Feathers, Flowers and Tomfoolery at Toohey’s Forest and Mt Gravatt Reserve

I am writing this post in a slightly sleep deprived state due to the antics of my furry friends, the nocturnal brushtail possums, Trichosurus vulpecula, which have been thundering across my roof more than usual lately.  I’m not sure what has caused this increase in activity but I’m hoping they take a possum chill-pill soon and allow me a little more uninterrupted sleep.   One of them likes to snooze on top of my open garage tilt-a-door, but during a gusty day recently, when the door started to flap, it was in danger of  becoming a possum pancake  so I had to encourage it out onto a tree.

Brushtail possum in my garage 1

Brushtail possum in danger of becoming a pancake.

brushtail possum in tree 2

Brushtail possum after being encouraged into a tree.

Now if my possum friends were like this one I spied at the University of Queensland last week, I wouldn’t have bags under my eyes this morning. It seemed oblivious to the fact that it was daytime while it rapidly munched on a carefully planted garden.  It didn’t seem to be blind, although that can be difficult to tell as they have an excellent sense of smell and good hearing.  Wobbly Possum Syndrome  can affect vision and cause daytime feeding; however, from what I’ve read this illness is currently only in New Zealand. Perhaps it was unable to feed the previous night for whatever reason and was simply ravenous.  I’m a bit of a midnight snacker. Are there midday snackers in the possum world?

Now it’s time to talk about some of my latest wanders…

Why are she-oaks called she-oaks? Is pizza the ultimate hiking food? Why do biting midges like my blood so much and is my son trying to give me a heart attack? These were just a few of the important life questions that some of my recent walks in the Brisbane area left me pondering.

It was mid-year university holidays and my son and daughter were available for outdoor action. Bribed by pizza, the calorie-drugged offspring accompanied me to “the wilds” of Toohey Forest and the Mt Gravatt Reserve. I’ve already written in past posts about how important nature escapes are to the physical and mental health of city dwellers and to the preservation of native flora and fauna. This  260 hectare island of green just 10km south of the Brisbane central business district is another example of such an area. While it may not be a well known tourist destination, it gives great views of the surrounding city, ranges and coast and showcases the vegetation that used to cover much of Brisbane – open eucalypt, heathland, sandstone ridges, grass trees and damp rainforest gullies.

wattle Mt Gravatt

The  Mt Gravatt Reserve is also known as Kagarr Mabul – “Place of the Echidna” – in the Yuggera language. The traditional custodians, the Jagera and Turrbal people used these lands as hunting grounds. It was opened up for European settlement after the  Brisbane penal colony closed down in 1842. In 1874, 298 acres was designated a railway timber reserve but after action by the local community, about half of this was divided into a recreational reserve. Since the year 2000, the dedicated volunteers  of the Mt Gravatt Reserve Environment Group have been caring for the area, supported  by Brisbane catchment networks, Habitat Brisbane, local businesses, schools and universities. If you plan to visit the area, I  recommend you read their  blog as it has  interesting  information about flora and fauna you will see.

flower purple small

Due to time limitations  we were only able to do the Toohey’s Ridge Track 3km (6km return), Sandstone Circuit 1km and Mt Gravatt Summit Track 1.2km (2.4 km return) but there are many other small tracks available. Most are easy but a few, such as the Toohey’s Mountain Track (2.4km return), are on rougher tracks and require a higher fitness level. There are  a number of picnic areas within Toohey Forest park from which you can start and finish your walks.  For detailed track information check here.

red flower

We began our first walk at the Mayne Estate and Toohey picnic area, Toohey Road, Tarragindi. The Professor and Tough Cookie marched off into the distance along the easy paths of the Toohey’s Ridge Track. Pram pushers, dog walkers and runners were out in force taking advantage of a perfect mild Brisbane winter’s day. In order to liven up the walk, my son decided to use a railing over a steep drop as a balance beam. I don’t have a photo of him as I was too busy trying not to pass out from holding my breath.

Tooheys Forest path

The red-brown coloration on some of the trees in the picture above does not indicate disease but is the “flowering” male black she-oaks. The native Allocasuarina littoralis is actually dioecious which means it has separate male and female trees. Here are the tiny flowers and cone-like fruit from the female tree.

she-oak female flowers Mt Gravatt

sheoak flowers Mt Gravatt 2

And here are the “flowering” tips of the male tree “needles” which are actually cladodes with minute leaves arranged around each joint. This structure allows  she-oaks to cope with dry conditions as it reduces water loss while still allowing photosynthesis to occur.

male she-oak pollen Mt Gravatt

She-oaks also have nitrogen fixing bacteria on their roots, like peas and beans. The tough bark on the she-oak helps it withstand sand and wind blasts, especially on beachfront locations. I must admit even though I’ve been around she-oaks for much of my life I had never noticed the separate male and female trees before. Sheoaks were given different names for the male and female trees by some Indigenous Australians.

I tried researching where the term she-oak came from however there has been some disagreement. If you are interested in the etymology of the word you can read a discussion here. Another site will tell you many interesting details about its Indigenous and colonial uses as well as more botanical characteristics.

A short detour to complete the sandstone circuit offered more opportunities for my son’s circus acts on boulders and an extra work out for my heart.

sandstone circuit Tooheys Forest 2

sandstone circuit Tooheys Forest 8

fungi Mt Gravatt

spider web

A magpie gave my son a stern look on my behalf.

magpie Mt Gravatt

The Professor’s hijinks were due in part to him having been closeted in a laboratory for far too many months and also due to my forgetfulness. Unfortunately, I’d left my camera SD card in the computer so he kindly lent me his  DSLR. This was my first attempt at using one and after he gave me a quick tutorial on what to do, my fuddled brain promptly forgot the instructions immediately.

Without a camera to slow him down, my son was left to flex his muscles instead, hence the gymnastics which raised my heart rate. These activities combined with enthusiastic conversation with his sister meant the wildlife went into hiding but the point of this little jaunt was fun so this didn’t matter, especially since there were plenty of other walkers to scare away the critters.

We accidentally took a detour which we thought was the official Grass Tree Track, but that proved to be  further along on the left.

grass tree path

The unofficial path did provide me with more flowers and fungi to photograph though and plenty of grass trees.

grass tree path 9

fungi purple

grass trees Tooheys Forest

Toohey’s Forest struck my daughter and I as rather unusual as it reminded us of small elements of other national parks we’ve visited. The grass tree areas reminded us of  Mt French, the sandstone rocks and heathland like Girraween National Park, the open dry eucalypt areas like White Rock and the thicker forested areas like parts of the Glasshouse mountains. My daughter made the comment that it almost seemed like it was artificially made garden showcasing different examples of vegetation. There is apparently rainforest in gully areas although we were unable to easily see these at the time.

The next day I returned with Lycra Man who was interested in checking out the cycling opportunities to the summit of Mt Gravatt before he returned to watch the Tour de France highlights.

Before beginning the 2.4km return Mt Gravatt summit track it would have been helpful to have printed out the excellent self-guided tour brochure written by Michael Fox and Susan Jones which gives highly detailed information about the plants, animals and geology of various points along the walk. There are markers along the way which are referred to in the brochure.

The walk begins at  Gertrude Perry Place and follows a sealed vehicle road for a short time.

Mt Gravatt walk 2

This road cuts through very distinctive red soil and  rocks and we saw small tunnels in the banks which are nesting homes for striated pardalotes, Pardalotus striatus. There were a few larger holes such as this one and I wondered if they were home to kingfishers which also like to tunnel into banks.

bird tunnel Mt Gravatt

The track quickly turned into narrow dirt paths bordered by tall native trees and shrubs.

Mt Gravatt lookout track

Mt Gravatt walk

On this day the midges couldn’t get enough of me and a cloud of the blood suckers gathered around my face whenever I stopped to take photographs.

We passed an interesting bright red rock and soil cavity.

red cave Mt Gravatt

The midges feasted on me for 10 minutes as we watched this rainbow lorikeet couple excavate a nesting hole.

rainbow lorikeets 2

rainbow lorikeets 3

Red leaves among dull vegetation caught my eye also.

red leaf

Information sites online describe the delights of the Echidna Cafe at the Summit lookout but when we arrived it was closed. Being a coffee addict, Lycra Man was more than a little disappointed and in desperate need of caffeine. This along with the continuing midge attacks on my face may have contributed to the speed of our descent.

Here’s a rather smoky view of Brisbane city in the distance. I imagine it would be a great spot to watch a sunset.

View of Brisbane Mt Gravatt Lookout

Before descending I checked out some of the native tree and shrub plantings of the Mt Gravatt Environment Group, designed to encourage wildlife and  to stabilise the slopes.

I’m not sure what kind of insect spun this silken home among the flowers. (UPDATE: Thanks very much to Craig who wrote in the comments section that this may be a yellow silken egg sac made by a Pirate Spider- Australomimetes sp.)

purple flowers and insect silk

silk nest small

If someone knows what this weird flower/fruit is please tell me. UPDATE: Thanks to Mike Fox from Mt Gravatt Environmental Group for identifying this flower as Blue Tongue, Native Lasiandra . Here’s a link.

red flower Mt Gravatt 2

The  bubbly protective surrounds of spittle bug nymphs called to me.

spittle bug

As did  lichen…

lichen 3 Mt Gravatt

lichen Mt Gravatt

And tree trunk varieties…

Towering gums made me feel even shorter than usual.

Mt Gravatt lookout trees

While I didn’t sight the rainbow lorikeet couple again on the way down, I managed to annoy a solitary bird drinking nectar in the carpark.

rainbow lorikeet

rainbow lorikeet 7

This was a very comfortable short walk that gives great views of the city and also allows you to experience the kind of environment that used to cover much of Brisbane. Don’t expect the coffee shop to be open when you get to the top though and if you are prone to attracting midge bites like me take some protective measures. I still have a spotty face from their loving attention! Brisbane dwellers are very fortunate to have such an escape so close to the heart of the city and we have the work of many passionate volunteers and dedicated supporters over the years to thank for this.

More information can be found at the Tooheys Forest Park local government link,  the Mt Gravatt Environmental Group Blog or this Mt Gravatt brochure.

My next write-up will be about a few chilly but beautiful days spent in the mountains south. It gave me a chance to test out my theory that I am more suited to colder climates. What was my conclusion?  If my possum buddies allow me a few good nights’ rest, you will find out.

Thanks for reading. 🙂

cold nights 1

67 thoughts on “Feathers, Flowers and Tomfoolery at Toohey’s Forest and Mt Gravatt Reserve

  1. Hi, fantastic blog and great pics. I think the yellow silken egg sac may be from a Pirate Spider- Australomimetes sp. These get their name from their habit of vibrating webs of other spiders to make them think they are an insect stuck. They then catch and consume the attacking spider. How brutal and ingenius at the same time!
    Hope this helps,
    Craig

    • Hi Craig,
      Thanks so much for that information. I’d never heard of that spider and its activities before. How interesting! I had thought perhaps it was some kind of moth cocoon but was just guessing.
      Thanks also for reading and your encouraging comments. It’s great to hear from you. Feel free to correct me or add any new info if you find I’ve made an error in any posts as I value other people’s experience and knowledge. I’ll update the blog later on. Best wishes! 🙂

  2. A great read with wonderful photographs, I especially enjoyed the Rainbow Lorikeets remembered from visits to Sydney eons ago and those towering gum trees. Thank you so much for sharing those pictures. Sorry your son gave you such nasty moment So!

    • Thanks, Susan. I remembered you liked rainbow lorikeets. I would have stayed longer watching the couple making a nesting hole but the midges were a bit too fierce. That was also the first time I got to see the tongue action of a rainbow lorikeet as it fed. They are very interesting to watch. I’m glad it brought back memories for you. My son was being a little cheeky to his mum after having worked hard in his experiments but sometimes I give him cause for alarm as well. 😉 Thanks for your lovely encouragement, Susan. It’s always appreciated. 🙂

    • Thanks for the nice comments as always. I wasn’t actually sure what the holes were for at first. I suspected pardalotes but it was Michael and Susan’s brochure that gave me the final species name. I’m not certain about the larger holes but perhaps they are striated pardalotes as well or kingfishers? Apparently they can be up to 5cm wide. Always great to hear from you. 🙂

  3. Jane, I always enjoy seeing your posts in my inbox—educational, funny, with great photographs. (These seemed especially brilliant—was it the card change?) Just looked up the differences between possums and opossums—we got the short end of the stick. Have a great week.

    • Hi John,
      Ah, I should have remembered that you have opossums and made sure I made a distinction for my US friends. They are quite different in some ways aren’t they? 🙂 On the first day I used my son’s DSLR that gives higher resolution pics than my old camera. On the second day I used my old camera but a new SD card and the light was more gentle. I think I also used an old Olympus pocket camera too for back-up. I also mucked about a bit with settings. So there were a few things I did differently that may have affected the photos this time. If only I knew exactly why they are better so I could repeat it? Heheh. We’ll see how the next lot turn out. Thanks for your continued encouragement, John. The really nice part about writing a blog post is being able to have interactions with my reader friends every time. Have a lovely week too. 🙂

  4. Your possum is so much cuter than our version. Ours resembles something closer to a skinned rat. Then I’m wondering if you might define “a sealed vehicle road “. Been pondering whether the vehicle or the road is actually sealed? We do have something in common that we both could do without… whatever it is that attracts midges. During out last outing, it seemed they were in love with my scalp (of all places). The lorikeets are gorgeous. I don’t think we have any birds to compare for such extravagant color! That yellow spider web is equally impressive and your spittle bugs outdo ours by miles. (or should that be kilometers?) Speaking of colder weather, after a record breaking heat spell around here, it’s remarkably and refreshingly cool today… if only we’d get some rain it would be perfect!

    Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend.

    • Hi Gunta,
      After John made the comment about the possums in the US I reacquainted myself with them by googling images. Oh my, some of the pictures of them snarling are stuff from nightmares! I knew they were different but, wow! Despite the noise and mess they make, ours definitely win on the cuteness factor I think. 🙂
      I use the term sealed road to try to avoid the confusion of what kind of surface people call it but it seems I didn’t make it any easier for people! I’ve grown up calling the road surface “bitumen” but I believe in the US you call it asphalt? By “sealed” I mean it has had a surface put down on it to cover the dirt. An unsealed road here means a natural surface road such as dirt, sand or gravel. On our road maps we use the terms sealed and unsealed so on the chance that you come to Australia you will know what we are taking about. I think it is funny how many simple differences there can be in language between different English speaking countries.
      Why is it that some people attract midges more than others? It must be something about our scent or colour maybe. Perhaps we use a particular smelling hair shampoo or moisturiser? I wish I knew! I’ve heard that people deficient in a particular Vitamin B are more prone to mosquito bites but I have no idea if that is true. The thing is we can’t put insect repellent on our scalp and face easily. Even the head nets I buy here have holes that are big enough for them to get through. Oh well. 🙂
      Our rainbow lorikeets and other parrot varieties are certainly very showy birds…and cheeky as well sometimes. The cockatoos can do a lot of damage to exterior house fittings if they want. There is one here that likes to chew on the wooden exterior walls and people’s pool pump fittings.
      I’m glad you’ve had a break from the heat. I’m better in cooler conditions and love our winters (that are more like summers in other countries).
      Thanks for reading and your supportive and interesting comments, Gunta. I love reading about the differences and similarities between our countries. Have a wonderful weekend too. 🙂

      • It also occurred to me that I mostly see our possums as road kill and that doesn’t add much to their looks. (Yew!) As for sealed roads… out here they call them paved (whether with asphalt or cement). Otherwise they’re referred to as gravel or dirt roads.

        I started googling midges after your comment hoping to find out what it is that they find so attractive in me. No answers there, but it did clear up the use of term around here. I pretty much figured I’d been attacked by midges on that camping trip, but around here they call them “no-see-ums”. An odd term I hadn’t encountered on the East Coast. Then there are ““punkies” in the Northeast, “five-O’s (related to biting around 5 PM) in Florida and Alabama, “pinyon gnats” in the Southwest, and “moose flies” in Canada.” I had been calling them simply gnats or annoying. If I ever find a solution, I’ll try to remember to share it with you!

        I love reading about the differences and similarities between our countries, too.

        • Heheh…yes, roadkills are not the most attractive ways to view animals! Being squashed wouldn’t add to the opossum’s appeal! I rarely see brushtail possums dead on the road here. Kangaroos are much more common.
          Thank you for the entertaining list of word variations for the blood suckers that got you! 🙂 The only two names I’ve commonly heard here for what bit me are midges and sand flies – much less interesting. Actually, I’ve heard them called a few profanities before but I won’t repeat those words here. 🙂

  5. The wonderful variety of things that you see and photogrpah so cleverly is what makes reading your post so enjoyable. I think that the spider’s web was my favourite even though there were more exotic things to look at.

    • Thanks, Tom! Your words describing why you like my blog are how I feel about yours. I look forward to your wonderful daily collections from Langholm. Your dry wit is a great source of amusement to my family as well! Spiders’ webs are always interesting to me and contribute to my snail pace. I hope you and Mrs T have a lovely weekend. 🙂

  6. Thanks Jane for taking us with your family on a very enjoyable hike. You have shared some very interesting information regarding the Casuarina trees. and other aspects I was not aware of. Your photos of possums, flowers, fungi, birds and texture are beautiful as always. I have to include the fact that I had the same problem with a possum when I was a teenager and lived in a poorly lined shed down the back yard of my parent’s home, because the house was too small for our family. Very early every morning the possum would clunk onto the roof dropping from the gum tree overhanging the shed, and climb into the space under the roof and lie directly above my head where my bed was in this very small room. It would scratch and make noises for the rest of the night. The Masonite lining would bend down and seemed like it would give way. Sometimes I would get so exasperated with my little companion that I would bang on the lining, but it made no difference, the possum just slept there. Yes, I know what you mean when they cause sleep deprivation. Every night and every morning it would drag itself in and out. Thanks for sharing, I love what you present Jane, and it is great to get out there with your children, I miss doing that with mine, as they are doing it with theirs but along way away:-)

    • Ah, I think my son had similar problems with the possums in his bedroom ceiling to you which probably contributed to him moving out! 🙂 My house is too small and so he slept in a room in the garage which is separate to the house. The possums would wake him up also early in the mornings. Fortunately for him though the ceiling has been replaced so it doesn’t buckle (yet!) I imagine you may have had to cope with the smell of its urine too? They may be adorable animals to look at but their smell and noise don’t make them easy to live with sometimes. Unfortunately for my son the house he moved into (closer to the uni) has a worse problem with possums! They live in the ceiling of the house and fight even more than ours do. So he didn’t escape the furry critters in the end. 🙂
      Yes, it’s always great to get out for walks with my kids but as you know it gets harder when they grow up, lead their own lives and have families of their own. Now I tend to only go on walks with them during university holidays. All three plan to travel and/or live overseas as part of their careers and in different countries so I will be in a similar situation to you one day. I will just have to make overseas trips then. 😉
      Thanks for your kind and encouraging words about my blog. I appreciate it. I am sure I have missed one or two of your latest ones as I have been working more this week and am behind. I will catch up soon I hope! Your photographs and information are a great advertisement for our diverse and beautiful country. Best wishes. 🙂

  7. Wonderful photos and words Jane. The image of a possum pancake (while a sad outcome if it did eventuate) made me laugh out loud. Lovely imagery.
    I haven’t walked in this area but your photos show it’s clearly beautiful bushland, and particularly special being so close to the CBD.
    I didn’t know about the She-Oaks being male or female. They’re an iconic tree for me living by coastal Queensland – it was good to learn something new about them.
    I’m looking forward to your C O L D post. So I’m hoping that possum learns to walk on its tippy toes 🙂

    • Thank you, Gail! I didn’t want to force the possum out into the tree but a possum pancake certainly would have been its demise if I hadn’t. In fact, just after it went into the tree, the tilt-a-door slammed shut! I’m glad the imagery made you laugh. 🙂
      Dayna (from Dayna’s blog) encouraged me to visit the area as she spent quite a lot of time there in her youth. I really need to go back and do the rest of the walks so I can share those photos with her. I only did the popular ones. We really are fortunate to live in a city that has these large green spaces.
      Yes, I hope my possum friends become ballerinas in the future too, unlike the elephants they currently are! Heheh
      Thanks for reading and your encouraging words. I look forward to reading your impressions of the cycling culture in Byron Bay. I hope it is still encouraged there. Have a great week! 🙂

  8. Hi Jane, thanks for another lovely post! 🙂 The possum photos are gorgeous despite the interference they are causing to your sleep. I too know the sound of possum feet thumping across the tin roof in the wee hours of the morning. We actually have 2 ring-tail possums living in our roof cavity that have been there since we moved in 2 and a half years ago. They are on a good-behaviour bond, and as long as they comply for the most part, they are allowed to stay. I use the rationale that they were there before us, so who are we to kick them out of home? Ring-tail possums also use our roof as a sprinting track, and I am always surprised how such dainty little creatures can make so much of a racket. Anyway, the rest of post was most interesting, and with lovely photos, as always. Thanks for sharing such an informative recount of your adventures. Cheers, Leah 🙂

    • Hi Leah,
      I believe we have a couple of ring-tailed possums still in the trees here but I think the brushtails keep them out of the ceilings. Ringtails are even cuter than brushtails. I plan to get a few possum boxes to hang in my large gum trees although I know they will still run across the roof. I’m also surprised that ringtails sound loud as well, given their small size but then again the brushtails sound like elephants – much bigger than their real size. Tin roofs really amplify the sound don’t they? 🙂 It’s actually been suggested to me that there may be a night-time predator causing them to be noisier than usual lately. A twitter follower told me they had a powerful owl win in a fight with a brushtail on their roof. I’m not sure we have owls that big in my area though.
      Thanks for your kind encouragement as usual. I’ll be looking out for another post from you soon, Leah. I hope you’ve been having a good winter down there. It’s been looking chilly of late. Best wishes. 🙂

  9. I always have a chuckle about you and I having so much the same photography interests! I too love the varied tree bark of the woodlands. Your photographs this time of the pops of color in an otherwise green and brown saturated forest are highly interesting. The Lorikeets of your area are stunning! The brushtail opossums are not anything like our opossums here. They do look very much like a small mammal called a ringtail cat here in the Midestern United States. I think the brushtail’s might be more of a problematic pest! I was surprised to see the spittle bug photograph. We have those here too, in areas with tall prairie grasses. Again, Jane, you had me in stitches over the antics of your son, and your faux pas during the hike! I love your humor… your style of writing makes for great story-telling! 🙂

    • Hi Lori. Your encouragement means so much to me. Thank you! I also have to smile when I read your posts and notice our similar interests. As you wrote in a reply to one of my comments, we would have got on so well as friends in highschool!
      I’m sure I notice more details on my walks now that I am older and not rushing along so much. The joints won’t let me sprint along these days. This was a funny kind of walk really with my grown up kids. My son’s antics reminded me of the days when I had young children to chase after. One son in particular was a magnet for danger. I don’t know how he survived childhood really. Actually, I do know. The answer lies in my extra grey hairs from having to rescue him! Heheh
      I will have to look up the ringtail cat as I’ve never heard of it. One of the pictures of the possum at the uni looked quite cat-like in its stance
      With the spittle bug, I have seen the mass of bubbles many times over the years but kept forgetting to find out what actually makes it. Writing the blog has helped me learn so much more as I want to be able to give names to things. It’s making me less lazy I think. 😉
      I’m glad I could make you laugh, Lori.
      It’s always wonderful to hear from you, my friend. Keep up your beautiful writing and pictures. Have a wonderful week on the farm (and make sure you allow yourself some silly fun time!) 🙂

  10. What a colourful world you are living in Jane and not at all boring though you might do with some quiet hours in the night 🙂
    Living in Denmark Brisbane and the surroundings are stunning and so are the animals ❤
    Your photos are brilliant ⭐
    Wish you a lovely and peaceful new week.
    All the best,
    Hanna

    • Thanks, Hanna. I think the landscapes you share of Denmark are stunning. Your forests are such a vibrant, lush green and your skies have such interesting, changeable cloud patterns. I also enjoy reading about the history of the areas you visit.
      I am fortunate to live in Brisbane. It’s a very “green” city with many suburbs still retaining their leafy surrounds.
      Thanks for reading and your lovely words. I hope you have a wonderful week, too. Best wishes. 🙂

  11. Lovely photos and I really enjoyed the walk with your son and daughter too. I learnt so much from you in just this one post – I’m looking forward to the next one already! In the UK we have a bracket fungus called a Hoof Fungus or Tinder Bracket (Fomes fomentarius) that looks just like the hoof-shaped fungus you photographed. I wonder if it is related? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fomes_fomentarius. Best wishes, Clare 🙂

    • Thank you, Clare! I’m very happy you enjoyed this post. I hope the next one is of interest also. I checked out the link you gave me and it does indeed look like the one in my photograph. I often see this kind on my walks. It is very hardy and grows in dry, exposed conditions and even seems to survive bushfires. It was very interesting to read about the uses of this fungus. I had never heard of the term Amadou. What a marvelous specimen! I will have to add this information in the post later and perhaps write more about it in a future post. I also look forward to reading more of your posts. Have a lovely week, Clare. 🙂

  12. Well I am glad you managed to squeeze a few walks in over the uni break as well as getting to spend some quality time with your children. Funny to see that your boy still makes your heart leap out of your chest. I was hoping as Harry got older I would be less stressed out by his antics but it seems to me that the wild ones stay wild! Gorgeous photos and a very interesting and informative post once again Jane 🙂

    • Thanks, Amanda! Yes, it seems some kids carry their wild behaviour into adulthood! One of my sons told me when he was little that one day he wanted to bungee jump out of a plane. He probably will! Recently in the winter break when it was -1C, the same son went for a midnight swim in the freezing waters of a lake while camping with a group of guys for a dare. My other son’s wildness is only episodic and tends to be affected by his need to relax after too much study. Perhaps my genes are to blame a little as I am called “mildly extreme” although their dad got stitches EVERY year of his life when he was a child. And he even got stitches on the day his first child was born! Heheh. His mum went grey very early. Good luck with Harry! Silver hair is supposed to be in vogue right now… 😉
      Thanks for reading and for your supportive comments, Amanda. Always lovely to hear from you! Have a great week. 🙂

  13. I’ve probably said the same thing before, but what a great post, so full of varied subjects that it’s difficult to remember them all when I get to the end!

    Your birds are so much more colorful than ours, and your flowers so much more interesting also.

    I’m glad that you’re posting more often again, as I look forward to seeing the wildlife and other things from Australia. In some ways, it’s very much different than what we have here, in other ways, it is much the same.

    • Thanks Jerry! I will have to cut back on my pics in the future. I’ve almost used up all my free WordPress data and I’ve been blogging for less than a year! I feel the same way when reading your posts. I start to compile a mental list of the things I want to say and the pics that are favourites but by the time I get to the end I can’t remember them or I am afraid I will write an essay. 🙂
      We do have some weird and wonderful looking flowers here. I still marvel at the bottle brush shapes. However, unlike some parts of the world I rarely see fields of wildflowers and apart from when yellow wattles flower the bushland is often not very colourful. That’s why the occasional large and showy native flowers and the interesting tree bark are appreciated so much by walkers. The nectar feeders love them too of course, so when I find a few flowering shrubs I will often sit around for a while, knowing that a bird will probably turn up.
      Yes, the differences and the similarities between our countries make for interesting reading don’t they. Reading and writing them is great entertainment value. Thanks for your encouragement again, Jerry. Happy walking and snapping! 🙂

    • Hi,
      They do have cute little furry faces. That’s probably why I tolerate their noisy activities at night. 🙂 I enjoyed watching the one at the university as they are usually nocturnal. Thanks for reading and commenting. Lovely to hear from you. 🙂

  14. the pirate spider nest is just amazing ! I’m not a big fan of spiders, but here.. I’m just fascinated. How pretty it is !!

    I’m always learning so much when i come here, it’s a real pleasure. I’ve received your postcards in the letter box, I was so excited and happy about them ! 🙂 Thanks again !! 🙂 It made my day !

    • Hi Gin,
      I’m glad the postcards arrived safely as I do wonder about the postal service. I hope the others receive theirs. 🙂
      I also found the pirate spider nest very pretty too. I’m glad Craig told me what he thinks it is as I had no idea. It sounds like a very interesting critter. I wonder if I will see another one.
      Great to hear from you again and I’m so pleased you enjoyed the postcards. I was very late sending them out. Better late than never I guess.
      Have a wonderful week, Ginny! 🙂

      • The pirate spider looks less pretty than the nest 😉

        Don’t worry about the postcards, it didn’t take that long 🙂 I’m sure you will hear from the other people soon !

        Enjoy your week as well !

        • Well, I hope you receive your package soon, Steve, as I sent it when I sent Ginny’s. Someone from the UK got theirs last Saturday and I sent it at the same time too! It will come in a large yellow envelope…I hope! Unless someone thought it may have contained something dodgy or valuable? 🙂

          • Hey, your packet has arrived! Thanks so much for all those views, which you did a good job selecting. The one that became my favorite from the moment I saw it is Andrew McPherson’s “Sand Desert Sculpture.” “Pibara Colours” by Tim Shingles is another gorgeous landscape. The “Devil’s Marbles” reminded me of the boulders I saw at Castle Hill, west of Christchurch in New Zealand; similarly, Wes Eggins’s “Iconic Coastline” reminded me of scenes along the west coast of New Zealand’s two islands. And then there are all those colorful birds.

            You’ve given me many more reasons to want to return to Australia, this time in the role of a nature photographer (the previous time was to attend a wedding). In such a large country how could there not be many wonderful things to see?

            I find nothing in your handwriting to feel apologetic about, Jane, because everything was quite legible. It’s fun to see a handwritten paragraph again, as computers and the Internet have made that a rare experience, so thanks for that pleasure too.

            • Hi Steve,
              I’m relieved the package arrived and pleased you like the selection. I hoped that the outback ones with the rock formations would appeal to you. They seemed like something you’d appreciate as a photographer. I do hope that you will be able to visit this country one day. It can be expensive to travel here and short trips just don’t take in much of the country. Unfortunately, food and accommodation is fairly costly unless you camp or plan very carefully. I haven’t even travelled in more than two states!
              I’m glad my writing was legible. Had I written the notes a week previously they may not have been… 🙂

              • If I were given to conspiracy theories, I’d add that the American government suspects you or me of some nefarious activity. Last night, as I put your note and post cards back in the yellow envelope, I glimpsed a slip of paper inside the envelope that I hadn’t initially noticed. It was a note from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the American national tax agency, entitled “Misdirected Mail Opened by the IRS,” and saying: “The enclosed correspondence was misdirected to us by the Post Office. The large volume of mail we receive daily is first opened by machine. Therefore, your enclosed envelope was opened before we discovered that it was not addressed to the Internal Revenue Service.”

                How the postal “service” could have interpreted my address as being that of the IRS is a mystery that I doubt I’ll ever find the answer to.

                • Wow, Steve, that’s got me wondering if I’m on their list of dodgy Australians…or perhaps you have a secret life I don’t know about? 😉 I’m rather astonished actually that it got sent to the IRS especially as it’s international mail! Perhaps the yellow envelope is very similar to the official one that people are required to send documents in? It’s a mystery as you say, that we will probably never know the answer to. 🙂

                • If I have a secret life that you don’t know about, I’m afraid I don’t know about it either. Similarly, nothing in your posts has made me think they’re the work of a dodgy Australian—unless you’re the one who has the secret life.

                  Over here, there’s no sort of yellow envelope that people are required to send official documents in. Coincidentally, though, I sometimes used to use bright yellow envelopes because I liked (and still like) the sunny color.

  15. Another great adventure Jane. Superb photos, from the very tall to the small and wonderful. I do suspect that your possums are out for a “good” time. The numbers here are a bit less now the woman down the road is feeding them, despite my asking her not too.
    Haven’t had the possum in boots running around the roof for a while.
    I love the walks you take and the many many stops to find stuff for me to feast my eyes on, thanks.

    • Thanks, Brian!
      The possums continue to “party like there’s no tomorrow” here… 😉 I also think the land clearing for development and the neighbours’ tree chopping activities may have resulted in a few furry refugees in my area and the local population is protesting a bit. Eventually, I may have the most concentrated possum population ever recorded in one backyard (and the most sleep-deprived human resident!) Heheh.
      Thanks very much for your enthusiastic support. I’m thinking you’ve been very busy lately. I hope all is well and I look forward to a new blog post when you have time. I’m glad you’ve had a break from gumbooted possums anyway! Best wishes and have a great week. 🙂

    • Hi Steve,
      Mr and Mrs Tree? Sounds simple and describes the biology of it I guess. 🙂 To be honest, I first learned the meaning of dioecious when googling she-oaks so that’s a new word for me to throw around and pretend I have a smidgen of botanical knowledge… 😉
      Thanks for reading and commenting, Steve. I’ve been a bit slack on commenting on your pics lately. It can be difficult to do your photography justice with an interesting comment! I’ve been lacking in imagination. I was wondering if you’d find a definitive answer for me about the origin of she-oaks! I found the online discussions a little confusing myself.
      Best wishes. 🙂

  16. Hi Jane, What can I say about this post? – I loved every bit of it. The photographs of the wild flowers, possums and Rainbow Lorikeets are envy inducing. There is so much to see when you are accustomed to walking and being observant.
    Perhaps you will have your revenge one day if your son has children who like to leap about on rocks like mountain goats.

    • Hi Margaret,
      Thank you very much for the lovely comments. They were walks that I think you would have really enjoyed (apart from the midges). I certainly would have liked your company. Some of the tracks allow you to bring a dog on a leash so Katy(?) would have been welcome. The area has some gorgeous flowering natives in winter and the temperatures are perfect. I hope you are getting some sunshine down your way again. My son was south recently during some miserable weather.
      Yes, if my kids pass on their genes to their own children I dare say I will have my revenge! Heheheh.
      Thanks for reading and your kind words, Margaret. Best wishes! 🙂

  17. I’ve finally caught up with you! Those possums have very nice pelts – they should be glad they’re not in New Zealand…
    The forest looks about the same as I remember those areas (and yes, I’d heard the cafe has been closed for a while now. I guess I’ll never know what it was like. Shame; the place needs something there to lift the tone, even after-hours). It is a very diverse park, as you point out – if it’s not your local then it can easily remind you of other places. But for locals like me, I guess it may make us feel more at home in other parks?
    I have to also confess I never bothered to investigate the differences in the She-oaks that I saw. I guess I either thought they were different species or at different stages of flowering… thank you for enlightening us!
    🙂

    • Hi Dayna,
      Yes, lucky for those possums they aren’t in NZ. I had no idea about them being introduced there and that they are pests now until I was googling possum blindness!
      It is a shame about the cafe as I think it would add to the attraction of the area. It has helped Mt Coot-tha to have a cafe at the top. Really the views at Mt Gravatt are very good too and I was surprised that more people don’t know about it. Maybe I need to start a coffee/pie van up there as my new job? 😉 I reckon it would do well. The carparks were full when I went there.
      You are right about how you feel about a place depending on if you’ve had early experiences of it. If I’d been on the Toohey’s Forest walks first I wouldn’t have that impression of it being like others. I’m hoping to go back to do the the Toohey’s Mountain track which is supposed to be much rougher. There is a great gluten free pizza shop near there which adds to the appeal! 🙂
      I only noticed the female flowers of the she-oak for the first time on this walk and then read about it when I checked Michael’s winter flowering blog post.
      Thanks for reading, Dayna. I wish I had a few more pics for you of the forest. Hopefully next time the conditions will be better and I will remember to put the SD card in the camera. Best wishes! 🙂

  18. Great post Jane. I’m excited that the wattles are coming out. Maree and I bought some seedlings from a nursery near Girraween last year to remind us of the park and planted them in our backyard. Not sure if they’re big enough to flower yet though.

    We have a tiled roof, so luckily possums don’t keep us up. Except when they used to crawl down the chimney before I put mesh around the top.

    • Hi Cameron,
      I hope your wattles are big enough to flower. I’ve got a couple of small ones here that have blossoms. I love the colour but unfortunately the pollen from the ones in my suburb affects me. Strangely, I don’t have problems at Girraween or other national park walks when the wattles are flowering. I think it’s just the combination of pollution, smoke and pollen in my suburb – too many irritants in total. Many of the new residential areas around here have wattles along the footpaths and they are are looking glorious at the moment. Ah, Girraween…such a special place. I don’t get there enough. That’s a great idea to plant trees/shrubs that remind you of a place you like to go.
      Possums down the chimney would have been fun! I get birds nesting down mine. If I ever use it again, it will need a good clean out.
      Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I hope your brother is coping with the chilly Canberra weather and that you get a chance to visit him soon and check out the climbing. Best wishes. 🙂

  19. I always learn a lot reading your blog – though I’m now playing catch-up. I had no idea you had midges down under. I thought they were a pest that is peculiar to Scotland. They can make an otherwise very pleasant walk into a very uncomfortable one.

    Btw – Pizzas are by far the best hiking food. I normally carb-out on a large Dominos Pizza all to myself before heading out into the wilds. Seems to help a lot 🙂

    • Hi Rob,
      Oh yeeees, we have midges, ticks and mosquitoes in large numbers here! Another reason I prefer hiking in winter when the numbers are reduced somewhat. It’s funny as I remember being shocked to read that Scotland has a bad midge problem. I had thought it must surely be too cold for them. Obviously not though! I’d been thinking that at least I wouldn’t have to worry about that if I visited in Scotland… 🙂
      Yes, I must agree with you about the value of pizza as a hiking food. Probably best in winter though to keep the energy reserves up in the cold. I think pizza would be particularly good where you live and walk. Happy hiking! 🙂

      • It will be no accident why I’m waiting until September for my next Scottish walk, that said I will be taking precautions like a midge net. Truly pesky beasts!

        • I should did out my old fly net that goes over my hat although I suspect the holes are too big and would let the midges in. You’ve reminded me to have a look for something more suitable. Thanks! 🙂

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