Sunday, June 27, 2010

Wild Weather (and an embarrassing anecdote)

Down here in the south of the world it is winter.

Cold wet and (potentially) miserable. Not to be daunted by minor inconveniences like the weather we headed off to the east coast of Victoria.

Not far from Inverloch we paused so I could take some piccies of this abandoned railway trestle bridge.At least abandoned in the sense that it no longer carries a railway. It has been converted to a foot bridge on part of a coastal walk.

Just how close to the coast is shown by this shot under the bridge.
By now the wind was driving a bank of cloud in off Bass Strait. But not all was gloomy, this Callistemon was flowering nearby.
Back in the car we drove along to Venus Bay.

We walked down this path through the coastal heathland to the beach.
I doubt any swimmers would be around to need this sign today.The wind was driving the sea onto the shore and it was now very unpleasant.
But a few hardy individuals were not giving up their fishing for anything.
On the way back up to the car I paused to catch a photo of this beggar (not a good photo I am afraid). A bull ant, these guys are the largest ant in the world. This one was about an inch and a half long.
They are common around Oz, are very aggressive and have a vicious sting.

I had an unfortunate experience with one back in my university days.

Picture if you will Al and Deb making their way along a busy path of the University of New England back in the 1980s. It is a bright sunny day and there are plenty of people around.

All of a sudden Al grabs at his upper thigh and begins dancing around. ‘Something’s in my daks’
Deb looks alarmed, ‘What’s wrong?’
Al continues frantically dancing and clutching at his groin, ‘Ouch, ouch, ouch!’
‘Get your pants off!’
There in the middle of a public thoroughfare Al desperately tears off his jeans.
The culprit: a bull ant.
The little sod got me fourteen times on the upper thigh before I got my pants off.
I reckon these guys are so bad tempered she (the workers of these species are female) probably deliberately climbed all the way up my leg before letting me have it. I am sure she planned public humiliation in addition to the pain.
Anyway back to the main story.

I snapped a few shots of these gnarled roots in the heath. On the way home we stopped at Tarwin Lower near a Jetty on the wetlands.I snapped a few last piccies in the rapidly failing light because by then the moon was out.


Kyna said...


I'm sorry. Just to make up for laughing, I'll share a similar story.

I was out in my backyard watering on the weekend. I have no fence, neighbours all out in their yards doing yardwork. I suddenly feel an itch on my *cough* middle chest region *cough*. I go to scratch it, and look down and find a large hornet/wasp crawling down into the front of my shirt. I threw down the hose , started running and I RIPPED my shirt off over my head while I was running...I don't even know why I was running...I can't believe it didn't sting me on the face while I was doing that. And I'm sure the neighbours were all very amused, I never asked lol

M. J. Macie said...

The photos are amazing. I just joined your blog and look forward to reading your posts. Have a wonderful day!

heidenkind said...

Well, that doesn't look like a bad winter! At least there's no snow.

Christine said...

The pictures are superb. I particularly like the gnarled roots and expanded that one to take a closer look.

Wonder why that ant picked your pants???

Old Kitty said...

My goodness those ants!!! Are they like wasp stings?? I hope you were ok and didn't have one of those wasp reactions where you had to be taken to hospital! Oh dear!! Sounds very painful!!

I just think that these busy hardy creatures got annoyed that these moving things were in the way and decided to attack. That's my twist on it! LOL! I have great respect for these critters. I wouldn't want to be anywhere near them - but I respect their crankiness! LOL!

Anyway - I can't get over that you have winter and we are having a mini-heatwave!!! :-)

These are fabulous pics -the rickety disused railway doesn't look at all safe but at least you get a brilliant view of the coastline! The gnarled roots are my favourite - there's a logic to their gnarliness!

Awww the mooon is the best though. How lovely - a perfect half silver thing coming out of the darkness.

Take care

Niki said...

hehehe ouch I'm feeling your pain. Great photos. We've got sun today!! Yay

Wendy Ramer said...

I will assume "daks" are pants ;-)

Jaydee Morgan said...

I'm thinking that I wished our winters looked like yours!

And yikes about the bites - though I have to admit, I chuckled :)

wordsareforwriting said...

You´ve alway got great pictures on your blog.

As for the bull ant story - it could have been worse. It could have been a spider. That wouldn´t have been fun.

Theresa Milstein said...

That ant story is frightening. A BULL ANT?!

I love the picture of the flowers. And the bridge.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Al, I adore your photo tours and envy the beauty of your country (although my part of Montana is glorious!). I must say, though, that your ant story stole the show today!! :-)

Aubrie said...

Beautiful pictures! Too bad about the ant. I hate bug bites. I scratch them until they scab over and they still itch like hell.

Johanna said...

LOVE the pics...and ironically my daughter was just reading an article about bull ants...she got a kick out of your story!

Watery Tart said...

Gorgeous pics! You know, it doesn't look un-like the Oregon Coast (one of my favorite places), though the idea of bull ants terrifies me! You Aussies and your vicious wildlife! poison snakes, poison spiders, crocodiles... and now stinging ants!

Still--gorgeous (and hysterical story, if it hadn't made me squirm so much)

Al said...

Hi Kyna,
It’s OK about the laughing (it must have been my extrovert side that made this post) .
Wow! Your story is at least as embarrassing as mine! In fact it is probably worse given you’ll see your neighbours…
I have the same experience with a wasp going down the back of my shirt, and you do kind of panic!

Hi MJ,
Welcome back!
I’m pleased you liked my piccies!

Hi Tasha,
Melbourne is at almost exactly the same latitude as San Francisco so it probably has a similar winter in terms of temperatures (Hotter summer though because we get a northerly wind of the deserts inland at that time of year). If we want snow we have to go to the mountains.

Hi Christine,
I love the twisted forms trees take on in harsh conditions, they can be simply beautiful!
As to why my pants I guess I was just lucky!

Hi Jennifer,
A bull ant sting is about the same as a large hornet sting. So 14 was uncomfortable. I did go to the ER just in case (just because some people have reaction and with 14 stings I had a fairly high venom load) but there was no real harm done.
Bull ants are very cranky, as far as they are concerned it is THEIR patch of ground. They always turn towards a perceived threat, they generally back away but the always say ‘keep clear of me, I bite!’ If you are anywhere near a nest they do actively attack.
I have the greatest respect for them, they are fascinating creatures, quite unusual in terms of their biology. But that is a whole other story.
We have to do things back to front down here in terms of weather. I must say I could handle the temperatures you are having up there. We see 28 – 30 degrees C as a pleasant warm day, 40 degrees plus is a heatwave!
I am happy you liked my piccies, the bridge seemed firm enough, but I guess it wouldn’t take the weight of a train anymore.
I had to include the moon, just because it was that dark when I finished shooting (mind you we aren’t far past our Winter Solstice so the days are still very short) .

Hi Niki,
Yes it was very ouchie! We hadn’t had proper sun all of the past week except a few hours yesterday.

Hi Wendy,
Daks are indeed pants. Underdaks are therefore underwear.

Hi Jaydee,
We are spoiled (although it seems pretty cold to us), we don’t get snow here except in the mountains.
I agree yikes! But I did intend that people have a chuckle.

Hi Words,
Hey I am happy you like my piccies.
I’ve actually had a few spider bites. I have to say the ant bites were worse, but I haven’t been bitten by any of our dangerous spiders so you are proably right.

Hi Theresa,
They are called bull ants because they are so big and they are always as grumpy as a bull. They are fairly widespread, but there are only a few hundred in any given nest (as opposed to millions for some other ant species) so you rally only run into them occasionally.
The callistemon flowers are grouse aren’t they? I love bridges and trestles are particularly photogenic.

Hi Shannon,
I am pleased you enjoyed my yarn!
I am also pleased you enjoy the piccies. There are certainly some wonders around here. Mind you everything I have ever seen of Montana (alas only film and photos) has been spectacular!

Hi Aubrie,
Thank you!
The ant stings weren’t fun, but hey the little sod gave me a story to tell!

Hi Johanna,
I am happy you liked the piccies… What a coincidence! Happy I could make you young one happy too!

Hi Hart,
Hey I am only too happy to share my piccies!
Oregon and the North West USA sound beautiful.
Seriously, I’d rather deal with any number of snakes, spiders, ants, and other poisonous critters in preference to bears! Crocodiles are scary, but you just stay away from still water (and beaches) in croc country.
I am pleased you enjoyed the yarn, but sorry it made you squirm.

Palindrome said...

LOL! That would suck!! I've never had a bug bite that bad. Good thing you lived through it. :)

Lisa said...

We were just watching a show about ants (that's my hubby for you) and the bull ant was a top their list for ants you definitely don't want to meet in a dark alley--or, apparently have up your pants!

Amanda said...

LOL! Your anecdote had me cracking up. I hate hate bugs...something my husband has had to come to terms with living here in the South in the US. Blah. I would have done the same thing.

I love the photo of the roots. I love taking photos of trees and their roots. Lovely!

Al said...

Hi Hanna,
It did suck - bad!

Hi Lisa,
Sounds like just the kind of show I would watch.
I can attest that a bull ant is not the ant to have up your pants!

Hi Amanda,
Pleased you enjoyed my little story!
Bugs and spiders are certainly something I am pretty used to, but in the pants - no thanks!
Trees are great aren't they? the shapes can be so beautiful.