(and sometimes the beast!)




Prior to retiring earlier this year, I had no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life really when I became an Old Age Pensioner (OAP). Then one day as I headed to Brisbane for visit family, I passed a small motor-home which gave me the romantic notion that I could travel like that, cat in tow.  My wise daughter suggested I hire something similar before committing hard earned savings to my (possibly hair brained) idea. Surely a camper van would be not much different to a motor home I thought? How wrong I was...

Things I discovered on the journey:
1. Camper vans are for young agile backpackers with strong bladders, not aging romantics who need to visit the loo a couple of times during the night.
2. I apparently had never forgotten my training as a graduate of my ex-husband's School of Holiday Driving; his motto was "Why stop when you can keep driving?" and was a strong believer in "time stopped was time wasted."
3. I really need to prepare and plan before I make important life choices.  Duh...
4. I don't enjoy my own company for long stretches.    
5. If I think there's a chance I may have strayed onto a toll road I should pay up front just in case, after all OAP's can't afford unpaid toll fines...  Idiot!

You can read the full story of my recent trip to Melbourne here.  Posts on this blog are more a fuller photographic journey of that trip.
First stop Chinderah for fish and chip lunch. The many seagulls spoilt it a bit by crowding me and screaming for a chip.  I soon set off for Ballina where I didn't even get my camera out and ended up in Valla Beach where I stayed with a friend for 3 nights. Not in the camper van... phew!  
Valla Beach is a beautiful spot and I enjoy my visits there. This is Deep Creek near my friends house. Fish and rays lurk beneath the surface but I couldn't get any shots of them jumping out of the water. 
A selection of the many birds around the Valla Beach area. 
Looking from the seaward side of the bridge over the creek, to the right is a bird sanctuary.
View of Sawtell Beach. 
Panoramic shot of the beach at Urunga. 
A rainy day visit to the Coffs Harbour lookout was a little disappointing, would be fabulous on a clear day.
Muttonbird Island adjacent to Coffs Harbour.
Gratuitous (and timely) shot of the Easter Bunny to brighten up an otherwise dull photographic collection thanks to the weather.
Last time I saw paddle boarders at Valla Beach, this time just the gulls...
The clouds were never far away that week and this sunrise on my last morning at Valla Beach was dulled by their cover. Better was to come the further south I went.

Part 2 to follow...



Yesterday, I spent quite a bit of time outside trying to get a photo of some blue triangle butterflies which were dancing around my neighbour's mock orange (Murraya paniculata) but gave up in disgust, seeming to have only snapped vast skies of perfect blue behind the flowers, just missing the subjects each time. But then I uploaded the shots to the computer and after a bit of cropping, it turned out I had caught a lovely dance off, not just the butterflies but including a bee! A joyful moment indeed.
To top it off, I'd also unknowingly captured a dandelion seed heading off to parts unknown... But that meant I didn't get to wish on it.



Today I seemed to notice more insects than usual on my walk and in the garden (perhaps because I got stung by a wasp yesterday), but my favourite was this graphic flutterer dragonfly! I'd never seen one before but it was the fluttering that gave it away. I found him hard to photograph because it was so skittish, the slightest movement on my part and it would flutter off and because it's so small it was difficult to focus on with a background of flowers and foliage. Luckily, I was able to move slightly to put the house wall behind it. I would have loved to see it's face but alas, that would have meant trespass! I think it looks like a bi-plane... "Chocks away, Ginger!"
Not the best shot of a blue banded bee, but I'll take what I can. They don't land for long on flowers (in this case some comfry), not as long as a honey bee anyway.
This pretty ladybird spent at least 2 days on the chive flowers; must not have heard the call to "fly away home". Such a tiny, shiny little bug, dulled only by the pollen. On a side note, Pam told me you can eat the chive flowers (seems logical now I know) and I munch away on them whenever I'm watering the garden.  The buds thrown in a salad would give a little garlic hit.
I think this is a hoverfly. Difficult to tell with its head shoved into a basil flower.
March fly I'm thinking, too high up to get a look at its head front on and I didn't want it landing on me anyway.
[edit 11/3/17 - Found this shot taken a few weeks ago of a March fly on the clothes line which is much sharper and shows its face!]
Naturally, the garden is alive with spiders and I will keep running into the webs around the place. Ugh, many a "spider dance" accompanied by requisite shrieking done around here. This guy is so tiny, and prickly looking.
This fellow was busy bundling up his lunch (of decaying bugs by the look) this morning. I went back later and he, and it, had gone. 
There's always something happening in the garden if you look.

It is common knowledge now that we depend on insects for our continued existence; that, without key pollinators, the human population would collapse in less than a decade. John Burnside



Now I've retired, I no longer work in Cooroy and I must say I will miss the place, especially the Noosa Botanic Gardens. Today, after a farewell lunch, I took my daughter there. The first thing we saw was this very colourful tree snake masquerading as a garden sprinkler in the Scaevola. It was getting a tad irritated by the attention I think as it began swaying and gyrating. Dance competition perhaps?  We left it alone and returned later but it had moved on.
Down to the pond but in the searing heat I only managed one focused shot of one of the two frogs we spotted. 
We saw a couple of turtles and the place is full of white and purple water lilies and lots of dragon flies. Appreciated this red one which kindly stopped near the lily so I could get the money shot before zooming off.
Love the colour of these 2 beehive ginger flowers which were hiding in the undergrowth.

I daresay I'll be back soon...



I have "discovered" a new (to me) and impressive, local photographer, Destin Sparks, and coincidentally, he is running a competition to join a photographic tour of New Zealand (one of my favourite countries).  So, to get into the spirit, I have decided to have a go at the competition. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and I think there'll be a lot to gain if just a smidge of his talent rubs off.

If you are interested in reading about or seeing more of Destin's work (which is for sale) you can visit him on Facebook, Instagram or the website. And of course you could enter too. He's also on twitter and google.

(Destin Sparks is a self-taught photographer based in Brisbane, Australia. Sparks harnesses the power of digital & film medium format cameras to capture rare moments in time and beautiful landscapes from around the world. Sparks' formula to making great photographs is about capturing the perfect lights and colours straight in the camera rather than resorting to Photoshop or post digital processing. Predominately known for his panoramic prints, Sparks also shares his expertise via photo tours and workshops.)