Saturday, May 31, 2008
Shortly afterwards, someone asked me what I had been photographing in the main street of Robertson. To me, it was self-evident that I would photograph such a wonderful sky. But, different people see things differently.Earlier in the same day, I had taken this photo from my back deck, with bright warm light coming from behind me, and fluffy clouds dancing around the tall trees down at the cemetery hill (top left horizon - behind the big Power Stanchion)
While I was there with my camera, a male Golden Whistler landed in a Wattle Tree just a few feet away from me, and then looked over his shoulder, and got a bit of a surprise to find my camera pointed at him.
Naturally, he did not stay there long. I had hoped to entice him to turn around and give me the full frontal view of his golden yellow chest. Alas, he did not cooperate. Click on the image, to see the fine whiskers around his beak, and fluffy white feathers under his chin. A lovely bird to see up so close - even for just a brief moment.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
For me, my first contact with the Sassafras district was in early 1960s when my father was an amateur bird-bander with CSIRO Wildlife Division. For several years, we visited the Banksia-rich flora of the Shoalhaven Valley, at Tianjara Falls, in order to band hundreds of Honeyeaters, in the autumn and winter seasons, when the Banksia ericifolia bushes are in flower.
Years ago, George had work-contacts with this area, including the coastal villages south from Nowra, and as far west as Sassafras. It seems there were more cottages in Sassafras, in those days, but no Nut Tree plantations. He travelled these roads frequently, it seems, but had not been back for many years.
Today we took the "road less-travelled", via Porter's Creek, and the Little Forest Plateau.
Here we were at a wonderful natural lookout-point in a very thin saddle, between the Clyde Valley behind us, and the coastal escarpment. This view looks out over Lake Conjola, with a local sandstone bluff in the foreground. A wonderful contrast between rainforest vegetation immediately below the rocky cliffs where we were, and the coastal plain far below, and dry sandstone rock-shelf vegetation (heathland) immediately across the road, behind us.
Further along we came to this wonderful view of Mt Bushwalker, and Pigeon House Mountain far in the distance. In the foreground was a wonderful area of sandstone plateau with mixed heathland and sedge. Pigeon House is 719 metres high, but because of its isolation, and distinctive shape, appears more prominent than the other hills.
Below is Flat Topped Mountain, far in the distance, in the inaccessible Budawang Ranges. This mountain is deceptively high, at 837 metre above sea level.
Here is a late afternoon photo of Tianjara Falls. At the end of a very dry month of May (and a generally dry autumn), there is very little water going over the falls. However, my memories of these falls include once getting isolated for a weekend by the creek having risen and flooded the (former) low-level crossing. On that particular day, there was a veritable torrent going over this cliff-ledge.I was interested to see the advanced plantations of Nut Trees which are now established at Sassafras. When I lived in Canberra, I lived just around the corner from the (late - and great) Wilf Crane who was one of the persons who helped develop the nut-growing industry at Sassafras. Today, in Robertson, I live just up the road from Wilf's former mentor (from his days in CSIRO and the ANU Forestry School) - Hugh Waring. Small world. Wilf died in an ultra-light aircraft accident, in 1992, when returning to Canberra from visiting the nut plantations at Sassafras. Both Hugh and Wilf made a study of tree growing, with particular emphasis on nutritional requirements of trees. Therefore it is no accident that each had an interest in Sassafras and Robertson - both areas famous for their rich basalt soils.
Sassafras and Robertson are at opposite ends of the Shoalhaven Valley system - I can see the hills of Sassafras and the Budawang Ranges from my back verandah - on a clear day. This is approximately 60 kilometres away, in a direct line. Today the round trip, via Kangaroo Valley, Cambewarra Mountain, Nowra and Sassafras, and back was 250 Km of driving - a full day's trip.
A comment on the roads.
The roads around the Sassafras district, and down to Nowra have been improved greatly since the 1960s. Indeed there is a very large road construction project occurring now, west of Sassafras, at Bulee Gap, above the Endrick River. That patch of road was always a very narrow, steep climb up the back edge of the escarpment up towards the high point at Sassafras. That road develpment has been promised for more than 45 years, that I know of - and probably far longer, as, of course, it was intended to link the two parts of the ACT - Canberra and the port of Jervis Bay - an arrangement entered into in 1912 when the Capital was declared.
It was a great day out - seeing wonderful country, landscapes and birds and wildlife - from one end of the Shoalhaven Valley to the other.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Female - larger body (necessary for laying eggs) and small antennae
Male - smaller body, but much larger antennae (used to track the pheromones produced by the female).
The two moths pasted on the same image, for comparison purposes.
These moths (if I have identified the species correctly - and I make no great claim for that)
are probably Abantiades hyalinatus. Certainly I have seen Swift Moths like the ones illustrated on the website linked above which had the same russet coloured hind-wings (which are only visible when a moth is exhausted, and very likely is dying). Compare this image with those on the website linked above.
While I have been writing this, a large Swift Moth has been hammering at the window of my Study. This is not a photo of that individual, but is a shot of another moth, doing the same thing, in late June, two years ago. The eye is very large, and is reflecting the flash of the camera.
Monday, May 26, 2008
The Ground Orchids of late autumn are now starting to flower.
Interestingly, there is a great variation in flowering seasons of the Tall Greenhood (Bunochilus longifolius). These plants were flowering half-way down Macquarie Pass (in a warmer environment than up here on the Robertson plateau), and over at Fitzroy Falls. This one was photographed at Fitzroy Falls on 14 April. Yesterday, the plants at Macquarie Pass were still in flower, but obviously getting towards the end of their flowering season.
There is a colony of this same species, living in a very dark (shaded) area, along the Belmore Falls Rd. Today, members of this same species of plants are far from ready to flower - still forming their stem leaves, prior to forming the flowering spike. By the time they are ready to flower, they will be as much as two months behind the other members of their species. Obviously location and aspect have a very strong influence on flowering time.
The other species in flower here today is the Superb Greenhood, (Diplodium grandiflorum). These are the first of this species which I have seen in flower this year. Here is the front-on view of this plant, showing why it earns its other name, the "Cobra Greenhood".By the side view, it looks more like a conventional Greenhood.
Friday, May 23, 2008
The early settler's (God bless their ignorant souls) did what early British farmers did elsewhere in Australia, and cleared the "scrub". In this case they cleared the dense cool temperate rainforest known as the "Yarrawa Brush" - a combination of tall trees, growing together very densely, with vines and Tree Ferns, and then ground dwelling low ferns.
Below the rainforest lies the answer to why the settlers wished to clear the rainforest - rich red basalt soil. Here is my daughter, Zoe, celebrating a big day of planting. Note the rich red soil.Having cleared the native forests, (in the 1860s) the settlers discovered the need for windbreaks, and they planted the Monterey Pine (Pinus radiata).
In the process they created a wonderful environment for the various introduced fungi which thrive in association with these Pine Trees.
And that is the subject of this blog entry.
The Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) is the most common "Pine Toadstool" in Robertson, in Autumn. I have written about these previously. Local kids go around kicking the heads off these fungi. I have a plate of these, preparing them for dissection, NOT FOR EATING (I stress).
These were being prepared for dissection for educational purposes, to compare the structure of boletes against gilled fungi.
to reveal the cap structure, and the gills.
Note how the bright red colour penetrates into the cap.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
This morning some of the Robertson folks associated with the Robertson Heritage Railway Society and the Fettlers' Shed Art Gallery got together for a very small, but very pleasant instance of the Australia's Biggest Morning Tea.Even Lena (the scruffy Schnauzer) got into the party, looking for scraps of sandwiches and Fairy Bread to finish off.
Those of you who know me, know I wear a mad hat most of the time, to cover my lousy regrowth of hair, following two rounds of extreme chemotherapy treatment. I am doing fine, and happy to say so.
My personal award for the Maddest Hat goes to Lynn, who unfortunately turned up just as I was leaving. I was too shy to ask if I could photograph her wonderful hat - a tall piece of fabulous quilted material, in bright colours. Her "Mad Hat" made her stand out from the (small) crowd. Her hat might have excelled, even at a Melbourne Cup crowd.
It gives me far greater width of view than I had before, with the standard Nikkor 35 - 80 lens I had before, which was carried over from my previous Nikon SLR (film) camera. From a rough comparison of equivalent shots, I calculate that the new lens gives me about 30% wider view than the old lens (a technical person could tell me precisely, just from the mathematics of lenses). Sure, the old lens makes the image appear "closer", but if I want to get closer, I now have far greater flexibility of zoom than I did before (200 mm compared to the 80 mm).Following the last few weeks of hectic activity, in preparing seemingly endless "objections" to the SCA's Environment Assessment on the Upper Nepean (Kangaloon Aquifer) Borefield proposal, which has been on public exhibition for the last month, I decided that I needed some "retail therapy". So I took myself off to my local Fletchers Fotographics Shop, in Mittagong. Alan looked after me very well, and even tried to tempt me with some wonderful long lenses (a huge "Prime" 500mm lens, and a 200 - 500 zoom lens), which would have been great for photographing birds. Alas, that was not to be - not at this stage, anyway.
However, I did look at some more modestly priced lenses. It came down to three different 18 - 200 lenses - a choice between a very nice Nikon Image Stabilised Lens (pricey, but very sweet) and a Tamron and the Sigma which I eventually chose. Alan took a series of comparable images (out the door of the shop), and then printed the images so that I could choose the one I preferred. There were subtle differences in the way the blue light in the sky and clouds were presented, and in one lens, the bright patch of sunlight on the road was accentuated, in away I did not like.
As I have a "Big Sky" view out my back door, and it is my favourite subject for photographing, I decided to choose the Sigma, for I preferred the way it captured the intensity of the blue in the sky and the details of the clouds.
The upper photograph is taken with the new Sigma 18-200 mm lens. The lower photo is with the old Nikkor lens. Both are nice, but I like the flexibility of the new lens (going from a far wider image to a much greater zoom than on the old basic lens). And, importantly, I like the way it feels and operates. Very "clean" feel, and very reliable.
Thanks to Alan for his patience with the slowest customer in the shop. At least I knew I was not in a hurry, and allowed Alan to get on with serving the other people who knew exactly what they wanted.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
How do I know?
Simple - my Tree Dahlia has started to flower.Regular readers may recall two similar posts, from two years ago (OK only dedicated readers will remember these posts). I link to them, for more recently joined-up readers.
The first was entitled "The optimistic nature of Tree Dahlias", published on 7 June 2006.
The second was "The Nature of Frost (and an update on Tree Dahlias)" published on 13 June 2006.
The message is clear. Tree Dahlias take so long to grow to their full height, before they flower, that, inevitably, frosts are just around the corner. This year's flowers are about 2.5 metres above the ground. The plant grows this tall every year, before it flowers. Then the frost kills all the soft tissue material of the plant, leaving only the root stock. As with normal Dahlias, the plant has a set of tubers in the ground which are the perennial part of the plant. The difference for the Tree Dahlias is just how far they have to grow before the plant is mature enough to carry flowers.
In truth we have already had a very light touch of frost - but only once, and only very, very light. I do not know the temperature, but it was not enough to count as a real frost. Just a few signs of ice crystals glinting on the roof of the car.
But real frosts cannot be far away. Get your "Winter Woollies" out of the cupboard (if you have not done so already).
Tree Dahlia growing in front of native Sassafras and Pittosporum trees. The Sassafras (taller tree on right) is about 15 metres high. The low shrubs to the left of the Tree Dahlia are all well over head height.
Cultivation note: Tree Dahlias are easily cultivated by taking a stick of the stem with two growth points (nodes). (A stick about 15 inches long, usually). This will resemble a piece of fresh sugar cane, if you have ever seen that. Lie the stem down on a shallow angle, (bottom end first) so its head is just above the potting mix, in a Styrofoam box filled to the top with potting mix. Water it, and leave it alone for about 3 months in a protected position, and when you look at it (next spring), it will have formed roots on the bottom, and new shoots at the top. Plant it out and wait for a year. My plant came as "cuttings" from a friend in Canberra. I did exactly what I have described above, and my new plant has flowered every year since. Even though it is a silly plant to grow in a cold climate, I love it for its dogged determination to prove it can survive and flower each year.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
But he was not content with that. As I said, he was responsible for the planting of the double flowered Ornamental Cherries along the Illawarra Highway, through Robertson (Hoddle Street). He also was responsible for a fine stand of Douglas Fir trees as street trees along the top end of Caalong Street (between May St and the Robertson Showground).
However, as far as tree planting is concerned, his greatest achievement in Robertson was the grove of Californian Redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) which stand opposite the Robertson Nature Reserve, on the corner of Meryla Street and South Street.
Some time ago, Mr Langley left Robertson, and moved to the Coast. He died there last year.
Today, the Robertson Environment Protection Society held a working bee to cut back (and paint with Glyphosate) numerous Privet bushes which were blocking the view of the old sign. Then they erected the new sign, made by Ian Foster (shown fixing the new sign in place).It proudly proclaims the "Laurence Langley Memorial Redwood Grove", which was previously known as the "Robertson School Forest". The erection of this sign coincides with the Council's recent recommendation that: "The Lawrence (sic) Langley Memorial Californian Redwood Grove, Robertson" be included on the list of properties for future heritage review. Recommendation 11 of the recommendations for the "Heritage Survey review" Pages 290, and 291. WSC Agenda 24 April 2008.
Reference:"o-EP1 Draft Wingecarribee LEP 2007 – Public Submissions on Exhibition REF: SPM 5900" "The purpose of this report is to provide Council with details of the public consultations and submissions in relation to the exhibition of the Draft Wingecarribee LEP 2007."
Some of the workers who put up the sign, and cleared the woody weeds to allow it to be clearly seen from the roadway.The new sign, as seen from Meryla Street, just after crossing the Railway Line. The new sign is clearly visible, now, because of the removal of many Privets and some Scottish Broom (woody weed) shrubs.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Sent: Sunday, 4 May 2008 9:53 PM
To: ................................. (name removed to protect the innocent)
Subject: Urgent Information Requested re Kangaloon Borefield Project
Mr Mark Duffy
Department of Water and Energy
5th May, 2008
Dear Mr Duffy,
I am writing to you on behalf of the Save Water Alliance (SWA) regarding the proposed SCA borefield in the
The issues we raise relate to:
- The lack of publicly available information necessary for appraisal of the EA
- The credibility of the SCA’s proposals and
- Possible wider impacts of their proposed operations for this project
We currently understand that there is a draft Water Sharing Plan for the Greater Metropolitan Region - Groundwater Sources 2008 and that this is nearing gazettal. We have tried to obtain a copy of this draft for our analysis, but have not been able to do so as it has been described as not for public scrutiny at this stage. We understand that the ground waters of the
We are aware of the claims by SCA in their Environmental Assessment of the Kangaloon Borefield, that an allocation for extraction of the groundwater from their proposed scheme has been reserved under the draft WSP and that this provides a safeguard for their scheme to proceed.
We would like to know whether an allocation has been reserved under the yet to be gazetted plan and how this has been possible. Further, we would like advice from the Department how such an allocation can be made when the current management arrangements have embargoed future use, and our interpretation of the Water Act is that any such allocation in an embargoed area has to be accompanied by allocation offsets from elsewhere in the parish or area. Specifically, we would like your view on how this meets the requirements of the National Water Initiative concerning over allocated systems.
Finally, we would also like your advice on whether the draft WSP has provision for hotspot management and how this might affect existing groundwater users in the management area affected by the proposed borefield, and whether the new plan will allow all embargoes to be lifted.
As this matter is related to the SCA EA and our submission concerning the proposal, we would like an urgent response if possible. We apologise for the short notice, but have only just been told that we cannot have access to the draft WSP and see this as our next avenue to obtain information that appears to have been shared with the SCA..
From: Bernard Eddy [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, 14 May 2008 4:39 PM
To: ...... (same innocent recipient)
Cc: ...... (the Dept of Planning contact person)
Subject: FW: Urgent Information Requested re
I refer to my letter to Mr Mark Duffy dated 5th May.
I have not; to date even received an acknowledgment of my request for urgent information regarding the SCA’s proposed borefield in the
It is not possible for the Save Water Alliance, to present a thorough, well informed comment without access to the Draft Water Sharing Plan together with your comments on the other crucial issues raised in my correspondence.
I suggest, it is grossly unfair for deadline to be placed on public participants in the Dept of Planning’s consultation process when we are dependent upon a separate government agency, the Dept of Water and Energy to provide key information that is not forthcoming. I urge you to please reply
Furthermore, I urge the Department of Planning to immediately grant an extension of time for the Save Water Alliance to submit detailed responses on water sharing issues in relation to Project MP 06-0331
Without such information being made available to all parties (including the DoP), it is not possible for informed discussion and analysis to take place.
(PLEASE CLICK ON THE IMAGE - TO ENLARGE IT - TO MAKE IT LEGIBLE)
The point is simple.
The reply simply fails to answer any of the substantive questions in the original letters.
If this was an examination test - the "answer" to the "questions" would score no more than 3/10.
I wonder if it was perhaps jointly drafted for DWE by the helpful people at the Sydney Catchment Authority, perhaps in a "very urgent meeting" which certain key personnel from the Groundwater Projects Unit were engaged in, early in the morning of Thursday morning, 15 May 2008 - the same day on which the reply was sent to the Save Water Alliance.
Clearly the DWE urgently needs good hydrologists to fix the mess they are about to allow the SCA to create in the Southern Highlands.
The groundwater is about to be over-allocated - the central point raised in our letter.
It will be interesting to see if the Department of Planning can manage to stand above the issue and use scientific analysis of the facts, or whether they will allow themselves to be "snowed" by the bluster from DWE. Let us assume, at this point, that the DoP are as good as their original work indicates, when they drafted the Director-General's precisely worded "Requirements" under Part 3A of the EPA Act. If they are, then I am confident that they will see straight through this "advice" from the DWE.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
The sign welcoming visitors to Hampden Park in Robertson has been restored to its former glory.
Following an extreme storm in late 2007, half of the sign was destroyed. Extreme wind gusts literally tore out two of the metal panels and their perspex covering sheets.
Subsequent vandalism led to the sign being emptied completely. The "empty sign" photo was taken on 28 November 2007.Fortunately the actual information panels were salvaged. Someone valued the perspex, and pinched it, but fortunately, they left the information panels behind. They were taken to safety at the back of the CTC, until they were collected and taken away for restoration.
Anyway, yesterday, Brian Davies (of "Magnetite Window Insulation") came and installed the restored panels, with new Perspex and "Magnetite" fixings.
Apparently this work has been paid for by the Wingecarribee Shire Council, so we express our thanks to them too.
Never let it be said that this Blog does not give credit where credit is due. :-))
Of course, we give them a hard time when deserved, too. But nobody would expect otherwise.
Friday, May 09, 2008
part of the great and ever growing
"Fettlers Shed Experience"
Sat 10th May 10.30am - 2pm
Official opening with a mad hatters tea party
take it as you find it and join in the fun.
Great tea to taste and fairy bread and other interesting
Products from "a touch of tea" for purchase
mothers day gift ideas
Sat 17th May - 2pm - a walk through the fungi wood
explanatory dialogue by Denis Wilson
donation to Fettlers Shed for exhibition on fungi and tea prior to walk
- limited numbers booking essential 0408 610 714
Wikipedia goes to great lengths to clear the Reverend Charles Dodgson, (better known as "Lewis Carroll") from the accusations of drug-taking and consuming hallucinogenic mushrooms. They do point out that these rumours did boost his reputation (posthumously) in the 1960s.
Penny Levett has curated an interesting display of art works based (loosely) on themes dealing with Alice in Wonderland, fungi (photos mostly, plus lots of technical information), and things to do with Tea Parties (bring your own Mad Hats).
Be there, or be left "out of it".
adjacent to the Robertson Heritage Railway Station.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
NOT ONLY IS THE SYDNEY CATCHMENT AUTHORITY RUNNING AROUND CHASING PEOPLE OFF THE EDGES OF PUBLIC ROADS IN KANGALOON, ESPECIALLY IF THEY ARE ENVIRONMENTALISTS; NOW THE LEGAL COUNSEL FOR A MAJOR ENGINEERING CONSULTANCY FIRM HAS TAKEN TO ISSUING THREATS TO A HUMBLE BLOGGER.
IT IS TRULY RIDICULOUS AND DISPROPORTIONATE RESPONSE TO ANYTHING WHICH I MIGHT HAVE WRITTEN.
Ironically, the legal notice contains far more information than I could ever have hoped to elicit regarding the links between the company in question and the SCA.
I RESERVE THE RIGHT TO CONTINUE TO EXPLORE ISSUES OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY.
Saturday, May 03, 2008
THAT WAS DONE AT THE INSTIGATION OF THE LEGAL COUNSEL FOR PARSONS BRINCKERHOFF.
THEIR REASONS ARE STATED BELOW.
THIS BLOG RESERVES THE RIGHT TO EXPLORE ISSUES OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY.