Possums and Owls

I’m not good with neighbours. I like space.

So when I downsized  it was imperative to live near some Open land. Which I found. My pocket handkerchief property borders a wildlife corridor, and more importantly due to their declining numbers, a Koala corridor. I have wallabies that visit, blue tongue lizards and water dragons, drongos, scrub turkeys, magpies and kookaburras that drop by for the fresh water that is left out for them.

Swamp Wallaby

I had lived only three kilometres away for over twenty years and it wasn’t until I went for a walk through my back gate that I discovered a nearby platypus sanctuary. I kid you not. Platypus. Long time locals are still unaware of its existence!

And then there are the possums. 

I have always had a soft spot for possums having grown up in a bush setting in a little Sydney suburb since destroyed by progress with its inclination for fountains with urinating cherubs and concrete lions by the front gate. Memories of my mother, who died when I was a kid, include feeding injured possums that escaped the bushfires by braving sharks and swimming across the river to safety. I’ve been putting out spare fruit, vegetables and sandwiches ever since.

It’s Springtime now and the possums are carrying their babies on their backs. I’m continuing to put out feed though not every night as they  mustn’t become dependant. 

But our weather is playing havoc and we are still suffering drought. Three hours away the country towns will be without water for Christmas. An hour west the creeks have turned to mud and people are busy trying to relocate turtles and eels to save their lives.

In my own piece of bushland there is little blossom on the trees thanks to the lack of rain. This means that there are more possums (and flying fox). My local council also carried out a huge chemical spray operation to avoid any legal entanglements once bushfire season started so we lost many of the scrub mammals and lizards that live amongst the undergrowth. (And no, I’m not a mad greenie though question why we are still using pesticides banned in other countries, but I digress……)

When I retired one of the first things I did was sign up to assist a study being undertaken by an academic from the local university into Powerful Owls. All these years and I’ve only ever seen one of these owls once. So why not? I’m surrounded by Bush and enjoy learning from our environment.

Powerful Owls ( minoxidil strenua) are listed on the Nature Conservation Act of Queensland as vulnerable. Ever seen one? They are massive with a three foot wing span and talons. And you know their favourite tucker? 

Possums.

The past few nights I’ve spotted half a dozen Powerful Owls sitting on the back fence awaiting the nightly arrival of possums. It’s their equivalent of a smorgasbord.

Second day of Spring and it’s expected to hit 33degrees Celsius tomorrow.

No need to panic. The neighbours are all out washing their cars on their driveways.

Build It And They Will Come

I recently came across an obituary from the local newspaper for author W P Kinsella that I had tucked between the pages of a book several years ago. Amongst other things Kinsella wrote Shoeless Joe from which the movie Field of Dreams was derived. Kinsella’s literary agent described the author as a “dedicated storyteller, performer, curmudgeon, an irascible and difficult man”. Love him already.

Shoeless Joe is a good read, with more flesh than the movie, though this does not necessarily make it any better.

Iowa farmer Ray (Kevin Costner) hears a mysterious voice one night in his cornfield saying “If you build it, he will come,” and he feels the need to act. Despite the threat of bankruptcy, Ray builds a baseball diamond on his land, supported by his wife, Annie (Amy Madigan). Afterward, the ghosts of great players start emerging from the corn fields to play baseball led by “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.(Ray Liotta …big sigh and twinge of lust).

This stays pretty much to the original storyline, and much of the dialogue from the book is in the movie. This was a tad disconcerting in that I could hear the “voices”, particularly of Burt Lancaster and James Earl Jones, whilst I was reading. I could only “hear” Shoeless Joe in the first half when he did his spiel about what playing the game meant. Maybe this means nothing other than I’ve watched the movie far too often.

The camaraderie of the ball players is far more prominent in the movie version providing much of the humour and humanising the ghosts.( It’s about here we can offer a collective sigh for Liotta again……….)

Which brings me to a recent project: the Butterfly House in my back garden.

Build it and they will come. Fingers crossed anyway. I’ve also planted Marigolds, Lavender, and Geraniums so here’s hoping for house guests soon.

Next project? A Bee Motel.

Wattle and Koalas

Wattle Day has been celebrated on the first day of September each year since 1992, the official start of the Australian spring. Prior to this each State acknowledged the day at separate times depending on when the Acacias were in full bloom in that territory. My memories as a young lass are of wearing a sprig of Cootamundra Wattle, which flourished in Sydney, to school on the 1st day of August each year.

The Golden Wattle was incorporated as an accessory in the design of the Australian Coat of Arms in 1912.

I’m a big fan of Wattle (but then I don’t suffer from Hay Fever) and have recently planted a Wattle sapling, along with other native trees, on the fringe of the Koala corridor which my property borders. Pretty sure the neighbours will be unimpressed. Stuff ‘em.

Both the Koalas and Wattles are at their best at the moment. The former may well be cute but the bucks are noisy when they’re feeling antsy. Noisy and determined. And they’re most certainly feeling antsy at the moment.


Tree planting endeavours on my part are an attempt to encourage the bees, butterflies and bird life. All creatures welcome really – except snakes.

Wattle flowers were sold to raise money during World War 1 and it became tradition to send pressed wattles in letters to wounded soldiers in Europe. Fallen diggers were often buried with a sprig of wattle. The green and gold of Wattle inspired our national colours which we see at the great sporting events.

Wattle……just love it.

Cootamundra Wattle by John Williamson

Don’t go lookin’ through that old camphor box woman,
You know those old things only make you cry.
When you dream upon that little bunny rug
It makes you think that life has passed you by
There are days when you wish the world would stop woman,
But then you know some wounds would never heal
But when I browse the early pages of the children
It’s then I know exactly how you feel.
Hey it’s July and the winter sun is shining
And the Cootamundra wattle is my friend
For all at once my childhood never left me
‘Cause wattle blossoms bring it back again
It’s Sunday and you should stop the worry woman,
Come out here and sit down in the sun
Can’t you hear the magpies in the distance?
Don’t you feel the new day has begun?
Can’t you hear the bees making honey woman,
In the spotted gums where the bellbirds ring?
You might grow old and bitter cause you missed it,
You know some people never hear such things
Hey it’s July and the winter sun is shining
And the Cootamundra wattle is my friend
For all at once my childhood never left me
‘Cause wattle blossoms bring it back again
Don’t buy the daily papers any more woman,
Read all about what’s going on in hell.
They don’t care to tell the world of kindness,
Good news never made a paper sell.
There’s all the colours of the rainbow in the garden woman,
And symphonies of music in the sky.
Heaven’s all around us if you’re looking,
But how can you see it if you cry.
Hey it’s July and the winter sun is shining
And the Cootamundra wattle is my friend
For all at once my childhood never left me
‘Cause wattle blossoms bring it back again.

Plants For Wounded Heroes

I’m no Green Thumb. I lack the necessary patience, though I do enjoy having natives in the garden to attract birds, bees and bandicoots. Hailing from parents who lived through the Depression I also enjoy produce from my fruit and vegetable gardens. Little effort required and the pumpkin vines are currently taking over the tiny back lawn.

On the iconic quarter acre block that I grew up on, the so-called Australian Dream, (long since battle-axed for the prolific development of McMansions) we grew all our own Veges as well as having the backyard chook shed for eggs and a couple of additions to the table at Christmas. Chicken in the Basket was a family favourite, though after having just read Tom Clancy’s The Teeth Of The Tiger, I don’t think I’ll ever think about that meal in the same way.

The parental vegetable garden was a staple right until the end. Indeed, my father’s casket was covered with home grown spinach and tomatoes which I cooked up at the wake with garlic and pasta complementing the depletion of the contents of the wine cellar.

Since my retirement I’ve taken cuttings of plants which I have nurtured and then sold at a local market on a semi regular basis. Preloved books also find new homes and I am lucky in that several friends donate saleable items. This is my form of aerobics : stretching, bending, reaching (some groaning) and Vitamin D.

Rosemary plants are popular sellers

All monies raised go to Wounded Heroes which assists our exservice men and women at a grassroots level. This non Government funded organisation finds crisis accomodation for our vets, funds accomodation and fuel for medical appointments, and assists with real hardship cases. Recently, an exserviceman with a young family was diagnosed with his third bout of cancer. Wounded Heroes came to the fore with funds to assist with travel costs and parking fees. The day after Anzac Day a young exserviceman committed suicide. The Government covered the funeral cost, but it was Wounded Heroes that paid for the casket to be transported 1000 kms away to his home town. With a volunteer escort. Respect.

Succulents also sell well

So I play in my garden and sell a few plants. Sadly, I am unable to replicate the beautiful Bat Plants despite numerous attempts. This is a real shame as I always wanted to be called Bat Woman. Even had a little leather number on the drawing board.

NOTE:

I am not responsible for any actions which may occur when someone tells me “ there is nothing to do”.