Showing posts from January, 2011

At the waters edge (Part 2)

Down by the lighthouse, where the turning of the tide exposes rocks and weed, birds gather to look for food, to loaf about and to squabble over finds and food. Pacific Gulls, huge, muscular looking birds stand guard over fish frames and other delights. These gulls have the largest beak of any gull, and it looks a fearsome weapon, even through the protection of binoculars. One bird seems to have surprising difficulty with a toad fish, probably discarded by a fisherman. Even the huge beak seems not to be able to cut through the tough outer skin, and eventually the bird takes flight bearing its fishy find with it. Seaweed coats the rocks with tiny balls that look and feel like slimy, rubber marbles, each footstep is risky, and jumping out of the question. I pick my way to the sea’s edge and look south towards distant Antarctica. I turn around and look north, towards even more distant Cape York in Queensland, and I am struck by the size of this continent island and the scale of the floo

At the waters edge (part 1)

I was back at Point Lonsdale, west of Melbourne, on the Bellarine Peninsula, my normal summer haunt. I have probably spent more nights in this house than anywhere that I don’t actually call home. I was beginning to wonder what I would see that was new, or at least different. There had been rain, not as much as further north where floods had washed away homes, destroyed towns and lives in a way that has not been seen before, but there was enough to alter plans. A low pressure sitting to the south of Victoria pulled warm, moist tropical air from monsoonal far north Australia, and it rained and rained and rained. Warm rain, steady rain, unfamiliar rain. In such weather you just get on with it because you are on holiday. (I was aware at the time and remain painfully aware that the rain I am talking about was robbing people of all they had - and I had the same unreal feeling as during the recent bush fires - “How can this be?” “How can this be happening here?” To complain of spoiled beac

First Day of Summer - Tales of the Riverbank

There was no snow this time, but there were butterflies and buttercups. There were far less people, but those who were there seemed intent on making enough noise to make up for the lack of crowds. Why do some people feel the need to have a good shout the moment that they emerge from their car? Does the sudden rush of space scare them? Have they had the radio turned up so loud that they can only communicate by bellowing? Who knows. It was strange to find that the footpath we had walked along to the summit of Mount Donna Buang in the winter was in fact a road, and that the car parks that had been flowing with liquid mud were now silent and empty. In the equally deserted BBQ shelter I found out that Mount Donna Buang is higher than anywhere in the UK outside of Scotland. I recently read a few lines to the effect that being the highest point in Britain is a bit like being the longest hole on a mini golf course. This is of course not a flattering assessment, but it was probably written by