Just a mere 900 million years ago this area was covered by the sea but today it is a beautiful freshwater spring, home to many species of wildlife.
Fred and I sat on rocks about 500million years old, and soaked in the wonderful ambiance, totally undisturbed. Recent summer rains had replenished the waterhole, and the Dragonflies were making the most of the conditions. We watched birds having their afternoon bath in the shallows, and listened to the croaking of frogs. All delicious food for the soul.
In the driest state of the driest continent, waterholes and springs are never to be taken for granted.
Appila Springs is a few kilometers from the township of Appila, and locals have done a fantastic job of putting picnic facilities here without impinging on the peace and tranquility of the area. A great deal of revegetation has been accomplished also, thanks to assistance from government grants. My heartfelt thanks to those who have shown this respect to the land.
Fred and I took advantage of a mild day, and went off exploring – something we both love to do. We hop into the car with no real destination in mind, just a vague idea of direction, and let chance lead us along. And today we hit the bullseye!
We found a wonderful waterhole, filled with plenty of fresh water after recent flash floods, and the whole area was teeming with life: birds, frogs, and insects. In particular, the dragon flies were going beserk! The noise from their whirring wings was incredible! Undoubtedly Spirit is alive and well at this place. More photos of the area to come……
In the early morning, I like to sit down near the river while my horse grazes nearby. It’s generally a quiet peaceful way to start the day and I can watch the various birds as they enjoy the small river also. Downstream, in the high cliff banks, the feral pigeons have their roosts and morning and evenings they fly up to the pipeline where it crosses the river. From that position they can greet the sun in the morning, and say goodnight to it at the end of the day. Sages recommend people to take the time to greet the day and bring closure to it , if they seek wisdom.
There’s a man-made structure across the river, and it provides a perfect place for the birds to take their ablutions and have a drink. These two enjoyed it this morning although sometimes there’s quite a crowd jostling for space.
I was a little delayed in setting out on my evening walk this warm summers evening, and then rounding a bend on my way up the hill, I noticed a large brown snake sliding off the road into the grass. Not wanting to disturb it or to place my dog or horse into danger, I changed my mind about going up the hill and stayed by the river instead. It meant I was in the right place to see the moon coming up over the far hills, but it also placed me in the situation of supper for the mosquitoes……the welts are slowly receding.
This is where the term lunatic comes from……. Still, it’s not too bad a shot, considering I didn’t have my tripod….maybe tomorrow evening I’ll wear better protection from the insects and take my tripod….who knows….but regards of what I do the moon will still come up. Reassuring that, isn’t it:-)
All over the world, wild weather events are happening. In Australia, many people have died, and thousands have lost their homes. It will take years for Queensland to rebuild its infrastructure. My heart goes out to all people who are experiencing dramatic changes to their lives. Be courageous. Know you are not alone. Out of the chaos will come a different order. I am heartened by the stories of valour that are emerging and perhaps humanity will understand that ultimately we are not defined by our possessions.
Even when the sky is grey, when life seems hard and unjust, a rainbow can appear – just to say don’t lose hope, it will be ok.
This past week has seen rain and storms in my state, and many rivers have broken their banks and flooded towns. I’m lucky that my home is well above any flood level. Probably the last time the area was under water was before the last ice age.
However, yesterday I did have a little adventure because of the river. My terrier accompanied my horse and I out for a short ride up the road, across the river ford. The water was still under the ford, and even though it was possible for the water to be coming down from further upstream, I deemed it safe to cross as I wasn’t planning to be away for long. Ten minutes later when we returned, the river was over half a metre high and rising and rushing with great force. My nearby farming neighbours had driven down to see the flood, and we yelled across the water about my situation. They gave me instructions on how to negotiate their paddocks and to find my way across to the township several kilometers away where there’s a substantial bridge across the river. I’d always wondered about a track I could see in the distance….and so here was my chance to find out. I had a great view from one spot of the river raging downstream – a perspective I’d not otherwise have seen. The only problem was I had no camera with me! In fact, because I was only going for a short ride I had no water or other things I usually have in my backpack when I go walking.
So off we went on our little adventure. At one stage, we had to negotiate very tall grass and so I dismounted and put my terrier on the horse’s rump, and then remounted and put him in front of me. He likes riding because he can see much further than his little short legs usually allow, and the horse is very accommodating. Once we’d completed that section, and gone through the last of the gates, I stayed walking to give my mare a rest. It’s only in the last few weeks I’ve begun riding again so both of us aren’t particularly fit. And we walked…..then once on a back road, I was met by my neighbour who had brought out a bottle of water for me, and a visability vest to wear on the highway. Such kindness and thoughtfulness is very much appreciated. We continued on and once we reached the bitumen road, with more traffic, I took one rein off the bridle and used it as a lead on the dog and walked along the side of the highway……
Luckily, when we reached the bridge, which has a long span, we encountered no traffic on the narrow section. We didn’t want to have a big semitrailer pass us as even though my horse is generally quiet with traffic there are limits. On the other side was the township and a shady park, so I unsaddled and we rested there for ten minutes. Halfway home point! We sneaked through the side of the township as I didn’t want to encounter dogs rushing out at my little chap and we were finally out on the dirt road heading towards home. At this point I mounted again, leaving Fred to explore the new surroundings as there’s very little traffic along this section. A while later, another chap who had heard of my situation, drove out and met me with more water and an offer to give Fred a ride home. Fred is very loyal and wouldn’t accept the offer, although I was very grateful for the water, having finished the first lot some time ago. Jim lifted Fred onto Sally for me, and the terrier rode the last 4 kms home. Altogether, a valiant effort for a little dog, and for an aged mare.
Our ‘short’ ride had ended up a three hour expedition! Later that afternoon, we went down to the river to take this image and could see the level had dropped a little from its earlier height but was still flowing strongly.
I was down at the creek cleaning out the algae growing there, so my horse could continue to drink the water, when suddenly from a large piece of algae I’d just put on the verge there was movement and my dog sprang to attention! A poor yabby had been inadvertently been lifted out of the creek and was making its escape. My little terrier had not seen a live one before, only the discarded claws, and was most interested, but obeyed my command to leave it alone. I quickly grabbed the camera, and took some shots before helping it back to the water – but keeping well clear of those claws! The yabbies feed on the vegetable matter in the creek, and so help keep the water clean and I wouldn’t dream of eating them, although they are a popular addition to many people’s diet. The white-faced heron certainly enjoys them too!
The beautiful rainbow birds – Merops Ornatus – are still flying around at my local creek where there are many insects for them to catch. I spent the morning yet again trying to catch a shot of these fast agile birds in flight. The best I could do was of them leaving or returning to the tree branch – fortunately they tend to return to the same one each time. I just wish the tree wasn’t on the other side of the creek and where I could be closer….
Those who fish in my local river had told me about the tortoise which lived there, but in three years I had not seen any. So imagine my surprise and delight when I found this one on the edge of the river yesterday morning! It stayed around long enough for me to take pictures from various angles and positions, and then once it decided to return to the water, it moved quicker than I expected – greased lightning is a saying that comes to mind! I managed to get a couple of shots of it in the water before it swam too far away. It’s possible it was out to lay eggs, as it’s the right time of the year for that. Hopefully I’ll see it again sometime.
On my arrival at the river this afternoon I was overjoyed to hear the distinctive sound of one of my favourite birds – the Rainbow Bee-eater. It is a migratory bird, arriving here for summer and nesting in the river banks. A brilliantly coloured bird that’s also a joy to watch as it performs its acrobatic feats in the air in its pursuit of insects.
Each year, a pair of white faced herons – Egretta novaehollandiae – come to nest in the pine tree next to my house. They have chosen well, as it is the highest tree within sight of the river, where they can hunt for food. I like having their company, even if their cry is somewhat mournful.
After a week of above average rains, the river has risen considerably, and the crossing over the road is well and truly closed. It’s the highest I’ve seen the river flood, although I’m told it used to come up this high several times each winter, but ceased it a decade ago. It’s wonderful to see it having a good clean out.
My horse is not impressed though, as she prefers to graze on the other side of the river…..and looks at me as if to ask me to do something about it! She’s certainly not going to attempt to cross it herself.
Even though it can be tempting to stay by the warmth of the fire on a cold winter’s day, the rewards are there for venturing out. Such as this rainbow I saw reflected in the river. It only lasted moments of course….perhaps that’s why rainbows have such mystique about them….
Today a new bird arrived on the river, and was not frightened by my appearance and allowed me to photograph it as it did its afternoon ablutions. Such a rarity in this area – to be so close to a native bird without hiding. It kept me amused as it went through its bathing routine – I certainly hope I get to see it again, especially when there’s better light on the water.
I took a little trip to a place further downstream from my local river, to a place called – wait for it – White Cliffs. Aussies are sometimes so lacking in imagination! I’m sure this area had a name given to it by the original inhabitants, the Aboriginals, but there are none left to tell me. It’s a rather special place, it being the nesting area for water birds and also, the cliffs are used as nesting sites for the visiting Rainbow Bee Eater each summer when it arrives from further north in the tropics. Access to the area is difficult fortunately, which means the birds are mostly undisturbed. In the summer it would be rife with snakes, which is why I took the opportunity in midwinter to walk to this spot. I must admit however, I did feel like an intruder, so I didn’t stay long. Some places are meant to be left alone.
This delightful Australian native aquatic creature lives in my nearby watercourse but is very shy and I rarely get a chance to view it for more than a fleeting second, let alone get a photograph of it but yesterday I got lucky and managed to get a few shots – albeit without a chance to change settings.
Once upon a time the Hydromys chrysogaster – otherwise known as the water rat – was quite plentiful but their numbers were severely reduced during the Great Depression when they were hunted for their pelts. Since then, environmental factors have impacted on them and I’ve never seen or heard more than one at a time here although I have seen another further upstream. It has webbed feet on its hind legs which distinguishes it dramatically from the introduced rodent – the European rat.
Sparkling, energising water. I wonder how much longer this will exist? When will humans understand that without it we cannot survive. We can – and have – survived without oil.
Even the water in this image is polluted by viticultural practices further upstream. And we can most certainly survive without wine despite the lobbying by powerful wineries to the government for handouts.
I was trying to photograph the flight of the dragon flies down at my local river, when suddenly I noticed that one had fallen into the water and was unable to fly off. It was struggling to grab hold of a stem of reed to climb up on, so I put the camera down and reached across as far as I could and tried to metaphorically throw it a lifeline. Without falling into the water myself! Finally I was able to assist it to reach a length of vegetation and then pull that to the bank.
It proceeded then to dry its wings by whirring them without trying to take flight. Once the wings were dry it tried to fly but ended up in the shallow water at the edge. Another dragon fly hovered around as if it was concerned also. So I decided to place the insect a greater distance from the water, in a wattle bush where it was somewhat protected. Then I left it to its fate. I always wonder how much to interfere in the natural processes and after all, the lifespan of dragon is quite brief. Yet, I felt I could not leave this beauty without any help. It felt such a small return for the joy I’ve had in photographing them.
I was prompted to write about my “spaces between moments” after visiting this Blog http://www.highlysensitivesouls.com/blog/?page_id=62 My thanks to Jenna for inspiring me to write this. …
I’m sure you’ve had your moments where the world has stopped, even if for the briefest of time, yet enough to savour the deliciousness of it. Time to feel with every inch of your being complete in that moment, needing nothing else beyond what is.
I remember a time …….
It was summer, and I was on a camping trip with a friend, exploring the land near the back waters of the once mighty River Murray. We’d found a place to camp alongside a smaller tributary, with shelter provided by large River Red Gums. It was a peacefilled place, so much so, that even the bull-ants, usually an aggressive species, were not disturbed by our presence and continued quietly about their business, leaving us to ours. One evening just towards sunset, I climbed the small rise to the access road, to gain a vantage point of the sun. I opened my heart, and suddenly I was holding the world tenderly in my hands. I was no longer me….. I was much larger than that and quite beyond the measurement of time. I felt the release of emotion and tears of joy and wonder filled my eyes as I returned to myself. The wonder of that event was another step towards changing my view of this world….
Words are of course, totally inadequate to describe such an experience, but they may serve to remind you of your own moments of beauty. It has been a good reminder to me, in these dark times of bushfires and floods in this country, that there is another world of experience out there…..the space between the moments.
Come roam with me the hills so wild
Let me show you the delights of hidden gullies
Of mountain tops and running streams.
Come lay with me amid the grasses and wildflowers
Feel the warmth of the sun
And the cooling breezes
Soft upon your skin.
Come explore with me our wilderness
And delight with and in me.
Live as you have never lived before
Be free to express all that you are
And when we are sated
Let up wind our way homeward
Together, intrepid explorers.
On the weekend, a friend and I took advantage of milder weather, and walked along-side the river for a few kilometers, following it upstream until we came to another deep pool, similar to the one close to my house. Even though it has not rained yet, the springs have risen, and the flow in the river has increased quite a bit. It is sometimes said that if the springs rise, it is a sign of a good rainy season – one can just hope it is so. Each footfall created a whirl of dust, so parched is the soil. But it was lovely to be out exploring this beautiful land.
At the deep pool, we could see hundreds of tiny native fish swimming about, and there were signs of yabbies on the shallow edges. Then, appearing from the reeds and swimming into the centre, was another creature – a water rat. It seemed unconcerned at our presence, and swam and dived and swam and dived for some minutes, before going back into the shelter of the reeds again. At one point, we timed it underwater for 30 seconds. I was not sure whether it was an introduced rat or a native one, until I consulted my references at home. Yes, a native rat – Hydromys chrysogaster, also called a beaver rat. Its hindfeet are partially webbed, and its fur is water repellent, making it wonderfully adapted to aquatic life. In earlier times, this animal was hunted for its pelt, but this is now illegal. In a land where little wildlife still exists, it was exciting to know of another creature living undisturbed in its natural environment.
As we made our way homeward, we came across another indigenous animal out fossicking for food. It was an echidna! Such a surprise to see this one as well, particularly given that it was about midday by then, and echidnas tend to be more nocturnal. Not wishing to disturb the animal on the sandy bank, we climbed up onto the rocky edge above it. From that vantage point, we could watch it as it sniffed and dug for ants, its main food. Then two small hawks arrived, screeching at each other, as one appeared to be defending its territory from an intruder. One bird landed on a small bush very close to where we sat; we could sense it being there, but couldn’t move to see it properly without disturbing the scene. Seconds later it was gone again, still being chased by the other bird. When we returned our gaze to the echidna, it was no-where to be seen! Had it been disturbed by the birds? Had it caught our scent and headed away? No. It was just at the base of the rocky shelf, and beginning to make its way upward. Climbing and fossicking about the rock crevices, the echidna slowly made its way towards where we sat, passing within just an arms length. When it was close, it paused, sniffed the air with its long nose in our direction then continued with its business unconcerned. As it passed by me, I could see the spurs on its hind legs, a feature of males. Well, that answered that question.
When we had set out for our walk, we’d hoped to see something in the way of wildlife, but this had exceeded all expectations. Yet, isn’t it a pity that in this land that was once abundant in water and wildlife, the sighting of two creatures can be so remarkable. Once, they would have been plentiful, now they are a rare event.
Please, please, consider these and the many other creatures that are being lost to so-called progress. Step lightly and carefully on this Earth, be full of care for all.