Captain James Cook named this island in 1770 believing it caused interference with the magnets on board the Endeavour.
By the late 19th century Europeans had settled the island.
It always amazes and delights me to see so many plants beginning to emerge and flower in the midst of winter.
The days here on the Mount are cold and yesterday was particularly foggy until lunch time. Today we had some bursts of sunshine enabling us to wander down and discover some new winter wonders.
Ten winters ago I was tending a tropical garden. Although I loved the bougainvilleas and the bromeliads, winter was a time to grow vegetables and trim the palms. Now there are so many tasks in winter – pruning, planting, planning for the changes and simply assisting plants to survive. However, these specimens need no assistance at all.
The annual Christmas in July expedition to country Victoria with the family’s Buick Car Club. A suitably cold day needing long coats and hats.
A lovely, hot Christmas lunch and lots of classic cars.
Our own white 1982 model went out for a spin. It was a good experience chatting and lunching with familiar people and meeting new ones who shared stories and connections.
Christmas in July – it can only happen here in Oz but we like the opportunity to socially and "automotively" show off!
It was one of those serene and surprising weekends. We were fortunate enough to be able to visit a charming little cottage by the sea. Its owners had kindly allowed us to stay in this place where their own children had spent many happy summers – long ago.
Daughter Number 2 was to arrive unexpectedly to share this weekend with us. Colin had kept that secret well! It was wonderful to see her especially as she was to spend a precious weekend with us by the sea.
Seaside walks are a must, even in winter and we had a much needed chat-shop-coffee time. Our walk saw us reach the iconic bathing boxes of the Mornington Peninsula. These colourful sentinels look out over Port Phillip Bay. Blue, yellow and green boxes create a novelty appeal by the sea. Surprise number two. Something caught our eye. Was that an injured animal? A large animal. It was lying lifeless on one of the landings.
As we gingerly drew closer, a row of plastic tape revealed an important notice.
A resting seal. Wow! This poor fellow was all tuckered out and had found its way to a most amenable residence. Clever seal! He was gorgeous and oh so sleepy.
We returned the next day and he was still there, stirring slightly. A wildlife ranger watched patiently over his sleeping state. The ocean, the sand and the bathing box buffering his dreamtime state. Isn’t nature truly beautiful!
Thanks to everyone who made this weekend a very special one indeed.
Ten years on the Mount and what a winter we’ve had. Last weekend we tried to burn our ever increasing pile of winter debris, to no avail. Instead we set about trimming the abundant camellias – one of which shot over the roof of the house! I salvaged its ruby blooms.
It’s been a winter of mists, fogs and log fires. Nothing new here really, but this year every weekend brought with it the wonder of winter! In early August, I raced up to the Mount when I heard there was “snow on them there hills”! I have done this a handful of times over the years, much to the bemusement of friends and family. The last time we had snow on the back deck was August, 2008 but each year, the Mount, at elevation 1013m, is dusted with the soft, white ice. We are 750 metres, so often we just get sleet.
Top five mountain garden tips for winter
1. Weed, weed and then weed again
2. Rake those leaves and clear those paths
3. Watch the bulbs emerge
4. Visit the camellias or pay homage to any floral friend – they love to be admired!
5. Smell the clean, intoxicating air
But there’s one more
Head for that log fire at the end of the day!
The beauty of winter can be seen in every turn. The sparsity of foliage is countered by the abundance of those beacons of colour; those buds and blooms that wink at us around each corner of the garden. We can only be in awe.
Thy knowest, winter tames, man, woman and beast. William Shakespeare’s, The Taming of the Shrew.
As we prepare for a few more chilly days, wear our coats, scarves and gloves, may the wonder of winter be kind to us!
As we return to Term 3, I am always grateful that we are able to get away from work – both at home and school. It always seems that school work is like house work – sometimes appreciated, greatly needed and never done!
Having returned from visiting my mother in Brisbane and planned and prepared my lessons for the next few days, I have a little time to indulge in my thoughts. Our short stay in the northern sun rendered its benefits, both physically and emotionally. As promised I now share with you some of our wacky sights.
Houses on stilts
Queensland homes are renowned for being perched on stilts. This not only provides much needed ventilation but also a safe, high aspect during floods! However, this poor house is awaiting its much needed renovation.
World Expo ’88
Often referred to as Brisbane’s “coming of age” event. It was 184 days of spectacular, multi-national events. The following statistics are courtesy of http://www.foundationexpo88.org/trivia.html and the newly refurbished Brisbane City Council Museum.
Did you know that…..
19,000 meals were served every hour every Expo day, including…
Over 16 million scoops of ice-cream
17 million hamburgers
1.4 million hot dogs
5 million chicken nuggets
8 million buckets of hot chips
340 trawler loads of seafood
90,000 kgs of spaghetti
the equivalent of 650 family swimming pools of beer
The Banyan Tree
More commonly known as the Moreton Bay Fig, it casts an eerie sight on the road side.
I have to end on my favourite topics at the moment – letter boxes. See my post A Lively Letter
We enjoyed our few days, especially visiting the Queensland Art Gallery and Antiques centre and of course, chatting with mum and visiting “old” friends.
We are now back home on the Mount and preparing for some brisk weather after our soirée in the sun. To all my northern hemisphere readers – indulge in your brilliant summer!
I have begun to lose count of the many flights we have taken from Melbourne to Brisbane over the years. Waiting at the airport always reminds me of that John Williamson, play made into the film, Travelling North.The protagonists leave their families in cold Melbourne for a new life of warmth and laughter in Far North Queensland or more colloquially known as FNQ!
For us it’s the other way round. Yes, we take the opportunity to escape the winter cold but also use it to spend time with my ageing mother, visit Daughter Number One and One-And-Only-Grand-Daughter.
We departed in 5 degrees C and arrived at a comfortable 13 degrees. Long, light sleeves are still required. We make it a point to walk in and around the steep slopes.
Robert McFarlane in his recent tome, The Old Ways describes walking as “enabling sight and thought rather than encouraging retreat and escape”. Even though as a child I did indeed escape mundaneness by walking up and down these slopes, the reflective time enabled me to have a sense of disciple and endurance.
Walking, for both Colin and I, is a time to talk, reflect, plan, laugh and reminisce, often on the lives of our grandparents and parents who came to this country, post war. One of our favourite walks when we come here is to take a nostalgic visit to one of the many vintage stores. He has his favourites and I head straight for one which is named after a film starring Maggie Smith and based on a humerous novel by Graham Greene.
Steering away from his usual religious allusion, Travels With My Aunt tells of a lonely, serious banker, who loves dahlias, meeting his long lost Aunt Augusta at his own mother’s funeral. They embark together on a series of adventures, journeying to exotic places as well as time on the Orient Express. During the course of the novel, these two diverse characters form a bond. There is a twist in the story, which you might guess! They reclaim each other through their travels, talks and adventures.
What is it about the simple foot-fall that places many things in perspective?
The little vintage store which I visited (I do hope the proprietor does not mind me taking a quick snap of some of the wares) is perfect in its nostalgic nod to the past.
Overall, what are we to learn from returning to our places of origin? I alluded to this in a previous post Streets of your town. For me it places things in perspective. We have four more days here so stay tuned….
Up here on the Mount, winters are very interesting indeed. While the rest of the surrounding area is bathed in sunlight, here we wallow in mist and cloud cover. It’s not so bad really. I love the cold and especially the distinctive half-light of the mountain. Ten years ago it was during July when we first saw this house and garden. It was the the shimmering droplets of rain on the trees and winding pathways which attracted us the most.
However, the mountain is ever changing. Just when we think it cannot get any greyer, the garden invites us to admire its unexpected colour. In deep winter, bursts of colour illuminate the low light.
Further down the path, this giant, pink camellia has burst into bloom.
How’s your summer or winter experience?