Tag Archives: reptiles

Weekend Coffee Share: Byron Bay – Back to Earth.

If we were having coffee right now, I would never get to sleep.

So, I’m drinking a decaf tea served in a Tim Tam mug by the way. If you haven’t tried Australia’s favourite biscuit which is best eaten as the “Tim Tam Explosion” (one of the more polite terms I’ve heard), you haven’t lived. By the way, this is where you bite off both ends of the Tim Tam and dunk the end in a hot drink and suck through it like a straw. The chocolate melts and if you’re not careful, you’re Tim Tam falls in the drink and drowns. Such a waste!

This is an exceptionally rare packet of Tim Tams. The tray isn't empty!!

This is an exceptionally rare packet of Tim Tams. The tray isn’t empty!!

Returning home from Byron Bay is never good but the fridge/freezer had seemingly died but miraculously returned to life once it had defrosted and the new fridge had been ordered. But the old unit is in the laundry and the new one is BEAUTIFUL. It has the freezer down the bottom so I can reach reach the fruit and veg without torturing myself. It is so clean and right now I’m feeling very protective!

Life is good.

The next day a filling fell out of my tooth while I was at the beach.It actually looked like a bit of shell but I knew.

Life not so good.

My Father & Other Liars by Geoff Le Pard decided to launch it's own book tour and couldn't wait for Geoff to visit Australia!

My Father & Other Liars by Geoff Le Pard decided to launch it’s own book tour and couldn’t wait for Geoff to visit Australia!

Tuesday, the kids returned to school for the start of Term 4. Miracle of miracles, they were on time despite the chaos with the fridge-freezer.

Wednesday, train trip to Sydney reading My Father and Other Liars by blogging mate Geoff Le Pard…almost compensated for the trip to the dentist. (Check it out at http://www.geofflepard.com) If you’ve seen Finding Nemo, my dentist’s surgery is in just about the same location as that Australian dentist and he also has a fish tank. So after business was attended to, the book decided it wanted to see the sights. Make Geoff jealous. We walked down to the edge of Sydney Harbour  and I took some mediocre photos with my phone. The weather wasn’t great so I didn’t bother taking the SLR, which involves taking a backpack as well as my monster-truck sized handbag.(I told the book it had to pack light but once again it didn’t listen. Insisted I pack the kitchen sink and cart it around without any assistance whatsoever. It seems that being a book makes you some kind of royalty and there’s absolutely no question that everybody will carry you around. You don’t even have to turn a page!)

Next, we walked over the Luna Park and considered catching a ferry but again the weather wasn’t great and what with the cold gusts sweeping across the harbour, I opted for another day. The book wasn’t happy and started nagging so I zipped it back up in my bag where I couldn’t hear it’s complaints. Believe me the whingefest was turning into a negrave (a great term I stole from a show about ice addicts). Fortunately after parenting two kids, I’m adept at ignoring all noise and pretended we’d never met (even though that terrible racquet was coming from my handbag and I wasn’t very popular in the quiet carriage on the train!

I'm not sure whether selfies are supposed to reverse the text in a photo but it does seem a bit odd. Technology and I are not usually on very good terms.

I’m not sure whether selfies are supposed to reverse the text in a photo but it does seem a bit odd. Technology and I are not usually on very good terms.

In between reading Geoff’s book, I’ve madly been trying to type up my notes from the Byron Bay trip and sort out the photos. I’m only halfway so I’ll be posting about Byron Bay for some time to come and just hope nothing happens in the meantime that’s going to set me back. That’s the trouble with contemporary communications. News ages way too quickly.

Byron Bay looking North to Mt Warning.

Main Beach, Byron Bay looking North to Mt Warning.

Anyway, I’ve really like to encourage you, especially if you live overseas and have never been to Australia, to check out my posts about Byron Bay. I know I’ve been raving on about the snakes but it really is paradise on earth and every time I go there, I return a changed person. Something changes just like going to a chiropractor and your spine is suddenly in alignment, you just feel better!

Here are some of the posts I’ve written about Byron Bay:

The Sun Set Byron Bay

The Sun Set Byron Bay

Byron Bay: Australia’s Alternative Paradise: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/04/03/byron-bay-australias-alternative-paradise/

Sydney-Newrybar-Byron Bay  Weekend Coffee Share 4th October, 2015 https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/10/04/sydney-newrybar-byron-bay-weekend-coffee-share/

Snake Bait:a snake was on the loose outside while my kids were picking mulberries.

https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/10/08/snake-bait/

Shadow in the Chook Shed

https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/10/09/motivational-chooks/

Updating our annual family photo at the Byron Bay Lighthouse.

Updating our annual family photo at the Byron Bay Lighthouse.

Shadows in Paradise: An Australian Postcard ... some of the not so friendly critters around Byron Bay.

https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/10/10/poem-shadows-in-paradise-an-australian-postcard/

Poem: Beyond the Veil (a bride and groom posing for photos at Byron Bay Lighthouse)

https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/10/11/poem-beyond-the-veil/

Byron Bay Lighthouse

Byron Bay Lighthouse

Lazy Birds of Byron Bay…birds which feast of humans and human refuse

https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/10/10/lazy-birds-of-byron-bay/

Ibis drinking coconut milk

Ibis drinking coconut milk

Well, that pretty much wraps up the last week and looking at that ibis sipping on fresh coconut milk while the rain’s pouring down overhead, is making me feel like getting straight back in the car and going back to Byron Bay.

I’d love to hear how your week went and your various ups and downs.This post is part of #weekendcoffeeshare. You can check out the various posts via the linky:

http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=571509

xx Rowena

Snake Bait

“Quick kids! Get inside! There’s a Black Snake out there. No! Don’t run. Just walk. Watch where you’re going. Think!”

Isn’t that how any normal parent would react if there was a venomous Black Snake anywhere near their precious kids?!!

Of course!

But…NOT yours truly! I all but yawned and kept eating my Weetbix. I didn’t raise the alarm at all!! Without my morning caffeine boost, I was “non compos mentis”, mostly dead but still somehow alive….a virtual zombie. 

Out of the corner of my eye, I’d seen a sliver of Black Snake slithering through the freshly mowed grass and under the barbed-wire fence and into the cow paddock next door. Australian Geographic rates the Black Snake as Australia’s 10th most deadly snake and while unlikely to kill you, the venom causes blood-clotting disorder and muscle and nerve damage, enough to knock you off your feet http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/science-environment/2012/07/australias-10-most-dangerous-snakes/

Although I registered seeing the snake, I blinked and it was gone. It didn’t seem real. More like a hallucination or apparition than the potentially life-threatening emergency it was…a deadly snake!

I kept eating my Weetbix.It takes a long time for me to wake up in the morning and switch from my surreal dream state into someone remotely functional.

Stopping to photograph the sugar cane and the approaching storm clouds near Grafton.

Stopping to photograph the sugar cane and the approaching storm clouds near Grafton.

Although Geoff had driven the entire way to Byron Bay, being a passenger also took its toll on me. Even after a good night’s sleep, I could still feel the car’s rumbling vibrations pulsating through me, the long-distance driving equivalent of “sea legs”. It also takes me a good day to adjust to my new surroundings, even though Geoff’s sister’s place is our home away from home. Just call me “slow”…even cold-blooded.

Anyway, Geoff stuck his head through the door, probably to check whether I was still alive, when he spotted the snake out the window. A man of action, unlike his more philosophical wife, he went straight outside to raise the alarm. The kids were out there picking mulberries and while they weren’t near the snake, there were no guarantees that “Joe Blake” (Australian rhyming slang for snake) didn’t have a few mates also sunning themselves out there in the grass.

What nobody usually tells you about Byron Bay and the surrounding regions is that they’re populated with snakes. Sure, they might not be found grinning on local postcards and there certainly aren’t any “Beware of the Snake” signs anywhere either. These are the sort of thing you leave out of your tourism brochures and “Welcome to Byron Bay” greetings. Not good for tourism.

However, that doesn’t mean they’re not there.

Geoff grew up on a farm in NE Tasmania where his Dad wasn’t the only one who boasted “the only good snake is a dead snake”. Dad’s brother had been bitten by a snake out in the bush when he was a boy and in Tasmania, any kind of snake is deadly poisonous, especially to a kid. So, this was quite a serious, life-threatening incident, which stayed with him for life. There was another story where Dad had spotted a Tiger Snake in the paddock at work. Dad was heading for the shed to find his gun but the snake, who was equally spooked and looking for “an out”, also took off down the paddock. Indeed, the snake was apparently keeping pace with Dad in what must have been the incarnation of his very worst fears, although I can’t help seeing it as a cross-country race with a difference. Yikes! They’re made of strong stuff down there in Tassie!

So, when it came to dealing with snakes, Geoff was no novice.

Although Geoff was quick off the mark to warn the kids, he didn’t press the panic button. He walked calmly because you don’t run around snakes. You stand still and pretend to be a tree. Besides, we’re quite used to snakes being around the farm. That said, when it comes to live snakes out on the loose, we’ve only seen the more benign carpet snake, which used to be curled up in the rafters in the garage, looking about as energetic as Homer Simpson in front of the TV eating donuts. Yet, just because we haven’t seen snakes out in the grass, that doesn’t mean we haven’t seen the evidence such as a six foot snake skin left dangling from the barbed wire fence overnight. There are also the stories and I’m not talking about the bush equivalent of the urban myth but first-hand, local accounts. One mum we knew had found a snake curled up underneath her son’s Tonka truck one morning. She found it because locals check under everything. Snakes don’t discriminate. Anything could be a potential “home”.

Anyway, the kids were outside picking mulberries and I can just imagine the deep purple juice staining their lips and running down their fingers. Mulberry picking is such a quintessential part of childhood like Twinkle Twinkle, wobbly-falling out teeth and Summers at the beach. Of course, none of these glorious visions include a poisonous, potentially deadly Black Snake lurking in the grass and an ambulance ride to Emergency.

Yummy mulberries.

Yummy mulberries.

Turns out the kids weren’t keen on any close encounters with snakes either. Once Geoff had told them about the snake, they promptly decided they had enough mulberries and came inside to eat the fruits of the harvest. Phew!

The kids eating the mulberries they'd picked on the farm, while I spotted a snake.

The kids eating the mulberries they’d picked on the farm, while I spotted a snake.

Unfortunately, this didn’t mean the snake saga was over as such. It was more like a mutual stand off. After all, the snake probably didn’t want to see us anymore than we wanted to see it…a form of mutual “respect”.

Have you had any encounters with dangerous local wildlife? Do tell!

xx Rowena

PS I’m now home and in the process of typing up all my tales from last week. I didn’t have a computer with me and they’re all hand-written in the journal which might sound rustically romantic but it’s a pain getting them sorted out.

National Tree Planting Day: Meeting Taronga’s Zoomobile!

When you think of Australian animals, koalas and kangaroos have hogged much of the limelight. However, today we met a few unsung characters when Taronga Zoo’s Zoomobile came to town.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not exactly sure what we were at this morning. I was just tagging along with my daughter and her cub scout pack. There was tree planting, running through the bush with her mates and meeting a real cast of characters from Sydney’s Taronga Park Zoo. I was about to say cute and furry characters but if you’ve ever seen an echidna, you’d realise they’re more along the lines of rough and spiky. Indeed, I was told their spines can easily puncture through car tyres, although I’ve patted a few and survived unscathed. Also, I wouldn’t exactly describe the Eastern Shingleback Lizard as “cute” either. That is, unless you go with the definition: “ugly but interesting!

Our daughter pats a Shingleback Lizard

Our daughter pats a Shingleback Lizard

Mind you, in terms of cuteness, it is hard to overlook this baby Ringtail Possum.

How cute: Baby Ringtail Possum.

How cute: Baby Ringtail Possum.

Personally, the star of the show had to be a somewhat obscure marsupial called the Yellow-bellied Glider, which arrived in a rather intriguing wooden contraption that reminded me a bit of a miniature phone booth. I didn’t hear this critter make a noise and was just admiring its photogenic qualities and the softness of its fur when an almighty din erupted from the DVD player. Can’t even begin to describe what its call sounds like but you can listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnzGlC0Pmfo

Feeding the Yellow-bellied Glider.

Feeding the Yellow-bellied Glider.

I was also stoked to meet their echidna. You might recall that we chanced across a few echnidas on a bushwalk locally which I wrote about here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/07/12/bushwalking-through-the-lens-australian-style/

Talk about a sticky beak!

Talk about a sticky beak!

Even though we’ve seen echidnas in the wild, I was still stoked to see theirs, who was also a lot more sociable and willing to show off a little and give us a few more insights into the life and times of the echidna. Apparently, it locates it’s food using the tip of its snout or nose, which is sensitive to electrical signals from an insect body and this is how it searches and “sniffs” out ant and termite nests. Echidnas then normally tear into the mound or nest with its sharp front claws while its snout exposes the ants or termites. These are then caught with its fast-flicking, sticky tongue. Because they have no teeth the Echidna crushes the insects between horny pads in its mouth.

That all sounds like a lot of hard work just to get a feed…especially when you could just pop into the supermarket!

This lizard looks quite accustomed to the camera!

This lizard looks quite accustomed to the camera!

In addition to the cute and furies, the sharp and spikies, there were the reptiles…always popular at any animal show. I must admit I was quite relieved not to run into any of these on our recent bushwalk…especially any SNAKES!!

Miss intrigued by the Children's Python.

Miss intrigued by the Children’s Python.

The Zoomobile wimped out a bit today on the snake front by only bringing what’s known as a Children’s Python. After all, it’s not a good idea to introduce Australia’s deadliest snakes to a whole lot of kids. “Mummy, look at me,” as Little Johnny’s clutching an Eastern Brown, Australia’s deadliest snake. That wouldn’t go down well on Facebook at all!

Yes, Australia is full of deadly snakes and if you’d like to read more about them with going anywhere near them, click here: http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/science-environment/2012/07/australias-10-most-dangerous-snakes/

In contrast to the Eastern Brown, the Children’s Python is like the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny all rolled into one user-friendly snake.

Actually, maybe not.

I just did a bit of quick Google research and found out that the Children’s Python isn’t some docile relative of a jelly snake, which makes a suitable pet for kids. Rather, it is named after the scientist John George Children, who first described them. Humph! That’s the last time I go playing with one of those things. Yes, they actually do bite but are non-venomous.

Yes, I’ll stick to eating jelly snakes!

Back on the cute list, we also spotted this frog which seemed to change colour to match its habitat. Clever!

Well, returning after school drop off this morning, I have finally found out what yesterday was all about.

It was the 26th July and National Tree Planting Day and we were planting trees to protect the long term habitat of the Yellow-Bellied Glider, which actually lives locally at Kincumber. This is a joint project between Gosford City Council and Taronga Zoo. One thing I did pick up was the these gliders live in tree hollows, which are formed when the branches drop off and the wood rots away to form the hollow. It takes at least 120 years for a tree to be mature enough for these tree hollows to form so we really need to protect our older trees as well as planting new ones for the future. Here is a link to more information about the project: https://taronga.org.au/education/project-habitat/kincumber-yellow-bellied-glider

Meanwhile, as the cubs were planting trees and enjoying the Zoomobile, our son was away on camp with the Scouts. We managed to enjoy a snapshot of the bush when we picked him up. I particularly loved the pink Boronia flowers. They have a beautiful fragrance and I used to pick them and make potions out of them when I was a kid.

Beautiful Boronia Flowers.

Beautiful Boronia Flowers.

Anyway, just thought I’d share this impressive shot of him carrying his pack. I don’t think it was an heavy as it looks or gravity would have done its job.

Glad I'm not carrying that pack.

Glad I’m not carrying that pack.

Our boy Scout is rapidly growing up!

Our boy Scout is rapidly growing up!

It’s been very encouraging working on this post and realising the limitations of my knowledge and pushing those boundaries out. Of course, we never stop learning and most of our greatest lessons take place out of the classroom.

xx Rowena

The End of a Great Weekend.

The End of a Great Weekend.