4 million years ago to today) of the continent to become the driest vegetated continent on Earth.

Two thirds of the land is classed as arid and half is desert, yet it supports an amazing variety of desert-adapted fauna and flora. The last 2.4 million years are particularly significant, as they represent the Age of Man and a time when icecaps had a profound effect on the physical landscapes, climate and biota of Australia.

Aboriginal Australians arrived around 60 000 year ago, but the most dramatic changes have occurred over the past 200 years since European settlement, completely unbalancing our delicate ecological balance through grazing; clearing; and the introduction of feral rabbits, goats, horses, donkeys, pigs, buffalo, camels, cats and foxes, not to mention garden escapees and weeds.

The formation of the Great Dividing Range, Australia’s river system, the Murray Basin, the Great Artesian Basin, Nullabor Desert, Ayers Rock and the Olgas is covered, along with the adaptation of Australian flora to the changing climate; ancient weathered soils; droughts and flooding rain; fire; and salt.

The last part of the book discusses Australia’s vegetation regions in detail, as well as future challenges. Again, there is so much information, supported by beautiful colour photographs, maps, tables and diagrams.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%Image (590)

The final book in the trilogy: Listen.. Our Land is Crying examines Australia’s environmental problems: land and water degradation, increased salinisation and desertification, decreasing biodiversity and habitat destruction, water pollution, the greenhouse effect and feral weeds and animals, suggesting possible solutions and highlighting the amazing unique wonders of our continent. While we don’t own this final book, we do have another of her glossy geological books:

Time in Our Hands : Semi-Precious Gemstones: Keys to the Geological Past by Mary E White 1991, which covers many of her previous topics, but mainly concentrates on the semi-precious gemstones of Lune River, Tasmania: the agates, onyx, carnelian and jasper, all forms of quartz gemstones made from silica dioxide, as well as petrified conifers and tree-ferns.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%Image (592)

Now for some excellent books on aboriginal prehistory!  One of the earliest  books on Aboriginal origins and culture was the first edition of John Mulvaney’s The Prehistory of Australia in 1969, with a second edition in 1975. The following book is the third edition with substantial changes in content, while still retaining the orientation and much of the original structure of the earlier books, when Mulvaney was the sole author. John Mulvaney is one of Australia’s foremost prehistorians and John Kamminga, an expert on Aboriginal stone technology.

Prehistory of Australia by John Mulvaney and Johan Kamminga 1999

A very comprehensive guide to the Australian aborigines and their traditional way of life.

Chapters cover the following topics:

Diversity of surviving traces: Surface artefacts; shell middens; caves and rock shelters; earth mounds; ceremonial mounds and rock arrangements; stone and ochre quarries; rock art sites; stone hunting-hides and bird and fish traps; scarred trees; hatchet-head grinding localities; and human burials;

Dating the past;

Changing Australian landscapes: Topography, climate, vegetation, cleaning the land, fire-stick farming, water resources and carrying capacity of the land;

People, language and society: Population estimates, language groups, social organization, the Dreaming; and culture areas;

Subsistence and reciprocity: Mobility and seasonality; Animal and plant food: bulbs and tubers, starch extraction, seeds and the farming debate; Material culture : travelling light, hunting weapons, skin cloaks, bone and stone implements, and stone hatchets; Reciprocity and cultural diffusion; and Aboriginal trade in pituri and greenstone;

Seafarers from Sundaland (South East Asia and Indonesia) to Sahul (the super-continent of Australia and Papua New Guinea) during the fluctuating sea levels of Pleistocene;

Extinction of the Mega-Fauna;

Initial colonization, migration theories and Pleistocene settlement: Kow Swamp, Lake Mungo and Tasmania;

Conquest of the deserts: Willandra Lakes; Lake Mungo; Menindee Lakes; Lake Eyre; Nullabor caves; the Pilbara region; and Central Australia;

Pleistocene artefacts : Wood, bone, and stone tools;

Holocene stone tool innovations;

Coastal aborigines: Kakadu; Aurukun and Weipa; South-East Queensland; Sydney; South Coast of NSW; and South-Western Australia;

Regional challenges and responses: The Snowy Mountains; Murray River societies; the arid zones; trade and exchange networks; and technological developments;

Island settlement of the offshore islands and Tasmania;  and a major section on

Rock Art:

  • Panaramitee style of engraving from western NSW to Eastern South Australia and northwards to Alice Springs;
  • Simple figurative motifs of South-eastern Australia: Simple outlines or stick figures with solid or linear infills and simple geometric designs and stencilling                     eg the Southern Highlands and the Grampians;
  • Engravings and pigment art of the Sydney region;
  • Art of Tropical Australia:

1. South-East Cape York: Laura: Quinkan country and Jowalbinna: engravings and painted figurative and non-figurative art; and Koolburra Plateau;

2. Kakadu National Park: Succession of styles and X-ray painting;

3. The Pilbara: Burrup Peninsula engravings;

4. Victoria River District;

5. Kimberley region: Bradshaw figures and Wandjina paintings;

6. Asian and European Newcomers: the Trepang industry; Macassan sites; Chinese and Arab traders; and the Portuguese and Dutch explorers;

This book is an indispensable guide to aboriginal prehistory, especially if travelling around Australia, which we did in 2008!BlogPreHxBooksReszd30%Image (614)

We found the next set of books by Josephine Flood, another prominent archaeologist, very useful in our travels as well:

The Original Australians: Story of the Aboriginal People  by Josephine Flood 2006

This book tells the story of Australian Aboriginal history and culture from their distant beginnings to the present day. She writes for the general public and uses history and culture to answer some of the major questions about the genetic origins of the First Australians; their lifestyle, culture, religion and beliefs; their impact on the megafauna and the Australian environment; and modern problems, including the stolen generation; land rights; the challenges of contemporary aboriginal communities (lower mortality, poverty, poor health, education, alcoholism and drugs etc) and future directions.

Chapters cover:

European discovery of Australia and encounters between the aborigines and Dutch explorers, Macassan traders and Captain Cook;

European colonization and its impact on the original inhabitants, including disease, kidnapping, the treatment of women, confrontation and conflict and severe depopulation between 1820 and 1920;

Indigenous life at first contact: Spirituality; totemism and animism; the Dreaming; Songlines; oral traditions; language (of which there were 250 different language groups); medicine men and women healers; shamans and sorcerers; childhood; initiation ceremonies; marriage and sex; other ceremonies, burials and fertility cults; the wisdom of the elders; law and order; and economy and exchange networks;

Aboriginal origins over the past 50 000 years: Physical characteristics; patterns of settlement; climate change; environmental impacts: the extinction of megafauna and use of the firestick; new technologies and diets; rock art; and language; and

Assimilation and modern day problems and challenges.

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Archaeology of the Dreamtime: The Story of Prehistoric Australia and Its People by Josephine Flood 1995

This book covers many of the above topics.

Part One examines stone and bone tools; the first boat people; routes to Australia; migration; life and death at Lake Mungo; the Australoids of Keilor, Kow Swamp and Willandra Lakes; genetic evidence; the peopling of Australia; early sites throughout Australia; Pleistocene rock art: petroglyphs (engravings) and rock paintings, with a discussion of all the major art sites in Australia; and the extinction of megafauna.

Part Two looks at climate changes and rising sea levels; the arrival of the dingo; food resources: Bogong moths; yams; eels and fish traps; processing toxic cycads; and aboriginal trade, religion and art over the past 1000 years.

At the back is a reference list of all the different Pleistocene artefacts, their location and dates.

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The Riches of Ancient Australia: An Indispensable Guide for Exploring Prehistoric Australia by Josephine Flood 1990

This book certainly lived up to the claim of its subtitle, especially on our 2008 travels around Australia, although we discovered that many of the sites described were no longer accessible to the public, due to cultural sensitivities, and many had a policy of ‘No Photography’. After a brief introduction to Australian prehistory over the last 60 000 years and a discussion of Australian rock art, each state is explored in detail.

We used this book at the following places:

Queensland :

1.Lark Quarry dinosaur footprints

2.Cape York:

Quinkan country at Laura:

The Gugu Yalangi Galleries;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_4742BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_4828BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_4814 Split Rock;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_5029 Giant Horse site and Mushroom Rock;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_5068BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_5069BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_4993 and

Jowalbinna.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_4567BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_45613. Riversleigh megafauna

Northern Territory

1.Kakadu National Park:

Anbangbang Gallery;

Nourlangie Rock;

Nanguluwur (Xray style); and

Ubirr;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_5409BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_50872.Victoria River District

Western Australia

1.Chamberlain Gorge, El Questro

2.King George River and Mitchell Falls, Kimberley Plateau:

Gwion Gwion figures 20 000 years old;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_9230 and the more recent Wandjina figures;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_91183.Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek

4.Burrup Peninsula engravings: Over 10 000 engravings of humans, animals and geometric figures up to 20 000 years old;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_1417

5.Stromatolites of Hamelin Pool, Shark Bay;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_2249BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_2240

South Australia:

Naracoorte Cave megafauna: This is a model of a Diprotodon, the largest marsupial ever!BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_8120 Victoria:

1.The Grampians;

2.Condah fish traps

We have also used this book at other times:

Carnarvon Gorge and Kenniff Cave, Mt Moffat, in Queensland; and

Mt Yarrowyck, Armidale;

The Warrumbungles;  and

Bawley Pt, NSW, with its giant shell middens;

and will definitely be consulting it before our trip to Lake Mungo, Willandra Lakes and Menindee Lakes at some stage in the future!

After our big trip around Australia, my appetite for further knowledge whetted by the large amount of rock art seen, we bought the following books:

 Lost World of the Kimberley: Extraordinary Glimpses of Australia’s Ice Age Ancestors by Ian Wilson 2006

We particularly loved the tiny exquisite and ancient Gwion Gwion Figures, also known as Bradshaw Figures, of the Mitchell Plateau in the Kimberley area! It was so exciting searching and finding these delightful artworks under rocky overhangs at the King George River area en route to Mitchell Falls. Because we had limited time, we splurged on a helicopter ride out over the stone circles on the plateau (photo below) and north to the sea, where we saw a mother and baby dugong, then followed the King Edward River back past huge salt water crocodiles lazing in the sun and the Lower Falls to the Upper Mitchell Falls, where we disembarked to explore the falls.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_9373 Because we had not walked in, we easily lost the track on the way out, circumnavigationg the area and finding ourselves back at the falls, so if we ever returned to explore the Lower Falls (which we would love to do!), I would definitely use a helicopter both ways!BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_9411 Apparently, there is a huge body of Gwion Gwion artwork at the Lower Falls, where the salt water meets the fresh water! Given that it is probably very unlikely that we will get back there, it is great to have this book! Ian documents the history of the discovery of this amazing artwork and describes the different artistic styles of Kimberley Rock Art:

Archaic Epoch: Cupules; Grooves; and Stencils;

Erudite Epoch:

Bradshaw Figures: Sash Figures; and Tassel Figures;

Clothes Peg Figures: Stick figures; and

Aboriginal Epoch: Clawed Hands; and Wandjina Period.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_9470BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_9237BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_9203He examines the huge range of art sites and paintings, musing on the lifestyles, artefacts and clothing depicted, as well as their origins, not to mention the more enigmatic paintings of reindeer and high-prowed boats, which look very similar to those of the Ancient Egyptians!BlogPreHxBooksReszd30%Image (613)

Rock Art of the Kimberley by Mike Donaldson and Kevin Kenneally 2007

A record of the proceedings of the Kimberley Society Rock Art Seminar back on 10th September 2005, this book contains chapters by different contributors on a wide variety of topics.

The editor, Mike Donaldson, writes an overview of the Kimberley area: its geology, past climate changes and sea level rises; early European discoverers; the different art forms (cupules; engravings; stencils; beeswax figures; stone arrangements and paintings); the materials used (ochres, charcoal and clays); the subject matter (Gwion Gwion and Wandjina figures; animals; and fighting scenes); and finally, the topic of repainting rock art sites, particularly pertinent to the Wandjina art work.

The latter is further discussed by Donny Woolagoodja, a Worrorra elder and artist, while Denis Callaghan discusses the natural deterioration of rock art sites and Ian Crawford describes the 1960s field work on Wandjina art.

Jim Ross examines evolution and genetics, the migration of the original aboriginal ancestors, climate change, current dispersal theories and the peopling of Australia.

Sue O’Connor describes the different rock art sites and occupation sites in the Kimberley, while David Welch focuses specifically on the Bradshaw Figures.

And finally, Philip Playford explores the aboriginal rock art in the limestone ranges of the West Kimberley: Geike Gorge, Wandjina Gorge; and Tunnel Creek, another area we visited in 2008. Again, beautiful photos and an excellent record of the rock art of the Kimberley region.BlogPreHxBooksReszd30%Image (609)Mike Donaldson has since published a three-volume series on the prolific rock art of the Kimberley :

Kimberley Rock Art -Volume One: Mitchell Plateau Area,  released in April 2012;
Kimberley Rock Art -Volume Two: North Kimberley,  released in October 2012;
Kimberley Rock Art -Volume Three: Rivers and Ranges , released in April 2013.

See: http://www.wildrocks.com.au/ for details.

Mike Donaldson has also produced a lovely book on the rock engravings of the Burrup Peninsula:

Burrup Rock Art : Ancient Aboriginal Rock Art of  Burrup Peninsula and Dampier Archipelago by Mike Donaldson 2010

See: http://www.wildrocks.com.au/publications/burrup-rock-art-book/.

I would love to see this book one day, as we were so impressed with these ancient petroglyphs, of which there are over 10 000, up to 25 000 years old, at Deep Gorge, near Karratha, Western Australia, and so little is known about them.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_1430 When we first started looking, all we could see were huge mullock heaps of red rock, but once you have spotted the first engraving, they suddenly become obvious, covering most of the rocks and depicting animals, birds, marine animals, geometric symbols and strange looking figures.BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_1406 Here are some more useful websites:

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/burrup-peninsula-rock-art-shows-extinct-megafauna/6561788

https://www.nationaltrust.org.au/publications/archaeology-and-rock-art-in-the-dampier-archipelago/    and

http://rockart.net.au/Burrup.htm.

Rock Paintings of Aboriginal Australia by Elaine Godden and Jutta Malnic 2008

Another terrific publication on aboriginal art work throughout Australia and the stories behind the paintings. It discusses the materials and techniques used and their deterioration and conservation. It then focuses on a few specific areas: The Kimberleys, Cape York, Arnhem Land and the Central Australian Deserts, with superb photographs of the art work throughout.

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 Journey in Time: The 50 000 Year Story of the Australian Aboriginal Rock Art of Arnhem Land by George Chaloupka 1999

This book explores the 50 000 years of Australian Aboriginal rock art of Arnhem Land: its depth and complexity, aesthetic achievements and the life of its creators. This fabulous book is so comprehensive and has wonderful photos.

The introduction starts with a world perspective and a description of :

Rock art in Australia ;

Rock art dating;

Arnhem Land Galleries;

The Land Gulbok:  its physical characteristics and climate;

The People: their totemism, language groups and clan territories; and

Aboriginal Dreamtime Stories and mythology, illustrated by examples of the artwork.

There is a large section on the rock art sites; the materials and techniques used; the aboriginal view of the art; a non-aboriginal sequence of the rock art; and

The different art styles and periods:

Pre-Estuarine : 50 000 to 8000 year ago:

Object imprints;

Large Naturalistic Figures Complex: Large naturalistic human figures and large naturalistic animals, including a thylacine (photo), a long-beaked echidna and a tapir-like Palorchestes, now extinct, and a Tasmanian devil, no longer found on the mainland;BlogPreHxBooksReszd25%IMG_5423Early X-Ray paintings;

Dynamic Figures;

Post-Dynamic Figures: Progressively stylised artwork representing boomerangs, fighting picks, spears and spear throwers, and yam figures.

2.Estuarine : 8 000 to 1500 years ago:

Early Estuarine Paintings;

Beeswax Designs;

X-Ray Art Complex: Humans and animals: fish; crustaceans; fishing spirits.

3.Freshwater Period : 1500 years ago to present day: Paintings of the contact period between aborigines and visitors:

Makassan fisherman from Sulawesi, Indonesia;

European explorers eg Ludwig Leichhardt; the riders and horses of the McKinley Frieze; and paintings of guns and a two-masted lugger.

Chinese gold diggers;

Buffalo shooters; and

Sorcery paintings.

Finally, there is a discussion of :

Particular motifs and themes: East Alligator Figures; Powerful Women; Human Sexuality; Dismembered Bodies; Dilly Bags and String Bags; Crocodiles; Turtles; and Ceremonies;  and

Other art forms: Stencilling; Rock Engraving; Earth Art; and Stone Arrangements.

It finishes with appendices of neighbouring rock art (Kimberleys and Papua New Guinea); and a list of international rock art sites.

Given these unique and priceless art sites are outside and vulnerable to deterioration and damage, these books are so important as a record of the wonderful ancient legacy of Australia’s original inhabitants.

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For more information about Australian rock art, another book, which we don’t have in our library, but is a classic in the field is:  Visions From the Past: The Archaeology of Australian Aboriginal Art by Mike Morwood, an archaeologist, renowned for his knowledge of Aboriginal Art. See:

https://www.allenandunwin.com/browse/books/academic-professional/archaeology/Visions-from-the-Past-MJ-Morwood-9781864487176.

Australia’s Living History: Arts of the Dreaming by Jennifer Isaacs 2002

Another fabulous book, which celebrates the diversity and richness of aboriginal culture, art work and oral traditions and covers a very broad range of artistic expression.

After a look at the regional variations in cultural expression, a wide variety of aboriginal art is discussed:

Body Adornment and Ornamentation;

Ceremony and Dance;

Fibre Crafts: Spinning and natural dyeing; Basket making; String bags and nets;

Rock Engravings and Paintings: Techniques; Styles; and Regional Examples;

Bark Painting;

Papunya Painting of the Desert;

Contemporary Works on Canvas;

Carved Weapons and Utensils;

Sculptures;  and

Future Directions for Aboriginal Art.

In the back is an appendix titled the Antiquity of Aboriginal Art.

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My final book is also edited and compiled by this knowledgeable lady:

Australia Dreaming : 40 000 years of Aboriginal History Edited by Jennifer Isaacs 2005

For aboriginal peoples, their artwork is a proud expression of their heritage and mythology, the stories of the Dreaming, the subject of this lavish book. This first aboriginal history of Australia and its people is told through the traditional myths and legends of over 40 aboriginal storytellers from a wide cross-section of communities and areas, showing regional variations in the beliefs of different aboriginal groups.

The stories are accompanied by beautiful photos of the land, people and artwork and are divided up into different themes:

The Reality of Myth: Arrival of the First Australians and their way of Life; Megafauna;  Rising Seas; and Volcanoes;

The Creation Era: Desert Ancestors and the Creation of the Desert Tors; the Origin of Lake Eyre; the Nullabor Plain; The Sky-Heroes of South Eastern Australia; The Earth Mother; the Great Serpents; the Wandjina; and the Creation Ancestors of NE Arnhem Land and North-Eastern Australia;

The Great Journeys: that of the Zebra Finch; and the Kangaroo and Euro;

Earth, Fire and Water;

Seasons: Lightning; Thunder; and Clouds;

Sun, Moon and Stars;

Cycle of Life: Men and Women; Birth of the Tribes; Early Years; Passage to Adulthood; Hunting and Food Gathering;

Death and the Spirit World;

Designs from the Dreaming;

The Visitors: Baiini; Macassans; and the Badu Islanders; and

The Invaders: First encounters with White Men; Violence; Spread of Disease; Vengeance of the Spirit Ancestors; and Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

As my last book in my post, it is very fitting that aboriginal people should have the final word on their own prehistory!

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Next week is the third and final post on history books in our library, covering the time since written records.

Our Beautiful Earth: Part Four: Natural History Books: Reference Guides

In this post, I will be discussing some fabulous general reference guides to life on earth, including the elements which underpin its very existence: the geology and soils, the weather and climate and lastly, the amazing night sky!

Natural History by Smithsonian Institute 2010

A fabulous door-stopper of a book for anyone interested in natural history and our amazing and unique planet with its huge diversity and extraordinary wealth of plant and animal life – in fact over 1.9 million living species described to date, with more than 20 000 new species discovered and described each year.

It starts with a note on how to use the book, including pointers on size measurements; and plant icons and abbreviations, followed by a general introduction to life on Earth: its geological foundations; evolution of life forms and the classification of organisms. Active geological processes, changing climates, different habitats, human impacts, origins of life, evolution and diversity, natural and artificial selection, animal genealogy and a Tree of Life are all included in this chapter.

The majority of the book is devoted to an amazing in-depth catalogue of 5000 full colour entries, including Minerals, Rocks and Fossils; Microscopic Life Forms; and the Plant, Fungi and Animal Kingdoms.

Each entry has

: a Section Introduction, highlighting the characteristics and behaviours that define the group and discussing their evolution over time, with classification boxes displaying current taxonomic hierarchy and highlighting the level of the group under discussion and a box showing the different groups of species;

: a Group Introduction with key features : distribution, habitat, physical characteristics, life cycle, behaviour and reproductive habits;

: a Species Catalogue with common and scientific names; family; height; essential notes and annotated colour photos, showing relative sizes;    and

: a Feature Profile, which examines single specimens with close-up photographs and side profiles and data sets of size, habitat, distribution and diet.

Almost an essential reference for every library, it is a wonderful guide to the huge diversity of life on earth with all its variety of form, colour, texture, size and function.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (517)Another useful site, particularly for Australian flora and fauna is the Atlas of Living Australia: http://www.ala.org.au/.

Biology: An Australian Focus by Pauline Ladiges, Barbara Evans, Robert Saint and Bruce Knox 2008

Every natural history library should have an academic book devoted to biology, especially if it is a major interest,  and this is a good one, because it has an Australian focus, as well as a student interactive CD-ROM in the back.

It starts from the basics of life with cell biology and energetics and genetics and molecular biology, progressing through to plant form and function; animal form and function; evolution and biodiversity; and ecology, including Australian biota, population ecology, ecosystems and communities, and human impacts.

Plant Form and Function includes reproduction, growth and development of flowering plants; plant structure and nutrition; and plant hormones and growth responses, while Animal Form and Function covers animal reproduction and development; animal and human nutrition;, gas exchange in animals; circulation; water, solutes and excretion; innate defences and the immune system; hormonal control; nervous systems; animal behaviour; and their responses to environmental stress.

Evolution and Biodiversity is a huge chapter, which examines phylogeny and classification systems; the evolving earth (fossils; plate tectonics and continental drift; geological eras and biogeographic regions); and mechanisms of evolution, followed by a detailed look at all the different life forms: bacteria; viruses; protists; plants; fungi; and animals (sponges; jellyfish, sea anemones and corals; flukes and worms; molluscs; insects;  starfish; fish; amphibians; reptiles; birds; mammals; primates and humans).

I really enjoyed the chapter on Australian biota and its evolution from the time when Australia was part of Gondwanaland through the various geological eras and the influence of changing climate and aridity; changing landforms and weathering of soils; increasing frequency of fire; the glacial periods; and the arrival of humans on the continent and their impact. Terrestial and marine environments; the El Nino-Southern Oscillation influence; marine diversity; Australian flora and some of its main families and adaptive characteristics; and our unique fauna, including ancient megafauna, are also discussed in some detail.

The final chapter on human impacts is also very pertinent to Australia and looks at a host of environmental problems and concepts from decreasing biodiversity; biodiversity hotspots; land clearing and fragmentation;  the introduction of new species and the impact of feral animals and weeds; integrated pest management; land and water degradation; soil acidification;  increasing salinity; pollution; the greenhouse effect; climate change; coral bleaching; the illegal trade in endangered species; sustainability; and conservation and restoration ecology.

Being an academic textbook, each chapter concludes with a summary; key terms; self-assessment, review and extension questions and suggestions for further reading. An excellent book for basic biological concepts!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (553)Smithsonian Earth  edited by James F Luhr 2005

Another terrific Smithsonian publication, this time focusing on the Earth !

Its history : geological time; fossils; its building blocks; birth of the solar system; the development of life forms through the various geological eras; the ice ages; and the development of humans, all supported by a tabulated time line at the top of the page.

Its place in space : the universe; the solar system; the relationship between the earth and the sun and moon.

Its anatomy: the earth’s structure, shape, form and layers; the Earth’s magnetic field;  the core, mantle and crust; mineral formation, crystal structure and shape, mineral classification and identification tests; rock types and examples; fossil fuels; and soils: their formation and types.

The changing Earth : plate tectonics, boundaries and movement; weathering and erosion; deposition; mass movement; the impact of meteorites (with examples from all over the world); water (water properties and different forms; the global and local water cycles; and water resources); and life (diversity; evolution; extinctions; biomes and ecosystems; biogeography; nutrient cycles; and threats to biodiversity).

Land features: mountains and volcanoes, fault-lines and hot springs and geysers; rivers and lakes; glaciers and deserts; grasslands and  tundra;  forests and wetlands; and agricultural and urban areas.

Oceans : currents; reefs; polar oceans; oceans of the world; tides and waves; coasts and sea level; and erosional and depositional coastlines.

: Atmosphere : atmospheric structure; energy; circulation; climate regions; climate change; air masses and weather systems; precipitation and clouds; and wind.

: Tectonic Earth : focusing on all the specific earth plates, with details like area, highest and lowest points, major features, major city, and population and boundaries with lots of illustrative examples.

A wealth of information , presented in a very simple and clear format with lots of interesting examples and great photos. This is another essential book for your library!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (531)Australian Volcanoes by Russell Ferrett 2005

Large areas of Eastern Australia have experienced intense volcanic activity over the past 40 Million years, resulting in the creation of many landforms, which have since been eroded to varying degrees. I was fascinated to learn that 16 of Australia’s volcanoes have been formed by the crustal Australian plate moving northward over hotspots in the Bass Strait, with the oldest volcano at 35 Million years old at Hillsborough, Qld and the youngest at less than 10 million years old at Mt Macedon. Also, more disconcertingly, that the Victorian volcanic region is not actually extinct, but has been resting the last 4000 years and could actually become active again!

This book examines the earth’s structure; the different types of volcanic activity in Australia; the types of eruptions; volcanic material (tephra, lava and volcanic rocks and their formation); and types of volcanic landforms (volcanic cones; domes; plains; lava tubes; tumuli; plugs; dykes and sills), before concentrating on specific volcanic features in Australia, many of which we have visited. These include the Atherton Tableland with its crater lakes and Undara Lave Tubes in North Queensland; the Glasshouse Mountains, just north of Brisbane, Queensland, and Mt Warning in Northern New South Wales; the Warrumbungles and Ebor Volcano, New South Wales; Mt Canoblas near Orange, New South Wales; Lord Howe Island and Heard Island; the Organ Pipes National Park; Mt Macedon; the Camperdown district; Tower Hill and Mt Eccles in Victoria; Mt Gambier, South Australia;  Circular Head and Cradle Mountain in Tasmania; and the diamond deposits in Western Australia’s Kimberleys.

It is a fascinating book and explains the formation of all these landforms clearly and simply.

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Rocks and Minerals by Chris Pellant 1992

This is a Collins Eye Witness Visual Guide to over 500 rocks and minerals from around the world. It is a perfect book for rock and gemstone collectors, with introductory chapters on rock collecting; geological maps and field equipment; the home kit and organizing your collection. It then has a section on mineral definition, formation, composition, characteristics (crystal systems, habit, cleavage, fracture, hardness, specific gravity, colour, streak, transparency and lustre) and identification.

The section on rocks covers their formation; types of metamorphism; the characteristics of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks and a rock identification key.

The world of geology is an enormous and complex subject, but this little book explains the basics so well, that it is interesting to even the lay person like myself and it is so important for the natural history lover to have a basic knowledge of rocks and minerals, as they underpin the rest of life itself: the soils, the plants and the animals, which live in each habitat.

Each entry is categorized into its group and there is a short note about each group at the beginning, followed by specifics about each rock and mineral. Coloured tabs at the top and bottom of each mineral entry denote the group to which it belongs, its chemical composition, its hardness, specific gravity and its cleavage and fracture properties.

The main text includes notes on its characteristics, formation, and chemical tests for identification. There are clear photographs, annotated with identification features, and drawings of the visual outline of its crystal system. The igneous rock entries have coloured tabs of its classification group, its origin, grain size, crystal shape, chemical classification, occurrence and colour; the metamorphic rock tabs also include pressure, temperature and structure, while those of the  sedimentary group includes fossils. The main text in the rock entries discusses their chemical composition and content, as well as texture and origin.

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I would really like to have a copy of this book, now that we are living on the South Coast:

A Geological Guide to Canberra Region and Namadgi National Park by Geological Society of Australia (ACT Division) 2009.* See: http://www.botanicalbookshop.com.au/product/a-geological-guide-to-canberra-region-and-namadgi-national-park/gs9780646487342.aspx.

Colour in Nature by Penelope A Farrant 1999

A  fascinating book about the world of colour and its manifestation in nature. It combines information from across the board of scientific study: astronomy, geology, zoology, botany and physics.

It starts with a chapter on the nature of colour: its production; perception; visible light; spectroscopy; refraction, reflection, diffraction, interference and absorption; and iridescence and polarisation.

Further chapters explore :

Colour in the universe;

Atmospheric colour : including noctilucent clouds; coloured coronas, double rainbows and auroras;

Colours of the earth’s surface : oceans; rivers; glacial lakes; reflections; precious gems and opals; and different types of rocks and soils;

Colourful habitats :  tropical and subtropical rainforests; deciduous and coniferous forests; polar and mountainous areas; grasslands and deserts; oceans and lakes; and the darkness of caves and the deepest depths;

Leaves : photosynthesis and chlorophyll; other pigments; variegated leaves; Autumn colour of deciduous trees; new Spring growth; and low light habitats;

Flowers and Fruits : evolution of flower colour; inflorescences; variable and changing colour; pigments; environment and colour; pollinator preferences; fruit colours to attract birds; ripening fruits and seed colour;

Seeing in colour: light receptors; simple and compound eyes; adapting to light and dark; seeing underwater; animal eyes; human colour vision and colour blindness;

Animal pigments : skin colour and melanins; colour abnormalities and albinism; and all the different animal pigments with examples in the animal world;

Structural colour in animals : interference; iridescence; background colour; transparency; coloured lights; light regulation; luminescent lures; bioluminescence; nacreous pearls; and blue eyes.

Changing and variable colours : chromatophores; colour change with mood, day and night and camouflage; cuttlefish and chameleons; environmental factors and  visual stimuli; seasonal colour change; sexual colours; changes with age; colour and natural selection;

Survival strategies : camouflage and communication: false colours; warning colours; toxic insects; mimesis and mimicry; and  colour mimics in plants; and finally,

Colour, nature and humans: colour wheels; primary, secondary and tertiary colours; colour harmony and clash; colour in the garden; foliage colour; photography; and natural pigments and dyes.

The world of colour, particularly in nature, is such an enormous and endlessly fascinating field. This book offers a wonderful insight into everything to do with colour and, even though it can be quite complex with so much to know, the text and beautiful photographs help expand that knowledge and understanding of some of the basic concepts, like the colour changes with age and the seasons.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (539)

The Australian Weather Book by Keith Colls and Richard Whitaker 2001

A very important book, given the enormous contemporary challenges of the changing climate! Climate change is upon us, whether we like it or not, and we are only just seeing the tip of the ramifications to come, and yet so many people still stick their heads in the sand and try to deny it, despite the wealth of scientific evidence:  the melting ice caps and sea level rises; the extinction of plant and animal species, changes in migration patterns and the dying of the coral reefs; the higher temperatures; and the increasing frequency of extreme weather events like floods, droughts and fire. I find the denial really hard to understand, given that these people have children and grandchildren, who will not be able to be insulated from the effects of the climate and will have to deal with the problems our generation has created. If one excludes sheer greed or fatalism, the only other excuse is ignorance about the weather and the fact that so many people have been separated from nature and live in controlled urban environments for most of their day. Hence, the importance of this book!!!

It starts with the history of meteorology, followed by notes, accompanied by weather maps, on our diverse Australian climate: its rainfall; temperature; snow and frost; thunderstorms and hail; hours of sunshine and cloud cover; evaporation; drought and flood; tropical cyclones and wind (cyclones and floods being particularly topical and pertinent, given recent weather events!); humidity; and climatic discomfort.

The third chapter discusses the general circulation of the atmosphere: its chemical composition; vertical structure; and global wind circulation, while the following chapters focus on macro-scale circulations (air masses and the forces acting upon them in the atmosphere; weather fronts and low pressure systems; and what those isobars on the nightly TV weather maps mean!); meso-scale circulations (sea breezes, the southerly buster, topographic and downslope winds, eddies and cloudlines) and clouds (their formation and type).

Meteorological instruments (barometers, thermometers, rain gauges, anemometers and weather stations) are discussed, as well as the effects of weather on society and finally, climate change, including its history and theories, greenhouse gases and ozone depletion in the upper atmosphere.

Further reading and websites and a glossary are provided in the back. A very factual and informative book from the Australian  Bureau of Meteorology.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (530)

The Cloudspotter’s Guide by Gavin Pretor-Pinney 2006

For those of you, who wanted more than just one chapter on clouds, here is a whole book, written by the founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society in 2004! I love his manifesto, especially his description of clouds as nature’s poetry and an expression of the atmosphere’s mood, as well as his inclusion of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s beautiful poem ‘The Cloud’, which starts :

‘ I am the daughter of Earth and Water and the nursling of the Sky…’!

After photos of the different cloud genera and a cloud classification table, he proceeds to discuss the low clouds: cumulus and cumulonimbus, stratus and stratocumulus; then the middle clouds: altocumulus, altostratus, and nimbostratus; and the high clouds: cirrus, cirrocumulus and cirrostratus.

Each chapter has a guide to spotting that particular cloud type, including a description, its altitude, place of formation, precipitation, species and varieties and confusing look-alikes, as well as lots of interesting information about cloud-associated history, literature, mythology and artwork and their formation and effects. There are also accessory clouds, sidekicks to the 10 main cloud types: pileus, pannus and vellum, as well as supplementary features like tuba, the first sign of a waterspout (which we were lucky enough to see one day at Blue Pool, just south of Bermagui (see photo below), incus, mamma, arcus, virga and precipitatio; and the stratospheric and mesospheric  nacreous and noctilucent clouds.BlogEnvtlBooks2015-01-28 12.32.54There is even a chapter on contrails, formed by high altitude aircraft and their contribution to global warming;  the glider pilot’s cloud surfing nirvana, the Morning Glory of the Gulf Savannah region of North Queensland; and a cloudspotter’s quiz, in which you should be able to get full marks after reading this entertaining and informative book!

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It really makes you appreciate the beauty of our daytime skies with their ever-changing array of clouds!  For our wondrous star-studded nighttime skies, I have three books:

The Night Sky by Steve Massey 2003/ 2007

A very practical guide to observing the sun, moon and planets.

It starts with a concise history of astronomy, followed by a guide to understanding how and where stars and planets are placed and can be found in the sky.

Part Two examines observing the solar system and everything concerning the sun and the moon, including solar and lunar eclipses, solar flares, sunspots, earthshine, the moon phases and the craters and geography of the moon.

Planets are discussed in order of their respective orbits or distance from the sun, starting with mercury and ending with the furthermost planet, Pluto. Each planetary chapter starts with a table, detailing salient details like its visual diameter, axial tilt, magnitude, number of known moons, distance from the earth and the sun, orbital period and primary atmospheric composition. It’s a mind-boggling field, even more confusing than geology and geological time periods! Information is included on observing each planet, their structure, surface markings and rings or moons and their transits.

There are also chapters on asteroids, comets, meteors and meteor showers, as well as an in-depth section on using the tools of the trade: telescopes, refractors, reflectors, catadioptric designs, focusers, finderscopes, collimation, telescope mounts and axis drives, drive motors, eye pieces, lenses and filters and even binoculars; as well as recording your findings with sketches, conventional film photography, CCD imaging, digital cameras and video recorders.

Throughout the book are beautiful photos, as well as clear explanatory diagrams. A very useful book for the home astronomer.

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The Book of Constellations by Robin Kerrod 2002

The night sky has been a constant wonder to peoples from all cultures and time periods and has inspired a large number of myths and legends, which are explored in this book, as well as a wealth of factual information about each heavenly body and information about locating it in the night sky.

I love all the names of the constellations and all the history and mythology behind them. Apparently, there are 88 constellations (finalised worldwide in 1930), 48 of which were recognized by Ptolemy and the Ancient Greeks in 200 AD. While the Greeks were responsible for the names of the constellations, the Arabs named many of the bright stars like Betelgeuse in Orion and Aldebaran in Taurus.

The book explores the concept of the celestial sphere with maps of the northern and southern constellations; the constellations of the zodiac (12); and the major constellations (33) and planets.

Each double page spread includes the mythology behind each constellation; its astronomical features; its location in the night sky; and a constellation map showing the main stars, linked together by a fanciful image of the name of the constellation group.

It is a fascinating book and introduced me to many new constellations, of which I had never heard, as well as informing me about the more familiar ones!  I was amazed to learn that the Ancient Babylonians and Greeks were far enough south to see the Southern Cross, our most famous Australian constellation, and that the little cluster of coloured stars, which can be seen with the naked eye and through binoculars, at the base of left-hand cross, close to Beta, is called the Jewel Box. BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (550)

Incidentally, the Australian aborigines had their own mythological stories about the night sky and often saw patterns in the negative space between the stars like The Emu in the Sky and the Seven Sisters that make up the star cluster known as the Pleiades, in the constellation Taurus. See: http://www.emudreaming.com/whatis.htm and https://japingkaaboriginalart.com/articles/star-dreaming-seven-sisters/.

There are also two books about aboriginal astronomy:

Emu Dreaming: An Introduction to Australian Aboriginal Astronomy  by Ray and Cilla Norris 2008. See: http://www.emudreaming.com/book.htm  and

Night Skies of Aboriginal Australia- A Noctuary by Dianne Norris 1998 / 2014. See: http://www.botanicalbookshop.com.au/product/night-skies-of-aboriginal-australia—a-noctuary/sy9781743323878.aspx.

The Box of Stars by Catherine Tennant 1993

A similar publication in content to Robin Kerrod’s book, but with a slight different approach, using a lovely little boxed set of 32 cards called  Urania’s Mirror, originally hand-painted by ‘a lady’ and published in London in 1825.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (528) Each card is pierced with holes, which mark the stars of the constellation and which glitter when held up to the light, acting as a learning guide to each constellation.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (532) - CopyThere is also a small booklet with night sky maps of the northern and southern hemispheres and seasonal descriptions of the stars, including lists of cards to use during that time.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (532) - Copy - Copy Each card is further discussed with information about each constellation, its location and the mythology behind it. It complements the previous book well.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (534) - CopyBlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (535) - CopyThe Australian Sky by WJ Newell 1965

I am including this tiny little Jacaranda Pocket Guide, despite its age and the fact that some of its information is no doubt out-of-date (!), because its explanations are so good and easy to understand. Each constellation is covered in great depth and while it also covers the mythology behind the stars, it seems to have more information about the actual stars, especially in relation to the Australian night sky!BlogEnvtlBooks50%Image (646)

I feel astronomy is such a vast and complicated subject, one can never have enough books or guides and each one has a slightly different slant. Finally, here are some excellent websites on this subject:

http://www.abc.net.au/science/starhunt/

http://www.scitech.org.au/the-sky-tonight

https://maas.museum/observations/category/monthly-sky-guides/

http://asv.org.au/

https://astronomy.org.au/general/sky-guides/.

And lastly, a good atlas is essential in any well-stocked home library! In fact, you probably need at least three or four atlases in a lifetime, as borders are constantly changing, as well as environmental challenges, and cities and populations are always growing!

We were given The Times Atlas of the World as a wedding present back in 1983 and it served us well, particularly for the two overseas trips we made over the following ten years, but since then the European landscape has totally changed. Yugoslavia no longer exists, having been replaced by Slovenia, Croatia, Boznia-Herzgovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia; Czechoslovakia is now two countries: the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic; while East Germany and West Germany are now the one Germany; and White Russia is now called Belarus.

So, in 2014, we decided we needed to update our library and update bought a new atlas:

Philip’s Atlas of the World: In Association with The Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers

While not as large as our original atlas, a distinct advantage, given the Times Atlas was an absolute whopper (!), this new atlas is incredibly comprehensive with a wealth of interesting information about our wonderful world!

The frontispiece features a Key to World Map Pages (including Keys to City Map Symbols and World Map Symbols; and World Maps Elevation and Depth Tints), while inside the back cover is a Key to European Map Pages and a World Country Index.

The atlas starts with a User Guide and Statistics for Countries (Area, in square kilometres or miles; Population; Capital City and Annual Income) and Cities (population figures), followed by large sections on :

The Future of the Oceans and Seas: Temperature; Salinity; Oceans and Carbon Dioxide; Oceanic Conveyor Belts; Ocean Currents; the Coriolis Effect; Oceans and Resources; Overfishing; Aquaculture; Oil; Dead Zones; Red Tides; Waste Material; Plastic; Ocean Acidification; and Rising Sea Levels.

Satellite Images of the Earth

Gazetteer of Nations (alphabetically organized):  Geography; Politics and Economy; and Key Statistics: area, population, capital city, ethnic groups as a percentage, languages, religions, currency; and a small map and flag.

World Geography:

The Universe: Life of a Star; Black Holes; Galactic Structures; the Home Galaxy; the End of the Universe; the Nearest Stars, with distances in light-years; Star Charts for both hemispheres; and a List of Constellations.

The Solar System: Planetary orbits; Planetary Data (Mean distance from the sun; mass; period of orbit; period of rotation; equatorial diameter; average density; surface gravity ;and number of known satellites); and descriptions of each planet.

Seasons, Time and Motion: The Seasons; Day and Night; Earth Data: distance from the sun; angle of tilt; length of year; superficial area; land and water surfaces; equatorial and polar circumference,s diameters and radii; and volume and mass; Sunrise and Sunset; the Moon and Moon data : Distance from the Earth; Size and mass; Visibility; and Temperature; Phases of the Moon; Eclipses; Tides; and a map of Time Zones and the International Date Line.

Geology of the Earth:

Model of the Earth; Continental Drift; Plate Tectonics; Distribution of Volcanoes; Geological Time Periods; a Map of Earthquake Zones; and a List of Major Earthquakes since 1900.

The Atmosphere:

Structure of the Atmosphere; Circulation of the Air; Frontal Systems; Chemical Composition; Air Masses; Classification of Clouds; Maps of Pressure and Surface Winds and Weather Records for barometric pressure (minimum and maximum); fastest wind speed; windiest place; and worst storm and tornado.

Climate: Climate and Weather Terms;  Maps of Climatic Regions, Temperatures and Precipitation; Temperature and Rainfall Figures; Beaufort Wind Scale;  Monsoons; and Climate Records (minimum and maximum temperatures and precipitation; longest heatwave; driest and wettest places; and heaviest hailstones and snowfall).

Climate Change and Global Warming: Maps of World Carbon Dioxide Emissions per capita; and Annual Average Surface Air Temperatures and Annual Average Precipitation; Models of Regional Climate Change and Projected Changes in Global Warming; and Diagrams of Recent and Future Sea-Level Changes and Arctic Sea Ice.

Water and Vegetation: The Hydrological Cycle; Water Distribution; Annual Sediment Yield; Longest Rivers; and Maps, showing Water Scarcity and Natural Vegetation throughout the world.

Biodiversity and the Natural World: World Maps of Threatened Animal Species and Environmental Hotspots; a Map of Australia’s Introduced Species (rabbits, foxes and cane toads) and the Value of Nature (provisioning, supporting, regulating and cultural services).

Population: World Maps of Population Density and Population Change; Diagrams and Graphs of World and Nation Income; Population by Continent; Japan’s Ageing Population; and World Population Change over Time; and Data Sets of the Largest Nations; Most Crowded Nations; Least Crowded Nations; and Fastest Growing and Declining Populations.

Food Supply: Water; Fertilizers; Demand for Meat; Pests, Diseases and Weeds; Genetic Modification; World Crop Production and Global Land Usage; Land Management; and Future Potential.

Cities: World Maps of Urban Population and Urbanization of the Earth over time; Graphs of World Urbanization, Urban Advantages (mortality/ literacy) and City Growth; the Largest Cities; Slum Cities; Sustainable Cities; and a List of Cities with over 10 Million inhabitants. Apparently, in 2008, for the first time in history, the majority of the world’s population lived in cities.

The Human Family: World Maps of World Migration; Refugees; and Predominant Languages and Religions.

Conflict and Cooperation: World Maps of the Global Peace Index and International Organizations; and Bar Graphs showing Refugee Numbers and Military Spending.

Energy:  World Maps of Energy Balance (the difference between energy production and consumption), Energy Production, and Oil Movements; Bar Graphs of World Energy Consumption and Energy Reserves (oil, gas and coal); Data Sets of Nuclear Power, Hydroelectricity and Wind Power; Peak Oil; Fracking; and Alternative Energy Sources (solar, wind, tidal, geothermal and biomass).

Minerals: World Map of Mineral Distribution; and Figures and Bar Charts for Specific Minerals (diamonds, blood diamonds; uranium; iron ore; rare earth elements and scrap metals).

Employment and Industry: World Maps of Employment, Industry and Trade, Unemployment, and Tourism and Travel; an Employment Pie Chart; the Percentage of Men and Women in Employment in Selected Countries; and a List of the World’s Busiest Airports.

Trade: World Maps of World Trade, Dependence on Trade (exports as a percentage of GDP), Globalization, Trade in Primary Exports and the Balance of Trade; a Bar Chart showing Traded Products, Pie Charts for Major Exports; and the Globalization Index.

Health: Millienium Development Goals; World Maps of Food Consumption and Infant Mortality; Bar Charts focusing on AIDS; Causes of Death, Medical Provision, Access to Safe Water, Sanitation, and Malaria; and Data Lists on Maternal Mortality Rates and Expenditure on Health in Selected Countries.

Wealth: World Maps of Income Levels, Inflation, and Growth in GNI; Bar Charts showing Indicators for Different Income Levels (high, middle and low), and Extreme Poverty; a Pie Chart for Continental Shares of Population and Wealth; State Finance; and Tackling Poverty.

Standards of Living: World Maps of Indexes for  Human Development and Gender Inequality; and Bar Charts showing Education Levels (primary, secondary and tertiary) in Selected Countries; the Distribution of Spending; Fertility and Education; and Gender Equality.

The next major section contains street maps of all the major world cities in alphabetical order, and then finally, we reach the main World Map Section: world maps of the physical and political world, including thicknesses and depths of the continental plates and oceans; followed by maps of each continent and individual countries.

It finishes with a geographical glossary and an index to all the World Maps with latitudes and longitudes, abbreviations and notes on pronunciation. An excellent publication!BlogEnvtlBooks20%Image (645)

Next week, I am discussing rose pruning, a timely topic since we have just finished pruning all our roses, ready for their new growth in Spring! We will then resume our book posts with the final parts of Our Beautiful Earth: Natural History Books, with two posts on the environmental challenges our special planet faces and measures we can take as individuals to help the situation, before finishing the cold season with a post on our Winter Garden.

Our Beautiful Earth: Part Three: Natural History Books: Animals and Marine Life

Following on from my last post about books on birds and butterflies are publications about other fascinating wildlife in our environment from reptiles to our unique Australian mammals and finally, the wonderful and endlessly fascinating marine life on our coast.

Reptiles

With all their beautiful diversity and colour, it is very difficult to comprehend that birds originated from dinosaurs, but reptiles are much less of a stretch of the imagination! We have a large number of poisonous snakes in Australia, as well as lots of lizards, so a good reptile guide is an important part of any natural history library!

A Complete Guide to Reptiles of Australia by Steve Wilson and Gerry Swan  2003

Our most recent acquisition and a second-hand copy of a book, which we have wanted for a long time, this field guide is a very comprehensive look at the 836 named species of : crocodiles; sea and freshwater turtles; geckoes, lizards and skinks; dragons and monitors (goannas); and a wide variety of sea and land snakes, which live on continental Australia, Norfolk Island and Lord Howe Island.

The book begins with notes on using the guide; a glossary; anatomical illustrations; and brief notes on their environment, followed by detailed chapters on each reptile family with general notes, genus notes and species entries. Each of the latter is described on the left-hand page, including the common and scientific name; a distribution map; a description of its physical appearance and length specifications; notes about its behaviour, diet and habitat; and its conservation status. Particular diagnostic features are highlighted in bold type. The right-hand page is devoted to excellent photographs of each species in its natural habitat.

I never knew there were so many different kinds of snakes in Australia, and while I am quite happy to steer a wide berth, they can be very beautiful and they do play an important role in Australia’s ecology.

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Mammals

Mammals are a totally different story! The cuddly koala, quaint wombats and cute little pygmy possums and gliders are iconic Australian animals, much beloved by the general public, though often difficult to see in the wild due to their nocturnal habits. The next two books are excellent identification guides to our unique Australian animals.

The Australian Museum Complete Book of Australian Mammals Edited by Ronald Strahan 1983

This large tome is the coffee table guide, which you consult at home! Here in Australia, we have some fascinating and very old mammalian fauna from the egg-laying monotremes, the platypus and echidna, and the amazing pouched marsupials (carnivorous; omnivorous; and herbivorous), both of which are descendants of the days when Australia was still part of Gondwanaland, to the more modern placental mammals (including bats and fruit bats; mice and rats; marine mammals; and introduced mammals).

Each subclass is described in great depth, with single or double page spreads devoted to each species and superb photographs of each animal in its natural environment, except for the extinct Thylacine and Julia Creek Dunnart.

Each species entry has an italicized sidebar with details on size and weight; identification; synonyms and common names; conservation status (though this information would now be greatly out-of-date, many more species now being in a much direr state with the impacts of habitat destruction, feral animals and now climate change!); subspecies; extralimital distribution; and references.

The main text discusses their physical appearance; history; distribution and preferred habitat; diet; behaviour; reproduction and offspring; and threats to their survival.

They are all such unique and interesting creatures and it is vitally important that we do everything in our power to preserve the rapidly dwindling diversity of marsupial species, which we are currently lucky enough to have here in Australia.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (514)

Key Guide to Australian Mammals by Leonard Cronin 1991/ 1997

A much more compact field guide, ideal for the bushwalker and naturalist! In the front is a basic visual key, which refers readers to the pertinent pages. Animals have been categorized into subheadings: monotremes; carnivorous marsupials; bandicoots; wombats; koalas and possums; kangaroos; bats; rodents; sea mammals; and dingoes.

Each double page spread has text on the left, covering two species, with a distribution map for each and colour illustrations on the right, with the scientific name of each species.

The text includes information on the common and scientific names; physical appearance, size and weight; behaviour; development; food; habitat and conservation status.

Ross has used this book a lot, judging by all the notes he has scribbled on his sightings throughout the book!

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It is also worth looking out for books on specific Australian animals, which are part of the Australian Natural History Series, originally published by New South Wales University Press and now produced by the CSIRO. See: http://www.publish.csiro.au/books/series/48. They cover a wide variety of Australian animals from birds (kookaburras; magpies; cockatoos; bowerbirds; herons; albatross; scrub turkeys; bustards; tawny frogmouths and wedge-tailed eagles) and sea mammals (whales, sea lions and fur seals) to dingoes; kangaroos; tree kangaroos; potoroos and betongs; native mice and rats; echidnas; platypus and wombats.

We love our local wombats, such bumbling, amiable trundle-buses, so vulnerable to fast-moving night traffic, and were thrilled to watch platypus, feeding  in broad daylight, at a local stream recently, so both the following books are valuable additions to our natural history library.

The Wombat: Common Wombats in Australia by Barbara Briggs 1988/ 1990

This small publication contains everything you want to know about wombats from their evolution and early history; their classification; physical characteristics; burrows; behaviour and daily life in the burrow and above ground; its life cycle from birth to old age; the risk factors wombats face from disease to environmental (predation; flood; drought; fire) and man-induced hazards (poisoning; land clearing; and road deaths); and finally, raising orphaned wombats.

I love the pencil sketches by Ross Goldingay of these endearing creatures, as well as the many black-and-white and colour photographs. In the back are appendices of growth and development tables and the dos and don’ts of hand rearing orphaned wombats, as well as an excellent bibliography.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (668) - Copy

I was fascinated to learn the following facts about wombats:

Wombats evolved 100 Million years ago, the oldest fossils being 24 Million years old;andthe largest wombat ever was Phascolonus gigas, weighing up to 100 Kg (at least twice the size of modern wombats!)

There are currently three species: the Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat Lasiorhinus krefftii, which is critically endangered and is confined to a small colony in Epping Forest National Park, Central Queensland; the Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombat Lasiorhinus latifrons, now confined to the Nullabor Plain and a few semi-arid areas of South Australia; and the Common Wombat Vombatus ursinus, the subject of this book and found in South-Eastern Australia and Tasmania.

It is the only marsupial to have two incisor teeth in its upper jaw and their teeth are continuously growing throughout its life, which is reassuring, given their diet of tough grasses, sedges and even bark and dry leaves.

Burrows can be up to 30 metres long and are used by a number of wombats on a time-share basis. They can live up to 10 to 15 years old in the wild and 20 to 25 years old in captivity.

Wombats enjoy dust baths, known as wombat wallows, and slide down steep river banks and snow slopes. They are also efficient swimmers over short distances, dogpaddling silently with their short legs under the water with no splashing at all! I would love to see a wombat gliding silently through the water, however platypus viewing is much more likely! On a recent visit to Bombala and Delegate, we watched 4 platypuses in two different streams, such a thrill given they are more commonly seen at dawn and dusk!

The Platypus: A Unique Mammal by Tom Grant 1989.

Another excellent publication, which covers their physical characteristics; taxonomy;  and distribution and status in the first chapter, after which the book is divided into seasonal chapters:

Winter : Diet and Body temperature regulation;

Spring : Floods; Reproduction; and Social organization and the crural system

Summer : Milk; Burrows and their use; Adaptations to burrowing and diving; growth; location of position and of food; and the environmental impact of dams.

Autumn : Population studies; disease and mortality; age; juvenile dispersal and movements.

In the back is a species profile and bibliography and again, the book is full of excellent photographs, and diagrams and pencil sketches by Dominic Fanning.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (667) - Copy

Mammal Tracks and Signs: A Field Guide For South-eastern Australia by Barbara Triggs 1984

Because many Australian animals are nocturnal, we often don’t see them in the wild unless we are out and about, spotlighting at nighttime, but we often see signs of them in their scats, tracks and evidence of foraging activities, as well as unfortunately the all-too- often and disastrously plentiful road kill!

There are four keys provided : a key to tracks at the beginning of the book; a key to scats; a key to skulls; and finally, a key to shelters. Each key refers to the pertinent pages for each species.

There is an introductory chapter concerning where to look; the structure of feet; gaits; scats and their analysis and the identification of animals from their bones.

The rest of the book is divided into the different mammal types, including their tracks, scats (including diagnostic features), shelters, bones and skulls and species. There are distribution maps, including preferred habitat; black-and-white photos; excellent illustrations of tracks, scats and skulls; and useful tables specifying the lengths of the hind foot, toe print, and stride when hopping and punting, essential for separating out large kangaroos from large wallabies, small wallabies and rat-kangaroos!

It is a very detailed and complex field and this book is invaluable! At the end is a list of useful books and journals for further reading.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd40%Image (525)

Whales, Dolphins and Seals by Hadoram Shirihai and Brett Jarrett 2006

A must, given that we now live so close to the coast and an excellent lead-in to my next category! We always get so excited when we see a whale spouting or breaching close in to our local coastline or a pod of dolphins surfing the waves or encounter a seal unexpectedly on a wild deserted beach.

Every year, Humpbacks and Southern Right Whales migrate north from the Antarctic Ocean, up the eastern coastline of Australia, to the warmer subtropical waters of Queensland from June to August (Winter), then return home with their calves from September to November. Their annual migration covers a journey of 10 000 km. See: http://www.environment.gov.au/resource/humpback-whales-eastern-australia and https://www.wildaboutwhales.com.au/whale-facts/about-whales/whale-migration. The latter site even has a Whale App, which records the latest sightings. See: http://www.wildaboutwhales.com.au/app.

In our area on the Far South Coast of New South Wales, Green Cape is a particularly good spot to see them, as it juts so far out into the sea and the path of the whales, that it is possible to get a really good look at them up close. They are such beautiful, huge, gentle and highly intelligent mammals, so it is great to have a field guide, not only for our Australian species, but all the different types of whales around the world!

Each entry has a feature box covering basic information to aid identification, like scientific name; range; maximum size and physical appearance and typical behaviour on surfacing, as well as notes on variations (age/ sex/ individuals); similar species; distribution and population; and ecology (behaviour, breaching, diving, diet, reproduction, immatures and life span), all accompanied by superb photographs and maps.

The dolphin and seal sections have a similar format. I never knew there were so many different types of dolphins, including estuarine and river dolphins (Amazon River, South America; Ganges River, India; Yangtse River, China and the Irrawaddy Dolphins of South-East Asia). This book also explains the differences between dolphins and porpoises, which are closely related, but have different teeth, patterns and pigmentations, range and behaviours.

I also learnt that not all seals are the same! Fur seals (our type of seal) and sea lions are eared seals (external ear flaps), while true seals only have a small ear canal with no earflap. Their anatomy and agility on land is also very different, but you will have to read the book to learn more!

There is so much information in this book about the 129 species of marine mammals worldwide! It even covers the old mermaids of delirious sex-starved sailors : the dugongs, sea-cows and manatees of tropical waters , as well as arctic animals like walrus, otters and polar bears. It finishes with a list of prime marine mammal sites for viewing all these animals in their natural environments and a conservation checklist for all the different species.

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Now for more on marine life…!!!

Having lived in the country for most of our lives, we feel so lucky here in Candelo to have excellent access to the coast, especially one with such natural unspoilt beauty, protected by National Park status. Having grown up in Tasmania, it is so lovely to be able to still experience beaches in their natural state without a house or building in sight, an increasing rarity these days, with the increased population and urbanization of our coastline, especially on the mainland.

Marine Life

When I was a teenager, my parents developed our interest in natural history by encouraging collecting as a hobby. I collected Tasmanian shells, which I swapped with fellow conchologists in New Zealand and Queensland, while my sisters collected gemstones and butterflies and my brother, rocks. I had a set of special narrow drawers, lined with cotton wool, as well as a glass display cabinet, to store my shells, which I labelled with their scientific names and sorted into family and genus groups.

We spent many fascinating hours, head down and walking slowly along beaches, searching for the best example of a particular shell, as well as marvelling at the rich rock pool environment. Along the way, I learned so much about their natural history, as well as that of their fellow marine life: the seaweeds , algae, coral and plankton; sea tulips and cunjevoi;  the sea slugs and sea hares; the sponges, sea anemones, starfish and chitons and all the tough survivors of the littoral zone, not to mention the fish, larger sea mammals and sea birds. I love the fact that the sea can still astound and surprise us with new discoveries constantly being made! These books were indispensable to my education.

What Shell is That by Neville Coleman 1975

A good all-rounder for an appreciation of shells as living animals, it covers 750 common species of Mollusca, which are divided up into the different types of environment, in which they are found, including mud and mangroves; rocky reefs; coral reefs; sand and rubble; continental shelf and ocean pelagics.

It contains photographs, both of the shells and the living animals in their natural environment, which makes for easy identification. Each species entry contains its family name; common name and scientific name, as well as a brief description of its physical appearance, distribution and abundance. As you can see, it was a very well-used book!

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Australian Shells by BR Wilson and K Gillett 1971

This subtitle of lovely book is ‘Illustrating and Describing 600 Species of Marine Gastropods From Australian Waters’ and it certainly delivers!

Gastropods are just one of six classes of the phylum Mollusca, but it is the largest with over 90 000 living marine, freshwater and terrestrial snail and slug species. The other classes are : Monoplacophora (only 2 to 3 very deep water limpet-like molluscs); Amphineura (chitons; several hundred species); Bivalvia (bivalves; 15 000 species); and Cephalopoda (octopus, squid and nautilus; several hundred species).

Gastropoda is divided into three subclasses: Prosobranchiata; Opisthobranchiata and PulmonataProsobranchiata includes most of the marine and a large number of the land snails. They have gills in the mantle cavity and most are able to seal the aperture with an operculum. Opisthobranchiata includes marine snails and slugs like bubble shells, sea hares and nudibranchs, where the shell is commonly reduced or absent and all are hermaphroditic.  Pulmonata includes all the hermaphroditic land snails and slugs, which lack an operculum and gills and breathe by means of a lung, which is a modified mantle cavity. All the molluscs in this book are marine prosobranchs.

There is a large section on gastropod anatomy; feeding; and reproduction and development, followed by an examination of its shell – the composition; shape; colours and patterns; and growth and age.

The book then describes the different geographical distribution zones: Northern Australian; Southern Australian; Eastern and Western Overlap zones and their affinities with certain gastropod species ; discusses shell collecting practices and gives a list of relevant books and journals.

The majority of the book is devoted to the different gastropod families, with the left page covering general notes, then entries about specific species, including a description; date discovered; size; abundance and distribution; and the right page featuring photographs of each species. Throughout the book are also photographs of the living creatures with the most amazingly patterned feet, especially the volutes (the Amoria genus in particular)! The underwater world is endlessly fascinating!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (575)Australian Seashores by W. J. Dakin 1976

The original Australian seashore bible!

Part One covers the physical elements: the sea, the tides and ocean waves; the sculpture of the coastline; the pasture of the sea, plankton; and  luminescence, camouflage and living colour!  and

Part Two looks at the seashore life : the zones of animal and plant life; seaweeds and sponges; jellyfish, anemones, blue-bottles and corals; worms and worm-like creatures; sea-mats and sea-mosses; crustaceans (lobsters, crabs, prawns, sea slaters and sandhoppers);  and barnacles; molluscs, including sea hares, nudibranches and sea slugs; echinoderms (starfish, sea urchins and sea cucumbers); sea squirts (cunjevoi and ascidians) and finally, flotsam and jetsam.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (516)

WJ Dakin’s Classic Study: Australian Seashores by Isobel Bennett 1987

This revision of Dakin’s book has many more photos and maps, which support the text admirably. For example, the chapter on The Sculpture of a Coastline, with its original diagrams illustrating coastline features, zones and rock platforms, comes alive with the new addition of photographs of concrete examples from different coastlines around Australia. The different zones of the seashore and all the different plants and animals are even easier to understand with all the supporting photographs.

The other big advantage of this book, especially when it comes to identification of the latest new discovery, is its use of colour photographs, compared to the black-and-white photos of the old book. So, this is definitely the version to get!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (519)Spirals in Time: The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells by Helen Scales 2015

A very readable paperback, which brings the seashore to life with all its wondrous diversity, randomness and infinite possibilities.  The author’s enthusiasm and passion for her subject shines through – she must have had so much fun doing all the research for this book!

She explores a wide variety of shell-related topics from their prehistory and anatomy; shell architecture and building; human use of shells (currency; funerals; jewellery; symbolism; and seafood); the oyster industry; hermit crabs; spinning sea-silk (of which I had never heard , but found fascinating!); ammonites and argonauts; shell mania; the coral triangle; nautilus fisheries; shell collecting; the venomous cone shells; and the sea butterfly effect!

I hope I have whetted your curiosity for further reading of this interesting little book!

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Next week, I am featuring some excellent general reference guides to life on earth, covering the geology and soils, the weather and climate and lastly, the amazing night sky!

Ruston’s Roses and Renmark Rose Festival

Now, it is time for the promised post on Ruston’s Roses and the Renmark Rose Festival! David Ruston is a big name in the rose world! He has been President of the World Federation of Rose Societies and has been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for services to floriculture (1984) and England’s highest rose award, the Dean Hole Medal, given to him by the Royal National Rose Society in 1994. He is held in such high regard that there is even a statue of him in Renmark! Having heard about him for years, it was wonderful to finally visit his garden in Renmark, South Australia, in the 3rd week of October, 2014, during the Renmark Rose Festival, as part of our Old Rose holiday.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 08.35.35Ruston’s Roses

70 Moorna St. Renmark, South Australia

Open 7 days a week from 9 am to 5 pm, except for Good Friday and Christmas Day

http://www.rustonsroses.com/

Just 5 km from the centre of town and covering 27 acres (11 ha), Ruston’s Roses is Australia’s largest rose garden with 50, 000 bushes of 4000 different rose varieties, including Species Roses; Rugosas; Old European Roses – the Gallicas, Damasks, Centifolias and Mosses; Bourbons; Teas; Noisettes; Hybrid Musks; Hybrid Perpetuals; Hybrid Teas; Floribundas; Miniatures and Ground Covers; and David Austin and Delbard Roses.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 08.36.41BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 08.35.55 Since October 2005, it has been home to the National Rose Collection and also has a large collection of Tea Roses, perfectly suited to the warm dry climate of the Riverland region. The first two photos below show the native vegetation along the Murray River in this area and the 3rd photo was taken adjacent to Ruston’s Roses.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 11.12.44BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 10.25.15BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 09.20.14 Renmark is situated on the Murray River and while much of the Mallee vegetation is scrubby and dry (see above photos), the abundance of irrigation from the Murray allows lush productive gardens, not just for roses, but also citrus, grapes and almonds.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 10.22.16BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 10.09.32BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 09.19.25BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 15.00.22 Here is a map of the location of Ruston’s Roses taken from their official brochure:Image (563)David’s father, Cuthbert Sowersby Ruston, was a soldier-settler from England, who bought 30 acres of land in the Riverland with a friend in 1919 and proceeded to develop a commercial fruit orchard, which supported the two families.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 09.12.18 In 1924, he planted roses around the family home, as well as Lombardy Poplars, Melias, a Norfolk Island Pine and a Lemon-Scented Gum, all of which still shade the house.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 09.57.06BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 08.49.14BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 08.35.16 In the late 1920s, he planted more roses: Mme Jules Bouché, Lady Hillingdon (photo below), Rosa laevigata and Hybrid Tea, Constance, for David’s grandmother, Constance.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 08.58.50 In all, his father grew 300 rose bushes, including many Teas: Devoniensis; General Gallieni; Hugo Roller; Lorraine Lee; Mrs B Cant; Mrs Herbert Stevens (photo below) and White Maman Cochet.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 09.46.51 David was born in 1930. He worked on the family property and started to plant roses along the open irrigation channels, in fact anywhere he could find a spare bit of land!BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 09.15.13 Gradually, he removed vines, established trees as backdrops and windbreaks for the roses and planted more roses for the cut flower trade.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 09.25.59BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 09.28.23 He started Ruston’s Roses in 1968. By the mid 1970s, the entire 11 ha had been converted to roses within a garden setting with large trees and shrubs and hundreds of iris (700 varieties from Bearded Iris to Louisiana Iris and the largest collection of Spuria irises in Australia), as well as daylilies, watsonias, criniums, agapanthus and clivias. BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 08.39.16The 1990s were a particularly busy time with the cut flower trade, but the drought and increased competition from West Africa and South America greatly affected the business at the time. Looking to retire, David sold the business to his niece and daughter of his twin brother, Anne Ruston, and her husband, Richard Fewster in 2003. They instigated a modernization program of the horticultural practices and in 2004, introduced a ‘No-Till’ regime, along with state-of-the-art computerised irrigation and fertigation systems to replace the prior flood irrigation. All pruning is now done by machine.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 08.37.16BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 09.24.15 In 2005, the Ruston’s Roses Visitor Centre was opened and now caters for over 10 000 visitors from around the world each year!BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 09.25.52 It includes:  A fully licensed café for morning and afternoon teas, lunches and dinners, and functions for up to 200 people, including weddings and conferences;BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 10.00.06BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 10.01.39 An information desk; a wonderful gift shop with lots of rose-related merchandise from books, beauty products and gifts (photo of the beautiful rose cake plate and cake fork set we bought from there) to local gourmet produce and arts and crafts like Dudley Siviour’s corrugated iron sculptures (last photo below of a kangaroo and sheep); BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 10.07.04BlogRustonRenmkReszd2017-04-12 10.58.47BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 10.18.32Floristry and cut flowers for sale; and for the men:

A Classic Car display of vintage and historic racing cars, including MGs (4th photo, yellow), a Citroen (3rd photo, yellow), an Amilcar (a rare grand Sport Surbaisse, seen in 2nd photo below, red), a Ford, a Zeta (one of only 28 ever made), a Bradfield, a Scootamota (the first motor scooter), a Lotus Mk VI 1955, a Lotus Eleven 1958 and a Lotus Elite 1961. See: http://www.the-lowdown.com/ruston-roses-private-collection/ and http://www.rustonsroses.com/images/BarossaVisitsRustons.pdf.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 10.10.30BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 10.07.35BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 10.07.28BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 10.07.08Outside is a brightly painted Massey tractor (the first vehicle my husband ever drove at 8 years old, though his tractor certainly wasn’t as pretty!!!);BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 09.58.19BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 09.59.32

A rusty old horse-drawn lucerne mower for making hay;BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 09.29.12BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 09.29.19 And some delightful rose-coloured glasses, through which to view the garden! This delightful artwork was made by Helen Burgemeister and is titled ‘Looking at the World Through Rose Coloured Glasses’. BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 09.56.00BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 09.53.32BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 09.56.14 I loved the Climbing Graham Thomas (1st photo below on the left of the walk) and Troilus (2nd photo below) in the David Austin Walk, a tribute to the many David Austin Roses planted for their cut flower trade.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 09.53.19BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 09.52.23 In fact, Ruston’s was the largest cut flower grower of David Austin Roses in Australia! Each year, the property supplies 50 000 dozen roses (600 000 stems) to florists in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane, as well as 400 000 buds of grafting wood to Australia’s nursery industry.BlogRustonRenmkReszd30%Image (562)We had a wonderful day exploring all seven rose patches of the garden, as seen in the map above from the official brochure. We started at the old homestead, where David still lived when we visited in October 2014. I loved the entrance path!BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 08.47.21BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 09.00.09 Here, the garden is delightfully informal, blowsy and overgrown, with lots of colour and areas of sunshine and dappled shade.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 08.41.19BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 08.41.34 I love the way he grew annuals in pots to provide instant mobile colour in bare patches.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 08.40.50BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 08.40.59 The old packing shed beside the house was covered with a native frangipani in full bloom on the left and rampant honeysuckle on the right of the photo below.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 09.02.26 We were able to get an excellent overview of the property by climbing the lookout tower.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 09.25.17BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 09.25.45BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 09.25.24 There are six flushes of blooms each year, with a nine-month flowering season from early September to the following Winter. This lovely golden rose is the Polyantha Rose, Lavinia Evans.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 09.42.44BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 09.42.49 It would be a beautiful venue for a wedding (1st photo below)! The beautiful metal sculpture near the wedding lawn in the 2nd photo below is titled ‘Lifeless Planets Surround Us. Let’s Not Make Earth Another One’ and was made by Tony Hanes.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 09.21.24BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 09.23.47 I particularly loved the National Tea-Noisette-China Collection with lots of old favourites (like Noisette rose, Alister Stella Grey in the photo below) as well as many different types of Tea Roses, which were new to me.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 09.34.18 Here is a list of the roses held in this section: http://www.heritage.rose.org.au/hriai-tea-noisette-china-collection and http://heritage.rose.org.au/sites/default/files/Renmark%20Tea%20bed.pdf  and   http://www.heritage.rose.org.au/sites/default/files/Renmark_Plant_List_by_Class_.pdf. You can read more about this wonderful rosarian and his garden in his book: ‘A Life with Roses’ by David Ruston 2011. See: http://www.heritage.rose.org.au/publication/life-roses.BlogTeaRosesReszd25%Image (615)

Renmark Rose Festival

http://www.renmarkroses.com

Renmark is known as Australia’s rose capital! There is even a Renmark Rose, which can be found in front of the fountain and is featured on the Rose Drive pamphlett.BlogRustonRenmkReszd60%Image (564) The Renmark-Paringa Council has compiled a list of its 53 public rose gardens, which form the Renmark Rose Drive and Walk. Each bed is mainly planted with a single variety of rose, the name of which is noted, along with its family, in the brochure. The council maintains over 3500 rose bushes at a watering cost of $100 000, though recycled water is used for the majority of beds. The Renmark Rose Festival was the brainchild of Eithne Sidhu, who collaborated with David Ruston, to run the first Rose Week in 1994 to attract tourists to the region. They were certainly successful! Now in its 23rd year, it has become a major regional event in South Australia and the largest festival of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, attracting thousands of visitors and contributing significantly to the region’s economy. Held over 10 days in the 3rd week of October each year, it includes numerous activities in both Renmark and surrounding areas like Loxton. It is a very interesting area. Founded in 1887, Renmark is Australia’s first and oldest irrigation settlement, had the first houseboats on the Murray and the first community hotel in the British Commonwealth (The Renmark Hotel 1897), still operating as a community hotel today.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 10.48.06BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 16.36.20BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 10.47.13 Festival activities include: tours of the historic Olivewood Homestead; river cruises on the Murray on the steamer PS Industry 1911 (photos below); a fair, market stalls and a ball; champagne breakfasts, suppers and high teas; visits to wineries and breweries; a scarecrow competition; a mystery bus tour; art trails, displays and workshops by local quilters, woodworkers and egg shell carvers; floral displays and flower arranging workshops and a lantern festival on Nardoo Lagoon at the end.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 10.44.33BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 10.47.47 There are also a large number of private gardens, open to the public over the festival. We visited three wonderful gardens, all totally different! The first was owned by Donna and Danny Hoffman, who had a vast horticultural knowledge and a superb one acre formal garden over 20 years old.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 14.03.24BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 13.54.36 He grew Hybrid Teas, Floribundas, Miniatures, David Austins and other old-fashioned roses, along with a wide variety of salvias, succulents, established trees and conifers.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 13.53.44BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 14.04.11 I loved the driveway edged with mature climbing roses.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 13.50.14BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 13.52.56 The next garden belonged to Alan and Fleur Carthew, who developed a one acre informal garden on a sand ridge bound by citrus and avocado trees (background of 1st photo).BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 15.02.01BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 15.01.17 The garden is 55 years old and has only had 2 gardeners. The Sprekelia (Jacobean Lilies) and Alstroemeria (Peruvian Lilies) at the front entrance were a picture (photo 1). I also loved the exuberant display of modern Shrub Rose, Sally Holmes, beside the white statue of the reflective girl.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 15.04.17BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 14.56.51BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 14.57.34BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 15.07.18 It contains large established trees, an orchard, chooks, exotics and natives, including Kangaroo Paw (photo 1), Leucospermum (photo 2), Grevilleas (photo 4), Callistemon (also known as bottlebrush, surrounding the metal goat sculptures in the 3rd photo), Banksias, and many  roses.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 15.09.01BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 15.20.39BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 15.04.40BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 14.56.27 I have already discussed our final garden, Bed Rock, developed by Chris and Raelene Schultz on the site of the old drive-in in Loxton. See: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/11/08/favourite-private-specialty-gardens-part-2-dry-climate-sustainable-and-small-gardens/.

Loxton and Surrounds

We thoroughly enjoyed exploring this area!  Here are some of the places we visited en route to Bed Rock.

Bella Lavender Estate

19 Dalziel Rd Glossop

Open Monday 10 am to 4 pm; Wednesday to Sunday 10 am to 8 pm; Cloed Good Friday; Christmas Day and Riverland Fire Ban days

https://www.bellalavender.com.au/

A wonderful spot for lavender-lovers!BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 11.57.40BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 11.58.02 2500 plants of twenty different varieties are grown on the property,  their essential oil distilled and incorporated in a range of their own beauty products: soap, hand and body lotion, shower gel, shampoo and conditioner, floral water, massage oil, arthritis cream, insect repellent and lip balm, which are sold in the shop along with wheat-bags, sachets and other gifts like lavender mugs and china.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 12.07.11 They have a fully licensed café, where we ate wood-fired pizza for lunch overlooking the farm. There is also mini-golf and a playground.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 12.16.24BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 12.14.53We drove down to the river, where Daisy Bates camped for four years from 1936 to 1940;BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 10.09.27BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 10.12.05BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 10.16.40 And we visited Wilabalangaloo, a lovely old property donated to National Trust as a Flora and Fauna Reserve by Janet A Reiners (1895 – 1990). Here is a map of its location from the official brochure and photos of the entrance and the old sandstone house with Aleppo Pines (Pinus halepensis) and Lemon-Scented Gums (Corymbia citriodora).Image (565)BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 12.55.56BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 13.00.13BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 13.49.20Wilabalangaloo Nature Reserve

Old Sturt Highway, 4 km NE Berri

Open Dawn to Dusk. Closed on Riverland Fire Ban Days. Free.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.au/places/wilabalangaloo-reserve/

Situated on the western bank of the Murray River and covering 92 ha of mallee country, it’s a fascinating landscape with a 1 km stretch of 30 metre high sandstone cliffs 3 to 6 Million year old, known as the Loxton-Parilla Sands.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 13.32.06BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 13.34.52Oxidation of iron over the centuries has produced the red, yellow and brown ochres, which give the property its aboriginal name Wilabalangaloo, meaning ‘Place of Red, Yellow and Brown Stones’. Its a perfect home for Welcome Swallows.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 13.35.13BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 13.36.11There is a self-guided interpretive nature trail and a clifftop viewing platform. See: https://www.nationaltrust.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Wilabalangaloo-Nature-Trail.pdf.BlogRustonRenmkReszd50%Image (566)BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 13.26.00 There are over 80 indigenous plant species and a huge variety of wildlife, especially birds. We took lots of photos, including:

Sacred Kingfishers surveying their kingdom;BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 13.15.20 Zebra Finches, who were diving in and out of their huge nest;BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 13.16.50BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 13.18.29 Whistling Kites, soaring overhead, the air filled with their plaintive cry;BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 13.48.05 Rainbow Bee-Eaters, looking for insects;BlogRustonRenmkReszd3014-10-26 13.31.16 Shelducks dabbling;BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 09.46.27Pelicans cruising;BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 11.16.39And Stumpy-Tails (also known as Shinglebacks or Two-Headed Lizards) sunbaking!BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-25 10.29.25 I just loved the colours of the vegetation and landscape: the reds and ochres; the blue-leafed mallee and old River Red Gums; the silvers of the saltbush and bluebush; and all the coloured lichens.BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 13.10.59BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 13.46.31BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 13.46.12BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 13.47.29BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 13.51.38BlogRustonRenmkReszd2014-10-26 13.53.38 It is well worth a visit if you are in the area. Next week, we return to the last of the posts about garden books: Garden Books: Inspirational Gardens and Stories Part Three, after which the book posts will start exploring our natural history library.

The Autumn Garden

It has been a beautiful Autumn with good rain early in March; a superb display of colour with the deciduous foliage from April to late May and long-lasting zinnias, dahlias and salvias, as well as a repeat-flush of roses; and lots of gardening activities, creative pursuits and local exploratory trips!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-17 11.35.40BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 11.44.40BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 14.34.52BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1019BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-28 11.58.13BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-10 12.50.42BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.07.56BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.07.30Autumn vies with Spring in my affections. The weather is much more stable, though is tempered by the knowledge of the impending Winter, only to be assuaged by the parade of brilliant deciduous colour, as each tree prepares for its Winter dormancy.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 10.07.28BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 10.08.01BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 10.07.51BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 10.01.18BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 11.52.44BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 11.59.43BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-20 16.12.47 The verandah is such a vantage point, the backdrop changing daily.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-30 17.16.16BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-14 10.23.52BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-14 10.37.55BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-26 18.02.13BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-19 09.47.55BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 10.07.44BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-15 10.25.17BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-30 18.59.23The zinnias and dahlias lasted well into late May, having been touched up by a few early frosts, and Ross has finally put them to bed with a good layer of protective mulch.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0199BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-03 11.06.50BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 18.53.29BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-25 11.50.02The roses have taken centre stage again with a wonderful Autumn flush. These photos were all taken this Autumn. I have organised them into their separate beds:

Soho Bed:

Top Row: Left to Right: Just Joey; Fair Bianca; LD Braithwaite and Alnwyck.

Bottom Row: Left to Right: The Childrens’ Rose; Mr Lincoln; Eglantyne and Icegirl.

Moon Bed

Top Row: Left to Right: Golden Celebration; Heritage; Windermere; William Morris

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Lucetta; Jude the Obscure; William Morris; and Troilus

Main Pergola

Top Row: Left to Right: Mme Alfred Carrière and Adam

Bottom Row: Left to Right: an older Adam bloom and Souvenir de la Malmaison

Hybrid Musk Hedge : Left-hand side : White Roses

Top Row: Left to Right: Autumn Delight and Penelope

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Penelope and Tea rose Sombreuil on arch.

Right-hand Side: Pink Roses

Left to Right: Cornelia on arch; Stanwell Perpetual and Mutabilis

Rugosa Hedge

Left to Right: Fru Dagmar Hastrup and Mme Georges Bruant

House

Left to Right: Cécile Brünner first two roses and Mrs Herbert Stevens

Shed

Top Row: Left to Right: Viridiflora and Archiduc Joseph

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Archiduc Joseph and Countess Bertha

I have organised the rest of the garden blooms by colour:

Blue :

Top Row: Left to Right: Wild Petunia, Ruellia humilis; Violet; Pasque Flower, Pulsatilla;

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Poor Man’s Lavender Plectranthus neochilus; Plumbago; and Hydrangea

Green :

Top Row: Left to Right: Tree Dahlia buds and Elkhorn Fern

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Rosebud Salvia new bud and Bells of Ireland, Molucella

Orange, Gold and Yellow :

Top Row: Left to Right: Paris Daisy with Salvia, Indigo Spires; Woodbine; and Paris Daisy

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Hill Banksia, Banksia collina; slightly older bud of Rosebud Salvia; and Orange Canna Lily

Pink :

Top Row: Left to Right: Fuchsia; Salvia; Christmas Pride, Ruellia macrantha;

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Rosebud Salvia, Salvia involucrata; Christmas Pride; Pink ‘Doris’

Red :

Top Row: Left to Right: Grevilleas Lady O and Fireworks; and Salvia ‘Lipstick’

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Grevillea Lady O; Echeveria and Azalea Dogwood Red

Purple :

Top Row: Left to Right: Mexican Heather, Cuphea hyssopifolia; Cigar Flower, Cuphea ignea

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Dames’ Rocket, Hesperis matronalis, and Violet

White :

Top Row: Left to Right: Nerines; Honeysuckle; Strawberry flowers and first of the Paper White Ziva jonquils for the season!

Bottom Row: Left to Right: Autumn Crocus; Windflower; Tea, Camellia sinensis; and Viburnum opulus – an out-of-season bloom.

We have been very busy and productive in the garden, gradually crossing jobs off the list! Weeding is a constant in the Soho and Moon Beds, as well as around the feet of all the shrub roses and bulb patches.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-07 13.25.16 We have just dug up either side of the shed garden path, so the shed roses are now in garden beds and we planted out many of the potted cuttings, which we took from my sister’s garden at Glenrock. All are doing well!BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1186BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1237We also made two arches out of old gate weld mesh, one leading into the future chook yard and supporting Cornelia (photo 2) and Sombreuil (photo 3);BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 18.04.14BlogHybridMusksReszd2016-11-10 09.19.26BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0877 and the other on the corner of the shed, with Reve d’Or (photo 3) and Alister Stella Grey (photo 4) either side.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-15 15.33.44BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-15 10.27.37BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-31 18.58.37BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-11 17.13.31 Ross defined the edges of the vegetable beds with old recycled fence palings and planted out young vegetable seedlings, which he then mulched. We are really enjoying their Winter crop in our salads at lunchtime.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0277BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0274From front to back in the photos below: red and green mignonette lettuce; spring onions; broccoli; spinach; cos lettuce and kale. BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-31 19.07.15BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-24 19.24.20 We harvested the pumpkins, which again engulfed the compost heap, zinnia bed and maple tree, as well as the last of the tomatoes, making 3 bottles of green tomato chutney.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-03 13.43.42BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-05 11.44.26 We also have plenty of late Autumn fruit, now that the bats have gone, though I suspect our citrus is fairly safe anyway!  Unfortunately, the figs did not ripen in time, but the Golden Hornet crabapples have lasted well on the tree.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0879BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-11 17.15.23 All the new citrus are growing madly  and bearing fruit – the lime (photo 1) has a particularly fine crop and the lemonade (photo 2) is also bearing well.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-15 18.09.05BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-07 10.33.13 The cumquats have been an absolute picture, both in full blossom and fruit.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0773BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0774BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0778BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-11 17.12.41We picked 6 Kg of fruit to make into cumquat marmalade and there was still fruit left!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 18.28.35BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 18.28.27BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 18.46.41BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 18.46.48The loquat trees were in full bloom for weeks,BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1241 attracting huge noisy parties of rainbow lorikeets,BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-31 10.54.27BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-28 14.30.57 which then went on to eat the Duranta berries, along with the Crimson RosellasBlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.33.53BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.34.29 and huge flocks of King Parrots.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-07 10.57.37BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.33.04BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.30.07BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.28.57BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 11.01.50BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-07 10.59.33 Up until early May, we had even larger flocks of screeching Little Corellas in the thousands, gathering in the trees, recently vacated by the bats,BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0518BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0642 then flying off en masse right on dark to their roosting trees to the north,BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-31 08.51.21-2BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-03 19.44.23BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-30 19.54.50BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1253 occasionally accompanied by the odd Galah!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-30 18.46.46BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0807 We have enjoyed flyovers by the local Gang-Gangs (photos below) and Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos. We even had a rare flypass by a Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo, en route to the local mountain forests. BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-31 19.08.34BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.20.25Other exciting glimpses included three Dollar Birds (photos 1 and 2) and a Figbird (photo 3), both Summer migrants, normally found further north.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0116BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0090BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 18.16.41 Other larger birds in our garden at the moment include very quiet Australian Magpies (photo 6), a pair of courting Australian Ravens (photo 2), a Grey Butcherbird (photo 3), Pied Currawongs (photo 5), Spotted Turtle Doves (photo 4) and our Blackbirds (photo 1), which have been on holiday and have just returned.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 11.40.23BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-04 14.53.01BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-23 12.07.56BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-13 17.29.54BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-14 14.37.25BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 17.46.44 And our littlies: the Eastern Spinebills (photos 1 and 2), Silvereyes (photo 3) and Double-barred Finches (photo 4).BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-23 11.54.46BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-07 14.54.51BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0707BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0319 all of whom do a stirling job keeping the bugs in check.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-03 13.48.38BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 13.07.27BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 13.30.41BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-06 12.11.05We found this delightful Grey Fantail nest in our old camellia tree at the front door.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-18 14.54.13The slightly cooler weather has been wonderful for pursuing creative tasks from cooking to sewing, embroidery and paper crafts. I made my son a delicious carrot cake, using a recipe from https://chefkresorecipes.wordpress.com/2017/03/23/carrot-cake/ for his birthday:BlogAutumngardenReszd7517-04-25 17.56.10BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-25 15.00.36 and hot cross buns for Easter Friday, using a recipe from https://bitesizebakehouse.com/2017/04/08/cranberry-hot-cross-buns-2/ , with a fun Easter Egg hunt in the garden with friends on the Sunday.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-12 13.33.28BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-14 12.09.54 My friend Heather, who visited us during the Candelo Arts Festival and is the Melbourne agent for Saori (http://artweaverstudio.com.au/), gave us a Saori weaving workshop and we were thrilled with our woven runners.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-22 14.27.11BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-22 15.36.30BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-22 16.16.34BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-24 10.56.10 I gave my friends Rae, Brooklin and Kirsten, a hand embroidery lesson, inspiring Rae’s wonderful exhibit. I was so impressed!BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0441BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-04-24 16.19.41BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-04-24 16.23.44 I made embroidery rolls for their birthdays,BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0510BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0516BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0845BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0505 as well as a pair of felt appliqué cushions for my sister’s bed.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-06 17.44.17 And another decoupage floral card and a paper owl, assembled from a German kit, which was given to me by my daughter in Berlin.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0499BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1220BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1221And finally, there were the bouquets from the garden! Masses of colourful zinnias…BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0037BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-05-06 11.16.50BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-29 20.26.32BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 12.12.28 and bright dahlias;BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0226BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1148 Scented roses;BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-03-25 09.39.26BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-03-25 09.39.32BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0888BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 11.26.09BlogAutumngardenReszd2517-05-06 11.16.58

Simple blue salvias and bold hydrangeas;BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 10.20.45BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0264BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0261 And wonderful mixtures of colourful blooms!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 18.58.02BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-12 10.49.40BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0021BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-19 12.16.03BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 11.42.23BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-27 11.42.46BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 12.49.55BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 12.50.00 How I love arranging flowers!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-03 14.11.26BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-18 12.07.18BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0003And finally, we had some wonderful days out, exploring new spots and revisiting old haunts. The Bendethera day in March was rather inclement and while we could not reach our final destination due to the amount of water in the final creek, we did ascertain that our vehicle could manage the 4WD tracks for a future camping trip and despite the rain and constant cloud, it was still a lovely day out.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_1007BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0985BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0995BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0998BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0948BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0952 We had much better April weather for our Monaro drive to Delegate, Jindabyne (including the wonderful Wildbrumby Scnapps Distillery in photo 2) and Thredbo (the Kosciuszko chair lift in photo 3) and discovered a wonderful birdwatching and trout fishing  venue, Black Lake, near Cathcart, on our way home (photo 5), where we saw six elegant Black-Winged Stilts (photo 6).BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 11.21.45BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 12.59.21BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 13.28.40BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 15.11.43BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 17.14.48BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-03-30 17.48.57 We introduced friends to Bay Cliff and Greenglades (also see: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/12/13/wonderful-wonboyn/) in late April (see if you can guess the tracks on the beach in photo 7!); BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 15.15.12BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 13.45.15BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 14.50.15BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 14.12.57BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 14.55.38BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 14.09.03BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 18.08.42BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 18.08.12BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-04 18.10.41 and Aragunnu (also see: https://candeloblooms.com/2015/09/11/aragunnu-and-bunga-head/) in May, two of our favourite spots on the coast;BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 12.37.22BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 12.40.29BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 16.05.58BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 15.28.36BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 13.43.10BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 17.30.24as well as revisiting Nunnock Swamp and Alexander’s Hut (also see: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/10/18/south-east-forests-national-park/).BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 12.15.50BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 13.16.33BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 14.21.55BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 12.23.20BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 14.15.53BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-16 12.52.27And we went canoeing on Back Lake at Merimbula, where we photographed a beautiful Azure Kingfisher, as well as a teenage cygnet and white egrets.BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 16.40.28BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 17.09.44BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 16.49.59BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 17.26.18BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 17.20.48BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 17.39.23BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 17.01.11BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-04-15 16.56.10 We are so lucky to have such easy access to these beautiful unspoilt natural areas! Next week, I am returning to our dreamy roses!

Wonderful Wonboyn

The area including Wonboyn Lake, Baycliff and Greenglades is the subject of my final destination post for the year and it is a wonderful spot to explore in Summer! We were blown away by its beauty, variety and interest on our first visit last January and were equally enchanted on our second visit in late November. Like Merrica River to its immediate south (see last month’s post on the king orchids and wildflowers of Merrica River : https://candeloblooms.com/2016/11/22/the-kings-of-merrica-river/), it is situated in the northern part of Nadgee Nature Reserve, as can be seen in this photograph of a map from the NPWS (National Parks and Wildlife Service) board.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-28-56blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-29-00 To access this wonderful playground, travel south from Eden along the Princes Highway for 22.5 km, then turn left into Wonboyn Rd and follow it all the way to Myrtle Cove and Wonboyn, a small fishing settlement on the shores of Lake Wonboyn (10 km; 15 minutes).blogwonboyn20reszdimg_5967 There are also a number of oyster leases, as well as a holiday resort on the opposite side. From Myrtle Cove, follow Nadgee Rd to the entrance of Nadgee Nature Reserve, where the road becomes the unsealed Greenglades Rd. The sign here indicates that Baycliff is 7 km away, while Greenglades is 4 km. This sign is also where the Jewfish Walk takes off.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-10-57-52blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0341 To access Baycliff, turn left off Greenglades Rd into Baycliff Rd (approximately 15 minutes to reach this point. Baycliff is 4 km and Greenglades 1 km from here). Progress becomes much slower now as you pass through extensive forests of eucalypts; banksias Banksia integrifolia and Banksia serrata; casuarinas; Bracelet Honey Myrtle Melaleuca armillaris and cassinias, as well as a fascinating parallel dune ridge-swale system, formed over the last 6000 years.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-11-05-25blogwonboyn20reszdimg_5981 You can walk across these dunes to Wonboyn Beach (central part) from the Bayliff Rd. Not long after the Wonboyn Beach car park, the road bifurcates with a 100 m road to the River car park on the left (with an 80 m walk to the lake – this would be the easiest spot to launch the canoe)…blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0007blogwonboyn20reszdimg_0013and the main access (600 m walk) to Wonboyn Lake and Baycliff on the right. Before I start to describe this incredible spot, I will start with a brief look at Wonboyn Lake itself.blogwonboyn50reszdimg_5968As can be seen from this NPWS board map at Myrtle Cove and the Wonboyn Jetty, Wonboyn Lake is a 10 km long tidal lake formed by the estuary and river mouth of Wonboyn River, as it flows into Disaster Bay.blogwonboyn20reszdimg_6255blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-23-41 There is shoaling at the oceanic entrance and limited tidal exchange.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-33-12blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-13-32-39 The lake includes a variety of habitats from seagrass meadows to mangroves, saltmarsh and wetlands, providing homes for a wide diversity of flora and fauna.blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-10-53-07blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-41-29blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-12-47-34blogwonboyn20reszd2016-11-24-14-31-58