Does my bum look big in this?

 23 May 2011
Edge Hill, Cairns
5:45pm 

Backside view of some of our local family of kookaburras

As I arrived home this afternoon I noticed that our local family of cheeky kookaburras were playing in the trees behind out house.  It was 5:45pm so almost dark and I needed to use the zoom lens to get these shots so that’s why they are not really sharp.

This time of year the family starts off with a cacophony of  raucous laughter at 6am to ensure that everyone is awake.  Often they sit on our back fence at this time of day to ensure that we are all awake.  Cheeky indeed.

Jumping around the bamboo

Waiting for his brothers and sisters to arrive

Birds of Tinaroo – May 2011

20 -22 May 2011
Downfall Ck Camping Area
Tinaroo Dam
Far North Queensland, Australia

The water level in the dam is quite high (over the spillway and as high as I have ever seen it).  There is plenty of birdl life in and around the lake and these are a few that caught my eye.

Australian Wood Duck

Male has dark brown head.
Female has lighter coloured head.

These birds gathered in groups of about 20-30 individuals and grazed on the grass and vegetation along the bank of the lake.

The guide says that they are quite common in our area.  Despite the fact that they were living within a busy and popular camp grounds they were not keen on coming too close to people.

Magpie Lark (Pee Wee)

Adult male with white eyebrow and black face
(Female has all white face and no eyebrow)

This cheeky fellow was scrounging around the fire place for any scraps we may have left behind (no luck buddy).  There were many specimens at the camp grounds and they were quite happy to fly quite close to campers and into camp sites.  Noisy all weekend with their distinctive high pitched call.

Pacific Black Duck

Both male and female have the same markings.

These ducks spent all weekend dabbling about in the water at the edge of the lake.  They duck dive to rootle about under the water for food but they also seemed to enjoy picking some of the grass shoots along the lakeside.  They were very shy but this one ventured closer than most.   Their call was infrequently heard but is a traditional quacking sound.

More photos from the weekend.

Tinaroo Camping Weekend: 20 – 22 May 2011

Tinaroo Dam - Saturday 9am, rain on its way.

One of my favourite places to go camping is Downfall Creek at Tinaroo Dam in the Atherton Tablelands behind Cairns.  Camp sites are located on the water’s edge and its a lovely area to explore either by car, boat or foot.

We left Cairns at 2:30pm and by 6:00pm our camp site was struck and all our gear readied for camping use.  I particularly wanted to have a big camp fire and planned to cook a small lamb roast for Saturday dinner in our camp oven that Mum gave us as a gift last Christmas.

Setting the camp fire because its fun to set fire to stuff

Friday night was a clear and the wind of the afternoon dropped out just as the sun set.  It was nice to sit back and watch the stars materialise out of the sunset sky.  I was told once by an astronomer that the Southern Hemisphere skies are the best for star gazing as our half of the globe faces into the Milky Way galaxy so there is more to be seen from our part of the world.

Saturday morning was clear and sunny but the appearance of a rainbow at 9am suggested that the weather wasn’t going to stay nice for much longer.  We went for a bit of a drive up one of the nearby access road but since we didn’t really know where the road was going we decided to turn around before we ended up hopelessly lost or stuck.

Camp fire about to start to produce quality coals for cooking

We returned to camp to prepare our camp fire for cooking the evening meal.  A roaring fire is not useful for cooking but coals and embers are so preparation a couple of hours before dinner needs to start cooking is required.  We started our fire at about 2pm to ensure that there was enough heat to start cooking at 4:30pm.

Dinner consisted of roast lamb and potatoes done in our camp oven.  Additional vegetables were cooked in foil over the coals and dessert was a made up recipe of mine – pears and squashed flies (sultanas) cooked in foil over the coals.  The meal was cooked perfectly which makes me think that this camp oven and coals thing must be pretty idiot proof. :)

After dinner we stoked the fire and watched the bush TV.

Enjoying the bush entertainment at night

Sunday morning was wet and uncomfortable to we steadily packed our camp up and headed back down the mountain home.

Downfall Ck camp ground on a shitty raining morning

In all a fantastic weekend away and lots of fun despite the weather.

Year of Wonders – Geraldine Brooks

The year is 1665 and Anna Frith is a young widow struggling to raise two young sons in a small mountain village.  She works as a servant at the local rectory and tends her small herd of sheep to make ends meet.  Everyone living in the village are simple but superstitious folk who waver between devout puritan Christianity and belief in the old pagan ways.

A Plague infected bolt of cloth turns the life and times of the villagers in turmoil and Anna’s tale details the devastation of village life, homes and family.  The rector of the village convinces almost everyone in the village to quarantine themselves by staying within the boundaries of the village.

Anna’s own experiences lead her to an increased knowledge of herbs and healing which in those times could be a dangerous thing as fears of witchcraft still featured in the village attitudes.

But the damp after the heat brought fleas beyond any infestation I remember.  It is an odd thing, how biting pests of all kinds will find one person flavoursome and another not to their liking at all.
Year of Wonders p. 73

This book is based on the experiences of the village of Eyam in the Darbyshire Peakdistrict UK.  Anna Frith is a fictional character but some other characters are drawn from known personalities of the time.   Reading this book and doing a bit of research on the village has made me want to visit this otherwise lovely little village.  Am I being a bit ghoulish?

Eyam Gravestone (photo credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/mart/169164763/)

I enjoyed reading this book but I did find the end to be too unrealistic.  Granted there was no predictable ending (my pet hates) but a twist at the end should be plausible and well as surprising.

Eyam District (photo from http://dell.org.uk/local_info.html)

Sunday – A hike to Nandroya Falls

Last weekend I joined some friends for a bush walk to Nandroya Falls.  Twelve of us all enjoyed the very pretty walk into the river and some enjoyed a swim in the very cold creek.

The crew on the walk into Nandroya Falls (photo credit to my dear friend Neville)

There were two options for the walk in and we took the longer trail (3.5km) which winds along the river for a more picturesque hike.  The wet season has just finished here in FNQ so the river was running with a fair amount of water and there were a few spots on the trail where we had to negotiate minor water crossings ranging from small damp trickles to a substantial creek like that shown in the photo above.  The track was in very good condition and it was quite an easy walk in.

Nandroya Falls (Upper):  photo credit to Neville )

The water in the plunge pool was freezing but that did not prevent a hardy few from taking a swim and surprisingly there was a sand bank near to where the water plunged into the pool so anyone taking a swim could stand up quite near to the cascade and see how close they could get to the water.

Nev stands on the sandbank next to the cascade (photo credit to Shane via Neville)

We stopped by the plunge pool for lunch and then while some enjoyed some time lazing in the sun, others explored the area and some of the other cascades.

Nandroya Falls (Lower):  Photo credit to Shane via Neville

After the “kids” finished playing we took the shorter trail back to the car park and returned home.  In all a very relaxing day and we chalked up a 6.5km hike which is a very manageable distance and all done in a comfortable time frame.  Well done to Neville who organised the day and thanks to the others who came along on such a lovely day to enjoy the walk.

My weight loss journey so far

I have been on a Jenny Craig eating plan for eight weeks now and I have lost a total of 7kg.  I still have 20kg to go until I reach my goal.  I have also lost a total of 27cm across my body measurements.

The Jenny Craig Plan (I wont call it a diet) involves eating a healthy balance of food groups in appropriate portioned sizes.  I words I chose in that last sentence was deliberate as in the past my food choices have been poor when it has come to portion size and balance.

The Plan works by providing portion controlled meals (ie pre-packaged food) to help break poor habits and to kick-start the weight loss.  When you get half way to your goal you start to wean yourself off the pre-packaged food by cutting down the days that you eat the standard meals and begin to prepare your own food.  You continue to be supervised and mentored by a Jenny Craig consultant until such time as you are able to maintain your goal weight without the help of the pre-packaged meals.

The Plan also requires a modest amount of exercise and to date I have been walking.  I have an elliptical machine and a bicycle but the elliptical can get a bit boring and Cairns is not a cycle friendly town so cyclists need to be a brave bunch to play with the 4WDs.

I am reasonably pleased with my progress to date as I did have one backwards week over Easter when didn’t have the Jenny Craig food and chocolate eggs featured quite a bit in the cuisine of the week. :)  Never mind as I had a good time and I don’t regret the minor setback.

I am posting this as I plan to track my progress to being lighter and fitter.  My goals are to be fit enough to go on long long hikes and my ultimate goal is to be able to go on multi day hikes in some of the lovely places around Australia and the world.

The good things about the diet so far is that I am clearly noticing the weight loss already as my clothes are looser on me and I have one set of stretchy pants that probably now need to be “recycled” as they are falling off me.  The only drawback is the pre-packaged food side of things – my partner and I don’t eat together any more as we are now preparing separate meals often at separate times.  Hopefully we can remedy this when I start to move back to my own (new and improved) cooking.

Note that this post is not a paid or promoted endorsement of Jenny Craig – it’s just my way of being accountable for my weight loss and progress towards fitness.

What I saw – fungi

Yesterday I went for a hike along the Blue Arrow track in Cairns.  The walk was muddy and uncomfortable but I did get to see some interesting things.  The single item that interested me most were these fungi growing out in the open by the track.

The were white cupped shaped and the recent rain had filled the centre with water which had then turned an unattractive “rainforesty-brown” as leaves and stuff rotted in the water.  They were perched on the rotting timber that had fallen to the ground.

I found the colour and shape of the fungi quite fascinating.

 

 

I have done a bit of a search to see if I can find a proper botanical name for them but I haven’t been able to locate but I do know a mycologist who might be able to tell me and recommend a book for me in the even that I come across other interesting things on walks.

Have you seen anything interesting lately?