Travel Books: Part Three: Practicalities

These days, there is so much information online, that it is worth planning the practicalities of your travel by consulting the internet for the most up-to-date information on prices, opening times etc. I still like to travel with the odd hard copy though, so long as it’s not too heavy and bulky, but do try to get the most recent publication!

Lonely Planet Guides are the ultimate guides and are also available online: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/.  In fact, my daughter Jenny, who writes a travel blog: https://traveladventurediscover.com had three of her articles selected for the Lonely Planet Pathfinders monthly roundups (March, April and June, 2016), moving her to the next level of Lonely Planet Assignment Pathfinder. See: https://traveladventurediscover.com/2016/03/08/best-things-about-travelling-in-your-van/;  https://traveladventurediscover.com/2016/04/12/23-ways-to-travel-south-east-asia/ and https://traveladventurediscover.com/2016/06/14/favourite-feasts-of-south-east-asia/. Also, check out: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/pathfinders/signup.

Lonely Planet Guides generally all follow a similar format, so I will describe the Lonely Planet guide we used for France. It starts with:

Quick Reference Guide on the inside cover: Symbols and Price Ranges used; Exchange Rates; Rough Costs; Useful Phrases; Business Hours; Telephone Codes; Emergency Numbers; and Conversions.

Colour Map with key points of interest highlighted and a reference page number, followed by :

Glossy colour plates featuring Classic Destinations; Food and Wine; Festivals and Events; Activities; and Arts and Architecture;

Contents;

List of Contributors;

Getting Started :When to Go; Costs and Money; Travel Literature; Internet Resources; and the Top 10 (Adventures/ Culinary Experiences and Shopping Sprees);

Variety of Itineraries (Classic Routes/ Roads Less Travelled/ Tailored Trips);

Snapshot of Contemporary France;

French History;

French Culture: National Psyche; Lifestyle; Blogosphere; Economy; Averages; Do’s and Don’ts; Population; Sport: Football, Rugby, Cycling and Tennis; Multiculturalism; Media; Religion; Women in France; the Arts: Classic and Modern Literature, Top 10 Literary sights, Cinema, Music, Architecture and Painting;

Environment : the Land; Flora and fauna; National Parks; Environmental Issues and Conservation Organizations;

Food and Drink: Staples, Regional Specialties, Drinks, Celebrations, Where to Eat, Vegetarians and Vegans, Dining with Children, Habits and Customs, Cooking Courses and Vocabulary.

The majority of the book is devoted to a detailed description of each different area of France, including:

Introduction and Highlights;

Black-and-White Regional Map;

Geography and Climate;

Orientation;

Information Sources;

Sights and Activities;

Accommodation ;

Food and Drink;

Entertainment;

Getting There and Away: Air; Bus; Train; car and Motorcycle; Bicycle Hire; and

Feature Boxes on relevant history, festival, food, people, crafts etc

The directory at the back covers all the practical information required:

Accommodation; Activities; Business Hours; Children; Climate Charts; Courses; Customs; dangers and Annoyances; Discount Cards; Embassies and Consulates; Festivals and Events; Food; Gay and Lesbian Travellers; Holidays; Insurance; Internet Access; Legal Matters; Local Government; Maps; Money; Photography and Video; Post; Shopping; Solo Travellers; Telephone; Time; Tourist Information; Travellers with Disabilities; Visas; Volunteering; Women Travellers; and Work; as well as a detailed section on:

Transport:

Getting There and Away:

Air: Airports; Airlines; Tickets; Climate Change and Flying; Carbon Offset Schemes

Land:

Bus: Discount Passes; Eurolines; Intercars

Cars and Motorcycle: Eurotunnel;

Train: Rail Services; Train Passes; Eurostar

Sea: Ferry Travel

Getting Around: Air; Bicycle; Canal Boating; Bus; Car Hire and Distances; Autoroutes; Licences; Insurance; and Road Rules; Hitching; Taxis; Train; and Tours.

Health: Insurance; Vaccinations; Deep Vein Thrombosis; Jet Lag; Health Car; Environmental Hazards; Sexual Health; Womens’ Health and Travelling with Children.

Language: Pronunciation; Etiquette; Gender and Essential Vocabulary for: Accommodation; Conversation; Directions; Signs; Emergencies; Health; Numbers, Paperwork; Question Words; Shopping and Services; Time and Dates; Transport; and Travel with Children.

Finally, there is a Glossary; a few blank pages for notes; the Index; a Map of World Time Zones, and a Map Legend.

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Alastair Sawday’s Special Places to Stay: British Bed & Breakfast for Garden Lovers 2007

https://www.sawdays.co.uk/

Sawdays is another well-known travel company from Bristol, England, which searches out special places to stay in Britain, Ireland; France; Italy; Spain and Portugal. It was founded by Alistair Sawday, a keen environmentalist and sustainability advocate. He was a Green Party candidate, founded the Avon Friends of the Earth and was Vice-­Chair of the Soil Association. His company was honoured with a Queen’s Award for Sustainability, as well as being voted Independent Environmental Publisher of the Year twice.

This delightful book starts with an introduction explaining the Sawday philosophy and how to use the book and general and regional maps.

There are detailed descriptions of over 60 Bed-and-Breakfast establishments with beautiful gardens with contact details, addresses and websites; directions; number and type of rooms; price; meals; closed times and coded symbols (Wheelchair accessibility; Children, Dogs, Smoking, Credit cards; Vegetarian meals; Licensed; Working farm; Swimming pool, Bicycles; Tennis court; Local walks and Fine Breakfast Scheme).

In the back is a Bird Calendar; a list of Garden Organisations; a Brief History of Garden Styles; Lists of Garden Books and Gardens to Visit and a Map of the National Cycle Network.

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It is well worth reading their blog: http://journal.sawdays.co.uk/ and looking at their Collections: Garden Lovers; Ethical; Family Friendly; Good for Groups; Cosy Boltholes; Coastal; and New to Sawdays. See:  https://www.sawdays.co.uk/collections. I also like the look of Go Slow England: Special Local Places to Eat, Stay and Savor by Alastair Sawday. See: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5153994-go-slow-england.

Here are some more local guides.

Twenty Best Walks in Australia by Tyrone T Thomas 1989

Tyrone Thomas has written a number of guides to bushwalks throughout Australia and this particular book covers 20 hikes, which he considers to be the best in Australia, a number of which we have done, including Sydney Harbour; walks around Blackheath in the Blue Mountains; Mount Gower and Malabar Hill on Lord Howe Island; Mt Kootaloo circuit on Dunk Island; Green Island, near Cairns; Mt Warning on the NSW-Qld border; Katherine Gorge, Northern Territory; the Grampians; the High Country and Wilson’s Promontory in Victoria; Mt. Kosciusko; and Cradle Mountain, Lake St. Clair and Tasman Peninsula in Tasmania.

Each walk is graded as one day/ overnight and easy/medium and hard. The book contains comprehensive track notes; maps; and distance, time, weather, transport and access details, as well as points of interest, warnings and navigational advice. The walks selected give an excellent overall view of the huge  diversity of walks and environments in our vast continent and is particularly aimed at international visitors with limited time, though is still very useful for locals, and its light weight compact format makes it very portable for bushwalkers.

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Seventy Walks in Southern New South Wales and A.C.T by Tyrone Thomas 1998/ 2004

A recent addition to our library, now that we live in this area and are keen to explore this new area.

Produced in a similar format to all his books with introductory brief notes on distance; time required; best time to visit; grade; environment, map reference and last date reviewed; followed by comprehensive track notes, accompanied by maps, diagrams; ink sketches of native flora and a few colour plates.

There are also notes on safety precautions, first aid in the bush; and equipment and food suggestions for bushwalking. While we have already visited the National Botanic Garden in Canberra, Big Hole in Deua National Park; Mt Bushwalker; and local areas like North Head; Bournda National Park; Mt Imlay and Merrica River, we look forward to using this guide to plan walks like Mt Dromedary near Tilba Tilba; the Nadgee Wilderness; Bendethera Caves; Pigeon House Mountain; the Monolith Valley; the Castle and the Kosciusko region. It’s good to know we have so many wonderful spots to explore!

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Walking Round in Circles: Twenty-seven Circular Walks in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park by Jane Scott and Patricia Negus 2007

A beautiful book, which we bought after our trip to Western Australia, after visiting the home and art studio ‘Swallows Welcome’ of the artist Patricia Negus (https://www.mrros.com.au/member/patricia-negus/)  in Margaret River in April 2011. She and her husband Tim built a mud-brick Chapel of the Flowers to house all of her 102 beautiful wildflower paintings. Dawn Klok designed the leadlight windows and the porch mosaic was made by  local artist, Jenny Hunt.BlogTravelBooksReszd50%wa visit 503BlogTravelBooksReszd50%wa visit 501

Patricia teamed up with Jane Scott, the author of this book, and Ray Forma to form Cape to Cape Publishing and they have produced a number of books about the Margaret River region.

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I love this particular book as it has such beautiful illustrations and photos and holds fond memories of the walks we enjoyed in this beautiful national park, using this book as a guide. Below are some of her illustrated pages in this book.

The great thing about this area is that while you can do the entire walk from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin, it is also possible to walk small sections and this book is an excellent guide to the 27 walks available.The following photos are from our wonderful beach walk at Cosy Corner:

BlogTravelBooksReszd50%wa visit 413BlogTravelBooksReszd50%wa visit 423BlogTravelBooksReszd50%wa visit 433BlogTravelBooksReszd50%wa visit 245Accompanied by clear maps, each walk is described in great detail and is broken up into smaller sections with details on access, distance and time, warnings where necessary and interesting notes on points of interest like whale watching; bush tucker; plants of granite outcrops or the limestone coast; historic settlements; the timber industry; fungi and orchids; caves; butterflies and moths; and  creatures of the open ocean or intertidal zones.

There are also notes on bush safety; first aid; geology; springs and tufa deposits; tides and currents; weather and climate; and native vegetation in the front and a bird list and bibliography in the back.

It is such a beautiful area, especially when the wildflowers are in full bloom! We loved our walks at Cosy Corner (photos above) and Cape Clairault (photos below), where we saw 6 rock parrots amongst the boulders on the beach. The sand was pure white; the waters aqua; and the coastline so unspoilt and natural!  I could not recommend a visit to this incredible area nor this beautiful book highly enough!BlogTravelBooksReszd50%wa visit 675BlogTravelBooksReszd50%wa visit 601BlogTravelBooksReszd50%wa visit 580BlogTravelBooksReszd50%wa visit 666Random Thoughts on Travel

And for those of us, who may not be able to travel at the moment, some consoling thoughts! Often the experience may not necessarily match up with the expectations! The next two books which explore this theme.

 Slow Travel : Sell the House, Buy the Yacht and Sail Away..  by Mari Rhydwen 2004

For all those people, who dream of getting a yacht and sailing away, it is well worth reading this book for the realities of life on the open sea, especially if you are satisfying a spouse’s desire! I feel a bit guilty because I lent it to a friend, who was then totally put off the idea!!!

Despite the downsides of petty officialdom, bribery and corruption,the threat of piracy and rollercoasting from boredom and total exhaustion to moments of sheer terror, it’s also a journey of discovery about life on water, learning to sail, visiting isolated natural spots, diving in the world’s best reefs and letting go of notions of  personal identity like work, material possessions and personal space. A very amusing and interesting read!

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The Art of Travel by Alain de Bouton 2002

In this thoughtful collection of essays, Alain examines the reasons for this paradox, as well as the ‘how and why’ of travel.

He starts with a discussion of anticipation and why it may sometimes be better or certainly different to the real thing!  As he says on page 15:

‘Anticipatory and artistic imaginations omit and compress, they cut away periods of boredom and direct our attention to critical moments and, without either lying or embellishing, thus lend to life a vividness and a coherence that it may lack in the distracting woolliness of the present…. (as does) memory (which is) an instrument of simplification and selection’.

These comments about anticipation and memory rang very true for me.

He supports his observations with the thoughts of well-known writers: J.-K. Huysmans on the anticipation and rejection of travel, as well as Baudelaire on ambivalence toward places, Flaubert on the attractions of the Orient, Wordsworth on the benevolent moral effects of nature, Burke on the sublime, and Ruskin on the importance of careful observation.

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Other essays look at the reasons for travel: a mode of escape from current circumstances; a chance to make a fresh start and see things with fresh eyes; a time to contemplate (‘Journeys are the midwives of thought’ p57); the appeal and allure of the different or exotic; or just pure curiosity.

All these reasons ensure the success of this final book on a very different type of travel.

The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel by Rachael Antony and Joël Henry 2005

I loved this book! It’s quirky and fun and enables a fulfilment of all the above reasons for travel with a series of unusual challenges without the expense of conventional travel! Some of the suggestions include:

Alternating Travel: Discover your own home town by alternating your direction- first road on the right, then next on the left, ad infinitum!

Anachronistic Adventure: Travelling by an outmoded form of transport or explore your city with a vintage guidebook.

Fly By Night: Explore a destination by night until the sun rises.

Voyage to the End of the Line: the end of the railway line; bus route or ferry trip and

Ariadne’s Thread or any other name for that matter! Get a friend to make a list of their 10 favourite or personally meaningful places in the city  (eg the first time …), plot these places on a map and draw a line (the thread) between them and follow it.

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And of course, for we armchair travellers, the internet is a wonderful source for information, dreaming and inspiration. Now that our appetite for travel has been stimulated, I am exploring some of my favourite bucket-list gardens overseas for the next fortnight!

 

Travel Books: Part Two: Dreamy Travel Books

Here are some of our favourite travel books to inspire your next adventure! The world certainly is a wonderful place!!!

The Traveller’s Atlas: A Global Guide to the Places You Must See in Your Lifetime by John Man and Chris Schüler 2004

This is a lovely book and a comprehensive  guide to some of the wonderful places our world has to offer. They are organized into different geographical areas:

North America: Banff National Park; Grand Canyon; Cliffs of Yosemite; San Francisco and the West Coast; the Adirondack wilderness; and Florida;

Central and South America: Mexico; La Ruta Maya; Costa Rican wildlife; an Amazon riverboat; and the Inca Trail;

Africa: Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains, Morocco; a Steamer trip to Timbuktoo; Egypt and the Nile; the East African Rift Valley, the birthplace of mankind; and Zambesi and the Okavango, both rich in wildlife;

Mediterranean and Near East: Moorish Spain; Provence; Chamonix and the Alps; Renaissance Italy; Venice; the Meteora, Greece; Crusader castles in Syria, probably since obliterated by the Syrian War, and Istanbul, where East meets West;

Northern Europe: Western Isles of Scotland; West Coast of Ireland, which we have already visited; the Norwegian coastline; and the elegant cities of the Middle European countries of Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland;

Northern Asia: The Trans-Siberian railway; the Great Wall of China; and the cliffs of the Gobi Desert;

Central Asia: the Karakoram Highway and the Silk Road; the Roof of the World at Kathmandu in the Himalayas; the Gorges of the Yangtze River; and Kyoto, the cultural centre of Japan;

India and South-East Asia: the Princely States of Rajasthan and  the Sacred City of Varanasi in India; the jungle temples of Cambodia at Angkor Wat; and the tropical island of Bali;

Australia: Dreamtime in the Northern Territory; the Great Barrier Reef; Cradle Mountain, Tasmania;

New Zealand: Rotorua, the geothermal hotspot; and Queenstown, the Adventure Capital;

And the Pacific: Hawaii; Tahiti; Easter Island and Cruising the Galapagos.

Each entry has a Fact File with details, which vary from access/ transport; the best time to visit; dimensions/ population; climate; currency; food and drink; and language; to  information centres (addresses also listed in the back of the book); permits/ equipment required; and warnings and health precautions; with comprehensive maps, beautiful photographs and lots of information about each area, including inset boxes of historical interest. This book definitely gives you itchy feet!!BlogTravelBooksReszd25%Image (632)

The Marshall Travel Atlas of Dream Places: A Guide to the World’s Most Romantic Locations 1995

This lovely book provides a grand tour of the world’s best loved romantic destinations and trips, which are divided into the following chapters:

Cities of Romance and Creation: St Petersburg; Venice; the Orient Express; Damascus; Vieux Carré; Montmatre; Paris by the Seine; Seville; and Prague;

Entangled in History: Gripsholm; Charleston; Dürnstein; the Romantic Road; Holyrood House; Wawel Cathedral; and Versailles;

Paradise Found: Grasmere; Victoria Falls; Livingstone’s Travels; Mount Kailas; Bay of Naples; the Grand Tour; and Fingal’s Cave;

From the Mists of the Past: Petra; Soúnion; Cuzco; the Inca Trail; Borobodur; Luxor; the Nile; and Chichén Itzá;

and Outposts of the Beyond: Kathmandu; Samarkand; the Silk Road; Bangkok; Kyoto; the Trans-Siberian Railway; Shanghai; and Havana, Cuba.

The book discusses the history and special features of each area, supported by maps and beautiful photographs and a more extensive gazetteer including further sights in the back. The book itself is a wonderful trip into the romantic past!BlogTravelBooksReszd25%Image (633)

Silk, Scents and Spice: Retracing the World’s Great Trade Routes: The Silk Road, the Spice Route and the Incense Trail  by John Lawton 2004

I have always been fascinated and entranced by the Silk Road, a network of overland trade routes  12 000 km long over the mountains, deserts and steppes of Central Asia between the Orient and the markets of Europe and the Middle East 2000 years ago.

Originating in Xian, the ancient capital of China, one route was 6 400 km long and followed the Great Wall of China westward, skirting the Taklamakan Desert and passing through the Fergana Valley to the caravan cities of Samarkand and Bukhara, then across the Caspian Sea to Constantinople in Turkey, while other routes climbed the Pamir Mountains and crossed Afghanistan and Iran to the ports of the Eastern Mediterranean,  or crossed the Great Wall to Mongolia, crossing the steppes of Kazakstan and Southern Russia to Europe.

Camel caravans carried Chinese silk, tea, porcelain and lacquerware west, in exchange for European amber, silk and gold, travelling eastward. Other trade goods included indigo dyes, glassware and frankincense from the Middle East; pepper, cotton and sandalwood from India; furs from Siberia and war horses from Central Asia. It was also the conduit for the dissemination of ideas and cultural traditions in all directions, including the spread of religions, as well as the latest science and technology like papermaking, printing and gunpowder from China; and mathematics, medicine and astronomy from the West.

The authors follow the different sections of the Silk Road and their fascinating historical background and current political situation (post Cold War and the disintegration of the Soviet Union) are discussed in detail:

The Royal Road: This route is 2 500 Km long and runs from Susa, Iran, across Mesopotamia and Anatolia, to the Ankara, Turkey and Aegean Sea;

The Golden Road: Linking Central Asia with the metropolises of Mesopotamia: Samarkand and Bukhara;

The Mountain Passage: Traversing the roof of the world and some of the world’s mightiest mountain ranges: the Pamir, Tien Shan, Karakorum, Himalaya and Hindu Kush and providing lines of communication between Central Asia, China and India since ancient times;

The Steppe Route: Followed by the nomadic horsemen, the Scythians, Huns, Turks and Mongols from Mongolia across China, Southern Russia and Central Asia, through the Ukraine to Hungary; and

The Imperial Highway: from Xian to Lanzhou and Anxi, across the Gobi and Taklamakan Deserts, to the oasis of Turpan and the ancient jade market of Khotan and thence, the magical city of Kashgar.

I learnt so much about the different peoples, rulers and empires: the Assyrians and Hittites; the Scythians; Alexander the Great and the Ancient Greeks, the Parthians, Kushans and Sassanians; the Ancient Romans; the Seljuk Turks and the Ottomans; the Ghaznavids and  Ghurid conquests; Genghis Khan and the Golden Horde; Tamerlane (Timur) and the Mongols; the Huns; the Khorezmshahs; Babur, the first of the Moghul emperors; Kublai Khan and the centenarian Hunzacuts (Ismaili Muslims), as well as the  history of Constantinople (also called Byzantium and now Istanbul); the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia, which hold 200 early Christian churches; the Arab conquest of Central Asia; the beautiful architecture of Bukhara and Samarkand; the formation of the six Central Asian republics in 1927: Azerbaijan and the five ‘stans’: Kazakstan; Kyrgystan; Turkmenistan; Uzbekistan and the Persian-speaking Tajikstan; the celestial horses of the Fergana valley, stolen by the 60 000 strong Han army; the origins of Buddhism; the petroglyphs of Gandhara; the kurgans and grave goods of the Pazyryk nomads in the Altai region of Siberia; and finally, the secret of sericulture (silk).BlogTravelBooksReszd25%Image (631)

The section on the Spice Route, a network of sea lanes plied by Arab dhows, Chinese junks and Spanish galleons between the Mediterranean and the Far East, including India, China and the Spice Islands of Indonesia and the history of spices is equally fascinating!

Apparently, the Ancient Mesopotamians used 3 to 10 condiments in their recipes, as recorded on Akkadian cuneiform clay tablets from 1700 BC. I also learnt that cinnamon was the most prized spice in antiquity and was used in embalming by the Ancient Egyptians; in a sacred anointing oil by Hebrew priests and as a flavouring oil by Ancient Greeks, Herodotus writing in 5BC that cinnamon came from remote swamps guarded by huge bat-like creatures.

The authors describe the different parts of the route: the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean; the ports of Muscat, Suhar (the legendary home of Sinbad the Sailor and the source of copper, the backbone of the Sumerians’ wealth), Malacca, Goa and Galle; Cochin (the present-day centre of the spice trade), the Maldives and Sri Lanka; the Spice Islands of Indonesia; and the history and source of the different spices involved: cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and pepper.

Finally, the Incense Trail, the oldest caravan route in the world delivering frankincense and myrrh from the aromatic growing regions of Arabia to the incense-hungry empires of the Ancient World, including Egypt, Babylon and Rome.

This is a beautiful book with stunning photographs of the landscapes, peoples, architecture and artefacts and an excellent map showing all these important trading routes and cities at the front. It is also supported by a DVD based on the book and co-produced by UNESCO and Arté in 2008, with interactive menus, animated maps and related UNESCO projects. I would love to get a copy one day! See: http://www.unesco.org/archives/multimedia/?pg=33&s=films_details&id=603.

Discovering the Wonders of Our World: A Guide to Nature’s Scenic Marvels Reader’s Digest 1993

Readers’ Digest always produce excellent guides and this one is no exception. While discussing some of the places already mentioned, it also covers so much more, particularly those places with amazing natural features and attributes, like Tassili N’Ajjer in the Sahara Desert with its ancient rock art and pinnacles, carved out by the old, now non-existent, rivers; the Ruwenzori Mountains between Uganda and Zaire; East Africa’s Soda Lakes, frequented by millions of pink flamingos each year; the Ngorongoro Crater, Northern Tanzania, home to one of the highest concentration of wildlife in Africa; the stunning Blyde River Canyon of South Africa and the limestone razors of the Ankarana Plateau at the northern tip of Madagascar, with its amazing biodiversity and unusual animals. And that’s just a sample of the African entries!

There are so many other places described in this book, which  I would love to visit like the Ritten Earth Pillars of South Tyrol; the Cappadocian Cones with their troglodyte cities in Turkey; the Heavenly Mountains of the Tien Shan in Central Asia; the Lunan Stone Forest in China’s Yunnan Province and the Guilan Hills in South China; and The Olgas and Lake Eyre in full flood here in Australia.  In fact, in this book, there are 138 natural wonders described, accompanied by lovely photos, clear maps and diagrams and pages featuring early explorers, geologists and geographers; farming practices; early mountaineers; landscape in film and art; and monuments of lost empires.

In the back of the book is a 38 page section explaining how natural forces (heat from the Earth’s interior; heat from the sun; and gravity) have shaped our world, along with the mechanisms of continental drift; volcanoes and earthquakes; the birth of mountains; limestone formations; the coastal fringe; river erosion and the brief life of lakes; the sculpting glaciers; and sandblasted deserts, including inset boxes of key facts like the world’s deepest caves or ocean trenches; the worst eruptions or earthquakes; the longest rivers; highest waterfalls; the longest glaciers and the highest mountains.BlogTravelBooksReszd25%Image (634)

Try this quiz WITHOUT looking at a map!:

1.Which is the world’s biggest lake?

2.Which is the largest hot desert in the world and how large is it?

3.Where is the lowest land point on earth?

4.What is a doline?

5.How long and wide is the world’s longest glacier and what is it’s name?

This wonderful book holds all the answers (though I will take pity on you and provide the answers at the end of the post to save you time googling!! Though having said that, I did check Google in the interests of accuracy, given this book was published almost 25 years ago and landscapes (and knowledge!) do evolve and change over time!

501 Must-Visit Natural Wonders Bounty Books 2007

A more recent guide and a lovely book to dip into at random, this enticing book is a great taster to some of the world’s amazing natural wonders, listing 501 places, plants and animals, each with its own page (with the occasional double page spread) and an inset box of quick details: What It Is; How to Get There; When to Go; Nearest Town; Don’t Miss; and You Should Know!

While many are well-known, for obvious reasons, there are many many places, of which I had never even heard like: the Laurentian Mountains in Quebec, with their incredible Autumn colour; the stunningly beautiful Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland; and the Cerrado, Central Brazil, one of the oldest and most diverse tropical ecosystems in the world, as well as the richest savanna area on earth, with over 10 000 plant species (half of which is endemic), 900 bird species and 300 mammals. And that’s just the Americas!

The pages on American flora and fauna include : the ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest and the Giant Redwoods (Sequoias) , the largest trees in the world, both in California; in Canada, the Caribou Migration, Orcas and the Polar Bears of Churchill, under dire threat by global warming; the Penguins of South Georgia and the Hummingbirds of Trinidad; the Horseshoe Crabs of Delaware Bay; and the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuaries in Mexico.

The section on Australasia and Oceania is very comprehensive with 65 entries, 27 of which are in Australia and 16 of which we have visited! It’s good to know there are still many more places to explore and even if we never get to visit all of these beautiful places (and really in the interests of preservation, its better that we don’t!), this book is a great record of the amazing natural wonders and biodiversity of our very special planet!BlogTravelBooksReszd25%Image (628)

Paradise on Earth: The Natural World Heritage List: A Journey Through the World’s Most Outstanding Natural Places IUCN 1995

Given the huge environmental pressures, due to increasing human population and development, it is fortunate that many of these places are protected by World Heritage listing and the next book describes 113 of the 100 natural and 300 cultural areas mentioned in the 1995 book, though now there are 1052 sites listed by UNESCO. See: http://www.worldheritagesite.org/worldheritagelist.html and  http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/stat. IUCN stands for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (https://www.iucn.org), the scientific advisor to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, which identifies areas worthy of nomination to the World Heritage List.

Areas are chosen following a rigorous assessment process, which compares them to other similar sites to determine their uniqueness and evaluates five factors (distinctiveness; integrity; naturalness; dependency and diversity) to ascertain their conservation importance.

The guidelines are very strict and all must be adhered to for inclusion in the list. For example, the Burrup Peninsula on the Dampier Peninsula, which has the world’s largest and most important collection of petroglyphs (ancient rock art engravings 30 000 years old) has not been given World Heritage Status because of the risk of polluting emissions from current and proposed heavy industry nearby. See: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/australias-most-significant-site-kept-off-unescos-world-heritage-list-20170209-gu9sr9.html.

The following sites give some idea of the criteria used to select sites: http://whc.unesco.org/en/criteria/;

http://www.environment.gov.au/heritage/about/world/world-heritage-criteria and

https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/70d3290e-be32-4efa-93da-594948f5df9e/files/outstanding-values-factsheet.pdf.

Unfortunately, as pointed out in the book, their inclusion on the list does not necessarily protect them (see the current furore over the Adani Coal mine in the Galilee Basin in North Queensland, posing enormous risks to the Great Barrier Reef, which obtained World Heritage Listing in 1981), and it is only through political commitment, pushed by widespread public support, that ensures their survival. This book was produced to increase public awareness and appreciation to achieve this aim.

It certainly is an incredibly beautiful and very important book! Divided into continents, each entry is 2 to 4 pages long with side inset panels, detailing its location; area; features; flora and fauna; and facilities. The main text describes these special areas, along with risks and pressures they face. As can be expected, the photographs of the landscapes and flora and fauna are superb!

There are also individual essays on Trees and Global Warming; Rainforest Riches;  Biodiversity; Climate Change and How World Heritage Can Help; the World Heritage Convention; the Oceans: Our Lifeblood Threatened; and the Importance of Environmental Protection.

This book is essential for every natural history library, in fact I believe everyone should read it! We certainly have a stunningly beautiful and fragile planet!BlogTravelBooksReszd20%Image (636)

A Journey Through Ancient Kingdoms and Natural Wonders: The World Heritage Sites of Australia, New Zealand and South-East Asia by Leonard Cronin 1995

Produced in the same year, this book is more specific to our part of the world, focusing on 11 World Heritage sites in Australia, two in New Zealand; and nine in South-east Asia. There are now 19 sites in Australia (See: http://www.environment.gov.au/heritage/places/world-heritage-list and http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/travel/destinations/2015/05/world-heritage-sites-of-australia), three in New Zealand and 37 in South-East Asia. See: https://aseanup.com/world-heritage-sites-in-southeast-asia/.

In this book, each site has an entire chapter devoted to it, with an in-depth discussion of its landscapes and habitats; characteristics; formation; history; diversity of species; their importance to the world community; and threats and preservation.

The Australian sites discussed include: Great Barrier Reef; the Wet Tropics of Queensland; Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (Ayers Rock and the Olgas); Kakadu National Park; Australian Fossil Mammal Sites (Riversleigh, Queensland and Naracoorte, South Australia); the Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves; Fraser Island; Shark Bay; Willandra Lakes; the Tasmanian Wilderness; and Lord Howe Island.

The New Zealand entries include Tongariro National Park and Te Wahipounamu (South-West New Zealand). The latest inclusion is the Subantarctic Islands (the Snares, Bounty Islands, Antipodes Islands, Auckland Islands and Campbell Island). See: http://www.fourcorners.co.nz/new-zealand/world-heritage-areas/.

Having visited many of the Australian and New Zealand sites personally, I can confirm the book does an excellent job of portraying them!

The South East Asian entries include:

Indonesia: Komodo National Park; Ujung Kulon National Park, Java, refuge of the last Javan Rhinoceri and the Prambanan and Borobodur Temple Compounds;

Thailand: the Ancient Kingdom of Ayutthaya; the Old City of Sukhothai; the Bronze Age settlement of Ban Chiang; and the Thung yai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, the last true wilderness area left in Thailand;

And Angkor in Cambodia, the largest complex of temples and monuments in the world, covering almost 200 square kilometres.

This is an excellent book, which I can highly recommend!BlogTravelBooksReszd25%Image (629)

World Travel: A Guide to International Ecojourneys  Edited by Dwight Holing 1996

Ecotravel is a growing branch of tourism and essential for the continued survival of our fragile ecosystems. Not only is it important that we have as small an impact on these areas as possible, but the tourist dollar is often the reason these areas are able to survive the threats of over-exploitation and habitat destruction.

In the first chapter, this book defines ecotourism and discusses early nature travellers, modern ecotourism and conservation organizations and management.

In Chapter Two: Planning an Ecotour, the authors discuss trip research, timing according to the Wildlife Calendar (see photo below), choosing a tour operator, health, money and security issues, packing essentials and ecotravel equipment.BlogTravelBooksReszd30%Image (642)Chapter Three: Responsible Travelling covers: Ethical considerations and culturally sensitive travel; Means of ecotravel: Hiking, camping, cycling, kayaking and rafting, scuba diving and animal-supported travel; and Different Types of Ecotravel: Naturalist-Led Tours and Volunteer Vacations (research surveys and habitat restoration).

The main bulk of the book features 68 ecojourneys, arranged under six geographical headings: North America; Central and South America; Europe; Africa; Asia; and Oceania and Antarctica.

Each section begins with an introduction to the overall area; a map and a list of the featured destinations. Each individual entry has a coloured background identifying the location of the region; beautiful photographs of the scenery, habitats and flora and fauna; colour illustrations of the latter; maps showing location and major roads and towns; an inset box with keyed symbols and traveller’s notes on access; visiting time; information centres and accommodation; and precautions; and feature boxes on specific information like local environmental issues; signification conservation projects; indigenous lifestyles and flora and fauna.

The Resources Directory in the back contains suggestions for further reading (books, magazines and internet sites); organizations (ecotravel; conservation; medical and security; and volunteer vacations); an index and glossary and a list of contributors to the book.

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Ecotouring: The Ultimate Guide by Magnus Elander and Staffan Widstrand 1993

Another book on ecotourism, describing 30 key nature destinations in detail, as well as brief descriptions of a further 130 nearby locations.  We have visited some of the sites described:

The steep bird cliffs of the North Atlantic (The Puffins of the Fair Isles; the Bonxies of Hermaness and the Bird City of Noss in the Shetlands);

The pink flamingos and white horses of the Camargue, France;

The crocodiles and birds of Kakadu National Park and the koalas and kangaroos (not to mention the odd wombat and seal!) at Wilson’s Promontary National Park, but that’s only four of the entries!

In each entry, the main text and stunning photographs are followed by a detailed description of the area and notes on access and transport; accommodation; climate and seasons; and flora and fauna of interest, as well as a brief description of nearby areas. It includes many areas, not covered in the previous books, and finishes with a list of key whale watching sites and coral reefs around the world.BlogTravelBooksReszd25%Image (630)

Classic Treks: The Most Spectacular Treks of a Lifetime: The 30 Most Spectacular Walks in the World Edited by Bill Birkett 2000

A beautiful book with stunning photographs of thirty  spectacular walks through incredibly beautiful natural areas in North America (7); South America (3); Europe (7); Asia (5); Africa (4) and Australasia (4).

It describes the unique qualities of each route, as well as providing essential facts and figures to help with trip planning, though obviously, you will need to check these on the internet for more up-to-date information.

There is a short introductory section on preparation and planning; safety; photography; and environmental awareness and responsibilities, followed by a guide to using the book and understanding the symbols like the degree of difficulty logo.

Each walk has a detailed itinerary, divided into days of set distances; detailed keyed maps and walk profiles; a monthly diagram of temperature and precipitation; photos and illustrations and a fact file containing an overview with start and finish points; walk difficulty and altitude; and details on access ( airports; transport; passports and visas; and permits and restrictions); local information sources (maps; guidebooks; background reading; accommodation and supplies; currency and language; photography; and area information); timing and seasonality (best months to visit; and climate); health and safety (vaccinations; general health risks; special considerations; politics and religion; crime risks; and food and drink); and highlights (scenic and wildlife and flora).

A list of contributors and travel information sites are listed in the back of the book.BlogTravelBooksReszd20%Image (637)

We bought this book after our trip to England and France with the kids in 1994, where we unknowingly walked parts of the  Pyreneean High Route on the French/ Spanish border, described in this book. We walked up to the snowline at Lescun (Day 1 and the start of the walk), where 6 year old Jenny fell in the icy melt-water stream and we saw giant snails and had a brief glimpse of an isard.

The next day, we walked the 11 km Tour des Lacs to the Refuge d’Ayous (Day 4) at 5 pm, 4 year old Caroline managing the whole walk on her own unassisted, discovering that the back of Pic Midi d’Ossau increasingly resembled a map of Australia the higher we went.

And on the final day, we called in briefly to the Cirque de Gavarnie (Day 12), the endpoint of the walk and an enormous shock to the system, given its total capitulation to the ravages of mass tourism with lots of highly madeup elderly ladies, riding staggering donkeys up to the cirque with its masses of postcard stands!

While I would love to explore some of the other overseas walks described, the probability is low, but the Overland Track from Cradle Mountain to Lake St. Clair (with a detour to the Walls of Jerusalem) in Tasmania and the Thorsborne Trail on Hinchinbrook Island off the North Queensland coast are still possibilities!

Top Treks of the World Edited by Steve Razzetti 2001

While the Pyrennean Haute Route and Overland Track also described in this book, most of the entries are about different walks to those described in the previous walk, as is the approach and format.

There is a general introduction to each continent with a general map of the area showing the walk locations, followed by a description of each walk, a more detailed map and an inset box of information including: Location; When to Go; Start; Finish; Duration; Maximum Altitude; Technical Considerations; Equipment; Trekking style; and Permits and Restrictions.

Again, the photos are superb! The Eden to Mallacoota Walk (Nadgee Wilderness) is on our immediate radar, being so close, but I still hanker after the Alta Via II Walk through the Dolomites in Northern Italy ; the Lycian way in Turkey; the Tsitsikamma Otter Trail Circuit in South Africa; and the Himalayan treks on the Roof of the World, seven of which are described in this truly beautiful book!BlogTravelBooksReszd20%Image (638)

Lonely Planet’s 1000 Ultimate Adventures 2013

We have always enjoyed bushwalking and kayaking in the great outdoors, but there is also a huge market in adventure tourism these days, especially for the young and active, as well as adrenaline junkies and thrill-seekers!

This book is for them, though there is still plenty of relevant information for us like: the Best Birding Sites or Marine Encounters; the Most Stellar Star-lit Adventures; Famous Footsteps and Legendary Odysseys; and Rousing Reads for Armchair Travellers!

We might give the Wildest Flights; the Most Dangerous Places to Travel; the Most Dangerous Adventures; the Most Hair-Raising Road Trips;  the Scariest Animal Encounters; the Hottest Volcano Ventures; the Most Vertiginous ventures; and the Best Adventures in the Buff  a miss, but they are fun to read about!!!!BlogTravelBooksReszd30%Image (626)

Tomorrow, I will post the third and final selection of  travel books in our library. These books cover the practicalities of travel! Here are the answers to the quiz:

Quiz Answers

1.According to the book, the world’s biggest lake is the Caspian Sea, SW Asia 393 900 sq km (152 000 sq miles), though Google says 370 886 square kilometers (143 200 square miles), but it still is the lake with the largest surface area in the world!

2. The Sahara Desert, North Africa is 9.1 sq km (3.5 Million sq miles).

3. The lowest land point on Earth is the Dead Sea at 396 metres (Google says 414 metres) below sea level. The lowest natural point underwater is Challenger Deep at the bottom of the Mariana Trench 11 034 metres below sea level.

4. A doline is a hole on the surface, after a limestone cave roof has collapsed or dissolved.

5. According to this book, the Lambert Glacier in the Australian Antarctic Territory is the largest glacier in the world at 402 km (250 miles) and up to 64 km (40 miles) wide. Given climate change, I was expecting very different dimensions on Googling, but happily, it is still the largest glacier in the world and the Google figures were actually larger: 435 km (270 miles) long and more than 96 km wide (60 miles).

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.

The Winter Garden

Winter is finally coming to a close! The first two months (June/ July) were very cold, with heavy frosts, which were much worse than last year, damaging all the fresh new growth on the citrus trees (first photo) and almost completely destroying our beautiful native frangipanis, which had been doing so well (second photo). Hopefully, they will recover this Spring!BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-18 18.51.56BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-23 11.01.35Most of the salvias in the Moon Bed, a large area of agapanthus slope (1st photo) and the giant bamboo and the pots of succulents, daisies and aloe vera were also hit, and even the pink rock orchid (2nd photo) and the elkhorn (3rd photo), both of which should have been safe in their relatively protected positions! Luckily, they are both tough and show signs of recovery.BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-23 10.56.32BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-23 14.42.40BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-18 18.54.51Heavy frost certainly sorts out your plant selection! Only the tough survive!!BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-27 10.52.38BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-05-28 10.43.18Winter frosts also mean blue and gold sunny days and cold Winter nights and while the Winter Garden takes a holiday from blooming, we still did plenty of work in the garden, preparing for the new season, as well as exploring the local area and enjoying the Winter fires (both in the house and a friend’s bonfire night) and indoor activities.

I will start this post with an overall review of the garden in each month, followed by a recap of our garden jobs; creative pursuits and exploratory days out.BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-05-28 10.53.21BlogWinterGardenReszd20%IMG_0253June saw the end of the Autumn foliage (1st photo above of the Japanese Maple), a bounty of ivy berries for the bowerbirds (2nd photo above) and the last of the late roses. The photos below are, in order: Stanwell Perpetual; and David Austin roses, Heritage and LD Braithwaite.BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-05-28 10.45.22BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-05-28 10.46.56BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-05-28 10.46.36from which I made my birthday bouquet below: David Austin Roses: Heritage; Eglantyne; Fair Bianca; and William Morris; Feverfew; purple and white Dames’ Rocket; violets; Ziva Paperwhites and Buddleja foliage.BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-05-30 13.04.00BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-14 13.29.16BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-06 13.49.24 From then on, it was vases of violets and Winter bulbs: Galanthus; Erlicheer and Ziva Paperwhites, all of which are flourishing in their new positions and naturalising well.BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-18 18.44.24BlogWinterGardenReszd20%IMG_0215BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-20 11.51.42BlogWinterGardenReszd20%IMG_0177BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-20 14.56.25 Other June bloomers included: Primulas and Primroses; BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-11 11.51.28BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-18 18.44.01Winter Honeysuckle and Winter Jasmine;BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-20 16.11.03BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-11 17.39.25 and Japanese Anemones and Wallflowers. Lots of  whites; purples; lemons and yellows, with sharp sweet clean scents! The bees just adore the wallflowers!BlogWinterGardenReszd20%IMG_0179BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-27 13.22.48BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-11 14.43.38There were also the richer colours of gold and red in the Hill Banksia and the Grevillea. BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-07 13.46.16BlogWinterGardenReszd20%IMG_0192 The first crop of our citrus was also very encouraging, though I should have harvested the limes and lemonades earlier before the frost damaged them! Seen below are photos of our lime tree; lemon crop (cumquats in background) and lemonade tree.BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-06-05 14.56.44BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-06-05 14.58.27BlogWinterGardenReszd20%IMG_0307BlogWinterGardenReszd20%IMG_0153 I was very impressed with the sweetness of our first and only Navel Orange!BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-06 12.34.34In July, I was also very excited to see the emergence of our first Winter Aconite, which I had bought at great expense from Moidart Rare Plants last Spring, planted in the Treasure Bed and then waited for signs of life for months, resigning myself to the thought of having totally lost it! Now, it needs to multiply, then I will try naturalising it in the bird bath lawn with the Galanthus, which enjoys similar requirements.BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-03 16.17.01BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-08 14.18.30By late July, the leucojums (photo above) and hellebores had joined in. The first photo below is the corner of my neighbour’s garden by our shed. I can’t wait till our hellebores spread like that!!BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-11 17.32.16BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-11 11.35.04 While I love the single form of Helleborus orientalis (above), I’m rather partial to the double forms: Purple, White and Red;BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-18 18.46.25BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-14 17.25.46BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-27 13.01.51BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-11 17.26.11 as well as the rarer species hellebores: Helleborus x ballardiae ‘Pink Frost’.BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-11 14.58.49The japonicas, daphne and camellias also really picked up their game in early August, having been a bit shy to shine this year!BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-03 11.53.57BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-03 11.51.00 I felt they bloomed much earlier last year with its milder Winter. The first photo below is the view from our bedroom window!BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-20 17.21.20BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-28 12.22.48BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-26 10.23.23BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-14 17.54.20BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-04 16.19.28I was delighted to have more flowers for the house.BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-24 16.24.41BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-24 16.25.14While June and July can sometimes feel a bit long, I love the quickening pace of August with its increasing day length, resulting in miniscule changes in the garden, which gives such a sense of hope, anticipation and excitement: The tiny leaf buds swelling on the  trees (photo is the quince tree), shrubs and roses;BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-18 18.53.12 The shooting of tulips and iris in the cutting garden, naturalised bluebells, crocus and Poets’ daffodils in the lawn and hyacinth and grape hyacinth in the treasure bed;BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-18 18.43.48 and the celebratory blooming of miniature Tête à Tête daffodils and golden Winter Sun;BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-23 19.21.12BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-20 11.48.16BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-24 16.39.37BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-20 11.56.09BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-22 14.46.57 Magnificent golden Wattle;BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-11 13.31.09BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-11 13.31.15 Early Spring blossoms: Crab Apple; Plum and Birch;BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-27 10.55.37BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-27 10.55.07BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-24 09.31.42 And the blooms of forget-me-knots, golden-centred white paper daisies and begonias.BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-18 11.42.00BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-23 19.21.45BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-20 12.02.09The birds are also revelling in the return of Spring!BlogWinterGardenReszd20%IMG_0243BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-14 16.03.40BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-14 11.27.57BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-14 11.29.22 While the Winter trees were full of Currawongs, Crimson Rosella and Grey Butcher Birds (photos above in order), the tiny Striated Pardalotes have returned to the Pepperina tree, where their beautiful song marks the return of Spring.BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-11 14.42.08BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-11 15.18.05BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-11 13.11.38Eastern Spinebills and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters are also enjoying the August sun.BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-20 13.54.15BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-14 14.57.55The Bowerbirds have been feasting in great numbers on the new loquat crop, stealing a march on the Summer flying foxes!BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-14 17.06.59BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-14 17.09.28They also enjoy a swim in the bird bath, when not picking off my erlicheer blooms!BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-14 15.59.05BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-14 15.59.23

BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-18 18.47.19The magpies have been busy building their nest high in the Pepperina tree since late July. Can you see it up there?BlogWinterGardenReszd2517-07-30 15.06.56BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-28 12.07.26BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-11 11.37.45BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-27 10.57.23 Despite their vicious swooping assaults on any large bird foolish enough to come anywhere near their territory, they are incredible quiet with us, often waiting patiently within a metre of us while weeding for an easy meal.BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-24 13.15.57BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-24 13.13.06I was very excited with the return of last year’s baby White-faced Herons, to check out the old family home in the cottonwood poplar. BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-09 10.25.02We are crossing our fingers that they will nest there again, despite the magpies’ plans to the contrary! They seem to think that they own all the trees in the garden – in fact, quite possibly our house as well, though Oliver (2nd and 3rd photo below) might have something to say about that!BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-24 18.11.14BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-23 09.50.49BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-23 09.53.30 The nurturing aspects and bird-viewing potential of our neighbour’s giant tree makes up for its vigorous, and dishearteningly constant, propensity to shoot out roots deep into the soil under our vegetable beds! Raised vegetable beds are definitely part of our future garden plans!BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-07 09.25.08BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-07 09.25.12Winter is a great time to clean up the old garden and prepare for the new season! Weeding has been a major job: the aforementioned battle between the cottonwood poplar and our vegetable garden; the Cutting Garden ( 1st photo); the Soho Bed (2nd photo) and Moon Bed; and the new Shed Garden.BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-18 18.51.35BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-24 12.25.49We pruned all the old messy and dead growth: the feverfew and dames’ rocket in the Cutting Garden and the salvias and Paris daisy in the Moon Bed; the hydrangeas in late June and all the roses in late July; BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-27 14.54.15and lastly, all the old dead wood of the feral and incredibly prickly Duranta, creating a new semi-shady area to grow a white shrub bed, as well as lots of work, cleaning away all the lethal spiky offcuts! We transplanted the Viburnum mariesii plicatum, which was struggling in its old position in full shade; the white lilac, which really was out of place and would have eventually been too large for its location, and four Annabel hydrangea rooted cuttings from my sister’s garden at Glenrock.BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-14 17.24.49BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-18 18.54.01 The neighbour’s cats were fascinated by this brand new garden, but I’m not sure how their feet fared! The tubs were protecting my Galanthus from being demolished by trampling feet as well!BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-07 12.47.03We also transplanted the pomegranate and red azalea from the bottom of the garden to the entrance of the main pergola and the red border of the native garden respectively to make room for a future garden shed, which will hopefully be built in the next few months.BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-14 17.24.06Winter is a great time for garden planning and reorganization, as well as for building structures!BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-11 18.02.49BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-11 14.46.06 Ross has built a fantastic rose frame, using steel posts and weld mesh from old gates, against the old shed wall to support and effectively control our Albertine ramblers, which would otherwise take over the camping flat completely!BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-11 18.00.22 I can’t wait to see the future wall of salmon pink roses!blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2016-11-16-09-47-07We dug up the area underneath for a mixed dahlia bed, the plants hiding the bare legs of the climbing roses and blooms taking up the baton after the Albertine has finished. BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-20 14.59.06 This decision has also freed up the old dahlia bed for a future Brassica crop, though we have reserved the front third for Iceland poppies!BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-21 13.34.29We also finally put up the weld mesh on the top of the Main Pergola to support this year’s Summer growth of the climbing roses!BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-27 15.25.57Ross is getting very organized in the vegie garden! He has defined the edges of the vegetable and cutting garden beds with old weatherboards;BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-06 14.12.02BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-04 16.33.09 Confined all the raspberry plants to their own bed near the compost heap; planted two more blueberries, all in different stages (leaf bud; flowers; and Autumn foliage!);BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-06 14.40.12 Transplanted the rhubarb, asparagus and Russian tarragon to the new perennial vegetable garden (the northeast bed, which grew tomatoes and raspberries last year) and the snow peas to the corner of the compost heap, allowing some to stay and climb up the raspberries; pruned the old raspberry canes, transplanting the new Heritage runners to their own run and extending the old run with the Chilcotin and Chilliwack varieties;  and sown Calendula seed at the front of the bed.BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-21 13.58.28BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-21 13.50.07 In the remaining space of the perennial bed, he will plant pumpkins and zucchinis, letting them rambler down the bottom corner. He will then rotate between the two old main beds, which will grow potatoes (with later cucumbers) and beans, carrots, beetroot, with the current parsley and rocket in one bed; and kale, silverbeet, shallots, snow peas and lettuce and the two new ex-cutting garden beds, which will house early Spring brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower and brussel sprouts), and solanums (tomatoes, capsicum and aubergines) this year, though he has promised to allow any self-sown sunflowers or zinnias from the old beds to co-exist. Here are photos of our Winter vegie bed, with kale; ornamental chard; snow peas; broccoli; Spring onions and carrot seedlings just up!BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-18 18.51.02BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-18 18.50.51Meanwhile, I have been busy with the flower beds! I have transplanted overcrowded self-seeded rose campion and catmint to their new positions in the Moon and Soho Beds; planted gold and soft purple Bearded Iris to the back of the shed beds;BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-18 18.53.39 and created a complete silver ring of Lambs’ Ear to define the border of the Soho Bed. Stachys lanata is so tough, it didn’t even miss a beat on division and transplantation and, once established, will certainly make it difficult for any external invasion of weeds and grass! I love the downy soft feel of its foliage!BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-06 14.12.20 We planted our new roses from Thomas Roses in the Shed Bed (Mme Hardy; York and Lancaster; Rosa Mundi and Chapeau de Napoleon); on the flat (Maigold) and on the Main Pergola (Souvenir de St Anne).BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-06-06 16.27.24BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-06-06 17.07.37 Ross also dug up an area on the terrace under the Pepperina tree and divided the old clivia clumps, so we can enjoy a swathe of orange in Summer.BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-08 14.28.27This month, we have started sowing seed  in punnets under a plastic poly-tunnel on the warm path for plants to be later transplanted after the frosts: Heartsease (already up) and Scabiosa; Aquilegia and Honesty; Green Nicotiana and Gaillardia, which has already emerged at two weeks; Yarrow and Echinaceae; and Sea Holly and Green Wizard Coneflower, though we should have read the fine print on the latter, as we later discovered that  they need a constant 20 degrees Celsius to allow them to germinate! In lieu of an incubator tray, we have been carting them in and out of the house each day!!!BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-03 12.54.44BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-18 18.56.01We have also sown seed directly in the garden: Nigella, Miss Jekyll Blue, and pink oriental poppies, Princess Victoria Louise,  in the Soho and Moon Beds (photo below); Cerinthe major and burgundy-blue-and white mixed cornflowers (‘Fireworks’) in the shed garden; and Iceland poppies in the cutting garden (and third of the potato bed, as they are one if Ross’s favourite flowers!!!) You can see why I can’t wait for Spring!!!BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-04 15.19.03The Winter kitchen has also been a hive of activity with a first batch of lime cordial, made from our very own limes;BlogWinterGardenReszd20%IMG_0183 28 jars of cumquat marmalade from 6.6 kg fruit, with still more setting and ripening on the trees!;BlogWinterGardenReszd20%IMG_0298BlogWinterGardenReszd20%IMG_0302 and making lemon cupcakes for a birthday, as well as lots of warming Winter soups!BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-01 11.24.25BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-01 11.25.22On the colder, greyer days, I have enjoyed embroidering diatoms on a felt;BlogWinterGardenReszd20%IMG_0091 discovered the joys of making cords using a Kumihimo disc;BlogWinterGardenReszd20%IMG_0092BlogWinterGardenReszd20%IMG_0094 learnt to crochet a flower chain;BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-16 12.24.22 and made another embroidery roll for a friend.BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-14 16.00.45BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-08-14 15.46.43The majority of the days have had blue-and-gold days, as in sunny blue skies, perfect for exploring our beautiful local area:

Haycocks Point;BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-06-01 14.21.09BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-06-01 15.19.08Canoeing on the Murrah River to the Murrah Lagoon and the sea, where architect, Philip Cox,  built his holiday home;BlogWinterGardenReszd20%IMG_0335BlogWinterGardenReszd20%IMG_0398BlogWinterGardenReszd20%IMG_0551BlogWinterGardenReszd20%IMG_0549BlogWinterGardenReszd20%IMG_0578Exploring Bombala and Delegate, platypus country and part of the ancient aboriginal pathway, the Bundian Way;BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-04 13.13.41BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-04 12.56.29BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-04 15.11.21BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-04 15.40.14Visiting On the Perch, Tathra, with its amazing range of birds, organized into their different environments, including this Emerald Dove and Maud, the Tawny Frogmouth; Zoe loved feeding all the birds!BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-13 13.54.16BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-13 14.56.17BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-13 14.18.27Hiking from Bittangabee Bay to Hegarty’s Bay, part of the Light to Light Walk from Boyds Tower to Green Cape Lighthouse in the Ben Boyd National Park;BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-17 16.17.16BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-17 14.07.28BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-17 13.56.53BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-17 13.57.50BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-17 12.57.17BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-17 17.23.34Discovering Penders, the property owned by businessman Ken Myers and architect Sir Roy Grounds, which was donated to National Parks in 1976 and is now part of Mimosa Rocks National Park, with its amazing views from the Bum Seat, photographed below, of Bithry Inley and the sea;BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-25 16.13.13 BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-25 13.18.48and fascinating history and built environment, including Roy Ground’s tepeelike outdoor eating area, The Barn, and his geodesic dome structure;BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-25 13.34.56BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-25 13.22.50BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-25 17.12.51BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-25 13.17.45 the magnificent Spotted Gum and Macrozamia forests and old orchard, with huge old camellia trees in full bloom;BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-25 15.30.23BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-25 15.47.10 as well as the beautiful coastal walk to Middle Beach, with golden banksias against the blue blue sea and our first ‘echidna train’.BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-25 14.44.25BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-25 14.55.32BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-25 13.43.08 Apparently, during the mating season in July and August, one female will be followed by two to ten males, until she tires and the first in line gets lucky! According to the ranger on the track, echidnas are also very active just before rain and sure enough, three days later, it did rain! This quiet Swamp Wallaby kept us company over our picnic lunch.BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-25 14.20.04BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-07-25 16.30.37Other Winter highlights included my birthday (What a cake!!! Thank you, Chris!);BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-05-30 19.28.44BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-05-30 19.29.08 and a visit to Canberra for an interesting woodcut exhibition at the National Library of Australia, ‘Melodrama in Meiji Japan’ (see: https://www.nla.gov.au/meiji). We also popped into our favourite nursery, where we bought some tuberoses to plant in September after the frost. I just adore their scent, but will have to plant them away from the frost!BlogWinterGardenReszd2517-08-12 13.52.04We finished the Winter with a local orchid show at Merimbula with some stunning plants and an incredible range of form and colour.BlogWinterGardenReszd2517-08-19 12.45.09BlogWinterGardenReszd2517-08-19 12.38.53BlogWinterGardenReszd2517-08-19 12.40.40BlogWinterGardenReszd2517-08-19 12.42.42BlogWinterGardenReszd2517-08-19 12.41.33BlogWinterGardenReszd2517-08-19 12.40.26Next week, I am returning to one of my favourite rose types, the Noisettes. I will leave you with a Winter miracle, the humble spider’s web!BlogWinterGardenReszd2017-06-06 13.49.57

Our Beautiful Earth: Part Two: Natural History Books : Birds and Butterflies

One of the wonderful benefits of a garden, apart from beautiful flowers and fresh home-grown food, are all its other inhabitants – the interesting insects and spiders, the beautiful butterflies and the amazing bird life! We are always finding something new, both in our garden and our explorations of this beautiful area, which is so rich in natural history! Because the insect world is so vast, we have yet to find a good general guide on Australian insects and possibly never will! I suspect that it is probably easier to research and identify them from internet sites like :

http://anic.ento.csiro.au/insectfamilies/ ;

https://www.csiro.au/en/Research/Collections/ANIC/ID-Resources

http://www.ozanimals.com/australian-insect-index.html    and

https://australianmuseum.net.au/insects .

However, butterflies are a particular love of mine and there are a number of excellent publications!

I have always adored butterflies. They are such fragile ephemeral creatures, yet remarkably tough to survive at all and have such beautiful patterns, both as adults and caterpillars, and interesting life cycles, their emergence from their pupas being quite miraculous! While we have a number of butterflies in our garden here in Candelo, like the majestic Orchard Butterfly, we particularly loved their colourful cousins in Tropical North Queensland, like the iridescent-aqua Ulysses Butterfly, the pursuit of whose image resulted in my daughter falling through old rotten verandah boards and damaging her leg! In 2008, we were lucky enough to visit Iron Range National Park, a biological hotspot, not just for birds, but also butterflies, where we watched butterfly expert and James Cook University lecturer, Peter Valentine, in a crane, netting species in the tops of tall trees, while being kissed on our hands by salt-hungry butterflies – a very special moment! So, we could definitely identify with the author of this book:

An Obsession With Butterflies by Sharman Apt Russell 2003

This paperback is a fascinating read about equally fascinating creatures!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (554) - Copy

I learnt so much about them, including some of the following facts:

Butterflies belong to the Order Lepidoptera, which contains 18 000 known species of butterflies and 147 000 species of moths. This was back in 2003. There are more species identified now – see later!  Apparently, their appearance can morph within a gender; within different populations and habitats, and even within the same place at different times of the year, which makes identification a very difficult task indeed!!!

They have wonderful names like owls; birdwings; apollos; hamadryads; satyrs; jezebels; tortoiseshells; milkweeds; snouts; fritillaries; painted ladies, admirals, buckeyes, checkerspots ; crescents; moonbeams; brimstones; sulphurs; hairstreaks; swordtail flashes; metalmarks; coppers; cornelians; ceruleans; azures; oak blues;  imperial blues; emperors and even, white albatrosses.

In the Middle Ages, people believed buterfloeges were fairies in disguise, who stole butter, cream and milk.

Lord Rothschild (1868 – 1937) had a butterfly collection of 2.25 Million butterflies and moths, which he bequeathed to the British Museum, London, making it the largest collection in the world at that time.

2000 species of butterflies exhibit myrmecophily (a love of ants), where ants will maintain and protect larvae from parasitic wasp attack, in exchange for honeydew secreted by glands on the caterpillars eg. Bright Coppers and other blue butterfly species.

On emerging from its chrysalis, the Tiger Swallowtail engages in puddling or salt-drinking at muddy puddles with their bar buddies, who then practice hilltopping behaviour, where they congregate at the top of the hill to lie in wait for unsuspecting (or usually, not so unsuspecting) females to mate! While waiting, they engage in spiral territorial fights trying to establish dominance, all the while keeping a lookout for females! Not that different to humans really!

Monarch butterflies in Canada and Northern USA overwinter in Mexico. They can fly in clouds at altitudes as high as 3000 feet and as far as 50 miles a day. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9rZz3fILt4 and https://www.mexperience.com/travel/outdoors/monarch-butterflies-mexico/.

We also have migratory butterflies in Australia. See: http://www.qm.qld.gov.au/Find+out+about/Animals+of+Queensland/Insects/Butterflies+and+moths/Common+species/Migratory+Butterflies#.WMh7e2fj_IU and https://australianmuseum.net.au/caper-white-butterfly.

I remember sitting on our east-facing verandah at Dorrigo and watching hordes of Caper Whites, flying west up the escarpment, then up over our roof and ever onward. And they weren’t just hill-topping- there were too many of them!!! If this book has whetted your appetite to know more about butterflies, it is worth obtaining a comprehensive guide.

We actually possess three : Butterflies of Australia by IFB Common and DF Waterhouse 1972/ 1981; The Complete Field Guide to Butterflies of Australia by Michael F Braby 2004; and The Butterflies of Australia by Albert Orr and Roger Kitching 2010 . The first one is Ross’s old classic; the second, a more recent field guide, a perfect weight and size to carry with you on your butterfly walks; and the third and most recent, written by one of Ross’s ecology lecturers, when he studied environmental science at Griffith University, back in 1976 to 1978. This latter book is the one we tend to use most, so is the one I will discuss!

The Butterflies of Australia by Albert Orr and Roger Kitching 2010

This is an excellent book – very comprehensive, with clear readable text and lots of wonderful illustrations of butterflies in the field, reacting with their natural environment, rather than as dead museum specimens (the usual presentation in previous guides). If you can only own one butterfly guide, this is it!

As of 2010, in Australia, there are over 20 000 species of butterflies and moths, arranged in 82 families. The majority are moths, but the 400 species of butterflies are grouped in five families.

In Part One, the book discusses their anatomy; life cycle, reproduction, habitats, relationships with  plants and other animals and human impacts and butterfly gardening.

The larger Part Two is devoted to an in-depth discussion of each family, including identification notes about all the different species, including scientific name, size and habits, as well as a distribution map and illustrations of each species at each life cycle stage: egg, larvae (caterpillar); chrysalis (pupa); and adult male or female.

In the back is a list of butterfly books; journals; websites and societies; and two appendices : a checklist of Australian butterflies; and a list of larval host plants of Australian butterflies.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (518)

Birds

Another major interest is ornithology and we are so lucky here in Candelo with our beautiful bird population. Living high on the hill in amongst the old pepperina and loquat trees, we have an excellent vantage point for watching these amazing creatures, especially from our verandah. Not only do we have parrots and cockatoos in abundance, but also a number of smaller birds, like fairy wrens, finches and eastern spinebills, despite the high local population of cats!

Our immediate environment on the Far South Coast of New South Wales is very rich in birdlife as well, which I will write more about later in reference to local bird guides, but for now, a look at more general guides!

Every birdwatcher has their favourite bird book, which they believe is superior to all others! While my parents swore by Peter Slater and other ornithologists liked Graham Pizzey (both books, which we have owned in the past!), these days, we tend to refer to Simpson and Day as our first choice, followed by Michael Morecombe’s book for more detailed information and the Reader’s Digest Guide for top photographs.

Field Guide to the Birds of Australia by Simpson and Day   1984 – 1996     5th EditionBlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (505)

This is an excellent field guide with a waterproof cover, ideal for using outside! The introduction has a key to all the families and their page numbers, as well as a diagram of a bird’s body and information on bird identification using this book.

Most of the book is devoted to field notes about each bird species: its common and scientific names; abundance; movement (sedentary, annual or partial migratory and nomadic) ; description of males, females and juveniles; size; voice; and habitat, as well as excellent colour illustrations of each bird (male/ female/ immature/ races) and maps showing distribution (breeding/ non-breeding and vagrant, as well as boundary lines between races). Special identifiable features are also highlighted with black-and-white sketches of their hatchlings; head profiles; markings; tail patterns; eyes, bills and claws; or activity (display and courtship; flight; perching; calling; diving; stalking) for quick easy reference.

The Handbook in the last quarter of the book has detailed notes on the life cycle of birds; hints for bridwatchers; bird habitats in Australia; prehistoric birds; modern avifaunal regions; DNA – DNA hybridization;  and more information on the different bird families in Australia, including the breeding season for each species and further reading. There is also a rare bird bulletin; a checklist for Australian island territories; and a glossary of bird terminology.

Field Guide to Australian Birds by Michael Morcombe 2000BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (506)

While this book has very similar information, there are two major differences, which are very useful. Firstly, on the inside of the back cover (as well as in the introduction), there are colour tags for each family group with page numbers for quick reference, to which I constantly refer. And secondly, there is a large section in the back with 1000 colour illustrations of nests and eggs, showing the huge diversity in building techniques and aiding identification (photo below).

Accompanying the text are detailed notes on breeding season and location; courtship; nest material, shape and size; clutch and egg  size; incubation ;  fledging and leaving the nest. In the back is a section on migrant waders with a map of distribution;  a list of extinct birds and new discoveries; and references to bird books, magazines and prominent bird groups and schemes.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd20%Image (507)Reader’s Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds 1976

The big advantage of this book is its wonderful photographs of birds in their natural environment, including amazing shots of birds feeding, wading, sitting on nests or feeding nestlings, but its large size means that it is certainly NOT a field guide! We have used this book so much that we are now on our second copy!

Part One starts with a map of altitudes; average annual rainfall and rainfall variability; and vegetation zones in Australia, then explores each bird habitat from rainforest, forest and woodland to scrubland, shrub steppe,  grassland, heathland, mangroves and wetlands.

In Part Two, each bird has either a full page or double page spread with wonderful photographs, general notes (often with interesting historical notes)and an italicized section specifying other names, the length and description of males, females and juveniles; voice; nesting and distribution, including a distribution map. Towards the end of this section are lists of rare visitors, escaped captives and unsuccessful introductions, as well as notes on the different orders and families of Australian birds.

Part Three is concerned with the life of birds: the behaviour which distinguishes species (locomotion; flight; finding food; adaptations to feeding; care of feathers; aggression displays;  and courtship rituals); migrants and nomads; regulation of bird numbers; prehistoric birds of Australia; and the origins of Australian birds. It is such an interesting book with a wealth of information about Australian birds.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (515)

The next two books are devoted to birds of the world and show the huge diversity and beauty of these incredible creatures.

Encyclopaedia of Birds edited by Joseph Forshaw 1998

While the primary focus is always on birds of your own country, it is great to learn more about their worldly cousins, especially if travelling overseas. The introduction looks at bird anatomy and classification; the evolution of birds from feathered dinosaurs 150 Million years ago; bird habitats and adaptations to their environment; bird behaviour and endangered species.

The remainder and majority of the book is devoted to the different orders and suborders of birds eg albatrosses and petrels; divers and grebes; herons and their allies; waterfowl and screamers; and waders and shorebirds.

Each section has key facts in an orange box: the name of the order; number of families; genera and species; the smallest and largest types and conservation status (though this information is probably outdated now!), as well as a world distribution map and detailed notes about each type of bird and lovely illustrations and photographs. For example, in Herons and their Allies,  there are notes on identification by bill shape and historical notes on the Sacred Ibis of Ancient Egyptians, as well as specific notes on herons, night herons, bitterns, storks, new world vultures, ibises, spoonbills and flamingos. Kingfishers and their Allies covers kingfishers, todies, motmots, bee-eaters, rollers, ground-rollers, courols, hoopoes, and hornbills.

It is a fascinating book with lots of birds, of which I have never even heard and is a great addition to our natural history library.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (552)

Birds of the World by Colin Harrison and Alan Greensmith 1993

Slightly different in approach to the previous book, this  pocket sized guide describes over 800 bird species of the world, with half and full page spreads devoted to each bird. Each entry has a colour-coded band on the top, specifying the family and species name and length with detailed descriptive notes, including their nests and distribution; terrific photographs annotated with key identification pointers; scale silhouettes to compare bird height with the size of this book; pictures of alternate plumage, a worldwide distribution map and a band at the bottom of the entry specifying plumage, habitat and migratory status.

There are also notes on the relationship between birds and humans over history; types of feathers; bird anatomy; bill shape; variation within species; nesting boxes and bird feeders and water containers; birdwatching in the field; identifying birds in flight; and a useful identification key. An excellent taster to the wonderful world of birds!

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The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has an excellent website for bird information. See: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/Page.aspx?pid=1478 and https://www.allaboutbirds.org/. I discovered them, when researching Birds-of-Paradise. They have some wonderful video footage of the 39 species. See: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/search/?q=Birds%20of%20Paradise.

We would dearly love to see these beautiful birds in their natural environment in New Guinea one day!  In the meantime, we can satisfy our desire with the above videos and maybe one day, this bucket list book: Birds of New Guinea by Thane K. Pratt & Bruce M. Beehmer 2015 . See: http://www.botanicalbookshop.com.au/product/birds-of-new-guinea/fp9780691095639.aspx.

The following two books are useful guides to birdwatching locations, especially the second one, which focuses specifically on our local area.

Best 100 Birdwatching Sites in Australia by Sue Taylor 2013

Having lived in the country for most of our life and being keen visitors to National Parks, we have never really had to think about where to see birds, but this book would have been very useful during our 2008 trip around Australia, as well as being of great value to city birdwatchers in planning their ornithological excursions.

We feel we have seen a fair bit of Australia and key birdwatching venues, so it was an interesting exercise to tick off the places which we had visited in the book, finding to our surprise that we’d only been to 46 out of the 100 places listed! Happily, there is obviously much more to see!!! We are looking forward to a desert trip one day to see more of our beautiful parrot species.

While Sue admits the choice of places was subjective, I agreed totally with many of her selections. How can we ever forget the vast flotillas of Black Swans at Tower Hill, Victoria; the huge diversity of waterfowl at Fogg Dam, near Darwin, and Kakadu National Park in Northern Territory, as well as at Parry’s Lagoon in Western Australia; the enormous flocks of Plumed Whistling Ducks and Magpie Geese at Hasties Swamp on the Atherton Tableland in North Queensland, nor the Eclectus Parrots, Palm Cockatoos, Magnificent Riflebirds and Sunbirds at Chilli Beach in Iron Range National Park and the delicate Jacanas, Blue-winged Kookaburras, Brolgas and Magpie Geese at Lakefield National Park, both areas on Cape York, North Queensland. We finally saw a Cassowary in the wild on our last bushwalk at Mission Beach; called and cuddled Providence Petrels out of the sky at Lord Howe Island; and visited Broome Bird Observatory in Western Australia. It was great seeing the inclusion of our old stamping ground at Lamington National Park and two local areas of our new home : Mogareeka Inlet and Green Cape.

There are beautiful photographs throughout the book of birds in their natural environment. It is a lovely book to own!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (508)

Birding Australia: Australian Edition 2008 by Lloyd Nielsen

A very similar book, which covers a much larger area, but doesn’t have the lovely bird photos of the previous book. It is very much a directory with maps, a brief description of each area, its climate, access/ directions and its birding highlights, as well as lists of key species and endemics; good birding spots and best times; suggested itineraries; regional field guides, CDs and DVDs; local bird groups, accommodation, tours and websites, and a table of times for first light, sunrise, sunset and last light for the first day of each month.

A very comprehensive book, which is backed up by the Birding Australia website:  http://www.birdingaustralia.com.au/.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (574)

Birdwatching on the Far South Coast New South Wales by Far South Coast Birdwatchers Inc 2008

Essential reading for birdwatchers on the Far South Coast of New South Wales! We are so lucky in this area to have a wide variety of habitats with many wonderful waterways from mountain and forest; lakes and rivers; and National Parks to agricultural land and dams and many coastal lagoons and beaches. We also have three designated birdwatching routes, which never fail to please, especially the dam and floodplains at Kalaru, near Tathra, which always have a multitude of waterbirds.

This useful small book, compiled by the local birdwatching group,  is divided into three sections: Places to Go; Birds to See; and Other Information. In Places to Go, each area is described, including access, favourite birdwatching spots; and the birds likely to be seen, as well as providing a handy map and random hints like binocular adjustment and care; what to do if you find a bird on the ground and the Birdwatchers’ Code of Ethics. Like with the previous book, while we have already explored many of the areas mentioned, we still have plenty of local excursions in the future!

The second section, Birds to See,  lists 300 species of birds in the Bega Valley, including its scientific name; residency and abundance status; the best spots to see them and other general notes.

The last section suggests useful books and websites; gives the contact details of the Australian Bird and Bat Banding Scheme (ABBBS) and Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) and a few notes about dealing with ticks, mosquitoes, sandflies and leeches!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (509)

The next two books are very interesting reads about our Australian bird life.

The Lyrebird: A Natural History by Pauline Reilly 1988

My daughter based one of her science projects in Year 10 on Superb Lyrebirds, of which we had quite a large population on our rainforest block on the escarpment, adjoining Bellinger River National Park. We used this book extensively in her research for this project, as well as in the formulation of her experimental hypotheses.

She was particularly interested in their song, as male lyrebirds are superb mimics and will often go through an extensive repertoire of different bird calls to attract their mate. Armed with a tape recorder, Caro would tiptoe up on the birds, only to have them invariably go silent on her and glide off like Houdini into the bush, highly frustrating for her and by the end of it, I don’t think she wanted to see another lyrebird for a long while!

Nevertheless, she did get enough results to confirm Pauline Reilly’s assertion that the amount of time between between its own calls during the mimicry sequence is fixed and specific to each male, allowing their identification and ownership of territory.

However, her statement that lyrebirds do not mimic birds, which breed at the same time as themselves, was not supported by Caroline’s evidence, as she clearly recorded them mimicking Eastern Whipbirds in the subtropical rainforests of Dorrigo!

For anyone interested to know more about these fascinating birds, this book is a must! Chapters cover their origins and relationships; their distribution and annual cycle; descriptions of their physical appearance and  the roles of both males and females; immature lyrebirds; song and mimicry;  and random and interesting extra information. I have always loved Pauline’s story about the 1930s flute player, who used to play two popular songs of the time ,‘Mosquito Dance’ and ‘The Keel Row’,  near his pet lyrebird, who incorporated the tunes into his song, then passed them on to his descendants, who melded them together in their territorial calls, still heard in 1969.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (510)

Where Song Began by Tim Low 2014

Australia has so many fascinating and unusual birds from the lyrebirds with their amazing mimicry to the Satin Bowerbirds, which build courting platforms, decorated with entirely with blue tobacco flowers, cornflowers, pegs, milk bottle tops etc); the scrub turkeys and mallee fowl, which build enormous incubation mounds; the male emus and cassowaries, who raise the young; the Laughing Kookaburra, which eats snakes, the territorial magpie, nominated by Canadian biologist, the aptly named David Bird, as ‘the most serious avian menace in the world‘, yet with such a beautiful melodious song; and its incredibly beautiful colourful and raucous parrots!

This is a fascinating book, primarily  about the origin of birds and their evolution. There is so much interesting information about birds and their behaviour, particularly our Australian species, and while I really don’t want to add any spoilers, some of the topics include the beginning of song and the origin of parrots (both in Australia);  the birds of New Guinea; gigantism in birds; rainforest pigeons and their role in forest evolution, the endangered Gouldian Finch; seabirds; and the relationship between people and birds.

It’s a very readable book, backed up by both the fossil record and contemporary research and genetic studies. I was fascinated to learn that flamingoes used to live in Australia 20 Million years ago, having always doubted the inclusion of flamingos in Swiss Family Robinson, a childrens’ book about a family, shipwrecked on a tropical island near New Guinea. Apparently, there were 3 species of flamingos at Lake Eyre, up until 1 Million years ago. And that I’m afraid, is as much as you get…!  Enjoy the book!

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Next, I will be discussing books about more fascinating animal life.

Our Beautiful Earth: Part One: Natural History Books: Plants

Given that we are keen gardeners, it should be no surprise that another great interest is botany and the beautiful wildflowers of our incredible continent! In Australia alone, we have over 18 000 species of flowering plants, grouped in 200 families! We are forever identifying and photographing wildflowers whenever we are bushwalking and are always learning new things.

The botanical world is endless and knowledge is always expanding. The Pea Family is a classic case, so the best one can do is to have a broad understanding of the major families and know how to work the plant identification keys, but even then, there are always anomalies!  From my experience, it is useful to have a number of wildflower books, especially those pertinent to your specific locality, though having said that, there are often cross-overs between areas, so a wide variety of books is beneficial. Recent publications are also useful, as taxonomists often change scientific nomenclature, especially in the Eucalypt world! Here is a good general Australian wildflower book:

Field Guide to Australian Wildflowers by Denise Greig  1999

This book covers over 1000 Australian wildflower species, commonly encountered growing wild. They range in size from tiny annuals and terrestrial orchids to large perennials and shrubs. The book only includes a few trees, mainly colourful rainforest species or large-flowered mallees, and some common and conspicuous introduced plants, but ferns, fungi, sedges and grasses are not covered.

It is primarily a field guide rather than a definitive reference work, and early chapters are devoted to an explanation of terminology and nomenclature; how to use the guide; a small section on plant anatomy; a map of Australia showing the vegetation zones with accompanying descriptive text; and a guide to all the different Australian plant families, with a brief description and page reference numbers.

The remainder of the book is devoted to each family with species descriptions, flowering times and distribution on the left-hand page and colour photographs of each plant on the right-hand side. In the back is a useful glossary and bibliography. There are so may Australian wildflowers, but this general guide is a start!

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Because we lived in South-East Queensland and Northern New South Wales for many years, the next set of books were very useful.

Wildflowers of the North Coast of New South Wales by Barry Kemp  2004

Local flora guides are essential and this one is terrific! It covers the New South Wales coast from Newcastle, north to the Queensland border (500 km), and altitudes up to 800 metres elevation.

The plants are arranged into major habitat groups: Coastal Dunes, Headlands and Estuaries; Swamp Forest, Freshwater Wetlands and Riverbanks; Coastal Heath; Woodland Heath; Open Forest; Rainforest and Weeds, all sections with a description of each environment and its challenges and further division, based on size (Small Trees and Large Shrubs;  Small Shrubs and Herbs) and then family (in alphabetical order); genus and species. Beautiful photographs of both habitat and each species abound.

Many of the plants described are not restricted to this area, so the book is still relevant to Sydney and South-East Queensland.

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Australian Rain-Forest Trees WD Francis 1970

One of the original classics in rainforest tree identification, this third edition was produced almost 50 years ago, the first edition being published in 1929.

The introduction covers rainforest distribution in Australia; the character of Australian rainforests; the relationship of rainfall to rainforests; their atmospheric conditions and light; the soil and leaf litter; the effect of bushfires; tree size; buttresses and flanged stems; the bark, wood and leaves of Australian rainforest trees and the cultivation of these trees in Australia.

There is a brief description of the families of Australian rainforest trees, followed by identification keys and detailed descriptions of each family, including the derivation of its name, description, distribution, remarks and uses, as well as references, for both subtropical (Part One) and tropical rainforest trees (Part Two) !

I loved its black-and-white photographs of huge old rainforest trees with enormous girths, their height dwarfing the humans (often with axes in hand, the book having been produced by the Forest and Timber Bureau!) beside them, as well as close-up scaled photographs and diagrams of leaves, flowers and seed pods!

There is also a personal connection to this book, with photographs of my husband’s aunt and uncle in one of the photos, as well as a number of her moustached surveyor father, James Edgar Young, an early member of the Queensland Naturalists Club Inc, which was started in 1906 and still operates today.

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Ornamental Rainforest Plants in Australia by David L Jones 1986

Another excellent guide to Australian rainforest plants, with not an axe in sight!

One thousand species are discussed in detail, especially those with ornamental interest, with a focus on their cultivation and propagation in the home garden.

There is a wealth of information on rainforest types and distribution; cultivation requirements (soil; light; planting; mulching; watering; fertiliser; and pruning); leaf terminology (divisions, shape and margins); creating a rainforest (site conditions; species selection and layout; preparation and planting; mulching and nutrient recycling; watering and misting; and maintenance); and propagation by seed, cuttings, layering, division, grafting and budding.

The plants are discussed in family groups, with general notes on family features; horticultural attributes; cultivation; and propagation, then specific entries on genus (arranged alphabetically) and their species (common and scientific names; type of rainforest habitat; flowering period; description; distribution; notes and cultivation and propagation).

There are black-and-white scaled botanical sketches of foliage, fruit and flowers throughout, as well as coloured plates of photographs, making this book an invaluable identification guide as well.

In the back of the book is a variety of lists of rainforest plants for different situations and purposes, titled: Tropical, Subtropical, Temperate, Coastal and Inland Regions; Pioneer Plants and Fast Growing Species; Indoor Plants; Shade Trees; Curtailing Stream Bank Erosion; Attractive or Decorative Bark, Foliage, New Growth, Flowers and Fruit; Fragrant Flowers; Edible Fruit; and even Species Attractive to Nectar-Feeding or Fruit-Eating Birds.

This book certainly fulfils its promise of encouraging a love of rainforest plants and incorporating them in the garden.

BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (522)Gardening With Australian Rainforest Plants by Ralph Bailey and Julie Lake 2001

A very similar book, also promoting rainforest gardens, with a slightly different approach. While starting with a description of the different types of Australian rainforests, it digresses to dispel certain misconceptions and myths and then has very detailed chapters on:

Planning : Site considerations; design; climate; and soil

Plant Selection : Watercolour garden designs; buffer zones; essential steps in the creation of the garden; and lists of plants for specific needs eg windbreaks; buffer zones; variegated foliage; fragrance; and the rainforest floor.

Planting : Soil preparation; pH; planting for the different levels of the rainforest (for example : canopy, understorey and floor); climbers; planting in established gardens; watering; protection from wind and frost; staking and mulching; and more lists of plants: shrubs and understoreys; climbers and scramblers; palms; trees and shrubs with spectacular flowers; trees for the home garden; and pioneer plants.

Final Details: Vantage points; furniture; lighting; and rainforest pools, creeks and waterfalls.

Care and Cultivation: Water; fertilising; pruning; weed control; insect attack; and common pests and diseases;     and

Feature Rainforest Plants and their incorporation into mixed and exotic gardens; poolside plantings; colder climates; and boggy areas and creek banks.

There are also chapters on : Small Gardens and Courtyards: Seaside Rainforest Gardens; Drier Inland Gardens; Container Growing; Wildlife in the Rainforest Garden, including bird and butterfly attractants and pond life; Rainforest Plants for Bush Tucker, including lists of edible and toxic plants; and finally, propagation by seed, cuttings and grafting.

The authors include their 100 favourite rainforest plants, with key symbols for light levels, temperature, water requirements and special features for quick reference. Primarily a gardening book, its photographs are still useful for supporting other identification guides.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd25%Image (573)

Rainforest Plants I-V by Nan and Hugh Nicholson 1985-2000

A wonderful series of five books by the owners of Terania Creek Nursery in Northern New South Wales, we used these small books extensively during our Dorrigo years, as our block was perched right on the escarpment, bordering Bellinger National Park and Dorrigo National Park and was surrounded by subtropical, warm temperate and cool temperate rainforest species.

The photographs are beautiful and make identification much easier, though at times I wished that they covered all aspects – flowers, fruit and leaves on the one page!

The accompanying text is also very informative with common, scientific and family names and notes about the name derivation; distribution; identification features; habitat; fruit, seeds and dispersion; germination and use in the garden.

Other features include:  a distribution map for the East coast of Australia (Volume 1); notes on growing a rainforest and weeds (both in Volume 2); rainforest types (Volume 3); disturbing rainforests (Volume 4); and rainforest seeds and their propagation (Volume 5), as well as a cumulative index for all 5 books.

There are certainly some beautiful rainforest plants and this series really engenders a great appreciation of them all.

Australian Rainforest Fruits: A Field Guide by Wendy Cooper 2013 *

I always used to hanker after this book, but alas, it was too expensive at the time, but had we stayed in Dorrigo on our rainforest block, we would no doubt have bought it at some stage. See: http://www.botanicalbookshop.com.au/product/australian-rainforest-fruits/cs9780643107847.aspx.

Mind you, if we had had the money, we would have loved the definitive reference guide to Australian plants :  the Flora of Australia series, co-published by CSIRO and Australian Biological Resources Study, since 1981 . See http://www.publish.csiro.au/books/series/6  and: http://www.environment.gov.au/science/abrs/publications/flora-of-australia  and http://www.environment.gov.au/science/abrs/publications/flora-of-australia/families.

The plan was for more than 60 volumes, covering almost 30,000 species, systematically arranged by family, including flowering plants, conifers, ferns, mosses, liverworts and lichens of Australia and its oceanic islands. It is now no longer available in printed form, but fortunately for us, it is now presented as an online Australasian eFlora platform. See: http://www.anbg.gov.au/abrs/online-resources/flora/ and http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/abrs/online-resources/flora/index.html and http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/abrs/online-resources/flora/main/index.html.

BlogEnvtlBooksReszd20%IMG_1077While on the subject of Australian flora (and fauna), it is well worth checking out an organization, called Bush Blitz, which is based at the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra and conducts biological surveys all over Australia, discovering many new species in the process. Our friend, Brian Hawkins, with whom Ross worked back at the Rainforest Centre in Dorrigo, is a Senior Project Officer with them. See: http://bushblitz.org.au/expeditions/ and http://bushblitz.org.au/team-profiles/.

Guide to Wildflowers of Western Australia by Simon Nevill and Nathan McQuoid 2008 *

No botanical library would be complete, nor botanist satisfied, without a visit to Western Australia during the Springtime with a wildflower guide in hand! Each locality has its own unique set of wildflowers, a sample of which is included in special beds at Kings Park. See: https://candeloblooms.com/2015/11/05/favourite-late-19th-century-gardens-in-australia/. I wish we had had this guide with us during our visit in 2008! See: http://www.botanicalbookshop.com.au/product/guide-to-the-wildflowers-of-western-australia/s-n780975601914.aspx.

Field Guide Orchids of New South Wales and Victoria by Tony Bishop 1996

The number and diversity of orchids is so vast, that it is worth having a specialised book on these beautiful little plants. We had a number of different orchids on our Dorrigo trees and rocks, like the sweetly scented Orange Blossom Orchids, Sarcochilus falcatus, and the delicate Dagger Orchids, Dendrobium pugioniforme, and Box Orchids, Dendrobium aemulum.

In Victoria, we also really enjoyed hunting for terrestrial orchids at the Grampians, as well as Anglesea on the Great Ocean Road each year, when a specific area was fenced off during the Spring Wildflower Festival and marked with identification flags to aid the search. I remember dragging my daughter and her non-botanically inclined boyfriend along one year and watching the little old ladies taking them under their wing was priceless!

We also really loved seeing the wonderful Spring display of Rock Orchids, Dendrobium speciosum, on the cliffs of the Merrica River last year. See: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/11/22/the-kings-of-merrica-river/. They brought back many fond memories for Ross of the King Orchids on the cliffs of his childhood home in South-East Queensland. He adores their scent, which is very similar to that of the flowers of another rainforest vine, Ripogonum scandens.

This comprehensive guide covers the lot from descriptions of Horned Orchids, Donkey Orchids and Hare Orchids; Bird Orchids, Duck Orchids and Beak Orchids; Lizard Orchids; Mosquito, Midge and Gnat Orchids; Onion and Leek Orchids; Greenhoods, Ladies’ Tresses and Helmet Orchids; Elbow Orchids and Parsons’ Bands; Fairy Orchids and Sun Orchids; and Waxlips,Tongue and Beard Orchids, to name but a few!

Each genus and its species are described with general remarks about the genus and specific details on each species, including common and scientific names, flowering season, description, distribution and habitat; identification features and similar species, all supported by excellent colour photographs and identification keys, though it still doesn’t make the task any easier, as so many of them are alike!!!!

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The last two books are very pertinent to our local area now.

Native Plants of the Blue Mountains by Margaret Baker and Robin Corringham 1995

I always love visiting the Blue Mountains, especially in Spring, when all the wildflowers are in full bloom, not to mention all the wonderful gardens!

The sandstone plateau supports many vegetation communities: eucalypt woodland and open forest; tall open forest and closed forest; heath and cliff-faces; and swamps and stream communities. There are over 1500 species of flowering plants in the Blue Mountains National Park, including 20 endemic plants species and 72 rare or threatened plants.

After a brief description of the general area, the book is divided into each of these plant communities, with a general description and photo, followed by detailed entries (including a description; preferred habitat and family name) of all the plant species within those communities on the left page, with photos of each species on the right page. For more on the flora of the Blue Mountains. It is also worth consulting: http://www.waratahsoftware.com.au/wpr-flora-bluemountains.shtml.

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Kosciuszko Alpine Flora by Alex Costin, Max Gray, Colin Totterdell and Dane Wimbush 2000

Back on Australia Day 2005, the family enjoyed the wonderful 22 km Main Range Walk from Charlotte’s Pass up to Hedley Tarn, Blue Lake, Club Lake, Lake Albina and Mt. Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest peak, then back via the old road.

There were masses of wildflowers (Lake Albina particularly stole my heart!) and still patches of snow, despite being High Summer! We bought this book to help us identify all the photographed wildflowers, little realizing that years later, we would be residents of the Far South Coast of New South Wales, within a morning’s drive of this very special alpine area!

The photographs in this book are superb, many having been taken on beautiful clear sunny days, unlike our 2005 trip, which still included a fair proportion of mist and cloud! It is a very interesting and informative book, with chapters on alpine and subalpine areas; the evolution of the Kosciuszko Alpine Area; the human history of the area and its impact on the Kosciuszko flora; the plants and plant communities, including montane and subalpine communities; the alpine communities of feldmark; heaths; herb fields; grassland; bog and fen; introduced species; and distribution and succession in alpine communities. There are also excellent maps and profiles of the area.

The rest of the book is devoted to the 212 native species, subspecies and varieties of ferns and flowering plants in the Kosciuszko Alpine Area. There is an introductory table with species and common names, as well as growth form, habitat, distribution and page number, followed by beautiful photographs of each plant species in its habitat. I look forward to doing more alpine walks next Summer!

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Flowers of the South Coast and Ranges I-III by Don and Betty Wood 1998-1999 *

While we have yet to purchase this set of books, I have often browsed them and we will definitely be adding them to our library over time, as they are THE guides to our local flora on the Far South Coast of NSW. See: http://www.botanicalbookshop.com.au/product/flowers-of-the-south-coast-and-ranges-i/wb9780958577205.aspx.

http://www.botanicalbookshop.com.au/product/flowers-of-the-south-coast-and-ranges-ii/wb9780958577212.aspx.

http://www.botanicalbookshop.com.au/product/flowers-of-the-south-coast-and-rangers-iii/wb9780958577229.aspx.

Even though fungi are not plants, I will include them at the end of this post, as they inhabit a similar world!

A Field Guide to the Fungi of Australia by AM Young 2005

I love looking for fungi, especially on wet Autumn days, when not much else is in flower! They can look quite exotic and have such a wide diversity of form, colour and texture, as well as a fascinating life history!

I find them all endlessly fascinating from the puffballs and jelly fungi (ear shaped Auricularia; brain-like Tremella and the bright yellow pikes of Calocera) to the giant bracket fungi, delicate coral fungi, trumpet-shaped Cantharellus and stinkhorn fungi – the Aseroë and meshed Colus, the earth stars and cone-shaped, honeycombed Morchella. They vary from white and creams to browns, reds, yellows, greens and even blues and purples, as well as having amazing stripes, spots and patterns. Some are even luminescent, though I have yet to see one!

It’s difficult to choose, but I think my favourites are the white spotted bright red and extremely toxic Fly Agarics (Amanita muscaria), the fairy toadstools of childrens’ books; the quaint Earth Stars Geastrum triplex and the Red Starfish Fungus, Aseroë rubra, with yes!, its bright red starfish-like double arms, waving at the top of its body.BlogEnvtlBooksReszd20%IMG_0939This is a fascinating book about a fascinating subject, about which is still very little is known! This book is only concerned with macrofungi, the fungi whose finer structures can be seen without a microscope (as opposed to microfungi-like moulds) and at the time of publication, there were 20 000 to 25 000 species of macrofungi in Australia, of which 60 per cent are unknown, and yet they perform an essential role in the life cycle of all living matter, being the prime agents of decomposition and the recycling of nutrients and elements.

They also have important mycorrhizal relationships with the roots of other shrubs and trees like eucalypts, casuarinas and wattles, as well as being an important animal food resource.BlogAutumngardenReszd20%IMG_0948The introductory chapters explores the fungal organism and anatomy (we only see the fruiting bodies); fungal reproduction and spores, which also display a wide variety of shape and texture; the difference between toadstools and mushrooms; the divisions within macrofungi : Ascomycetes (yeasts; truffles and morels; ); Basidiomycetes (the majority of bushland fungi, including cultivated mushrooms); and Myxomycetes (slime moulds); and collecting, describing and preserving fungi.

It includes interesting fungal facts about fairy rings; luminescence, as in the Ghost Fungus of South-East Queensland rainforests, which are the favourite food of Giant Land Snails; mycorrhizal relationships; fungal-infected caterpillars; and their role in the diet of Australian marsupials and reptiles, as well as that of humans!BlogAutumngardenReszd2017-05-08 13.43.10 The book then has a black-and-white illustrated key  for all the different types of fungi, but because so many fungi have yet to be identified and the book only describes less than 200 species, the keys serve more to indicate groups of species or genera, then refers to the relevant sections of the book. Because the number of Agarics or Gilled Fungi is quite large, they have been divided on their location or food source: forest/ woodland (wood, leaf litter, soil); grassland; animal remains; and dung. There is also a toxicity key (most important for those adventurous souls out there!).BlogEnvtlBooksReszd20%IMG_0962 The main body of the book is then devoted to species descriptions – their common names; fruiting bodies; spores; habitats; distribution and notes, backed up by black-and-white illustrations and a central section of superb colour photographs. Did you know there was a fungi called a Curry Punk, that Stinkhorn Fungi emit the odour of rotting meat to attract flies for spore dispersal or that the fruiting body is 90 per cent water and is totally for spore production and dispersal. It is such an interesting book and an essential component of the natural history library!BlogEnvtlBooksReszd30%Image (524)

Note: You will notice that I have included an asterisk * next to some of the books mentioned. These are books, which are on our bucket list, which we would love to purchase over time,  which leads me to my final recommendation! If you are visiting the Botanic Gardens in Canberra, an excellent bookshop for natural history and gardening books is the Botanical Bookshop at Australian National Botanic Gardens, Clunies Ross St., Acton ACT 2601 Phone: 02 6257 3302. Opening times are : 9:30am to 4:30pm 7 days a week (Closed Christmas Day).  You can also order books online at  http://www.botanicalbookshop.com.au.

To see us through the Winter, over the next 5 weeks, I will be focusing on other natural history and environmental books in our library, after which I will have an update of the Winter Garden and resume the normal format of posts on different types of roses, special rose gardens to visit and more interesting books on history, art and architecture, poetry and travel !

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_0518