My primary reason for journeying to Australia was to visit with my dear friends Craig Hosmer and Daryl Reinke. We met some forty years ago in Washington, DC. They have been the most constant and generous friends.
In 1994 they retired to Australia, Daryl’s birth place. For years they had dreamed of a bigger garden and, by gum, they got one! They purchased 40 acres of cleared land on the Sunshine Coast. It had been cow pasture for decades but it was previously rain forest and they set out to return the land to its original state. Their success has been spectacular. In the two pictures above you can see their land from my first trip in August 2001 and the same land fourteen years later.
Lots can happen in fourteen years, obviously. Things change. Friends and family pass away. New babies are born, so are new countries. But amidst all the swirl and chaos there is, as Paul Simon so eloquently put it, “the automatic earth.” Treat it tenderly and it is your friend for life…literally.
In 2001 we planted a tree in honor of Robert, my late husband, who had been gone for just three months. We planted it along the left edge of that pond you can see in the top photo. And just below you can see what a difference fourteen years can make.
Craig and Daryl in front of Robert’s tree, November 2015.
Planting Robert’s tree on Sept. 4, 2001
While in Australia I learned about the Butchulla people, an Aboriginal tribe that lives on Fraser Island. Their tribe has few laws but the first is, “Whatever is good for the land comes first.” Part of Robert’s ashes are in that magnificent tree and it is good. ❧
Tell someone you’ve been to Australia and you can expect to hear, “Wow! Did you see any kangaroos?” The answer is, “Yes!” But the ‘roos I saw were not what we think of here in the USA. On my first trip, in 2001, I did see one of those big ‘roos, hopping down the fairway on a golf course!
On this trip the sightings were less dramatic. We saw several Red-legged pademelon (Thylogale stigmatica) which Wikipedia describes a “a marsupial rainforest kangaroo.” They are quite shy and hang in the shadows which makes photographs difficult. This little guy is probably an adult which means she/he is about 2 1/2 feet tall when upright. Because their habitat is rainforest the range of the species has shrunk and Wikipedia says it is a vulnerable species. Australia has many preserves where these charming creatures can live but we humans, frankly, are crowding out everything. It would be too bad to lose a creature with such a lyrical name. ❧
That’s me in Australia and that thing above my head is a Stag Horn fern — a relatively small one. They grow like weeds Down Under. Same with Birds’ Nest Ferns. It is a magical place. This particular picture was taken on Fraser Island, just off the Sunshine Coast. It is the largest sand island in the world and is listed on the U.N. Heritage Sites which means, hopefully, it will remain as pristine and special as it is today for generations to enjoy.
Australia is quite keen on ecology and environment, as well they should be. They have been able to protect so much of their unique flora and fauna even with the massive amount of global travel and commerce. In one park we visited, another U.N. Heritage site, there are machines where you clean the bottom of your boots with a disinfectant and brush before hiking so as not to track in contaminants. Despite that effort there are invasive species of plants and fungi. Still, you must do what you can do.
Today I am back in the States, finally emerging from jet lag and trying to “get back into it.” That won’t be easy, especially as I begin the sorting of my 2,000 pictures. Stay tuned…plenty of Aussie pictures coming soon. ❧