Next Project and Victory Gardens.

I’m very much an accidental gardener with a tendency to kill all indoor plants which explains my preference for native shrubs and trees : you simply ignore them and they attract bees and birds.

My vegetable garden provided much pleasure over recent months providing both occupation and produce. I claim that my unexpected weight loss over Isolation – despite way, way too much comfort food – was because of the produce straight from the “paddock”. It was satisfying to swap produce with friends as well: some tomatoes for Anzac Biscuits, chillies for home made tomato sauce.

So I’ve been encouraged and have recently planted a variety of Brassicas for winter. My thoughts have even turned to reforming my minuscule front yard into a garden plot for citrus trees and a variety of herbs.

Which has led me to reading about Victory Gardens :

From wikipeadia

During 1942 food shortages had an impact on the Australian home front with massive labour shortages, a severe prolonged drought, and major shortfalls in imports of seed stock and fertiliser. 

In January 1942 the Prime Minister, John Curtin, launched “Dig for Victory”, a publicity campaign urging householders to grow their own vegetables as a contribution to the war effort. 

Many Australians were already keen home vegetable gardeners, being self-sufficient, with fruit and vegetables and a “chook shed” down the back. Others took to the idea afresh and turned over their whole front and back gardens to vegetable production, often selling excess produce to raise funds for the front. Some people formed neighbourhood gardening groups as a means of feeding their families. Others formed gardening collectives, specifically to raise funds for the war effort. 

I grew up on a quarter acre block with vege gardens, fruit trees and the chook shed way down the back ( with the cubby house,  cowboy tent and rope swing).

A girl always needs a project so I think this is next on the list – incorporating a sleep box for the ducks, of course.

Wombats


Wombats are short legged, muscular marsupials that look like little bears. Marsupials native to Australia they live in burrows. They spend daylight hours underground in their burrows and emerge in the night to forage for grasses, herbs, seeds, roots and bark. They have a very slow metabolism and it takes about 14 days to complete digestion. This aids wombats’ survival in arid landscapes. Interestingly – well, to me – wombat droppings are square in shape. How that works is beyond me but fascinating……( Keep that one in mind for your next trivia night!)

Wombats have been well represented over the years in Australian Children’s Literature, with the most popular including:

The Muddleheaded Wombat   –  Ruth Park

Wombat Stew  –  Marcia K Vaughan

One Woolly Wombat   –  Kerrie Argent

Diary Of A Wombat  –  Jackie French

Sebastian Lives In A Hat  – Thelma Catterwell

Wombat Goes Walkabout  – Michael Morpurgo

Did you know that we even have an annual Wombat Day ? The official day in set in Australia for October 22, but since the first celebration of the day in 2005, the rest of the world has seen fit to jump on board. As such, October 23 is World Wombat Day.  Add that to your diary now!

In Australia to be called a wombat is almost a term of endearment. A wombat often refers to an overweight, lazy, or slow idiot. He’s probably your best friend and eating Doritos on the couch right now. Or more bluntly, a Waste Of Money, Brains And Time.

Why are we even talking about Wombats today? Because I’m adding a Wombat experience to my Bucket List.

The Wombat Awareness Organisation in South Australia is the only free range, cage free wombat sanctuary in the World. It is also the only place where you can see two out of the three species of wombats living harmoniously together.

I’ve just scrubbed Disney’s Magic Kingdom off the list. I want to sit on a sofa with a wombat instead. See http://www.wombatawareness.com.

Bats And Bouquets ( & Alice Cooper)

Rural Aid was founded in 2015 to provide support programs to rural Australia. Their grassroots beginning touched a nerve with the Australian public with the Buy a Bale campaign which saw the distribution of fodder, fuel vouchers and hampers delivered to rural communities.

Rural Aid have recently advised that in January 2020 they delivered 463 domestic water orders across Australia. Water requests have since slowed down due to rain, though hay is still in short supply with the drought. They delivered 4234 bales of hay on 104 trucks to 262 farmers to 25 locations, with multiple deliveries within these areas in January. So far in February, they have delivered hay to 38 locations to 159 farmers, with some being multiple deliveries within these areas.

Thank you, Rural Aid, for your accountability and transparency.

Makes a change, though I refuse to make any further comment on the current dog fight happening over the hundreds of millions of dollars in bushfire donations – other than I told you so.

So a girlfriend with a crafty bent attended a Workshop over the weekend to learn how to crotchet pouches and sacks to assist injured wildlife. The money she paid for the three hour course was donated to a wildlife organisation and she is now busy crocheting birds nests. Apparently, the needs of koalas, wallabies and possums have changed – it’s all about releasing them back to an area with plentiful feed and shelter which is now proving the problem.

The emphasis is now on birdlife injured or homeless because of the fires: owls, curlews, magpies, kookaburras, and cockatoos etc.

To fellow blogger, Gee Jen, who recently knocked the complacency out of me – thank you. Though my skill set does not include knitting needles nor crochet hooks, I can most certainly make a decent pot of tea. An afternoon of bird nest creation coming this way soon……

Curlew with chicks

NOTE: I just gotta say that I sat through last weekends 10 hour Fire Fight concert on the tele to raise further funds, and OMG, hasn’t 72 year old Alice Cooper still got it!

Happy Australia Day Long Weekend

In 2011, 24 year old Turia Pitt, was trapped in a grass fire blaze during a 100km ultra marathon in the Australian outback. She suffered full thickness burns to 65% of her body.

Turia spent over six months in hospital and underwent over 200 operations.

Pitt has mentored thousands through her online programs, raised funds and awareness for a variety of philanthropic concerns, and authored two books: *Everything To Live For, and Unmasked.

On the quiet she also visits burns victims whilst in hospital, including those from the recent volcano disaster in New Zealand.

The young mum has recently started a campaign called Spend with Them, with the intent to drive spending in tourist towns decimated by fire.

“For example, if you live on the coast, you can jump on to the Instagram page, Spend with Them, and buy something from a homewares store in Milton, or a bottle of gin from a microbrewery in Bega and you can help put the money into the pockets of those who need it.”

Empty Esky is another successful grassroots campaign and movement founded by three friends, that inspires people to go on a road trip to the many unique Australian towns affected by the bushfires and spend their money on local goods and services to inject money back into the community – take an #emptyesky and fill it with local produce, goods and treats. Empty Esky is a simple, effective, long-term way for the public, travellers and adventurers alike, to help those towns bounce back.

It’s not easy to participate in these activities when you reside in faraway Queensland, though both initiatives include opportunities to shop online. Again, something I’m not into but am getting the hang of quite easily:)

And a florist in Batemans Bay on the south coast of NSW, A Classy Touch, delivered a flower and fruit basket on my behalf and included two kilos of carrots for some of the local kangaroo population.

Shop local. Spend local. Spend big.


*Everything To Live For is a wonderful read which will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions. This is the story of one strong, brave, funny, courageous Aussie lass. Love her to bits.

The Year Of Promoting Local…for a good cause.

It has been said that “we develop our desires and drives during our childhood then our whole adulthood becomes affected by these childhood experiences”.

There have been a couple of experiences as a child that I have carried through to my adult life and all pertain to my home life.

  1. I never touch walls and never have I been in a state requiring a wall to hold me up.
  2. I don’t breath on windows
  3. I never put holes in walls.

These behaviours exist because my father was not good with his hands, detested working around the house ( including cleaning windows and painting the family home) and because most houses of that era came with picture rails. Truely, he couldn’t change a lightbulb ……which seems to be hereditary.

I share this because I’m in a bit of a quandary. Yep, the knickers are well and truely in a knot.

The Old SchoolHouse Gallery is a community art gallery run by the artists which promotes the visual arts by instruction, information and inspiration. It aims to celebrate artistic expression by providing opportunities to exhibit projects for sale.

On the first Wednesday of every month the theme changes which provides an opportunity for different creatives to have their work featured. The February exhibition opens on Thursday, 6th of February, showcasing works by Nicole Darlington and Natasha Gibson-Scott. The theme “Our Country” features Australian native wildlife, flora and landscapes in a wide variety of media including ink, oil pastels, ceramics, jewellery, and acrylics.

Courtesy of event flyer

The artists are donating 25 per cent of all their sales to wildlife organisations to assist in the rescue and rehabilitation of fauna devastated by the summer bushfires.

I make an effort to visit the Old SchoolHouse Gallery once a month to view the ever changing exhibitions and occasionally purchase hand made jewellery items as gifts for family and friends.

Courtesy of event flyer

I’de really like a painting, and I’de really like to help this worthy cause. But I have no more spare hooks on walls and already have artworks and photos on tables being propped up by empty wine bottles.

A lack of wall space is not the issue – it’s the putting of holes and marks on walls which gives me anxiety.

The Old SchoolHouse Gallery is located at 124-126 Shore Street North, Cleveland Point and is open every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. Entry is FREE and there is onsite parking and wheelchair access.

  • Fire Update : Much needed rain has fallen along the East Coast of Australia over the past few days putting out many of the fires. One Rural Fire Service closed shop yesterday leaving a sign “ Gone To Jump In Puddles”. Wags, love ‘em. There are still fires blazing in the Alpine regions with hamlets being evacuated. Keep on doing those rain dances please.
  • Stringybark Publishing Update : Here are the books I received as Bookpack 1 of short story anthologies with all profits going to organisations assisting our native animals.

Bushfires and Birthdays

Lugarno, 1963

My daughter has an awkward birthday in a few days. Each year she admonishes me because she has never had a dedicated birthday party. I retaliate with a reminder about the Christmas I was unable to drink anything cold and bubbly and suffered much discomfort.

Instead of a gift each birthday my daughter enjoyed an “experience” each year with a gold charm for a bracelet as a reminder of her special day. Boat trips up the river, trips to the theatre or to the aquarium: her charm bracelet, a gift for her 18th, is a beautiful piece of jewellery and memorabilia.

I’m reminded of this watching the bushfire news on the television. Cudlee Creek in the Adelaide Hills in South Australia has been ravaged by flames.

Pocohontas celebrated her sixth birthday at Cudlee Creek Wildlife Park. She remembers vividly that an emu stole her picnic lunch and she’s suffered ornithophobia ever since.

The fires remain out of control across several states.

I haven’t sent Xmas cards this year, and I haven’t written any letters, which as the product of parents who stored much importance in penmanship hurts. It doesn’t seem appropriate to send fun news to family and friends caught up in the fires.

A girlfriend doesn’t look like getting home to her loved ones for Christmas. Another had flames in her suburb yesterday where two homes were lost. A cousin in the Blue Mountains remains vigilant. It doesn’t feel like Christmas. It is smokey, hot and the mood is sombre.

And then this. Totally uplifting. These guys were rescued from the Cudlee Creek blaze by members of our Rural Fire Service. Makes the heart sing.

Figures obtained by AAP revealed police had dealt with 98 people – 31 adults and 67 juveniles – for deliberately setting fires in Queensland alone.

Don’t give me “mental health” or “broken home” BS. This is simply criminal.

See you in a few days my beautiful girl. There is a bottle on ice with your name on it.

Here’s to a better days for all…..

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.