Three types of surface waters flow in Byron Bay. The first is rainwater. The second is the sea. The third is the water flow that we rely on now that we have given up on using natural springs and wells: our tap water and sewerage system.
The growth plan for Byron Bay? To be economically viable, I am told that we need to expand from village to town. The NSW government definition of ‘town’ has a population over 20,000. To my mind, 20,000 koalas is ambitious.
Tracking large sharks sounds good on paper, but what’s required for the sake of beachgoers, to stalk these marine predators and report their whereabouts?
The number of the long-protected gannets today are increasing, but their new knack in diving for small fish baited on long lines, and being snagged and drowned there, suggests their future is still uncertain.
Like anyone with a Leunig calendar, I flick ahead to read all the cartoons. I stop at the one with the character walking a bike by the cliff edge, who smiles at the grand view of a mountain range.
The 50 or 60 species of flying fish actually glide through the air. Accelerating underwater at a speed of more than 30 body lengths per second, they dart forward and up, spreading their wide fins like fans. Their tails beat the water 50 times a second.
Back in 1841, Clement Hodgkinson described the coast of the northern rivers as ‘extensive swamps of many thousand acres in extent, whose verdant sea, of high waving reeds and sedge, stretches away to the base of the distant forest ranges.
‘I grew up on a dairy farm on a ridge between Byron and Lennox. We always knew when there was a whale in the Bay. We heard the boom from the harpoon. When they shot one, it echoed all around.’
For Banksia, breeding is a drawn-out affair. None of the hurly-burly of the usual vegetables, in the ground one month and producing seeds the next.
I brought home the roadkill. The raggedy dead butterfly is called a Common Crow, perhaps a female. But imagine: alive she might have migrated along the coast from Moreton Bay fig trees to frangipanis.
In some daring moment, you may have proclaimed ‘the world’s my oyster!’ But exactly what is an oyster’s world? Salty wet morsels on a half shell, what sort of life leaves them finally exposed on a plate at a fancy dinner?
Have you heard about the Ocean Shores photographer who discovered a new species of jellyfish, which he found at high tide in the Brunswick River?
My hiking companion is ahead of me, searching for the old drain which runs through the Cumbebin wetlands. We are in the ‘regrowth’: closely packed paperbark trees some fifty years old.
The soundscape changed. Startled, I looked up from my book. For weeks, I’ve listened to the wind freshening and soughing around the house. But this was a new deep hum, close, at the front door.
Mary Gardner These past few weeks, the waves drop and surfers are becalmed. As the days lengthen, the spring flush of phytoplankton, the free-floating mass of single-cell life, makes the water a murky green. Visibility closes in for me and... Read More →
The Big Prawn, now fronting the Bunnings car park in Ballina, is overwhelming. It’s as huge for what it represents in Australian culture: cooked crustaceans. But what of the green and brown living creatures themselves?
You may retreat, panic or get depressed. You give up on the future of the world. The more realistic your assessment, the more profound and dark can be your emotional reaction. Story & photo Mary Gardner Somehow we get... Read More →
Sleep researchers … describe dreaming as a virtual world and sages in many of the world’s traditions describe being in dreams as visiting alternate worlds. Story & photo Mary Gardner In an instant, I sense a change in the air... Read More →
Story & photo Mary Gardner How did flatheads reach the top of the news last week? From May 3 to 23, the NSW government removed fishing quotas relating to these fishes in state waters (three nautical miles). Was their action... Read More →
Story & photo Mary Gardner On the shore of the ocean, all dead woods are equal now. Whether as wrecks of trees or old ships from the 1800s – all are surrendered to the salty water and the heavy sand.... Read More →