The horticulturalist was astonished to hear that my vanilla orchid was flowering in Northern Rivers. Two years ago, propped up at the base of a tall Bangalow palm, this lone plant burst into maturity as a vine.
Rainbow bee-eaters, the size of a small child’s hand, tunnel deep into the face of the dunes making nests near the Tallows waterway. At the base of the dune is the new two strand fence, a token defence against people who would clamber up and down or bring along their forbidden dogs.
From how far can the cries of a seabird be heard? The gannets that dive here in the waters of Byron shire nest on rock ledges of the West Coast in the Waitakere Ranges. With their every cry come words from across the shared ocean.
Real estate is often thought to be dry land. But long standing depictions of country in Australia focus on water. Aboriginal Australian artworks remind us of the locations and flow of water as a dynamic integrated presence above and below ground.
On the April 19, the branching corals at Nguthungulli/Julian Rocks show up white. The warm water was too much for too long and they bleached. The same water encourages the leopard sharks to linger here later.
he blast of fireworks lit up the grand finale on the platform in the waters of Currumbin. I joined the happy applause at this world premiere of Shifting Sands. The performers were professional artists as well as community people from many groups.
Mary Gardner One of my favourite things is meeting this frog. Her presence is a small sweet confirmation of the power without name. A tiny fertile egg had become a tadpole and then an adult. Food was there when needed.... Read More →
California is still setting trends on its beaches and coasts. Okay, the Beach Boys are still playing in Monterey in early January but look behind the scenes.
The black and white birds with the long red beaks and legs are telling, but so very quietly. Taxonomists call them Haematopus longirostris. Bundjalung, the pipi-birds, leading people to beds of shellfish. Anglos, pied oystercatchers or, from the 19th century, ‘sea pies’.
Crowds are still cheering how the sea floods 250 hectares at Steart on the mouth of the River Parrett, UK. This is the latest of five national ‘coastal realignment’ projects. Environmentalists worked with the local townspeople to undo a hundred years of hard seawalls with ‘soft engineering’.
From the viewing platform at The Pass, the onshore wind is fierce. I brace myself and scan the sea, as if this hour were my turn on the watch of a ship. Ahead I see the blows of five or six humpback whales. Next, their great splashes.
This waterway on Tallow Beach is still open to the sea. Nearly in tears, I stare at the pelican strutting in the cross currents. The lump of knowledge chokes in my throat and I am lost for words. The camera with its telephoto lens holds the image better than memory.
Sometimes, when I look across the Bay, I glimpse the global cinema epic. I see us all as bit players in the crowd scene. The lead characters are outrageous. The magnificent Sea, whatever the turn of plot, has its way every time.
Day after day, I watch the sun rise. Light glitters on the clear crystal surf as well as the smoky quartz Tallow lagoon. These different water jewels crown two parks, Arakwal and Cape Byron.
‘These birds recognise us,’ says my friend. ‘See them? They are waiting for treats. They’ll fly ahead to where we usually stop.’
Cavvanbah was name the Bundjalung people used for what is now Byron Bay. The word is translated as ‘the meeting place’ but could well describe a location where fresh and salt waters meet.
Billions of people tally their lives according to the Christian calendar, one of nine in use today. But apart from these is still another practice in timing: tracking cycles of seasons.
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.’