Wednesday, March 21, 2018


Dust Storm!!

Last Sunday morning we were walking along the shore of Lake Burley Griffin. It was a beautiful, calm, sunny day when we started out. After we had walked about a Kilometer from where we had parked the car, the wind started to get very strong. The lake changed from calm to a mess of choppy waves, some of them big enough to splash over the path. The sky got cloudy and the air started to get murky. By the time we got back to the car the air was full of dust and by the time we got home visibility was way down. The two bottom photos are taken from our balcony. They are almost exactly the same area. The one on the left was taken on Sunday during the dust storm, the one on the right on a clear day sometime earlier. As dust storms go, this was nothing compared to some of the ones that happen in outback Australia, but it is the first one I have seen and it taught me that Mums get cranky if you open a window to see it better (Mums and dusty furniture are an explosive mix).



Pond Walks

I am very lucky because there are so many nice walks close to where I live. The ones that I like are the ones that go around the many ponds that are part of the system that helps stop flash flooding after big storms. The first 3 photos are of different ponds, all within 10 minutes of home. Most of them are about a kilometer around, a good distance for a nice stroll with stops to photograph birds, trees and sunsets. Just before evening they have hundreds of waterbirds in them, but even in the middle of the day there are some there. All of the birds are used to people feeding them and come right up to see if you have anything for them. The last photo is of part of the largest "pond", Lake Burley Griffin. This lake is about 30 kilometers around, so the Oldies don't try to walk that in one go. The area in this photo was swamp a decade ago, but it has been built up and turned into a marina and lakeside apartment and restaurant area. The Oldies sure can't afford to live here, our apartment is much less fancy, but we have more ponds near us. There was a competition to name one of the ponds a while back. There were lots of suggestions, but the winner was "Pond, James Pond". I like that.


Friday, March 16, 2018


The Royal Refuge Cave

Since the Oldies are not taking me traveling anywhere new for a few months, I will catch up on some past travel photos. Here is a different sort of place that I visited during our day on Ile des Pins during our New Caledonia cruise in 2015. It is a cave, or, more accurately, a grotto where a native queen called Hortense hid for several months during a tribal war in 1855. There is a track from the carpark  down through jungle to the grotto. A small stream runs through the grotto and the floor is muddy and slippery. I was glad that Dad was carrying me, because Mum would have had harsh words to say if I had come back with muddy fur. Deep into the cave you can find the flat rock where Queen Hortense slept. I found a smaller rock shelf higher off the floor where small bears could sleep if they ever needed to. It is not much of a cave as caves go, but worth a visit because of its history. Most tours of the Ile des Pins include a stop here.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2018


Sunset Strolls

Our apartment is only 15 minutes drive from the centre of Canberra, the national capital. Our suburb is classed as inner north. However, all of these photos have been taken during some of our late afternoon walks. Within 10 minutes walk of home we have large areas of grassland reserve and a system of overflow ponds (some of them quite big lakes) that help prevent flash flooding after heavy rain.There is a large pond just a few minutes walk away and it has a large population of waterbirds. Ducks, grebes and swamp hens live here, and swans and pelicans often visit. The birds are not scared of people and follow us around the paths, just in case we have something edible with us. I have been watching a mother swamp hen raising her 2 chicks. I first noticed them about 3 weeks ago. At that stage they were little balls of dark fluff with legs and squeaky voices. A week ago we had really heavy rain and the ponds all overflowed. I was worried that the chicks may have been washed away because they can't fly yet, but they survived and are doing fine. They have their first real feathers now and can swim really fast. Just before Sunset is the time when gum trees are at their prettiest, the soft red light makes their bark glow. Kangaroos are out feeding and the young males are fighting to determine who is going to be boss of the mob when the "old man" roo dies. Add in a Full Moon rising and you have a superb walk, only 10 minutes walk from home and a quarter-hour drive from the CBD. I love living here, with nature in the heart of the city.


Friday, March 02, 2018


More Fire Engines

Here's some of the fire engines on display at the Canberra Fire Museum. The 2 old ones are beautifully restored and are occasionally on display at events around Canberra. The big one being worked on is one of the airport fire trucks, in use during the 1960s. I have seen a restored one of these on display at an airport open day and am amazed at the amount of foam it can squirt and the distance the foam travels. I would love to have a go with one of these foam cannons.The small band of volunteers is aiming to have the vehicle fully restored this year. Most of the display vehicles have storage hatches open so that you can see the hoses and tools. I am fascinated by the variety of fittings and nozzles that even the oldest trucks carried. I am particularly happy to see that firemen still carry belt axes as well as using big ones. I will check out what is parked outside the fire museum whenever we drive past and stop whenever there are different vehicles on display.

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