Eidothea hardeniana and other rare trees in Nightcap National Park, north-east New South Wales

Scientist standing in front of a fallen treeScientists Dr Maurizio Rossetto and Dr Robert Kooyman next to a fallen tree in The Big Scrub, from a recent trip to Nightcap National Park to make the video below. The video production consisted of a crew of one – me! A beautiful place and hopefully an interesting story.

What is the video about?

The National Herbarium NSW of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney has been doing interesting scientific research into rainforest tree distribution and rarity in Northern NSW. They have found links between rarity and the relatively recent local extinctions of large fauna such as the Cassowary. This video features scientists Dr Maurizio Rossetto and Dr Robert Kooyman. As well, it features the recently discovered and extremely rare tree Eidothea hardeniana as well as trees from the Gondwanan family Elaeocarpaceae.


Snowy River, Balley Hooley Campground near Buchan, Victoria


“Where the air is clear as crystal, and the white stars fairly blaze”

The Man From Snowy River – Banjo Patterson

Banjo Patterson’s poem has contributed to the iconic status of the Snowy River. The Snowy Mountains Hydro electric scheme and ideas around nation building added to it but recent debate the lack of water flowing into the river has tempered this.  My visit to it was loaded with these ideas and concerns.

A summer trip by 4WD to Tasmania via the Snowy Mountains provides a load of opportunities to camp beside the Snowy. Far too briefly, a friend and I drove from Jindabyne to Buchan along the Snowy River, it is an incredible trip. There was plenty of snow melt and there seemed to be adequate water in the river. The Snowy flows mostly through National Parks, so it is many ways an intact and evocative reminder of the country that Patterson described.


Balley Hooley campground where these images are taken, isn’t great as far as campgrounds go but the river and scenery there are exceptional.

SnowyRiverMist-0859This was February 2014 and there were bushfires around, the weather was hot and the river itself seemed warm. These conditions contributed to produce a mist that we awoke to which you can see in the video below.

More information

Good tourist information on the Snowy River and things to see can be found at http://www.gippslandinpicture.com/locations/snowy_river_np/home.html



A history of where I live – (part 1)

Dramatic sunrise What can we know about something? Once we know something it opens up the world of what that we don’t know.

In A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson explains that the inspiration for the book came from the concern he had about what he didn’t know. When taking off in a plane he looked down at the sea and thought of the things that he didn’t know, like where the salt in the sea came from. This blog seems to becoming more and more about the world that surrounds me and like Bill I don’t know a lot, but unlike Bill, I will remain ignorant of much. Still, I have made and continue to attempt to make sense of what is what. Like where I live.

Sandstone rocks, Sydney in the backgroundI live in Castlecrag, a suburb of Sydney, a few kilometres from the CBD and Opera House. I describe this distance as a few hills. The hills help me create a map of where I live now and where I grew up, in Killara another few hills north. It helps me to understand the flora that would have been here not so long ago and the topography, soils and geology that influenced it. But Sydney is flat. Rather than hills, I live on a vast sandstone plateau, into which have been carved valleys. 220 million years ago, this sandstone plateau was a braided river system on Gondwana, a delta of intersecting water courses on a scale seen no where else in the world today. The sand was delivered from an eroding mountain range somewhere to the south.

Sandstone cliffs and the oceanIn the past decade, I have studied with geologists and I may do them an injustice by trying to put some of what they have told me into a factual account. But in places, this sand was formed in a night of a deposition, these nights became a continuum of formation and collapse. This speculative history can be seen in road cuttings. Over millenia, once the sand had been deposited, it was overlain with material perhaps a couple of kilometres thick. This eventually exerted the amount of pressure and delivered the increased temperature required so that it would become the hardened stone we see today.

When the New Zealand continent broke off from Gondwana around 80 million years ago, it created cracks in the sandstone. The biggest cracks became the biggest rivers, like the Lane Cove and Parramatta. The sand that eroded in the formation of the valleys became the beaches of our coastline. I live in a valley where a small crack formed a creek that would drain into what would become Middle Harbour. Middle Harbour is a drowned valley, a short distance from open ocean. During the last ice age, within aboriginal history, it would have been a dry valley almost twenty kilometres from the ocean.

The history of where I live influences so much of what is around me. The flora, fauna and landscapes that this blog seems to be increasingly about.

New Holland Honeyeater

These photographs above are from a recent sunrise at North Head, Manly. The bird is a New Holland Honeyeater (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae).