Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hunting part II

Well I hope this isn’t a case of too much of a good thing…

From the Phantom Falls Deb and I went back to the car.

We drove further up the valley. The road (not quite sure it deserves to be called a road) got narrower and muddier, if I wasn’t a ‘bushie’ (a person who grew up in the country) I wouldn’t have dared to keep going without an all wheel drive. We actually drive a FIAT which is better suited to an autostrada than a bush track. But if you are careful and know what you are doing you can take 2 wheel drives to a surprising range of places.

As we drove we pushed into country I haven’t seen before, we saw other wonderful falls up branches of the valley that we just didn’t get to because it was too wet and too late. (I would have had to walk)
About another seven kilometres up the valley (nearly half an hour at the speed the road made me go) we crossed the Taggerty River.
Which cascades out of the forest by the road (this piccie was taken from the road bridge).

Notice the bush doesn’t seem burnt here? It’s a bit deceptive unfortunately.
This is a pocket of true rainforest in the Mountain Ash forest that surrounds it. Mountain Ash forest is a eucalyptus dominated ‘wet sclerophyll’ forest for the botanically minded of you. And like most eucalyptus forests will burn at the drop of a hat.

Proper rainforest like this pocket is usually too wet to burn but in the extreme conditions of Black Saturday in 2009 the crowning fire that raced through the forest around has effectively singed off the crowns of these trees.

Many of the larger ones are dying which is a real shame, especially as many of the trees in this pocket are rare Antarctic Beeches.

Back to my story.

The section of the river that cascades under the road is just the start. To my surprise just off the road is a beautifully built path.
There are a whole series of these lovely stairs that zig-zag through the trees up the side of the ‘Taggerty Cascades’.The stairs take you past a series of views of the cascades which divide and redivide between the trees and the granite boulders.

This boulder in the middle of one branch of the stream is about eight feet across.Just below on a smaller branch the water pours through under some boulders.
Then at the foot of these sweet stairs this mini cascade let me get my favourite shot of the day.A close-up with a very long exposure to compensate for the rapidly fading light.
Remember it was raining and it is winter with short days down this way.

One last piccie to give you an idea of how dark it was under the trees when I finished shooting. For shooting waterfalls you generally want low light so you can take long exposures, but this was getting ridiculous.So it was back to the car to weave our way out of the valley.

I think I caught my trophies from my waterfall hunt.

The only problem is I want to go back!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hunting Part I

Almost twelve months ago I posted about a mountain valley behind Marysville where the forest was destroyed in the 2009 bushfires.

Deb and I went up that way again today

The trees in the Taggerty River Valley still stand like the ghosts they are. What is changing somewhat is millions of seeds have germinated so saplings are beginning to race for the light between their parents’ skeletons.

We were back because as you know I love photography. One of my favourite subjects is streams and waterfalls.

The drought of previous years is well and truly over and it has rained and rained and rained for what seems like months. The bonus of this is of course waterfalls and rivers are very healthy at the moment.

We wove our way up into the valley along the muddy goat track that serves as a road up there.

It was cold and raining so I was well rugged up. Deb took one look at the weather and elected to sit in the car knitting.

From the valley floor began the climb up this track towards the first waterfall on my hit-list. You get an idea of how rampant the regrowth is.

In the steeper sections there are well made stairs which make the going easier. I paused on this corner for a breather and a piccie. I’d just climbed the stairs down to the right and was about to climb the ones to the left.

Further up I paused again to catch the ghosts of the trees vanishing into the mist (that is the trail and some of the stairs in the right of the frame).

I crossed the stream that forms the falls further up. It's divided here into multiple streamlets that tumble over fern clad boulders.

To give you an idea of how wet it is at the moment a fairy sized waterfall beside the path.Then finally I reached my target the Phantom Falls. It finally stopped raining as I photographed so I got to wear my hat rather than trying to keep the camera lens dry.

These falls are hard to photograph because to see them you have to get really close. But I think I have done them justice.

Just to make sure a close up.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Progress on two fronts

My new job is simultaneously hard work and very relaxing. First being a government job there are substantial differences to anything I have experienced in the private or community sectors. Things are quite simply more bureaucratic and every second word seems to be an acronym.
My new job is a reasonably senior position so there is a lot to get on top of as quickly as possible. So all in all it is quite tiring.

Now here is the good bit. The job is in other ways also very relaxing. As difficult as it might be I am not dealing with desperate people in extreme circumstances. I am not having to be continually on my toes to monitor the risk of violence to myself, my staff or the people using my services. The reality is people in extreme situations sometimes behave unpredictably, add in issues like mental illness and drug and alcohol abuse and you had to be careful. Always.

Having said that working with the homeless you more often see the best of people. But you have to be ready to deal with the worst.

So I am really enjoying the change of pace in that way. Also I seem to have landed a great team to work with: friendly, welcoming and helpful to the newby!

Now to my WIP, as I said I finished a first draft. This week I’ve been sorting all the sections written in different POV into order. I can’t help myself I sometimes get distracted and begin rewriting some sections as I go, but all in all the shuffling process is going well. I hope to be finished with that stage early next week. Then I will sit down and read the whole thing start to finish to see which sections need the most work.

Can you stay on task when it comes to writing, or are you like me and sometimes get led astray by the text in front of you?

Now finally a quick word about last weekend. As I said Deb and I went away, well we spent the weekend at Phillip Island which is about two hours drive from home. I say drive because although it is a real island it is connected to the mainland by a bridge. As you saw if you caught my Monday post we managed to cram an awful lot into two days.
One of my piccies was of a bird.
He was a Cape Barren Goose (Cereopsis novaehollandiae) or to be precise gander, a member of the only ‘true’ goose species native to Oz. They were quite endangered in the 1970s but have made a comeback thanks to conservation efforts. I am talking about them again because I had to share some piccies of some goslings.
Just as a reminder here is another piccie of dad.Now mum with some of her broodSome cute fuzzballs And some more

Monday, July 18, 2011

Despite the weather

I didn’t manage a post over the weekend because despite wintry weather Deb and I went away for the weekend.

I won’t say much because I’m only just home from work.

However I will promise more in the next few days and say our action packed weekend featured:

Verdant but windswept islands.Unique Aussie wildlife.Glorious sunsetsQuiet walksPounding wavesAnd mountain streams.Stay tuned

Thursday, July 14, 2011


I posted about snowfalls in the mountains around Melbourne on Saturday.

I’ve mentioned my new job before, my new office is on the 12th floor of a downtown skyscraper. Well yesterday the snow was a bit closer to home. I happened to glance up from my desk to see heavy snow falling past my window.

Now it snows in the higher hills around Melbourne every winter, but it basically never snows in the city which is essentially at sea level. So I was really surprised to see snow falling downtown.

I got up from the desk and looked out the window. I saw something I have only seen in the mountains before. Snow falling past me and turning into rain below. I had forgotten I was a third of the way up a man made mountain! So if I grumble about the cold please forgive me. This Aussie thinks it is a miserable winter.

On a less gloomy note, we have begun walking Lilli. We aren’t really trying to train her to walk to heel yet. But we are going to have to. As you can see from this pic of Lu setting off with her on Sunday she is getting to be a big puppy. She’s only twelve weeks old and already weighs 10.1kg (22.27 lbs). The vet she saw today for immunisation and micro-chipping says she is going to be a big girl.

On our walk we spotted some galahs feeding on a lawn (yes I do take my camera almost everywhere). These pink parrots are really common in much of Oz.As I snapped away two more swept in to land.Then after walking only a few blocks it was time to head for home because puppies get tired quickly.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Milestone (of Sorts)

My progress on my WIP continues to move along, although not as quickly as I would like. As you may know I have been working long hours recently tidying up to leave my previous job in good order and now trying to get on top of my new job as quickly as possible.

At the moment I am up at 5:30am and on the train as soon as I can get to the station. Then I am usually home late and hit the sack about an hour or two after I stagger in the door. This doesn't leave much time for anything during the week.

This has meant some things have had to slip a bit. First I have become really slack at responding to your comments on my blog, I promise I will fix this as soon as things ease up a bit.
Second I am not visiting as many of your blogs as I would like and even when I do I tend to lurk without commenting.

Part of my long day is a commute of over an hour at each end. This is normally a blessing in disguise because it gives me time to write. I'm still managing an hour of writing time most mornings. Unfortunately things haven't been as good in the evenings, with long days I have tended to sit vacantly staring at my PC screen through sheer exhaustion, plus if I leave late the train is usually crowded so I often don't get a seat for the first half of the trip.

Now that is my whining for tonight. Because despite all that I have still reached a milestone. I am provisionally saying I have finished writing my first draft of my WIP.

Relaxing Photo Break
Freycinet Penninsula (Tasmania) in evening light

Why provisionally? Well I'm cheating a bit, as I have said before I am writing each stream of POV separately with the aim of weaving them together afterwards. Well I have reached the 'afterwards' bit. Most of my narrators have finished their stories. The ones that haven't are waiting impatiently on me. If the text I have slides together nicely some of my narrators will add a few comments and I'll move on to thinking about a second draft.

But, and this is a big but, I suspect that as I go I will likely have to adjust some strands to get them to even vaguely fit. And there is some background material for some characters that I don't think I will have to flesh out if the piece sits nicely as a whole.

I hope all this is making sense. Any way apart from some frustration about hours in the day it is going well.

So what about you? Have you ever had times when your life felt like it wasn't your own?

Gratuitous Rainforest Fungi Shot

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Tea or Coffee Anyone?

First of all an apology. I have not responded to all your wonderful comments on my last few posts. As you know I have just started a new job which is very different from my previous one. So I have been working hard and long hours to get on top of the new role as quickly as possible.

Apart from anything else every conversation in the new workplace seems to be filled with acronyms I just don’t know! The Victorian Public Service seems to have a language all of its own! The good part is I seem to have fallen on my feet in terms of having a great team to work with.

Down to the business of today - as you can guess by the time we got to the weekend I was ready for a change of pace. Deb and I hopped in the car and drove to one of our favourite places.

I have posted about Mount Donna Buang before, but here we go again. As you know it is winter down this way and this past week we have had miserable and cold weather.

It isn’t too bad down in Melbourne but in the mountains around there has been snow.
In fact the Oz Alps are reporting a bumper ski season.

Mount Donna Buang usually has snow cover at the peak for much of winter and although there isn’t skiing there it is quite popular because it is so close to Melbourne. Any way as I said Deb and I shot up there today. By the way, a lot of these piccies benefit from clicking on to expand them.

When we reached the peak it was cold and misty.This tower was built for spotting fires in bushfire season. A bit redundant today!
I had a look in one of the shelters - there was a warming fire that someone had lit in the BBQ.People have been busy building snow men and snow sculptures. I thought this teapot was clever.
It was complete with cups.
I went traipsing around looking for objects to turn my camera on. I loved this boulder standing clear of the snow.After a while we were cold and miserable (I wonder why?).

So we jumped back in the car and drove the 4,000 odd feet back to the valley floor. Perhaps the teapot had given us ideas. Because we stopped at one our favourite eateries.

Wild Thyme Café is in the village of Warburton. It has great meals and good coffee.

But the thing they absolutely do best is cakes and pastries. The owner bakes the most amazing cakes you can imagine.

I had the baked continental cheesecake. It looked so yum I couldn’t help myself and took a spoonful before I remembered to take a piccie!

Deb had the lemon meringue pie. I am not normally big on sweets but the ones at Wild Thyme are as good as anything I have tasted anywhere in the world!

One last piccie. We sat in the front room of the café. I noticed a whole collage of reflections on the window. Nearly everything in this piccie is a reflection or a reflection of a reflection. The two legs in the foreground are actually just outside, as is the bicycle rickshaw. I have no idea where it originally came from, but the rickshaw is always parked out the front when they are open. Wild Thyme is that kind of place.
The blue car is actually further up the street and going the other way. The sunny park is about 100 metres down the road to the right.
The man sitting with his face to the picture is Alan, the owner of the café. He is not outside this window but at a table to the right on the footpath. It’s illegal to smoke in restaurants in Victoria so they have a table outside for those who have to smoke while they eat.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


I started my new job yesterday. It all feels very new and truth be told there is a massive learning curve ahead of me.

It was in at the deep end. Half of yesterday was spent in formal induction. Then it was straight into team meetings to meet the team I will be managing and to meet the larger section we are integrated within.

Now for something completely different. On Saturday we had a bright day so Deb and I were out and about. Neither of us had much energy so we went in the direction of the city.

Once again our focus was the Yarra River. I wanted to catch piccies of a cascade known as Dight’s Falls. The falls are right near the heart of the city in the old industrial suburb Abbotsford.

Unfortunately there was a construction site on the river bank there so I couldn’t get close.Then I noticed a look out high up on the other side. I had to go a long way around. Nearly a mile downstream to cross a road bridge. Then it was into a patch of bush that follows the river almost all the way into the city.

I paused to catch these piccies of delicate Eucalyptus tree flowers. Then I had to stop and catch this view of the city. My new office is half way up one of these skyscrapers.

Then I heard something familiar, I turned and scanned the tree tops.

Can you see what I saw?
The noise was the gentle sounds of cockatoos ‘talking’ to each other .

High in the trees – a flock of Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos Calyptorhynchus funereusI have never managed to get decent photos of these large (two foot long) parrots before.

So I began to stalk closer. I managed to get a little closer,But I spooked this shy fellow.

She took off with an alarm call which caused all the others to take to the air.
I managed to snap this very out of focus shot before she disappeared through the trees. You can see why they are called ‘yellow-tailed’. There is a related species called ‘red-tailed’.

I went a little further to the look out. It wasn’t a great vantage point after all. But I did manage to get a few nice piccies of boulders in the torrent.