Regular readers know I’m a sufferer of bark bliss, fungi fever, lichen lust, moss mania, and insect infatuation. These distractions mean walking partners need to be passionate about the same interests, have the patience of a saint, or be content to charge ahead without me. Today I reveal my rock rapture, another distraction which contributes to the torture of walking companions.
One of my early posts, Lured by the Big Dog, describes White Rock Conservation Estate in Ipswich. In it you’ll find the interesting history of this area as well as a link to a walking track brochure. While it may not possess the awe factor of Uluru or the Grand Canyon, White Rock – a large chunk of colourful sandstone surrounded by dry native bushland – still captivates me, even though I’ve walked there on numerous occasions. I’m drawn in part by the colourful sandstone patterns which change as rain, wind and plant-life sculpt the rock surface.
Back in ancient times, before the practicalities of parenting and work took over, I dabbled in art. My father also painted landscapes in oil as a hobby and my mother could sketch realistically using images in her head, rather than relying on a subject to copy. My daughter is a portrait artist in her spare time and uses acrylics, pastels, watercolours, charcoal and pencil. Here are a few quick pieces she did in her teens.
It’s fortunate I didn’t pursue painting as a career as I probably would have starved. My skills are decidedly average. However, I still appreciate searching out subjects in nature which could be the basis for artwork. For me, a hike is like walking through an enormous art gallery, but a living, breathing, constantly changing one, surrounding you on all sides. One which allows you to touch, hear, smell and even taste its collections. Patterns, shapes, colours and details pop out everywhere – in the sky, on the ground, in trees, in rocks and in water.
When talented Australian artist Sally Harrison contacted me recently about some of my blog pictures, I was delighted to discover we share a similar fascination for our natural surroundings. Sally uses traditional Aboriginal dot painting techniques in many of her works. To see her beautiful pieces and read her story click on here and also on this link. Here are a few examples which Sally kindly allowed me to use in my blog.
And now back to the galleries of White Rock. One of the many interesting aspects of Australian trees is the trunk scarring and patterns resulting from harsh weather conditions and the activity of fauna and lichens.
This picture reminds my daughter of a grazed and weeping knee that has been treated with iodine. Now I can’t get that grotesque similarity out of my head when viewing it.
I rarely see fungi at White Rock but this year there has been an abundance of specimens in my region and I found these within 500 metres of the car park.
Termites are an example of how individuals can work together to accomplish a huge task.
Their artistic trails may eventually lead to the destruction of mighty giants.
I suspect a species of native bee excavated these tunnels in sandstone at Bluff Lookout.
Venomous Australian spiders are another example of the power that can reside in small creatures. Being a short person I take heart in this fact. It’s not all about size! This example is harmless though and was only as big as a thumbnail.
I saw more evidence of critters with this pardalote or kingfisher tunnel, a silk sac and a spider burrow.
Although some may classify these as weeds I still take delight in examining their details.
Blue billy goat weeds are prolific in the paperbark forest.
And lichen and moss always put on a good performance.
Some of you may remember me torturing a hiking partner in an early post with my interest in red trunks. I’m still obsessed by them.
Many of White Rock’s walking tracks are wide fire trails.
But a few areas require a little more effort.
But it’s worth the sweat to see nature’s giant art installations.
I usually linger at White Rock’s galleries and it’s a race to get back before the car park gates shut at 6pm. By race I mean walk 10 metres without getting distracted by nature’s artwork. As the sun sets, wallabies and kangaroos venture out to graze.
White Rock Art Gallery is constantly changing. The seasons, the effects of erosion, bushfires and other factors all contribute to new exhibitions on each visit. It’s interesting to think that each collection of photos I take will be unique to those walks. I had been confident that this conservation reserve would remain protected but property development is occurring at a phenomenal rate in this area. Many of the nature corridors joining White Rock are being swallowed up by housing. It’s my hope that White Rock Gallery never disappears. I’d rather be immersed in the real thing than stare at a screen of memories. It reminds me of Joni Mitchell‘s lyrics from Yellow Taxi:
“They took all the trees
And put them in a tree museum
And they charged all the people
A dollar and a half to see ’em
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And they put up a parking lot.”
Thanks for reading.