A sublime scarp in a country of coal

posted in: Nature journaling, Writing | 8

The Blackdown Tablelands lie between Rockhampton and Emerald, in central Queensland. We stopped there on the way up to Bimblebox Nature Refuge last month, and this is what I wrote. The coal trains wind their way across the land like … Continued

She didn’t need much.

posted in: Tales of science, Writing | 24

She didn’t need much. While I was busy with my own small worries, my own daily life, this last two years, she was just quietly getting on with her own. I didn’t know it, but she was less than a … Continued

Want to get started with nature journaling? This little guidebook will show you how.

posted in: Books, Nature journaling, Writing | 21

Nature journaling is a relaxing and fun way to connect with the natural world. You don’t need to be super-fit, or travel far to do it. Nature journaling improves your powers of observation and ability to see beauty and detail. … Continued

Lullabies for life

A pair of fairy wrens are in our garden – their calls are shrill, sweet and curiously penetrating. And for the first time ever, I think they might stay. This is terribly exciting. When we moved here eight years ago, … Continued

Dialogue with a logrunner

posted in: Tales of science, Writing | 16

Me: Hello little logrunner, how are things with you? Logrunner: (scratch, scratch)…oh…you talking to me? Me: Yes, I’d like to know what it’s like to be a logrunner. Logrunner: (cocks her head, looks at me with a big dark eye) … Continued

Why are Australian swans black?

Australian swans are black, while most swans are white. Why should this be? When I was a child, growing up in Australia, the only swans I saw were black. At Lake Wendouree in Ballarat, or in the Botanic Gardens of … Continued

Is an aboriginal woomera like a heron’s neck?

This post is co-authored by Gordon Sanson.¹ Early dawn light is creeping across a glassy-still wetland, as wreaths of mist curl upwards. A large white egret stands still, poised ready. Nearby an aboriginal man is waiting for kangaroos to venture … Continued

The toadfish, the toe-cutter, and the great swimming head

posted in: Tales of science, Writing | 2

  I once met a man who could hypnotize toadfish. He would stand ankle-deep, on the mudflats of Bramble Bay, with his heels together like Dorothy. And the little common toadfish would swim into the ‘V’ created, and become still. … Continued

Walk like a man: Was the giant kangaroo too big to hop?

Many years ago, Franz Kafka imagined a creature that was elusive, and remained tantalizingly out of reach, so that its exact nature was never quite discerned: The animal resembles a kangaroo, but not as to the face, which is flat … Continued

Egrets? I’ve had a few…

  Over the last couple of months four species of egret have been frequenting Dowse Lagoon. Sometimes I see them together in the same muddy corner near the bird-hide. They are the great egret Ardea alba, plumed or intermediate egret … Continued

The strangler fig: everyone’s favorite killer

posted in: Tales of science, Writing | 2

A rainforest tree is subject to many mortal perils: shade, cyclones, fires, chainsaws. One of the most grotesque and extended deaths is carried in a tiny seed, rained down from above by complicit birds and bats. Many such seeds drop … Continued

Why is the house gecko noisy while most lizards are silent?

A recent visitor to our house – a keen naturalist from southern Australia – was startled the first time he heard the sound of an Asian House gecko, and was even more surprised that a gecko was responsible for the … Continued

Of bugs and booyongs

The rainforest holds many secrets in its high vaulted green ceilings, swooping loops of vines, a million soft mossy pockets and damp rotting piles of leaves. So many tales to tell. Of tree and leaf, beast and bug, season and … Continued

Little red nomads head north for the winter

  Around Easter-time it starts. The stirring of retired folks – the ‘grey nomads’ – as they load up their 4WD’s and caravans and head north for the winter. In south-east Queensland you see them on the freeways, mostly up … Continued

Why is the ibis often grubby, and the egret always clean?

posted in: Tales of science, Writing | 9

Lifestyle choices or better beauty products? The Australian white ibis often looks grubby, but the white plumage of egrets always looks freshly laundered – with a purity and glow that the makers of clothes detergents would die for. Both birds … Continued