hawkesbury-river

australiangeographic.com.au
The march of the brush turkey
This tenacious Australian bird has been defiantly spreading across the east coast to reclaim much of its pre-European range.

The natural range of the bird – also known as the bush or scrub turkey – stretches along the east coast from far north Queensland to the Illawarra, south of Sydney. It has never been endangered, but after several centuries of habitat loss and predation by cats and foxes, it did become scarce across large areas.

So what was this prehistoric-looking creature doing in the concrete jungle of Neutral Bay, 4km from the city’s CBD, rather than in the deep shadows of the forest? Until the past 20 years or so, turkeys were virtually unknown south of the Hawkesbury River, but, as I soon discovered, they have been on the march in recent decades, determinedly reclaiming their likely historic range. Some Sydneysiders greeted their arrival as a wildlife good-news story, but for others, it meant the outbreak of war in the suburbs…

Don’t let your brain be lazy, teach it to interpret things in such a way that you end up having continuous mind explosions.

Last week I challenged myself to stop wondering and start wandering more, and then set the challenge to hunt for memories and stories this Easter weekend, instead of eggs.

I had a pretty busy, work filled weekend, so didn’t get that much opportunity to go on a big wander, but I went on a little one on route to my parents house on the Central Coast, and realised that little wanders can be just impacting, if not more, than big ones.

I pulled over along the freeway - just after the Brooklyn bridge, walked through the bush a little and then perched myself on a cliff edge about 100m above the Hawkesbury River - it is truly magical up there… And slightly terrifying! I don’t know how long I sat there for as I didn’t check the time. I just sat and pondered, until I felt like I had unraveled all the messy knots in my brain. Then on my way out I collected a bunch of big sticks and branches to get DIY crazy with. It was a real simple wander, that completely cleansed me.

Where did you wander to this weekend?

Made with Instagram
You were faster, taller, stronger

We swam to shore - a long way off -
heads bobbing, like hugs above water.
The salt stung my eyes. I could see the beach -
a long way off. Feet were moving

in the deep green, where it was cooler.
The fear crept up where I couldn’t see
and filled my mouth half full with water.
Legs were strong, and hands too; 

wobbly in the wake of holiday makers.
They charged the surface, not touching
down deep the colder waters.
Moving half way around the world

this body feels its own strength,
and lack of it, in tiresome motions.
This skin bag of water
different but the same beneath the surface:

I can do this, if you don’t betray me
in that little boat, to taunt me
with inadequacy and the contrast
of you up there and me down here.

The cougar of Bilpin

I was at a family dinner a few weeks ago and my folks brought up a story that they had been told about a big cat attack in Bilpin in Australia’s Blue Mountains. A friend of theirs who lives in the area had their pet alpaca mauled and killed in the night.

They were alerted to the attack by the barks of their pet dog and when they went out to investigate, they found the dead alpaca. After calling the authorities, several paw prints were located along with some fur, and combined with the method of the attack, it was concluded that it was a big cat.

I did a quick Google search and found an article about the incident as well as an interesting video outlining the history of big cat sightings along the Hawkesbury River over a period of several decades.

The incident really piqued my curiousity as Australia has no large predators and, well, it’s about a big cat attacking an alpaca in the Blue Mountains. The article calls the big cat the Hawkesbury panther but at dinner we decided to call it the cougar of Bilpin. Apparently it had escaped from a circus (or been let out from a zoo or any other number of theories) and thrives in the Australian bush as it is the only large predator with no real enemies.

At the end of the day, it’s an interesting story. But really, who has a pet alpaca?