Regular readers will know that in August, my true love and I went on holiday – a rather long road trip to visit my mother who lives about 1,500 north of me.  In the place I live (Canberra), the winters are freezing, grey and dreary.  In the north where I went (as far as Gladstone), it is relatively tropical, although they have had some coolish mornings.  To escape the cold, many retired folk, known as Grey Nomads, regularly spend months travelling the roads of northern Australia.  We had a taste of that life for a few weeks.  I’ve tried to do a bit of a ‘compare and contrast’ photo essay to represent my August.

By August, I am just about over winter.  I seek hints of spring.  A late winter bloomer, wattle blossoms are often the first sign.  But the wattle seemed reluctant this year.  No amount of wishing would hurry it along.  So we packed our bags and left.

Wattle in bud.jpg

We thought we would travel the coast road for part of the way.  It is warmer on the coast.  One of our stops was at Port Macquarie (hello to the good folk of Port Macquarie).  Port Macquarie is a tourist town.  It is lively all year round as Grey Nomads flock there in winter.  We arrived there late on Saturday afternoon and thought we might hire a cabin.  We hadn’t booked ahead.  For $230 a night, we soon decided that camping was our best option.  We pitched our tent in the dying light.  Eastern Australia is in drought so of course it rained.  The pearly dawn was a sight to behold.  We went to a local cafe in the hope that our tent would dry.  It didn’t.  The locals were rugged up and so were we.

The coast road, a bit of a misnomer, is a little boring, albeit much safer than in times past. We made a break for it and headed inland.  How cold could it be?  Actually, pretty cold.  Minus 2⁰c  overnight but as we were much further north, the days were glorious (mid 20s).  We decided to camp at a couple of the water storage dams, though often we were the only campers.  RVs and caravans are now de rigeur.  Still, this is the life!

As we thawed out on our morning walk, we came across what we thought was an albino Wallaby catching some rays.  Do you think it is an albino?  And nearly bumped into a magpie.  In the north, spring comes early and so do swooping magpies.  Yes, I’m talking about you Mr Magpie.

Dam levels are low.  Drawing water for agricultural use has been suspended for one of the dams we visited.  Farmers and local councils race to complete hazard reduction burning in preparation for the coming bush fire season.  It was incredibly dry.  And windy.  We saw plumes of smoke in the distance.  The air was often filthy with smoke and dust particles, presenting an ominous haze.

Those in the north lucky enough to have a dam for irrigation or some residual moisture in their soils, can still have some beautiful blooms.

As we headed south and inland again, the season became more like what we were used to – cold, bleak and dry.  So dry that donations of hay are being trucked across the country to feed stock.

But bleak can also be beautiful.

In the winter of life, there is still time for a welcome chat.

Before home.

jonquils.JPG

As we traveled across parts of eastern Australia, I was struck by how incredibly dry it was.  In fact, although I’ve made this trip a number of times before, I have never seen it quite so dry.  On the day we returned home, fires broke out across the two states we visited, many in areas that we had traveled through.  Property was lost and a helicopter pilot was killed when his water bucket became caught in trees.  A woman was left to defend her property alone because her partner was fighting fires in the United States.  The official start of the fire season has been moved forward to 1 September.

Every month Su Leslie from Zimmerbitch hosts a monthly photo challenge, The Changing Seasons.  Click on the link to find out how to participate in the August Challenge.

 

 

39 thoughts on “The Changing Seasons – August

  1. What a lovely set of pics and I am with you, so over winter (but it is a bit spring-ish here in Perth with warmer days happening).
    I think the term for the wallaby is Leucistic. I recently learned it through a Facebook birding page I am a member of. The wallaby has darker points on it (unlike a true albino), but is lacking colour in most places. It is due to a lack of pigment (including melanin).
    Over here, we have watched what is happening in the East with dismay, the idea of bushfires in winter is dreadful, but the loss of life is truly horrifying 😦

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for the info, Jenn. Very interesting.

      Lucky for us easterners that the West has had decent rainfall this year. Am looking forward to some milder weather, but dreading summer. It is just a tinderbox. The one thing that the Canberra bushfires taught us is that when you have fires of that scale you are basically on your own. Loss of life is inevitable, and yes that is horrifying.

      It may not surprise you to learn I have plenty of bird photos from the trip. I have to sort through them and I’ll post some pics. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What an amazing road-trip Tracy. Cold and drought-striken sounds like a particularly dire combination though. I admire your willingness to sleep in a tent. My idea of roughing it is not having an en suite — which of course does limit my capacity to travel on a sensible budget. Thanks for being part of the Changing Seasons crew; it’s always great to see your part of the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Su. I am enjoying it. I have only taken up camping in the past couple of years. My son works in an outdoorsy shop. You’ll know the one. It is headquartered in NZ, so we get a staff discount. Plus, the camera purchase meant we were looking to economise. But we didn’t camp in some of the NSW inland parts. Too cold, getting down to -6 one night.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 🙂 I suspect if we’d had a good tent when I was younger, I’d be less averse to camping, because it is a great way to holiday affordably. But -6 — definitely not camping weather. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Grey Nomads, eh? We call them Snow Birds here. No idea where that name came from. I do like the photo of the geese trying to stay warm on the road. Tracy–you are a brave one, for sure. Camping in the cold and rain….I couldn’t do it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lois, maybe they are called Snowbirds because they are escaping the snow in the north?

      I’m not that brave. Not really. We chickened out of camping in some of those southern inland areas. It was just too cold. We pulled into one town and they said they had -6c overnight. The tent would never have dried. But yes, I was still proud of myself. I had to sleep with my beanie on. But since I am rather round, I had extra insulation. Not so good though, for trying to get off the ground. Still it was an adventure.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The West Coast of Canada has been drier than usual and the unofficial end to summer, labour Day is the first Monday following a weekend approaches so many folks will be headed out of town. We currently have huge forests fires burning here making the air quality poor. By October our cooler weather will be here with freezing at night and sometimes during the day. We are hoping for some big storms off the Pacific to improve our air quality. It is harvest time with children headed for the pumpkin patches in late October. Your photographs are very impressive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sid. Those Canadian forest fires sound rather frightening. I hope travelers stay well clear of them.

      In Australia, many of plant species are adapted to fire. But still, the bush needs time to recover before it is hammered again, and the frequency of major fire events is increasing. I imagine that some of the areas burning in Canada have rarely seen fire and therefore those regions will take a long time to recover, if at all? My heart goes out to you.

      Regards. Tracy.

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    1. Perhaps a bit of that extreme weather will carry over to the winter for you, Martha, and you’ll get a few huge dumps of snow. Stock up just in case.

      I think you would love Australia, Martha. It is full of stories, and the birds are wonderful. And there are still places you can go for a little solitude in the big outdoors.

      Have you caught Secret City on Netflix? Not too bad for a Foxtel production. It is set in my town and a lot of it appeared to be shot in Parliament House. It makes me wonder how the producers got access to that building. Anyway, it makes us look rather glamorous.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What an interesting month. Wow well done in the camping department. I think, apart from the cold, I would have difficulty getting vertical in the morning!!! Fire season is horribly early this year, I dread to think what summer will bring. A couple of weeks ago the news reported 115 out of control fires raging in qld. You have had fun with your new camera, nice photo essay of your trip. That white wallaby was interesting and saw the info in the first comment. Port Macquarie is a place I would like to go back for a return visit. Have you ever tried Airbnb? I use them often and find them better value than hotels,motels or even cabins. I loved Canberra in the spring

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Pauline. The blogging community is so knowledgeable. I knew someone would know about the wallaby!

      We haven’t used Airbnb, but we have used Stayz. I think they are better for longer stays rather than if you are just breezing through. What do you think? Also, we aren’t organised to have a schedule, and our travelling plans change from day to day. It is hard to make bookings without reliable internet when we are on the road.

      Floriade starts in about two weeks time, so that will bring lots of visitors to Canberra and a festive spirit. We’ll go so we can catch up with Rhonda for our nut treats, and our soap supplier for our hair. It is the little things that we look forward to. The prunus blossom will also be out soon so the city will be putting its best foot forward.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Airbnb is long or short term, but yes you do need internet. Some you can book instantly. But I’ve only used them when I know my plans in advance and not just winging it. Oh floriade I loved it went 3 times during the time it was on, and also the other private tulip festival, forget the name now, something like “tulip tops” I think! but I thought it was even better than Floriade

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Enjoyed going on the trip with you, Tracy, and seeing the photos you took. That’s a trio of really beautiful Grevilleas up there in the middle of the post. Like everyone else, I admire your camping ability…not for me, I’m afraid. The drought is truly terrible, and although we had lovely rain over the weekend (28 ml) it’s not enough to fill the dams or make much difference to farmers. Very interesting about the light coloured wallaby. It’s amazing what you can learn when blogging!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jane. My mum has a lot of grevilleas at her place and they are just looking so beautiful at the moment. There were so many birds visiting. It was an absolute wonderland. I had a fabulous time with her and the birds and dogs.

      I was quite amazed by the wallaby too. Thank goodness that Jenn could shed some light on the mystery.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m so glad you shared this trip with us. It’s quite hard to appreciate that at the other side of the world, the seasons are just at the opposite end of ours. Nevertheless, your winter is clearly very different from our grey UK variety.

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    1. Margaret, thank you. Yes, our winter is different. I was in the UK for part of its winter in the early 90s. Showing my age here. What struck me was the unremitting cold, and that the days were incredibly short, much shorter than we are used to here. That sort of cold must build some very stoic people. In my opinion. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for taking us with you on this trip with the Grey Nomads, Tracy. 😊 Wow! That was far too cold for camping! Hope you didn’t get frostbitten during the night? It sounds awful how dry the land is. We’ve had a bit of rain in the last weeks but nothing to get excited about, more of a drizzle than a downpour. The woods around Berlin went on fire to and you could smell the smoke right in the middle of the city – woke me up a couple of times too.
    Hope Spring will be soon upon you and warm you up even though that means it’s getting cold here! 😂

    Liked by 1 person

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