Goanna up a gum tree!

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Trying to be invisible – the Goanna has flattened itself on the tree trunk, trying to blend with the bark.

When one thinks of Australian fauna, the animals that come immediately to mind are Koalas, Kangaroos and Wallabies. For those who prefer critters with feathers, there are also many beautiful birds to enjoy. However, an animal which is not generally readily identified with Australia is the Goanna.

Goannas are actually large lizards (getting up to about 1.5m in length), and although they look quite formidable, are shy and do not enjoy generally enjoy human attention.

I have been lucky to see quite a few, usually they are spotted when crossing a road, before scurrying up the nearest tree and away out of perceived harm.

Today we were driving out of a local national park and came across this specimen, also known as Lace Monitor. True to form, it was not overly impressed by being photographed, but we enjoyed watching it for a while, before leaving it in peace.

Large sharp claws make climbing trees a breeze.

Large sharp claws make climbing trees a breeze. Taken with a good zoom lens!

Can you spot the Goanna? This one is called a Lace Monitor.

Can you spot the Goanna? This particular one which we saw today is called a Lace Monitor.

Did you know that we had Goannas in Australia? Have you ever seen one or any other big lizard like it?

Posted in Australia, Have you ever..., Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , | 18 Comments

R U OK day

Today is “R U OK?” day in Australia.

What does this mean? Well it is a day when people are invited to stop and think about those around them and to ask – “Are you OK?”. Quite often, those who mentally troubled, or have a lot of life worries, tend to internalise them and do not let anyone know what they are going through.

So, how about it? Why not ask those around you if they are OK? They may seem to be OK on the surface, but this may be a facade. The simple act of kindness from someone around them who took the time to genuinely ask about their welfare could make such a difference to their lives.

It is rare that I am able to photograph a bird this close, but this little animal was not OK. It died not long after I took this photo. Yet it looks so perfect here.

A beautiful Double Barred Finch.

A beautiful Double Barred Finch.

 

Posted in Musings, Odds & ends | Tagged | 7 Comments

Oh cheese!

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Oh yum……. where to start? :-)

It has been a while since I responded to any of Ailsa’s travel challenges, but I could not resist her topic for this week: Merchandise.
I rarely take photos of merchandise (!!) but there is one thing that I do miss a lot that we just cannot get in Australian supermarkets, and that is cheese. We can get the ordinary cheddars or vintage brands, but there are just none of those exotic, fascinating and intriguing varieties that exist in fromageries and supermarchés in every town, village and city in France.
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The last time I saw one of the cheese sections of the supermarket where I was getting groceries, I just could not resist getting a few quick snaps of the huge range of delicious cheeses which the French people can take for granted. Admittedly, they do not have Vegemite on the shelves, but I would quite happily do without this Australian iconic spread to enjoy more lovely cheeses with my evening meals.
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In case you also do not have hundreds of cheeses in your local supermarket delicatessen, this is what I am referring to!

Posted in Favourite things, France, Travel, Weekly challenges | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

Have you ever… seen a Xanthorrhoea flower?

There is no doubt. There are some pretty amazing plants in this world of ours. Two in particular stand out for me amongst the Australian flora – the Gymea Lily and the Xanthorrhoea or Grass Tree.

Gymea Lilies do not like our climate, and I have not attempted to grow them. However, when it comes to Grass Trees, I am happy to report that I have had wonderful success.

Grass Trees are protected in Australia, you are not permitted to harvest them from the wild without a permit, and they are very difficult to transplant successfully – taking up to 3 years to decide whether they like their new location or not. They are consequently also very expensive to purchase. They are strange plants, having a stem which emerges from beneath the ground, which then can grow quite tall, pushing the skirt of grassy leaves up as it lengthens.

So why this protection? Well, simply because they take a very long time to grow and can live up to 600 or more years!  I was able to get some Xanthorrhoea seed some 14 years ago and planted it in pots in my greenhouse. The tiny grass like leaf that emerged took 3 years to get a mere 5cm (about 3 inches) in height. I had pretty well given up on them ever doing much, but decided to eventually plant them in a well drained, raised area in my garden and see what happened.

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A lovely group of Grass Trees – all grown from seed many, many years ago.

Some 12 years later, most of the plants were still alive, but not really growing that well. Then, surprisingly, in the past 2 years, about half the plants decided to suddenly flourish. (Sadly, the other half decided that life was not so good, and have quietly succombed :-( )

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That is one very long and spectacular flower spike. The individual flowers are small and white – the white line down the left of the spike shows where the flowers are starting to open.

This year, I have been rewarded with the ultimate prize – a flower spike. This is quite unusual, as these plants generally only flower after a fire has occurred. The spike is some 3m or 10 feet in length, and has only just started to show open flowers. To give you some idea of how large this plant is, I got my partner to stand next to it.

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Lots of small flowers emerging on the side of the large flower spike.

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The stem of the flower spike is very large, at the base as you can see.

I am so delighted with my beautiful grass trees. Nature is just so wonderful. And hopefully, soon, I will have a new lot of seed to start the process all over again!

If this species has intrigued you and you would like to read a bit more about it (it is worth it, they are amazing plants!) a search on the web will reveal lots of fascinating information. If you want a nice summary, then Wikipedia will give this to you.

Posted in Have you ever..., Image Gallery, Musings | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

Fire in the sky

I am very spoilt in that I get treated to lots of spectacular sunrises and sunsets where I live. Some do not last for very long, the incredible colours and clouds are there for a matter of minutes before fading away. For these, all you can do is watch and marvel. Others are more obliging and will give you time to race away for the camera, then treat you to a kaleidoscope of shapes, stunning colours and a large dose of whimsy, all of which you can try to capture digitally if you wish.
FireCloudHave you ever experienced a really different sort of sunset though?

Towards the end of autumn, I looked up to see something which fascinated me. It appeared as if the clouds were on fire. Indeed, someone had lit a large fire on the ground below, and the smoke had become part of the complex and beautiful sunset image.

I really liked the colours, particularly those in the image above. The intense blue of the sky contrasts with the smoky orange and little tantalising bits of sun form a line along the edge of the clouds!

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Definitely a case of ‘Fire in the sky!’

Posted in Favourite things, Have you ever..., Image Gallery, Musings | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Country mail

Someone has gone to considerable trouble to construct this lovely, inviting little cottage mailbox. The detail is lovely – contrasting paint on the veranda makes it so welcoming, along with the rays of sunshine (ah….. and a cobweb or two!) streaming in from the west.

Inviting little cottage, complete with a tank!

Inviting little cottage, complete with a tank!

The owner is no stranger to country living – tanks are a common feature where there is no water supply from the mains!

Welcoming verandah!

Welcoming verandah!

The house attached to this mailbox is unfortunately not visible. I would bet that it is painted in similar colours though, and perhaps even resembles its miniature at the gate!

This is another example of the creativity which can be found at many gateways. Recently, we were made aware that mail deliveries will no longer be made every business day (email has taken over from much of what used to be delivered). It will be sad to see these lovely works of art no longer be used when one day, mail ceases to be delivered at all.

If you have contributions to add to our mailbox collection, or if you have a great mailbox yourself, please take some photos, publish a post and link it to the Amazing Mailbox Quest. The more the merrier!

Posted in Amazing Mailbox Quest, Odds & ends | Tagged , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Weekend mechanic

Where has the time gone? It has been nearly two months since I put a post on this blog! I will blame the short winter days (it always puzzles me how I seem to get more done in summer, yet the actual number of hours in each day is exactly the same!)

However, I have a number of great mailboxes to add to our collection, so best be putting at least one of them up!

This interesting specimen of mailbox has had me amused for many years, but I only got a photo of it recently! A happy go lucky weekend mechanic with hefty spanner in one hand and a beer in the other. A sensible hat and dark sunnies keep the sun at bay, while shorts, a T shirt and bare feet remind one of long, balmy summer days. He’s my kind of mailman!

Time for a beer?

Time for a beer?

A lot of work has gone into his creation, and he is always immaculately dressed in new paint!

We can fix your car while we enjoy a good yarn or two.

We can fix your car while we enjoy a good yarn or two.

How is your mailbox searching going? If you have come across any, why not add them to our collection? You will find many others on the Amazing Mailbox Quest list, along with instructions on how to get your mailboxes included. The more we get, the more fun we can have!

Posted in Amazing Mailbox Quest, Odds & ends | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments