Friday, 29 March 2013

Wandering Amongst Australian Natives

This morning I woke up with three goals in my mind, take Gizmo the amazing puppy for a walk, take some photos and visit the Arboretum at Lake Burrendong. I managed to do all three things. First I had to find out if the Arboretum would like Gizmo to visit, so I rang and the nice man said he'd love for Giz to frolic in the flowers as long as she had her lead on. Burrendong Botanic Garden and Arboretum is about 50km from home, so Gizmo and I jumped into the car and headed out there armed with plenty of water and a loaded camera.

Be warned, this is going to be a photo heavy post, I took plenty of pics and it was hard deciding which ones I liked the most, I've narrowed it down as much as I could. I know the names of some of the plants I took photos of, so I'll label those but there were a few that I have no idea what they are, some of them could even be weeds for all I know .. doesn't matter they made great photos!

This is the scene that greeted us when we first got out of the car.

We wandered over to a little information centre and picked up a few leaflets about the walks on offer here, then we started just walking and looking at stuff.

This is a Pear-fruited Mallee - Eucalyptus pyroformis
Most of the flowers are gone now, but there's a lot of seed pods about.

This plant facinated me, the leaves look almost painted white. It's a Western Australian Eucalypt called Mottlecah - Eucalyptus macrocarpa
 Apparently the Mottlecah had the largest of the Eucalyptus flowers, I'll have to go back earlier next year to see that.

As Giz and I wandered we spotted a lot of these delicate little flowers along the path, not sure what they are or if they were just a weed, but they were pretty.

These tiny pink flowers were definitely some kind of native, just not sure what one.

I don't even remember taking this photo, so I was delighted to find it on my camera.

Another one of those unknown flowers. Giz and I were now making our way back to the car as we'd realised just how big this place was.

What Terry calls a Spider Flower, it's some kind of Grevillea. We have a couple in our garden and just love them.

 After getting the car we made our way towards the Hakea walk. After parking the car I stopped to take a photo of the view, our first glimpse of the lake. There were to be more tantalising glimpses like this all day.

 We found the Hakea walk. Hakeas are members of the Proteaceae family, a family of flowers that I love, they always produce such interesting shapes and colors.

Banksia's are a part of the same family, this isn't a banksia but it has very similar seed pods. They reminded me of the Banksia Men from 'Snugglepot and Cuddlepie' tho the Banksia Men were much hairier and scarier.

We found our way out of that twisted little grove full of it's twisted little plants and found a path that had more flowers ... Late flowering Wattle.

 No idea what this is, but it's a pretty picture.

By now Giz was getting the hang of standing round waiting for me to finish snapping. But when we were moving it was Giz's choice, she led the way all day so we headed further away from the car going down hill with no idea what we were headed for.

She even stood still while we were surrounded by bees so that I could get this shot.

 The bees were hungry for these little beauties.

 We came out of the bush to see this in front of us. At the same time that we spotted this obviously man made structure, we heard a thumping sound in the bush to the right of the path. We had no idea what either thing was, Giz was keen to go explore the man made structure in front of us.

 After twisting down the hill on a winding little path, and only getting lost once. We discovered that the roof was covering a fernery. The temperature cooled as soon as we stepped under the man made canopy.

 There were all sorts of paths carved into the rock, bridges to cross little waterways. It smelt fresh and almost reminded of a rainforest. Considering we are in a more desert type of location out here, I'm pretty impressed that they managed to do this.

It was about here that Giz and I heard two more thumps, and saw a grey shape bounce out of our view in the bush above us. We think it was probably a Wallaby or Kangaroo, the thump being it's tail hitting the ground. I was disappointed that I didn't get a better look at it, but kinda glad cause I'm not sure what Giz would do if she was confronted by wildlife like that.

 More tiny flowers to line our path.

They provided a nice little place to sit and take in the surroundings.

 And wooden stepping stones over a tiny waterway.

More seed pods.

 After making it back up the hill to the car, and getting the car up the hill (that was a bit touch and go) we decided to find the Lookout that was marked on our map.

More flowers, I think these are a type of Grevillea, but could be wrong.
  It was getting late, I knew we would never get to see everything in one day, so we just went for a quick walk round at the top. 

 Found some more fascinating seed pods.

 Gizmo enjoyed the view as much as I did.

 Looking back up at the lookout, there were a lot of winding paths here, and Giz was keen to explore a bit here.

 I found more interesting delicate little flowers.

 With seed pods.

 This pretty little flower was the last one on the tree, I'm not sure what it is but the flowers look like they would normally cover it when it's in full bloom.

 That was all we had time to do, there is so much more to see, and I could have taken so many more photos. I know it's going to become one of my favourite places and be assured you will see more of it here. These plants change all the time, sometimes they are flowering, sometimes they are just sticks and leaves, even the seed pods are fascinating. I cant wait to see what is here next month!

Saturday, 23 March 2013

And They Gave Me Flowers

Where do I start?

    Last weekend was a huge milestone in my life, it really shouldn't have been that big I guess, but it was, on a lot of different levels. They gave me flowers!

    I guess I should start at the start. If you are following my other blog then you know that recently Terry and I put on a bit of a weekend do for a bunch of riders that we talk to on a forum. It was exciting but also extremely scary for me. I'm not good at people ... I'm specially not good at large groups of people. I get shy and hide myself away in the background if I can, if I cant hide I become loud and say the first things that come into my head, that are normally terribly inappropriate and that just embarrasses me more. So what on earth was I doing organising a whole weekend event for 20 plus people, most of whom I've never met before?

     It started last Friday, I was waiting for people to arrive from all over Australia, we had two of them staying with us, the rest of them were staying at a local caravan and camping park where the first meeting was taking place in the form of a Barbecue. I was gonna cook for them. Hmmm I made salads and some munchie platters that morning then sat around waiting. The nerves built up. I did keep myself busy doing little errands, getting things I'd forgotten like gravy and buns. I was a bundle of nervous energy by the time I got the text message that said 'we are all here and there are bikes everywhere' ... eeek 'Terry are you ready?' 'Nope' Oh no! I have to go over, get everything set up ready and meet people .. I have to host .. I need you for backup!! Terry was busy finishing up things so that he could enjoy the weekend too. I had to go over and meet all these men on my own. OK .. breath slowly, get the stuff in the car and just go.

    I got there and was greeted by the sight of a couple of Shadows parked near the entrance. This has to be people that I am to meet. I introduced myself to the only man standing nearby and got a kind of reserved greeting. Oh .. I started to get butterflies. Then I spotted a couple coming towards me, a man and a woman. I've met a couple of these people on a trip Terry and I did north last year and even though there was a full beard I recognised the man, the woman must be his wife ... yay someone I know and then the enthusiastic greeting, hugs all round ... oh this is better!! I introduced myself to the other couple who came out of the reception next .. right I can do this.

     I got back in the car after telling them where the barbecue was going to be then headed over to see who was there. No one. Hmmm I sat round a bit thinking someone might turn up soon, then I decided that maybe they were at the other barbecue area .. ring someone. Sheesh this was nerve racking. Finally someone was coming towards me, but it still wasn't anyone I recognised. OK my nerves were getting me, but so far I was managing to bluff my way through it, cuddles and enthusiastic greetings. It was pretty nice to finally put faces to people who I had only ever known as an avatar on a forum, and eventually I found some people I recognised. Even though one of them didn't even know who I was, I'd only met him once before and I looked pretty different then, I'd shaved all my hair off last time I met him, today I have curls :) He got a huge cuddle anyway and soon worked out who I was.

    Rusty was the guy who had organised this shebang, and he was the one I was most looking forward to meeting. And I wasn't disappointed when I did meet him, he was just as sweet as I thought he would be .. it was wonderful to finally meet him!

    We sat around and chatted about the journey to get there. Well they chatted, I sat back and listened and started to relax. More people started turning up, and the boys showed how well trained they were when a couple of them started cooking the BBQ for me. We were still waiting for one rider to turn up. Louie had been riding for the last week to get here from Western Australia and he was late. Rusty showed his caring nature once again by being worried about him and going out to find him. I started to worry too, but to tell the truth I was kinda useless .. there were still nerves there and I was having trouble concentrating on any one thing. Eventually we were all there, we were eating and everyone was getting along wonderfully.

    The atmosphere was electric. There was so much fun and excitement going on. People were having fun and I was feeling such a mixed bag of emotions .. worry, stress, excitement, shyness, and just pure happiness. It was fantastic!!

    That evening set the tone for the rest of the weekend. There were times of stress for me but honestly this was such a great bunch of people that there was no way anything could go wrong. There were a couple of times that the plan didn't go exactly the way it should have but, as Terry stated, it had all been so well organised that even changes didn't spoil the fun. But it wasn't just the planning, it was the people there, they were all so wonderful that anything that didn't go exactly as stated didn't faze them, they just went with the flow. I had so much help from everyone all weekend, it wasn't hard at all. A lot of the time things just seemed to happen around me and I was wondering how it happened.

     Yes Terry said that it was because I'd planned it all so well but I don't quite believe that. Terry helped me so much with that planning, Rusty was always there to help and the rest of the guys and girls were keen to step up and help with anything they could. I was exhausted but it wasn't from work, it was from stress and the release of that stress, then there was the excitement, I didn't think I'd ever come down off that high .. actually I'm still buzzing now. I didn't sleep well and I just couldn't eat so I'm sure that didn't help. I was living on pure adrenaline. I felt as though I was surrounded all weekend with the best big brothers any girl could ever wish for. Considering my own brother left home before I was 10 years old, I'd never had a feeling like that before ... I could grow to like this :)

    By Sunday afternoon I was pretty relaxed, I got to sit down and really chat with people, and I was looking forward to seeing what presentations and prizes Rusty had planned for after lunch. I knew it was on the agenda and I had a feeling I knew what some of the awards would be for. You know longest journey here, that sort of thing. I also had a feeling I would get a mention and I started to plan a response involving a huge thanks to Rusty for starting the group and helping to get it where it is today, none of us would be here today without him .. you know all that sort of stuff. When he said "for the woman who I think we've all fallen in love with on the forums .." and looked at me I was kinda stunned. Everything I'd planned to say left my head when he asked me to come up there .. eek I have to stand in front of people, I'm not into that!! Then he picked up flowers .. he gave me flowers!!

    I was speechless, this was one of those moments when I just couldn't think, I was so caught out by the gifts and the words .. everything I'd planned to say just left me. I said thank you to everyone for something or another, I don't remember what I said .. oh yeah I said "don't leave just yet cause there's desert" .. huh?? Why the hell did I just say that. Oh I had to sit down!!

    They were such a great bunch of people I just wanted to do more with them. We didn't get to see much more of them though, I had dinner and got to know a few more of them that night, and I was finally starting to really be able to be myself but this was the last get together. We all said our 'seeya laters' that night, lined up and shaking hands and for me .. cuddles all round! Oh I was going to miss them! What a turn around, from the shy wall flower who would do anything to avoid being in a group of people to a cuddle hungry beast!!

    I waited all week before I decided to sit down and write about my feelings here not just because I've been busy writing posts for the white shadow diary, but also because I was still so pumped up from the weekend that I didn't think I could get it all straight in my head. I've been bouncing all over the place in my head just remembering wonderful things that happened, how everyone kept telling me how much they were enjoying the weekend and what a good job I had done. Oh I'm not used to that sort of compliment, I'm not really used to any compliment though Terry has got me a bit used to it cause he keeps telling me I'm beautiful :)

The flowers went straight into a vase and are still sitting beside my desk where I can marvel at them, the chocolates they also gave me are gone .. I can't make chocolates last! The card is in front of me and I can't help picking it up to read the wonderful things they wrote for me in it :) The gift voucher .. wow I'm just such a lucky girl .. that's waiting til I can think straight then I'm going shopping!

The wonderful memories will stay with me forever.