frosty fingers

Having just returned from ten days in Darwin, I am struggling to adapt to the climate shock. Tasmanians are used to the four seasons and we enjoy the positive in each of them. Not long before my recent sojourn, I took Poppy for her morning walk into the Blythe Conservation Area that adjoins our property. There is no need to consult the BOM website to know the temperature has dipped into the minus, the frozen birdbaths are evident enough.

Risking frostbite to my digits, I transformed my thermal mittens to fingerless gloves (an ingenious design purchased at Cradle Mountain some years ago). Crossing the paddock, it seemed the forest was on fire with the trees reflecting the glow of early sunlight.

To the north, an aircraft’s vapour trail draws a line across the pale blue sky.

Looking back, the frost is heavy on our house roof

and the neighbour’s horses are rugged up against the cold.

Once into the forest, brushfires of rising sun create autumnal hues

and someone is patiently waiting for me to catch up.

Further into the woodland, I have stumbled into paradise,

even Poppy takes a moment to appreciate the spectacle.

We may have trespassed into sacred sulphur-crested cockatoo territory at the end of the trail, the ear-piercing screeches from on high warned others of our presence.

Retracing our steps, highlights from ascending Sol lingered

and the frosty paddocks would soon warm to the glow.

Reclaimed garden edging and fallen leaves hold onto the frost

but the daffodils are promise of the coming spring.

remarkable regeneration

After some lovely spring weather, summer has arrived with a cold snap. Plenty of rain, high winds and even snow on some peaks. It is not unusual to lose a few trees during these storms

and a few months ago we lost a magnificent eucalypt along one of our forest paths.

We cut enough wood to clear the path and decided to leave the remainder of the tree where it lay, as nature’s retaining wall.

No surprise that the mosses are thriving

but rather than just giving up, there is new life along the trunk.

The majesty of our surroundings never ceases to amaze me.

Sadly, our peaceful walks in the forest are becoming less and less enjoyable due to the ever increasing presence of a group of dogs who are free to wander and hunt, torture and kill wildlife on our property. The accompaniment of constant manic barking echoing through the trees is far from tranquil. Unfortunately, the owners consider it is a dogs right to roam freely, despite legislation that clearly states, among many other requirements, “The owner or person in charge of a dog must ensure that the dog is not at large.” It is, however, a farmers right to dispatch marauding dogs threatening livestock.

It would be nice to wander our property without the prospect of being confronted by five dogs with their blood up, we all know what animals hunting in a pack are capable of.

Some of you reading this may consider me “precious”. Whether I am or not, my dog certainly is and she is treated with the care and respect she deserves.

Black Spur

The Black Spur Drive is a thirty kilometre stretch of road between Healesville and Marysville in the Yarra Ranges. The meandering course, with sharp bends and gentle gradients, promises spectacular scenery along the way. Towering mountain ash trees rise above a lush forest of tree ferns.

1.Black Spur

Unfortunately, our scenic drive didn’t go quite as planned thanks to the weather gods, although the rain and mist didn’t dampen the beauty of nature.

2.Black Spur3.Black Spur

Originally known as ‘The Blacks’ Spur’, the road follows the route taken by displaced indigenous people to Coranderrk Aboriginal Station in the late 1800s.

4.Black Spur

Horse drawn coaches also carried miners and settlers to the goldfields along this section of the old Yarra Track. It became popular for tourists and photographers and a bus service, operating two twelve-seater Buick charabancs, was introduced in 1916.

5.charabanc courtesy of australianmountains.com

Photo courtesy of australianmountains.com

We resisted the suggestion in the tourism brochure to, “roll down the windows and experience fresh crisp air any time of the year”, and had to settle for photographs through the car window.

6.Black Spur

Our destination of Marysville is home to one of Victoria’s highest waterfalls, nestled in native forest in the surrounding mountains.

7.Steavenson Falls

Steavenson Falls are named after John Steavenson, the Assistant Commissioner of Roads and Bridges who first visited the site that is now Marysville, in 1862. Opinion on the actual height of the falls seems to be divided, some claim 122 metres while others suggest 84 metres. Either way, there are five cascades, the last one descending 21 metres into a small rock pool.

8.Steavenson Falls9.Steavenson Falls

Residents first cut a track to the falls in 1866, it is now an easy walk from the car park to see natures wondrous display. The weather wasn’t conducive to walking to the viewing platforms below or above the falls, I’m sure it would have been spectacular. The falls are floodlit until 11pm each night, a turbine driven by water at the base of the falls generates the power. What a lovely place to spend a summer evening.

10.Steavenson Falls

dewdrop diamonds

Walking in the forest on a crisp, cold morning after a heavy frost is like strolling through nature’s jewellery store. The sun, low in the sky, turns simple dew drops into glittering diamonds.

1.dewdrops2.dewdrops3.dewdrops4.dewdrops5.dewdrops6.dewdrops

Even those stems bereft of foliage held onto the occasional glistening droplet.

7.dewdrop8.dewdrops9.dewdrops10.Prickly Moses

I was like a child in a sweet shop, I couldn’t get enough of this amazing beauty.

11.dewdrops12.dewdrops13.dewdrop

The gems would disappear as the sun climbed, but for now I was content to experience another of nature’s treats.

14.dewdrop

 

Acacia abounds

Through the cold, damp haze of August, the first promise of spring starts to appear across the landscape. The expanse of green in the forest turns a lovely shade of yellow as the wattle trees flower. With over 1,000 species of Acacia worldwide, around 950 are native to Australia. We mainly have two species on our property, both are endemic to eastern Australia. Acacia melanoxylon grows to 40 metres in Tasmania, twice the height if its mainland siblings, and can live over 100 years. The Tasmanian blackwood is a beautiful tree and we are surrounded by them.

1.Tasmanian blackwood

The timber, with its variable colours and grains, is sought after for furniture making. The Aborigines used a hot infusion of roasted bark to bathe rheumatic joints. The same potion was used to stun fish to make them easier to catch. The creamy yellow flowers have a fluffy appearance and grow in clusters.

2.Tasmanian blackwood flowers

Our morning walks with Poppy look quite different when the wattles are flowering.

3.forest walk

Acacia verticillata is my favourite. Prickly Moses doesn’t actually have thorns but the small, flattened leaf stalks are prickly.

4.Prickly Moses

The flowers are quite different to the blackwood, a brighter yellow and cylindrical in shape.

5.Prickly Moses

The dense, prickly foliage offers a safe home for little critters like bandicoots and birds.

6.Prickly Moses

I have seen Acacia mucronata, or Narrow-leaved wattle, in the conservation area adjoining our property. It has creamy yellow cylindrical flowers and, not surprisingly, narrow leaves.

7.Narrow-leaved Wattle

I’ve often wondered why Acacias are called wattles. Apparently, it comes from the term, “wattle & daub”, a technique used by the early British settlers for building their huts. The branches were used to make the framework which were then daubed with mud (and perhaps a few cow pats). The Acacias were used mostly and so, they became known as wattles.