Landmark Birthdays: Part 2

My final landmark birthday fell in the middle of a triple celebratory 6-month holiday, camping around Australia. It was my 49th birthday (my 50th year), my husband had entered his 60s the previous year and it was our 25th wedding anniversary!  We had just sold our Dorrigo property the previous year and were foot-loose and fancy-free again! Originally, we had planned a 3-month trip to Cape York, finishing with Lawn Hill, but we were having such a great time and all our obligations were being met, so we decided to continue travelling around the rest of our amazing continent. The outlay had been relatively small, as we already had an old Toyota 4WD, which we set up with my patchwork drawers in the back to hold all our provisions.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_1436 We bought a heavy-duty canvas tent, which could be erected in 5 minutes flat (and often was!) and a car fridge, but we already had most of the camping equipment, including an inflatable queen-sized mattress and a light bushwalking tent, not to mention Caroline’s favourite travelling companion, the porta-loo, which kept threatening to fall down on her during the trip!BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5101 Our youngest daughter, Caroline, who had just left school and was accustomed to joining us on our anniversary camping trips, came with us, as well as her guitar and a mascot called Nomad (as in Grey Nomad!), an Eeyore donkey from Ross’s favourite childhood book, Winnie-the-Pooh! Here is our intrepid adventurer at Cooktown Botanic Garden on the head of ‘Mungurru’, the scrub python, who created the Endeavour River, according to local aboriginal legend. It was carved out of Cooktown Ironwood (Erythrophelum chlorostachys), a very hard wood, from which the aborigines also used to make their spears.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_1838 It was wonderful having our very own travelling minstrel and the perfect way to encourage fellow campers to turn off their radios and listen to some real music! She even entertained a tour group of 18 retirees with Wilderness Challenge’s 4WD safari tour at Jowalbinna on Cape York.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_2687We had some wonderful adventures together from:

Climbing Mt Kootaloo on Dunk Island; visiting relatives and friends in Townsville, Cairns, Herberton and the Daintree; and revisiting Cape Tribulation (see below), where we camped on the beach totally on our own for our honeymoon, all those years ago, and just before the Bloomfield Rd went in- now the place is crawling with tourists ! ;BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_1722Watching a rescue of an injured fisherman by the Royal Flying Doctor Service at Musgrave Station, where the road had to be cleared of cattle before the plane could land; and viewing Eclectus Parrots, Palm Cockatoos, Yellow-bellied Sunbirds, Double-eyed Fig Parrots and butterflies at Iron Range National Park. The photo below shows a male Eclectus Parrot.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_2486Learning to juggle at Moreton Telegraph Station with Smokey, the support team for Michael Mitchell’s ‘Great Australian Cancer Bush Walk’,  retracing Steve Tremont’s footsteps from the tip of Cape York to Wilson’s Promontory, Victoria, along the Great Dividing Range; being attacked by cave bat lice at Captain Billy’s Landing- a very uncomfortable night !; and swimming at Twin Falls;BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_3891Singing and playing guitar with other guests round a campfire at Punsand Camping Resort on the top of Cape York ; Feasting on freshly-caught crab the size of a dinner plate at Jardine’s old homestead site (photo above)  and playing guitar on the very tip of Australia- Caroline actually walked to the cape 3 times- the 2nd time to collect Nomad and the 3rd time her guitar (photo below) !

BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_3749

Driving part of the Old Telegraph Track past huge termite mounds and bustards to the notorious Gun Shot section, environmental vandalism by 4WD at its worst! To give you a bit of an idea, see : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nF92zaHtnYc. Needless to say, we did NOT attempt it! We drove up to the cape early in the season and I think a lot of our fellow travellers thought that we were a little bit strange, because we weren’t fishermen nor 4WD enthusiasts and we actually enjoyed looking at birds !!! ; crossing flooded streams and having to wade through potentially-infested crocodile waters to check for depth and dangerous potholes !; and exploring ancient aboriginal cave art at Jowalbinna and Laura, including a tour with Steve Tresize. The cave art below was at the Guguyalangi Gallery at Laura. UNESCO rate the Quinkan region as one of the top 10 rock art sites in the world.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_4823And this was all before my birthday! We camped at Old Laura the night before, and my 49th birthday was heralded by a flyover of hundreds of squawking Red-tailed Black Cockatoos! Such delightful raucous party animals!!!BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5186BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5250BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5193BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5227BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5204 Ross gave me a tripod for my birthday, but we decided to reserve the official birthday celebrations till the mid-June, when we were spending a week in a house in Cooktown.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5215

I had a makeshift birthday cake- a crustless slice of bread, smeared with Nutella and lit with 3 matches at Kalpowar Crossing, where we set up camp in Lakefield National Park on the banks of the Normanby River.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5288 We met a lovely couple, Ruth and Dave, from Mornington Peninsula, who were in effect having a pre-honeymoon, as they were married the following year. We shared many interests like archaeology, aboriginal cave art and environment and Ruth also sang and played guitar, so we enjoyed listening to duets by Caro and Ruth.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5602BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5582

BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5591
Never smile at a crocodile!

We saw a huge freshwater crocodile sunning on the riverbank and loved our birdwatching at all the billabongs and lagoons. The first photo is Lakefield Lagoon and the second photo was taken at Catfish Waterhole.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5524BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5273Here are some of the birds we saw :

Magpie Geese, with goslings, hiding amongst the Lotus leaves at Red Lily Lagoon;BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5494Brolgas feeding on the tubers of sedges;BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5500Green Pygmy Geese displaying iridescent, metallic green feathers;BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5540Comb-crested Jacanas and their babies crossing lilypads;BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5302BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5513White-bellied Sea Eagles (1st photo), Ospreys, Brown Falcons (2nd photo) and Black Kites surveying for prey;BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5556BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5638Stately Straw-necked Ibis nonchalantly strolling by dozing crocodiles;BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5574Sacred (1st and 2nd photos) and Forest Kingfishers (3rd photo) perched on river boughs;BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5321BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5522BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5563Rainbow Bee-eaters, which nest in riverbanks;BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6003Black-fronted Dotterels on the dry bed of the Morehead River;BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5641And Pelicans climbing the thermals high in the sky. For more information on Lakefield National Park, please see : http://www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/rinyirru-lakefield/culture.html.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5689So many birds and an ornithologist’s paradise!!!  But the jewel in the crown was the highly endangered and difficult-to-find Golden-shouldered Parrot. We had tried to find these elusive small parrots at Musgrave Station on our way up and down the cape to no avail ! The manager at Musgrave told us to check out Windmill Creek, where we waited for half an hour- still no luck ! His Auntie Sue (Sue and Tom Shephard, Artemis Station) was the honorary caretaker for these parrots on her property, but she was away at a family funeral! We called in at Lotus Bird Lodge (http://www.lotusbird.com.au/), an expensive resort and prominent birdwatching venue, with over 200 species of birds , whose owner very kindly let us eat our picnic lunch in the cool shade of their verandah and walk around their water-lily billabong.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5788BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5787BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5740BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5849BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5813 We saw huge flocks of Little Corellas, a Black-backed Butcher Bird, a sleepy trio of Papuan Frogmouths (1st photo) and Roger Ramjet, a hand-reared baby Red-winged Parrot (2nd photo).BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5801BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5792 The owner suggested that we drive a further 200m past Windmill Creek and walk in to the termite mounds, in which they make their nests- still no parrots! And then, just as we’d given up and come to terms with never seeing them, we were walking back to the car and down they flew –  a small flock of 8 males and females – grazing on the side of the road, despite all the passing traffic!BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5958BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5934BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_5938 So special and a wonderful birthday present (since the birthday was extending over the whole week!), only to be equalled by seeing the first Gouldian Finches of the season (a breeding pair with 2 offspring!) at Mornington Wilderness Resort on the Gibb River Rd, Western Australia later in the year!!! For more information on the Golden-shouldered Parrot, see : http://www.landmanager.org.au/tom-and-sue-shephard-winners-queensland-landcare-conservation-award-2007  and    https://www.ehp.qld.gov.au/wildlife/threatened-species/endangered/endangered-animals/goldenshouldered_parrot.html. Another good site, which also covers Eclectus and Palm Cockatoos, as well as Gouldian Finches is : http://aviculturalsocietynsw.org/_articles/Golden-shoulderedParrot2015.htm#.VzQ1beS2oxI

We had a wonderful week in Cooktown- one of my favourite tropical towns! Here is a link to their tourism site: http://tropicalnorthqueensland.org.au/destination/cooktown/.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_1768 It started with the Queen’s Birthday Weekend, which is also the annual Discovery Festival, a series of events held to commemorate Captain Cook’s landing here back in 1770, though really it was to celebrate my birthday!!!  We knew that there would be lots of visitors to town with the camping grounds fully-booked, so we had pre-booked a house underneath Mt Cook for a week, while we waited for the Lizard Island seaplane to be repaired. The weekend started with a 7.30am Can-Can workshop with a troupe called Sassy Catz from Cairns (https://www.facebook.com/Sassy-Catz-Dance-Troupe-266763093482332/). The dancers were fabulous and their costumes very cute and colourful.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdDSCF0403BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdDSCF0417 Because Caroline and I were the only participants, apart from the organizer, they invited us to join them in the Grand Parade through the main street in town. What they neglected to tell us was that they were at the front of the parade, just behind the boys in white, the Barrier Reef Jazz Band, who played totally inappropriate music, to which it was impossible to dance! Afterwards, we had a guided tour of Cooktown Cemetery , where we saw Mary Watson’s grave and learned about the Normanby woman, a fair-skinned woman living amongst aborigines in 1873. We also had a guided tour of the Cooktown Botanical Gardens.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6193BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6176The re-enactment on the Sunday was held in Bicentennial Park on the Endeavour River at the exact spot Cook landed in 1770 to repair his ship after damage on the reefs off Cape Tribulation.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6239BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6250 The cannon, sent to Cooktown in 1880 as a response to a request for military backup against a threatened Russian invasion (!), was fired, then we attended the hilarious Lion’s Club Billy Goat Derby. It was held on a steep street, cushioned at the bottom with hay bales.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6259 Forty intrepid contestants raced a variety of highly creative, home-made carts from bath tubs to Captain Pugwash’s bright pink boat on wheels, driven by a polar bear ‘Bundy Bear’;  a bicycle affair; and the cockatoo-decorated ‘Indigenous Warrior”.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6274BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6273BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6264 We were also very impressed by the Stepping Out sponsor maidens, who negotiated the steep slope in their high heels with great style!BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6269We watched the wonderful Hopevale Aboriginal Dancers perform in the Cooktown Botanical gardens and finished the day with a lovely sensual dance by the Shee Sha Belly Dancers, their pastel gauzy veils swaying in the warm breeze and finally, a spectacular fireworks display reflected in the river. I think that it is almost the best fireworks I have ever seen – forget Sydney !!!BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6281 Another day, we walked from the Botanic Gardens to Cherry Tree Bay and then up to Grassy Hill, the perfect place to watch the sun setting over the Endeavour River and the Coral Sea.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6346Then, it was time for my official birthday celebration. I reopened a wrapped tripod, as well as a blue polka-dot chiffon skirt, some earrings made out of red seeds, a book on Pioneer Women by  Susanna de Vries and an illustrated music score of a song, written by Caroline, about our trip. Birthday breakfast was delicious pancakes with tropical fruit.

BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6357

BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6369 Dave and Ruth, our friends from Lakefield National Park, called in for a birthday lunch- we’d bumped into them unexpectedly when shopping on our arrival in Cooktown. They came bearing bread rolls, tomatoes, blue cheese and chocolates. It was so good to see them and hear all their news. We caught up with them later again in Kakadu National Park, again by accident, and later had a planned rendez-vous in Darwin. We also visited them in their home on the Mornington Peninsula a number of times during our stay  in Victoria.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6376After they left, we drove down to the stunningly beautiful Archer Point , 15 km south of Cooktown, to watch the visiting tall ship replica ‘Duyfken’, sailing south. Such a magical spot in the golden light of the late afternoon sun! The colours were spectacular- red grass,  gold and green mangroves and blue, blue mountains plunging into the sea.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6379BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6389BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6396BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6455 We celebrated my birthday in style at the magnificent Shadows Restaurant in the shadow of Mt. Cook. A superb menu, but so difficult to choose as every meal was divine!  I had an entrée of prawn spring rolls, a coral trout with tartare sauce for mains and a coconut and rum crème brulée for dessert- heaven!BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6512BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6502BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6510BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6500While I won’t recount the whole trip, there were two more birthday highlights : a walk up Mt Cook the next day and then our long-awaited weekend on Lizard Island.  I lost so much weight on that trip through hiking up every high point in the heat and sweating it off! For the first time in my life, I had a waist! It was fantastic! I think I need another trip to the tropics!!! Even though it was Winter, I still needed 6 cold showers a day to cope with the heat!!!  We also used the local pool every day – in fact, we were invited to join the local aquarobics group!

Before we left Cooktown, we climbed to the summit of Mt. Cook (431m). The circuit track is 6 km long and takes 3 hours.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6531 We climbed up through open forest with ancient Palm Cycads and Zamia ferns, Kapok Trees and Native Cypress to a rainforest full of Cordylines, Elkhorns, thickets of lethal Lawyer Vines and colourful rainforest fruits on the forest floor. The 2nd photo is the Zamia Fern, Bowenia spectabilis, one of the world’s smallest cycads.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6638BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6562 And then to the summit with its wind-sheared vegetation (including Umbrella Trees and Oak-leafed Fern) and spectacular, extensive views over Walker Bay and Archer Point to the reef, Quarantine Bay and the mouth of the mighty Annan River.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6615BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6625BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6612 We saw Orange-footed Scrub Fowls, Wompoo Fruit Doves, Rose-crowned Fruit Doves and an Osprey soaring in the thermals. Cooktown is very windy, with the trade winds blowing constantly from May to September.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6609BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6557And finally, Lizard Island – what a spot to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary!  We had initially booked a seaplane from Cooktown to Lizard Island, which had the added advantage of landing on the water, right next to the National Park campsite, but unfortunately mechanical problems meant we had to abandon that plan and drive back to Cairns on the Friday to take a flight to Lizard Island,  270 Km to the north, with Hinterland Air instead.  Because of the exorbitant price of the new tickets, we left Caro with friends in Cairns. This is our first sighting of Lizard Island from the air.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6881That Saturday was the best day for flying over the Great Barrier Reef in months and we had fantastic views over the coast, patch and ribbon reefs and atolls. Captain Cook was amazing navigating through all those reefs!  We could even see the high sand dunes of Cape Flattery  to the north in the distance.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6859BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6865BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6890 We shared the tiny 6-seater plane with the pilot and the island nurse in the front seats and another couple, who obviously had a much bigger income and were staying at Lizard Island Resort ( roughly $2000 per night). See: http://www.lizardisland.com.au/About.aspx.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6904BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6905BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7029 We, on the other hand, were paying $4.50 per night in the National Parks campsite on the far northern (left in photo below) corner of Watson’s Bay and we got the entire campsite to ourselves. Now that’s what I call true exclusivity!!! For a map of the island and details about the walks and the island, see: http://www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/lizard-island/about.html.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6901BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7003BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7447BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6982It felt like a long walk from the airport, even though it is only 685m, but we had to carry everything in. We took the 30 minute Pandanus Track over Chinaman’s Ridge, past Pandanus Palms and through a Paperbark forest, over a Mangrove boardwalk and past the ruins of Mary Watson’s Cottage to the sparkling white sands and aqua waters of Watson’s Bay.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6919BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6950BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6963 Mary Watson (21), whose grave we saw in Cooktown, died with her baby son in tragic circumstances in 1881. She was married to a bêche-de-mer fisherman, who was often away and she used to walk up to the highest point of the island, Cooks Look, to watch for his return. Unbeknown to her, the latter was an important ceremonial aboriginal site, where young boys were initiated. A group of Dingaal people came to investigate smoke on Lizard Island and killed one of the two Chinese servants, wounding the other, and a terrified Mary set sail in one of the bêche-de-mer boiling tanks with her infant son and the injured servant. They all died of dehydration within 8 days on the waterless Howick No. 5  island. You can read her diary entries on :http://www.cooktownandcapeyork.com/do/history/mary_watson. Below are photos of an aboriginal midden and the ruins of Mary’s cottage.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7499BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6948BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6978After a long walk up to the end of the beach and past Mary’s old well, we arrived at the camp site to meet its resident silver gull (photo above) and a couple of yachties, Guy and Annika, from ‘Street Legal’, who had been sailing round the world for 10 years and were halfway through their trip! They explained the etiquette of the camp treasure chest ‘Pandora’s Box’, hidden in a wooden barrel at the back of the campground and inscribed with the message : ‘Who be ye that disturbs my slumber, tell me your story and pay my price’! The rule is that if you open the box, you must put some treasure in. The box was already filled with silver goblets, candlesticks and necklaces. Obviously, yachties have plenty of loot to spare, but as light-weight campers, who had to lug everything in and out, we were stumped for a few days as to what we could possibly contribute! The solution dawned on us at the last panicky hour! It was obvious!!BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6975BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7467BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6977For our whole stay, clean water had been a major issue! We were collecting water from Mary’s well, but hated the taste of our purifying tablets, so had been boiling the water instead.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7356 Unfortunately, we had neglected to bring in our empty 10 litre water flagons- a big mistake (!) , but we did have our washing up sink, so Ross would trek to the well a few times a day, then return, awkwardly carrying the heavy square tub, filled with water, in front of him. The only receptacles we had to store the purified water were 2 demi-litre bottles of Rosé, which we had drunk on our first night. So, when we were pressed to come up with a treasure, it was as plain as the nose on our face! Water is one of the most precious commodities in the world, especially when scarce, so we filled those two  little bottles with our valuable water and put them in the chest, along with an inspired ditty in the log book explaining the logic, which you can read at the end of this post!! You can see our little bottle on the left of this photo!BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7468We had a wonderful weekend on Lizard Island. In Watson’s Bay, we snorkelled over beds of giant green, blue and purple velvety clams (Tridacna gigas), each measuring up to 1.2 m across and weighing up to 230 kg. There were also 8 species of solitary corals (including a blue one) ; 350 species of hard corals; Feather Stars; Sea Pens; Sponges; and a wide variety of colourful fish : Black-and-white Damsels, Yellow Butterfly Fish, Six-barred Wrasse and Parrot Fish. It looked like an underwater forest! Unfortunately, I lost my snorkel on the last day somewhere along the way! Lizard Island is renowned for its fringing reef (photos 1 and 3) and its clam gardens (photo 2).BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7017BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7336BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7350We made friends with the yachties, who were heading for Darwin in July to form a safety convoy before sailing to Indonesia and risking the pirate threat. ‘Kalida’ belonged to a lovely couple, Alison and David, who were home-educating their children, and we also met a charming Norwegian couple called Rune and Eden. The yachties and campers naturally bond together, because both are prohibited from the resort, except for the staff bar. The yachties had commandeered a National Park table and set it up on the beach as a drinks venue for The Lizard Island Yacht Club, where we were invited the first night. We checked out the staff bar on the second night!BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7056BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6962Lizard Island was declared a National Park (1013 ha) in 1939, with the addition of other islands in 1987. While known as Jiigurru by the Dingaal people, Captain Cook called it Lizard Island after the goannas, including the Yellow-spotted Monitor (Varanus panoptes).and Gould’s Sand Monitor (Varanus gouldii), which he saw on the island.  Unfortunately we didn’t see any, though we saw plenty of burrows in the sand!BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7307BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7358  It is a dry island rather than a tropical one- 60 per cent of the island is grassland. The sheltered south-west side of the island supports an open woodland of Eucalypts, Acacias, Tibouchinas (photo 4), Brachychiton and Kapok trees (photo 3).BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7308BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7105BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7296BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7177

BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7223
Umbrella Tree

We walked up huge granite boulders to Cooks Look (359m), so called because this is where Captain Cook looked to find a way through the reefs in 1770. The 2.25 km walk takes 2-3 hours.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7011BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7126 We saw Yellow-bellied Sunbirds, Fruit Doves, Rainbow Bee-eaters and huge bumblebees, but no lizards!BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7317BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7353  The summit was covered with beautiful heathland, stunted eucalypts, umbrella trees, orchids and ferns. We met a couple of dive instructors, who amazingly knew all about Dorrigo – it transpired that the couple, who managed  the research station for the Winter/ Spring months, Bob and Tania Lamb, spent the rest of the year in Coffs Harbour and we had mutual friends from Dorrigo! Unfortunately, they are no longer there.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7184BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7183BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7189There were fabulous views over the entire island of Watson’s Bay, Lizard Island Resort, the airstrip and Blue Lagoon.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7151BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7162BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7083BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7153BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7320BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7134On our third and last day, we packed up, dumped our bags at the airport and walked across to Blue Lagoon and the Lizard Island Research Station.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7503

It was established in 1973 by the Australian Museum and conducts research on the coral reef, as well as hosting academics and researchers and educating visiting school and university students. These are good sites to visit : http://australianmuseum.net.au/lizard-island-research-station  and http://australianmuseum.net.au/uploads/documents/31852/newsletter%202013%20web.pdf, as well as an informative introductory video at : http://australianmuseum.net.au/movie/introduction-lizard-island. While we were there, some Texan university students arrived back after scuba-diving (1st photo). The 2nd photo is the station’s research vessel.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7511BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_6946 Tania (far right in 1st photo) gave us a guided tour of the station with our yachtie friends. We saw a PhD project on the effects of global warming on foraminifera, nudibranches and hard coral, but there are so many more research projects.  From research conducted at Lizard Island, up to 100 scientific publications are produced each year.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7513BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7526BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7532BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7549

BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7566
Crown of Thorns Starfish and coral reef destroyer!

The yachtie kids loved the tanks of marine creatures, including a Decorator Crab, whose shell was covered with lots of little pieces of Chux.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7563BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7558 It was a fascinating place and if we ever want to return to Lizard Island, there are volunteer opportunities, where board is free in return for cleaning and maintenance duties: see http://australianmuseum.net.au/volunteering-on-lizard-island-research-station and http://australianmuseum.net.au/station-volunteer-program. If you are a qualified divemaster, you can be a research volunteer- see :  http://australianmuseum.net.au/volunteer-research-assistance.

After our visit, we walked to the beautiful Blue Lagoon and Trawler Bay.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7655BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7626BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7618BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7590BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7648

Then sadly returned to the airfield and flew back to Cairns.BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7661BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7667And that was the end of Landmark Birthday No. 3 !  We continued on our Round Australia trip till mid-October with so many amazing adventures and experiences, but that’s a story for future posts!!!BlogLandmarkbirthdaysPt2 25%ReszdIMG_7407

Here is the Lizard Island poem as promised:

 

Lizard Island Ode by a Pair of Very Merry Campers!

We flew from Cairns on a gorgeous day,

Then hauled our packs to Watson’s Bay

And pitched our tent at the camping stove,

Where we soon discovered this treasure trove,

Full of jewels and trinkets gold

And other treasures to behold!

What could we humble camper pair

Possibly add to enrich such fare?!

 

We pondered on this for three days

While snorkelling, walk-ling…never to laze

Beside the beach or read a book-

We even climbed up to Cook’s Look!

But, whenever we ever got a free spell,

We had to go off to the well!

Collecting water was arduous work!

An essential duty we could not shirk!!!

 

We carted and boiled in tiny lots,

Because we’d forgotten the ten- litre bots!

The Aquatabs were horrible!

The water tasted like a pool!

…The final night! And still no clue!

To help us , we imbibed a few!

We needed treasure beyond compare

To match up to these baubles fair!

Then, FINALLY, we had some luck!

Another swig- a brainwave struck!

The treasure that we strove to find

Was under our noses! We’d been so blind!!!

 

The most precious treasure of the lot

Was what we had in each tiny pot!

So, we’ve packaged it in a Rosé bot

And added it to this priceless lot!

The next poor sod with a raging thirst

Will surely open our treasure first!

And please excuse this AWFUL rhyme!

It’s ‘cos we’ve guzzled too much wine!!!

March Feature Plants : Bush Harvest

The feature plants in March, Macrozamias and Pittosporum, are a slight departure from my usual garden plant posts, but I wanted to include a few native species and we are growing both a Macrozamia and a Pittosporum in our garden. We also consider Mimosa Rock National Park to be an extension of our garden! Plus, this is the time when both plant species are prominent in the forest with their eye-catching bright red seeds.

BlogBush Harvest20%Reszd2015-03-08 13.06.20
Macrozamia cone and seeds: red jewels on the forest floor!

It’s March and it’s Harvest Time in the bush! The native animals in the forest are having a field day sourcing all their favourite berries. Mimosa Rocks National Park has some beautiful forests of Spotted Gum (Corymbia maculata), whose understorey is full of Macrozamias and Pittosporum. They are both very different in structure, reproduction, lineage, growth rates and toxicity. I shall be focusing on Macrozamia communis, Pittosporum undulatum and Pittosporum revolutum.

BlogBush Harvest20%Reszd2015-03-08 12.48.26
Spotted Gum forest with Macrozamia understorey, Nelson Beach, Mimosa Rocks National Park

Macrozamia communisBlogBush Harvest20%Reszd2015-03-08 12.49.32Name:

  • Commonly known as Burrawangs, the name given to them by the Dharuk Aborigines of the Illawarra and Sydney regions. The Dhurga aborigines of the South Coast called it : ‘Bung-go ib-bur’, meaning ‘nut’.
  • Its scientific name is derived from 2 Greek words : ‘macros’ meaning ‘large’ and zamia, referring to its genus, while its species name comes from the Latin word ‘communis’ meaning ‘common’, as these plants are abundant in dense stands.

BlogBush Harvest40%ReszdIMG_3179Distribution :

  • Endemic to the East coast of NSW, it is the most common cycad, with the most extensive distribution of any cycad in NSW , ranging from Taree on the Central Coast to the Bega area, 600 km to the south.
  • They grow in coastal areas, as well as the coastal slopes of the Great Dividing Range (and occasionally the inland slopes) as far west as Mudgee.
  • It is the most southerly occurring cycad in the world and is most abundant on the South Coast of NSW, where it has the greatest overall size, cone size and population density. Near Bateman’s Bay, the stands are so extensive and dense that the ground is often obscured, though many have been cleared for urban development.
  • No other cycad in NSW, or indeed Australia, has such a great population density as Macrozamia communis.
BlogBush Harvest40%ReszdIMG_3128
Macrozamia with a Cabbage-tree Palm (Livistona australis) in Murramarang National Park, just north of Bateman’s Bay

Habitat :

  • Macrozamia communis is an understorey plant in wet and dry schlerophyll forests.
  • On the South Coast of NSW, it is the dominant understorey plant in Spotted Gum (Corymbia maculata) forests, while on the Central Coast, it grows under forests of Sydney Red Gum (Angophora costata), also known as Smooth-barked Apple. It also grows under Bangalay Gums (Eucalyptus botryoides) at Aragunnu.
  • In coastal areas, it grows on sandy soils, with its population density being greatest on stabilized sand dunes, close to the ocean, while on the coastal ranges, it grows on gravelly loams.
BlogBush Harvest40%ReszdIMG_3191
Macrozamias under Bangalay Gums (Eucalyptus botryoides)
Blog Summer dreamg20%ReszdIMG_8971
Bird’s Nest Fern : Asplenium australasicum (left) and Macrozamias (right) at Aragunnu

History : Macrozamias are fascinating plants.They are cycads, a small group of plants with unique features and a very ancient lineage.

  • First appearing in the fossil record in the Late Permian, 250 Million years ago before the Age of Dinosaurs, they quickly spread to every continent and latitude from Siberia to the Antarctic throughout the Mesozoic Era.
  • The Jurassic period of the Mesozoic Era is in fact known as ‘the Age of Cycads’, when cycads and gingkos were the dominant plants and there are 19 extinct genera of cycads from that time.
  • Now, there are only 3 families left with 11 genera and 250 species, compared to the 300,000 species of Angiosperms (or Flowering Plants).
  • Once classified as Gymnosperm along with conifers and gingkos, cycads are now considered to be a sister group to all other living seed groups.
  • They are found in tropical and subtropical regions of the world and each genus has a restricted geographical range, often being limited to specialized or localized sites like areas with nutritionally deficient soil, limestone or serpentine outcrops, beach dune deposits and very steep slopes.
  • Macrozamias are endemic to Australia and have 25-32 species, depending on your source! They belong to the Family : Zamiaceae, which has 8 genera including : Dioon, Encephalartus, Macrozamia, Lepidozamia, Ceraiozamia, Microcycas, Zamia and Chigua.

Unique Features of Cycads:

  • Pachycaul stem– its soft thick trunk is mainly storage tissue with very little true wood;
  • Collaroid roots with symbiotic relationship with cyanobacteria, not seen in other seed plants;
  • Large divided fern-like/ palm-like leaves with no axillary buds, like other seed plants;
  • Reproduce by seeds produced on open carophylls (seed-bearing leaves or scales), arranged in cones;
  • Cycads are dioecious– the male and female reproductive structures are on separate male and female plants;
  • Cycads have also been exploited as a food source for a long time, but require extensive processing to remove toxins, the methods differing between areas and over time.

BlogBush Harvest20%Reszd2015-03-08 13.04.35Description:  Macrozamia communis : Medium to large cycad with a height and spread of 3m. They are very slow growing and long-lived – up to 120 years. They take 10-20 years to mature and produce cones.
Roots : Like all cycads, the roots are contractile: the sensitive growing apex of seedling is drawn below the soil surface, providing protection against drought and fires. The roots are also collaroid : the upper root rises above the ground and contains cyanobacteria, which fix atmospheric nitrogen for the cycads, in return for a stable source of fixed carbon in the form of carbohydrates produced by photosynthesis and protection from harsh environmental conditions and grazing. While cyanobacteria are capable of producing their own fixed carbon, cycad roots reach deeper into the soil and can spread over far larger areas. Nitrogen is essential for the production of genetic material and the structural and enzymatic molecules in all stages of the life cycle and is especially important in the nutritionally deficient soils of many cycads.
Stem : Only producing a single trunk with no suckers, the trunk is 30-80 cm diameter and 30-200cm tall and is typically underground, though plants on shallow soils or rocky quartzite or sandstone ridges often have a short columnar trunk.

BlogBush Harvest40%ReszdIMG_3192
Subterranean caudex

Leaves : 50-100 glossy dark green, pinnately compound leaves up to 2m long,  which form a gracefully arching crown extending from a central trunk. Each leaf has 70-130 pointed leaflets (pinnae) in 2 rows and they decrease in size to sharp spines at the end of the leaf.

BlogBush Harvest20%Reszd2015-05-01 12.41.49
Pinnately compound leaves

Reproduction: Cycads are dioecious and do not produce flowers. Male and female reproductive organs are borne on separate plants, the seeds on scales arranged in large cones (strobili) like conifers. The cones are often formed after fire. The male plant bears 1-5 cylindrical erect cones, which droop after their pollen is shed. The female plant bears 1-3  wider barrel-shaped cones, which are pollinated by Macrozamia Weevils (Tranus internatus) and mature in March, when they break apart to release 100-150 bright red-orange seeds throughout Winter. The seeds have no dormancy, so are very short-lived and subject to damage by dessication (drying-out). They are dispersed by Brush-tailed Possums (Trichosurus vulpecula), who break the cones apart to eat the fleshy outer coat of the seeds without damaging the stony inner layer, so the embryo remains viable and germinates readily after dispersal. The major predator of the seeds is the Native Bush Rat (Rattus fuscipes), who gnaws through the stony layer to eat the seed contents, including the embryo.

BlogBush Harvest20%Reszd2015-03-08 12.48.43

BlogBush Harvest20%Reszd2015-03-08 12.49.37
Female cone
Blog Summer dreamg20%Reszd2015-03-08 12.50.43
Bush Tucker! But for humans, only after extensive processing!

Use :

  • Food source : The seeds have a high starch content and containing macrozamin, which is toxic to humans and livestock. It requires extensive processing to remove the toxins. The Cadigal aborigines pounded and soaked the seeds in water for a week, changing the water daily, while others soaked the seed in running stream water for several days. The pulp was then made into cakes and roasted over hot embers.
  • Tools were made from the strongly barbed leaf shafts.

BlogBush Harvest20%Reszd2015-05-10 13.58.11Horticulture : Highly ornamental, cycads have been in cultivation for many years. There are planted in many different ways :

  • Feature Plant

: Single specimen

: Paired either side of entrances : doors, gates, driveways, like in Asia.

: In a rockery or in a tropical or desert setting, where a large crown is desired without the tall trunk of a palm.

  • Mass Plantings : ground cover
  • Containers : small gardens; patios and verandahs; bonsai specimens

Easy to cultivate and hardy, M. communis is suited to temperate and subtropical regions and can survive temperatures as low as -8 degrees Celsius.                         Hardiness Zone : 8b-11
They tolerate a wide range of soils, but do best in deep sandy soils, and prefer partial shade, but will adapt to full sun, so long as they get adequate water. These tough plants are drought-tolerant and suitable for xeriscaping. They are also fire-retardant.
Good drainage is ESSENTIAL.
They grow best with a uniform and regular supply of water during the growing season and a good nutrient supply : fertilizer with an even NPK balance.                                       eg:  a regular dressing of slow release Osmocote.
They transplant readily, but as their growth is so slow, it is probably unnecessary. If transplanting, do it in late Spring and be careful of the sharp spines.

Potted Cycads  require bright light and plenty of fresh air and normal room temperature (10-27 degrees Celsius). Use soil-based potting mix with broken pottery shards in the base of the pot for good drainage and stand pots on trays of moist pebbles to get the correct humidity. Keep the soil moist, but not wet, with extra watering when the temperature is above 27 degrees Celsius and mist spray foliage occasionally. A fortnightly dressing of complete fertilizer can be applied throughout the growing season.

BlogBush Harvest20%Reszd2016-02-10 10.06.49
Our little plant

Propogation :

: Seeds : Germinates easily without pre-treatment. Plant seed in well-drained potting soil in a shaded location and water regularly till germination in 6-24 months. Early seedling growth is very slow.
: Offsets : cut off parent plant with sharp knife, leaving as minimal a wound as possible. Treat wound with fungicide (eg sulphur), dry for 1 week, then plant into sterile medium.

Pests and Diseases

: Mealy bugs : apply an insecticide twice during growing season
: Scale insects : occasionally infest the crown. Same treatment as above or use white oil
: Macrozamia weevil : causes sporadic deaths in wild populations
: The fleshy starch-rich stems are susceptible to fungal attack and stem rot.

Pittosporum undulatumBlogBush Harvest20%Reszd2015-03-08 13.16.32Name: Known by a number of names including : Sweet or Orange Pittosporum; Native Daphne; Australian Mock Orange; and Cheesewood, its scientific name is derived from the Greek words : ‘pitta’ meaning ‘pitch‘ and ‘sporos’ meaning ‘seed’, referring to the resinous sticky coating of the seeds; and the Latin word : ‘unda’, meaning ‘wave/ surge‘, referring to the wavy edge of the leaves.

Phylogeny :

  • Family : Pittosporaceae : includes Native Frangipani (Hymenosporum flavum); Bluebell Creeper (Billardiera heterophylla) and the genus Bursaria.
  • Genus : Pittosporum : A very large genus in Australia and warmer areas like Africa, Asia, Pacific Islands and New Zealand. There are 14 species in all states of Australia.

BlogBush Harvest40%ReszdIMG_2071

Distribution and Habitat:

  • Moist gullies in rainforests and wet schlerophyll forests, as well as sheltered situations in dry schlerophyll forests and woodlands.
  • Coast and subcoastal districts of Eastern Australia from SE and Central Qld to Eastern NSW, ACT and Eastern Victoria.
  • Naturalized in Tasmania and King Island; SE South Australia; SW Western Australia; Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands; as well as Southern Europe (France, Spain, Portugal); South Africa; St Helena; the Azores; India; China; Hawaii; Mexico; SW USA (California); Carribean and South America (Bolivia, Colombia and Chile).
  • Significant environmental weed and is on the Global Invasive Species Database.

Description : Large evergreen tree, usually 4-14m high with a 7m spread, creating dense shade underneath.

BlogBush Harvest40%ReszdIMG_2070
Bark : Coarse grey, while younger shoots are green to reddish-brown.
Leaves: Smooth, glossy green (darker on top, paler underneath), elliptical or ovate leaves with pointed tips and entire distinctively wavy edges. They are arranged alternately on their stems or clustered at the tips of branches.BlogBush Harvest40%ReszdIMG_2066
Flowers : Small, creamy-white, highly fragrant, bell-shaped (tubular) flowers, borne in small terminal clusters of 4-5 flowers in Spring and Early Summer (November-January). Each flower has 5 petals, which are fused together at the base of the corolla and reflex backwards at the tips. They are  pollinated by Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies).
Berries : Hard globular or slightly flattened capsules, 1cm diameter, formed in Autumn and lasting several months. They produce their first seed at 5 years old. The capsules turn from green to yellow to orange, then tan when mature, when they split open to release 20-30 sticky, smooth, red-brown, angular seeds, which are very attractive to possums, frugivorous birds and even foxes, often sticking to fur, clothing and footwear. The seeds have short to medium longevity. They germinate in abundance after fire or soil disturbance.BlogBush Harvest40%ReszdIMG_3177

Use : 

  • This plant contains Saponins 152 and 154, which cause dopiness and are fairly toxic to humans, but are poorly absorbed by the body, so tend to pass through without any problems. However, stock should be kept away from infested areas. Saponins are also very toxic to fish and the aborigines used to put large amounts in streams and lakes to stupefy and kill the fish.
  • The opened seeds can be boiled up to produce a gum to smother Pitosporum seedlings in fragile areas.
  • The wood has been used in the manufacture of golf clubs.

Horticulture :  Well established as a garden ornamental plant in Australia and California and also clipped into hedges and used as windbreaks. They are hardy, adaptable and quick growing. They like most acidic soils and extra moisture and prefers granite-derived soils. They can withstand extended dry periods once established and resist maritime exposure.

BUT…
It is very invasive in bushland and easily colonizes moist gullies and disturbed soil in areas of urban development. It is most invasive in areas of high rainfall. It has very rapid growth and adapts to soil with higher nutrient levels more readily than other native species. With changes in fire regimes, it out-competes fire-adapted native species. It dominates other species through dense shading, competition and its superior adaptability to changes in soil nutrients. The berries are also very attractive to birds, so it can be dispersed widely and its spread is very difficult to control. Therefore, do NOT grow near bushland! This website has information about its management especially after fire : http://www.herbiguide.com.au/Descriptions/hg_Pittosporum.htm.BlogBush Harvest20%Reszd2016-02-10 10.12.09Having said all that, we did plant a specimen (see above photo) in our town garden, as the scent of the flowers is superb and despite its feral status, I am still very fond of Sweet Pittosporum! But if you live near bushland, I have included some short notes on an alternative Pittosporum species, which is also very attractive at the moment and is a much safer bet!

Pittosporum revolutumBlogBush Harvest20%Reszd2015-05-10 14.33.24Name : Commonly known as Rough-Fruited or Yellow Pittosporum, its species name : ‘revolutum’ means ‘rolled backwards‘, as some leaves are at the edges.BlogBush Harvest40%ReszdIMG_2188

Distribution and Habitat : Endemic to Australia, this species mainly grows in coastal areas, west to the Blue Mountains and Muswellbrook and from sea level to 1100m. It
grows in rainforest and wet schlerophyll forests in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria and in dry schlerophyll forests in the south.BlogBush Harvest40%ReszdIMG_2185

Description : Understorey shrub 1-3 metres high.
Leaves : Glossy dark green, ovate or oblong to elliptic leaves with entire but rarely undulate margins and arranged alternately on the stem or clustered at the end of the branch. The young leaves and the lower surface of mature leaves have a dense to sparse covering of rusty hairs, especially around the main veins, giving a slightly furry feel to the undersides of the leaf.
Flowers : Bears fragrant yellow flowers in terminal clusters in Spring. The petals reflex backwards and the sepals, inflorescence and ovary are all covered in rusty hairs.BlogBush Harvest40%ReszdIMG_2187
Berries :
• Slightly compound, amber or orange, ellipsoid or oval capsules with hard thick walls,which often have hairy and warty valves. They ripen in Autumn and break open to reveal numerous red-brown to bright scarlet, very sticky seeds, which are popular with birds.BlogBush Harvest40%ReszdIMG_2079BlogBush Harvest20%Reszd2015-05-10 13.56.10

Use : Was eaten by the aborigines, but has a slightly bitter taste.

Horticulture : Its use as an ornamental plant is now gaining in popularity. Outstanding plant, even in a small garden. It prefers shady areas under large trees.

I hope you enjoy this lovely watercolour painting, painted by my daughter specifically for my Bush Harvest post. They are very cute Native Bush Rats!

BlogBush Harvest20%ReszdIMG_0075

Mid Winter

By July, we were well into the throes of full Winter – lots of cosy warm fires and hearty vegetable soups ! My daughter was still with us and we enjoyed exploring the local coast with her and collecting shells, so I made her a seashell-embroidered cushion cover, on which I experimented with different stitches for ideas for a future cushion cover for me. She loved it and even though I just used line in the design, I think it was very effective.Blog Mid Winter20%Reszd2015-07-06 12.26.07She also enjoyed spending time with our beautiful old dog Scamp ( born in 2000), who was on his last legs and who died not long after she left. We miss him so much ! He had such a beautiful nature and was such a great help in the garden!Blog Mid Winter20%Reszd2015-02-03 15.32.17Blog Mid Winter20%Reszd2015-07-07 15.18.44It was so quiet once he’d gone, so we decided to pay a long overdue visit to my parents up at the Gold Coast- plus enjoy a little Queensland warmth and shortcut the long Winter !!! I quickly made my Mum a felt cushion cover embroidered with seabirds, as she had loved her little Mother’s Day seabird plate. I used all my old photos and substituting purples and light blues for my nonexistent grey threads, I embroidered a sea eagle , pelican, silver gull, blackwinged stilt, pied oystercatcher, hooded and double banded plovers, a cormorant on a lichen-encrusted rock made of French knots and even a fairy prion in flight, the only bird photo that came from a bird book . She was so thrilled, as was I, by the result.Blog Mid Winter20%Reszd2015-07-12 11.50.33Just before we left, Ross helped a builder construct a wooden fence down the side. Unfortunately, the banksia rose had lost half its bulk when our side neighbour needed to clear a driveway and the weight of the unilateral growth was pulling the huge rose down over the outdoor eating area. We had bought old wooden uprights for a supportive pergola underneath, but before we could construct it, strong winds brought the rose right down to the table overnight 2 days before we left and we couldn’t lift it up. There was no other option but to give it a massive prune on our final day and let it shoot again ! An enormous job, but it had to be done and at least we could leave for our holiday, knowing it would be safe without a supporting structure underneath !Blog Mid Winter20%Reszd2015-01-26 12.52.46Blog Mid Winter20%Reszd2015-07-31 07.22.51We pruned the buddleias at the same time and planted yellow honeysuckle plants I’d grown from cuttings along the new fence to intermingle with the new banksia rose growth, as well as a yellow Trachelospermum asiaticum, which our side neighbour gave us to replace the ivy, which used to cover the stone wall and to which she is allergic. We planted red and gold woodbine along the kitchen window part of the fence.

During our trip up north, we raided our old garden in Armidale for cuttings of my favourite heritage roses, many no longer on the market, as well as getting cuttings from another rose-mad friend at Black Mountain. It was quite a task, as I didn’t want to mix up the cuttings and only had a limited number of pots, as well as limited time, so we numbered each pot and used bands of orange electrical tape, so we could use each pot for 3 cuttings each of  2 different roses.Blog Mid Winter20%Reszd2015-09-05 14.10.57We bought 2 smaller grevilleas : Lady O (1-1.5m tall ), on left side of basket, and Fire Works (1m tall ) at the back of the basket, to grace the bank behind it.Blog Mid Winter20%Reszd2015-09-05 14.12.42We also stayed with friends, whose property included rainforest, so we were able to collect plants for our rainforest fernery : elkhorns, staghorns, birds nest ferns, felt ferns, sword ferns and maidenhair ferns. We  purchased a Lemonade tree on sale, a Star Above Star camellia like the bloom in our guest bedroom vase at Black Mountain (see photos ) and an Armeria ‘Pretty Petite’ (thrift) from nurseries en route. How I regretted not buying that delightful blue species clematis, Clematis macropetala ‘Pauline’, from a nursery in the Blue Mountains !!! We also returned home with lots of homemade jam and chutney ( in exchange for the cumquat marmalade we had taken up as thank you gifts for accommodation ) and huge bags of homegrown limes and mandarins !Blog Mid Winter20%Reszd2015-07-28 14.09.27It was lovely to get home after our first trip away and discover that all the plants had survived. The new japonicas were all flowering , despite their small size, and we planted the Star above Star camellia up behind the white and apple blossom japonicas, as its pink and white blooms will complement them well.Blog Mid Winter20%Reszd2015-07-28 13.52.31

The daphne buds had finally burst and smelt divine and the multigraft camellia, Winter honeysuckle, violets and hellebores continued to delight.Blog Mid Winter20%Reszd2015-07-31 07.22.57Blog Mid Winter20%Reszd2015-07-31 07.28.24Blog Mid Winter20%ReszdIMG_8906Blog Mid Winter20%ReszdIMG_8674Blog Mid Winter20%Reszd2015-07-31 07.27.13My Mum’s pink begonias were all in full bloom down the rainforest path and the hydrangeas were all sending out fresh bud.Blog Mid Winter20%Reszd2015-09-02 17.27.04Blog Mid Winter20%ReszdIMG_9098The first day back, we repotted all the rose cuttings into their own pots, labelled with their name in whiteout pen !Blog Mid Winter20%Reszd2015-08-27 09.31.03We planted 3 more David Austins, ordered before we left from Treloars and awaiting our return : Heritage, Troilus and Golden Celebration. Ross pruned the old kiwi fruit vines behind them, but discovered that their stems were quite rotten- no wonder we only had 3 tiny kiwi fruit this year ! Since that part of the garden is prime growing real estate with full northern Winter sun all day long and we have such limited space for new trees, we decided to remove the vines and replace them with citrus trees – an Imperial mandarin, a Washington Navel, a Lemonade Tree and a Tahitian Lime.

And Ross finally started his fernery ! He cut his gardening teeth on his own fernery in childhood and has always loved them. He tied the staghorns and elkhorns to the loquat and pepperina trees, where they should thrive, as well as planting out potted orchids and all the ferns.Blog Mid Winter20%ReszdIMG_9094

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, I was baking Mandarin cakes and making Mandarin Jam and the most divine Lime Cordial- so easy and delicious- I will never buy Lime Cordial again !!! See my post on Christmas Drinks and Nibbles for the recipe : https://candeloblooms.com/2015/12/17/christmas-eve-drinks-and-nibbles/

Early Autumn

March saw in the start of Autumn and a flurry of activity in the garden, as well as the sewing room ! We dug through the Soho Bed and started a vegetable bed and one of the cutting beds, both on the northern side of the garden, a folly which we later regretted, as this left side of the path was shaded heavily by the trees on the northern edge of the garden during the Winter, when the sun was low in the northern sky !Blog Early Autumn20%Reszd2015-03-08 07.10.06

We started our white hedge behind the Soho bed, planting tiny shrubs of the beautifully scented Philadelphus ‘Virginalis’ and Viburnum burkwoodii ‘Anne Russell’, either side of the entrance arch to the path.

We attended the wonderful Yamina Plant Fair at Lanyon Homestead on Canberra’s outskirts.

See http://http://www.hsoc.org.au/documents/LanyonPlantFair2016_A4flyer_updated.pdf and bought a large shrub of Pearl Bush (Exochorda macrantha ‘The Bride’), also for the white border.

Other purchases included :
• a small Winter Sweet (Chimonanthus praecox) for future Winter fragrance,
• a Cornus ‘Norman Hadden’ (Cornus kousa X Cornus capitata)  for its beautiful single white flowers, which turn deep pink as they age,
• a Carolina Allspice bush(Calycanthus florida) for its exotic cinnamon scent and
• 2 colourful dahlias- a burnt red (‘Ellen Huston’) and a gold one, which we planted on the corners of the new long beds for a temporary splash of colour before the Winter frosts !

Blog Early Autumn20%Reszd2015-04-12 12.50.55Blog Early Autumn20%Reszd2015-04-12 12.50.29

We also ordered Spring bulbs from Tesselaars (https://www.tesselaar.net.au/ ) :
• a variety of tall Dutch Iris : Discovery- royal blue; Hildegarde – mid blue; Lilac Beauty- lilac; Casablanca- white and Golden Beauty- gold;
• mixed daffodils and jonquils : Pheasant Eyes, Golden Dawn, Paperwhite Zivas and double Winter Sun and Acropolis daffodils;
• mixed Anemone de Caen
• mixed Picasso ranunculus
• old fashioned highly scented Grandma’s white freesias and
• a variety of beautiful tulips : Bokassa white/Bokassa red and Bokassa Verandi-orange; Parrot Tulip ‘Destiny’ (pink); Lily Tulips : Synaeda Orange/ Claudia-pink and Tres Chic-white; and pink Monet Tulips).

We  bought a swag of seeds from Lambleys Nursey ( http://lambley.com.au/) :  cornflowers, cosmos, Iceland poppies, calendula, stock, bupleurium, digitalis, honesty,nigella, tithonia, aquilegia, rudbeckia , zinnias and wallflowers.Blog Early Autumn20%Reszd2015-03-22 11.26.41We planted a small Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum ‘ King Edward VII’) beside the future glasshouse and a Magnolia ‘White Caviar’ (Magnolia figo X yunnanensis) at the entrance to the garden opposite a mature Snowball Tree.  Note all the ironmongery in the photo. There used to be an old blacksmiths here in the early days and no matter where we dig, we are constantly finding rusty old ironware and broken bits of china and glass, which I have saved to make a mosaic for the garden one day !
The local market provided a Wheel of Fire (Stenocarpus sinuatus), a NSW Christmas Bush (Ceratopetalum gummiferum), a Silky Oak ( Grevillea robusta) and a Native Frangipani (Hymenosporum flavum) for our rainforest garden on the cooler shadier south side of the house, bounded by the tall cypress trees and loquats.Blog Early Autumn20%Reszd2015-03-03 14.49.04March was also a busy month creatively. I made my first-ever basket out of red hot poker leaves and cumbungi after spending a day with the Wyndham Basketeers.Blog Early Autumn20%Reszd2015-09-01 14.10.58Blog Early Autumn20%Reszd2015-03-09 18.00.59

I made an Easter rabbit doorstop, stuffed with lentils , and some full and half ‘Mother and Daughter’ aprons for the local shop.Blog Early Autumn20%Reszd2015-04-21 10.31.44

I continued working on an old butterfly cross-stitch cushion cover, designed by Anette Erikkson ( http://anetteeriksson.com/ ), a belated birthday gift for my eldest daughter, and made new baby gifts for my other daughter’s pregnant friend- a very cute purple furry elephant designed by Jodie Carleton  (http://vintagericrac.blogspot.com.au/ ) and a floral nightie from an old 1950s Enid Gilchrist pattern my Mum had used for all her babies. Of course, the toy elephant had to have a matching nightie as well !Blog Early Autumn20%Reszd2015-03-26 16.04.58Blog Early Autumn20%Reszd2015-04-11 18.39.44Blog Early Autumn20%Reszd2015-03-26 17.41.54