A strange and wondrous landscape

I have a scant half hour before they come to pick me up for a hiking trip to the top of Mt. Wellington, but I have had such trouble finding my way into internet that I’ll seize the minute.

I’m writing this from a hoIMG_4106 by you.tel room in Tasmania, just after breakfast on Saturday morning. Over the past few days, my attention has shifted from the whirl of book-related activities to the outdoors of this wildly beautiful and enchanting landscape. I will write more about cultural discoveries, but this morning a few notes about the natural world, because that angle is so very different from my own.

Renee took me hiking in the Dandenong mountains–and just in the nick of time. After so many days of inside activities and mental exercise, I was getting scattered and maybe a little grouchy. Renee swooped in and we escaped the city for a 7 km hike (some of it REALLY steep!) through the temperate rainforests north of Melbourne. It was like falling into a fairy tale to walk amid the towering trees, mountain ashes and gums, in the deep silence. The air smelled of what must be eucalyptus, a green and clarifying scent that washed the cobwebs out of my brain and gave my body the vigorous hike it most desperately needed. More on the trees in a little bit, but first, the birds.

The BIRDS!!! We saw white cockatoos and rosellas and galahs and parrots, flying free. For Australians, this elicits no reaction whatsoever, but when your local birds are robins and wrens and sparrows with the odd blue jay flashing through the world, a red and purple rosella is a stunning sight, and a tree filled with big noisy cockatoos makes you laugh aloud, and a cluster of parrots is almost worth a tear of wonder. Not to mention the sounds! Kookaburras laughing, really laughing, in a maniacal, echoey way. The cockatoos screeching. Fantastical. We even saw a lyrebird, who seemed unbothered by us, and dug around in the grass by the trail, swishing her long tail.

Running out of time….more later if I can get on. I will also post some photos at that point. It will take too much time just now. Musings about trees and food and the wonders of Tassie. For now, I’m off to hike the local mountain.

4 thoughts on “A strange and wondrous landscape

  1. Barbara, I am so glad, with conference and booksignings over, you’ve had the chance to get out into our great outdoors and hike. You are quite right about we Aussies accepting our raucous birdlife, although I must admit that the maniacal kookaburra laugh made it onto my list of 25 Things I Love. Always, always makes me grin. Hope you’re loving Tassie.


  2. You were so lucky to see a lyrebird in the wild! they are very shy… I’m glad you got to see lots of birds and yes, kookaburras are hilarious – they always make me start laughing too!

  3. Renee

    Not to mention the yellow-tailed black cockatoos – those bad-ass bird kings of the Dandenongs 🙂 I thought a cockatoo gang war was happening behind us!
    I look forward to your posts on Tassie and Mt Wellington. I hope the wildlife comes out to play and you get to see some ancient Huon pine trees. They are breathtaking.

  4. Deb Allen

    Black cockatoos are my favorites. Their mournful cry as they skim the sky usually in threes (well they do in the Blue Mountains) is fabulous. And to be a party pooper, the laugh of kookaburras is actually a form of aggression. It’s a territorial marking sound meaning “Piss off this is my space!”

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