Tag Archives: bush

Weekend Coffee Share 20th August, 2018.

Welcome to Another Coffee Share!

How are you? How was your week? My manners have improved this week, as I often launch into an animated diatribe about my week, without even thinking of you. While you could interpret that as “rude”, I’ll excuse myself by saying that I’m excited to catch up with you and I thought you might be interested in a few snapshots of Australian life. That’s one of the things I really love about our Weekend Coffee Share is gaining a more personal insight into what it’s life to live in an other country.

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Bushfire Viewed from Ettalong Beach, NSW.

After seeing some spectacular photos of the fires ravaging California and hearing horror stories of mass destruction and heartbreak, we had our own local  bush fire this week over at Killcare, North of Sydney and about a 15 minutes drive from here. I woke up one morning and feel a thick cloak of smoke immediately wrap around me, and there was a definite tightness and constriction in my lungs. I have about 55% lung capacity. So, the panic buttons went off and I was wondering whether I’d need to get out. However, the wind must’ve changed because the smoke dissipated and by afternoon, I actually ventured to our local beach where I could photograph the towering plume of smoke without suffocating.

Saturday, saw a different kind of fire. Our kids were attending District Scout Camp at this very remote camp site at Sugree Bag Creek. Different scout troops were attending and each had its own camp fire blazing by the time we’d turned up late afternoon after our daughter’s dancing. These fires don’t just happen and there’s quite a lot of science involved. I saw our scout leader clearing away the grass with a shovel, and I’m not sure what else was involved but when my husband picked the kids up the next day, I was told that the fires didn’t go out overnight and the local bush wasn’t set alight. People are so quick to criticise and blame teenagers. Yet, here we had at least 50 or so kids with fires, bush and no problems.

My husband and I decided to turn the drive into more of an experience, which is why I’d come along. Of course, only one parent was required to do the actual driving. It was about a 90 minutes drive to the camp site and while you think of the outback in terms of remote in an  Australian sense, once you leave the road less travelled and continue onto the roads rarely travelled, it doesn’t take long for you to either experience that sense of getting away from it all or feeling isolated and I little bit vulnerable. There’s “nothing there”. However, ideally you don’t go camping in the supermarket car park and you actually do experience all that’s entailed with getting away from it all and you find out what you’re made of. You find interest in nature and the simple life instead of being glued to electronic, TV or having your nose in a book. This is living.

This lecture is as much for myself, I should point out. I could easily have read a book for much of the drive instead of engaging in conversation or looking out the window. As we drove off the main road and kept driving and driving onto what was by now more like a driveway or a cattle path, I noticed a rising sense of impatience…”Are we there yet?” I felt like we’d almost driving off the edge of the earth and I should’ve been embracing it. Enjoying the get away. Appreciating the benefits of switching off instead of being constantly switched on and lit up like a Christmas tree. By the time we reached Spencer, it was like “there’s nothing here”. I was really hanging out for some coffee and cake by then too. It was 5.00pm and everything was shut. Well, that was except the “Dunkirk Hotel”…an open air pub with a wooden sign suspended over a picnic table.

This coming Thursday, my parents will be celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary and all sorts are coming out of the woodwork and turning up for the festivities. My Dad is the only one making a speech, and I’ve supplied him with photos so there’s been no role for myself in all of this, which perhaps could be a good thing. However, that hasn’t stopped me from thinking about their big day and what it was all about. I just don’t have much to go on, because I wasn’t there which isn’t always a given but that’s how it was for us. Obviously, many of the people who were there on the day are no longer with us or have drifted beyond their orbit. One of the interesting snippets from my parents’ wedding was that my grandfather was a pastor and so he had another minister there at the start so he could walk my mother down the aisle and conduct the service. My Dad’s family was Catholic and Mum and her family were Lutheran and they got married in a Lutheran Church. That meant Dad’s family needed to get dispensation from the priest to attend. I don’t even know what that is, but it sounds serious. Mum’s wedding car also broke down on the way to the Church. The reception was held at my grandparents’ home in Lindfield.

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Anyway, while I was pottering around with my research, I found a photo of my mum taken at a school reunion back in the 80s and found her year had set up its own web site, which included pdfs of the school newsletter. I was particularly interested in the Principal’s reports. One was headed “the casual cult” and spoke out about the horrors of casual dress, manners and the “bodgie pack”. More time research required. Also, there were quite a few references to the girls outperforming the boys academically, which I hadn’t anticipated from that era. I have sensed that the needs of boys are being swept under the radar, which is all well and good if you only have daughters and don’t believe in some form of equity.

I’ve also been making considerable progress researching not only my grandmother’s career as a concert pianist, which I’ve mentioned before. She worked as a music critic in the 1950s for the Daily Telegraph and despite so many of the old newspapers being uploaded onto Trove, the Daily Telegraph has only just been uploaded and I’m finally able to read her reviews without trudging into the State Library viewing them on the reel to reel and paying a fortune to print them out. I’m now in the process of converting them to text and pasting them chronologically into a word document. Sounds all well and good but why did she have to attend so many concerts and be so prolific? I know. I’d be complaining if there was only a handful of words but it’s going to take some time to get this under my belt. 1950 alone is currently standing at 30,000 words and I’m not done yet. I should also point out that she had four children under ten at the time, although her mother lived with her and she also had home help. Nevertheless, she was an extraordinary woman.

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By the way, I am still making my way through Raphaelle Giordano’s: Your Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One. This supposed novel features a whole lot of steps towards finding greater satisfaction and fulfillment in your life. This week, I focused on: “Throw out ten things”. That was all well and good. However, it didn’t bargain on us stopping at a roadside sign advertising “FREE” in huge red painted letters. We had no idea what was free when we pulled over. However, being out in the country, we expected something along the lines of oranges or horse manure. However, much to our delight, there were bags and bags of good books, which somehow found their way into the boot of our car. Although common sense tells you not to bring bags of books into your house when you’ve just downloaded your ten items, the book didn’t say you couldn’t. So, now I’m clearing more space and my husband will no longer be sleeping on the train. He has a lot of reading to do.

Meanwhile, you might enjoy reading my review on the book so far and my progress Here.

Books

So much more creating more space…there’s an avalanche of books.

Lastly, I have come across a blog share, which you might like to take part in. This was my first week over at Thursday Doors hosted by  Norm 2.0. . Here’s my contribution.

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Thursday Doors…St John’s Cathedral, Parramatta, Sydney.

Well, that’s me done for another week. It’s been great catching up and I look forward to catching up on your news.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Off On A Saturday Drive…

Welcome to being a scout parent. Your kid experiences the magic of the great outdoors, while you have the pleasure of being stuck in the car for a long drive. Well, I tell a fib because I wasn’t exactly stuck in the car, and I wasn’t driving either. Geoff was driving, and once we’d dropped off our charge, we made numerous photography stops and took full advantage of the great outdoors. Well, perhaps not full advantage because we didn’t exactly go for an extended hike, but I did walk our daughter down to the registration tent.

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This weekend, was District Scout Camp and it was held in the middle of nowhere,  and not even near the great outback. It was held in the camping grounds at Sugaree Creek and the only signs of civilization were numerous cow pats, no cows and a cluster of tents with camp fires going. Due to its lack of proximity to any landmarks, there is no point providing a map.

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Of course, there’s something naturally mesmerizing about being around a camp fire. Yet, the magic doesn’t just happen and there’s a lot of careful skill and preparation which goes into building a good one too. After having a local bush fire this week, it was good to hear that the camp fires survived the night and remained under control. Of couorse, we expect no less from our scouts.

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There’s something soulful about a tree skeleton silhouetted by a cloudy blue sky.

Of course, this is why you go camping and why we love our kids being involved with Scouts. It’s important to commune with nature, sleep under the stars and especially get away from technology, phones and gadgets and even talk face-to-face. Indeed, as much as I was wondering if we were ever going to get there, I know there’s much to enjoy about going on a long drive seemingly surrounded by nothingness and needing to find those points of interest. I guess this also includes not looking at my phone or reading a book either. The latter becomes very tempting.

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After leaving camp, we drove to Spencer. Don’t really know what it’s main claim to fame is, but there is a caravan park and it would be a great place to get away from it all, especially on a boat.

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It was after 5.00pm by the time we reached Spencer and the sun was setting and the place was shut. All except a makeshift pub…The Dunkirk Hotel, which was just this sign and a picnic table under the tree.

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Mangrove Creek photographed from Spencer.

If you are interested in checking out more around the Sugee Bag Creek area, I recommend reading Return to Sugree Bag Creek

Have you ever been involved with Scouts or Guides and have any camp memories? I’d love to hear from you!

xx Rowena

Flaming Embers…Friday Fictioneers.

Boat was the only way home. A huge fire storm had engulfed Ku’ring-gai National Park, and jumped across the M1 Motorway, burning out the trains and blocking all traffic in and out of Sydney.

Dave was trapped, just like millions of  nameless commuters jammed into this hellish sardine tin of burning embers.  Yet, like a bat out of hell, he had to get home. She’d never leave the house. Would rather go up in flames, than face her fear.

Dad’s dingy would never make it across the Hawkesbury, but he had to try. Only love could find a way now.

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This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields. This week’s PHOTO PROMPT © Fatima Fakier Deria. 

Bushfires are quite a normal, anticipated events, especially during a blazing Australian Summer. It is not uncommon for the M1 Motorway, the only main road North out of Sydney, to be closed due to bushfires and on such instances, the trains are likely to be down too leaving stranded commuters to crash out wherever they can for the night. My husband has been caught up in these closures, although our house is nowhere near the bush.

If you are wanting to read a first hand account of driving through such fires, Kimberley’s Bushfire Diary is worth checking out.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share… 8th April, 2018.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Tonight, I made a batch of Chocolate & Raspberry Muffins, made with almond meal and coconut sugar. They were scrumptious with dark chocolate overtones, with a blast of raspberry. Yum! Would you like to try one? Then, you’d better be quick. The mix only yielded only cupcakes and next time, I’ll make a double batch. We ate ours straight out of the oven.

So, how was your week? Have you been taking part in the Blogging A-Z April Challenge? I have. My theme this year, is writing Letters to Dead Artists. So far, I’ve written to Botticelli, Grace Cossington Smith,Edgar Degas, Eileen Agar, Frederick McCubbin and Vincent Van Gogh.

Today, I posted a  Weekly Round-up Letters to Dead Artists A-Z Challenge

Although I’ve been very focused on researching and writing for the challenge, the usual realities of family life ensure I’m on my feet. It’s good for me really, because going through all this research can get very intense. I don’t want to join any of these artists in the asylum.

Yesterday, we had a busy day. It was open day at the dance studio and so I spent a few hours watching my daughter and the other students performing their solos as well as a preview of the piece for the mid-year production. As always, I loved watching the performances and was dazzled seeing Miss all decked out in her tutu again. After focusing on Van Gogh’s Starry Night intensly for much of the last week, I couldn’t help noticed the emotive swirls in some of the solos. There’s definitely an intensity there, something with connects with a part of me which usually doesn’t see the light of day. These days, being a mild -mannered mum provides good camouflage. Of course, I’ve got it together!

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After dancing, it was off to the Scout & Guides Gang Show Camp. It’s held in the bush about 30 minutes drive away and then it’s about a 15 minutes walk through the bush to reach the camp site. This provided an easy bushwalking opportunity for me, where the track is well-maintained and an easy stroll. It felt like such a treat to go bush and after writing about Australian artist Frederick McCubbin and , I felt like I was walking through his work On the Wallaby Track. There was the familiar scent of eucalyptus through the air and even after all these years, scribbly gums haven’t lost their magic. They still look like fairies or bush folk have left little messages to each other through the bush. As we walked back to the car, the sun started setting, bathing the trees in golden light. Where was my easel?

During the last week, I caught up with my physiotherapist and I’ve been told. Get back into my exercise routine. Just to prove the point, after we went walking my cough eased. The walking is clearly good for me. So, in addition to yesterday’s bush walk, I’ve been on a few walks with the dogs to the beach..one with all three dogs and today, it was just Rosie who has submitted to the Halti collar and now agrees to sensible walking and unlike Lady, doesn’t stop every metre or so for sniffing and watering duties. Lady doesn’t do a lot to boost your heart rate.

It’s now Autumn here but we’re still enjoying bright blue skies and sunny days. Indeed, it’s still what I deem “hot”. It was 26°C today and it’s threatening 31°C tomorrow. It lulls us into a false sense of security that Summer will never end.

Anyway, that about sums up last week. How was your week? I hope it’s been great.

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Alli.. Can’t believe I’ve actually completed and beamed up my post before the weekend’s done and dusted and we’re well into Monday.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Bird in our Backyard Bottlebrush Tree.

It’s not often that I share any photos from our garden, but our stunning red bottlebrush tree is in full bloom and the local Rainbow Lorrikeets are feasting on what must be the nector of the Gods. I swear they get more than tipsy on the stuff and by the end of the day, you should hear them twittering in the trees. The birds flock to particular trees at the beach on dusk the noise is almost deafening but in a nice way. That’s why you never plant bottlebrush trees (callistemons) near your bedroom window. The same cacophony fires up at dawn and forget trying to sleep through it!

There’s such a thing as too much of a good thing!

What sort of birds do you have in your backyard?

Hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend!

xx Rowena

Midwestern Plant Girl wrote a a great post about seeing Rainbow Lorrikeets in the USA. I realise that I might’ve over-done the noise aspects of the Rainbow Lorrikeet because compared to a Sulfur-crested cockatoo with it’s loud but lovable screech, it’s sweet and musical. Here’s the link: https://midwesternplants.org/2016/10/24/rainbow-lorikeets-trichoglossus-haematodus/

Drats! The Sunset Which Got Away!

Check out this breathtaking sunset!

It all but escaped my snap-happy finger, while we were driving down to Sydney. As much as we’re inclined to pull over to immediately capture that stunning sunset, we had the trailer on the back. Moreover, due to the an accident on the freeway, we’d opted for the “scenic route” along the rustic and rather windy Old Pacific Highway, and couldn’t stop. Out of sheer desperation, I managed to snatch this shot through the windscreen and you too can enjoy water droplets bouncing around like ping pong balls, wrecking what might have been a stunning shot.

Of course, I know I shouldn’t get upset about not being able to photograph a sunset. There are, after all, much more pressing issues in our world, and it wasn’t like I was trapped underground and couldn’t see it.

However, therein lies the problem. I could see that sunset in all its technicolour glory and felt the call of the wild. Such an incredible sunset isn’t something you just see through your eyes, but also through every part of your being…mind, body, spirit and it somehow becomes a part of your very being. So, to be able to capture that, it’s a bit like sticking your bubble gum to the bed post over night. You can come back and relive the experience later.

I also enjoy sharing a little taste of Australia with you. Through even this less than perfect photo, you can still appreciate an Australian bush sunset with those towering gum trees silhouetted against the setting sun. You can also sense the vibrant intensity of the colours…molten oranges and yellows slapped across the sky like generous coats of paint. It looks so good, I want to eat it! Yum!

However, as much as I’m disappointed about missing the sunset, I must admit that I think it’s good for me to just to stand back and appreciate the bigger picture now and then. Take in the vast enormity of an endless sky. Feel gobsmacked! Awe inspired! Instead of trying to work out how I’m going to frame it. Shove it inside a 6 x 4 box to contain it. By trying to constrain the heavens and stick boundaries around them, they lose some of their magic. Like wild animals caged at the zoo, they’re still great to look at, but it’s not the same as seeing them in the wild. Or, experiencing a sunset simply for its intrinsic beauty without trying to turn it into something it’s not…a photo!

These two opposing views, however, bring me into conflict with myself. How can someone whose love of photography could be described as a chronic twitch, ever happily let a brilliant sunset go and simply let it be?

I don’t know but every now and then it happens. I spot something and don’t have my SLR with or my phone and I have that experience, albeit reluctantly…a lesson in savouring the moment…!

Meanwhile, could you please pass me a Kleenex. I still have a bit of work ahead on acceptance! I’m still thinking about the sunset which got away!

What do you think about savouring the moment? Is it better with or without the camera?

xx Rowena

PS: By the way, if you like a good sunset photo, here’s one I prepared earlier.

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Sunset Down the Road a few weeks ago.

 

 

Miss goes bush. Mummy goes bananas.

What nobody tells you when you sign up for this crazy parenting caper is that this whole business of  teaching and educating your kids is a two-way street. That they stretch, extend and educate you at least as much and you can’t just sit back and rest on your laurels. Oh no! Instead you have to work hard, stretch until you feel like each and every fibre in your mind, body and spirit are about to snap and you’ll be put back together with sticky tape. At least, if my daughter is patching me up, that’s what she’ll be using.

Miss trying out her pack in her zebra onesie the night before camp.

Miss trying out her pack in her zebra onesie the night before camp.

So it was last Friday night, that I found myself driving up and down a street after dark looking for my friend’s house so I could drop Miss off for a 2 day cub scout camp. This wasn’t the sort of so-called camping where you’re living it up in a hut. Rather, they would be sleeping in tents and roughing it in the inimitable Australian bush.

Strangely I wasn’t worried about the snakes, spiders and drop bears which threaten death and panic throughout the Australian bush. Instead, I was much more concerned about the possibility of rain. I really didn’t like the idea of my little darling sleeping outside in the rain in a flimsy tent. After all, I don’t even like the dogs sleeping outside in their kennels in the rain, despite their thick, woolly coats. Just call me soft but I usually leave them inside.

Yet, I digress.Back to dropping Miss off.

Looking a bit tired but putting up with posing for photos inside the trunk of a scribbly gum.

Looking a bit tired but putting up with posing for photos inside the trunk of a scribbly gum.

It’s pitch black outside and I’m driving up and down this road trying, against all hope, to find any street numbers. I’ve been to their place once in daylight but I was a passenger, which usually doesn’t make for good recall. After a few U-turns and zero recognition,  decided to admit defeat and call for directions. There’s no shame in that. Besides, my friends are pretty understanding when it comes to my foibles and have the same fondness for me that they usually reserve for garden gnomes.

Bush toilet.

Bush toilet.

Of course, by the time I pulled over and actually called for help, I was starting to stress. Not quite a full-blown panic attack but I was definitely working on one. Although I’m often Captqain Courageous, I have some trouble with night blindness and, of course, as I start to stress my disorientation only got worse and the world started to spin and do some kind of incredible dance.

I don’t use my mobile a lot and being cold and stressed and, of course in the dark, my fingers had seized up and I wasn’t pressing the buttons properly. Moreover,  apparently my ear somehow managed to disconnect my phone all by itself. At least, that’s what my daughter said but what would she know? She doesn’t even have a phone or access to one and yet she does seem to know her way around my phone with the expertise of an Aboriginal bush tracker.

Yes, it appears that I have very wiggly earlobes!!

Anyway, when we pulled over, I forgot to turn my lights back on and I was only driving literally around the corner but there my friend was now playing sentry outside his place looking for me and then I turn up totally lost in our suburban back streets unable to operate my mobile phone with my head lights off. Talk about a Wally! All I can say, is thank goodness I wasn’t made in a factory. I would have been stamped defective and turned into landfill.

Reflections on the creek.

Reflections on the creek.

All I’ll say is thank goodness I can make yummy choc chip cookies. These have made me very popular with the scouts and their parents. Given their popularity, I’ll never have to worry about navigation again. They’ll all be looking for me!

Anyway, after my incredible success on Friday night, I dobbed Geoff in to pick Miss up on Sunday afternoon but we all went up to meet her and caught the end of closing parade.

Much to my delight, I managed to go on a mini bush walk as we picked up her gear and checked out the camp site. I really enjoyed that walk because bushwalking with my medical condition when I have fallen over and even broken my foot on plain grass, means I just don’t go. I don’t think I’ve bushwalked for at least 2-3 years. I’ve been skiing but bushwalking can present a lot more immediate hazards.

When you’re an outdoorsy scouting family, that’s quite a gap.

By the way I mention that not to whinge but to raise awareness and to remind people not to take walking for granted. It could all change in the blink of an eye!!

Heath-leaved Banksia, Banksia Ericifolia , Kariong,, New South Wales.

Heath-leaved Banksia, Banksia Ericifolia , Kariong,, New South Wales. Miss told me they collected the honey off the dew left on the flowers early on those frosty mornings.

We always need to carpe diem Seize the Day!!

As you can see, while my feet don’t always cooperate, my click-happy finger went into overdrive taking dozens of photos of these precious camping moments in the Australian bush.

Just like what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, what happens at camp, stays at camp so I’ve only had a very sketchy description of what happened. Needless to say, there was possibly more talking than walking, not a lot of sleep but a lot of fun. As usual, I take my hat off to their dedicated leaders who volunteer their time so that our kids can grow.

This Banksia bush reminded me of a straggly Christmas Tree. what with its stunning golden

This Banksia bush reminded me of a straggly Christmas Tree. what with its stunning golden “candles” and its somewhat triangular shape.

Meanwhile, I am still thinking about how I can get myself up to scouting speed. Rather than driving too much at night, I might just tie myself up in knots instead.

Her bags in the bush.

Bags in the bush.

Has your family been involved with Scouting or Guides at all? Any stories you’re willing to share now that you’re too old to get busted? Much to my disappointment, I wasn’t involved and the closest I came was going camping, was at school when I was about 15. There was quite a fuss at the time because many of the girls freaked out about having to dig a hole to go to the toilet. We were a tough bunch which also had to be reminded not to wear high heels. Golly, now there’ s a scene for a movie!

xx Rowena

PS I should point out that while it looks like this camp was held at some remote location deep in the Australian bush, Camp Kariong is only 20 minutes up the road and is in Greater Sydney.