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Mezze is widely served in the Greek and Middle eastern world. An assortment of little dishes and tasters which accompany a nice ouzo or a glass of wine. So when you read mezze moments you will have tasty snippets of life as I live it, India for four years and now Brisbane Australia, all served up with some Greek fervour and passion.

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Thursday, 19 September 2019

Colour coordinating the arrival of spring

Back from our travels in NT and it is always lovely to come home however wonderful the trip. The birds are back and wanting their little seeds and tit bits and Dougall is waiting patiently at his gate for more Discoveries. Last night on the deck a possum with a baby on its back.
The garden is parched dry. My outlook is a dry twig of a crepe myrtle and the thicker outlines of the frangipani. The jacaranda sheds its leaves like pitiful rain. The first flower fronds have appeared I fear far too early. A lovely purple. Talking of rainfall the clouds rolled over on the Tuesday and thunder and lightning followed. I cant tell you how happy I was to hear the sound of rain on our roof, albeit short-lived. So while we wait for nature to awake from its winter slumber, and while we wait for the rains to come, I am snatching pieces of colour from the inside out and outside in. Bookclub tonight and gals to the fore with everything under discussion over a glass or two.


Saturday, 14 September 2019

Djukbinj Reserve and Leaning Tree Lagoon

We travelled some 80 kms down the Arnhem Highway enjoying the many mango orchards along the way. The reserve was remote, with a good road central road but no one else around and no signal. We were hoping to find billabongs with birds. We visited a few but most were almost dry. One in particular had the biggest collection of kites flying overhead. But we were worried about breaking down and being out of signal so we headed back and suddenly saw a sign for Leaning Tree Lagoon and what a wonderful detour that was - the billabong had a lot of water and many birds. The best was a Black headed stork. This is a photo by Stephen Murray e Bird S41853282 Macaulay Library ML 81651251who produced a good one. Mine by comparison was poor but you can just see it in the distance. The colours of its head are amazing. 


In the billabong plovers, black winged stilts, radjah shelducks, glossy ibis, brown goshawk and whistling kites as well as a lovely lot of red tailed black cockatoos, the blue winged kookaburra, peaceful doves, corellas and sulphur crested cockatoos, masked lapwings, spoon bills, pied herons and some egrets.  Lots of wallabies and kangaroos feeding around the edges of the Billabong. 

The red tailed Black Cockatoos flying overhead. 
The brown goshawk. 

We wondered what it would be like to return to the Top End in the wet season and perhaps we will. For the moment though this has been a really wonderful discovery of a remote and beautiful part of this amazing continent. 


Friday, 13 September 2019

East Point Reserve - Darwin.

East Point Reserve is our next outing - this is the eastern most point of the Harbour mouth. Its quite pretty and it has been developed into a recreational area with Lake Alexander being a safe lake to swim in. You look out onto the coast line and after this sign every rock in the ocean looks like a crocodile to me. Did a croc take a bite out of this sign I wonder ?



Well its not an unwarranted fear !

There are around 200,000 saltwater crocodiles in Australia, with the vast majority of them calling the Top End and Darwin home.

We took a walk in the mangrove swamp along a broad walk. To one side under the trees a group of Aboriginal people having a good time. This is the dry season in the Top End. A lot of what we have experienced would simply not be possible in the wet season. There was very little water here but the mangroves are always fascinating places. We saw a pair of brightly coloured kingfishers sitting on a tree and that was it. There were some croc signs too but I guess they had taken off to find some dinner elsewhere...






The Top End is famous for its sunsets and we were able to enjoy a few - One evening, taking in the sunset, we settled down in the Deckchair Cinema to a "All is True" a film about Shakespeare's life under the stars with the occasional bat and bird flying across the screen.



Darwin Street Art Festival

My lovely friend Ellen alerted me to this so a morning was spent exploring the lane ways and seeing the artists actually putting up some of the art work on buildings in the city. Here are some of the wonderful results. https://www.darwinstreetartfestival.com.aug


 This is my favourite !
 Miss Polly executing her fine green world.



 And finally a croc being created - this one a harmless one on the side of a building.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Charles Darwin National Park

So this was a Bomb Dump.This is where the Australian Army kept all its ammunition. And they have sensibly kept all the evidence in INERT form you will be pleased to hear, as a salutary reminder of the horrors of war. There was an exhibition in one of the ammunition hangers they preserved. What I love is that they have decided to turn this whole previously military area, into a National Park honouring no lesser a man than Charles Darwin after whom the city is named. So this is is the only National Park I have entered and being confronted with a Bomb. Have any of you seen one? It sends shivers up my spine as I imagine the death and destruction it leaves in its wake.
It made my sense of enjoyment double and in the dry and parched land I walked and found wonders of nature - Charles D would have been happy to be with me - and Charles G too. 




This lovely National Park is close to the city. It was and is Aboriginal land with shell middens dotted around. Its main expanse are large areas of mangrove swamp which are such important environments for sea and land life. On our way to the mangroves, cycads which have always been a source of fascination to me, showing me their many faces and aren't they just wonderful. In one photo I managed to catch three of them at different stages.  This is the two finger cycad salute. 




 This male red honey eater was darting in among the trees along with its less brightly coloured females. Excuse slight fuzziness but they are extremely flighty.


The blooms which pop out at you are so affirming of nature's ability to return time after time, deprived and dry, yet strong, beautiful and resilient. 




 Why not convert all Military Arsenals into National Parks - the world would be a happier, safer, greener place and isn't that what we are all striving for? Another Aussie Great.






Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Termite Towers

This deserves a blog all of its own. We came across two types of Termite Towers yesterday in Litchfield National Park. They are Magnetic and Cathedral  Mounds- so let me guide you to them.
The architects and builders are these tiny insects that measure about 4 to 15 mm. Admittedly there may be a fair few of them but collectively they work their little socks off and build these impressive Termite mounds by taking the soil from underneath them and mixing it with saliva and excreta. 
The story however doesn't end there. There are two types - one is Magnetic and one is Cathedral, so in short though the Termites might be cross at me reducing their life's work to a couple of sentences it works like this. 
These Termite Mounds may be up to 100 years old and are unique to this park and Northern Territory. The Magnetic Termites build these mounds with thin edges pointing north south and the broad backs pointing east west. They build them this way to minimise their exposure to the sun and to keep the mounds cool for the magnetic termite inside. 





This is perhaps the kindergarten version of one and the next photo is the graveyard look alike as they appear as grey headstones in a cemetery. 



The Cathedral Mounds are like budding buildings with sections added to the central core. This one is said to be about 50 years old and most of them are still living mounds as can be seen by the little termites going in and out of them. 



So this proves without a shadow of a doubt that you can be tiny and build towering edifices with some spit and shit which are more impressive than any Trump Tower. In fact 4mm tiny.

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Litchfield National Park

Litchfield is some 90 kms from Darwin along the famous Stuart Highway. There is a road which actually crosses the park and NT have made a brilliant job of making many of the park's attractions very accessible and so very enjoyable.

It was difficult to know what to expect. The ground is very dry and there is scrub growth in the form of small palms and thin eucalypts.We thought that the advertised waterfalls and natural ponds would be all dried up as it is nearly the end of the dry season for the Top End as it is called. The other interesting factor is the considerable swathes of the forest which were burnt. In some parts we could see the smoke still rising from the logs. We were not sure if these were controlled fires allowing the forest to regenerate or fires out of control. It brought an uncomfortable vulnerability to driving through these areas and of course made me think actively about the 70 or so bush fires in Queensland burning people's houses and forests just in our backyard unfolding with catastrophic effect this very day. 




 

Our first stop was Buley RockHole and we could really have stayed there all day. A river which flows through the National Park has water all year round and it is able to do so because of the sandstone rocks which absorb the water in the wet season and then slowly release it in the dry. We decided to walk to Florence Falls. Everywhere in the national park are beautiful laid paths, sometimes with the pink local rock which makes walking easy and comfortable. It is largely flat. The heat was intense as we walked to the Falls because the forest is thin and quite low. There is no canopy to speak of but on the plus side we could see clearly ahead, we could spot birds and flowers in the bright sunlight and we could take our clothes off and cool off in one of many beautiful fresh water pools. 




The waters were beautiful and cool and the setting was almost fairy like. The river meandered down and the pools are deep along the way. Florence Falls gave us a double waterfall coming off the mountain and a much bigger pool which was more popular. 

 Cooler, we headed to a swamp ( now largely dry) where we spotted a Black Cockatoo and from there to Tolmer Falls. A deep, deep crevasse and a water fall but with a big cave underneath which is home to rare and protected Ghost bats and Horseshoe bats. 


Our final stop for the day was  Wangi Falls the biggest and most beautiful of the freshwater pools. There was a notice to say that Wangi was closed in the wet season, ( so we were lucky to be there now as we could swim) because the crocodiles move in !!





Aussie Awesomeness at its best complete with crocs and fires. We survived and loved every minute.