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Contour drawing the trees during yesterday’s nature journaling workshop.

Forty-two years ago, Nonie Metzler’s property at Jones Hill (near Gympie) was a cleared paddock where cattle grazed. Since that time, the eucalypt grassy woodland that once graced the site before clearing has been making a steady comeback. Firstly, through benign neglect (by removing the cattle and stopping the cycle of annual burns). But more recently, through sheer hard work and persistence. Nonie has put in an amazing effort (ably assisted by the local environment groups) to remove pine and cadaghi trees, lantana, molasses grass and weedy vines, and to plant lots of indigenous native plants. The regrowth vegetation is diverse and healthy, and the wildlife is thriving. Yesterday I noted at least 25 bird species, and I wasn’t even really concentrating hard on the birds. Instead I was teaching nature journaling techniques to 13 lovely people as part of a full-day workshop organised by the Gympie Regional Gallery.

We had a great time! In the morning we tried contour drawing the trees, followed by a meander in the bush where we did speed sketches of ironbark flowers, and discussed the best ways to sketch something for later identification. We talked about the resilience and recovery of the site, enjoyed all the marvelous birdsong, and got a close-up look at a bandicoot. During lunch there were colour paints and pencils to experiment with, and participants swapped tips about their favorite portable art materials for painting en plein air. After lunch Nonie led us on a tour around the dam and we tried some writing techniques to free up the imagination and have fun, including conversations with a silky oak, twig, bluebell, fungus and the earth itself. The rest of the day was spent doing some individual nature journaling, and I spied many wonderful creations by the day’s end.

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Doing some nature writing near the dam.

I’d like to once again thank Nonie, the Gympie Regional Gallery and all of the people who attended yesterday for a fine day of nature journaling (And Bonnie the manx cat for keeping an eye on us for most of the day). This workshop was part of the Bimblebox 153 Birds exhibition which is on at the Gympie Regional Gallery until the 3rd September and is well worth a look.

If you’d like to attend one of my upcoming nature journaling workshops, check out the Events page for details and how to book.

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A beautiful day, gorgeous trees, lots of birds and great company – it’s hard not to be inspired!