Friday, March 28, 2014


                               A friend at the kitchen window watching me do the breakfast dishes this morning.

Saturday, March 8, 2014


A good season - April 2006


A dangerous season - Nov. 2002

Living in the bush is not for the faint-hearted. Numerous obstacles are always present... fire, big trees, things that might eat your house, things that might kill you, things that may force you to consider living a "safer" life in the city or suburbs. You can always clear the block and make it like suburbia but if you do that maybe you should live in suburbia.  Many people do "clear the block"... the first things to go are the prickly native bushes. We burnt an area about 4 years ago and the prickly native bushes are back many fold. They are an intrinsic part of the vegetation and support a huge number of invertebrates.
I will be detailing these obstacles during future posts so that you can have some idea of the difficulties involved in living here.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


During these humid, rainy days after the big dry of January, more dragonflies have been seen around the dam. This is one of the biggest - an Australian Emperor. Dragonflies have almost 360 degree vision and when living underwater in their larval stage they have "rectal gills" - meaning they breathe through their anus.

Monday, February 17, 2014


               

                                Potted tubers                                     Two-legged tuber      
                                  
                                                 
                                              
                                                              Flower in spring 

What’s happening in the Grow Local nursery?  The new propagation  experiment for ground orchids is underway. All you can see at present is a number of pots with white tags, but under there are the dormant tubers waiting for autumn to sprout forth their new leaves. Native terrestrial orchids are topsy-turvy in their growing - being dormant in summer. I have to be careful to give them minimal water during this time. At a time when all other plants are at their maximum water usage, these little fella’s need very little. It’s hard to walk past without watering.
The trial is to increase the population of Diuris tricolor, a Donkey Orchid. This is classed as a vulnerable species and any new tubers will eventually go back in the ground near where they were collected or on nearby offsets.
Terrestrial orchids have a symbiotic relationship with micorrhyzal fungi, so I have to add a little original soil from the site to introduce the correct fungi to the potting mix.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


Your eyes are not playing tricks - a pink birds nest. Found this in an Angophora just about to drop it's fruit. A small nest, probably a honeyeater of some sort. Love the intricate use of thin pieces of pink baling twine.

Friday, January 24, 2014


 
Insects are at their peak now that it's mid-summer. The Green Lacewing has delicate transparent wings - a beneficial insect in the vege garden due to their diet of aphids.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


The micro - house on the tiny house.    I’ve been sleeping in the tiny house and enjoying the nocturnal sounds of the wildlife around the dam, except maybe for the microbats as they scramble up the fly-wire door looking for a new cave to roost in. So, I have found a website that has plans for a microbat house. The timber at the bottom has a landing pad with shade cloth, the bats then crawl through a narrow opening into the dark interior which also has shadecloth where they will roost during the day. These fast flying little critters can be seen skimming the dam just before dawn.
 Apparently they love eating mosquitoes...can’t be a bad thing.


Friday, January 10, 2014



Louise and Chris (left in centre) are in the process of having their beautiful piece of a valley protected under a Voluntary Conservation Agreement with National Parks. The Yengo area is south west of Wallaby Gully and joins with the huge 5000 sq.km Wollemi wilderness... an enviable lifestyle in the Australian bush.
 VCA's are an important part of adding to our national bio-diversity in perpetuity.

 A little further down the track is a view of  Mt Yengo (below). This basalt-capped mountain has great significance for the aboriginal people of the area.


    
 






Wednesday, September 5, 2012

 
One of my earliest posts on this site is of the Wedge-tailed Eagles nest on the mountain above (March 5, 2010). After many climbs on the mountain during the past 17 years I have finally found the nest active.  The white chick is quite young and will spend many weeks being reared by the parents. A rabbit carcase can be seen in the background.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

 
The first moth of the season.  Crimson Tiger Moth    Spilosoma curvata.

Friday, August 3, 2012


A sure sign that spring is near...a Spotted Pardalote excavates the centre of a hollow log on the ground not far from the bird bath.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

We are experiencing the biggest Spotted Gum flowering since we have lived here. This is a composite image of a tree and flowers. A cacophony of honeyeaters and parrots during the day and screeching fruit bats on the night shift. A few kilometres away a large group of Regent Honeyeaters have arrived for the feast.... one of the most endangered birds in the country.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


After two successive La Nina's and big rains the birds are jubilant! This Banksia is outside the bathroom window and is usually frequented by our resident Spinebill's (see post in April 2010). This is the first time a Black Cockatoo has visited to eat the seeds from the cones. I was able to get a clear head-shot with a telephoto lens from a few feet away without him seeing me.

Monday, March 5, 2012


...checked the book this time. "Harmless to Humans"
So, get in close and try for a good head shot, still difficult due to all the grass in the way. Only the second time I have seen one of these, a Red-Naped Snake. Quite small at 30cm almost fully grown.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Many species of small birds slowly start to leave the gully at this time, at the end of the breeding season. There are a few less than usual at the moment due to the hungry young Goshawks. A pair raised 2 or 3 chicks in the top of a big ironbark and they have been terrorizing the small birds for a few weeks. This one was at rest near the birdbath drooling at the wrens having their daily bath.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


The reptile season continues although rather cool for this time of year. I dug up this Bandy-Bandy when planting a tree, played with him for a while to get him all worked up into this strike pose. I thought Mr Bandy-Bandy was non-venomous but when I checked the book...not so. Why did I not check the book first??

Thursday, October 13, 2011


It's the start of snake season and Ali did not want me any closer to this Red-bellied Black, I told her it was OK, I wasn't going to hurt him...

Friday, July 15, 2011


The range above us has one of the last populations of Brush-tail Rock Wallabies left in NSW. This old fellow has suffered a split ear at some stage in life. We have a favourite bit of the steep sandstone escarpment to sit and watch them before our descent back home.

Friday, June 3, 2011



The big "La Nina" event has finally gone from the country. We missed it at Wallaby Gully, having well below average rainfall since January this year. So, last week when La Nina left we had 130mm in three days which filled the dam for the first time in four years and our creek is still flowing!

Friday, April 29, 2011



A gum tree bud in a shell fossil on a lichen covered rock .... fills with water after an autumn shower.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


The Acacia Moth caterpillar is eating some of my wattles in the nursery. It's relatively small at about 30mm long and I am willing to sacrifice a wattle or two to watch this very ornate caterpillar grow. This is the rear end of the moth opening his "false eye" after I tickled his bum with a stick!

False eyes mislead predators.

Monday, March 7, 2011


One of our neighbours recently found this Emperor Gum Moth and I have been able to get some good photos even though it was dead.
This is one of the largest moths in Australia with a wingspan up to 150mm. It has a very short life span as an adult and does not feed at all after the caterpillar stage, so I suppose this is an adult that ran out of food!

Saturday, February 26, 2011






Close-up of a big Blue Flower Wasp on a cool morning before he wakes and becomes scarily active.
I have taken the wing patterns and worked on the multiple image in photoshop.


 


 



Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Have been trying for years to get a decent photo of a Scarlet Honeyeater. It's only on the very hot days like today (40 celsius) that thirst overcomes fear and they will come close enough for a photo. Look closely and you will see the long, pointy tongue designed for searching for nectar in native flowers. I waited for 2 hours for this shot which was hard to do laid back in my banana lounge drinking cider.

Friday, January 7, 2011


Sex at Wallaby Gully can be fatal. The Brown Antechinus (Marsupial Mouse) are nesting in the studio and madly searching for food. All males die at eleven months after a few frenetic days of mating which can last up to six hours at a time. This weakens their immune system and leads to internal infections. The females are less stressed and can live for another season.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


The frogs are back after good spring and summer rains. This warty little Ornate Burrowing Frog appeared when I was digging a hole to plant a plum tree. They live in chambers underground coming out to forage at night.

Friday, September 3, 2010


It's been a long time between babbles.......work gets in the way. Now is the time for ground orchids to rear their heads. This one is called "Brown Beaks" and is one of many orchids that are dormant underground for most of their lives, appearing for a couple of weeks in spring.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


Although one of the most common birds at the gully, the Eastern Rosella is hard to photograph being nervous and flighty. They nest in a vertical tree hollow every year not far from the house.
This is one of the most colourful Australian parrots yet they still seem to blend in with the forest.

Saturday, June 5, 2010



Climbed the mountain behind our property this morning and was fortunate enough to spot this Sooty Owl peeping out of a rock overhang. This is the 106th bird species on our list for Wallaby Gully. This large owl is listed as threatened in NSW. Destruction of habitat is one of the critical concerns particularly hollow bearing trees. The call during the breeding season can be alarming - a high pitched scream like someone being strangled.
Alison Green has had this design in her t-shirt range for a number of years.
Click here and visit her website to view the design in full.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


The Regent Honeyeater is a critically endangered species and has been sighted only twice here in the 15 years we have been at Wallaby Gully. They feed in eucalypt open forest and woodlands in inland Victoria and NSW and their range is still diminishing. In 1997 their global population was estimated at a total of 1500 birds.

Alison Green, a Wallaby Gully artist, has just created this new design to add to her range of hand-printed T-shirts. The image illustrated here appears on the front of the shirt. Visit the Alison Green Designs website to view this and other designs in her range.






Saturday, April 24, 2010


An old coal miner once told me that Banksia's are at their best on Anzac Day......well, here's proof!

Friday, April 16, 2010


Two hundred and sixty million years ago Wallaby Gully was a bit different. The sea was much closer and there were big peat swamps that eventually turned into big coal mines.

This shell is embedded in the cliff face high above the gully. We can't put down a bore for water as it is saltier than sea water.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


A pair of Double-barred Finches. A common bird around the garden most of the year, they are currently eating aphids on a native ground cover. Living in a well vegetated area with lots of birds equals less insect problems. A local landowner about 2 km from here is having big problems with insect attack on new plantings due to little vegetation and a lack of small birds.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


The Teddy Bears are having a picnic in the garden. A native Teddy Bear Bee about to have a snack on a solanum plant. These bees are a little larger than a normal bee and are covered in brown fur. They are solitary and make a small hive just for themselves and raise a couple of young each.

Monday, March 15, 2010


A plump Wonga Pigeon walks past the house one afternoon. I have always thought they would make a tasty meal for the local people before we arrived on the scene. They were also shot for food during the depression but have regained their numbers with protection since then.

Friday, March 5, 2010



On the mountain above : a Wedge-tailed Eagles nest. I check it every breeding season for activity but it seems to be abandoned. It has two levels and must be a great weight on the branch. The main upper nest is over two metres long, a work of art over many years.

Friday, February 26, 2010


It's easy to get a close up photo of Echidna spines. This one curled up into a ball when I walked close by and I was able to touch the spines.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Butterflies and moths are busy breeding at the gully while the warmth continues. This caterpillar (Theretra oldenlandiae) will turn into a large brown and white streamlined, fast flying Hawk Moth. Right now he is busy eating constantly on a native grape vine.

Friday, February 5, 2010


A Bluetail Damselfly part way through eating a smaller damselfly. The warm, wet weather is perfect for lots of insect activity.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


It's Australia Day and what better way to spend my time than getting a few close-up pics of a Green Tree Snake hunting frogs in the garden. They are very relaxed around people and I was able to get the lens really close. Of course, it is non-venomous. I would not try this with a brown snake.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


The grey kangaroos are fairly tame now especially when it's a 43 degree day. They stay and drink while we swim. This young one has wet it's front legs as an effective means of cooling off.

We manage our house on days like this. Having a mud brick home we can open up at night to cool off and close up around 9am. With ceiling fans it stays relatively cool all day and we avoid the cost of air-conditioning.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


The tallest Spotted Gum at Wallaby Gully. At around 35m in height this is one of few old growth trees in the area. The top has blown out many years ago leaving an excellent hollow for someone to live in. The spotted gum forests around Cessnock are now largely protected after 200 years of plundering. If we look after them they will be old growth just like this in 50 to 100 years.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


.....what lives in this hole in our lawn....?