magnum opus

Most of you will already be aware that my husband is a talented musician, artist and author. I am proud to announce the publication of Michael’s magnum opus, Floor Thirteen.

Although it is a mere five months since the release of the short story compilation, Old Ned’s Secret, this latest tome has had a lengthy gestation from an initial idea conceived around seven years ago. The premise is one we would all be familiar with. How many times have we seen a news story involving an obviously guilty perpetrator walking away from their crime without punishment? I shan’t say any more but here is the copy from the back cover,

“What happens to ex-Special Forces personnel once they retire from careers addressing the failures of the justice system?

Raymond and Elizabeth do what is right for them. They marry, relocate to Tasmania and take on a commercial flower business — all the while striving to keep their past lives from everyone including, and especially, their children.

Fast forward thirty years when circumstances draw them back into the lives they’d left behind a generation ago. The challenge for Raymond and Elizabeth is adapting to the expectations of their earlier vocations, coupled with the greater angst of confessing to their now adult children.

Trixie and Joseph must overcome their incredulity and cooperate with their parents or risk a catastrophic mission failure.”

Floor Thirteen is available as paperback or Kindle through Amazon in your country or, for a signed copy, you can contact Michael through tigerdreaming.com.au.

Enchanted Walk

There are many wondrous walks to choose from in Cradle Mountain National Park but my favourite is Enchanted Walk. Just over one kilometre long, the circuit takes around twenty minutes, depending on how much time one spends admiring the scenery. The trail starts at Cradle Mountain Lodge and follows Pencil Pine Creek as it bubbles along, embraced by mossy banks and majestic trees of the rainforest. On this morning the sunlight danced on the water, highlighting natures artistry.

Tannins from surrounding buttongrass moorland created a startling palette of orange hues amidst the shadows.

As we meandered further into the forest, verdant lichens complemented the russet glow.

At the end of the walk, the creek tumbles over rocks at Pencil Pine Cascades on its way to Pencil Pine Falls and, eventually, on a convoluted journey into the Forth River and Bass Strait.

tropical twilight

On the ‘must do’ list while in Darwin during the dry season is Mindil Beach Market. As the heat of the day subsides, a wander around the myriad stalls provides the opportunity to purchase unusual artisan crafts or that obligatory souvenir for those at home. More importantly, the Mindil Beach Casino Resort is right next door and the Sandbar is a perfect location to enjoy a well-earned beverage.

With a delicious antipasto platter and magnificent view of the descending sun over the Arafura Sea, I was catered.

Another spectacular Top End sunset

accompanied us to our table on the deck of The Vue restaurant.

Overlooking the infinity pool and, appropriately named, Infinity bar

we watched as the earth turned and another fabulous day came to an end.

Sultans of Spring

At the end of yet another long, cold, very wet winter we had a promising start to spring. I transplanted some daffodil bulbs last year to the border in front of the studio, they added some early colour along with the camelias.

Sadly, apart from a few sporadic sunny days, the weather of the past two months has been nothing short of atrocious. Amazingly, there are many stoic soldiers that have battled on through the gloomy days, torrential rain and high winds. Nothing seems to deter the annual display of daffodils and a lone jonquil,

and a kaleidoscope of crocuses continue to pop up in unexpected places.

Florentina iris and Spanish bluebells braved the elements

and a surprise appearance from Lachenalia emerged from a young hydrangea shrub.

We have a few clumps of Clivea around the garden but they are often chomped by our nocturnal visitors.

The Magnolia tree is still recovering from years in the shade and will be helped by the impending removal of a few huge gum trees.

The rhododendron blooms in the same section of garden are stunning this year and have the most delicious scent, no wonder the bumble bees are happy.

New tree fern fronds are eagerly unfurling in anticipation of warmer days.

Another spectacular show from the Waratah, although the flowers are now struggling with the prolonged inclement conditions.

Our blueberry yield was very poor last year so we protected them from gale force winds while the fruit set. It is looking promising for this year’s bounty, now we need to protect them from birds and marauding fauna.

Geraldton Wax and grevilleas are providing the bees with much needed nourishment.

I am hopeful that the solitary oriental poppy will become many next year.

boating bliss

Winter is the perfect time of year to visit friends in Darwin, especially when they own a boat.

No, not that one….this one.

We set off on a sea of glass from Cullen Bay Ferry Wharf

and rounded the headland,

before the hint of tropical houses in the suburb of Larrakeyah peeked at us through the trees.

In the distance, Darwin city cut the colour blue with a swathe of silver and green.

Larrakeyah was one of the first parts of the city to be developed, with the colony’s first hospital built in 1874. It is named after the Larrakia people, the traditional custodians of the land.

In 1869, Dr. Robert Peel, a surgeon with the first survey team, found water ‘…in a gully between Fort Point and Point Emery’. Aptly named Doctors Gully, it soon became a landing point. In the early 1950s, a nearby resident started throwing bread scraps to the fish that would gather at high tide and in 1981, Aquascene Fish Feeding was established. Visitors can now stand in the shallows and hand feed the fish in the waters of this official marine sanctuary.

The Esplanade runs the length of the waterfront overlooking Darwin Harbour and alongside, Bicentennial Park is home to monuments and memorials as part of the WWII walking trail. Lookout Point is a good place to start.

With calm waters and stupendous scenery, it was time to serve drinks and nibbles.

Continuing down the coast toward the end of the park,

the Deckchair Cinema operates seven nights a week in the dry season. Established in 1954, Darwin’s only independent cinema gives audiences the chance to watch a diverse range of movies that would otherwise go unseen on the big screen.

Adjacent to the cinema, Parliament House was opened in 1994 on the site of the Darwin Post Office that was bombed in February 1942.

On the other side of the cinema, Government House is well hidden from view. It is the oldest European building in the Northern Territory and has been home to Government Residents and Administrators since 1871.

At the end of the Esplanade, Jervois Park marked our point of return

as the evening sun cast the cityscape in a new light.

The occupants of this fishing boat should probably have looked behind them.

On the horizon, eight jet skiers resembled the riders of the Apocolypse, fortunately not close enough to shatter the serenity.

As Sol descended,

we returned to Cullen Bay

and another day came to a spectacular close.