Flying foxes live life large across the landscape. They are the chief pollinators and seed carriers for many species of forest trees.
It’s not a done deal. The swamplands that define Byron Bay are crippled but still alive. The NSW Joint Regional Planning Panel is still debating how mega-development of West Byron might harm the Cumbebin Nature Reserve and the Belongil waterway.
This replica nawi, unlike the bark canoe at the Maritime Museum, is oversized and made of steel. It is moored at a cove at Barangaroo, the inner city place named after a Cammeraygal woman.
Where to go during the holidays? Try following waterways and discovering waterplaces. Start with a ramble down some path or an hour along a shore: curiosity will take over. Where did this water come from? What is it doing now? Where might it go? What does it mean?
In our town, from December to January, each Royal Poinciana Delonix regia blooms. The magnificent red flowers cascade over the soft green leaves.
From the days of the dinosaurs, birds have been an integral part of our world. People have always watched and listened to them and members of a wise culture would also be learning from them. But are we?
By night, the nearby ICOLLs are creatures inhabiting my dreams. Intermittently Closed and Open Lake or Lagoon (ICOLL) is the proper name for the Richmond and the Brunswick, the Belongil and the Tallow waterways.
Though I am on my way to somewhere else, I pause at the mangroves. They are a steadfast shelter as the fierce winds shift. Their roots steady the muddy bank under my feet.
Living in the subtropics – even for a short while as a visitor – means becoming weather wise. Of course there’s a fire ban. No open fires, especially on the beach. No tossing of cigarettes either.
These very old trees in the Railway Park, Byron Bay, are a mystery. With camera in hand, I walk around this living sculpture. These native beach hibiscus (Hibiscus tilaceus) are locked in on three sides by the buildings, cars of a busy street and a rough parking lot.
Neutinamu is Korean for elm tree. I saw this elder Zelkova in Seoul last month. It’s 1,300 years old, part of the Yonggungsa Temple founded in 650 AD. Around its base are roofing tiles with prayers and pleas written by devout Buddhists. Perhaps the chalk dust of these intentions mingle with the tree’s own perceptions. After all, trees sense through their leaves and roots.
From Byron Bay to Notre Dame, Paris! At the entrance, police openly tout heavy machine guns, casually monitoring the swarm of idle visitors and devout churchgoers in the great stone plaza.
In the calm of 29 March, the three of us met at the beach in Byron Bay. As we soaked in the sea at low tide, we talked about preparing our houses and farms for the rainfall expected from the tail end of Cyclone Debbie.
The power of a Great Story goes round and round, spiralling outward from its first telling. Such stories become influential but why? Consider one from 1968 called ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’.
The return of oysters will first benefit seawater and marine life. Then one day, when the bivalve housekeepers get on top of their work, people will have access to good local wild food.
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.
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.
Every day, I look at the frame we picked up at the neighbours’ garage sale. They knew little about it except that years ago, a relative collected seashells and made this assemblage.
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.
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.
Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson will open an exhibition of ‘portraits’ of Byron Bay koalas this morning at Byron Library.