We wander in and wonder at the beauty of our "Land Down Under".

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

a period of peripateticism passes ...

Peripateticism: (noun)   travel from place to place, esp. working or based in various places for relatively short periods: the peripatetic nature of military life.

We were very flat after receiving the news of our friend Bob’s passing. The next day we had a slow start to the morning, went into Natimuk to the cafe and then back to the lake, not really feeling like having a climb. After a quiet couple of hours reading we thought we should do something, so headed off around the lake for a walk. It was probably the best thing we could have done. Gentle exercise and engagement with the environment 
with lots of quiet time to talk about Bob.

Di got some more bird photos, including of some she hadn’t identified before. Early in our perambulations she took this photo of a Whistling Kite:

Next, for her grandchildren she got one of this creature in an unaccustomed habitat:

We arrived at Natimuk Lake towards the end of the duck shooting season. As we walked around the lake we couldn’t help but notice thousands of spent shotgun shells lying on the shore, representing thousands of dead ducks, I guess. Here is a small sample:

While I can understand the desire of some folks to engage in the primeval drive of hunting, 
I can’t really fathom why 
they don't pick up after themselves. 
Such a lovely environment; do they need to leave all this rubbish laying around?

At one point we came across this decoy that had been left behind. It looks like a small pit had been dug beside it so the shooter can sit comfortably low to the ground with his legs inside:

One thing I can't quite understand is how some birds are protected while others aren't.
There are mobs of Black-tailed Native Hens running around
that look like they'd cook up a treat
but they get a free pass. How come, I wonder?

And what about the Black Swans? Now one of them would feed a family. 
Thankfully, they are protected.
While we were walking, Di got this photo of a group on the wing:

Those beautiful white wings which always seem so unexpected are something, aren't they?

Next was the Black-winged Stilt. We'd seen a few earlier, but she finally got the chance to get quite a good snap:

First thing that morning before our circumperambulation, Di noticed these Pelicans and Black Swans cruising the shore together:

The day after our walk it was in to Melbourne for a footy match. We arrived in plenty of time to perv the outdoor shops in Little Bourke Street, have lunch at +39 
then walk to Docklands Stadium to see 

On Sunday as we drove back to the Wimmera, it became increasingly gloomy looking and it started raining not long after we arrived back  in Natimuk. The locals would have been very happy with the 10 mm of rain that fell in the evening and overnight. Monday was a bit brighter so we did a route Di hadn't done before, one that neither of us had done, and another that we hadn't done for several years. An enjoyable day out. Back at the lake, Di got some more good bird photos, especially this one of some Red-necked Avocets:

Quite a nice photo, but my favourite is this one she took early that day. If you look closely, you can see their peculiar up-turned beaks:

She also got a good shot of this Eastern Great Egret:

It seemed to like to hang out with its cousin the White-necked Heron,
as Di saw them together throughout our stay at the lake:

I'm not sure if they weren't having an ongoing pissing - or perhaps a pecking - competition. Both birds grow to over a metre in height, 
so maybe they were vying for supremacy of the wetland!

There were lots of Crested Pigeons about. We usually saw them on the telephone wires or whooping about in the trees near camp but this one was pottering about in the mud flats:

The next day brought a nice surprise: Geoff Gledhill, whom we hadn't seen for over a year, dropped by by the lake just before as we were getting ready to head off for a climb. After a chat and a cup of tea we all went off together and did a few routes. It was very interesting hearing about the work he'd been doing for Tata Motors over the past year in India and England. He'd been lured out of retirement to help get a few design glitches on some new vehicles sorted out, and hadn't been climbing in over a year. It was nice to share with him his first day back on rock. 

The next day we had booked our vehicle in for its 60,000 km service and after we'd had that done we decided to take a little drive to say farewell to the Wimmera, as we'd be heading off the day after. We had to go through Dimboola:

On through Nhill and to the highlight of the drive: a visit to the Little Desert National Park.
There was a 3 km walking loop that turned out to be quite a delight. We saw these two curious kangaroos just as we were leaving the lodge
which acts as a centrepiece for the park:

We saw a few bandicoots scurrying about but weren't quick enough to get a photo. This area is also an important habitat to the endangered Mallee Fowl, which can grow up to 60 cm and 2.5 kg. Maybe the should have been protected a bit earlier ...
We weren't lucky enough to see any of them, but what made the day were the lovely textures of this little desert. It has been very dry now for over two years, and the way this banksia has split in two halves - one dead, the other very much alive - reflects that:

There is evidence of the area's cattle farming heritage scattered about the place, including this dilapidated cattle loading platform:

Our walk took us through a number of vegetation regimes which seemed to be differentiated by subtle changes in altitude: a metre or two determining whether enough water collected to support trees. Where trees did grow they were generally pretty stunted, with the exceptions being some quite large Callitris pines. Where it was drier, little but low, wiry scrub grew. At one point we came across this dead bit of wood that had been colonised by a neon green lichen:

 But what a difference standing water makes!
Almost back to the lodge we came to this large billabong:

Beside it was a wonderful gum tree:

Underneath was a rich litter of gum nuts, twigs and marsupial scat:

We loved some of the little details in the bark, including this combination of colour and creasing:

But the child in both of us couldn't help but think what fun our grandchildren would make of this arboreal microcosm of tree-trunks:

Farewelling Arapiles, Natimuk Lake and the Wimmera we drove to Tullamarine Airport on ANZAC Day with an old friend on board. Roxanne Wells had started climbing with Bob McMahon on an Adult Education course in the mid 1980's and we got to know her shortly thereafter. We were on our way across Bass Strait for Bob's funeral and wake in Launceston, which was to be held the next day. We arrived at the airport early enough for me to watch the first half and listen in the departure lounge to the second half of the 
You bloody beauty!!!

Bob's funeral was a fitting farewell, with over 650 people from all walks of life in attendance. The local newspaper even managed to present an excellent obituary. It was a very sad day, but an opportunity for many to celebrate the rich life of this remarkable man: his friendship, his generosity, his love of the world wild and his contribution to the future of Tasmania.

Back to Melbourne the next day, and a long drive northwards. We stopped for the night off the beaten track at Blowering Reservoir, near Tumut, NSW. Here's a picture of our campsite:

Up the next morning and on to Batemans Bay. Another nice camping spot:

Quite a nice evening by the sea too:

After having a stone guard fitted to protect the rear window of the Prado from rocks ricocheting from the Ultimate on rough roads, we drove north to where we are now, at Currarong near Point Perpendicular.

We managed to get a great climb in yesterday just before the drizzle started and turned into steady rain. Today wasn't much chop in terms of weather so we had a lazy start, caught up on our laundry and did a few other necessary chores. 

Isn't it funny how things come to mind while you're just rolling along without external pressures getting in the way? We often reflect on how fortunate this life has been to us, and how rich has been the tapestries of our interwoven existences. Apropos of nothing in particular - or maybe it's as a result of living in this covered-wagon-like camper of ours - the theme song from the musical "Paint Your Wagon" came into my mind this evening as I was thinking about this blog. If you aren't familiar with it, or in case you'd enjoy a bit of nostalgia, here is "Under a Wandering Star" on Youtube:

And, as one thing seems to lead to another, for some reason while I was playing that song, the film "Shiralee" jumped into Di's brainspace. Here's a much-loved image from that classic Aussie film:

Di was especially nostalgic about the funny duck-like toy that Buster was dragging around with her. She remembers being disturbed by Buster's dad continually walking off, leaving her to follow ... or not!
(Sort of how I feel at times when Di goes striding off into the yonder, really)

That's about it for now. We're off to the Blue Mountains in the morning as they are closing Point Perpendicular for at least a few days to repair the road. A bit of a disappointment as we were really looking forward to doing a bit more here. 
I guess heaven - and climbing above the deep blue sea - can wait.
See you next time.

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