Creatures of Kiama Part 2

By Vita Forest

More creatures seen on our recent holiday in Kiama and its surrounds…

  • On Blowhole Point… my mother delighted in sighting two willy wagtails, black tails swinging sideways as they called to each other and hopped about on the grass.  A bird she remembers seeing a lot as a child in Sydney but hasn’t seen locally for years.
  • On a few of our walks, we saw long-legged herons with blue-grey feathers picking through the wet grass, or rising heavily into the air.
  • Climbing up the hill towards Minnamurra… Lucy stooped to watch an orange ladybird exploring a blade of grass. We had just come from a lookout and read about the whales that migrate past that point, not right now though, we were either too early or too late.  From thinking about the blue whale – the largest animal in the world, to a tiny ladybird.
  • As we neared Gerringong on the Kiama Coast track… we came upon a field of black and white cows – Friesians, straight off the picture on the milk bottle. We were in dairy country after all, the lush green hills ridged with meandering bovine tracks beneath the long grass.
  • Driving up to Saddleback Mountain… we saw honey-coloured horses leaning over white timber fences, manes shaking as a woman walked toward them, hand outstretched. And later as we returned, we wondered if they admired that view all the way to Wollongong, or liked the cooling wind straight off the ocean.
  • And on that same trip… before we got to the top of that long ascending road that followed the spine of the hill, we had to pull over, stop the car, open the door and ‘encourage’ a large green stick insect (or was it a cricket?) to join the wide green world outside again. It leapt out the window, flinging itself back toward the grass with whirring wings, much to the relief of the rest of us.
  • At the summit of Saddleback Mountain… after parking the car, we walked through fluttering butterflies and hovering dragonflies, straight out of a scene from a Studio Ghibli film.
  • On the second last day, my sister Molly and I were walking back from Blowhole Point, around the headland toward the Surf Beach… when all of a sudden, a girl in the group just ahead of us pointed towards the water, “Dolphins!” and there they were. Three of them, black-bodies arcing out of the water then diving back again.  We stood and exclaimed as they reappeared again and again, chasing a school of fish.
  • And on the last day, taking one of our last swims in the Continental pool by the harbour… we swam out from the bay in the direction of the sea, and as we watched, a crab reared up above our heads and scuttled sideways along the edge of the pool, silhouetted against the blue water behind. Lucy lurched forward and it disappeared again, down over the side of the seawall, under the waves that the sea sent over the edge of the pool to splash us.
  • And heading toward our very last swim in the rock pool on Blowhole Point, we walked around the harbour and stopped near the boat ramp… and saw the most enormous blue and black spotted stingray with a long tail and huge eyes, dredging the shallow water for discarded fish with a pelican keeping it company. We had missed the stingray show (a new development since last we visited) but it seems the stingrays know the place to be for tasty treats in the harbour.
  • Arriving home later that day… we found two little cats very pleased to see us again.IMG_3053
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This week

By Vita Forest

This week I have been

Jurassic Plastic, Sydney Town Hall

READING Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta

WRITING Creatures of Kiama Part 1

VISITING

Jurassic Plastic

  • Hiroshi Fuji’s Jurassic Plastic, part of the Sydney Festival 2018.
  • school for a planning day… trying to stay calm and keep the holiday feeling
  • The Australian Maritime Museum for some sketching

Mokuy by Nawurapu Wununmurra, part of the the Gapu-Monuk Saltwater Jouney to the Sea Country exhibition

SWIMMING at Balmoral Beach

CRAMMING in lots of last minute holiday jobs

ADDING watercolour to some Kiama sketches

TRYING to stay cool

 

 

Creatures of Kiama Part 1

Cormorant at Bombo Headland

By Vita Forest

Just letting you know – this is Part 1…

  • On top of a tall lamp post on Blowhole Point… on each of its three lights, sprawled three birds; two black cormorants chilling in the sun, and one pelican, asleep, tail up in the air, head down. How it stayed up there, I do not know.
  • On the Kiama Coast walk from Kiama to Gerringong… we heard again the scrabbling chatter of fairy wrens hidden in the dense scrub pressed into the hillside by the wind. And later behind Bombo Beach… a male in his iridescent blue finery danced around the bare feet of a man sitting on a bench and staring out to sea.

Kiama Coast Walk between Loves Bay and Gerringong

  • At lunchtime, between past Loves Bay and before Gerringong, when you can see no houses or roads and you truly feel you are away from it all, where we sat on the track, looking down on the waves smashing on the rock platforms and the shivering grass on the hills, there, at the most isolated point, who should appear over the crest of the hill, but two walkers and their dog, their friendly dog who saw our lunch and bounded down the grassy track, while we scrambled for lids and bags and clutched our food away from its eager jaws. (And not long after this, our peace was disturbed again, by the peal of a bell, not a bird but a mountain bike that we turned and saw negotiating its way down the grassy slope toward us while we grabbed our possessions again to make room for it to pass, Lucy snatching up her iPhone that lay right in its way, on this track, in the middle of nowhere, or perhaps not after all.  After that we finished our meal in peace).

Kiama Coast walk

  • At Minnamurra Rainforest… the scratch of claws amongst the ferns and dry sticks alerted us to the presence of a lyre bird. Then another crashed under the walkway where we stood and into the greenery beyond, trailing its curling brown tail flowers, like the fern fronds it was pushing through.  And we heard it trill and chatter and screech.  Max played a ring tone on his phone (he’s seen this done on YouTube, how they’ll copy other sounds) but this one was too caught up in its own crazy song to worry about sounding like a doorbell.

Cicada in the rainforest

  • And higher up in the rainforest… where we climbed to see the waterfall, we walked through a force field, a pulsing deafening din that you could feel in your bones – cicadas. We noticed some on the track – black bodies and beady red eyes.  But it was the ones that we couldn’t see, hidden in the trees that shook the air.
  • After lunching at The Boneyard, a delightful rocky bay just around the corner from Bombo Headland, while surfers straddled boards out on the break and snorkelers floated in the clear water closer in, we pulled on our backpacks and our hats and retraced our steps around the bay on our way to Cathedral Rocks and beyond to Minnamurra. On the path a shriek from Lucy, and I turned to see a small snake wriggling through the soft grass where I had just stepped.  It seemed little and harmless…

There be a snake somewhere about… The Boneyard

 

This week

By Vita Forest

This week I have been

ENJOYING a lovely holiday in Kiama and it’s surrounds

HAVING visits from my sisters and parents and Fleur (nice to share a favourite spot with others!)

SEEING many many creatures (more of that coming up in another post)

EATING lots of good things including

  • delicious gelato from the Kiama Market
  • duck pie from a farmers market
  • burgers from the fabbo milk bar at Gerringong

WALKING

  • from Kiama to Gerringong
  • from Kiama to Minnamurra

  • around Minnamurra rainforest

  • around Bombo headland

SWIMMING all around Kiama

REREADING Finnikin of the Rock and Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta (Ah bliss!)

WATCHING the weather change from gale-force winds, wild seas and general chilliness to serene seascapes, hot sun and endless blue skies…

THINKING about planning next year’s holiday.

This week

By Vita Forest

This week I have been

READING

  • The Novel Habits of Happiness By Alexander McCall Smith
  • The Travelling Cat Chronicles By Hiro Arikawa

WRITING Power Play

WATCHING Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (wow!)

DODGING the raindrops on a quick walk at Kiama where we are

HOLIDAYING at the beach and

LOOKING forward to better weather ahead

Power play

By Vita Forest

While climbing up the steps to the house, her house, for the moment anyway, she hears unfamiliar voices.  Children.  Adults.

Unknown.  Strange.  Alien.

She hesitates.  Stands on the threshold.  Looks into the lighted box of the hallway.

Have I missed something?  Have months skipped by?  Years?  Does a new family live here now, a new family with the same picture of Bronte Beach on the wall and the same bed visible in my son’s room?

The front door opens with her key.  She enters.  Stands in the hallway, listening.  There amongst the chaos is his voice.  She checks her phone.  No messages.  Stands in the hallway, wondering.

A woman creeps up the stairs unsteadily, her hand gliding over the banister, her wedding ring rasping on the metal tubing.

A strange woman in her home.

The woman looks up, “Oh hello.  I’m after the bathroom, is it this way?”

She nods and the stranger shuffles along the corridor, hands skimming the wall, feet uncertain on the floor.  The bathroom door closes.

Voices.

Climbing down the stairs and turning the corner into the light.

Her children waving from their bowls of ice-cream.

Him.

Another family, an extended family, three generations, one, two, three.  She recognises the couple from years ago; they recognise her.  They smile while she clutches for their names.

Neil and Ursula.

And she thinks – he always puts the male first, in these pairings, these couples who came into their lives.  The male always came first, the female an attachment, an afterthought. 

And she thinks – why did he not tell me they were coming?

Neil and Ursula.  They belonged to him.  Would belong to him.  When they knew.

They stand and come to embrace her, arms closing about her stiff body.  Ursula starts the introductions.

Their children, her father, the creeping woman upstairs; her mother

Nodding, her eyes flick over to him.  His eyes flit away and he stands.

“Have some ice-cream.”

His chair scraping back on the floor and he disappears into the kitchen.

Sydney traffic.  Taronga Zoo.  Manly Beach.  Two weeks.  Returning west tomorrow morning.  Sydney buses.

Neil stares and she stares back.

She thinks, Neil knows, Ursula doesn’t.

Sydney weather.  The heat.  The humidity.  And how do those new buses work anyway?

A bowl of ice cream placed in front of her.  Staring at the glistening, white domes as her hands clench and unclench under the table.

She could throw it at him, she could stand up and walk downstairs and out of the house and into the night.

She could announce their news to this happy family.  Their son is playing cricket; we are separating.  Their daughter is learning the violin; she is looking for a new place to live.

It could be that easy.

She smiles and picks up the spoon.

 

This week (or so)

By Vita Forest

This week I have been

WRITING Holiday at home

READING

  • Quiet by Susan Cain
  • The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

SWIMMING in the waters of Balmoral Beach

SKETCHING at the Art Gallery of NSW on day too wet to sit outside

WATCHING many, many episodes of The Bureau (C’est formidable!)

MAKING Jules Clancy’s chocolate and pecan tart (spectacular)

MEETING Sui-Sui and Alessandro  for a long lunch full of good company, good food, good chatting and cat-patting!

PERCOLATING lots of ideas for writing, teaching and general creative endeavours in the year to come.