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Last week, I visited my coincidentally Polish accountant to sort out my tax and ask financial questions from the abyss of my financial ignorance. After such an encounter, I usually find an unwalked beach and explore with a picnic lunch. This time it was high tide, and I don’t walk on beaches at high tide.

So I stopped at a sandy track, guarded by frantically flowering wattle, and stumbled across six prolific colonies of greenhood orchids: Pterostylis nutans I think. They were hiding amongst bracken just off the track, heads demurely facing the ground. In each colony, I counted at least 30 plants. If I saw six colonies I reckon there’d be many more: if I counted 30 plants it would have to be a conservative estimate.

But the orchids weren’t the only treasures. There was moss: soft spring green; spiky, star-like pinky-red and green; flowers (are they flowers?) wavering on the end of thin red stalks.


Then there were the many faces of banksias: flower; seed pods opened; hairy dead flowers; dead flowers broken open into red; stippled bark, some showing signs of fire; and closed seed pods. Gumnuts, round urns, littered the ground wherever there were eucalypts.

May Gibbs, in her children’s book Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, transformed banksia cones into villians, the Big Bad Banksiamen, and gumnuts into the characters of the title, a pair of gumnut babies. My leather bound copy was a gift from J on our third wedding anniversary, a memento of my childhood pleasure in this Australian classic.


Eucalypt gumnuts

Everywhere was the brightness of wattle, which has to be called golden, and which is one of the signatures of home for me.