The Southern Grampians
September 18, 2017

Recently, I travelled to Dunkeld situated at the southern end of the Grampians National Park (Gariwerd) for a week’s holiday. The Grampians, especially the northern part of the national park, are a popular destination for holiday makers.

Dunkeld is a small township dominated by three peaks – Mount Sturgeon, Mount Abrupt and The Piccaninny. As its name implies, The Piccaninny is the smallest of the three peaks and has a walking trail graded as easy.

Here are two views looking out across the Grampians which I admired as I ambled up the Piccaninny on Monday, the 11th of September.

 

I was attracted by the different colours on this rock during my walk.

 

Tuesday, the 12th of September, was wet in the morning but cleared in the afternoon, so I could take a walk from my accommodation to the Dunkeld park.  The park includes an arboretum, reservoir and an old timber mill.

 

 

 

The park boasted this wonderful, old red river gum.

 

I was intrigued by the ornate portico of the Dunkeld Post Office building. However, the bright sunshine of Wednesday morning had turned to deluges of rain by the time I drove to Cavendish, another small township in the district.

This bovine beauty is located outside the cafe where I had lunch in Cavendish.

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By the River
July 27, 2017

I am working on a new collage which is still to be finished, so I trawled through photographs of former holidays. I thought you might like these shots of river scenes taken in 2009 when I journeyed to Cobram and Numurkah in northern Victoria.

 

This is the Murray River near Cobram.

River Red Gums are typical of the adjoining flood plain.

Broken Creek wanders through Numurkah.

 

 

 

More River Red Gums. They can grow to enormous spreading trees. They need a good, flooding soaking from time to time to thrive.

 

 

Frogmore Revisited 2017
April 14, 2017

We have been having gorgeous autumn weather in Castlemaine recently – mild temperatures, warm sunshine and calm days. It was even gorgeous on the Great Dividing Range on Wednesday the 12th of April when a friend and I visited Frogmore Nursery and Gardens near Newbury.

The nursery specialises in rare and unusual bulbs and perennials. The gardens are bliss for flower lovers with an abundance of flowering plants suited to a cool, moist climate and rich volcanic soils. They are only open to the public for a few days in autumn.

I last visited Frogmore in 2014 so I was interested to see how the gardens looked on my second visit.

Zinnias are rarely seen in gardens.

 

Frogmore’s owner was grateful for the fine day as it had been raining since the weekend. He was worried the blooms would begin to rot if they couldn’t dry out.

 

 

 

 

There are lovely views across the garden to the Wombat Forest.

 

 

Some shrubs were in full autumn finery.

 

Shiny, red berries glowed like jewels in the autumn  sunshine.

 

The prairie garden was looking particularly splendid. Only a few days  before in driving rain and winds, the grasses were lying flat. On Wednesday, they were looking their best.

 

 

 

 

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Frogmore again. It is quite different from other open gardens I visit in Central Victoria. The prairie garden is unique for this area.

 

 

 

Phillip Island
January 17, 2017

It is high summer so I thought a post about the seaside would be appropriate.

I have been sorting through my photographs and happened upon my 2007 holiday on Phillip Island.

Phillip Island is a major holiday destination in Victoria being an easy drive from Melbourne. It has many attractions for holiday makers and day visitors including international visitors.

Probably the most popular attraction is the Penguin Parade in the warmer months of the year when Little (Fairy) Penguins emerge from the ocean at dusk and scurry across the beach to climb into the sand hills to their underground nests where their hungry chicks are waiting to be fed. It is not easy being a penguin parent, out fishing all day, returning to shore exhausted in the evening, checking for predators, then a dash across the beach in front of excited humans, followed by an arduous climb home. …………then out again before dawn next day.

Whilst this post contains no images of penguins, it does illustrate other island features which appeal to me.

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There are rugged coastlines and surging seas on the ocean side of the island.

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The sheltered,Western Port, side of the island has beaches where you can swim, paddle and fossick to your heart’s content.

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There is coastal vegetation to admire……..

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…. flowering pig faces

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……… grassy tussocks ……….

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……… and enough lichen to keep lichen lovers satisfied.

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In addition to penguins, there is this seagull rookery at the Nobbies, koalas and seals.

Flooding Rains
September 14, 2016

‘I love a sunburnt country,

A land of sweeping plains,

Of ragged mountain ranges,

Of droughts and flooding rains.’

Dorothea Mackellar

(1885 – 1968)

Right now, Castlemaine is receiving the flooding rains.

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This is a vine draped shelter in the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens in autumn 2015.

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Steady rain over the past two days has resulted in Barkers Creek overflowing into Lake Johanna, the ornamental lake in the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens, which in turn has merged with Barkers Creek.

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Because of drought, Barkers Creek was the occasional water hole until winter rains began to fall this year. Today it is unrecognisable as the happily gurgling creek of recent weeks. The sound of the rushing flood filled the air.

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Curious spectators enjoyed the novelty of paddling in the expanded Lake Johanna.

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Familiar, often walked paths are now waterways.

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It was along this path that I drew a picture earlier this year.

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In October, my tai chi class will return on Monday mornings to this group of trees for our weekly sessions.

Unexpected Bounty
July 25, 2016

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This is another drawing inspired by my old garden in Ferntree Gully. I finished the drawing on the 8th of July 2009.

I regarded the broken branch from the big banksia (Banksia marginata or Silver Banksia) as an unintended and unexpected gift. Perhaps a possum had been too heavy for the branch which snapped under its weight.

I loved the contrast between the dull green upper sides of the leaves and the white (silver) undersides. The immature flowers were challenging to draw.

The picture captures the happiness and energy I felt at that time.

Sadly, my favourite tree in the garden was cut down by the new owners.

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Autumnal Oaks
June 17, 2016

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This week I had the opportunity to draw this picture in soft pastel. I had been waiting for weeks for the oaks in one of my favourite sections of Castlemaine’s Botanical Gardens to reach the peak of their autumnal glory.

It is early winter and the oaks are among the last of the deciduous trees to acquire their autumn colour. It was fine, but chilly, when I commenced the drawing on Monday morning, but Wednesday morning was just glorious. There were plenty of people out walking – many with their grandchildren or dogs. Nearby, a small group was practising Qi Gong.

Crimson rosellas, Australian magpies and Bronzewing pigeons enjoyed the bounty offered in the gardens that morning.

This picture gives me a lot of pleasure. I hope you enjoy it too.

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The Garden of St. Erth, Blackwood
October 7, 2015

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Last Friday, the 2nd of October, I took advantage of the fine holiday weather to visit the Garden of St. Erth, Blackwood in the Great Dividing Range.

The present garden has been established around an old stone cottage built in the 1860s by Matthew Rogers, a Cornish stonemason, who came to the goldfields at Mt. Blackwood in 1854. Matthew Rogers named the cottage ‘St. Erth’ after his birthplace in Cornwall.

The two and a half hectare garden began to be developed in 1967 and is currently owned by the Diggers Garden and Environment Trust.

The garden is surrounded by the Wombat State Forest in a cool, wet climate. Plants flower later than in Castlemaine. The wisteria climbing over the cottage was still in bud whilst the wisterias in Castlemaine are in full, magnificent bloom.

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The garden features areas devoted to exotic trees and plants.

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The garden also features Australian native plants and drought tolerant plants.

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Wombats at work. Wombats like to mark their territory by leaving their droppings on logs and rocks. They also dig in the ground for edible roots.

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This is a fine specimen of a Cherry Ballart (Exocarpus cupressi formis). This Australian native small tree is found in local bushland. The Cherry Ballart is semi parasitic on the roots of other trees especially eucalypts. The maturing tree doesn’t adversely affect its host as it becomes self sufficient.

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The bees were having a field day.

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The blossoms on the fruit trees were brimming with bees which politely flew to one side whilst I took these photographs.

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I hadn’t seen this method of protecting vegetables before. The frames were constructed of garden stakes slotted into metal brackets then draped with netting.

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Going Down to the Sea
September 19, 2015

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On Wednesday, I returned from a week’s holiday in Port Fairy on the south west coast of Victoria.

This is my first post about my experience of Port Fairy.

The beaches are distinctive as they are fringed by basalt rocks. The rocks give the sand a grey tinge.

I look forward to sharing further posts about Port Fairy.

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I couldn’t resist paddling in this rock sheltered pool.

The Big Tree Suffers New Battle Wounds
June 10, 2015

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On the 8th of October 2014, I published a post about the Big Tree at Guildford.

On Saturday evening, the 28th of February 2015, a cold front preceded by damaging winds swept across Victoria. Locally, the winds had a devastating impact on significant trees – uprooting some and causing major damage to others. Bushland areas from Daylesford to Guildford, from Castlemaine to Elphinstone are now littered with splintered and fallen trees.

Luckily, there was only minor damage to buildings and no one locally was injured or killed. Unfortunately, there was loss of life elsewhere.

As you can see from the photographs, the Big Tree did not escape the battering winds unscathed.  With the loss of some of its major spreading branches, the width of the canopy is now diminished. However, this loss forms another chapter in the life of this long lived tree so it will be interesting to see what happens to the tree in years to come.   DSCN3502

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This photograph shows the remains of a bee hive.