The wattles foliage is so thick that trunks are hidden behind masses of elongated, yellow flowers and pale, oblong leaves. Banksia exposed to the wind are twisted and bent, they hunker down together like a football scrum creating sheltered copses and nooks for the birds and kangaroos. Those growing in the lee of the headland grow tall and strong flouting their independence. The most prolific type has pale, green/silver leaves and either yellow or orange flower heads, each made up of hundreds (sometimes thousands) of tiny individual flowers grouped together.
The pandanus have a tenacity that I admire. They drop their seed onto dry sand where it is picked up and flung by the tide to new destinations. The orange seeds whither and turn brown but can retain their ability to grow for years. When conditions are right they take off with vigour, as they gain height they rise like skyscrapers, supporting their top-heavy branches by sinking exposed roots into loose sand and small crevices between rocks.
These plants are common to the entire east coast of Australia, they are like old friends that have accompanied me through life. When I was a child my sister and I played in the shade of pandanus that fringed the beaches we visited on camping holidays, just as my own children did on hot summer days near the beach where we lived. Wattle trees grew in my parent’s garden and later in my own garden and were a favourite with the native birds. Banksia have been a constant fixture on all the headlands and bush walks I have enjoyed and played an important role in my seduction into the world of books.
In the literary tradition of Australian children I grew up with May Gibbs Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, a wonderful creative story about gumnut babies, talking lizards and most notably the, ‘bad, bad, banksia men’.