Shadow Shot Sunday: Cycad and waterlilies

Another Open Garden, another tranquil spot.

Waterlily shadows_edited-1

Waterlilies and a magnificent cycad add drama to this scene.

Shadow Shot SundayCheck out the other amazing photos in Shadow Shot Sunday.

On the Road: Mataranka Hot Springs

Yes it looks like a swimming pool and it has been formed into a man-made pool, but it’s a natural phenomenon: hot springs at Mataranka.

It’s ages since we’ve been here but it was a great stop on the final day of my July drive home. Being the Dry Season the weather was in the balmy late 20s so a warm dip was just perfect and so refreshing. Don’t you wish you could be here?

You can even combine this interlude with a bit of culture as it’s closely associated with an autobiographical novel many Australians will have read: We of the Never Never by Jeannie Gunn, about her life on Elsey Station. There’s a model of the homestead near the parking lot.
Blissful bathing_edited-1

Shadow Shot Sunday: Tropical Tranquility

Another photo from Jasmine Jan wonderful bush garden near her inspirational artist’s studio. Darwin people can take watercolour workshops and classes with Jasmine if they aspire to be artists themselves. I’m going to work up my courage and have a try myself next year.

Kayaks lillies and shadows_edited-1

Quiet paddling

Among paperbarks

And snowflake lillies

Natural tranquility

Shadow Shot Sunday

Check out the other amazing photos in Shadow Shot Sunday.

Shadow Shot Sunday: Yin and Yang

Another photo from last weekend’s Open Garden which was so full of magnificent shadows, and some interesting contradictions.

While yin and yang is not entirely appropriate for Buddhism, nevertheless it reveals light and shadow. Similarly it’s interesting the Balinese-influenced gardens here so often include a Buddha, yet Bali is predominantly Hindu. That oracle of all things, Wikipedia, says “Balinese culture is a mix of Balinese Hindu/Buddhist religion and Balinese custom”

Yin and yang

Light and Shadow

Buddhist and Hindu

Balinese tranquility

In Darwin gardens

Yin and Yang, Light and Shadow

Yin and Yang, Light and Shadow

Shadow Shot Sunday

Do have a look at the other wonderful images posted under Shadow Shot Sunday.

On the Road: Overland Telegraph Line

One of the hazards of trying to cover over 1000kms a day driving is that there’s not much time to stop and take in the sights along the way. On my way home from Queensland I was driving the last half on my own so making time for breaks was a good idea.

I may have been tireder than I thought -this image is a "bit" wonky.

I may have been tireder than I thought -this image is a “bit” wonky.

It was the first time I’d ever stopped for this memorial stone but although uninspiring of itself, the achievement behind it was staggering. This memorial commemorates the opening of the Overland Telegraph Line on 22 August 1872 (should have posted this last week). Working from both the north and the south, both ends of the line were connected on this day: an amazing achievement under any terms and even more so considering it was completed in two years!. Australia was no longer distant from the happenings of the world, and as with the internet today, became part of a world-wide web of information at the click of the keys.

It’s difficult to imagine the sheer commitment of the men who built the line over thousands of kilometres in some of the world’s most inhospitable and then-remote locations. Their hard work and dedication changed Australia’s connections with the world. On a domestic note, can you imagine the colour of their clothes after working in that red dirt for months on end.

My thanks to Helen Smith for her Facebook entry which alerted me to the anniversary last week.

Overland telegraph info

Clipped wings

Driving the Stuart Highway often introduces some unusual sights. On our drive to Brisbane back in June we came across this sight at the Daly Waters Hi Way Inn, where they have a light aircraft on display full time. However it’s not often you’ll see a military aircraft with its wings clipped, travelling on the back of a road train.

Why, you ask, was this happening? Well this old fighter jet is going to be part of the displays at Darwin’s Aviation Museum sometime in the future. It will be fun to see it again, with its wings restored. Conversations in Longreach revealed it had been languishing near the QANTAS Museum on its long drive. In its heyday this aircraft would have gobbled up the air miles, now it was reduced to covering the 3300 kms from Amberley Air Force Base in a slow and not-so-stately way.

Blow me down, by sheer coincidence, the Museum officially received the logbooks for the F111 on Saturday. You can read the story here.

An F111 on the road to Darwin.

An F111 on the road to Darwin.

Definitely one for aircraft junkies.

F11 on the move_edited-1

Shadow Shot Sunday: Tropical shadows

Yesterday we visited our final Open Garden of the year. The weather is turning and what we call the Dry (elsewhere it’s winter) is steadily running out of puff with the temperatures and humidity kicking in. However this weekend’s Mosaic Garden would be a perfect spot regardless of the weather with tropical shadows and shady nooks.

Open Garden, Mosaic House, Parap, Northern Territory

Open Garden, Mosaic House, Parap, Northern Territory

Tropical shadows

Glimpses of green

Cooling breezes

Draw me in.

Shadow Shot Sunday

See other Shadow Shot Sunday posts here.

Y is for Yellow Waters

a-to-z-letters-yY IS FOR YELLOW WATERS

Way back at the letter C is for Cooinda I made reference to a touring feature based there. The Yellow Waters cruise is, for my money, one of the best things you can do in Kakadu National Park. For bird watchers or croc seekers it has plenty on offer. For those who want to chill out just pottering along through the waterways it’s just perfect.

A jacana (aka Jesus bird because they appear to walk on water), backlit by the sun.

A jacana backlit by the sun.

Whenever you visit you’re bound to see something different because nature doesn’t run to a schedule of activities: we’ve seen a croc take a large barramundi, brolgas dancing, jabiru, pelicans (occasionally), azure kingfishers, sea eagles and a steady avian diet of cormorants, night herons and jacanas.

A tranquil scene on Yellow Waters.

A tranquil scene on Yellow Waters.

A male jacana and a chick.

A male jacana and a chick.

During the Wet Season the cruise is one of the activities that still continues but it is different because the water is so much higher, and with more water around, the birds are less desperate for places to hang out.  On the flip side you may see magnificent wet season clouds, all puffy and thunderous against the sky.

A sea eagle with his catch, a file snake.

A sea eagle with his catch, a file snake.

As you cruise through narrow channels into the larger billabong and waterways I sometimes feel like I’m on a secret pathway. It’s a rare trip when we haven’t seen something special and on a recent trip (the first we’ve done for a while) we saw a gorgeous rainbow, tiny jacana chicks and a sea eagle up a dead tree with his capture of a file snake (good tucker for all apparently).

Pot of gold Yellow waters low

Is there a pot of gold at Yellow Waters?

During the Dry Season the birds proliferate but then so do the tourists, but since you’ll be one you can hardly complain <smile>. The tour guides are very efficient and knowledgeable about the area. Our most recent guide (Mandy I think from memory) was the daughter of a traditional elder and she had lots to share with us. Some guides are more into birds, other into culture and Indigenous life, but all know that the average tourist is desperate to see a crocodile (count me out!).

The locals enjoy throwing in a line when time permits.

The locals enjoy throwing in a line when time permits.

I was saddened to learn on the recent visit that the boats can no longer get down into the Melaleuca “swamp” where it was rather like being a serene yet spooky forest.

an old photo, probably the Dry Season, with pelicans,

an old photo, probably the Dry Season, with pelicans, water lilies, ducks and herons.

Everywhere you will see lotus flowers, water lilies and other flowering trees like some of the mangroves. What’s flowering again depends on the season.

Trying to impress his mate, this brolga was right into the dance.

Trying to impress his mate, this brolga was right into the dance.

If you do travel to the Territory I hope you take this short voyage because it’s superb, and if you’re staying overnight at the lodge, perhaps book for the sunrise or sunset trip because you can either get a gorgeous sunrise through the mist which rises off the water in the Dry Season, or a blood orange sunset.

A serene sunset  over the water.

A serene sunset over the water.

Why visit: If you love nature, birds or just the serenity of being on the water.

Coming on to the end of the afternoon, the colours and reflections were so pretty.

Coming on to the end of the afternoon, the colours and reflections were so pretty.

FYI: There’s are a couple of maps on my A to Z planning post which will help you to pinpoint where today’s tourist spots are situated.

Snowflake water lilies look like something by Monet.

Snowflake water lilies look like something by Monet.

TODAY’S AUSSIE-ISMS

Yarn: chat or tell a story

Yakka: a brand of men’s work wear

Yakka: logically enough, hard work.

Youse: vernacular plural of you (used by some people but sets my teeth on edge)

Yobbo: a rough and ready person, rough around the edges, uncouth.

Y is for Yeehaa! Only one more A to Z post to go!

X is for Art

a-to-z-letters-xX is for X-RAY PAINTINGS

X-ray paintings are typical of the Aboriginal paintings which can be seen in the Wet Season caves and rock overhangs where the communities lived during the floods and heavy rains.  The paintings span centuries and are frequently painted, layer over layer, by succeeding generations of artists.

Some of the themes can be narrowed to particular time eg images of guns will only occur after the mid-19th century. Paintings of sailing ships may be more ambiguous as it’s known that the Macassan traders worked the northern coast of the Northern Territory. What’s interesting to me, is that these drawings aren’t by people who lived right beside the ocean, rather a little inland.

Our tour guide, Peter aka Mongrel, points out some of the less noticeble art work at Ubirr.

Our tour guide, Peter aka Mongrel, points out some of the less noticeble art work at Ubirr. You can see a sailing ship to the left of where he’s pointing and further left, Mabuyu. P Cass 1991

Mabuyu

Mabuyu

Only specific people within the community who had the traditional responsibility could “touch up” the important paintings, which I believe was last done nearly 50 years ago. It’s interesting to me to look at photos taken back in 1991 when I first visited, with some taken last month. Paintings were a form of history keeping as well as telling cultural traditions and animals to hunt.

Long necked turtles are still hunted in the billabongs in Kakadu.

Long necked turtles are still hunted in the billabongs in Kakadu.

I’m not going to try to explain the intricacies of the X Ray Paintings as I’m no expert. There’s an article here by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The style of painting is still reflected in some art work by Arnhem Land artists.

A hunting scene shows men with spears. The Aboriginal people were, and still are, excellent hunters in their tradiitonal land.

A hunting scene shows men with spears. The Aboriginal people were, and still are, excellent hunters in their tradiitonal land. You can see people, fish and a turtle.

My photographs are taken at two sites, both in Kakadu National Park. One is Ubirr and the other is Nourlangie (or Burrunggui). There are a couple of galleries in each place, and it’s well worth visiting each. Do take time to sit down and have a breather and a sip of water. The longer you look, the more pictures you’ll see. At Nourlangie’s Anbangbang gallery, the iconic image of Namarrgon, the Lightning Man is the most popular feature.

Anbangbang gallery hosts these amazing paintings including the LIghtning Man with the arc between his arms.

Anbangbang gallery hosts these amazing paintings including the LIghtning Man with the arc between his arms.

Archeologists have dated Nourlangie’s Anbangbang gallery as having been in use for over 20,000 years. So much for Australia being a young country!

The person on the left is without a doubt, a white man.

The person on the left is without a doubt, a white man.

Nourlangie art low

The image on the left has a Wandjina vibe to me but I could very well be wrong.

Why visit: to see ancient art tell a story of life before white settlement, and stories of traditional culture and hunting.

TODAY’S AUSSIE-ISMS

The closer we get to the end of the alphabet, the fewer options for Aussie-isms, perhaps we really are lazy after all!

Today I leave you with a beer closely associated with my  home state of Queensland:

XXXX: Fourex beer is manufactured on Milton Rd in Brisbane, close to the famous Lang Park Rugby League grounds. XXXX is a Qld icon!

O is for the Olgas ( Kata Tjuta) and Open Gardens

O is for the OLGAS

The Olgas or Kata Tjuta, as this rock formation is now known, is part of the Uluru- Kata Tjuta National Park. Kata Tjuta’s more famous big sister tends to take the highest profile but if you’re heading for the Red Centre you should allow time to do both parts of the park. This national park is truly Australia’s red heart and is smack bang in the middle of the country and probably encapsulates the sense of the Outback more than anywhere else.

The Olgas from a distance. ©Pauleen Cass 1994

The Olgas from a distance. ©Pauleen Cass 1994

Kata Tjuta is all curves as each rocky dune looms against the vivid blue of the desert sky. The contrasting colours are magnificent with the green of the Spinifex looking almost lime-coloured on film and in some light. It provides its own dot-painting effect against the vivid ochre red of the rock formation. Tucked among the rocks are hidden spots where the desert animals can live, survive and even thrive. A quiet bushwalker has the benefit of hearing the birds and may even see some creatures as well.

On the Valley of the Winds walk. ©Pauleen Cass 1994

On the Valley of the Winds walk. ©Pauleen Cass 1994

The track through the Valley of the Winds is peaceful and restorative, as well as tiring! This is certainly an experience best savoured in the cooler months of the year when overnight it can be decidedly chilly, especially in a tent or swag. Those hot summer months (about October to April) are best avoided as most people will find them unbearable. Do plan to hang around at the Olgas towards the end of the day so you can see the setting sun light the dunes with varying shades of pink and red. Just magnificent!

068 Kata Juta moonrise and sunset

O is for OPEN GARDENS

Welcome to the garden.

Welcome to the garden.

If you love gardens it’s always worth keeping an eye out for the local Open Gardens events   when you travel – they’re a great Opportunity to see new and different garden designs as well as plants you may not be familiar with.

The 2013 season Open Gardens NT commenced last weekend and we have a feast of Top End gardens to choose from throughout the Dry. It’s one of our favourite weekend activities to visit a garden and have a coffee and cake while soaking up the ambience. You can see my stories and photos from 2012 through this link.

Why visit: To see a unique natural wonder of Australia and the amazing colours, vegetation and animals of the Outback.

FYI: There are a couple of maps on my A to Z planning post which will help you to pinpoint where today’s tourist spots are situated

TODAY’S AUSSIE-ISMS

On the turps: big drinking session

Old mate: A NT special gradually soaking into the vernacular elsewhere. A generic expression meaning, roughly, bloke, someone you don’t know. So old mate drove his (Land) Cruiser through the creek….

Outback: Australia’s vast interior. The iconic idea of Australia often completely unfamiliar to its many coastal dwellers. The people are typically unemotional and physically tough and laconic.

Ordinary: not the usual meaning of “normal” but also in the Aussie sense can mean sub-par, inferior, not much good. How’re ya going mate? Feeling a bit ordinary today…

I wonder where the letter P will take us tomorrow? How about back into the Kimberley?