Merredin, and me …

 

It’s my last trip to Merredin this year.  It’s one of the longer drives I do on a regular basis.  The preparation starts early and the routine is well established.  I get a good night’s sleep, my bags are packed, Norah Jones to take me out of the city and vintage Jimmy Barnes turned up loud of course, to bring out my inner misspent youth on empty roads shared with road trains.DSCN7089.jpgThe water pipe that runs from Mundaring Weir in Perth to Kalgoorlie, a distance of over 500 kms has been supplying water to the Goldfields for over a hundred years.  Driving alongside it or watching it meander through fields gives me pause for reflection.  The building of this infrastructure would have been gruelling work in heat with minimal comforts by those who may have yearned to be prospecting for gold instead.  Little would they have known, their contribution is a lasting legacy since 1896.  It is also ever present company, for solitary travellers, like me.DSCN7485I’ll aim to arrive just before sunset.  It’s always a challenge to get to the town before it is too dark.  I dislike overtaking slow traffic on this road.  At this time of year, I expect oversized farming machinery and drivers, all wanting to get to wherever, five minutes earlier.  I usually stop at a rest stop alongside paddocks between Kellerberrin and Merredin and enjoy a few minutes of quiet.  Always different, it’s a highlight for me just before destination.DSCN7084.JPGWhether it is light or dark, the painted silos announce I’m either entering or leaving town.  I love them.  They are the bright and beautifully thought out art by Kyle Hughes-Odgers, his canvas, 12 storeys high.DSCN5573.JPGI hope to stop for a few minutes at Merredin Peak, where the foundations of the Military Hospital are still visible.  Transported from Palestine in 1942, it was a hive of activity for those recovering from war and those who cared for them.  It is a place of paradox, historically and contemporary.  From the ravages of war, they came here for the peace, to heal.  Ironically, in this place of peace, one remembers war.

I, too, often visit this place for a few moments of quiet, well, it’s not always quiet but it is when the raucous red tail black cockatoo leave the area.  One morning I found this tiny magpie lark chick, sensing a bigger world, with eyes still shut.  I do the same when the freight train rumbles into town around 6 am, sending vibrations through my bed, and travels deliciously, along the length of my spine.

After this trip it will be the South-West, then back to the north east Wheatbelt; a week of driving so I need to care for myself with paced work.

The working year will soon be over but for now … it’s business as usual.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

Continuum

I’m no longer counting how many trips I have ahead of me.  It seems easier at this time of year to look at the ones I’ve completed. It brings a sense of satisfaction but in the case of Narrogin, a sense of sadness, too.

Yesterday morning was my last visit to Foxes Lair for this year.  Saying goodbye three times in one morning, I was obviously reluctant to leave.  DSCN0379.jpgThe flowers are almost gone.  At least the obvious ones.  The grass is less green and more blond by early summer warmth.  Some trees have shed leaves.  They reminded me of chocolate curls, so I trudged around planning my Christmas menu.  It helped keep happy thoughts forefront.DSCN0375.jpgI don’t recall seeing these large shrubs before.  They were everywhere and pretty in pink.  That’s what I find so amazing about being in the bush.  What looks ordinary one season, is eye catching, the next.DSCN0300.jpgThere were tall grass tree spikes bursting in flower.  They look ordinary from a distance, just tall and white.  Close up, well, a star studded sabre, comes to mind.DSCN0297.jpgThese flowers grow on flannel grey shrubs.  There are thousands of these flowers in bloom, or waiting to bloom.  Ordinary?  Not to my eye.DSCN0353.jpgThere were a few of these still fresh and blooming.  They are exquisitely tiny.  And yet, each puff is several flowers within a flower.  I kept walking up to it and could see it up close but stepping away, lost it numerous times in the grass.  Got to get that shot became a mantra!  Photography has taught me patience and persistence.  DSCN0334.jpgAnd some were still beautiful, well past their bloom.  I had to tripod my legs to steady my hands that shook with the delight of each little flower.  The fragility!  And, tenacity!DSCN0324.jpgI heard strange sounds above me.  Sounds I haven’t heard before.  They, more than likely, came from young parrots, hiding in tree hollows.DSCN0361.jpgI bought coffee in town and headed back to the Lair.  I saw a young kangaroo family, three in a mob.  The male, impressive!  He was almost as big as a deer.DSCN0363.jpgHis face veiled by cobwebs, his gorgeous ears, twitching, alert.  We were eye to eye for a few minutes, each sizing the intent of the other.DSCN0372.jpgThere were no small birds at all, but seeing these flowers growing profusely, who can complain.DSCN0399.jpgOn the way home I spotted this in Crossman, growing just off the road among a grove of shady trees.DSCN0402.jpgI stopped my car to take some pictures, forgetting this is Western Australia in spring.  I was covered in bush flies within seconds!  If you only knew what I went through for this pic!

The coming few weeks will be a round of goodbyes.  They will be made easier in the knowledge, I’ll have new adventures next year.

This chosen lifestyle is a continuum.  I’m happy, grateful and feel blessed with the choices I’ve made.

Until next time

As always

a dawn bird

 

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

Purple Swamphens, in the West

Responding to Tracy’s invitation on Purple Swamphen … here’s my contribution.

It is a rare visit to Big Swamp, Bunbury when I don’t come across one or more purple swamphen.  DSCN8353Poised on the grassy bank.DSCN0334.jpgOr feedingDSCN0335.jpgThe blues shimmer into indigo and purple when they move.DSCN0336.jpgThey are usually shy but also protective.  Their warning call is a fearsome screech.DSCN9057.jpgThis was a rare sighting of a chick this spring.

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

 

 

 

 

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