Tag Archive | Australia

Tree Fern Forest

Tree Fern Forest by webmink
Tree Fern Forest, a photo by webmink on Flickr.

I am a huge fan of tree ferns and walking in this tree fern forest in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, near Leura, was a delight. These are the real thing, tree-sized rather than shrub-sized like the one in my garden.


Opera House, Dawn

Opera House, Dawn by webmink
Opera House, Dawn, a photo by webmink on Flickr.

I really love this photo of Sydney Opera House, taken at dawn from The Rocks.

It has an interesting (if depressing) story around it. I received a rejection from iStockPhoto when I tried to upload it to them for stock photo use. The grounds they cited were that it would be a breach of Australian law to sell this image.

When you consider that I can stand in public places throughout Sydney and take photographs that include the Opera House, this restriction seems pretty ridiculous. My original blog post actually got a response from Sydney Opera House, explaining they think they own the trademark in this image. That’s total poppycock, as an Australian lawyer confirmed, but it seems iStockPhoto would rather pretend it’s true than confront this abuse of the law by a Sydney landmark.

Father and Son

Father & Son by webmink
Father & Son, a photo by webmink on Flickr.

We saw these amazing birds wandering across the grass near our lodge on the Atherton Tablelands in northern Queensland, Australia. I believe this rainforest Cassowary is a male. He’s about 1.5 metres tall. I stayed well back as they have a reputation for aggression even without a chick to protect.

Perth, Australia

Perth, Australia by webmink
Perth, Australia, a photo by webmink on Flickr.

I enjoy trying to take photographs from the air while I am travelling. Some of my favourite photographs have been taken through an aircraft window – sun and moon rises, stunning mountain views and a few great city shots.

I really enjoyed visiting Perth in Western Australia, which has to be one of earth’s most remote cities. It’s clean, modern and friendly. This view, with the central area and the Swan River both in view, seems to capture the balance of life there for me.

Mangrove Crab

Mangrove Crab by webmink
Mangrove Crab, a photo by webmink on Flickr.

We were catching a plane from Cairns in Queensland, Australia, at the end of a long visit to the area. We arrived a bit early so took the rental car for a random drive down to the coast.

Someone spotted that there was a sign pointing to a Boardwalk across the mangrove swamps, so we parked and went exploring. It was a wonderful walk. We saw huge spider colonies, twisted mangrove roots in the mud, amazing walking fish and loads of birds.

Looking over the edge of the Boardwalk, we noticed tiny colourful crabs scuttling about on the mud. This is one of them – so, so colourful and in such contrast with the dull mud that they must have some cunning line of defence.

Banishing The Bats

Fruit Bats by webmink
Fruit Bats, a photo by webmink on Flickr.

In the centre of Sydney, the Botanical Gardens provide a welcome oasis from the city life. Each time I have been to Sydney I’ve taken time at some point to walk slowly round the gardens, see the Wollemi pine, stalk cockatoos and ibis on the lawns (where they are commonplace) and generally chill out.

A favourite stop on the tour is the flying fox camp, where there are a very large number of flying foxes (fruit bats) roosting in the botanical gardens year-round. It’s not an intentional attraction. The bats just showed up to feed on the fruit trees and decided they liked the place as much as I do and would stay. The population has grown and grown over the years and there is definitely no shortage of them – there are around 20,000 in this one roost!

As the Gardens’ own web site explains, they are an endangered and protected Australian species. But looking at the enormous colony in the Gardens would not give you that impression. They are noisy, smelly, bad-tempered creatures who fight a bit and sleep a lot by day as they roost and then go party at night. They are not respectful of their home, though. They are killing rare tree specimens in the Gardens.

This situation provides conservationists with an excruciating choice. On the one hand, the bats are killing the trees in the Botanical Gardens, many of them rare and valuable specimens. On the other hand, the bats are a protected species. Both deserve (and in law are given) protection from harm. But what happens when a protected species harms protected plants? Which should win?

It seems the conservationists’ struggle may finally be coming to an end. Next month the Botanical Gardens is due to attempt to relocate the colony in a move that’s both controversial and (to my eyes at least) only partially baked. The animals are going to be scared away with noise-makers and expected to just go somewhere else. Guards will be posted to eject unwanted bats just like any other out-of-hours visitors. Exactly where 20,000 bats the size of cats will go in the densely urbanised landscape of Sydney is anyone’s guess. Certainly no-one has asked the bats, who are likely to find the cozy home with the well-stocked larder just as appealing as ever.

So who knows. Maybe the bats will scram. Or maybe my next trip will still have a visit to see the flying foxes of Sydney Botanical Gardens.

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