a friendly ‘banksia’ man

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Most Australians who grew up in the 60s are familiar with the May Gibbs stories about Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, two little gum nuts that have adventures in the Australian bush, helped by lizards, birds, possums and other native animals. The bad guys were ‘the bad bad banksia men’ modelled after the cones that are left once the banksia flower stems have fallen out and the cones have hardened. There are 76 banksia species and the banksia is named after Sir Joseph Banks, a naturalist who travelled to Australia with Captain James Cook. If you are familiar with the banksia tree it is easy to see where Gibbs got the inspiration for the bad bad banksia men as they mostly look kind of wicked.. but there are friendly and jovial ‘banksia men’ to be found, like this little guy that I spotted at North Head, Manly, Sydney on a recent trip.


the elephant-ray

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Left over from the shedding of bark on the Spotted gum, this elephant head/manta ray shape is one of many shapes that seem to embody the Indigenous perception that the gods are evident in nature.

tree sprites

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When Spotted gums shed their bark lots of interesting shapes appear that can be read by the observer however they like. Here one looks like a smiling reindeer, and the other a face- thanks to the naturally positioned gum leaves, but you may see other sprites altogether.


the same backyard

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Old man of the forest -Dorrigo National Park NSW Australia
Old man of the forest -Dorrigo National Park NSW Australia
As a passionate environmentalist my Facebook news feed is a constant reminder of the madness that is being undertaken in the name of corporate greed. Must the human race descend into anarchy and chaos? Must future generations fight each other for decent food and clean water? Can we not aspire to a sustainable future where respect for other species is born out of common sense, compassion and self-interest?  When a government gets into power on certain agendas it doesn’t mean they then have a mandate to do whatever they like with the environment. Here in Australia the Abbott government seems intent on destroying the UNESCO listed Great Barrier Reef and Tasmania‘s old growth forests in order to appease those with the money and the power to keep them in government. Then there is the sell out of our agricultural land and water to Coal Seam Gas mining .. to name only a few… there must be a better way to govern.
Autumn leaf - Yosemite National Park CA US
Autumn leaf – Yosemite National Park CA US

Does this require a cosmic shift in thinking? Yes. Does the human race need to  redefine its relationship with other species? Absolutely. Might we have to accept a different lifestyle? Quite possibly … but different can be better. The idea that Earth is separate to Humans, and that humans have the right to rape, pillage and plunder for short term economic gain or pleasure (think Shark Cull in WA) is out-dated, short-sighted and incredibly selfish.

Moreover, if we think the human race is the preeminent species, that is even more of a reason to take custodianship seriously, not abandon it altogether. The Earth does not exist in bits, it cannot be sliced and diced. Our backyard does not end at the bottom of our garden or at the horizon line.
Fish - Fiji
Fish – Fiji

Our backyard includes every living thing on the planet: the droplet of water rushing down a mountain stream, a decomposing leaf on a forest floor, tiny fish darting through coral reefs.While ultimately we are affected by what happens globally, what happens in our own nations will be felt quicker, and it behoves us to watch over our immediate backyard with a keen and discerning eye. Forgetting our regional, national and global codependence has consequences for us all. Progress means evolving into a new form, but this can be achieved in a positive way, it does not have to mean the end of hundreds of species and our health.

crocodile close up

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Here is a close up of my previous post of the crocodile sprite on the scribbley gum. I love the way there are little green shots coming out of a knob that look just like eyelashes.

crocodile sprite

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While bush walking at Glenugie on the far north coast of NSW I came across this crocodile sprite etched by nature into the trunk of a Scribbley Bark Gum Tree.