Moving out of the city eight years ago I was thrilled to be able to move to a place beside near a nature reserve. I grew up near the Royal National Park, so it was almost like coming home. Having left full time employment to work as a consultant, I had time to appreciate where I was and pursue my art and writing in a more substantial way. I was stunned at the loveliness of the nearby forest and wanted to help protect it for future generations. Nature Reserves are such a tiny proportion of Australia’s land mass, less than 1%, and ones like this, next to a growing village, are under constant threat from us humans and our pets.
I joined a local bush regeneration group run by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, which is responsible for the Nature Reserve. I quickly met several other people who had moved from the city and relished their new proximity to bushland. I’ve developed close friendships with several and enjoy the pleasure and privilege of sharing an activity that is contributing towards the future of this rare environment. If we look after their habitats the fauna and flora will look after themselves.
Working in the bush has taught me so much about the natural world on the Mid North Coast of NSW. Over the years I’ve come to recognise the seasonal changes to not only native and weed species, but also the wildlife. In late winter we see young grey kangaroo joeys galloping across the firebreak near us, building up their muscles after a year in the pouch. The wattle dazzles us with its vibrancy in the crystal-clear August light. Birds are already frantic with preparations for nest building and chick raising, spinebills dashing though the grevilleas and scarlet honeyeaters relishing the bloodwood flowers. Goannas scamper up trees at our approach and while we’ve yet to see an echidna, although others have seen them in their front gardens!
We were having morning tea one day at bush regeneration, sitting around under some banskias talking and sharing food, when someone spotted a huge python, just two metres from us, lying quietly under some ferns. It felt like such a privilege to see the gorgeous creature untroubled by our presence and when we left we packed quietly. One other day when I was bushwalking I came across a patch of early morning sunlight on a bush track with a red bellied black snake curled up trying to warm up its body. It saw me but didn’t move, perhaps unable to do so until its temperature rose. I backed away but always recall the vivid red and black of its skin, glistening with dew. It inspired me to make a lino print of the animal, preserved on paper, and I hope more of them will be preserved in life.
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