Friday Flowers: Aussie Gardens

On Monday Aussies are celebrating their national day…in the way they love best…with a long weekend. To celebrate I thought I’d be a little lateral in my approach to Friday Flowers and focus on Aussie gardens and revisit aspects of my earlier posts. Most of these photos have been used before either in my A to Z Series in 2013 or my 365 Project in 2012.

As a welcome to today’s post, we’ll walk through the gates of an Open Garden from a few years ago. As with many Darwin gardens the Balinese influences are apparent.

Welcome to the garden.

Welcome to the garden.


Kayaks lillies and shadows_edited-1From Balinese influences to a typical Territory bush scene of another Open Garden...paper bark (melaleuca) trees through a billabong decorated with waterlilies.

From there to the unfurling of a bat plant in my own garden. Sadly I’ve since had to move the plant as a large tree, which provided shade, had to be removed. Since then it’s become a shadow of its former self.

what am I day 2

batplant maturing

Yet another Top End Open Garden, the Mosaic House, revealed its Balinese flavour with an almost Spanish influence. The shades of cool green offer a counter-balance to the tropical humidity.

Open Garden, Mosaic House, Parap, Northern Territory

Open Garden, Mosaic House, Parap, Northern Territory

For many Darwinites, a trip to the Parap markets is a Saturday morning activity involving the purchase of weekly tropical flowers for about $7 a bunch.

Buy a bunch of tropical flowers for under $10.

Buy a bunch of tropical flowers for under $10.

In trips to the billabongs and waterways of Kakadu National Park, a World Heritage Area, the colour from lotus flowers adds a vibrant zing to the day, not to be counterbalanced by the threat of saltwater crocs lurking in the same waterways.


DSC_1099And of course what are gardens and parks without a little avian interest? Above we see one of my favourite birds, the rainbow bee eater – it’s iridescent beauty is best seen as it flits through the air chasing its snacks of insects.

Did I give him indigestion?

I think I gave him indigestion, chasing him for his picture.

And there’s the cheeky cockies (cockatoos) which are seen everywhere at this time of the year. This fellow was photographed on Australia Day 2012, snacking on a berry from a palm.

On that same Australia Day we had huge storms and winds which salt-encrusted the trees along the beach-line, turning them brown for months. There really wasn’t much need for the sunscreen, hat or umbrella but the bug spray was handy.

Not much need for the sunscreen or the NT News giggle hat but the bug spray was handy today.

Not much need for the sunscreen or the NT News giggle hat but the bug spray was handy today.

Starting with a Balinese influence, we end with one as well. I love the vibrancy of the colours against the tropical sky at another of Darwin’s Open Gardens.

Bali vibe in Darwin

Bali vibe in Darwin

Happy Australia Day to all my genimates. I hope this week’s flowers and gardens have brought colour and sunshine to your day and the week ahead. 



On the Road: Dawn Galahs in Winton

Another from our drive to Queensland back in June. These silly galahs were doing gymnastics on the power lines in Winton, and in the trees, at first light, just a touch before sun up. These are the benefits of having to be on the road early.

Galahs at dawn Winton_edited-1It’s hard not to smile when you see these birds in their pink and grey feathers as they are always so exuberant. I love the light of sunrise on their feathers.

Silly galahs

A Float-illa of Pelicans

On our recent day trip to Kakadu we were able to visit Anbangbang billabong. When we visited back in May the road was still closed off due to the rains and flooding across the road. As the country dries, the waterholes shrink and the birds gravitate to the remaining water so that the hotter weather is actually a good time to see birds as they cluster together.

A float-illa of pelicans

We had our fingers crossed that the pelicans would be on the billabong and luck was with us. There was a huge float-illa of pelicans sailing up and down.  Wise creatures that they are, they’d ensconced themselves on the far side of the billabong to the picnic areas so the telephoto lens got a work out.

Two pelicans on approach.

We were thrilled to see several pelicans come into land with progressive circling, framed by the stone country, until they splashed down among the crowd.

Some touch-downs look more like crash-landings.

Of course the pelicans weren’t the only ones to enjoy the waterhole…if you look carefully you’ll see lots of ducks lining the water’s edge.

After lunch we saw several of them take off and circle around above us, for no apparent reason than the joy of flying.

Shooting the breeze.

And this sign will tell you why we kept our distance and didn’t go closer to get photos. It was also 40C most of the day according to the car thermometer, and hot, damn hot! Frankly a walk in the midday sun just didn’t appeal and the crocs were a good excuse not to.

Brolga Dreaming

This photo blog has been languishing for a few weeks, not for lack of photos, but perhaps about motivation to get the images posted.

Last week we went for a day trip to Kakadu National Park and just before South Alligator my hawk-eyed husband spotted this group of 22 brolgas. We’ve certainly never seen a group as large as this, and neither has anyone else we’ve spoken to. Our daughter saw a few fat and healthy ones at Litchfield National Park a week or so ago, so perhaps it’s just been a good breeding season.

Whatever the reason we were tickled to bits to have this privileged opportunity and it quite made our day. We thought they looked rather like pictures we’ve seen of flamingos on an African lake, without the pink. What do you think?

Initially nervous they started to wander off -which got them a little away from the grass which was obscuring my image, despite the long telephoto.

Bird watching

Over the past few days I’ve happened across some birds just hanging around and got some photos. Inevitably I haven’t had the large telephoto lens when I wanted it, but that’s life.

The Spangled Drongo has beautiful dark blue/black feathers and a distinctively forked tail. Unfortunately his singing voice isn’t nearly as pretty, in fact I’d call it raucous. He was hunting bugs in the local playground.

I spotted this kingfisher on the neighbouring fence just as I drove out. I had to take his photo between the fence panels because of course as I got closer he took off.

Sadly when I saw the jabiru fishing in the tidal shallows the other week I didn’t have my camera at all as I was off to do the school pickup. I’ve never seen that before and wondered if it was the same one I’d seen a few weeks ago.

Aerial Jabiru

It’s not all that common to see Jabiru in town and this is the first chance I’ve had to photograph one. My grandson and I were sitting on the beach at Fannie Bay enjoying the cooler weather and digging some sand castles when I spotted it overhead. They’re not perfect shots but I was happy to get them just the same. The Jabiru is Australia’s only stork and has an iridescent blue/black head. You can see an earlier photo I took at Fogg Dam wetlands here.

Ironically on our way to an Open Garden today we saw one in a waterhole near Jabiru. I did my best to sneak up on it, camera in hand, but it was too quick and up, up and away!

Rainbow bee eaters

On the weekend we were camping near the beach and just on sunset the rainbow bee eaters (Merops ornatus) were out looking for their dinner snacks of insects. They are the most gorgeous birds but very difficult to photograph because they’re tiny and incredibly fast on the wing. I managed to get some photos with the telephoto lens and have cropped them down so you can see them up close. They have two long tail-type things at the end of their tails which you can see more clearly in some shots.

You can see how well camouflaged he is when sitting quietly in the tree.

While not a great photo, this one shows his resplendent colours in flight.

I first saw these beautiful birds, one of my favourites, in Kakadu on a camping tour in 1991 but not long afterwards I saw a big group of them near Brunswick Heads in northern New South Wales.