Look this way!

Much like cyberspace, early morning in Big Swamp is noisy.  It is filled with tweets and squawks.

During my recent trip I found the air was filled with the high pitched squeaks of honeyeaters, the melodic songs of the Willy Wagtails, and the pained cry of the swamp hens as I approached.  The musk duck was being chased by another, the paddle speed of webbed feet on water, fast and furious.

I slowed my pace as I approached the boardwalk.  It is the intention, that slowing down of body and mind, that brings me here each time.DSCN9061.jpgI know the Welcome Swallows love sitting on the rails, facing the sun.  Sometimes they get used to my presence and accommodate my curiosity.  I’ve learned to extend the lens only when they look away, as movement is always a signal for flight.DSCN9089.jpgTo my surprise I found some Swallows on the ground near my feet. DSCN9091.jpgFear set aside, they were busy with nest building, focused on task.DSCN9115.jpgA slight movement from the corner of my eye caught my attention, a fairy blue wren darting and hopping among the foliage.  No matter how many times I see them, the flash of blue always makes my heart skip a beat.  DSCN9126.jpgThe male wren stood still for a moment.  So perfect.  It looked like an enamelled ornament, with blues upon blues found in sky and sea.DSCN9128.jpgIn contrast, the female’s beauty, is subtle.  Perhaps this is nature’s intention.DSCN9131.jpg While the male distracts she tends to her family, almost invisible, among debris.

Distraction is a powerful tool.  These tiny little creatures know this instinctively.  They use it for survival.

People in power know this too.

As I read today’s news headlines, I wonder …

Do we?

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

Where seagulls fly

I once worked for historians.  It fostered a curiosity in me.  I don’t believe it is depressing or unhealthy that I’m drawn to pioneer cemeteries and memorials.  I want to know among the dead, who is in there and sometimes, why.  There is so much one can learn from the past.

It may sound ghoulish but it is one of my favourite places to visit when I’m in Geraldton.  It sits atop a hill, overlooking the town and the ocean beyond.  DSCN8719.jpgThe HMAS Sydney II Memorial is a place of quiet reflection. DSCN8726.jpgThe HMAS Sydney II was lost off the coast of Western Australia in November 1941, taking all 645 lives with it.  DSCN8724.jpgEach silver seagull, a memory.  In that space of the dead, they fly free, forever together, in sky and sea.DSCN8733.jpgShe turns her back on the Eternal Flame, her frame larger than life, just slightly larger.  The wind catches her dress.  She holds on to her hat.  That’s all she has for now.  Her scan of sea, unwavering.DSCN8735.jpgThe powerful emotion written across her face, of concern and dare I say hope, is of a  woman who has loved and lost.

In the quiet of the night I wonder, have we learnt from history?

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird







I make it just once a year, and if cajoled, maybe twice.  It has not lost its place among the list of ‘must have’ desserts for our Christmas buffet in 30 years.

Made from dried Australian apricots, cream, egg yolks, lemon peel and a dash of Cointreau. It doesn’t need an ice cream maker to keep it smooth and creamy.  The rich calorie content takes care of that.

It is, in a word, sublime.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird


Feels like home

I’ve just returned from Bunbury.  If there is no traffic, the drive there is a steady two hours on a straight freeway that becomes a major highway to the South West.  Monotonous if one perceives that to be.  Not me.  I know what awaits me there. DSCN9030.jpgI got to Bunbury just moments before the sun slipped into the Indian Ocean.  A moment of pause for me and others too it would seem.DSCN9079.jpgThis morning I was up early and headed to Big Swamp where the bottlebrush is blooming.DSCN9057.jpgAmong the reedy grass I caught a glimpse of a swamp hen chick, not yet purple, blue and red.DSCN9097The Welcome Swallow chick was a delightful ball of fluffy feathers.  It is so new, it didn’t know fear of me.DSCN8978.jpgThere were chicks every where making a silent call for food.DSCN8996.jpgA young New Holland honeyeater obliged with a moment of stillness.DSCN9125.jpgThen came the Splendid Blue Fairy Wren, in his gorgeous feathers of blue.DSCN9127.jpgAfter a frantic game of chase, he rested with his mate.DSCN9136.jpgOn the other side of the boardwalk, the big cormorant ignored my presence.  I’ve not seen this type of cormorant here before.  It sat on the branch for the whole of two hours I was there.  Probably still there!

I spend a couple of hours here each time I visit Bunbury.  Even the regular walkers now know me by face and update me on what’s new in the wetlands.

As the late Duchess of Windsor purportedly said, home is where the heart is, so this morning, home was here.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird





Full circle

The last month has been a roller coaster ride personally and professionally.  Perhaps it is the end of a busy year so I’m feeling more vulnerable and tetchy.

Bullying behaviour happens in all walks of life.  The time has come to call this behaviour for what it is.  My instinct is always to walk away from a bully.  They don’t deserve my time nor need to be in my space.  But this time, when pushed by a colleague, I pushed back.  Uncharacteristic of me and I found, a bully does what bullies do best, they retreat when called out.

Then it was the neighbour who had been trying to contact me regarding the damaged common fence.  I was expecting a showdown.

I walked around Foxes Lair one morning and said, ‘Lord, there’s too much on my plate” and after a couple of hours bush walking, although nothing had changed, I returned home feeling spiritually rested.

I caught up with my neighbours.  It was the first time I had met them since moving into my home about four years ago.  They were perfectly reasonably people!  Then I had a phone call from my line manager.  I was expecting, at best, a reprimand for being outspoken to someone in a higher position than me.  But no, he had called to ask me if I could help someone who was in dire need.  During our conversation I brought up, what I perceived to be bullying behaviour, with him and much to my surprise, he agreed with me and invited me to discuss these matters with him sooner rather than later.

Over the years I’ve learnt pilots use the phrase “we are expecting some weather” for turbulence.  My instinct is natural, I tighten my seatbelt.  So leaving Perth in perfect weather and expecting 30 degrees when I landed in Kalgoorlie, the pilot’s forewarning surprised me.  We landed after an uneventful flight.  The girl at the hire car counter grinned and said, “how was the flight” and was amazed when I told her it was smooth.  She told me a terrific storm had just passed Kalgoorlie and she was sure the flight would have experienced it.

A few minutes later I headed to the hotel, the massive open cut gold mine for my horizon, the backdrop a waterfall of lightening cascading.  Rain fell like pebbles.  It was still warm at dusk.  I had heard about the lightening storms in the Goldfields but have never experienced one before.  It was spectacular.  We had landed between storms.

My two days in Kalgoorlie are always busy.  I did not have time to visit my favourite park.  As I left the clinic I realised I hadn’t taken any photographs.  I looked up instinctively.  thumb_IMG_3842_1024.jpgGum blossoms.

The flight home was buffeted.  I closed my eyes and rewound the previous few days in my mind.  I recalled the moment I woke startled around 3 am when a clap of thunder ricocheted around the town, snuggled deeper in bed and realised, there’s something wondrous about watching a storm from the safety of one’s bed.  I held on to that imagery until we landed safely in Perth.

I was raised to believe in a higher power that is loving and benevolent.  It is not everyone’s way of thinking and I respect that.  Equally, I’ve come to respect, what prayer means to me.

When busy I’ve found I have a tendency to slide away from the familiar and when I do, I feel rudderless.  I am mindful of this.

This month I recalled something I had read some years ago that was a useful spiritual compass for me.  I’ve paraphrased here.

When you don’t feel the presence of God in your life, ask yourself, who moved away? 

This reflection always returns me to where I started from.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird




Where all roads take me …

I’m spending a few minutes reflecting on the past month.  I’ve travelled far and wide in the Midwest, the Wheatbelt, the South West and my usual trips to other places too.  There was so much I didn’t know about the State, so, although a bit tired, the travelling has been worth it.DSCN8462.jpgI found a sculpture in Kulin, left behind after the last ‘Blazing Swan’ festival.  The festival runs to a similar theme to The Burning Man.  This was the swan’s egg.  How did I not know about this festival!  When I returned home, I looked at the website.  It looks awesome!DSCN8554In the Wheatbelt I also watched some birds, like me, work hard to create their nest.DSCN8595.jpgThe wildflower season was ending in Mingenew in the Midwest, and although past their prime, some were still sunny side up.DSCN8600.jpgWhile in other places, there was harmonious diversity in all colours.DSCN8613.jpgI came across details in tiny insects that the naked eye could not see.DSCN8639.jpgI walked along the walking trail high above West Beach in Esperance where teenage surfers start their day and where I like to start mine.  They stick together in a pod and have each other’s back.  Earlier this year a Great White hung around for hours just 100 metres from shore.  Although I watch them with a mother’s eye, I can’t help but admire their youthful dare.DSCN8657.jpgI’ve come across extraordinary, in the ordinary.  Reminders for me that any job is ordinary, but how we perceive what we do, takes it to another level.DSCN8662.jpgI examined the wonderful weirdness of Nature closely and found I was wrong, there’s nothing weird about delicate intricacy.DSCN8850.jpgThe striking vividness of colour on shrubs stopped me in my tracks.DSCN8935.jpgAnd also when I caught sight of an errant Running Postman on the ground.DSCN8898Color in nature can be striking when plain.DSCN8930.jpgOr subtle in varying hues.DSCN8954.jpgThere are also some attention seekers saying, ‘look at me’!DSCN8958.jpgAnd just when I thought I was alone while bush walking, I realised, I had company.

I’ve found a way to generate balance in my day.  These moments of mindfulness, usually first thing in the morning, add an extra dimension to my day and what I do for a living.

Over the years I’ve come to the understanding, in those moments of mindfulness, all else falls away.

I’m off today and before the end of the month will have completed three more trips.  But tonight in keeping with a balanced life, it will be room service and rubbish TV!

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird



Say it with flowers

I love fresh flowers.  Sadly, with frequent travel it is a luxury I cannot indulge in.  I do return home from each trip to a front garden full of roses.  They seem to bloom profusely, partly because I have given my neighbours permission to cut as many as they like for themselves.  It’s a win-win situation.

Last week a bunch of flowers was also a white flag to irate neighbours who I hadn’t met before and much to their frustration could not contact me when the fence blew down.

When my son was about five, the neighbour who lived across the road from us lost her husband to cancer.  My son promptly stated he wanted to give her flowers.  I cut some iceberg roses and placed them in a laundry basket as I snipped at the bushes, thinking I’d keep some for myself and do up a bunch for her.  No!  My son insisted, she was to have all of them.  The image of a five year old child staggering across our front yard to her home, laundry basket filled with white iceberg roses, is a precious memory.

My recent memories are embedded in flowers.  I’ve found in this State something is always blooming somewhere.

Oh!  the irony of living in a happy place and not knowing it!DSCN8938.jpgThis morning I walked around in Foxes Lair.  There were so many flowers to see and enjoy.  It was overwhelming. DSCN8963.jpgThe long view was beautiful.  But what was at my feet?DSCN8911.jpgI found this straggly plant, probably a weed.  Just green foliage but wait, there was a hint of colour.  It is imperceptible even now when I look for it.DSCN8883.jpgI waited for the sunrise and returned to the plant.DSCN8870.jpgI’m not sure if it is a weed or not but it lifted my flagging spirits.DSCN8757.jpgThe tea tree flowers were growing everywhere, sprayed here and there, over leaf debris.DSCN8832.jpgThen there was this gorgeous plant.  Exquisite.DSCN8897.jpgThis enamel orchid took my breath away.  I’ve never seen one this tiny.DSCN8852.jpgI looked deep into tiny flowers.  Each perfect in creation.DSCN8939.jpgThis trigger plant was a stronger pink compared to those that were in the palest pink hues.DSCN8956.jpgA gorgeous succulent.DSCN8944.jpgThere were all shades of purple.  This one so vivid against grey debris.

I walked around Foxes Lair this morning, listening to the crunch of my boots on dirt and dried leaves, the twittering of birds, the intermittent cacophony of kookaburras, the shower of gum nuts from above.

I know one thing for sure.  I can’t wait to return.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

It’s moments like these …

I always seem to rush to get to Narrogin in the southern Wheatbelt but each visit something gets in the way and I’m delayed.  The aim is always to get there mid afternoon so I have several hours exploring the region especially during spring.  My plans have never worked out that way.

This trip I got there just before sunset, too late except for a quick drive through Foxes Lair and do recon for the next day.  I woke early and was in the reserve by 6 am.  I know the kangaroos are out and about this hour so I drive in very slowly.DSCN8716.jpgI wasn’t disappointed.  This mother had a very young joey.  They blended into the landscape so beautifully.  DSCN8721.jpgI followed the mother’s gaze and found to the right of me was a huge kangaroo, male I think.  I was captivated by his eyes!DSCN8723.jpgThen he loped across the road in front of my car, as if in slow motion and I realised he was old.  DSCN8725.jpgThe trio disappeared in seconds into the bush.DSCN8821.jpgI got out of my car to a chorus of kookaburra laughter.  They continued chortling as I walked beneath them.DSCN8769.jpgIt was not light enough to photograph the flowers, so I spent my time looking upwards.  (Mental note, do more of this).DSCN8791.jpgThis young parrot just stared right back at me!  Port Lincoln parrot, I think.DSCN8949.jpgThe redcap parrot chewed away happily, littering gum nuts.DSCN8961.jpgAs I was leaving, the robin redbreast made a bold statement.

Leaving the devastation in my garden, I enjoyed these moments of mindfulness.

I left Perth feeling lack lustre and have returned home, renewed.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird


I blame my mother!

My mother believed in the goodness of people.  She worked hard to instill this in her children.  One of her favourite paraphrases was to remind us even Anne Frank, “that poor girl”, had purported to say there was “a kernel of goodness” in everyone.  If we had a gripe about one of our peers, my mother would insist we interact with them to see if the wrong could be put right.  Years later I read Michelle Obama urged people, “when they go low, we go higher”.  Worlds and generations apart, these women, expressed a sentiment which is identical.

I grew up to be an adult who believed in this.  To some extent, I still do.  Although I confess, the dissonance I feel has diminished this somewhat.

In the past few weeks I’ve learned one can walk into an embassy and disappear.  The thought of this fills me with revulsion and horror.  The aftermath, even more so.

I watched in disbelief as a woman’s powerful testimony of her violation can be ridiculed and mocked in exchange for derisive laughter and applause.

I’ve read professionals who have voiced their concerns about refugees and asylum seekers, have had their services, vital services, discontinued.

The mental health, social development and attachment trajectory of children ‘in custody’, is not a priority for those in power.

World leaders may be rich, but they can be bought cheaply.

DSCN8670.jpgIn my teens and on my own I had assumed everyone I meet “has a kernel of goodness”.  I found out not so.  I resented my mother’s views on life and people.  I thought she had lied to us.

It has taken years to learn how to be discerning, but the default of seeing good first, lets me down more often than not.

This morning I looked at a photograph of a  paperbark tree, one of many that overhang the walkway at Big Swamp.  I always walk through that area quickly.  Although beautiful, it is eerie and like an nightmare from a children’s story book.  I did a double take today.  That was no monster.  It is bark splitting open at the seam, beautifully.  It is this revelation that makes it a paperbark tree.

Similarly, there is a certain beauty in the revelation and realisation, my mother was a fabulist.  She taught us about morality.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird







What a difference a week makes

Before I left for a trip, I walked around my garden, coffee in hand.  The ornamental almond was just starting to bud.  I looked at the tree fondly.  The flowers have been late to arrive this year.DSCN8418.jpgI stopped a moment and took a picture.DSCN8416.jpgAnd then anotherDSCN8417.jpgAnd one more …  I felt like a new mother, inspecting every nub, like counting toes on newborn feet.

I thought by the time I returned from my trip today, the tree would be frosted as it does every year.  I was so wrong.

When I was away a storm came through the area.  It destroyed my fence.  The giant Tahitian lemon tree, the mulberry tree and the ornamental almond tree bore the brunt of fierce winds.  The honeysuckle vine is shredded.  I came home to wreckage.  In a week my landscaping plans have been brought forward by a year.  To say I am saddened to lose what has been familiar for the last three years, is an understatement.  The garden, planted by others, grew on me.  What is sadder to watch is the birds.  They fly around confused, nothing is where it used to be.

Perhaps the buds photographed before I left were a premonition.  New life awaits.  I can do nothing else, but embrace this thought.  I will create a new eden.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird



The Kite Surfer

A Shared Space

It was late dusk when I saw him.  He was young, tall, lean, and strong.  He epitomised seaside youth.  I had no option but turn my car around.  This I wanted to see.  His determination.

DSCN8266 The sun was fading fast.  The wind strong.  My eyesight weak.  But like him, I set up, waiting for success.

DSCN8268He leaned right back, now almost lying down.  He had done this before.  The gouges in the sand, his history.

DSCN8269The wind lifted him.  Airborne!


But only for a nanosecond.  He came down with a thump.  His legs flailing before impact.


The wind was not in his favour.  But, he did it all over again, and again, and again.

I had stopped to see his determination.  I left with more.  I experienced it.

The serendipity between strangers is something I cherish.  Lessons taught by strangers.  Unintentionally.  In quiet spaces between sun, sand and sea.


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Spring in the South-West

Although they grow profusely everywhere you look, there are two regions in Western Australian synonymous with wildflowers at springtime, the South West and the Midwest.

This time in the South West I went looking for flowers in new places.  New for me.  They were always there.  DSCN8239.jpgI stopped by Minninup Pool, just outside Collie.  DSCN8133.jpgHow many shades of yellow can one find?  DSCN8278.jpgI had heard the underside of the blue enamel orchid is beautiful.  It is.DSCN8298.jpgIn nature, when differences come together, it creates nothing but spectacular beauty.  DSCN8314.jpgA wild orchid.DSCN8328.jpgA bottlebrush waiting to bloom.DSCN8396I found hundreds of these white and pink lily like flowers in Margaret River.DSCN8399.jpgThe flowers were growing on stalks a few feet high.DSCN8402.jpgAnd these poms of white found a place in wooded areas too.

I’m off again in a few hours, this time to the Midwest.  I’m hoping I’m not too late for the flowers there.

Will be back with more to share with you.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird


Yesterday, today and tomorrow

She comes to the door of the B&B, her smile is 100 watt dazzle.  Slumped over the walking frame, she looks a couple of generations older, but I’m sure she’s not.  Her home is period.  She tells me it was cut and transported piece by piece from Kalgoorlie where it was a boarding house.  It is endlessly large with high ceilings.  She has beautiful taste.  She bought the home for a pittance and renovated it faithful to the period.  Everything in the home was bought for next to nothing.  Huge jarrah posts discarded by a farmer for $8 a piece, she tells me, laughter making her eyes shine.  We both know the posts would cost hundreds of dollars in the city.  Stained glass windows discarded by someone else exchanged or bartered, one is always lucky to find them, we know this too.  She has polished, painted and brushed it all back to life from another century.  She has grand plans for so much more and not allowed pain or limited mobility to dampen her enthusiasm.

My bedroom is blue and white.  The bed, one of the most comfortable I’ve had in a long time.  I was too exhausted to eat, so I lay down in the white warmth and slept fitfully only to wake early evening to water running.  I follow the sound outdoors.DSCN8486.jpgHer garden is a delight.  I stop to take a picture here and there.DSCN8539.jpgThe ornamental almond tree was frosted white.DSCN8543.jpgThe ornamental peach tree bloomed elsewhere.DSCN8528.jpgThere were bulbs bejewelled with bees.DSCN8545.jpgI found this in one corner, my camera sees what she hasn’t in a long time.  “How on earth did that bloom there?”, she asks me, and we both laugh at her surprise. DSCN8496.jpgI loved the white flowers in another corner and asked her what they were.  She tells me, they are English May, a cutting from her grandmother’s garden.  It’s something she cherishes.  Not hard to see why.DSCN8510.jpgShe is seated on a plastic chair, crutches to the side, water hose in hand dousing dirt in front of her with about 15 silver eye keeping her company.  They dig into the damp soil for tasty morsels.  She giggles like a little girl at their antics.

I step away into the background, camera in hand and reflect.

If this is old age ….

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird


Colour, my world

I’m no gardener, but I’m forever thinking about my garden.  I now live in a house where I have planned different types of gardens in small isolated pockets.  My vision is yet to come to fruition, but thinking about this, is a happy place to be.

When I was married my husband and I were constantly at odds with how the garden should look.  Forward thinking for the time, he was insistent on a garden with native trees and shrubs as they are plants that require little maintenance and water.  I, on the other hand, wanted an English garden with lavender, roses, geraniums, hydrangeas, and cottage plants.  He indulged my love for this to a point.  When my marriage ended I had a hedge of 14 white iceberg roses that bloomed incessantly with thousands of flowers.  Far from being a reminder of him, they served to remind me he had worked hard outdoors so I could enjoy the view.  It was a memory worth keeping so I continued to keep it alive with more flowers.  The only time I can remember gardening, is when I decided to turn the upper level into a white garden and that space had only white flowers of all kinds.  I wish I had taken pictures.  It was beautiful.  I looked forward to my alone times in the white garden.  I shed all my other roles when I was here except one, student.  On reflection, it was a space where I gave my body breath each day and where I created a new life.

I moved from that space, in more ways than one and found a world of colour.  I was fortunate to find this in a lifestyle that meets all my needs.  Each day I work towards that life, one that strengthens the core of me.  I make sure I stop each day for a few minutes.  I now see colour and detail.  DSCN8425.jpgYellow everlasting flowers growing roadside in the Wheatbelt.DSCN8431.jpgor growing side by side with blue leschenaultia in dry, gravel soil.DSCN8432.jpgThe beautiful velvety native purple flowers on grey foliage that look extremely ordinary from a distance.  But close up?  You be the judge.DSCN8438.jpgThese interesting flowers are tiny and waxy.  I’ve seen creamy lemon ones in the Goldfields.  They glisten in the sun like dew.  Up close, they are delicate and finely veined, like aged hands.  I’ve seen hundreds and thousands of these, but this time, I saw one in bloom.  Exquisite.DSCN8455.jpgThen there are the tiny everlastings that glow like embers, along the ground.DSCN8464.jpgThe beautiful spears of grevillea that grow wild everywhere.DSCN8469.jpgOr these mops of orange.DSCN8476.jpgand blue.DSCN8478.jpgThe delicate intricacy of the cone flower.DSCN8483.jpgAnd tiny, tiny, butter yellow blooms.DSCN8454.jpgI still find white flowers joyful.


They remind me how far I’ve come.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

The pursuit

My presence at Big Swamp in Bunbury is usually announced to the wildlife by the screeching warnings of the swamp hens.  This visit I did not see or hear any.

I was enjoying the quiet when I heard the distinctive noise made by the musk duck.  To me it sounds like a coin dropping in water from a height.  Kerplonk!  The ‘whistle’ is intermittent as the duck moves over the water but on this occasion, it had a frequency I had not heard before, so I walked faster towards the water.

I’ve found the musk duck ignores my presence whether I’m standing by the water’s edge or on the boardwalk.  It goes about its business.  As it did this time.DSCN8120At first the mother duck swam serenely past him with ducklings in tow.DSCN8116.jpgHe watched them glide by and drew attention, the sound a mere burble that made ripples around him, saying “I’m here”.DSCN8117.jpgShe ignored him.  Then his body language changed as he exposed more and more of his chin lobe and moved faster, with a speed that took me by surprise.DSCN8118.jpgHe followed the female duck drawing closer, becoming increasingly relentless in his pursuit.DSCN8119.jpgI thought the ducklings looked afraid as they moved towards their mother.  She stopped and studied the moment.DSCN8121.jpgThen she intervened, putting herself between the male and her ducklings.  She engaged in a dance with him this way as they glided past me, in a back and forth.DSCN8122.jpgHe chased her repeatedly, the ripples around him becoming wider.DSCN8123.jpgShe ignored him.  He arched his body into a bow, chin lobe prominent and brush tail stiffened in a final still moment.DSCN8124.jpgThen he exploded.  The water erupted around him.  In one desperate moment, he put on his best show.  She did what ducks do best.  With ducklings in tow, she paddled on, unimpressed.

I nearly clapped bravo.  But, I couldn’t tell you for whom, because I don’t really know.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird