Seeking Solitude at White Rock – What’s Harry got to do with it?

What do Keats, drunken pygmy possums, a famous Harry and the TV series, Mad Men, have in common? Well, for a start they’re all mentioned in this blog post. Usually I temper my imagination when writing  hiking commentaries but this week I’m exposing you a little to the convoluted  workings of my mildly extreme brain.

I’ve not been on an adventure since my Cania Gorge trip but in spring last year I revisited White Rock Conservation Estate ( see Lured by the Big Dog and The Art of Hiking) and discovered how increasingly difficult it is to find solitude there. Recent land developments are encroaching upon the reserve and its recreational potential is being promoted to draw prospective buyers.

White Rock

I often struggle to explain my need for quiet time alone in nature and decided to engage the help of a few experts. It’s comforting to know that solitude has been sought by many throughout the ages.

William Wordsworth wrote:

“When from our better selves we have too long
Been parted by the hurrying world, and droop,
Sick of its business, of its pleasures tired,
How gracious, how benign, is Solitude”

And Mary Oliver (Why I Wake Early) had this to say:

“Wherever I am, the world comes after me.
It offers me its busyness. It does not believe
that I do not want it. Now I understand
why the old poets of China went so far and high
into the mountains, then crept into the pale mist.”

White rock

However much I enjoy being alone in the outdoors there is a state that may surpass it –  being in the natural world with a like-minded individual  who passionately shares this desire. My daughter has been one of these people. Her favourite poet, John Keats, describes it beautifully.

To Solitude

O Solitude! if I must with thee dwell,
Let it not be among the jumbled heap
Of murky buildings; climb with me the steep,—
Nature’s observatory—whence the dell,
Its flowery slopes, its river’s crystal swell,
May seem a span; let me thy vigils keep
’Mongst boughs pavillion’d, where the deer’s swift leap
Startles the wild bee from the fox-glove bell.
But though I’ll gladly trace these scenes with thee,
Yet the sweet converse of an innocent mind,
Whose words are images of thoughts refin’d,
Is my soul’s pleasure; and it sure must be
Almost the highest bliss of human-kind,
When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee.”

So I’ve mentioned Keats, but what of drunken pygmy possums, a famous Harry and Mad Men? Let’s move on to the walk before I lose you all to slumber.

After a busy week I ventured out early one Saturday morning to White Rock. Kangaroos were still grazing on dew covered grass.

Kangaroo grazing in the dew - White Rock

Kangaroos in the dew - white rock

With a 6am start I expected to find the carpark empty. It wasn’t.  An enthusiastic sweat-covered Arnold Schwarzenegger look-alike was engaged in stretching exercises. I’m a tiny woman with muscles the size of grapes so I was relieved  he didn’t engage Terminator mode. After exchanging a few pleasantries I was off again at my usual break-neck waddling duck speed.

Large dew-covered spider webs glistened in the early light.

Orb-weaver web - White Rock

On this and later visits I was to see many beautiful arachnids.

St Andrews Cross Spider - White Rock

Spider - White Rock

Siver Orb Weaver Spider - White Rock

I was surprised to see fungi about as conditions had been dry.

yellow fungi on log - White Rock

Fungi beetle larvae and other insects were busy munching away on these specimens.

fungi beetle larvae - White Rock 12

fungi beetle larvae at White Rock 3

Determined to find solitude I took a short detour off the path through rocky bushland near Little White Rock Lookout. A native hibiscus and its six legged inhabitants caught my attention.

After finding a quiet spot I spent the next 20 minutes compiling a video for you describing the bliss of being alone. “How wonderful it is to achieve this state at last,” I gushed. If you can tell me how this award winning documentary mysteriously disappeared into the technological black hole that is my computer I’d be grateful.

I wasn’t really alone though. My pals, the march flies, quickly honed in on my pale flesh. Always willing to suffer for the sake of blogging, I took a picture of one having a feed and the resulting wound. I hadn’t realised how hairy my fingers are until I blew  them up on the screen. Now I can add hairy-fingered to short-legged and snail paced in my list of fine hermit qualities.

It was about this time that I began to notice the diuretic effects of my morning coffee. It seemed a secluded spot though – safe enough to relieve my bladder surely?  It was then that a booming male voice made me nearly do the job in my underwear.

“You’re a bit off the beaten track aren’t you?”

It seems my hearing is deteriorating as well as my eyesight as I didn’t hear his approach at all. I turned to face a clone of a famous character from my childhood.

When many people think of a famous Harry, they think Harry Potter, Prince Harry, Harry the Dog, the movie “When Harry Met Sally” or depending on your musical tastes, Harry Secombe or Harry Styles.   But there is another famous Harry – Harry Butler.

Most overseas readers will know of the Australian outdoor nature enthusiast, Steve Irwin, or maybe even The Bush Tucker Man? When I was a young child, In the Wild with Harry Butler was compulsory viewing. Wearing khaki shorts, boots and a bushman’s hat,  Harry presented 26 episodes about the Australian bush.

Here is a short section of an episode where he finds drunken pygmy possums.  Whether or not the shows were contrived I don’t know; I just enjoyed them for what they were.

Now this topic brings me to the TV series Mad Men. Set in the late 50s, early 60s it’s a drama about advertising executives and the people in their work and personal lives. How is this connected with Harry Butler though? Well, watching this series recently reminded me of the gender stereotypes of the day. Women were not seen as being capable of performing certain jobs because it was thought they simply weren’t clever enough. A young female secretary came up with a good idea for advertising and a surprised male executive made the comment that it was “like watching a dog play the piano.”

I thought about all the well-known naturalists or outdoors people on TV and in books that sprang to mind– Gerald Durrell, David Attenborough, Steve Irwin, Bush Tucker Man, Harry Butler, Bear Grylls, Jacques Cousteau. Here in Australia we also had The Leyland Brothers who travelled around Australia with their families camping.

Jane Goodall is one of the few women in this field who I was exposed to growing up. I was an adventurous, nature-loving child but being female I didn’t consider pursuing these  positions, probably because there were few female role models out there. Even today, there is a noticeable lack of females in these shows. Perhaps I wasn’t exposed to the right kind of information. It is only recently that I learned about the famous children’s author and illustrator Beatrix Potter’s  scientific drawings and contribution to biology. It also interests me how few Indigenous people have been given the role of hosting  nature/outdoor shows about the land their ancestors have lived on for thousands of years.

Enough musing perhaps? Back to my walk. After a chat with the Harry Butler clone about  geocaching activities and his wife’s camera, I found myself another hide-away. A small cave offered respite from the sun.

White Rock cave

Once again I wasn’t completely alone. A gecko, Dubious Dtella Gehyra dubia (thanks Rob Ashdown) peered from a crack in the rock.

gecko

After dragging myself away from my cave, I was surprised to see two giant mobile phones with legs walking in the distance.

Campers at White Rock

By now it was time to return home but not before checking out a Martin’s skink, Concinnia martini, lichen, moss, a couple of butterflies and a fallen bird’s nest.

Martin's skink

I made my next trip to White Rock in spring with my daughter. A little less photographing and a little more talking occurred, but we still stopped to admire the colours of the native trees.

colourful bark at White Rock

White rock tree colours

White Rock tree colours

White Rock paths

As well as the shapes and patterns of sandstone rock formations.

Sandstone

Sandstone Caves

Magnificent gums always have our admiration.

Tall gum - White Rock

We paused in an overhang at White Rock  for lunch and here my old friends the march flies returned.

Overhang at White Rock

One of them must have been having a slow day as somehow I managed to slap it before it feasted. They’re almost beautiful when they’re dead and not draining my blood.

dead march fly

A wasp nest in the rock appeared active still so we didn’t linger. On this occasion when I wasn’t seeking solitude, my daughter and I didn’t encounter any other walkers.

wasp nest - white rock

There we have it. Have you survived the twists and turns of my mind? Unless I’m able to venture out somewhere new soon, my next post will be a feathered fantasy. That’s just a fancy way to say there with be a few birds featured.

In the meantime, here’s a handsome brush turkey from White Rock for the bird lovers.

brush turkey - White Rock

For more detailed information about White Rock Conservation Estate please read my past blog posts, Lured by the Big Dog and The Art of Hiking or this Information brochure.

Thank you for reading and for all your valuable feedback.

101 thoughts on “Seeking Solitude at White Rock – What’s Harry got to do with it?

  1. Thanks Jane for another interesting adventure. You suffer so much to gain the rewards of such beautiful photos and the experience of solitude which so many of us enjoy out there in the bush. I love the colours of the trees. It is certainly a beauitul country we live in, and you certainly have taken the time and effort to explore it and appreciate aspects we would otherwise would not have seen. Have a great weekend my friend:-)

    • Thanks very much. It’s actually a pleasure to share what I see on my walks and I do joke about the suffering aspects, as I think you know. I hope it comes across that way, anyway. 🙂 Yes, we do live in a beautiful country and I am thankful to have bushland near me to explore and in which to attempt solitude. I appreciate your encouragement. I hope you have a wonderful weekend too. Kind wishes. 🙂

  2. The walking mobile phones got a literal lol from me. But who DOESN’T pack like that in the Aussie bush.
    And I agree with Wordsworth. I was just sitting out on my teeny patio not two hours ago thinking the same thoughts. Xxx

    • Haha…yes, the mobile phones thing was actually the thought that went through my head when I first saw the hikers. I had to look twice! The funny thing was they were all packed up so heavily but had thongs on their feet! I’d be too nervous to walk around there like that because of the snakes and spiders. Then again, in the “old days” we ran around barefoot everywhere!
      I’m guessing you’ve seen some exciting skies lately with the amazing storms we’ve been having? The worst seem to miss us here.
      Yes, I think many of us can relate to Wordsworth’s thoughts. I’ve been meaning to get back to you to arrange something but since my trip away haven’t had a chance to go far from the house. I won’t forget though. Be safe and take good care of yourself. xx

  3. Gorgeous pictures as usual, Jane. I love your green spider photo particularly, and some fabulous butterflies and fungi too. Beautiful light! It’s interesting, as you say, how (white) men have dominated nature shows – however much I enjoy watching them. Perhaps changes are slowly happening – there’s a nature show on ABC kids tv with a young indigenous guy as co-host, though I can’t think of a woman fronting a show like this. Solitude is surely hard to find at times, though I reckon bad weather and cold temperatures definitely help! Thanks for another enjoyable blogpost!

    • Hi Nic,
      Thanks very much for the supportive comments about my photographs. It was a bit hit and miss with the new camera back then – still is actually! 🙂 Yes, as I was writing the post I realised that not only were the people who fronted the shows mainly or all men, they were white men. It hit me how strange it was that white men were being “experts” about Aboriginal land. Not having young kids anymore I am missing out on all the new ABC children’s programs. I’ll have to take note. I was wondering if I was imagining things, so I’m glad you see the strangeness of it as well. I even remember thinking as a young girl how it would be nice to marry an adventurer instead of thinking I could be one of them! I think it’s time we saw more women out there hosting these shows so young girls can have role models.
      Ah yes, some of my best quiet hikes have been in rainy conditions or on freezing mornings – especially at the beach! One reason to be thankful for gloomy conditions, hey? Thanks very much for reading and adding your comments. They are always appreciated. 🙂

  4. Jane, I guarantee most women reading this will be looking down at their hands at some point to examine whether or not they have hair on their fingers! Ha ha! Most of mine is worn off from wearing gardening and work gloves, but I found a few nubs growing back – probably from a winter respite from so much outdoor work! Your photography is exceptional as usual, and I realized I enjoyed this hike so much because like you, I enjoy the solitude and alone-ness of being in nature. It is often why I take off for a walk to the river – a place I’ve been to so many times, but it seems to be ever-changing and one notices all of the little nuances of each season. Mostly, I love these walks because it takes me away from the noise of town. It is the solitude, sounds of nature, and earth beneath my feet that I so desire. 🙂

    • Thanks very much, Lori. I read your comment last night but am having trouble with my aging laptop and can’t load my website properly. I think it’s on its last legs. On the bright side that gives me an excuse to buy another one that has a bigger screen (mine is 13inch)! I’m finding my fingers are struggling with this keyboard too. Haha…I wonder how many people will discover for the first time they actually have hairy fingers too. Having photographs blown up on my screen has given me a few surprises. I didn’t know I had a spider on the brim of my hat on one walk until I viewed the image on my computer! Who knows what else I miss when I am in the zone.
      I do enjoy my solitary walks. I think that’s what I miss most about being on farms. It felt safe to go on long walks by myself and it was right outside my door. I didn’t have to drive to a place to be alone in the natural world. I appreciate having a good sized garden though – many people in my suburb don’t. Your river walks sound wonderful and as you say it is interesting to notice the subtle transitions that occur as the seasons changes. Our changes are not as dramatic here in Queensland but are still to be found if people take the time to look as you do. Walking in natural, quiet surroundings is my form of meditation. I’m glad you share the same love for solitary time as I do. Thanks, Lori, for your thoughtful comments as always. 🙂

  5. I cannot offer feedback but can only say that it gives me enormous pleasure to read your posts and look at your excellent photographs, some of them could well be paintings by a famous artist. The colours and shapes of the bark and the rock pictures are amazing.

    • Thank you, Susan. You are too kind. I’m just glad you receive some pleasure from my posts as I enjoy sharing them with you. Your tours always teach me something new and I share your appreciation for old architecture and artisans’ work. I never know what place you will share next. White Rock is a very special place for me and no matter how many times I visit the area I always find something of interest to photograph. The sandstone rocks grab my attention every time. Have a lovely Sunday. 🙂

  6. Your photos are amazing, but I guess I’ve been in the city for too long, because those spiders would freak me out if I saw them on a hike. The restorative power of nature is, nevertheless, a favorite topic of mine, and there is so much research now to back it up. For example –> http://wemu.org/post/issues-environment-nature-pill-and-its-benefits-mental-well-being#stream/0
    You and your poets are on to something the rest of the US (at least) needs to be told! : )

    • Thanks very much, Liz. I’ve been following your life in the city and marvelling at the way people can negotiate the traffic and streets. I think living there would be a real challenge for me, although I’m sure I would enjoy the cultural benefits of museums, art galleries and cafes. I’ve not been out for a long walk in the bush since I returned from Cania Gorge and need to schedule some time for it soon. As I child I spent a great deal of time outdoors and I think it helped me to deal with challenges in my life. That’s why I am a supporter of green spaces in cities. We need some link with the natural world in our daily life. Thank you for sharing the great link. Re-reading old poetry in preparation for this blog reminded me how valued “a walk in the hills and fields” was to people in many professions in the past. Thanks for reading and adding your thoughts, Liz. 🙂

  7. Thank you for taking us on another fabulous hike and sharing some of Australia’s unique creatures and vegetation via your lovely photos. Your spider and web photos gave me shivers…. not a fan of creepy crawly things but they are fascinating.

    • Thanks, Ingrid. I hope you’ll have the opportunity to explore some of our wilderness areas one day. Fortunately we have many harmless spiders and snakes as well as the venomous ones. We just have to be a little careful. Lately I’ve not been as much of a fan of creepy-crawlies either. I’ve discovered borers in my floor and after some land clearing next door, the rats have moved into my yard, bringing fleas! 🙂

  8. What a wonderful post. Amazing photographs, perfect pieces of poetry, fascinating commentary, Harry Butler and drunken pygmy possums, and walking mobile telephones. Thanks for letting me join you.

  9. Hé Jane what an amazing hike into nature.Reading your post gives me such a good feeling.Your photo’s are brilliant and makes that iI can see things I never saw before.Thanks a lot.

    • Hi,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the post as it was a pleasure for me to share the walks with you. Thank you for your regular kind comments. It’s much appreciated. Have a great week. 🙂

  10. What strikes me about tv presenters of all sorts, not just wild life ones, is how few there are considering how many people there who know stuff. Once TV finds someone it likes, we are stick with them for life it seems. When I am king, no one will be allowed to present documentaries, read news, chair comment shows or comment on sport for more than two years.

    On the other hand, of course, you can keep on blogging for as long as you like because your posts are both interesting and beautifully illustrated…..and we don’t have to put up with pictures of you walking and talking when we could be looking at wild life.

    I have noticed that when people find themselves talking to me, their need for solitude becomes most pronounced.

    • Thank you, Tom, for your kind praise. I doubt very much people would be craving solitude after interacting with you though. Your blog posts are always very interesting to read and your sense of humour regularly has me smiling. I’m sure your regular visitors to your home are not just attracted to your fine composting system. 🙂 Your blog has convinced me to put Scotland in my top five overseas dream destinations, not only for its scenery but because of its people.
      You made a very good point that the high number of experts contrasts with few actual presenters that seem to be on our screens for years. I hadn’t really considered that aspect of it. It’s all about ratings I suppose and a section of the public tend to like a familiar face. I share your point of view that it would be beneficial to allow others the chance to share their valuable expertise. I had to smile about your comment regarding the talking and walking instead of actually showing the wildlife. It certainly seems to happen that way at times! I will have to remember that if ever I become a famous naturalist.
      I hope you receive some sunshine again to break up the incessant rainy weather you’ve been having. Best wishes. 🙂

  11. I always enjoy your posts so much Jane. I love the way you write and all the beautiful photographs you include.
    I love solitude and never seem to get enough of it. Walking on my own I can spend enough time observing things I see without feeling I’m holding anyone up. However, it is good to be able to share experiences with a like-minded companion.
    Here in the UK we are getting more and more female TV presenters – in fact there may be more females than males in certain fields – history for example. I believe there are more female sport commentators than men these days, which I would never have thought possible ten years ago. There is a female presenter on our seasonal wildlife programme Springwatch/Autumnwatch/Winterwatch http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p012msk2 and we have female presenters on another programme called Coast http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006mvlc which travels round our coastline and that of the near continent and includes articles on wildlife.
    Thank-you for such a well-researched, amusing and interesting post.

    • Thanks very much, Clare. It’s always lovely to know that others enjoy solitude too. Being by oneself does give us the opportunity to slow down and take in our surroundings in more detail. I know that often I feel I need to converse with people I am with and not hold them up by taking photographs. It is often a relief to walk with people who share a love for nature and are happy to walk in silence and take their time rather than rush.
      Yes, here in Australia we’ve seen many improvements in the ratio of female to male presenters and reporters too. I must admit I don’t watch a great deal of TV these days – mainly the ABC or SBS channel -rarely the commercial stations. I am probably out of touch with some aspects. We also have more female sports journalists these days which is great. I would like to see the media present more Indigenous faces as that is sadly lacking. It was interesting for me to think about well known naturalists and adventurers who’ve appeared on our screens in the past though. It only hit me recently how when I watched them as a child, I didn’t think that I could become one of them simply because I was female. It’s improved these days and I hope young girls feel they can now aspire to these careers. Now that Steve Irwin’s daughter Bindi is “out there” I assume that her female fans will feel encouraged to pursue their dreams in that area.
      Thank you for reading and sharing your situation in the UK. It is most interesting and encouraging to read of improvements in this area. Have a lovely Sunday. I look forward to reading more blog posts from Suffolk! 🙂

      • Thank-you Jane. The media still have a long way to go until it truly represents its public. We have more black and Asian people on TV and radio but not enough by any means. It was only recently that regional accents were begun to be accepted (but only after most of them had virtually died out!). I admire Bindi Irwin very much – not an easy task for her but I think she began when she was angry and very upset and she’s just kept going!
        A very damp cold Sunday here – hope to have a post ready sometime soon but we have lots of work on the house happening over the next couple of weeks 😦

  12. Once again, fascinating to see a part of your country through your lens and your eyes. The little spider with the contrasting patterns made me think of the painted pottery of the ancient Anasazi Indians of the American Southwest.

    • Thanks very much, Terry. Spiders are one of my favourite critters to observe and photograph, although I do understand they’re not everyone’s cup of tea. I enjoyed the shot you mentioned for similar reasons. Many spiders have beautiful colours and patterns when viewed close up. When I share them on my blog I hope to show this aspect. They are a much maligned critter even though many are harmless. I am often drawn to their complicated webs and intrigued by the method in which they construct them. I’m glad you appreciate their beauty as well. Have a great day. I always look forward to your stunning landscapes and macro-photography. 🙂

    • Thanks, Nandini, for the encouraging comments and the follow. I will have to check out your blog too. Nice to “meet” you as well. Best wishes! 🙂

  13. This post made me laugh… ‘break-neck duck waddling speed’,
    It made me reminisce over the Harry Butler shows,
    lament at the absence of wonderful female nature-lovers on mainstream media sharing their unique perspectives,
    feel thankful for the accessibility we have to wonderful blogs like yours Jane,
    and wonder at what on earth those two walking mobile phones were up to!

    Being in nature refreshes the spirit so well.
    Thanks for a lovely post!

    • Hi Gail,
      Thanks for your encouraging words. I’m glad my words gave you a giggle and also stimulated other thoughts and memories. You write so well! I wish I had thought of using those words, “lament at the absence of wonderful female nature-lovers on mainstream media sharing their unique perspectives.” You’ve said what I wanted to say so much better than me. 🙂
      I wondered if other Australian blogging friends had enjoyed the Harry Butler shows too. They remind me of a simpler time. Not that I want to revert back to those days though when women had fewer opportunities. I just miss a society that had less screen time and we spent time riding bikes and playing outdoors.
      Thanks very much for your continued support of my blogging. I haven’t had as much time this year to keep up to date on everyone elses but I hope to catch up when time allows. Best wishes and happy pedalling! 🙂

  14. I really love the mushroom pictures ! I didn’t know it was possible to find some green colours in mushrooms… I don’t know why 😀 I also enjoyed seeing the kangaroos in the wild. It’s quite nice ! I’m still freaked out by the spiders pictures even if one of them looks quite thin and cute but I didn’t dare looking for too long 😀

    • Hi!
      I’m not sure if the green was a natural feature of the mushroom or if it was the result of the damage done by insects allowing it to be susceptible to some kind of mould growth. I might have to research that one. I agree, it’s unusual to see that colour on a mushroom! Even though I live in the suburbs, I see kangaroos frequently on our sports ovals nibbling grass at dawn as we have bushland for them to hide in nearby. This will change as housing development continues to chew up the surrounding land though. Well, I’m pleased you were able to look at the spider pictures for a short while! 😀 Thanks for reading and commenting. It’s always lovely to have your feedback. Have a great day. 🙂

  15. A wonderful, entertaining post, as usual, Jane. I especially love the spiders and the drunken pygmy possums. Like you, I spent many hours of childhood wandering around (by myself) outdoors. At some point, I realized that walking with someone in the woods was an excellent test of kindred-spirited-ness. Some people I wished would just go away and let me wander alone, others were compatible woods wanderers. Now, even though my husband is my favorite walking companion, I still love my solitary walks. I’m fortunate to be able to walk in the woods every day, right from my home.
    I hope you get some lovely rambles in soon. Sounds like you may need them after the borers, rats, and fleas (oh my).

    • Thank you very much for your encouraging comments. It’s lovely to hear your thoughts. I agree about walking in the woods being a good test of kindred-spirited-ness. I must remind my daughter of that when she is considering future beaus. 😉 It’s interesting how with some people we can still enjoy that peaceful feeling of being alone even though we are with them. We can be “together but alone” in a positive way. It doesn’t feel like they are intruding on our thoughts. My daughter is my favourite walking companion, but like you I also love my solitary wanders. The weather is hot and humid this week. We have maximum temps between 35 – 40 C and the humidity is above 80% so I will probably be waiting until cooler weather to venture out. I do most of my walking in the cooler months as I don’t cope well with heat. The rain from our summer storms is wonderful for the garden though. The rats, borers and fleas? Shudder… Have a wonderful day. 🙂

    • Thanks very much, Brittany. I’m sure you would have had a fabulous time exploring the area and I would have enjoyed your company that’s for sure. Have a great day, Smiley! 🙂

  16. Thanks for another great post, Jane! I share your need for occasional solitude in nature. More often than I get it really. It puts me in mind of page 1 of Moby Dick – “Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.” I kind of feel the same about dunking myself in the natural world. Love your little gecko. I’ve been lucky to travel and have seem thousands of little geckos but for some reason, despite a love of reptiles, I don’t have a record of what I have seen. Anyway, sorry for the ramble 🙂 Great post!

    • Hi David,
      Thank you for the great Moby Dick quote! I’ve read many classics but have yet to attempt this one. I should really take a look. What appropriate words for my blog. “Dunking” oneself in the natural world is a great way to put it. I’ve not seen many species of gecko in my life – perhaps four? I would love to see more, especially a leaf-tailed gecko. You never ramble on. I always appreciate your interesting thoughts and support, David. Thanks and best wishes! 🙂

  17. Solitude!!! one of my favourite states as well….solitude apart from the life that surrounds, bloody march flies. Some times when I read your blog and look at the wonderful photos, I think that the photos are just for me as you take photos of all the things I love to photo too 🙂 fungi – spiders – bark – butterflies – lizards……as for Harry Butler!!! considered compulsory viewng in our house too!!!
    Thanks for a great read my short, hairy fingered, duck waddling friend x

    • Thanks very much, Brian! It’s lovely to know you appreciate solitude as much as I do. 🙂 I’m so pleased that you enjoy my photos so much as reading your blog helped inspire me to start my own. Seeing that someone else appreciated similar aspects of nature was very encouraging. I wondered how many of my readers watched Harry Butler as a child. It was fascinating for me, even if some of the scenes may have been set up. Haha…thanks for appreciating my list of qualities. Best wishes! 🙂

  18. Hi Jane. Really loved this post, your blog just gets better. Loved your spider shots (the green one is spectacular). And, you got to meet Harry – or the next best thing!

    I was a big Harry Butler fan in my youth, he was way ahead of his time in terms of his documentary approach to exploring nature. Then I of course discovered David Attenborough, a peerless educator and naturalist.

    Butler died only recently, aged 85, on 11 December 2015, in Perth.

    Cheers and all the best
    Rob

    • Hi Rob,

      Thanks for the encouragement and also for identifying the gecko and skink for me! While I’m a big fan of reptiles, I’m not great at naming them. 🙂

      Ah yes, Harry’s series was the first nature documentary I remember and like you, I also became a fan of David Attenborough. Gerald Durrell’s “My Family and Other Animals” influenced me as well. I could certainly relate to his childhood enthusiasm for all critters.

      When researching for this blog post I discovered that Harry had only recently died. I was surprised as I thought he was quite old when I saw him on TV. I suppose the effects of the sun can make a person seem older and as a little kid, people that age seem “really, really old”!

      Have a great week, Rob. I’m looking forward to more of your stunning photography. 🙂

  19. Great post Jane. When you described finding a nice quiet cave for a rest I suspected that you were about to write that you were interrupted by boulderers. The park has increased dramatically in popularity with this group over the last 5 years or so too. Hence the walking mobile phones (awesome description btw).

    • Thanks Cameron! Actually, when I was puzzling over why the guys had so much gear but were wearing thongs, I remembered the comment you wrote on one of my posts about bouldering. I think I wrote about it in a reply to someone else on this post. There are certainly plenty of great rocky areas to enjoy doing it. Perhaps I should give it a go! 😉 Best wishes.

    • Thank you, John! I’m also very surprised and puzzled at how the blog has grown. It’s hard for me to believe as there are plenty of fantastic blogs out there with much better photography and writing than mine. I’m very thankful to have so many supportive readers and especially grateful to you and others who encouraged me right from the very first blog post. Best wishes. 🙂

  20. An amazing post full of wonderful photos of all the things that you see while on your hikes! You also write very well to keep us entertained between the great photos, which is a skill that I lack. It is good to get a woman’s perspective on nature for a change, there haven’t been enough women on the TV shows that you mentioned, or in the great outdoors in any form.

    • Thanks very much, Jerry. I always appreciate your encouraging comments, especially since you take such wonderful photos. I don’t agree with you about your lack of writing skill, but thanks for the lovely compliment. I always enjoy reading your words as well as looking at your excellent pictures. I learn valuable hints about photography from your posts and as I add to my camera equipment and when I install Lightroom, I’ll be able to refer back to your blog for handy tips. It’s so much easier than trying to understand the camera manuals. Have a great week and happy snapping. 🙂

  21. Who needs a TV naturalist when we have you? I always enjoy my visits here with you, Jane. There are so many beautiful things to see.

    Today it was your spiders that arrested my attention! I guess I’m just weird that way, but I like spiders. Well, perhaps I should clarify… I like them and find them interesting, but not so much if they jump out of the grass and take a bite! That happened last summer. 😉 Anyway, the striped number above who hangs in an X was particularly beautiful.

    • I’m sorry to take so long to reply, Lynda! I’m having problems getting WordPress pages to load this last week. I’m not sure if anyone else is having issues with it. It may just be my old computer or browsers. Anyway, thank you very much for those encouraging words. I’m an admirer of spiders but not as keen to have them crawl on me or surprise me on a wall at night. I especially like their dewy webs in the morning and the pretty patterns some of them have. The St Andrews Cross spider which you mention is a beauty. I often see them on my walks. They’re probably less threatening looking than the huge orb weavers. I’m glad you appreciate their beauty and interesting features as well. I’ve been surprised to find the spider appreciation club is bigger than I thought. Best wishes! 🙂

  22. Hi Jane. I was highly entertained reading your gorgeous story. You tell at story brilliant ❤ The little video is very entertaining too.
    I think it's quite normal to have an urge for solitude. Especially if you are one of those who like to reflects or just being in the present.
    Thanks for making me smile and laugh 🙂 …and thanks for sharing the great poetry ❤

    • Hi Hanna,
      Thanks very much. I’m pleased you enjoyed the photos and the story. Kind feedback always puts a smile on my face. I hope you’re having a great day. Best wishes! 🙂

    • Haha…yes, I had to look a few times to make sure I wasn’t imagining it. When I showed the pictures to my daughter she thought they looked like mobile phones with legs too. I’m glad it gave you a smile. Thanks for commenting. Happy hiking to you too! 🙂

  23. A great post. Hopefully your video will make itself known from the bowels of your computer. I find that many people don’t understand solitude, it’s such an alien concept to them that they think that people that embrace it are ill! I still get hassles from my parents about it, they don’t seem to think it’s natural! But I guess everything is relative! 🙂

    • Thanks, Rob! It is probably a good thing the recording has disappeared – it could have been very embarrassing and boring. I’m very awkward at these things really. 🙂 Yes, sometimes I get the feeling from people that they think I am weird for wanting solitude. It’s got nothing to do with not liking people though. Some of us just enjoy time alone. Yes, my parents were more social than me. I was often hiding away in my room reading a book at night while others were watching TV together. Some cultures seem to understand/value solitude more than others I think. Thanks for reading. I do hope you get some better weather coupled with time off work for more walking. The weather has been quite bad in parts of the UK. Best wishes. 🙂

  24. Hi Jane, what about Ranger Stacey! I used to enjoy waking up in the afternoons to watch Ranger Stacey;) Bear Grylls might have a clothing range named after him but Ranger Stacey was that famous that there was a rock band going around the traps named after her!
    Seriously though my favourite on your list is Les Hiddins (the Bush Tucker Man), he didn’t so much as talk about conquering nature as living in nature, and while he was definitely a middle aged white bloke his empathy and relationships with the local indigenous was probably ahead of its time, I still watch his old stuff occasionally and find that its aged well.
    Another Great Post.
    Cheers Kevin

    • Ranger Stacey and Totally Wild? Thanks for reminding me, Kevin. How could I have left her out?! That would have been when we moved out west and we had 5 years without TV reception so I suppose I missed her shows. She also didn’t start until 1992 so she wasn’t really part of my childhood, or yours I guess. At least with your shift work you got to enjoy her shows… 🙂
      I never got to see a lot of the Les Hiddins shows, but as you say he had a lot of empathy and seemed to foster respectful relationships with the local Indigenous people. I must have a look at his shows again. I’m sure a lot of the older documentaries from certain people had less than desirable references to the traditional owners of this country.
      Thanks for reading and commenting as always even though I neglect to comment on your very worthy blog! I read them all, but am way behind in commenting. Best wishes, Kevin. 🙂

      • No worries about not commenting Jane, I reckon you’ve got your hands full with your blog, I don’t think I’d actually have time to do a blog if I had as many people commenting as you do! After I posted the first comment above I realised that I hadn’t mentioned the bit about waking up in the afternoon after working night shift, I was hoping that you weren’t thinking that I’m the laziest person in the world:) Technically your right 1992 definitely wasn’t part of my childhood, although….I’m almost 50 now and a lot of my friends would say I’m still living my childhood!
        Cheers Kevin

  25. Ah, back in good spirits and a world of incongruous things: Keats, drunken pygmy possums, a famous Harry, and “Mad Men”. To that list you could also have added the martini, which would seem to tie in to the good spirits and the drunken pygmy possum, but which led to Lizardland instead.

    If Keats is a favorite of your daughter, the last line of the poem by him that you quoted reminded me that the painting “Kindred Spirits” was a favorite of my father. When I was younger I saw it in the New York Public Library, which owned it then, and again a few years ago in Arkansas at the Crystal Bridges Museum, which owns it now:

    http://crystalbridges.org/blog/asher-b-durands-kindred-spirits/

    • Wow! Thanks for sharing that wonderful link with me, Steve. I must confess I knew nothing about Asher Durand, even though he seems to have been a very famous American landscape artist. As soon as I saw “Kindred Spirits” it appealed to me. I could see myself in that setting next to my daughter. I can see why it was a favourite of your father. I would love to have that hanging on my wall. I think it perfectly illustrates Keat’s poem. It looks like a very interesting blog and I will investigate it further. Sadly, I do not know much about the older American artists. I’m looking forward to sharing the picture and story with my daughter. I’m sure she’ll be pleased, especially since she is an artist as well.
      Alas, I have come down with a fourth case of “purple potato face” this week so I’m not in as good spirits as I could be but your comment and link has cheered me up considerably. Eventually they will sort out what to do with me.
      Thanks, Steve. Have a wonderful weekend. I always look forward to your excellent photography and words. I never know what you’ll be sharing next. 🙂

        • Outlandish? Oh, I do like that description. No-one has ever mentioned that word in relation to me before. 🙂 It’s been a long time since I’ve heard the Flying Purple People Eater song. Thanks for the reminder. Maybe one took a bite of me while I was snoozing in a cave? 🙂

          • Outlandish strikes me as the right word, based on some of the things you say in your posts and the way you say them. Or maybe the word occurred to me because you prefer to be out on the land as often as possible. (As an aside, the German word for foreigner is Ausländer, literally outlander.)

            I didn’t know if you’d know that song, which I remember from childhood, but you do.

  26. Hi Jane, Harry Butler – now there’s a blast from the past. I remember the show he hosted was quite successful and won at least one award. Yet Harry was never a TV ‘personality’ and was bemused by the awards ceremony. I think he always saw himself as a bushman and observer of the natural world.

    • Hi Margaret,
      I was too young to know much about the whole awards thing back then, but I certainly can’t picture Harry as wanting to be a TV “personality”. Thanks for sharing more information about him. It’s nice to reminisce with others who remember these people from my childhood. Harry and others fueled my interest in the outdoors that’s for sure. I hope you’re well and able to enjoy walks at the moment. Best wishes. 🙂

    • Hi Sheryl, I’m pleased you were able to enjoy my walk through pictures and words. I usually see plenty of spiders on my walks. I’m fascinated by their webs, especially those of the golden orb weaver which can be huge and are quite strong. I hope you enjoy the rest of your week. Thanks for reading and commenting. Best wishes. 🙂

    • Yes, the St Andrew’s Cross spider is very attractive, isn’t it? I like its colours and patterns and the way it holds its legs. Thanks very much for reading and commenting. 🙂

    • Hi Laura,
      Thank you very much for the lovely feedback. I’m pleased you enjoyed it. I love fungi, spiders and reptiles too, as you can see. I’ve just checked your great blog and look forward to delving further when I get a chance. Lately I’ve been quite busy with family and work activities and the blogging world has been neglected. I hope to continue though. Best wishes and thanks again for reading and taking the time to comment. It’s much appreciated. 🙂

  27. Hi Jane, it is a joy to read your blog, which I just found out about. Your words and pictures are magical, I wish I was on the same journey. I am a huge fan of solitude and it always get me excited to read about the solo adventures of other women because I get my inspiration from their courage. I’m also planning a little solo walk of my own. Please drop by my blog for a visit if you have time. Thanks 🙂

    • Hi!
      Thank you so much for reading my blog and taking the time to give me such lovely feedback. I’ve just followed your blog also and have had a quick read of your about page and some of your blog posts. I look forward to reading more when I have spare time. I sincerely hope you are able to fulfill your dream of living in Australia. I agree with that we are lucky to have so many open spaces to explore and many of our cities and towns have plenty of green spaces. As you’ve written in your “about” page, it is not the case for many people living in other parts of the world. I value solitude and solo walks in the wild are very therapeutic. I understand something of the Autism Spectrum as it was part of my studies at university many years ago and one of my close relatives has Asperger’s Syndrome. As such I can really sympathise with the discomfort you feel in environments where there is overwhelming sensory stimulation such as busy cities and noisy shopping malls. I do hope you enjoy your planned solo walk and are able to find places to enjoy nature. You’re very articulate in expressing yourself in your blog. I think your own journey very inspiring. I wish you much happy adventuring. Thanks again for your kind praise. Very best wishes, Jane. 🙂

  28. Did you ever figure out what the giant mobile phones on legs were? Someone passed us up there yesterday morning with the same enormous flat bag on this back, should have asked because I’m now eaten up with curiosity.

    • Hi there,
      They are actually people who go “bouldering”. They take their own mattress to use when landing/falling when they climb up and over large boulders. From from I remember they do it without ropes/pegs. They just use their hands and feet. A version of rock climbing without the tall cliffs. It has become very popular out at White Rock these days. I haven’t been able to find out where they actually practise though. I’ve love to watch. You could try googling bouldering and see if there are videos/pics of people at White Rock. I hope that satisfies your curiosity. I know it got me wondering at the time! 🙂

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