Fruitful Wanderings – St Lucia Lakes

I’ve joined a choir. I’m sure my friends who’ve suffered through my attempts at singing in the past are  open-mouthed at this horrific announcement. Before anyone dislocates a jaw, I’ll reveal it was unwillingly done and we hope to disband soon as our combined efforts are not at all pleasing to the ears. Our little household has been moaning, groaning, coughing, snuffling and snorting  along with thousands of other Queenslanders afflicted with the imaginatively named Brisbane Influenza.

We’re on the mend now but I haven’t had a chance to go on long walks. Rather than not post anything I thought I’d share more discoveries and oddities from my short wanders around the university grounds in August.

Native brush turkeys don’t agree with the clean path policy at the university. Their scratching is quite impressive at times. My daughter kindly provided  these phone shots of their renovations.

Parts of the campus are bursting with fruity goodness in August. The native blue quandong (pronounced quondong), Elaeocarpus grandis produces a bright blue marble like fruit that apparently tastes like a slightly bitter date when eaten raw. There is only a thin layer of flesh around the large seed so you’d need to collect many to make jams, pies and purees. I’ve never tried this variety. We had a pinky-red quandong tree growing on a property inland and the fruit was used to make jams. At the time my little son had trouble pronouncing the name so he would proudly tell people that we had “condoms” at our place and they taste a bit funny. Blue quandongs are often eaten by woopoo pigeons, cassowaries and spectacled flying foxes.

Blue Quandong

The next tree had me puzzled for a few weeks. Internet search results for spiky fruit were dominated by durians. Eventually I was lucky enough to stumble across another frustrated searcher who had identified similar fruit as the native Flindersia australis. However, when I mentioned this to a groundsperson at UQ, she wondered if it was Flindersia bennettiana. At least we’ve established it’s a Flindersia which apparently is a member of the citrus family, Rutaceae. Here’s a pic of what the fruit looked like whole.

Flindresia spikey fruit

A week later it opened up into this. The dried fruit are sometimes used in floral or Christmas decorations.

Flindresia open seed pod

The next fruiting discovery was Velvet leaf – Callicarpa pedunculata,  another Australian native. This was my first sighting and I felt sure it must be some weird import. I couldn’t find any evidence of the berries being eaten by birds or insects and there have been anecdotal reports of cattle becoming sick from eating it. One site describes its possible medicinal uses though.

Purple berries - Velvet leaf

These knobbly looking protrusions by the lake had me curious. They reminded me a little of mangrove roots, but these were attached to something far different. I’m happy to be corrected here but they appear to be a kind of swamp cypress native to the US, Taxodium distichum. The protrusions are often referred to as cypress knees. While some have argued that these knees help the tree obtain oxygen in waterlogged soil, others state that there is no evidence for this and propose it is more likely to help buttress or stabilise the tree.

Swamp Cypress

Swamp cypress leaves

Near them stands a magnificent flowering native paperbark species. Paperbark can be used for wrapping foods to bake them and imparts a smoky flavour.

Paperbark

Paperbark flowers

Also in the same area was this native miniature pumpkin shaped fruit (about 1cm across) which I think is Glochidion ferdinandi. Some people call it the cheese tree because of the fruit’s edam cheese shape but there are other varieties  called cheese tree that are quite different. Parrots, pigeons and figbirds are a few of the birds that feast on it and the dried fruits are sometimes used in potpourri. I haven’t been able to find sites that describe culinary uses.

Pumpkin shaped fruit

 Enjoying the sap were these “cuddly” looking mealy bugs.

Mealy bugs

At this stage I almost trod on an eastern water dragon. It wasn’t impressed and eventually swam off across the lake but not before leaving me a thank-you present for spoiling its session in the sun.

Eastern Waterdragon

Nearby I noticed a dusky moorhen enter a reedy retreat. Later when it ventured out for food I took a peek. It appeared to have made a nest or resting area out of paperbark. I would never have guessed looking from the outside.

Dusky Moorhen

Another fruit popular with the local critters are native figs. There are a few varieties in Australia and I’m not entirely sure of this one but I’m guessing it could be Ficus oblique?

Australian native fig fruit

The Australasian swamphen (also known as purple swamphen) Porphyrio melanotus was enjoying the figs on this day.

Australasian swamphen eating figs

On another walk, spring “love” seemed to be in the air…unless they were just fighting.

Australasian swamphen mating

For years I had assumed the next tree was a native. However, it’s a leopard tree, or Caesalpinia ferrea Martius (Brazilian ironwood) from Brazil and Bolivia and can grow into a massive tree. I have a small one in my back yard and may now need to reconsider its future. I love the patterned trunk and the delicate green foliage. I found some research which tested its traditional use to treat oral infections. From looking at these fruit pods it is palatable to some critters.

Leopard Tree fruit

These scratchings on the trunk are made by  brush-tailed possums on campus.

Possum scratching

Brushtail possum

A pair of plump juvenile noisy miners waited in a leopard tree  to be fed.

Noisy miners

When I discovered these attractive fruit I was a little peckish and felt tempted to taste them. The  orange flesh smelt like ripe persimmons. They also seemed popular with the local wildlife. However since I am only mildly extreme I refrained from risking my life for the sake of blogging. I really hoped these were native but was disappointed to find that Eugenia uniflora comes from Surinam and several tropical countries of South America and are commonly known as Brazilian, Cayene or Surinam Cherry. I was even more disappointed to discover it included in a list of environmental weeds. The taste varies depending on ripeness but is usually described as being  both sweet and tart and leaving an acidic aftertaste. It’s best eaten when dark red and can be used in jams or jellies.

Brazilian cherry

 

Many things catch my eye on uni walks including this natural triangular window formed when a eucalyptus branch fused with the main trunk.

Triangular tree window

Regular readers will know I can’t go past fungus without taking a shot. This was a huge “woody” specimen that blended in well with the old tree stump.

Fungi on stump

Enormous bracket fungi

Leaf pattern

Flowering wattle

Uni lakes

A little sick of trees and critters now? Well here are a few images of my first visit to the Global Change Institute building at the University of Queensland. The building is 100% powered by renewable energy from 480 roof-top solar panels.

Uni of Queensland lakes

It also uses 40% less energy than if it had fitted standard air conditioning. Instead, it uses an automated ventilation louvre system which keeps air flowing through office spaces.

Global Change Institute ventilation system

A large thermal chimney draws warm air up and out of the building. All water is obtained on-site and equals the capacity of two large swimming pools. The roof is a three panel translucent ETFE foil roof which acts like a cushion with the two exterior panels expanding and constricting, varying the amount of light allowed to penetrate.

Global Change Institute roof

Global Change Institute view

obal Change Institute Info

After my visit to this impressive construction I ventured down to the forested teaching area and chatted to an employee who revealed that a homeless student is living on the campus grounds. I was shown the remains of a bag of rubbish he left which included a prescription to  medication used to treat a severe mental illness. How he manages to pass exams while coping with a mental illness and having no home is beyond me. On any one night in Australia 1 out of every 200 people are homeless.  An Australian politician was recently quoted as saying that the Government can’t do anything when people choose to be homeless.  This naturally caused great outcry as there are many reasons why people live on the streets, including escaping from domestic violence and abuse, mental illness, racism, discrimination, addiction, lack of affordable housing, and poverty.

My desire to work in social justice areas when I first studied at university came about partly because of my own background. As an eleven year old I stood next to my mother while she used a public telephone to try to obtain financial and accommodation assistance. At that time she was told she would have to wait 6 weeks after “escaping” her situation for help. Given she had three young children and her own mental illness to deal with, she “chose” to stay in an abusive situation rather than live on the streets. It is sad and frustrating today that for many women this is the kind of “choice” they are still faced with due to lack of funding for domestic violence services.

Once our far-from-tuneful influenza choir has disbanded, I’ll be bringing you more of the usual adventures…possibly two wheeled ones!

Thanks for reading.

79 thoughts on “Fruitful Wanderings – St Lucia Lakes

  1. Reading your posts is like meandering with you, pausing to create a photographic collage of fruit and leaves, puzzling about previously unmet tree species while thoughts wander through everything from high-tech zero-carbon buildings and social justice issues.
    And of course I always learn something new. I did not realise that Crows Ash (Flindersia australis) are in the same family as our backyard orange trees and finger limes. I should have made this link having observed Orchard Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars munching happily on all … although they definitely seem to prefer the Crows Ash almost stripping a small tree completely bare of leaves.
    Michael Fox

    • Hi Michael,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the meandering with me. I had wondered if it was going to be a bit too disjointed as I couldn’t really pull it all together into any sort of theme. That’s what my walks are like though, I guess. Unpredictable.
      So it is Crow’s Ash? Thanks for confirming that for me! It was frustrating me a little trying to identify it. I was bombarded with durian info whenever I searched. That’s the trouble with not having much of a botanical background. I’m not sure where to start looking really. 🙂 There is a sense of achievement in eventually finding the answers though. Yes, I was very surprised to read it comes from the citrus family! I will have to watch out for those butterflies during the year. I have the caterpillars on my orange trees here.
      Thanks for reading, Michael. It’s always a pleasure to receive feedback. Best wishes. 🙂

  2. I’ve worked in one partially passive air conditioned building and it was a disaster, even though it won an architects award. Either too hot or too cold, I preferred to work from my non-airconditioned home. That looks to be much better designed.

    • Hi Ken,
      Yes, I’ve heard good and bad things about them too. Awards don’t necessarily mean they work so well in practice. The day I visited the building there was a storm brewing and it was unusually hot and humid. I wasn’t completely comfortable in the main well-lit area but the other rooms were cooler. When I left the building though, I could definitely feel the difference. I will test it out on one of our humid 35+ C days. I find humidity difficult to cope with and like my fans in the Brisbane summer. I’m more of a dry heat person.
      Thanks for reading and for your thoughts, Ken. Good to hear from you. 🙂

      • Thanks for that link, Steve. As always you contribute something interesting that I often haven’t heard about. My son does software engineering but he has friends in other areas of engineering who often get frustrated by the artistic designs of some architects that are not very practical. Fortunately, there are some great buildings out there that are both beautiful and function really well. With an increasing emphasis on building homes that use less energy I assume that means there will be increased consultation between all parties involved in the design and building process. I hope so anyway. 🙂

  3. Beautiful campus. I love your curiosity about everything (I am afflicted with that as well). Two notes on plants here in the SE U.S….that is, indeed, Bald Cypress with the knees, and I think people still debate their function. On some 1000+ year old trees in our swamps, the knees can be 6 ft tall. And Callicarpa americana is a native shrub here (Beautyberry) and the berries are eaten by a variety of birds (I have observed 14 species eating them on my property). I think they may become more palatable after cold weather starts turning them brown. Enjoy your wanderings.
    Mike

    • Hi Mike,
      Yes, it is a beautiful campus. We’re very lucky to have such lovely surroundings here even though it is extremely close to the central business district.
      Thank you very much for confirming the Bald Cypress ID. Wow, 6ft tall knees! I’d love to see that. Walking in between those would be amazing.
      Very interesting to read about your Callicarpa americana. On googling it, it does seem to look the same as our species here. I will have to go back and have a look at the berries as they age. We don’t really have cold winters here in Brisbane so perhaps they don’t taste as palatable for that reason? I know that with some other kinds of berries, temperature can affect flavour. The groundsperson hadn’t noticed them being eaten. I am very curious now and will keep a closer watch on them. Thanks for all that information, Mike. I really appreciate the help. Best wishes! 🙂

  4. Hi Jane,
    Thanks for sharing your wanderings! I must admit, Queensland’s Uni campus looks nothing like the universities I happened to study in, I’m jealous. I also think I had seen that swamp cypress before, in Italy of all places, at an arboretum I used to go to when I was a kid and later to walk my dog. Those strange, mangrove-like roots always fascinated me for they felt so, well, so alien!
    I have to say that your mother really deserves respect for getting up and seeking help for her situation, and it’s a shame that she didn’t get it right there. My mother was subject to stalking whilst being seriously ill and when she asked for help she was told that a stalking report wouldn’t have been processed by the police for quite a while, for there were so many bogus claims that cops were all clogged up, and she stood better chances to go and get a lawyer. You got to wonder how can a system work like that sometimes…
    Hope your chorus gets disbanded soon!
    Fabrizio

    • Hi Fabrizio,
      The University of Queensland does have beautiful grounds. It occupies a piece of land that has the Brisbane River curving around it. The paths close to the river are lovely to walk and run along as we get a river breeze. The students are also lucky that we have a dedicated bus, cycling and pedestrian bridge that crosses the river that no cars are allowed on. What we do miss out on are good separated cycling lanes to the university from other directions. The Uni has a problem now with carpark space partly because many students feel it is too dangerous to cycle to uni. That’s a shame.
      It is funny isn’t it where we come across certain trees in odd places in the world. I hadn’t realised that some of our tree species from Australia are now a bit of a pest in parts of the US (paperbark trees in the warmer parts I think). I have a friend who has a eucalypt tree in England. I just don’t associate England with gum trees! Those bald cypress roots look pretty alien don’t they. I was quite shocked when I first noticed them.
      Yes, my mother did try to get help but sadly didn’t get the support when she needed it. Even if she didn’t have a mental illness it would have been hard. There are just not enough resources to help people at the moment. Violence against women is still a terrible problem in society. My schoolfriend’s ex-partner arranged for someone to murder her while he was in prison so she wasn’t even safe from him then. A terrible tragedy!
      Yes, I hope the chorus breaks up very quickly too!
      Thanks for reading and for your thoughts. Great to hear from you. 🙂

  5. Hi Jane,
    I had to look twice to see the difference in your spelling of quandong! I love the composition of that photo – such blue fruit, almost irridescent, will always catch my eye, but with those lovely colorful leaves – your attention to detail is outstanding as usual.
    I didn’t realise Leopard trees weren’t native. How disappointing!
    But it’s good to know the name Crows Ash now – I’ve seen the dried fruit numerous times but never known what it was called or exactly where it came from.
    Your post came at a good time. I needed a pick up and as usual it delivered. Thanks Jane ☺️

    • Hi Dayna,
      I’ll tell you a secret (which won’t be a secret any longer) about the quandong pic. I must have taken about 30 pics of different arrangements of the fruit. I had fun collecting different colours of leaves and fruit from under the tree and putting them together. It was very hard to decide on a final pic. So it wasn’t a natural composition at all. I love those trees…the leaves and the fruit have wonderful shades. I’ll probably still take more pics of them just for the fun of it! They are just so pleasing to look at. I think I will plant some in my big back yard instead of the leopard tree that I now know will grow far too big and will have a root system to match the canopy. I was disappointed like you to find out it was exotic. I just thought that the tree trunk were like some of our lovely patterned gums I suppose and I see them often in Brisbane.
      I was getting very frustrated by that Crow’s Ash and then when I spoke to a groundsperson about my ID they weren’t so sure so then I was frustrated again. Michael Fox seems to think it is Crow’s Ash though. Amazing fruit! It’s funny to see how much the fruit changes and opens out in such a short time.
      I hope you are feeling ok, Dayna? I hope nothing bad has happened down south. I’m glad my post gave you a bit of pleasure anyway. Yours do the same for me. Take good care of yourself now. 🙂

    • Thanks, Anna. Yes, if you have to be a student it is a beautiful environment to help calm the exam nerves and stress of a busy semester. I often see students sprawled out with their laptops and books under trees near the lakes. Thanks for reading! I’m glad it gave you something a bit different on a Saturday night. I guess being the mum of a young active child you aren’t out “hitting the town”! 🙂 I hope you get a chance for another mini escape out in nature soon. Great to hear from you again, Anna. x

  6. I recognized the “knees” of the bald cypress right away, Taxodium distichum being native right here in central Texas (among many other places). These trees can grow to a huge size but unfortunately we see few very large ones now because when European and American settlers came to this area in the 1800s they cut down many of the venerable bald cypresses for their wood. Unlike most other conifers, this species sheds its foliage in the winter, hence the epithet “bald”. When the foliage turns brown on its way to falling off, these cypresses are quite attractive and add welcome autumn color to a region too warm to have much else of that on a large scale:

    https://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/?s=taxodium

    I also immediately recognized your Callicarpa fruit, and I’m glad to hear you have a native species there. The one that’s native over here has somewhat different-looking fruit clusters:

    https://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/a-closer-view-of-american-beautyberry-fruit/

    One commenter recently noted from experience that the jelly made from the little fruits is tasty.

    • Thanks for all that information, Steve! I’ll be sure to check out those blog posts. It’s possible I already have but have forgotten. I have a terrible memory sometimes. Maybe I have even commented on them. 🙂 I was hoping you would confirm the ID of the bald cypress. What a shame there are few in Texas now. Yes, I saw the changing colour of the foliage on these trees. It looks beautiful with the light shining through them. I should have included more pictures.
      I will have to look into our native species of Callicarpa fruit more to find out if it’s edible. I really didn’t expect to see so much fruit on the bush that was untouched. Perhaps like one commenter said, the taste is better as it changes colour. I’m not going to risk trying it until I find out more though. It would be great if I could eat it as apparently it is very easy to grow here. Thanks again for your very interesting input! 🙂

      • Nowadays people here have been planting bald cypresses because they’re attractive, so it’s not uncommon to see young or moderately old ones, just not many of the very large ones. The biggest one I know is here in Austin, in McKinney Falls State Park, but unfortunately it’s been inaccessible since a large flood last year damaged the wooden bridge and trail leading to it. I asked about it recently at the park office and was told that it might take six months more to get everything safe enough to let the public back in.

        http://texasforestservice.tamu.edu/websites/FamousTreesOfTexas/TreeLayout.aspx?pageid=17077

        • Well I hope you eventually get to see “Old Baldy” again, Steve. I must admit I’m already very fond of these trees. The combination of the changing colours of the foliage and those amazing “knees” has got me hooked. Thanks. 🙂

  7. Another very enjoyable read, Jane. Great collection of images too, I like the way you group them and mix the macro with bigger-picture stuff, you have a great eye for composition. I hope you are all over the flu, it does sound like it’s been a bad one. The Courier Mail in its usual calm way had me thinking some kind of apocalypse was on its way. Cheers!

    • Thanks Rob! You are kind to encourage me when your photography skills are far superior. 🙂 If only I could understand the technical aspects of my camera. I would like to be able to adjust for different lighting situations. It’s just not something that comes naturally to me. I will have to just sit down and watch tutorials and make a greater effort to practise on manual rather than auto.
      Yes, I am recovering from the flu but it’s taken me a while as I actually had two different viruses, one after the other and still had a partially collapsed lung from damage done about 18mths ago. It means I will have to take things slowly for a while. Yes, the newspapers do tend to write scary stories about these things! The measles outbreak at the uni is a concern though as measles is highly infectious even when people don’t have symptoms. I hope we can get vaccination rates up for that one as it can have some nasty complications especially for people with depressed immune symptoms and babies too young to be vaccinated.
      Thanks for commenting, Rob. Have a great week. 🙂

    • Thank you! Blue quandongs are pretty special I think. I just love the different colours of the fruit and the leaves. Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time checking them out. One of these days I must sample the fruit, if I can find any ripe ones that the critters haven’t nibbled on! 🙂

    • Thank you, John! You are always so kind and encouraging. Have a beautiful weekend and keep sharing your inspirational writing. I always enjoy my regular dose of John wisdom. 🙂

  8. Such an interesting post with excellent photographs to illustrate the text. You certainly work in an interesting exterior environment. The paper bark tree and the eastern water dragon were my favourite pictures.

    • Thank you, Susan! Paperbarks are one of my favourite trees and there are some giant ones near the lakes. I just love the feel of the soft papery bark and the subtle colours as well. The water dragons always keep me amused. They always look so disapproving of me. I’m glad you enjoyed the jumble of images. Have a lovely Sunday, Susan. 🙂

  9. Hi Jane,
    It is a cheese tree. I have heaps if them in the gullies and through the bush here.
    The Leopard trees do grow rather big. I have one that I let grow into a large tree but I have another I prune so it doesn’t grow over 2 or so meters. It doen’t really like it but continues to grow in the harsh conditions of the garden.
    Thanks for the wonderful walk

    brian

    • Hi Brian,
      Thanks for the ID on the cheese tree. Wow, you have heaps of them there? This is the first specimen I have ever seen. Have you noticed any birds or other creatures eating them?
      My leopard tree is already very tall and to prune it I’d need to get a tree lopper. It is also quite close to the house. I was hoping it would be a good replacement shade tree for the invasive Chinese Elm that I need to remove but I’ve been told its roots can get into pipes and foundations as well so I’m not sure now. They are beautiful trees though. I love the patterns on the trunk.
      Thanks for reading and your supportive comments, Brian. I checked your blog recently. I hope I haven’t miss a post. I guess you must be getting ready for your trip soon. Best wishes! 🙂

  10. Once again I stagger back in envy of the rich natural backgrounds that you find to wander about in. Mind you, it takes a good eye and expert work with the camera (whatever you say) to bring them so interestingly to life.

    With regard to the homeless student, the politician’s comment and your experiences, it is all too common it seems to be surrounded by politicians now who seem to have had no experience of life outside politics. I have led a very sheltered and comfortable life but even I can recognise that not all hardship can be avoided and not all success is hard earned.

    • Thank you very much, Tom, for the kind encouragement about my photographs. I do appreciate it, especially since you are such an experienced photographer. Your blog gives me a lot of help actually!
      Thank you also for your understanding comments about homelessness. As you’ve indicated, people don’t have to come from a life of hardship and deprivation to show empathy to others. It just takes some human kindness and decency really. Unfortunately, current political happenings in our country are very disheartening of late. We hope that things will change! I hope you have some good peddling weather this coming week. 🙂

  11. Thanks for another interesting post Jane. It’s wonderful to see the detail of the university grounds that many would simply skip over on the way to somewhere else. The photos are beautiful and I really enjoyed learning about some of the fruits and berries. They are ones that I’ve often seen around when bushwalking and always wondered about their origins and edibility.

    p.s. It must be the season… I’ve joined a choir too 😉 and loving it! There’s something quite special when voices come together – we all seem to sing a whole lot better.

    • Thanks for the lovely words, Gail! I must admit the blog is teaching me to look harder at my surroundings now so I can find something to share! Most times in the past I’ve just walked past plants and not looked them up but now I try to identify them so I can share a picture. I have to thank “choir” practice this last month for my latest botanical learning since I had no other walks to share. I never thought that having the flu would end up being so educational for me. 🙂
      Happy choir practice, Gail! 🙂

    • Hi there. Thanks for those enthusiastic words of encouragement! I’m glad you enjoyed it so much. I’ve been blogging for about a year and you will find my site a very mixed bag of stuff really. I’m never quite sure what I am doing with it and where I want it to go. My first attempts were a little tentative. Anyway, thanks again and I hope you find some enjoyment in the other posts. I will have to check out your blog properly too. Best wishes. 🙂

  12. I so enjoy your vibrant strolls. Nothing escapes your eye. You turn what would be a pretty banal walk to most others into a wonderland.

    I also understand how it is to watch a mother reach out for help and not only be turned away, but meant to feel bad for it.

    • Thanks so much J.D. I’m glad you’ve been enjoying my strolls. I think I notice more now that I’ve had to slow down quite a bit. I used to rush about a lot more. Comments like yours encourage me to keep posting.
      I’m so sorry that you had to watch that happen to your mother too. We still live in a world where victims are often blamed/made to feel guilty rather than given support. A lot of judging still goes on…
      Best wishes. 🙂

  13. I so love seeing your (strange to me) flora from down under. It amplifies the strangeness that you live in a world turned upside down (to me) and your seasons are also upturned. What a strange and wonderful world we live in.

    Good to hear that you’re surviving your Brisbane Influenza and hope that a full recovery is well on its way.

    • Thanks, Gunta! I also marvel at the flora and fauna from other parts of the world. The cypress knees from the US that I found by the lake had me intrigued. One commenter wrote they can grow 6ft tall!
      My kids are much better now. I usually take a while to get over these kind of infections as my lungs are not the best, but I am definitely on the mend. I get asthma when I live in Brisbane. I’m much healthier on the coast and I’ll move when my kids are finished uni. Great to hear from you again. I hope the ankle heals up quickly! 🙂

  14. Hello Jane! I recognized a couple of photos – one plant that grows in the lower areas of our woodlands where water collects. We have several patches of Callicarpa, which we call Beauty Berries here, and I have seen birds and deer eat them. Also, I have marveled at the knobs of the swamp cypress, when visiting the lower southeastern states in the US. Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and Florida to be specific. And I have to mention the ability of you and I to stumble upon “mating” scenes. I catch some good-humored flack about posting photos of “love in the air” but truly, I find various mating rituals interesting, and I know there are not many people who are lucky enough to witness the act of varied species. I think the most interesting mating session I observed were two land turtles mating in my flower beds one evening! Of course when I went to fetch the camera and returned to the spot, only one turtle remained and I missed my photo opportunity! Great post as usual… and quite educational!

    • Hi Lori!
      Hmm…another person who has observed critters eating Callicarpa. I can’t wait to get back and check out the plant now and sit back and watch. It’s possible the birds that would normally eat the berries just don’t notice these as they have been planted in a rather hidden away spot within an area with very different plants. If it was by the lake it would be more obvious to hungry birds.
      Those cypress knees are pretty amazing aren’t they? I can’t believe they can grow to 6ft! Imagine walking through them.
      Hahah…yes, I always hesitate a little before putting in mating pictures but it’s an important part of life and as you say, many people never get to experience these things. I think when you have lived on a farm like us, it doesn’t seem “rude” as we see it all the time and in fact, we welcome it happening so that the animals can have babies. It means the creatures are healthy and doing what comes naturally, just as eating and pooping are signs of good health. I remember when my 8 year old niece visited me. She was shocked to discover that eggs actually came out of a chicken’s “bottom.” That surprised me but I guess that many children only see eggs in shops and don’t necessarily make any connections. Farm kids get to see the origin of the meat, veg, grains, fruit and eggs that end up on their plate. I think it made my children less willing to waste food as they knew how much effort or the creature’s life that went into the production of it. There are many lessons to be learnt by seeing animal behaviour on a regular basis, hey.
      I remember when my son saw Galapagos tortoises mating at a zoo here. He yelled out, “Look at them mating, Mummy.” Some of the parents looked a little uncomfortable… 🙂 I think my most interesting mating couple were spiny echidnas. I still wonder how they managed it comfortably! Thanks for reading and your interesting comments as always. I love hearing from you, Lori. 🙂

  15. I love the variety in your posts, Jane and how you are interested in everything you see. I hope you continue to get better and don’t catch anything else. I find spring-time more difficult health-wise than winter-time. We used to have a callicarpa in one of our former gardens (not sure what type as it was there when we moved in). Fabulous to look at through the winter but as we like to have plants with berries that the wildlife can eat and these berries were avoided by most birds and animals we weren’t sure if it was a bit of an indulgence. I see from one of your comments that you have a friend in England with a eucalypt tree. They are still quite popular here and live for a fair time especially in the towns and cities. Our winters aren’t as cold as on mainland Europe or in the States because of the Gulf Stream which flows round us. What usually kills plants off is the damp!

    • Thanks very much, Clare! I am getting better slowly. My son and daughter are fine now but my lungs tend to take a little longer to recover. I usually love winter here because the weather is so much cooler. I usually get viruses in the warmer months so it is a little odd that I got the flu in winter. Apparently it’s been a bad season for it this year though.
      I’ve had some people say that nothing seems to eat their callicarpa and others saying that critters like the berries so I find that very interesting. Makes me wonder if the soil or temperature does affect the taste of the berries and/or it’s just about the particular species of callicarpa. The colour of the berries is gorgeous though. I’d like it in my predominantly green yard to liven it up.
      I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that people in your country have eucalypts as we have many imports from other countries here. In fact, most gardens contain exotic plants of some kind. Native gardens are becoming much more popular these days though to attract native creatures and also because they are more drought tolerant.
      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, Clare. It is lovely to hear your thoughts. I hope that life “settles down” for your family soon. It has been a difficult time. x

  16. Holy cow, when you go looking for nature, no matter where, you certainly find tons of it, of all kinds!

    I read each of your posts several times through, trying to remember the parts that I want to comment on, but by the time I reach the end, I’ve forgotten half of them. That’s not a bad thing, the comments would only be along the lines of “The brush-tailed possum is so cute”.

    Darwin didn’t need to go to the Galapagos Islands to form his theory of evolution, he could have just as well gone to Australia, as everything there seems to be so much different that anywhere else on Earth.

    • Thanks very much, Jerry! Well, this post was a combination of a few walks, so I “cheated” a bit. I accumulated them over a week or two on my lunchtimes or after work. As usual when I think I have exhausted the shots in one place, I am surprised to find something new. I’ve been on campus so often and never noticed those cypress knees before! Also, I guess nothing stays the same. Wildlife move about, plants die and new ones replace them. Storms bring about changes. Fungi pop up unexpectedly. I shouldn’t be surprised to find new things on the same old walks, but I always am. Heheh
      Write whatever you want to write. I am appreciative of all comments whether they are that something is cute or a correction of information or whatever. It can be short or long. I love all the comments.
      Yes, we have some pretty unusual critters here. The isolation has given us some unique flora and fauna. I was fascinated recently to read of all the skeletons of huge extinct animals that have been found here. There were wombat-like critters the size of cows! Imagine seeing one of those about!
      I have the same “problem” when I read your posts. I lose track of everything I want to comment on. Mind you, your photography is far superior! I run out of nice words to describe it. Thanks, Jerry. 🙂

    • Haha…you feeling plain? Hiking Fiasco walks are far from ordinary! There’s plenty of entertainment value. If you don’t see many colourful objects, there’s certainly plenty of “colourful” thoughts, words or actions to read about. And I can’t compete with your polariser skies. Thanks, Greg! Great to hear from you. 🙂

  17. I really enjoyed reading this post, Jane. Fabulous colours of exotic fruits and I always like to see an Eastern Water Dragon. During my time in Australia I was struck by the extent of the homeless situation. I do believe that this challenge could be met by any government that had the will to meet it. I’m in the USA now and see the same issues here. It is one of the many crimes of our age that we do nothing for those who are adrift from what is deemed acceptable society norms.

    • Thanks very much, David. The different colours of the quandong fruit have me fascinated at the moment. They change from fresh green to blue to purple, reddish, olive green and all sorts of shades. As do the leaves on the ground.
      I always like to observe our Eastern Water Dragons. I think it amuses me how still they remain while they are eyeball me intently. And the patterns and textures on the skin are interesting too. They make me think of the dinosaurs. And they’re a little less scary than crocodiles! 🙂
      So you noticed the homeless situation in Australia too? I wondered how “hidden” the situation was in parts of our country. Sometimes it’s not obvious. The statistics are quite shocking for a country like ours I think. There are so many reasons why people are homeless and most are not a real “choice.” Not everyone has a safe family to live with or enough money to afford the rising cost of rent. Mental illness resources are still very underfunded as well and refuges for women facing domestic violence are having to turn people away. Unfortunately there is still a great deal of victim blaming. It’s our responsibility to reach out to those who need a hand up. Not everyone is born with the same chances in life.
      Thanks very much for your thoughts, David. Always great to hear from you! 🙂

  18. Good on you Jane, joining the choir, hope it gives you great satisfaction. Praying for fast recovery from your flue. Love the wonderful variety of pics and all the bush tucker that you have showcased so beautifully. Homelessness is a real concern, and a real heart tear that people are driven to live this way. I wholeheartedly concur with the difficulty for women suffering violence and abuse and the need to address this early in the piece. I have helped and encouraged friends who have been through this and it is a growing problem. Thanks again for your interesting and post and for sharing your heart. I had wondered where you were. Hope you are well soon:-)

    • Thank you very much. I’m on the mend but it will be a little while before I do anything challenging so there might be another local post or something retro from many years ago. 🙂
      I would like to know much more about the local edible plants we have. It is quite likely that many of our backyard “weeds” are edible and nutritious. It seems a bit funny that we buy a mixed salad from the shop when we could eat some organically grown backyard plants. 🙂 I hope to plant some more edible native fruit or berry plants in my yard.
      Thanks for your thoughts about homelessness and domestic violence. I’m glad you helped friends in difficulty. We really need to support the victims and also to change the culture in our country of violence towards women. Thanks very much for your kind support of my blog as always. Best wishes to you and yours. 🙂

    • Hi Rob,
      I’m very lucky to have such an eclectic bunch of great people commenting (including you!) It’s lovely to have contact from people all over the world. I’m thankful to have met such nice people through the magic of the Internet. Thanks Rob! Always great to hear from you. I hope you are well. Looking forward to more of your posts. 🙂

    • Well, Steve, I’ve always wanted to learn woodwork so if joined a chair means I put the pieces together, then I’m quite happy with that misreading! If it means my body has fused with the body of a chair, that is amusing too. I guess it could also mean I’m now accompanying a chair? Hehe..thanks for the smiles. It’s now almost midnight here and I am ready for bed. 🙂

    • Thanks, Brittany! I haven’t eaten any of them but will give blue quandongs a go if I can find any fruit that hasn’t been half-eaten by critters. I hope you’re feeling well and enjoying life. 🙂

  19. Aaaarghh! People CHOOSE to be homeless? Reminds me of our ex-PM’s quote about how indigenous people that live in remote communities are making a ‘lifestyle choice’, perhaps something like going to Ikea to choose some new soft furnishings for the outdoor living area? Thanks for another great post Jane, with more beautiful pictures. I love how you seek out and celebrate the beauty of things that many others just pass by. Cheers, Paula

    • Thanks very much, Paula. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Yeah, that “choice” quote I mentioned was also from our ex-PM. His comment about lifestyle choose was utterly idiotic about Indigenous people wasn’t it! I was speechless when I heard that one. It’s been a weird time in politics, hasn’t it? Very frustrating and quite unbelievable at times. Let’s hope for a better future. Thanks for reading and commenting, Paula. Great to hear from you and receive your support. 🙂

  20. I hope you and your family are now better. The campus grounds of that University must be huge – it seems to have its own eco system. It looks like a great place to study, though I am surprised that the university isn’t being more pro-active in helping out the homeless student that lives there…

    • Thanks, Rob. My kids are all better now, but I’m still struggling a little. Unfortunately my lungs were damaged a couple of years ago from a virus and so these things take longer to recover from. I’m getting there though! 🙂
      Yes, the university is like a mini-city really. It covers a huge area. They are even thinking of extending it.
      I was told that student services have been trying to contact the homeless student but I don’t know what else has been tried. It left me quite sad to go from the high tech, expensive global change institute to then discussing the plight of this student. I don’t know his complete background but I think it’s amazing he can still pass exams! Thanks for your thoughts, Rob. Great to hear from you. 🙂

  21. Oh, noo, I hope you are all feeling better soon and can disband the choir!
    You live in such a colorful, fascinating place. I’m interested to read about the building. It is encouraging that here and there architects and the powers-that-be who pay them are coming up with better designs.

    Very sad about the homeless people. I’m sorry that your mother had to go through that.

    • Hi Melissa,
      Sorry to take so long to reply. The big kids are all better now but I’m still struggling with it and have just gone back to the doctor today for more tests. Unfortunately a pre-existing condition is aggravated whenever I get respiratory infections. I’ll get better eventually. I just have to be sensible and rest more! 🙂
      It is very encouraging to see better architectural designs that minimise energy use. It’s interesting that some of the much earlier styles of housing in sunny Queensland that were highset with verandahs all around with tall roofs were much better suited to our climate. Then people started building more box like brick designs on the ground that didn’t cool well and required more energy to cool.
      Yes, it is very sad to see the numbers of homeless people on the streets in a place dubbed “The Lucky Country.”
      Thanks for your kind words about my mother.
      I may be a little behind in my blog reading for a few days but will catch up eventually!
      Have a beautiful weekend, Melissa. 🙂

Your comments are welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s