A Walk in Nature ~ A Pictorial Journey
Take a Walk With Me
Greetings friends, readers, and fellow writers. Here in Ballogie, Queensland it is a crisp Autumn morning. The sky is blue but there is a cold westerly wind blowing. It is obvious that winter is just around the corner.
My dear wife, Kathy, has told me that she is expecting something important in the post and asked me, very nicely, if I will go and check the mailbox. I'm happy to do that but first I just need to sit and eat the scrambled eggs I have just finished cooking for breakfast. After that, why don't you join me in a brisk and invigorating walk to collect the mail?
A Little Exercise Never Hurt Anyone
It will be good exercise but not too taxing. We'll get the heart rate up, blood pumping, and metabolism kicking in, but we'll also stop and take in some of the wonderful scenery along the way. Oh, you are probably wondering what I'm going on about. A few steps out the front door and along the path to the mailbox at the gate, no big deal....wrong!
Sorry, I forgot to mention that our driveway from the house to the mailbox is approximately one kilometre (5/8 of a mile), so we'll be covering that distance twice, there and back.
I don't always walk. If it is raining I will have no choice but to drive (in which case I will bundle all three dogs into the back of the Rav4), and sometimes if the sides or middle of the driveway requires mowing I will choose to take the ride-on mower to collect the mail.
In Australia and New Zealand, small pancakes (about 75 mm in diameter) known as pikelets are eaten. They are traditionally served with jam or whipped cream, or solely with butter, at afternoon tea, but can also be served at morning tea. They are made with milk, self-raising flour, eggs, and a small amount of icing sugar. (source: Wikipedia)
Before We Leave
The mail *contractor normally arrives between 11am and 11:30am so we have a little time to kill. Sit down and make yourselves at home for a moment. I'll make cups of coffee, or tea if you prefer, and we can chat before we begin our walk. *The mail delivery to rural areas in Australia is usually contracted out to private carriers. Here in Ballogie our mail is only delivered three days per week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Make sure you have on a pair of comfortable walking shoes or joggers, and a bottle of water to ensure you keep hydrated. When everyone's ready, we'll be off.
Oh, by the time we get back it will be lunchtime and Kathy has offered to cook some of her delicious pikelets for when we return. That's something to look forward to, believe me.
Let the Walk Begin
Ok, if everyone's ready, let the walk begin! I hope no one minds, but I always take our Staffy x Kelpie, Coco, with me on a lead. It forces me to keep the pace up and not be lazy because she loves to go for a walk, or should I say run, and tends to strain on the leash.
Don't panic though, Coco is nine years old so she tends to slow down on the way back so we can walk a little more leisurely back up the hill. When she was younger she used to chase the kangaroos and wallabies so I always kept her on the lead, now I sometimes let her run free on the return trip.
Looking to the left as we walk out the front door you will observe our main garden which is planted along permaculture principles and has flowering plants and ornamentals growing alongside and amongst food plants, herbs and vegetables. Some of the things growing in there include: hibiscus, rosella, galangal, orchids, lavender, ceylon spinach, roses, tomatoes, basil, frangipani, indigo, silverbeet, pepino, mulberry, and daylilies.
Proceeding a little further but still on our left is the fence of the house yard and growing at regular intervals along it are pomegranate trees. Look to the right and you will see a three strand barbed wire fence that follows parallel to the driveway for about half its length. It separates the 50 acre property we live on from bushland of three neighbouring properties.
Coco is impatient and pulling on her lead to try to make me move on so we better proceed. In fact, if we try to keep pace with her I think some of you may struggle so I'll let her off the leash to run free for now.
Next on the left you will see a paddock that was originally set up as an olive orchard by a previous owner. He used to have an irrigation system in place to water the trees but we don't get enough rainfall now to keep regular water up to them so the irrigation was disconnected. The trees are still there but as far as I know have never born fruit.
The fenced paddock now contains an ex racehorse called Spike and two white donkeys. If you look closely you may see them, and sometimes they will come over to the fence when called. If they do, feel free to pet them. Occasionally there will also be two guinea fowl hanging around with them. At the present time a lovely carpet of purple wildflowers covers much of the ground as you can see.
Moving on down the hill and the scenery starts to change with bushland now on both sides of the driveway. I love the trees here and feel the scene would really appeal to a landscape painter.
Not far off the driveway wild orchids can be found growing from the stumps of felled trees, and some are even flowering.
Even though we are getting closer to the road it seems so peaceful here and it is the part of our property where most of the wildlife can be encountered..various bird varieties, kangaroos, wallabies etc. Coco knows this too and pricks her ears, alert to any movement. Fortunately, now that the cooler weather is here, most reptiles such as snakes and goannas should be hibernating so we shouldn't encounter any.
Now if you will cast your eyes to the right you will notice a rocky outcrop and a series of caves of various shapes and sizes. These are dingo(wild native dog) caves, where they sleep and raise their pups. I have checked them out last week and they seem to be unoccupied at the moment (at least during the day). We can go and explore them on the way back if you want. There's nothing to be scared of.. really!
We are close now. The mailbox is only another 100 yards away so once we are there anyone who's feeling a little weary can take some deep breaths, a sip of water, and pause awhile, if needed, before we make our way back to the house.
The mailbox is on the Chinchilla- Wondai Road which is the main highway linking the towns of Wondai and Kingaroy with Chinchilla. An interesting bit of trivia is that our property/house number is 12204. This indicates that our property is 12204 metres from the Chinchilla post office.
Well, we made it! This is the end of the road, so well done everyone on completing the first half of our walk. Take a moment to catch your breath while I check the mailbox, then we'll turn around and head back. The return trip is slightly uphill but we'll go slow and stop to checkout the dingo caves on the way.
One letter, and not an important one at that..a wasted trip? No, I don't see it that way. I love the opportunity to get some exercise, and embrace the chance to get closer to nature. Besides I had good company.
The Journey Home
The time has come to begin our journey back to the house. Follow me and we'll take a slight detour off to the left to visit the dingo caves. It's not far, only about 30 yards/metres from the driveway and in fact if you look left you can see the rocky outcrop from here. As a kid I always enjoyed exploring caves and the bush and pretending to be Tarzan or Jungle Jim (if anyone else is old enough to remember that show). I guess I am still a kid at heart and I look forward to my grandchildren visiting so I have an excuse to play there with them.
There are half a dozen caves here of varying sizes. They are probably originally natural formations caused by erosion which the dingos have continued to dig out deeper to act as shelter from the weather and in which to have their pups.
You'll notice that most are big enough for a child to stand up in but an adult human would need to stoop. It isn't too difficult to climb up the rocks onto the roof of the caves. Coco knows the easiest way up so just follow her. Although it doesn't seem all that high, the view from up here is wonderful. Just watch your step, I don't want anyone falling or spraining an ankle.
Now that you've experienced the beauty of the dingo caves we should think about heading back up the track towards the house. If you have a camera and wish to take some photos, now's the time to do it, then we'll be off.
As I said earlier and as you know from the walk down, the return trip is mostly uphill. It is for the most part a gradual climb but there is one section of around a hundred yards that can be testing. OK, let's do it!
Well, we are finally out of the woods (excuse the pun) and although there is still a way to go, at least half of the return journey is complete. Take a look to the right and you can see one of the property's three dams. It provides a constant source of drinking water for the livestock and many wild animals and birds. The water level has got very low during the drought seasons but never been completely empty yet which is a blessing.
As droughts are such a common occurrence in this part of the world it is esential for all larger properties to have at least one dam unless you are blessed to have a permanent stream or bore.
Look over there and you can see Spike the horse and the donkeys again. Let's call them over to say "hello." They belong to friends of ours who saved them from the knackery. As I mentioned earlier Spike is an ex racehorse and a gelding, the fate of which when racing days are over, is not rosy. The donkeys were just no longer wanted by their previous owners.
A lot of people out here are into animal and wildlife rescue. Kangaroos, echidnas, koalas, and even turtles are often hit by cars on the highway and most killed, but now and then one will be found still alive and can be taken to one of the wildlife carers in the area who will arrange veterinarian attention. If you come acros a recently killed kangaroo for instance you should always check to see if it is a female and it's pouch to ensure there isn't a live baby still in there. In many cases the Joey can be saved if discovered early enough.
Definition of "Knackery"
"A knacker is a person in the trade of rendering animals that have died on farms or are unfit for human consumption, such as horses that can no longer work. This leads to the slang expression "knackered" meaning very tired, or "ready for the knacker's yard", where old horses are slaughtered and the by-products are sent for rendering. A knacker's yard or knackery is different from a slaughterhouse, where animals are slaughtered for human consumption. In most countries, knackery premises are regulated by law." (source:Wikipedia)
That was a welcome break, I think you'd agree. Now, back to the house. We are on the home stretch and I think I can even smell those yummy pikelets cooking. I know it's uphill now for a stretch, and even the dog has slowed down, but let's pick up the pace and finish off with a flourish. We don't want anyone to think we have been dawdling do we? I mean, I always tell Kathy I do this for the exercise. Can't have her thinking otherwise.
I know I'm close to home when the house comes into view..and there it is! Not long now.
We are now outside the house yard and over to the right you can see the chicken pen and storage shed. However you probably aren't interested in this right now and are looking forward to sitting down and enjoying those pikelets that I keep promoting (I really can smell them now) and a cuppa. Kathy may be upset that the parcel she was expecting didn't arrive, but I'm sure she'll still feed us all. No need to hurry home either, we are quite hospitable in this part of the world and don't get visitors often.
Thank you for joining Coco and I on our trip to the mailbox. We all made it back safe and sound and I enjoyed the company. I hope you also had fun and found it a rewarding experience. It was great being able to share a little bit of my world with you, with a touch of exercise thrown in.
We will see you again soon, and feel free to drop in next time you are passing by.
Thanks for Reading
Thank you for reading this extremely long article. I have never attempted to write one of this magnitude before. In fact this is only the second time ever I have used all my own photographs, and first time taking my own video. I hope it wasn't boring.
© 2015 John Hansen