Thursday, August 21, 2008

The wildflowers

Evan stands in a vast expanse of Annual Yellowtops, on the sand dune at the back of the golf course.

And then the wildflowers came. Whilst fairly modest little flowers in their own right, they appear in such profusion they take your breath away. I have taken hundreds of photos over the last few weeks, every time we go out it seems there are more and more and its always exciting to discover a new one we haven't seen before.

Wild Stocks on top of the sand dune.

Another shot in the same area.

More Yellowtops and Wild Stocks on Pandie Pandie Station, south of Birdsville.

Yellowtops bloom amongst a long dead bush near Andrewilla.

A photo taken by Evan of a sea of tiny white Minnie Daisies.

And a photo taken by Cathy of Evan taking the above pic.

These are Poached Egg Daisies, for obvious reasons. This lot came up in our front garden by themselves.

Dwarf Swainsona. The wildflowers seem to come in yellow, white, and more rarely, purple/pink/mauve.

Except for this alien-looking one, Cunningham's Rattlepod.

Another weird one, I'm not sure it counts as a wildflower, but came up as a result of the rain so I've included it. I think it is a variety of Samphire, we saw it near Lake Machattie, north of Birdsville.

This one REALLY doesn't count, as it has been nurtured very carefully since it was a seed by Dusty and has pride of place in front of the Bakery.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Greening of the Desert

The bare brown plains along Bedourie Road start to get a green tinge.

Just to backtrack a bit, here are some pics showing the receding of the floodwaters from the rain in early June, and the green carpet that has appeared, slowly covering the usually red-brown sand, gibbers and dunes. It's taken almost three months for the first of the wildflowers to appear (coming soon), and in the meantime, the roads have been a dodgy prospect. Even after the roads were re-opened to traffic there was still a lot of water around, the Birdsville Track in particular became badly chopped up, and there were quite a few rescues of vehicles stuck in the mud. The cardinal rule is to stay in the middle of the road, no matter how much water there may be on it. Generally the roads have a hard gravel base, and venturing off the road into the soft mud shoulders is much more hazardous.

Gradually the water has been drying out, and the landscape has been getting greener and greener. It's hard to remember how arid and bare it was when we first arrived, but the constant amazement of the tourists coming through the Bakery is a regular reminder.

A small lake formed at the base of a sand dune along the road to Big Red. We saw three black swans near here.

This is the road adjacent to the pic above.

More water along the Big Red road.

These primordal-looking creatures appeared in the water. The locals call them shellbacks.

Dusty from the Bakery in his desert rescue hat. This vehicle burnt out its clutch and had to be towed back to Birdsville.

The Birdsville Track all chopped up from traffic after the rain. It has since been graded.

Ben the baker broke the rule and went round the boggy patch on the road. He had to be pulled out.

A green sprout appears among the gibbers on Bedourie Road.

Green sprouts start multiplying everywhere.

A green strip along the water line out from the Dingo Caves.

The Inside Track greens up.

And this is just unbelievable. This lush meadow is on the normally sparse banks of the Diamantina River south of Birdsville.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Big Skies and Sunsets ....

.... And the odd sunrise and moonrise. Just a collection of photos of this endlessly fascinating part of the world. The pic below is the only one where I've fiddled with the colour to add some light to the front of the stove, all others are unretouched.

Bedourie Road. The stove was there originally (don't ask me why) and the other bits have been added gradually since.

Bedourie Road. The sun is so low, it shines under the car ...

The following three were all taken last night at the Dingo Caves, where the moonrise was followed by a spectacular sunset.

A gibber plain about 90 kms south of Birdsville just off the Birdsville Track. That's Evan on the horizon.

A couple of really nice cloud pics out along the Bedourie Road again. Evan calls this bit "the surface of the moon".

Another sunset at the Dingo Caves. This is called "raised dust".

A sunrise from outside our unit.

The following two were taken the same evening at the playground across the street.

Clouds do make for a very spectacular sunset ....

This is a vapour trail from some plane far overhead.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Meanwhile, back at the ranch ...

Me with my sister Lyn and mum Yvonne doing the tourist thing outside the Birdsville Pub. Photo by Evan.

I can't believe it's been so long since I last posted, it's been very busy here. There's been school holidays and the main tourist season is kicking in, making hours in the Bakery much longer, plus we've had visitors! My sister Lyn and mum Yvonne drove up from Smithtown, just north of Port Macquarie, a huge 2,000 km (each way!) drive, and a week later Evan's mum Carroll and our good friend Cathy flew in from Canberra and Sydney, respectively.

We've really enjoyed having family and friend(s) here, and being able to show them around — it's hard to explain what it is about Birdsville that makes it such an interesting place to be, its not just the scenery but the whole atmosphere. To quote Cathy, who emailed after she returned to Sydney, she had "Big Skies and Sunsets in my head for days afterwards".

We did the usual touristy things like the sunset champagne on Big Red and the Dingo Caves, beers at the pub and of course, coffee and pies (and pizza) at the Bakery. Lyn was lucky enough to be able to go on a plane flight to see from the air what a difference the rain has made to the place, and we went for picnic lunch to the Andrewilla Waterhole with Cathy and Carroll, about 80 kms down the Inside Track, a very beautiful drive through sand dunes with wildflowers all around. Just walking around and taking in the vast open spaces and quiet is an experience in itself, and there's no shortage of those.

PS Its VERY cold here at the moment — and I thought Birdsville was supposed to be hot ...

Sunset viewing with the tourists at Big Red. Note clothing — its freezing!

Over Birdsville — the billabong has lots of water in it at the moment.

About 100 km north of Birdsville.

The floodwaters surround a dam.

Pizza round the fire at the Bakery — the warmest place in town. Photo by Cathy.

Lunch at Andrewilla Waterhole with Cathy and Carroll.

We found the lasers! We'll be back for sailing when the weather's warmer.

Near Andrewilla — wildflowers everywhere.

Cathy and Carroll heading off on the Macair plane. That blur near the back of the plane is a fly.