Share Your World –Week 47

November 30, 2014 at 3:32 pm | Posted in Australia, Family, Gardens, Gratitude, Leisure activities, Mental Health, Nature, Reading, Travel | 7 Comments

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Since this has been Thanksgiving in the USA this week, Cee has given us just one question to consider in sharing our world.

List at least 50 Things You Enjoy. 

I am also giving thanks for what I enjoy. These are just as they came to me – in no particular order. I think I got to 55, but I enjoy, and am thankful for, a multitude more than just these.

My 5 sons; photo taken early 1981.

My 5 sons; photo taken early 1981.

*   being with any or all of my 5 sons

*   being with any or all of my lovely grandchildren

*   going for a drive and a coffee with my husband

*   going camping with my husband

*   driving – just about anywhere

*   being in our yard with the trees and birds

*   mowing the lawns

*   going for a sail in our little sailboat with my husband

*   Skyping with my kids & grandkids

*   my owl ornaments

*   being with my writing friends

*   coffee with friends

*   dinner with friends

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*   a good book – print or kindle

*   blogging

*   reading good blogs

*   watching people

*   writing my journal

*   writing stories

*   writing poetry

*   music

*   helping others with their writing

*   thunderstorms

*   putting together our writing group’s newsletter

*   going for a train ride

*   going for a ferry ride

*   mince tarts

*   a glass or two of wine

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*   scrapbooking

*   being around positive people

*   taking photos

*   being by the sea – beach, rocks, cliffs

*   the pounding of the sea on the shore

*   Nature – in any form

*   the Aussie bushIMG_4088

*   a walk in the rainforest

*   a walk by the lake

*   my husband’s love

*   photos – re-living good memories writing my Dad’s story

*   cheese

*   chocolate – but not too often

*   casual clothes

*   shopping for gifts

*   learning new skills

*   the magpie’s warbling serenade

*   the round of rain on the roof

*   the sound of children playing

*   shopping for scrapbooking materials

Eucalypt leaves

*   raking leaves

*   listening to the birds

*   seeing new places

*   a good movie

*   dancing (a rare occurrence

*   feathers

*   our little rocks & crystals collection on the windowsill

(c) Linda Visman

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Kangaroo Valley Wombats

November 7, 2014 at 9:12 pm | Posted in Australia, Nature, Tourism, Travel | 6 Comments
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Kangaroo Valley

Beautiful Kangaroo Valley

A few weeks ago, we stayed at a free camping area in the Kangaroo Valley, several kilometres from the village of the same name. The whole valley is beautiful, with the Kangaroo River, creeks, former dairy farms and bushland creating habitats for a wide variety of animals.

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A few of the kangaroos that came out to feed in the evening in the paddock next to us.

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Of course, as you would expect from the name, there are plenty of kangaroos about, but where we were camping, there were so many of the lumbering marsupial mammals known as wombats around, that area should have been called Wombat Valley.

Wombats are marsupials, about as big as a solid, medium-sized dog, that dig long burrows with their strong claws. The female’s pouch faces backwards so the dirt does not get into it, and they produce only one young at a time. They are nocturnal creatures, and come out in the evening as the sun sets, to graze on grass and herbage.

The wombat, and its burrow, just behind our van.

The wombat, and its burrow, just behind our van.

There were actually two of their burrows (that we know of) within just a few metres of our little Toyota Hiace camper. They wandered freely about the camp grounds and there was plenty of interest in them from people who had never seen them in the wild before.

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While many people think they are cute and cuddly, their powerful teeth and jaws and their long, sharp claws make them potentially dangerous if annoyed, especially if disturbed in their burrows or with young in their pouch.

 

During both nights that we camped there, we were awakened several times by the van shaking rhythmically. We soon realised that ‘our’ wombat, seen in the pictures above and below, had gone underneath the van and was scratching itself against the chassis.

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 We loved it in that beautiful valley of wombats.

 

Me, writing about wombats; our camper van in the background.

Me, writing about wombats; our camper van in the background.

 

(c) Linda Visman. Photos by Dirk Visman.

 

Share Your World, Week 34

August 28, 2014 at 1:43 pm | Posted in Culture, Mental Health, Society, Travel, Ways of Living | 1 Comment
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I have joined Cee Neuner’s weekly blog challenge called “Share Your World”, and this is my first post. Cee poses a few questions each week and members share their replies on their own blogs, with a link back to Cee’s page.

The idea is to share yourself and the world in which you live with other bloggers around the world. I hope to find more interesting people through this challenge.

What is your favourite smell? What does it remind you of?

This is a hard one to start with, and I had to go to the other questions before coming back to it. I love so many smells, that it is hard to choose just one. However, I have decided to go with the ozone smell that comes with the first rain on warm, dry ground. It is always so welcome in this country, especially inland, where drought is all too common. It particularly reminds me of the years I spent in Central Australia back in the 1990s.

Name a song or two which are on the soundtrack to your life?

1. You Needed Me”: Anne Murray
During the 1970s and early 80s, I went through a particularly difficult period in my life. I suffered often from deep depression, to the extent that I wanted to leave life altogether. A friend introduced me to the 12-step support and recovery programme called GROW, which helped me to turn in a more positive direction.

GROW Australia

I attended a GROW conference one year as a Leader and there, an amazing young woman spoke to us. Her talk consisted of playing the song, “You Needed Me”, followed by her explanation of how it encapsulated her own recovery through Grow and the mutual support of people in it.
It really resonated with me, and the song has been very special to me ever since.

2. Sometimes When We Touch”: Dan Hill
I remember the strength and beauty of a passionate love. This is the song that was playing when we declared ourselves. We were together for 20 years.

Do you play video/computer game? Which one(s) or most recent?

I have never played video games – I would much rather read a book. Besides, I was already the mother of five sons when they first made their appearance. I used to play Spider Solitaire on the computer, sometimes almost addictively. Now, I have too many other great things to do to waste my time on a game.

Which of Snow White’s 7 dwarfs describes you best? Plus what would the 8th dwarf’s name be? (Doc, Happy, Bashful, Sleepy, Sneezy, Grumpy, Dopey)

Perhaps a bit of Doc and a bit of Grumpy I suppose, but getting more like Sleepy and Dopey!

seven-dwarfs

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

There are always so many things to be grateful for, and last week was no exception.

1. It was my birthday on the 17th, and I was able to be with my 4 siblings on the day. It isn’t often that the five of us can get together, as two of us live quite a distance from the other three.

2. I’m also grateful that my writing is progressing steadily, with plenty of blog posts, some poetry, and more of my novel written.

In the week ahead, I am looking forward to keeping the writing momentum going, as well as spending some time out in the yard and in the bush – if the rain gives me the chance (the rain is however, most welcome)

(c) Linda Visman

A Walk in the Watagans

August 2, 2014 at 4:43 pm | Posted in Australia, Nature, Tourism, Travel, Writing and Life | 11 Comments
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As it was a lovely winter’s day last week, we went for a drive into the nearby Watagans National Park. We wanted to go for one of the bush walks we’d heard about but not yet seen.

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We settled on the Boarding House Dam rainforest walk. There was little traffic on the road into the park – not surprising, as it was unsealed, rain-scoured and rough. We loved it!

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We also loved the walk. It usually takes twenty minutes, but we took an hour as there was so much to see, hear and enjoy.

The Watagans are part of the Great Dividing Range, which runs north to south along the whole eastern coast of Australia. Historically, the Watagans were an important logging area. Timber-getting (cedar) began there in the 1820s.

The boarding house area was originally the longest-serving and largest logging camp in the area. No buildings remain, but the name recalls its history. The roads into the Watagans originated from the routes the bullock wagons took to bring out the logs. The adjoining Watagan State Forest is still managed for logging today, but all flora and fauna in the National Park are protected.

Stumps of large trees remain, and you can see the cuts where tree-fellers inserted boards on which they stood to cut down the tree.

The first notch for wedging in a board for the wood-cutter to stand on is above my head.

The first notch for wedging in a board for the wood-cutter to stand on is above my head.

The dam is a small one, a weir really. It was built to ensure a supply of water for bushfires after the ravages of a major fire in the summer of 1939-40.

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Below the weir, rock ‘tanks’ have formed – naturally it seems. The ‘tanks’, almost perfectly round, range in diameter from a couple of feet to the largest which is probably six feet (two metres) across.

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At the end of the walk, I sat by the dam and wrote down some of what was there.
Here are some of the sights and sounds and smells of the walk.

– At least two different kinds of frogs in the dam. It is becoming rare to hear frogs in most places nowadays.
– Finches twitter and flutter about in the trees.
– I love to hear the call of the male whip-bird. It’s even better when I hear the answering female.
– Water flows over the dam wall and gurgles between the rocks in the creek below.
– I hear a currawong call out in the open forest.

The creek below the dam.

The creek below the dam.

We loved the walk through the rainforest. It is a place where you wouldn’t be surprised to encounter fantastical animals – gnomes, bunyips, even trolls.

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– The cold mountain air is clean, clear and invigorating.
– Fallen trees, rocks, trees trunks and ledges are all covered with thick, green moss.
– Elkhorn ferns grow on trees, logs, and even on rocks.
– The smell is a combination of damp wood and soil, and rotting vegetation, and is not at all unpleasant.

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The pathway is part natural track through the bush, and part board-edged to prevent erosion. In two places, small wooden bridges cross the creek. Some of the reinforcing wood and the bridge supports are also covered in moss. The man-made all fits unobtrusively with the natural environment.

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– The sound of our feet on the pathway is a dull, hollow thud.
– A 160-metre rock wall is a focal point of the walk. It is perpetually in shade and is almost completely covered by moss. Its name is, prosaically, The Mossy Wall.

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We took lots of photos, but the light was quite poor. We didn’t have the right cameras and equipment to get the best results. However, they are good enough, and the walk itself is etched on our minds. We hope we can take visitors to see it in the future.

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Is there a place you have found where you love to walk?

© Linda Visman

On the Rocks – Catherine Hill Bay

July 1, 2014 at 9:20 pm | Posted in Australia, Nature, Tourism, Travel | 6 Comments
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On the winter solstice, my husband and I went to one of our favourite places near home – Catherine Hill Bay. But this time, instead of walking around the old jetty and the rocks at the south end of the beach, we walked along the beach to the rocks at the northern end and explored there.

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The cliffs and most of the rock shelf are not solid as are most rocky seashores along the Australian coast. Instead they are conglomerates – millions of rocks compressed together by the pressure of their weight over many millennia.

They are constantly being broken up by the action of wind, rain and waves. Large chunks sometimes fall from above.

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That area is rich in coal, and there are many mines from the coast right through to the inland. The Hunter Valley (Catho is just south of it) is well known as a coal-rich region, and the first white people were quick to find the seams that ran along the coastal cliffs.

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Brightly coloured lichens cover the rocks in places.

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A creek has worn its way through the conglomerate and opens onto the sea.

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There are some interesting shapes in the sandstone which sits under the conglomerate layer.

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This is where the creek empties into the sea. Rock fishermen enjoy the sunny day as children play around them. The waves wash across the rocks as the tide comes in.

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As we walk back towards the beach, you can see more of the sandstone – conglomerate layers.

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I love the white crashing waves that wash across the rocks.

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Do you like the sea? The rocks? What is it about land meeting water I wonder that catches our emotions?


(c) Linda Visman

Photos taken by Linda Visman

S is for Seashells and Stones

April 22, 2014 at 10:11 am | Posted in Australia, Family, Family History, Nature, Travel, Ways of Living | 4 Comments
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A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014]

seashells &stones

 

I love shells, and I love stones too; shells and stones of all shapes and sizes and textures. The beach is made up of fragments of shells and stones and many shells and various kinds of rock have their own beauty.

From the time I was about six or seven years old, we had access to the beaches of  Shellharbour and Kiama in eastern NSW. Like many kids do, I collected shells. I always wanted to create something using them, but didn’t know how.

When I was about fourteen, I worked out what I could make and drew the outline of Australia on a piece of plywood. I filled in the outline with small shells I had collected from the beach – mainly from Shellharbour. Then I drew the more complex outline of the British Isles on another piece of board and filled that in with small shells too. Both were finished with a couple of coats of varnish.

My shell map

My shell map

I hung them in my room, where they stayed until I got married and left home. I forgot all about them for a long time.  Almost 45 years later, as I was checking through a cupboard at Dad’s, I was really surprised to come across the one of Britain. It was in fairly good shape and had only lost a few of its shell.

Mum was also a shell lover, even more than I was. She  decorated objects with shells too. Dad made things from wood for her – a small wishing well and a wheelbarrow are two I particularly remember. She covered them with shells and made very attractive ornaments from them.

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Wheelbarrow: made by Dad, decorated by Mum

Mum also took things like mirrors and pictures, and dressed them up with shells – small or large, depending on the size of the mirror. I have the small mirror that hung in their bathroom for many years, and another from their bedroom. However, the one from the front room was just too big to keep!

One of Mum’s smaller mirrors

Mum also bought larger shells that she particularly liked, and a couple of wall plaques that featured seashells. Dad kept everything after she died in 1994. When he died last year, all the shell items except those that I been given, were sold as part of his estate.

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A few of Mum’s shells

After Dad retired in 1981, he and Mum made occasional trips around the state, towing a small caravan. On those trips, Mum was always on the lookout for nice shells, and rocks too. One of the pieces of rock she collected from out west served for many years as the front doorstop at their home. It now resides on our verandah.

Mum's quartz door stop

Mum’s quartz door stop

I have collected unusual stones and rocks for many years, not by following slavishly in Mum’s footsteps though. I gained a love of them after I’d been married and living out west, far from my parents for some years. I learned a bit about the types of rock, like igneous, sedimentary, metamorphic and so on, and usually had some stones and rocks around the place.

My piece of petrified tree branch.

My piece of petrified tree branch.

For a few years, Mum and Dad collected small pebbles, and Dad polished them in a tumbling machine he made himself. He made bracelets and pendants for Mum from polished stones. I now own one of each of them – nobody else among my siblings is interested.

Pebbles on the shore, Lake Macquarie, NSW.

My youngest son is a geologist – I think he loves stones too. Maybe I had some sort of influence on that – I’d like to think so.

I haven’t gone into why I love shells and stones here; maybe it would be too hard to sort out any particular reasons for it. I just know that I love their beauty, their colours, their textures and their composition, and I am amazed at their variety. Rocks are the basic component of our world, and if they weren’t here for us, we wouldn’t be here either.

 

Gorge in Karijini National Park Western Australia

Rocky Gorge in Karijini National Park Western Australia

 

Do rocks, stones, seashells affect you at all?  What do you like or even dislike about them? Do you collect natural objects, or make things from them?

 

© Linda Visman  22.04.14  (709 words)

 

 

H is for Home

April 9, 2014 at 2:51 pm | Posted in Experiences, Family, Society, Travel, Ways of Living | 2 Comments
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A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014]

 

home-is-the-nicest-word-quote

The word ‘home’ evokes strong feelings in people, more than most words. There are many sayings about it – “Home is where the heart is” and “There’s no place like home”, among others.

Many poems and songs are written about home, expressing a love of and a longing for home, or a desire to leave it.

BillCosby Children come back home

However, when we look at a dictionary for a definition, we get one that in no way reflects those feelings.

The UK Oxford Dictionary: the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.

Free dictionary has nine definitions of the word, and most of them also relate to a place or structure wherein one dwells. But one of those meanings does actually capture what really lies behind the word for most people:

Home is: a. An environment offering security and happiness; b. A valued place regarded as a refuge or place of origin.

Elizabeth-Gaskell-home quote

Of course, home is not always a refuge or a place of safety and security, but when it is written of in song and poem, that is what it means.

Home is where one starts from, T. S. Eliot.

Where thou art, that is home, a poem by Emily Dickinson.

Linda&Pauline T abt 1955

So, what happens if a person travels a lot and does not ‘settle down’ in one place? Does that person have no home; or if they live in many different houses in different places?

My brother has travelled and lived in a small camper van (mobile home) for many years. Does he have a home? He certainly does – his home is his van.

And my own situation: ever since I first married at the age of twenty, I have lived in more houses in more places than I can remember. The longest in one place, until where I now live, was six years. Have all of those places been a home to me?

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Yes, they have; all of them. As Maya Angelou says,  I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.

It is not the building or place that makes a home as far as I am concerned. Some of the homes in which I lived weren’t the best, others have been lovely.

The condition of the house, flat, caravan, etc, made no difference to me. It was and still is the people with whom I share that place with.

homeis where heart is

Until I was twenty, it was my parents and siblings, even when we lived in a caravan. Then it was my husband and our children, until we separated. After that, it was other people with whom I lived and whom I felt close to.

Any old place I can hang my hat is home sweet home to me, the title of a song by William Jerome.

What-I-love-most-my-home

 

What does home mean to you?

 

© Linda Visman 09.04.2014

 

 

 

Patterns in Bark

March 3, 2014 at 6:42 pm | Posted in Australia, Gardens, Nature, Tourism, Travel, Writing | 1 Comment
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I was at Parramatta Park again recently and went for my usual wanders in between periods of writing at the picnic tables.

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One of the things I love about the park is the trees there. I love trees anywhere, actually.

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This time however, I looked at them more closely, and saw, in a relatively small area, a wide range of species with very different bark.

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I didn’t know many of the species, though I am sure anyone familiar with Australian trees would be able to identify many of these from their bark.DSCF7982 (2) (960x1280)

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One of my favourite tree barks is that of the paperbark tree (various types of melaleuca). When I was younger, I often used to see pictures made from bark. The paperbark lends itself to that very well, as its bark peels off in soft papery sheets. Last year, after the death of my father, I took possession of two my late mother had hanging on the wall.

Melaleuca, paperbark tree

Melaleuca, paperbark tree

I found a stand of trees with an unusual and rough bark that I hadn’t noticed before, and had to include a photo here, as it is quite dramatic.

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A tree with a very smooth bark rounds off the list, though there were several others I haven’t included here.

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I love these different patterns, as well as their texture, and am constantly amazed at the variety that Nature displays.

 

What are the trees like where you live? Is there a good variety, or do the climate and geography limit what grows there?

(c) Linda Visman

Rathmines, NSW

August 8, 2013 at 11:30 am | Posted in Australia, History, Tourism, Travel, War and Conflict, Ways of Living | 12 Comments
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We went to nearby Rathmines recently. It is just a few km along the shore from where we live, on the western shore of Lake Macquarie. We bought a coffee at the Bakery and took it to the park next to F Jetty. There are several parks and walking paths in and around the village.

There used to be an RAAF station at Rathmines, with a squadron of Catalina flying boats based there during World War II.

Rathmines RAAF Base c1943. F Jetty is in the bay below the top left-hand corner of the photo.

Rathmines RAAF Base c1943. F Jetty is in the bay below the top left-hand corner of the photo.

F Jetty was part of the station. It was used by the boats that carried supplies and equipment to the base and out to the moored “Black Cats”, as the black-painted Catalinas were known. This squadron operated up the east coast of Australia as far New Guinea. They were low and slow flying planes, and the dull black paint provided camouflage on their night flights.

Restored Black Cat coming in to land at Rathmines Catalina Festival 2012

Restored Black Cat coming in to land at Rathmines Catalina Festival 2012

Many of the former RAAF buildings are still there.

The former RAAF buildings have been transformed into more peaceful uses now. They include a band hall (former Sergeants’ Mess), a bowling club (the former Officers’ Mess), a recently-closed aged care facility (the former RAAF hospital); a Christadelphian camp (the former barracks, relocated & grouped in their present site).

Rathmines, 2012, Bottom left – Bowling Club; Group of buildings in centre –camp run by Christadelphians; Middle right – F Jetty; the grey and white areas between the camp buildings and the jetty is where the aeroplane maintenance sheds once were (grey) next to the hard stand (white), where the Cats came up out of the water to the shore.

Rathmines, 2012, Bottom left – Bowling Club; Group of buildings in centre –camp run by Christadelphians; Middle right – F Jetty; the grey and white areas between the camp buildings and the jetty is where the aeroplane maintenance sheds once were (grey) next to the hard stand (white), where the Cats came up out of the water to the shore.

Modern-day Rathmines is just one of the many pleasant lake-side towns that are now part of the City of Lake Macquarie. The city is made up of over ninety small communities that are situated around the extensive shores of the lake.

Lake Macquarie itself is the largest coastal salt water lake in Australia. It is also the largest permanent salt water lake in the southern hemisphere. It covers an area of 110 square kilometres (42.5 sq. miles), and has 174 km (108 miles) of foreshore. It is a wonderful location for all kinds of water-based activities – sailing; cruising; fishing; water skiing, etc, as well as bushwalking, the arts and many other activities.

Rathmines is just one of the places around the lake that I love to visit, and I am really pleased that I live by this wonderful body of water.

Do you have an area that really speaks to you? Where would you live if you could?

© Linda Visman
August 2013

Dairy Country – under threat from development

April 14, 2013 at 8:28 pm | Posted in Australia, Destroying nature, History, Nature, Society, Tourism, Travel, Ways of Living | 7 Comments
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I love the area in which I grew up – the Illawarra area of New South Wales, Australia. However there is less and less of it to love these days as housing and industrial developments reach out into the lush and productive dairy lands that were once among the best in the country.

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We took a drive through the remaining pasturelands last week, while we were in the area visiting family (especially my 91-year-old father). The lush grasslands and areas of bush are beautiful.

The ocean in the distance

The ocean in the distance

 

We took quite a few photographs so that we can look back at them one day when the productive dairy country is covered in houses and industrial sheds.

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The area lies between the mountains of the Great Dividing Range and the Pacific Ocean, visible in the distance.

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Housing estates are growing around the towns to the north, south and east.

Houses encroach on the dairy lands.

Houses encroach on the dairy lands.

Dry-stone walls, a relic of the British heritage of the region, are seen less and less. But this one is proudly maintained.

Stone walls

Stone walls

 

A sense of humour is essential in this industry, where prices for milk are low, but the work to produce it is hard and long.

Rue de Moo Poo

Rue de Moo Poo

When Europeans first came to this district in the nineteenth century, cabbage tree palms were in abundance. They provided a vital source of food for the indigenous people. However, clearing of the land, heavy tractors, and the hard hooves of cattle, all of which pack down the soil and make seed growth almost impossible, have reduced their numbers considerably. Most farming areas are now bare of these palms, though they do grow in gullies and better soil parts of the mountainsides.

Cabbage tree palms

Cabbage tree palms

These days, it is not economically worthwhile to maintain many dairy farms to a level needed to keep them viable. The developer’s dollars become more and more attractive to families that have farmed for several generations.

A decaying farm

A decaying farm

I wonder just how much longer these farms will be able to remain, fighting against cheaper imports and low prices for milk at the farm gate. I know that we will be very upset by the loss of this beautiful and productive dairy country to the destructive dollars of the developers.

 

 

(c) Linda Visman April 2013

Photographs by Dirk Visman

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