At a billabong …

Billabong, outback Kimberley region, Western Australia

I thought it was somewhat ironic the picture I was drawn to for this post is that of a billabong in harsh country, so far away from the manicured lawns and gardens in the city.

The Kimberley region in Western Australia is north of Perth and vast, hugely vast.  I’ve visited many times to towns and also indigenous communities, for work.  I have also holidayed there frequently when I visited a friend in Broome but never ventured to the true outback.

This is remote, harsh country in East Kimberley.  The dust is red and the foliage a beautiful green.  The billabongs are magnificent and lush.  I sat with a group of strangers, all writers from around Australia, at this billabong for a writing exercise.  The memory makes me shiver with warmth.  There were blue dragon flies that buzzed around me.  The purple water lilies shimmered in the heat.   It was one of the most memorable peaceful moments I have experienced.  The water looked so tempting.  This is saltwater crocodile country and this billabong may have been safe … but we did not take any chances.

I know I’ll return one day.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

In response to RDP – Saturday: Verdant




Where rivers meet …

I started this blog for my children.  I wanted to share my journey with them.  And, also my travels.  I wrote with no other audience in mind.  I’m not even sure how the first reader found my blog months, maybe even over a year after I started it.  I am a shy person by nature, this anyone who knows me well, will tell you.  But now each time I broadcast to an unknown audience, I sense an intimacy, a sense of connectivity, as I invite them into my world.  The urge to share this wonderful country with others is a special joy whenever I blog, even if it is through imagery.  I try not to boast but, honestly, I cannot imagine living anywhere else on planet earth.  This I say with hand on heart.  I’ll tell you why.

Let me take you to Wyndham.  “Wyndham?!”  West Australians will say with some incredulity in their voice.  Yes, Wyndham.  Established during the gold rush in the area in 1886, it is a town of some historical importance.  I went there about two years ago.  I wanted to see the Big Crocodile.  And, didn’t.  I was surprised to learn we had parked near it … and I missed it!  The very thought of it makes me laugh to this day.thumb_IMG_3886_1024.jpgThe Big Croc is the first thing you see as you enter the small town of less than 800 people.  To quote the late Steve, Crikey!  How did I miss this!  It is so huge I couldn’t get the whole sculpture in the frame.  thumb_IMG_3885_1024.jpgBeing off season, there was nothing open.  The supermarket, too, shut early.  Someone told us about a bakery, just down the road, they said.  We soon saw the sign.  We knew immediately, we were far from home.thumb_IMG_3883_1024.jpgThis was outdoors on the way to the loo!  Yes this is crocodile country, as if one could forget.  There are reminders everywhere.DSCN9464.jpgOne of the things I wanted to show my travelling companion was the view from the Five Rivers Lookout.  Because I had been here during the day, I was yearning to see it at sunset, too.  I knew it would be amazing.  The road up the the lookout, which is around 330 metres above sea level and the highest point of the town, is narrow and winding.  The views across the mud flats, stunning.  I’m surprised there are not more accidents as people peer over the edge.DSCN9467.jpgWe were taking in the sheer expanse of country where the rivers Ord, Pentecost, King, Durack and Forrest join forces to meld into the Cambridge Gulf.  The waters must be teeming with crocs.  There was an abattoir here once.  The crocs remember this.  They often hang around the jetty, although the abattoir closed its doors in the mid 1980s.  We were taking in the views when I saw them.  I could not believe my eyes.  A tiny rock wallaby seated high above the town.  Can you spot it on the rock between the two trees, just above the 2 in the date?DSCN9440.jpgThey were part of a small group, some as tiny as a cat.  DSCN9454.jpgTheir coats looked soft and fluffy with beautiful markings.  Their feet dipped in dark chocolate.DSCN9455.jpgThe eyes large and luminous.DSCN9473.jpgLook at that pose!DSCN9479.jpgThey were nimble among the high rocks and perfectly comfortable in our company.DSCN9445.jpgOne even sat facing us.  Our delight, the evening’s entertainment, it would seem!thumb_IMG_3880_1024.jpgSoon it was sunset.  The sun slipped away beyond the five rivers.  DSCN9481A red disc dazzled in the darkened sky.  It was time to leave.

I’ve seen many Kimberley sunsets.  The thing I know for sure.  You can walk away from that sunset, but it is a memory you can never leave behind.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird





Never smile at a crocodile …

I’m back from my trip to the East Kimberley region and jumping straight into the middle part of the journey.

It was predictably hot when we arrived but not humid, at least not late mid morning.  That was to come later the next day.  We rubber necked our way to the cabin on a walkway over a heat shrunken billabong.  The cabin was cool.  I kicked off my sandals and walked in bare feet to the tiled bathroom and promptly put my sandals back on!  The tiles were hot!  The toilet seat, on the other hand, deliciously warm!  And, best of all we were too early in the wet season, so there were no frogs in the toilet!

DSCN0021.jpgThe cabins were fantastic.  Clean and high among the tree canopy.  It was reasonably secure and no geckos indoors!  The place is so isolated.  The managers told us they never lock anything here so I threw caution to the winds and slept with the door unlocked.DSCN0020.jpgI woke early, too early, and headed to the walkway.  The billabong was alive with birds and wildlife.DSCN0075.jpgIn this harsh landscape the green in trees was vivid.DSCN0042.jpgAs was the jewel like emerald green in the tree ants.DSCN0083.jpgI’m not sure what this bird was.  Researching it online it seems similar to the Asian Koel.  But in the Kimberley?  I’m not sure.  It was black and navy blue with ruby eyes.DSCN0173.jpgHow’s this for perfect mirror image!DSCN0099.jpgIn this harsh landscape I found the most delicate jasmine like flowers on vines that entwined over the walkway.DSCN0055.jpgBelow me, a lone wallaby.  I watched it nervously, hoping the resident saltwater crocodile was having a snooze.DSCN0054.jpgI learnt later, this species is called ‘Pretty Face’ wallaby.  It has delicate shading and a white stripe across the jawline.DSCN0102.jpgThis bird was magnificent!  Some kind of pheasant I think.DSCN0198.jpgThe double barred finches swarmed water side.DSCN0087.jpgAs did the gouldian finches.  Their colours were less vivid than the ones I’ve seen before.DSCN0064.jpgSome had banana yellow beaks.DSCN0023At first I thought the tree was shedding leaves!

For me, there is no place like the Kimberley.  It is so different to any other place in Western Australia.  I needed to be here, even though, it was for just a short time.

From my walkway vantage point, I couldn’t help thinking, who says one can’t smile at a crocodile!  I know I did!

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

Joe, this one is for you …

via Daily Prompt: UncompromisingDSCN8337.jpgI was in the outback, far north, staying at a cattle station just before the mustering began.DSCN8297.jpgStanding by the corral at dawn, I didn’t notice him while he worked, so entranced was I, by it all.  IMG_1066.jpgBut when he stood patiently waiting for toast to turn brown, sipping billy tea from a tin mug, “g’day” escaping from the corner of his mouth, he caught my eye. DSCN8304He had an aura.  It was how he worked the horses, that made him unique.

Later that day, my hearing acute, I heard his spurs clink as he walked the length of the verandah and out of sight.  He returned showered, unrecognizable, without the red dust that powdered him. IMG_0957.jpgHe sat down slowly, as if in pain, guitar cradled in his lap, a beer clenched in a calloused fist.  His feet were bare, untouched by the sun they glowed infant pink.  His arms were also bare, nut brown and muscled from reining in, a black bandana around his head, adding colour.  He took a thirsty swig, leaned over and placed the bottle on the grass in the space that separated us.

He tilted his head as he strummed, found the right chords and began to sing.

His voice silenced us all but not the open fire that roared like a cheer, in the big drum.

There was something about him that was different.  It made me curious, I knew I was going to learn something new.  I settled in deeper into my skin, took notes, always the student, fully engaged.  I watched every move, trying to read him like a book.  This was no therapeutic encounter, so my eyes scanned the pages.  The title captivated, it was bold and said it all.  Cowboy!  I skimmed the chapters inked on skin.  I leaned closer and read between the lines as he sang.

He sang about love.  He sang about loss. He sang about wide-open spaces and empty places.  He sang his memory.  All familiar territory of a caged bird, now free.

Through his birdsong, he believes, all roads lead him to ‘The Now’.  His path is unhindered by regrets, ifs and buts, so he follows it, as intended.  DSCN8305He travels the world, searching for the horse that no one can ride.  For him, life and love, is that simple.

A log on the fire shattered, embers cascaded to the ground.

We all went our separate ways into the night….

I waited for this day to write about him, so I am there in memory.  Because, I once met a cowboy who embraced a purpose driven life, with uncompromising integrity.  I know he sings alone but is never lonely.  The moon and stars keep him company.

If you ever meet Joe, let him know, while he was singing, I downloaded his co-ordinates and brought his direction in life, back home to the city, with me.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird






via Daily Prompt: Stifle

I heard her before I saw her.  I had no idea what the sound was until later.  She was grooming her quills with big sweeping strokes in the dead of night.

Early morning I stepped outside my hut to a soft sunrise in harsh Kimberley country.  She was magnificent!  Instinctively, she stopped.  An icon in iconic country.  I took her picture.


I learn her name over a campfire breakfast.  I had to stifle my grin.  Marilyn!


Some may regard it as an incongruous name for this big flightless bird. But, she is a star. She’s equally beautiful, standing tall on big feet or resting among rocks.


The most graceful thing about her is her walk.  Slow, rhythmic with a deliberate sway that comes from being bottom heavy.


Transported to that moment, the sound of her strides my lullaby.

Until next time,

As always,

a dawn bird