Eco-Fiesta 2017

This year’s Eco-Fiesta, a few days ago, was much like those of previous years: a lovely day in the park with all sorts of loosely ‘greenie’ and ‘alternative’ people and organisations.  I wrote enough about the 2014 and 2013 events that I shouldn’t need to present an overview this time, so I will dive straight in to the things which caught my attention.

Wildlife Queensland had a well-staffed stall featuring a great gallery of flying fox photos. These animals get a bad press and need all the support they can get.

North Queensland Regional Plan had a very boring stall (I’m sorry, but it’s true!) which tried to engage visitors in planning for our region, the local government areas of Charters Towers, Burdekin Shire, Hinchinbrook Shire and Townsville. It’s a state government initiative and welcomes online input here. I told them about our declining rainfall. What’s your concern?

The Beekeepers  Continue reading “Eco-Fiesta 2017”

Reptiles on your plate: snakefruit and dragonfruit

snakefruit
Fruit stall beside the path into Goa Gajah, Bali. From top: monkey bananas, dragonfruit and snakefruit, and mangosteens

We have recently returned from two weeks in Bali. They were enjoyable and interesting in many ways and part of the fun was discovering new food. Our favourite ‘new’ fruit, by far, was the snakefruit – ‘salak’ in the local language Continue reading “Reptiles on your plate: snakefruit and dragonfruit”

Tropical fruit in season in Townsville

We’re coming to the end of our Wet season (not that it was very wet!) and the local fruit supply reflects the change.

  • Mangoes have finished (sad face). I haven’t seen anyone selling them off the back of a ute for a couple of weeks, and I think the fruit we got in the last few weeks before that was from somewhere down south, not that the sellers said so. (The season starts in the NT in October and harvesting progresses south, reaching Townsville around Christmas.)
  • Custard apples are back in season (happy face). They were on sale at Cotters Market two weeks ago, and should be available for the next six months.
  • I picked the second of two Monstera fruit on my creeper a couple of days ago (happy face), after missing the ripening of the first (sad face) a fortnight ago.
  • My Ducasse bananas are flourishing (happy face). I have just picked a small bunch, two more bunches are fully formed but some months off ripening, and two more plants have just flowered.

Grey water – keeping gardens alive during water restrictions

Townsville is on Level 3 water restrictions as I write and is quite likely to be on Level 4  within a few months. If so, it’s very likely to stay on level 4 until we get our next Wet season.

Level 3 (sprinklers not to be used, handheld watering 6-7am and 6-7pm only, odds and evens applies to handheld watering) is tough enough on gardens – and gardeners – and Level 4 (no sprinklers or handheld watering allowed, watering cans/buckets only, odds and evens applies to watering cans/buckets) will be far worse. In these conditions, using grey water is one of the most significant options Continue reading “Grey water – keeping gardens alive during water restrictions”

Dove orchids in bloom

My garden smells wonderful this morning – every single clump of dove orchids is in full bloom. Read about them at Dove Orchids and the verdict, Unreliable Orchids, if you don’t know them.

Now … is it going to rain in ten days’ time? or are they responding to the little bit of rain (about 10 mm on the 24th) we had a week ago? or neither, or both? Time will tell. Meanwhile, I will get into the garden and enjoy them.

 

While the gardener’s away …

plover
Plovers on our nature strip

Coming back from holidays, we see our own homes and gardens with fresh eyes. Coming back from Japan, where gardens are groomed with an exquisite care verging on the obsessional (more on that in another post) made our own bush garden seem even more, um, informal than ever, especially since the poplar gum is still losing a few leaves.

The local birds have noticed that the house has been almost empty, and the plovers (above) which usually lurk on the far side of our street have taken to visiting us constantly. I don’t mind at all, but I suspect they will drift away again once they see we’re back.

Also, one seasonal change was confirmed when we returned on Sunday: the Pied Imperial Pigeons (aka Nutmeg Pigeons or Torres Strait Pigeons) are definitely back. I’ve heard them every day and spotted them a few times. (I thought I had heard them just before we went away, a month ago, and my Friendly Local Expert said that yes, it was possible, but it would have been unusually early in the year for them to have returned to us. Now there’s no doubt.)

Many Peaks Trail – insects and plants

yellow flowering tree
Kapok flowering above Tegoora Rock

As promised, I’m posting photos of wildlife (and a few plants) seen on my recent Town Common walk.

The Kapok tree, Cochlospermum gillivraei, is one of many tropical trees which loses its leaves in the dry season and bursts into flower before the foliage returns.

Our local species is one of four kapoks which occur in northern Australia. It is unrelated to the kapoks of Central America and Africa but, like them, has big seed pods filled with cotton-like fibres.

We have found that both the (native) Batwing Coral Tree and the (exotic but well and truly naturalised) Poinciana flower best when they receive least water though winter, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Kapok is the same.

red cucumber
Native Bryony, aka Striped Cucumber

This bright red fruit caught my eye on the edge of the rainforest a little further along the trail. It’s a Native Bryony, Striped Cucumber or Marble Vine, depending on who you ask, but a Diplocyclos palmatus whichever common name you use.

It is  native to Australia but Continue reading “Many Peaks Trail – insects and plants”