Sulphur Crested Cocky Two Year Olds and Other Less Common Foreshore Species

Howdy strangers. Where did winter go? Its been all work and not much play here for a while. The occasional tinny trip. The lounge room at the Heron’s Nest has been strewn with companion way steps, stripped out bits and bobs of the insides of the Endeavour 26. Much sanding and varnishing. More on that in another post.

Last weekend, A few weekends ago, having reluctantly given up on the idea of fitting a camping trip in we headed down to Jibbon Beach, campstove, chairs, breakfast and lunch in tow. It was a glamour day, perfect for testing out a new camera.

Heron in a Gum Tree

The reason you go to the beach….

The sulphur crested cocky two year old….

sporting her new muddy buddy

…and other less common foreshore species…

laters….

Hidden Treasure Up the George’s River: Part II

Way back in 2010 I wrote about our first proper adventure up the George’s River. We’re really getting to know and love this stretch of water as it now almost  literally laps on our doorstep. Whilst not as sandy or as clear as the water’s up South West arm, George’s River is a more complex system with many tributaries and creeks to explore. Of these, The Woronora is fast becoming a favourite, not least for the rich diversity of wildlife that calls it home.

Percival

I’ve always thought King Fishers were shy and solitary birds so had to look twice when I saw this fellow dart up onto the phone wires…

p1040007-800x600

…and then swoop down to join his mates for a chat on the tinny hoist. They are called Sacred Kingfishers and are one of five King Fishers species down here in Aus. I love King Fishers.

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We’ve made a few trips up the Woronora on both of the most recent public holidays; New Year’s Day and Australia Day…

Rhubarb...

Helping Hand

Head of the River

Beach BBQ

River Cottage

Ratty's House

and discovered the charming Woronora Boat Shed and Cafe where we stopped in for Miss One’s first Cornetto on New Year’s Day…

Just one Cornetto

and made a note to return for a proper job brekkie with friends, which we did this Thursday the 26th, to celebrate our collective Aussiness…

The Boat Shed

We had the most relaxing breakfast in the history of breakfasts’ in the company of four under four.  You wouldn’t think this possible so close to the water but the treasure trove of toys and books at the back of the cafe kept ours busy for ages..

Toy Story

..and its generally a pleasant place for boaty types to fossick about and admire..

Mermalaid

collections

..and we weren’t disappointed by the coffee and breakfast, after which we took our little friend for his first tinnie spin back to Oyster Bay. He was well impressed.

It was this big

And finally a few things to consider you’re thinking of heading that way…

  • We launch at Oyster Bay Boat ramp which you can find here at the end of Oyster Bay Road. This is great for small boats on trailers and for all kinds of tinnies. It’s quite shallow and there are very few facilities but this means there are no queues for the ramp and plenty of trailer parking.
  • There are plenty of other places to launch including the ramp at Tom Uglys
  • If you don’t have a tinny you could hire one from Como Marina. These boats go pretty slow (max 10 knots I think) so they can be driven by unlicensed operators. This really  isn’t an issue because much of the river is 4knot and 8 knot no wash zones.
  • If you’re not familiar with it I do recommend having a thorough look at the charts and be aware of the absolute need to stick within the channel as you could come unstuck, well actually get stuck and that’s not fun.
  • Another option is to drive to the Woronora Boat Shed and hire one of their many kyacks and canoes. The perfect way to explore this beautiful stretch of water.

Christmas in a Mangrove Swamp

When conjuring up the perfect spot for a Christmas breakfast picnic, a mangrove swamp probably isn’t the first place that springs to mind. But if you go down to those woods on a Christmas day you’ll be in for a pleasant surprise. The trip down there was very quiet; the boat ramp at Oyster Bay was empty, there were just a handful of kayackers and the odd angler catching Christmas lunch from the tinny.

Christmas Breakfast

Having done a quick reconaissance last week we headed back to Towra Wetlands, a protected tract of mangrove swamp on the South West corner of Botany Bay. There’s oodles of bird life and you can actually explore them without a tinny as there is a board walk accessible from Kurnell (with a permit). Towra is the largest remaining wetland in Sydney and home to the endangered Green and Golden bell frog as well as a nesting ground for migratory wading and shore birds so tread carefully (we just cut the outboard and floated up to the edge of the mangroves). High tide is the perfect time to explore this enchanting mangrove forest as there is the least likelihood of causing damage, the swamp is completely submerged and the fish are jumping. We tied up in the cool shade of the trees for a Christmas picnic of mangoes, croissants (or “Croissonauts” as pronounced by Miss Four) and a flask of coffee.

Mangrove magic 1

Mangrove Magic 2

Mangrove Magic 3

Mangrove Magic 4

Mangrove Magic 5

Mangrove Magic 6

Mangrove Magic 7

Peeping Out

Of course the ultimate Christmas morning luxury is to be spade fed mangoes in the shade of the mangrove trees…

Mangoes under the mangroves

And if you’re really lucky you might catch the odd cyster catcher..

Oyster Catcher

and a sea eagle….

Sea Eagling

…before heading home to stick that other bird in the oven…

Heading Home

A Haggle of Herons?

Source: google.com.au via Charley on Pinterest

Finally, we swept the cobwebs off the tinny on Sunday and headed for the Georges River to check out our new stomping ground. We move house in two weeks and we are beyond excitement.

A planned two hour trip turned into four, giving me a chance to flex my newly licensed tinny driving muscles. We have explored parts of George’s River before, which I wrote about here, and here.

One of the main purposes of the outing was to check out a tiny mangrove inlet that runs parallel to our new street, below our block. I was pleased to discover that all you can see from the water is a dense tract of bushland and mangroves, with the houses in our street hidden away behind.

Mangrove...somewhere on the George's River

Over the last few weeks I’ve been racking my brains for a suitable house name, possibly translated into Cornish. As we entered the little bay (which shall remain unnamed), we noticed a large group of herons sunning themselves on a disused jetty . I have always thought that herons were solitary birds, hunting alone in a quiet backwater, still as statues scanning the water for their next meal. This bunch numbered at least ten. My mum tells me the proper term is a “heronry” and she’d know because she’s a bird nerd.

When I got home I looked it up in Burnum Burnum’s Wild Things and would you believe there was the white faced heron on page one, the first species listed? I also looked it up on backyard birds where the heron’s nesting habit is described as “an untidy structure of sticks, placed in a tree.” Yep, that sounds appropriate. So there it is, our new home, perched among the trees above the mangroves shall be called “Herons Nest”.

If your house was a nest what kind of a bird would you be?

Wake up we're at the beach!

Queue at the boat ramp

Antidote to the Hallmark Mothers Day

Parked at Redjacks

Yesterday I described to Reg, the fantasy Mothers day that all mums imagine but which I now realise will never materialise. Funnily enough this fantasy was much like the one described by Kerri Sackville in the sunday paper today, which gave me a chuckle. In this fantasy I awake to a sparkling house, filled with fresh flowers, folded clothes, freshly brewed coffee and a gaggle of shiny clean smelling children waiting patiently to present some expensive jewellery and a voucher for the day spa. Previous posts may have unintentionally created the false impression that I lead a charmed nautical sort of life in which my house is kept in ship shape bristol fashion just like a boat, and that we just scoop up the kids and head out to sea to take pretty pictures as soon as the sun comes out and the tides are favourable.  In the interests of keeping it real I was going to post a photo of the carnage that is our lounge room, just to disprove this notion, but luckily for you Reg put his foot down. Instead of the Hallmark fantasy Mothers day we shut the door on the mess and made our way to Redjacks Point to a super special picnic spot we came across this time last year. Jones number two loved her second trip out in the tinny with the arm flapping and squeaking proportional to the increase in speed as we left the 8 knot zone.  The picnic fairy was on hand to look after the food….

Precious picnic cargo

We picniced (is that how you spell it?) on some salmon sangers and leftover roasted veggies with feta, washed down with thermos tea. I was kicking myself for not chilling some champers as the view certainly deserved it…

View to Lilli Pilli

Look up

A spot of fairy hunting to work up an appetite for pudding…..

MUST find fairies

We didnt see any actual fairies but we know they are there because we found these…..

Magic Toadstools

Followed up with a few sandcastles…..

Fort Locks

 

Aerial view

 

…spotted some strange looking jellyfish…

Jelly bean

 

A visit from our friend Percival….

Sir Percival

And time to head home….

Heading for Home

And that…is the last time I ever wish for the Hallmark fantasy Mothers day. How did you spend yours? :)

Maianbar Crab Fest!

Serge and the Soldier

If you really want to impress your overseas visitors, skip the Opera House and Bondi Beach and take them on a tinny tour of The Shire. They’ll thank you for it. Our tinny takes a maximum of four people (apparently maritime regulations consider Rhubarb as cargo) so we left the kids with the outlaws on Sunday morning and headed up South West Arm under cloudy skies and the threat of rain. As always these conditions meant there was nobody else about.  Since I had my hands free (no children to restrain) I took a few movies on the camera which I’ve published to You Tube and included below. Initially I thought it was going to be uneventful with not much of visual interest to write home about, but as usual Port Hacking came up trumps.

Hot Cross bun and thermos stop….

The ever optimistic Rhubarb

The tinny

We stumbled on some sculpture by the sea….

Sculpture by the Sea

Rhubarb in her element…..

When we stopped at Maianbar to give Ruby a burn we came across hundreds and hundreds of soldier crabs. I was sad that the children weren’t with us as they would have loved these pretty little pink and blue “Mr Pincys”. We’ll have to plan a return trip to Maianbar at very low tide again and hope they come out to play. I’m also wondering whether these critters would make a good soft shell crab salad? Can you eat soldier crabs?

A crab in the hand's worth two on the sand

No paparrazzi please

Going...going....

Almost gone

 Soldiers on the march….

Have fun on the water this Easter Weekend, wherever you are. We’re heading to Colo River for a spot of camping :)

Up Muddy Creek without a Paddle

playing pooh sticks

Well actually we did have a paddle but just for emergencies and as we turned the last bend in the creek we cut the motor and drifted quietly to a halt. The put put noise of the engine was now replaced by the intermittent deafening sound of cicadas, or “avacadas” as they have come to be referred in our house, along with “mermalades” (mermaids) and seaweeds (seeds in mandarins).

Although not her first time in a boat, this was Hattie’s first trip in the tinny. Rhubarb stayed at home just to minimise the potential chaos on board.

The entrance to muddy creek just across from Swallow Rock is easy to miss and you’d only get all the way up there in a tinnie or a kyack.  You need to go at high tide and we chose a cool, still overcast day for Hattie’s first outing.

We were rewarded for our peaceful drift up the last few metres by what I think was a water dragon sitting on a rock trying to pretend he wasnt there…..

If I can't see you...you can't see me

…and whilst sitting giving Hattie some lunch I saw the speedy orange and blue flash of a kingfisher zoom past, way to quick for me to catch on film.

Tea break

At the end of the creek are some large sandstone rocks which if you can batt away a bit of foliage you can walk through to some beautiful paddling pools and filled by slow flowing waterfalls as a result of recent heavy rains. A quick trip up muddy creek saw us only a few hundered metres from the boat ramp, but once you are around the bend, hidden by the gum trees and having a good brain cleansing courtesy of the avacadas, you could be a million miles from anywhere.

Mussells and Mangoes

Gran Fran and her clan

Its taken me a long time to get used to Christmas in the antipodes and in many ways it will never feel quite right without the freezing weather and food and drink to warm the cockles.  But as the years have passed I have begun to acclimatise to the topsy turvy seasons, not least because of the fresh seasonal food that peaks around Christmas time in this part of the world. Christmas now means two things; mangoes and seafood. To those reading in the Northern hemisphere you’re probably wondering why I’m writing a Christmas blog at the end of January, those down South will know its because Christmas is just the beginning of the summer holidays, the days are still long, the nights balmy and we can find any excuse to stick a prawn on the barbie.

The following photos depict a fantastic boat trip we did on holidays in the Bay of Islands in New Zealand. It was Hattie’s first time in a boat and as we left the marina speed limit zone and hit 20 knots I wondered if I would regret the decision to bring her along. On the contrary she loved every minute and laughed and chuckled her chubby little chops off as soon as the throttle went horizontal.

Dressed for boating

We headed to the deep clean water at the mouth of the bay for mussels and oysters and then headed inshore for pipis. Seafood doesn’t come much fresher than that.

Scooby Sunday

Doggie Paddle

I know its a cop out getting people to do guest blogs while you are away on Christmas holidays, but when your dog puts paw to paper you simpy have to publish. Here’s Rhubarb’s latest dog blog…well actually she sent me an email just after I arrived in New Zealand in the Bay of Islands but I think its blog worthy.What did your dog get up to this Christmas?

Dear Mum,

Woke up this morning expecting another day lazing around at home while Reg did some gardening. Things started to look up when out came the fuel tank and other boat stuff.

With one eye on the tide chart we headed for Swallow Rock.

The tinnie now has some new carpet, blue of course and it’s much easier on the paws.

I’m sitting up front now like a proper tinnie dog see below.

 It’s pretty cool, I can stick my nose up in the fresh river air to pick up the scent of a bbq in Mainbar. Well mostly its cool except Reg didn’t see some waves coming when were going fast toward Lilli Pilli and my furry little butt got some air under it. Not to worry, there were seagulls to catch and we were racing the tide. We pulled into the channel in the basin at Mainbar and chased said seagulls and a few sticks. Had good splash around then it was time to head to sea.

Seeing as it was a calm day we went out near Shark Island, more of a rock really than an island. Decided we would take their word on the shark bit. Plenty of grommits out for a Sunday wave and someone swimming around the island impersonating shark bait. Next we motored across to near Jibbon bombora. There were lots of people fishing but the bomby was calm. It was a gently rolling swell, good for getting my sea legs. Thought about a swim at Bundeena but too many other people there so cruised up the river via Red Jacks to South West Arm. By this time the tide was in so we went right up the river. Dragged the boat up on the rocks and Reg had a swim where you and him went last time, remember? The fresh water was flowing in so had a splash but didn’t go in myself. We didn’t stay too long, you know those yogie bears are everywhere trying to ruin a dog’s day out. We drifted down the creek a bit then a couple of boatloads of bogans came up. Some people don’t appreciate where they are. Why don’t they just go to panthers cable ski park???

Tinnie Dog

On the way out we went up another little creek. It’s a bit like Muddy Creek, takes you to Anice falls where we walked that time. Good potential for a picnic on a high tide. It was getting hot now so after a bit more drifting down the arm, saw some eagles (Granny is certain they were wedge tails) but I think they might have been Sea Eagles, then headed for Grays Point. Lots of boats out now so it was bumpy so I hunched down with my head on Reg’s foot for some security.

Next stop Granny’s house for lunch, a woof at the neighbours just to let em know I’m here and coming back next week. Grandad worked out a plan to close the gap in the fence so it should keep me in.

Missing you and the girls heaps, love to all,

 Scoobs

Xoxoxoxoxo

Bad Weather Always Looks Worse Through a Window

Sunshine on a rainy day

I couldn’t agree more with whoever penned this anonymous anecdote. Despite the fact that I have lately been complaining on the domestic front about the incessant rain we have had in Sydney, we did manage to get out in the tinny between the showers, the Sunday before last. I have been so busy catching up on washing and drying since that I haven’t had time to write about it.

Its also true that kids don’t notice the cold and only care about getting wet when adults make a fuss. I’m also a great believer in going outside and getting cold, just so you can come back in, put the kettle on and get warm again, not to mention the lack of crowds at the boat ramp.

So with all this in mind we rugged up and headed down to Southwest Arm to get out of the house and cure the encroaching cabin fever, armed with a thermos full of Bill Granger’s tomato soup and “healthier” chocolate brownies.

Lucky Dip

Even if you don’t have a tinny I highly recommend embracing the rain and getting out into some native bush to blow away the cobwebs. There will be lots of waterfalls running and the moisture really brings out that unmistakable blend of eucalypt, moss and sandy Sydney soil. If you’re still not convinced here’s a couple of rainy day quotes to coax you into it.

Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain.  ~Author Unknown

For the man sound in body and serene of mind there is no such thing as bad weather; every day has its beauty, and storms which whip the blood do but make it pulse more vigorously.  ~George Gissing, “Winter,” The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft, 1903

I am sure it is a great mistake always to know enough to go in when it rains.  One may keep snug and dry by such knowledge, but one misses a world of loveliness.  ~Adeline Knapp

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