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

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

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.

This week

By Vita Forest


This week I have been

WRITING Thinking about Balmoral

READING

  • Spinster by Kate Bolick
  • The Course of Love by Alain de Botton

BINGE WATCHING

  • Game of Thrones season 7 (wow!)
  • The Bureau (also wow!)

SWIMMING at Balmoral Beach

SNORKELLING at Shelly Beach Manly – saw a blue grouper and four stingrays and a whole lotta fish

SKETCHING at the Royal Botanical Gardens and enjoying the wildflower meadow along with the butterflies and bees

CELEBRATING the new year – Happy 2018 everyone!

Thinking about Balmoral

By Vita Forest

It’s the summer holidays and that means lots of time spent swimming in salt water.  One of my favourite haunts is Balmoral Beach, a place with so many layers of memory washing over it.

There’s the lemon scent I catch as I walk down the street where I usually park the car, from who knows what plant – it’s not a lemon tree.  This street with the sign at the entrance to the driveway of a block of apartments “Don’t even think about parking here” which causes equal parts outrage and laughter.  The flats, with the garage that at one time had its door raised to reveal a private gym, and another time, another year, a stall of random items for sale including a couple of Margaret Atwood books.  One day I bought The Blind Assassin.  The next day I bought Alias Grace.  A street I walk along and wonder, which house would I live in?  If I could?  Or would I choose that low-maintenance apartment with its shady verandah looking out over the beach?

There’s The Baths.  Years ago, we used to have our initial swimming carnival for high school there (before moving onto to the more serious North Sydney Olympic pool for the finals).  It was a fun day out, with those who wanted to participating in the races, diving off the floating blocks into the often choppy water, while those who didn’t, sunbaking on the slatted wooden jetty or splashing about in the shallows near the sand.  In recent years, Max and Lucy have floated there on giant doughnuts or blow up boats or snorkelled under the jetty looking for fish and crabs and the rumours of seahorses living in the waving kelp.  In recent years I have returned here to swim, simplifying my routine by swimming without goggles or a cap.  Perhaps that is why I don’t do Freestyle anymore – too much water gets in my ears.  Instead I keep my head out – all the better to see where I am going and to pause every now and then to look up at the bush on the headland or the clouds floating in the blue sky.

Further south, there are large fig trees that grow on the grass behind the sand.  Some of them are like pavilions with branches extending over the beach itself.  It was under one of these that I used to sit with Lucy as a baby, her body lying between my legs, her feet kicking into the air as she gazed up at the twinkling brightness of the sun through the fig leaves.  It was here that her feet were first dipped into salt water, tiny toes flaring up at its coldness.  It was here I rocked the pram covered with a muslin cloth, groggy with lack of sleep, and watched Max play on the pirate ship in the playground.

Heading north, there’s the island attached to the promenade by an arched concrete bridge.  It was here we drank cheap champagne on one of our last days of high school.  It was here I have stopped with innumerable friends on innumerable walks up and down the beach in summer and winter, sunshine and rain.  It was here a month or so ago, I sat on a rock and drew a fig tree growing out of a crevasse between two boulders of sandstone, its roots clutching and wrapping around the rocks.  It was on that occasion that I saw the young bride and groom, she in a backless white gown that showed off the tattoos on her tanned shoulders.

It’s to this place I have come in summer, either early or late, to avoid the harshness of the midday sun.  And so I never see Freya, who I work with, who only goes there at the hottest time of the day.  She is young and invincible and lies in the sun to get a tan, something I never do.  Me in my long-sleeved rashie seeing if I can still swim a kilometre.

I can.

 

This week (or so)

By Vita  Forest

IMG_3690[1]

This week (or so) I have been

READING Death comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

WRITING and EDITING my novel!

VISITING

  • the city to see the Christmas lights

IMG_3692[1]

  • Manly for some sketching
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Ferry ride to Manly

  • The Goods Line, the UTS Building by Frank Gehry and the Central Park Precinct  (- the kids and I gave my parents a little tour of the area).

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SWIMMING

  • at Cremorne Point and Balmoral Beach

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Tourists at Cremorne Point

SKETCHING at

  • Manly
  • Cremorne
  • The Botanical Gardens

MAKING White Rocky Road (mmm mmm!)

ENJOYING being on holidays!

This week

By Vita Forest

From Wendy’s Secret Garden at Lavender Bay

This week I have been

WRITING chapter after chapter of my novel, but nothing for the blog.  Sorry.  I am trying something new where I set a timer and work and work work until the alarm goes off.  It’s really working!

READING

  • Shipwrecks, Sailors and Sixty Thousand Years by Jackie French (in preparation for next term).
  • The Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund De Waal

PAPERING two huge boards in two classrooms with medieval-style maps of Australia and its surrounds, ready for  Term 4.

From Clarke Park, Lavender Bay

VISITING Lavender Bay with Betty and Diana, then again to do some sketching from a slightly different angle.

 

CATCHING up with two cousins from two different sides of the family on the same day!  Wow!

CELEBRATING my nephew’s third birthday (pirate theme).

WALKING

Berry’s Bay, Waverton

  • around Ball’s Head, Waverton
  • around Curl Curl to try and spot some of the whales that have been passing by Sydney and eventually

On the headland near North Curl Curl

SPOTTING some spray shooting up out of the water off North Curl Curl