A few weeks ago, the world divided into two groups: People addicted to chasing small fictional creatures around cities Luddites (like me) wondering what all the fuss is about. Whichever group you belong to, there’s no denying the incredible success… Read More ›
How hungry would you have to be?
I’ve been trying my hand at fiction lately and am very excited about winning the YWCA Canberra Frugal Feast Writing Prize. You can read my short story about eating and farming insects at the ACT Writers Centre Blog (here – http://actwritersblog.com/2016/01/11/how-hungry/).* The content… Read More ›
Will nature survive long enough to reach its full potential?
I recently visited the Ian Potter Museum of Art at the University of Melbourne and was prompted to look beyond the impact of climate change on humans and to consider the plight of nature itself. On the top floor was the Nature/Revelation exhibition that forms part of the… Read More ›
Explore the Elements: Thomas Cook Photography Competition
Thomas Cook is running a photography competition. The rules are simple: post four photographs, each one representing the four elements of earth, air, fire and water. Click here for Competition Details. My blogger nominations are listed below – but hurry as the… Read More ›
It will take power & passion to save the planet
Yesterday I attended the Krebs Lecture 2015 at the University of Canberra given by Peter Garrett AM on the environment, climate change and ‘five simple steps we can take to save the hand that feeds us – our planet’.* Garrett’s credentials include former… Read More ›
Our planet is not a magic pudding
‘The Magic Pudding’ is a classic Australian children’s book that was written and illustrated by Norman Lindsay – supposedly as an alternative to stories about fairies. It was first published in 1918 and tells the story of the Noble Society of Pudding… Read More ›
If you want to stand out or confuse insects, wear Gaultier stripes
A major theme running through the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition in Melbourne is horizontal blue and white stripes. They are everywhere – on the walls, on the clothes, and in the video clips of catwalks. And in this painted photograph by… Read More ›
Surveys are for the birds. Hey, look! A sheepdog!
This post starts out with a ‘citizen’ backyard bird survey and ends with me deciding that a kelpie or other sheepdog is the Australian ADHD equivalent to a squirrel. Confused? You should be… but the connection is actually very straightforward…. Read More ›
Using eye contact to help protect endangered species
Eye contact is our strongest form of non-verbal communication and plays a critical role in initiating emotional relationships between people (and other species). Photographers, for example, know that getting subjects to look directly at the lens of the camera is… Read More ›
Day of the Orchids – Fact really is stranger than fiction
I spent a lovely afternoon at the Canberra Spring Orchid Show last Sunday. What an incredible and diverse family of plants! It was great to see these magnificent plants in the flesh – including a spectacular Sydney Rock Orchid sporting large spikes… Read More ›
Competition for tree hollows in a suburban backyard
In case anyone is unconvinced about how serious the competition is for tree hollows in Australia, I have made a short film about something that really happened in my neighbour’s backyard in Canberra yesterday morning! It also acts as a warning for people thinking… Read More ›
Orchids – Sordid tales of lust, deception & unrequited love
Orchids go to great lengths to attract the insects that are vital to their survival. Like humans, they put on a pretty dress, slap on some lipstick and perfume, flirt and promise sexual favours and gifts (but do not always… Read More ›
A neighbourhood within a neighbourhood – Avian squatters at Eucalypt Hollow
Spring has arrived in Canberra! Gardens and parks are bursting with the glorious colours of wattle, blossom and bulbs – and are every so often topped with a rainbow halo after much-needed seasonal showers. The large eucalypt outside my living room… Read More ›
Post script re ladybirds, dung beetles & cane toads
I am very excited to report that my copies of ‘We go to the gallery’ have just arrived!! Some of you may remember my previous posts about Miriam Elia’s satirical look at contemporary art in the form of a 1960s ‘Ladybird Book’… Read More ›
Warm Trees 2014 – Dragons, scarves & spiderwebs
The highlight of the ‘Warm Trees’ exhibition (25 July – 31 Aug 2014) at Canberra’s National Arboretum was a single tree on Dairy Farmers’ Hill near the ‘Nest’ sculpture. Here, some inspired yarn bombers created beautiful silvery cobwebs that glistened in… Read More ›
Charity begins at home – with a pair of knitting needles or crochet hook
Knitting and crocheting are no longer just for the blue rinse set. These crafts are enjoying a renaissance across all age groups and are being used to help others and to create cheerful and creative temporary art installations. The knitters and crocheters also receive benefits through… Read More ›
Altered perspectives & foreshortening in the real world
Most people who have studied art or tried their hand at life drawing in the past 500 years or so will probably have learnt about perspective (the optical illusion that causes objects close to us to appear larger than those… Read More ›
Using art & social media to raise awareness about deforestation
It was great news that UNESCO unanimously rejected Australia’s bid to delist a large of area of old growth native forest in Tasmania earlier this week (especially as these areas were only awarded World Heritage status last year). However, the… Read More ›
Dandelions – weed or feed?
I was gardening the other day and pulled out a whole lot of dandelions (Taraxacum officinale), planning to give them to the neighbour’s chooks. Next I was going to re-establish the vege patch and start growing my own spinach and other greens again. Then it occurred… Read More ›
Using wombats to promote your blog and support good causes
I am a big believer in the power of ‘word of mouth’ marketing and ‘peer to peer’ referrals. These models rely on trust and are especially well suited to blogs – where a recommendation, link or other promotion via a blogger that you… Read More ›
Every cloud really does have a silver lining
What do you do after a bad day at work? Some people eat or drink to excess. My friend Peter draws. Those who choose to over-indulge end up with a hangover or overweight – while Pete ends up with great… Read More ›
Is Canberra’s latest bogong moth sculpture the next big thing?
My last post (here) explained that millions of bogong moths pass through Canberra each spring. The moths fly at night and become confused by the city’s lights that make them think that the sun is rising. As a result, the… Read More ›
Bush tucker 2 – How do you prefer your witchetty grubs & bogong moths?
Moths, grubs, ants and other insects were important sources of energy for indigenous Australians whose traditional bush tucker diet was high in carbohydrates, protein and nutrients, and relatively low in fat and sugars. Witchetty grubs, for example, were a staple… Read More ›
Bush tucker – I say potato, others say yarla
Apart from macadamia nuts, most people (including many Australians) know very little about Aussie bush tucker – despite the fact that we have an amazing variety of edible plants, such as lilly pilly, quandong, wattle seed and lemon myrtle, on… Read More ›
Did you know that some ladybirds are dangerous to humans and might sue you?
I have always loved ladybirds. I grew up repeating a nursery rhyme about them whenever I saw these insects in the garden (but never really understood the line about their house being on fire). Gardeners know that the common spotted… Read More ›
A guilt-free Valentine
This post (and the amazing cloud that I saw a couple of weeks ago) is dedicated to all those who conscientiously object to the crass commercialisation of this saint’s day, didn’t receive flowers or chocolates today (but would have liked to),… Read More ›
Great walls & fences of Australia 2
Anyone who read my last post about wild dog, dingo, emu and rabbit-proof fences in Australia, will hopefully appreciate the humour in my favourite TV commercial that encourages parents to invest in an Internet connection to help their kids with… Read More ›
Great walls & fences of Australia
The avenue of poplars (mentioned in this post) in the Tuggeranong Town Park follows the line of a heritage-listed dry stone wall that once marked the boundary between two rural properties in Canberra (one of which was featured in another post – here)…. Read More ›
Play equipment for everyone & colourful road barriers
I found more sound sculptures by Kim Bowman in a playground at Black Mountain Peninsula in Canberra (mentioned in this post). There were two rain wheels, gong drums and a sonic bench. It turns out that there was lots more for kids who find it… Read More ›
Little Italy in Canberra’s south – poplars & all
Anyone who knows trees may have thought that the Lombardy poplars (Populus nigra ‘Italica’) beside the woolshed in a recent post seemed out of character. However, poplars are ideally suited to Canberra’s hot, dry summers and were quite common near homesteads in the… Read More ›
When did you last catch a real (or virtual) sunrise or sunset?
I have always loved Michael Leunig’s cartoon ‘TV Sunrise’ – where a father and son sit inside watching a sunset on their television while a real sunset is clearly visible through the window. Oslo Davis did a more recent cartoon… Read More ›
Sisters unite – my first ever award nomination
Thank you so much to Sandy at Hoarder Comes Clean for a Sisterhood of the World Blogger’s Award nomination! I really enjoy reading about Sandy’s efforts to clear out superfluous items – but her posts frequently hit a bit close… Read More ›
I talked about sound in a recent post and its ability to evoke memories and change how we feel. Even inaudible sounds (i.e. those outside the audible range for humans) may affect us or be felt as vibrations. As we become more aware… Read More ›
Road signs & the Little Prince
When I visited the Royal Botanic Gardens at Cranbourne (on the outskirts of Melbourne) recently, I was struck by the numerous road signs along the entrance route that implored drivers to slow down for snakes, wallabies, lizards, bandicoots and people…. Read More ›
We should not underestimate the potential for sound to affect us both psychologically and physiologically. Sounds can soothe us, inspire us or stress us out. They can also evoke memories and emotions – in the same way as sights and smells…. Read More ›
Canberra – A city where the landscape rules
The original design of Canberra drew heavily on ‘City Beautiful’, ‘Garden City’ and other aspirational town planning movements that placed a high priority on the landscape. But have the ideals and vision of Canberra’s founding and subsequent ‘parents’ and designers resulted in a… Read More ›
Thank you for dealing with all of our crap – the humble dung beetle [& not so humble cane toad]
Back in August I saw a post with the intriguing title: ‘If you had 5 minutes to talk to a Dung Beetle, what would you say?’. I don’t know what your response would be – but I suggested that anyone living in… Read More ›
Plastic bags & bottles – but what about the plastics we can’t see?
It is one thing to talk about plastic bags and water bottles and other things that we can see and can make a conscious decision about (i.e. whether we buy or accept them in the first place and then how… Read More ›
Canberra – Smack bang in the middle (but just a bit closer to Sydney)
A great song was released in honour of the Centenary of Canberra this year. I recommend watching the music video.* The title of the song (and this post) refers to when Australia was selecting a location for its federal capital city… Read More ›
If you can believe in bigfoot, then why not drop bears?
There are reports this week that DNA analysis has identified a genetic match between two ‘yeti hair’ samples from the Western Himalayas and Bhutan and the jawbone of an ancient Nordic polar bear.* This follows hot on the heels of discoveries involving… Read More ›
Why not turn water tanks & reservoirs into landscape features?
A fantastic water conservation project at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne proves that reservoirs and tanks, not just ponds and lakes, can be things of beauty and landscape features in their own right. Over the past few years, ‘Guilfoyle’s… Read More ›
Remember when recycled paper was easy to pick?
Recycled paper used to be grey with lots of flecks that would invariably end up in your printer. The one advantage was that you didn’t have to actually write ‘Printed on environmentally friendly paper stock’ on any print outs as… Read More ›
It’s all a matter of perspective
For anyone wondering about the photo in my last post, it is one of a number of sculptures at the new National Arboretum Canberra. The Arboretum is being built on a former pine plantation destroyed by bushfires in 2001 and 2003.*… Read More ›
Eco-jargon versus common sense
Do you care about the environment? If not, do you at least care about energy prices, food security and natural disasters? Participants at a recent workshop in Australia did not think that climate change and green buildings were important issues… Read More ›