My first walk in my home bush was partly about the ground (and water) beneath my feet, and partly about the bark in front of my eyes.
I set off eagerly along a familiar track, and suddenly there was another path heading off to my right, never seen before, but well formed and probably part of bushfire containment. So of course I set off along it, glad to be walking my own territory again, and pleased to find it unfamiliar. I followed the track along a ridge and then down into a gradual gully, with glimpses of a lake through the trees. The track dwindled, so I turned back before I reached the water, leaving that pleasure for another day.
This walking project was supposed to be a weekend adventure. Here am I, heading off just after wallaby time on a Wednesday morning. OK, I needed tomato paste and ground coriander from that general direction, but it would’ve been quicker not to walk as well.
But I walked. Today, along the course of the river, on a road with the hillside towering above me and dropping off beneath me, and the perfume of honeysuckle thick in the air. I caught a quick burst of the whipbird’s song, the mooing of cows, and then the approach of the school bus. Beneath the overhang of the cutting were wasp nests, and flourishing grasses, and almost vertically up, slim eucalypts. Below me the river wound, brown and sandy, but still moving in mini rapids in spots. Here were tree ferns, clinging to steepness and the russet unwhorling of their fronds. Kangaroo grass dropped its seeds and woggled in the occasional breeze.
My turn-back point today was marked by a signpost, a clump of letterboxes, a bracken-smothered track down to the water, and a patch of purple so vivid it resisted the camera.
Flowers and grass
In search of spring flowers in the bush I drove across the clankety bridge and up the hill to the Swamp trail, somewhere between the walk along the river and the clamber up Nerrigundah Ridge. There I found my ho-hum expectations confounded once again. There were at least 12 species, a distinctive assemblage – Banksia spinulosa, Eriostemon, casuarinas, ironbark, eucalypts, eggs and bacon (round-leafed and spiky), blue glycine vine, purple flags, tiny yellow hibbertia, lomandra, and, as always, something I couldn’t identify – not all of which were amenable to the camera, and some of which demanded to be photographed over and over again. The ground under the trees was a dense mat of casuarina needles and nuts from the casuarinas. The track went steadily down hill, past a quarry and a dumping place for old cars and tyres, over anti-erosion humps, to a dry creek bed with stones and ferns and moss and long ribbons of bark. It continued up the hill over the creek, but this time I didn’t. For once, I worked up a bit of a sweat walking back up hill.
The creek bed
On the ground