Posts Tagged ‘landscape’

A small rural village in Queensland’s Samford Valley marks the site of our home. Here on Australia’s east coast, surrounded by two state forests and four rugged mountains, we enjoy exploring ways to engage with the beauty of our natural surroundings.

One favourite destination is a large mountain, Mount Glorious.  It rises to a height of 600 metres above sea level. In the oppressive heat of our high summer we often head to its crest and cooler temperature, where we spend a comfortable day.  Driving through the mountain’s splendid scenery we are always amazed at its abundance of native rain forest cover—mighty trees, tall palms, and numerous ferns. Flocks of tropical birds, white cockatoos, and brilliant parrots often fill the skies.

On a recent visit, a sign post entitled, The Westridge Outlook, caught our eye. Exiting onto a dirt road we followed this to a car park. Here a wide board walk, enclosed by a fence of metal railings stretched ahead. This walkway was built to encircle an immense rocky outcrop.

Strolling along we admired a mixed forest of grey gums, spotted gums and tall tallowwoods.  Long ago these original timber forests were harvested by timber cutters using only axes and cross-cut saws. The fallen trees were loaded onto wooden carts and pulled by a team of oxen to the nearest sawmill. Thankfully this deforestation was discontinued, and today its remains are protected as a reserve for public enjoyment.

Reaching the half-way mark, the boardwalk expanded into a large viewing area, to expose an open outlook. The rims of distant mountain ranges, shrouded in a blue haze, framed the horizon. We stood in awe at the view of Lake Wivenhoe, our main dam and water catchment area. The upper reaches of the Brisbane River snaked through the landscape, as the D’Aguilar State Forest spread its abundant natural beauty beneath us. It was a breathtaking sight.

   We finished our walk around the ancient rocky escarpment, to end at the point of our beginning. Hopefully other visitors will also discover this hidden treasure, and the magnificent views on offer at the Westridge Outlook.


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“The earth has music
for those who will listen.”

~ George Santayana

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Billabong, 3

Beauty is the promise of happiness


Winter’s biting cold and bitter westerly winds have created a bleak landscape. Nature is shrinking in upon itself as it rests before the arrival of spring. Instead of complaining about the weather, I’ll focus this month on the theme of ‘beauty.’ Enjoy these five installments.

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Snow bush

As our cold and windy winter settles in again, right on cue the Hawaiian Snow Bush bursts into its garment of white. In gardens everywhere this delicate shrub or small tree, the Brenia nivosa, provides us with the closest visual suggestion of snow that we could experience. Native to the Pacific Ocean Islands, its papery-thin leaves produce leaf tips of the purest white, giving the impression that the bush has been dusted with drifts of soft snow. As we follow the leaf tips down toward the trunk, its leaves beneath are a rich, dark green.

Snow bush detail 1

One may be tempted to think that the Snow Bush is covered with white blossoms, but hiding under the lower foliage nestle its tiny green flowers. Another variety of snow bush, the Rosea Picta, adds pink to the white and green foliage, leading one to a false impression of a flowering shrub. As winter progresses, the white or pinkish-white leaf tips slowly turn green. And as the Hawaiian Snow Bush loves water, if kept moist it rewards us with its beautiful disguise of winter’s snow.

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Corn_field ripening

Fields of ripening corn
stretch into the far horizon.
Time stands still
in this warm Indian Summer.


As light softens and fades
the sky fills with crimson and gold.
Another day ends
to find us homeward bound.

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Bush landscape

A two lane road stretches ahead, more than 526 kilometres long, with only 2 comfort stops and hot food to be found between Port Augusta and Coober Pedy—the opal mining centre of Australia. Empty fields of red, orange, and reddish brown soil are occasionally dotted with tufts of spinnifex grass and the ever present salt bush. Our timing was right on cue as we caught the salt bush in bloom, covered with myriads of tiny white flowers. Its sage green is now dusted with splashes of silver as the salt bush is bathed in sunlight. The colours here are intense. We are immersed in total silence.

Salt bush

Occasionally short, stubby acacia trees reach their maximum height of 3 metres. In this primal bushland when a tree loses its leaves, only the desiccated trunk and branches remain. These ghostly sentinels silently guard the vast, barren landscape until they collapse to litter the area. Underground water can also seep up to form a pond or small lake that evaporates quickly and becomes caked with salt crystals. Everything lies baking in the sun.

Dead trees and saltbush

Does this seem too monotonous to find enjoyable? When we leave the car for a leg stretch or a photograph, to tread upon the rocks and bones of this land, we are transported back to the beginning of time. Under a mesmerizingly beautiful and austere landscape that weaves its spell to draw us in, we understand we are intruders in this very ancient country on our earth.

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Back Veranda, part 2

The summer solstice has come and gone and as the days grow shorter our usual hot summer stretches ahead. What has become of the dreaded el Nino? We were led to believe that a big one was lurking just around the corner. Instead of experiencing a dry season we have been blest with bountiful, early summer rain.

Our surrounding bush land is thriving. Gone are all the pale green tips of new life growth. Instead, rich shades of viridescent green appear everywhere as the rain continues to fall and nourish the land.

What does appear different this year is the quality of the light. It seems to be clearer, brighter, and so intense that colours everywhere pop and sizzle. When I enter our home after time spent in the sunshine, my eyes take longer to adjust to the darker light inside. Is it only me that experiences this new phenomenon, or do others notice it too?

In the meantime nature is always filled with surprises, so expect the unexpected during this cool, wet summer. The view of our landscape signifies rest, regeneration and regrowth, and we can’t think of a better place to enjoy a coffee than from our back veranda.


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