monochrome Melbourne

In 1973, Paul Simon released the song, ‘Kodachrome’ and I distinctly remember his notion that “…everything looks worse in black and white.” I decided to put this to the test on a recent trip to Melbourne. I have always found something fascinatingly enigmatic about monochrome photographs, perhaps it’s the invitation to look closer to discern images less obvious. The London plane tree below our apartment window does seem to lack something without the verdancy,

1.London plane tree

and the food looks a little less enticing.

2.ale & pork crackle

We wandered along Southbank, the late afternoon sunlight glinting off the water. The bar on Ponyfish Island seems to be perpetually crowded.

3.Southbank Pedestrian Bridge & Ponyfish Island4.Ponyfish Island5.Southbank Pedestrian Bridge

It was a perfect evening to be out on the Yarra

6.rowers

or to sit with a beverage and just observe.

7.wine

Friends, lovers and loners were enjoying the ambience,

as the sinking sun danced on the leaves of the plane trees.

The next morning, we crossed the pedestrian bridge

13.Southbank Pedestrian Bridge

pausing halfway to capture the view upstream.

14.Yarra River, Princes Bridge

The buildings are just as impressive without colour

15.Eureka Tower16.Melbourne skyline

and the reflections mesmerising

17.Southbank18.Southbank19.Southbank

as we strolled along Flinders Walk.

20.Flinders Walk

We passed Sandridge Bridge, The Travellers sculptures telling stories of past immigrants to Australia.

23.rowers24.Sandridge Bridge & skyline

Someone had kindly left birdseed for our feathered friends.

25.birds

The rowers were being pursued by a lone gull – or so it seemed.

26.rowers

I wonder if this cormorant could smell the fish at the Sea Life Aquarium across the river. He looks like a statue against the abstract motion of the water.

28.cormorant27.Sealife

Not far past Seafarers Bridge

29.Seafarers Bridge

we reached our destination – DFO, South Wharf.

30. DFO South Wharf

Interestingly, when Paul Simon recorded his concerts in Central Park in 1982 and 1991, he changed the lyrics to “…everything looks better in black and white.” You can decide for yourself.

Mary Arden’s Farm

After soaking up Shakespearean history in Stratford-upon-Avon, we drove three miles to the village of Wilmcote to the family home of the great bard’s mother. Mary Arden lived with her parents and seven sisters until she married John Shakespeare in 1557 at the age of twenty. Mary Arden’s Farm is a working farm and portrays 16th century life. Costumed workers complete the scene and we really felt we had stepped back in time. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust bought the farmhouse in 1930 and refurbished it in the Tudor period style.

1.Palmer's farmhouse

The funny thing is, in 2000 it was discovered that the house actually belonged to a neighbour, Adam Palmer, and it was renamed Palmer’s Farm. The rooms have been beautifully preserved.

The Arden family house had been acquired by the Trust in 1968 as part of the farm without realising its significance. A more modest dwelling, some of the timber framework has been replaced with Victorian brickwork but the original features date back to 1514.

6.Mary Arden's house

The outbuildings have been maintained, providing comfortable shelter for animals and vehicles.

7.Mary Arden's Farm

The evidence of hard manual labour has been retained,

10.millstone

the outdoor Tudor oven could have been the prototype of today’s pizza ovens?

11.Tudor outdoor oven

We wandered past the birds of prey, patiently waiting for their moment in the spotlight.

The boss was in her office making sure things ran smoothly.

16.the boss

Of course, I fell in love with the donkeys.

Michael fell in love with a couple of birds. He learned the way to win a heart was with a nuzzle rather than a stroke. Apparently, birds see the offering of a hand as aggression.

The occasional dead chick works, too.

23.peregrine falcon

Into a barn for, not surprisingly, a barn owl experience.

24.barn owl

No prizes for guessing who volunteered to don the glove.

25.barn owl

No nuzzles this time but the reward was the same.

28.barn owl

Lake Claremont

The last thing I expected in the middle of suburban Perth was the beautiful conservation area that is Lake Claremont. The reserve covers 70ha and hosts a variety of flora and fauna, including over 87 species of birds. Prior to 1831, the wetland area provided food for the Mooro people. With pressure from European settlement and rising waters, the last of the Aborigines moved away in the 1940s. It is now a recognised site of Aboriginal heritage.

1.Lake Claremont

Although spring had not yet sprung, the birdlife was busy with family raising duties. The Eurasian coot, though attractive, is not particularly colourful. The bright, fluffy chicks are absolutely gorgeous.

2.Eurasian Coot

Both parents share the rearing responsibilities, including teaching them how to dive for food.

5.Eurasian Coot chicks

The Aborigines weren’t the only victims of the rising waters. The once majestic paperbarks that dominated the central area couldn’t survive the permanent submergence.

6.Lake Claremont

The remnants provide nesting grounds for the waterbirds

7.nesting Black Swan

and add another dimension to the landscape.

8.Lake Claremont

The black swan is the official bird emblem of Western Australia, this majestic mother comfortable on her nest mound.

9.nesting Black Swan

Another swan family were out with their youngsters while the Australian shelducks seemed to walk on water.

10.Black Swan with cygnets & shelducks

Pink-eared ducks were resting nearby, they feed by filtering water and soft mud with their specially shaped bills.

11.pink-eared duck

Purple swamphens build nesting mounds among the reeds at the lakes edge,

12.nesting Purple Swamphen

the chicks have feeding lessons in the shallows.

13.Purple Swamphen with chick

The swamphens are mostly vegetarian but will also eat eggs and very young birds.

14.Purple Swamphen

The Australian white ibis is one of two ibis species at the lake. They forage for aquatic animals and are known to eat snakes.

16.Australian white ibis

As we continued our circuit of the lake,

17.Lake Claremont

we found some paperbarks still thriving on the shore.

18.paperbark

This lone Pacific black duck was taking some time out.

19.Pacific black duck

Another family of purple swamphens were enjoying breakfast

24.Purple Swamphen & chick

as we returned to our starting point.

25.Lake Claremont

What a wonderful way to start the day, thank you Jude.

petal pilferer

We’ve had a lovely display of water irises in our pond this year, the bright yellow contrasting beautifully with the verdant surrounds.

1.water irises2.water iris

Despite the mild weather and lack of winds, the flower heads have been disappearing soon after opening.

3.water iris

While enjoying a morning coffee in the back room last weekend, we found out why.

4.petal thief5.petal thief

The Superb Blue wrens, while being socially monogamous, are apparently the least faithful birds in the world. Although they mate for life and will share the feeding and upbringing of their young, they are remarkably promiscuous. The females have a particular weakness for males bearing a yellow petal.

6.petal thief

She may be courted by up to 13 males in half an hour and, for the right one, will leave the nest, mate with him and return as though nothing happened. Consequently, the offspring in any one brood will have different parentage. Maybe it’s because the male never presents a petal to his mate?

7.petal thief

And why a yellow petal?

8.petal thief

Taronga Zoo

On a warm December day in Sydney, we caught the ferry from Circular Quay to spend the day at Taronga Zoo. Officially opened in 1916, the zoo was based on the bar-less exhibits seen at Hamburg Zoo on a visit to Germany by the Secretary of the zoo in 1908. The 69 acre site is home to over 4,000 animals of 350 species and is a wonderful place to spend a leisurely day. The first animal we encountered was the gorgeous red panda. The deep rust-red colour contrasts beautifully with cream facial markings, the large claws a bonus when it comes to tree climbing.

These two were enjoying a nap in the humid heat, dreaming of their ancestors in south-east Asia. Binturongs have been described as a bear-cat and as tree dwellers with long bushy tails, it’s hard to believe they are distantly related to meerkats. Apparently, they have a strong odour of a cross between burnt popcorn and corn chips. We didn’t get close enough to find out.

The Java Finch seemed to be enjoying the steamy atmosphere in the waterbird exhibit.

Usually a white bird, the Cattle Egret is seen on the backs of cattle making a meal of ticks and flies. The orange brown breeding plumage becomes bright red at the height of the season. Interestingly, a group of egrets is known as a “skewer”.

9.cattle egret

The smallest known ibis in Australia, the Glossy Ibis was showing the magnificent colours of breeding plumage.

10.glossy ibis

The Asian elephant breeding program has been very successful at Taronga. The keepers led them out for their daily exercise, giving them wooden “toys” to play with.

11.Asian elephants

15.Asian elephants

The Sumatran Tiger and Snow Leopard were on alert

16.Sumatran Tiger17.Snow Leopard

but there were others who had given in to the somnolent, steamy atmosphere.

18.lioness19.bear20.tapir

I have always had a soft spot for hippos and the baby pygmy hippo stole my heart.

The meerkats were entertaining, as usual, I could watch them for hours. The dark patches around their eyes act as sunglasses to lessen the glare of the desert.

Mum and baby gorilla were enjoying a nap, dad doesn’t look too impressed at being left out.

We passed the colourful cassowary and opulent ostrich

on the way to the giraffes. The meal didn’t look very appetizing but he was tall enough to catch glimpses of the Harbour Bridge.

The world’s largest lizard at 3 metres long, the Komoda Dragon was magnificent.

38.Komodo Dragon

Unfortunately, Tuka, as he was named, died two years ago at the age of 33.

There were many fascinating lizards and snakes, I won’t even attempt to identify them.

The Indian Star tortoise was heading for lunch

50.Indian star tortoise

while the eastern snake-necked turtle cooled off in the pool.

51.Eastern snake-necked turtle

The handsome countenance of the Rhinoceros Iguana reveals the sheer pleasure of basking in the sunshine.

There was a fabulous view from the Sky Safari cable car. The lush verdancy  below

contrasted perfectly with the harbour and city beyond.

58.gondola view

Watching the chimpanzees brought us back to earth. It’s not hard to believe they are our closest living relatives, sharing nearly 99% of our DNA.

Nearing the end of our visit, we stopped by the farmyard where children can get close to the animals. The piglets were adorable

and the acrobatic goat had us wondering how she would get down from there.

68.goat

We enjoyed every minute of our day at Taronga, and with a final hint from the crocodile on how to stay cool,

69.crocodile

we returned to our apartment to do just that.

70.cooling off