All posts filed under: adventures

And now for something completely different: my Top Five Tips for trapping a feral cat

It started innocently enough: I borrowed two 24-hr wildlife cameras, and set them up on my 2-acre rainforest retreat on the East coast of Australia. Can you imagine my horror when amongst the cute snaps of pademelons, the lace monitor, wallaby mums with joeys in the pouch, and yes, a hurrying koala, I saw a big tabby cat? I was shocked to say the least. Then the other camera revealed a second fat brindle cat, and even a fox! My image of our property as a wildlife sanctuary crumbled. Feral cats cover 99% of Australia, and are the Number One threat to our native wildlife (foxes are 2nd). “On average, each feral cat in the bush kills a whopping 740 animals per year.  In a year with average conditions there are about 2.8 million feral cats, but that figure can double when good rain leads to an abundance of prey animals. “On average each pet cat kills about 75 animals per year, but many of these kills are never witnessed by their owners.” – Professor Sarah …

How a silent walk made me delete the Candy Crush app (Part One)

Admit it: do you have a game on your phone you love unwinding with? Scrabble with friends? Chess? Candy Crush? A few years ago- I can’t remember why- my son and I both downloaded Candy Crush, and became a little competitive. Of course, he streaked ahead in levels, then quickly bored of it and never played again. I stoically continued, and got myself slowly but surely up to Level 691. Then 2 months ago, I had to get a new phone… and somehow, all my apps froze as I transferred the old info, so I found myself back at the beginning of the Candy Crush map again. What’s all this got to do with a silent walk you wonder? Well, last month I had the privilege of going on a 9-day Yatra, which is a Buddhist-based bushwalking adventure, filled with daily meditations, talks on Buddhist philosophies and practices, plus walks and meals in ‘noble silence’. 30 of us (mainly aged over 50) travelled to the South Coast of Sydney, which had been ravaged by bushfires …

Why my obsession with this spoon is re-wiring my brain

Hi Everyone, from cool Autumn days in Australia that make it worth putting up with the dreadful heat of summer. How are you all? I keep finding myself sitting on my deck, surrounded by the rainforest, staring at this spoon. Not just staring: stroking, smelling, turning and touching. Is it a magic spoon you ask? Well yes, in some ways it is. Because I carved it, from White Beech. OK, so for some of you ‘handy/crafty’ folks, this may not seem like a big deal. Or for those of you who know that spoon-carving is a bit of a ‘hipster’ fad at the moment, perhaps you’re rolling your eyes? But I don’t care. Because I’m the girl who hated sewing at school; who wasn’t allowed to do woodwork classes (because of being a girl), and who has spent 5 decades baulking at using tools/drills/saws because of an assumed ‘hopelessness’ with them. How did this change happen? It was my darling cousin’s idea: “Try this workshop with me G, it will be fun, and a bonding …

My car crash to end the car crash that was 2020

It’s OK: I’m OK! It’s been a month, and I’ve been waiting to feel better before posting. Happy New Year everyone, especially ME, because I am literally glad to be alive… [Content warning: images of crashed car coming up.] I’d left home at 5.45am, in a light drizzle after a great night’s sleep, keen to drive the one hour trip to teach my Pilates class. I definitely drove more slowly than usual because of the newly-wet roads, up and down through the winding hilly rainforest, listening to the radio, looking forward to my horse ride later that morning. I came round the last big corner before town, no other cars on the road, driving 10kms below the 80km speed limit, when suddenly my back end began to slide out. I corrected a bit but didn’t brake, just took my foot off the accelerator, but kept fish-tailing… then realised I was heading for the grass bank looming in front of me. “This is like a bumper car/dodgem car game, but a bad one!” I thought, struggling …

Mushroom growing update: me vs every forest creature. But I won!

Remember when I said I was making a Wine Cap mushroom bed under my old lime tree? Well little did I know, as I toiled to layer the cardboard, bark chips, and compost, but I was being watched by a number of excited forest crittters, waiting to see what gifts I was bringing them. I very quickly found little scratch marks and tiny holes dug out all along the sides of the bed… “No way buddies! I’ve worked too hard for this!” So as you can see, I went back to the hardware store, and bought metal stakes and netting to protect my magical mushies. Determination can be my middle name, and hang the extra expense. Didn’t work. Damn critters just dug in under the netting, even though I’d then weighed the sides down with rocks, boulders, and thick branches. I felt a little disheartened, and stopped checking every day, wondering if I should transfer the bed to my fully-fenced secure veggie garden… Can one dig up mushrooms and just shift them I wondered? But …

It’s official: I’ve made the Tree Change… and wow, just in time!

Yes, it’s happened and I’m excited, as well as still a bit anxious of course. Moving house is never an easy task, and creating a whole new sense of ‘home’ does push my insecurity buttons. But honestly, it feels like it’s been as easy as possible. In fact, I must admit it seems as though the Universe has almost fallen over itself to make this flow beautifully. My one last major concern was what to do with my current home, as I couldn’t afford to sell it quite yet. Who to rent it to? Could I handle really ‘letting go’ of a home base my boy and I had had since 2005? And then my gorgeous, cheeky, smart-as-a-whip son ‘19.5’ rested his arm around my shoulders and said: ‘I’ve been waiting years for you to move out Mum: let me move back in and rent it from you.’ P E R F E C T Like, so totally PERFECT I couldn’t stop grinning. But I had to be cool. ‘Sweetie, that’s a lovely offer, but …

I’m crap at transitions, & ’empty nest’ is a big one (Part Two)

So as you saw in Part One, I have a new dream of moving onto a community in the rainforest, 20 minutes from my current cute Australian town. But I was struggling with anxiety. ‘What’s underneath it all?’ the therapist asked me. ‘You sound informed, supported, capable, ready- what’s going on? What are you scared of?’ I sat, twisting the sodden tissue, cursing my sensitive stomach while I dug down through the layers… And came face to face with a desperate fear of failure. It just seemed too good to be true, and I couldn’t accept it. I couldn’t believe that after a year of fruitless searching for a rural property, & listening to my growing yearning for a tree change + a sense of community, it had actually fallen into my lap via word of mouth, perfect timing, and feasible financial gymnastics. I couldn’t delight in it. I had to worry about the details, and foresee as many problems as possible. It almost felt like my duty to do so, even though it didn’t …

I’m crap at transitions, & ’empty nest’ is a big one (Part One)

Most of you round here know I’m 53, & that my darling son ’19’ moved out a few months ago. Thank goodness he hasn’t gone far: 10 minutes up the road to his cousin’s place. When I was 19, I emigrated to Australia, where I still am, and didn’t see my Mum for years… no mobiles, no internet, barely even a phone… I just used to write her once a month. Or so. If I felt like it. But anyway, now I’m here, at a similar point, and as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, am thinking about moving out of the suburbs onto an ‘intentional community’ in the forest. I’ve been looking at real estate on and off for a year, knowing that the ’empty nest’ was coming; I grieved it when it actually happened, and of course found things to celebrate about it too- no need to cook dinner or keep the fridge fully stocked/minimal washing loads/peace and quiet/no car shuffling in the driveway/a tidy house and clean bathroom- the list goes …

From fires to flooding, what the hell? Welcome to Australia

It’s raining as I type: drops smashing on my tin roof, loud enough to drown the radio. Two weeks ago we were sweltering under a drought, with bushfire smoke lingering, giving Melbourne the worst quality air in the world for a couple of days. But then the rains came. So yesterday I went for a 3-hour bush hike, prepared to get soaked for the sheer relief of feeling moisture in the air again. All around me, trees sucked up precious water, as the creek thundered. The frogs and bugs were so vocal it made conversation difficult, and even the odd leech helped me feel like I was in a tropical rainforest once more. Our beloved bush has been SO dry, SO brittle, SO stressed; in some places it sadly still is. But we’ve been blessed by rain… and now we have too much! We’re flooding: cars being swept off causeways, shops inundated, roads closed, homes damaged, and people’s lives wrecked once more. We have a cyclone in Western Australia, and flash flooding all down the …

Should I move from the suburbs to a forest community? I need advice

I live in a small country town near the seaside in Australia, and am essentially a small-town girl. I love cities, and have spent years living in both Sydney and Adelaide, but I do love the friendly simplicity of cycling round a limited number of streets and shops, seeing familiar faces. I’ve been lucky enough to own my current home since 2005, so my share is now way bigger than the bank’s- hurray! I live left of the town centre, down a quiet yet popular street, within a 7-minute drive to the beach. And since ’19’ flew the nest, I’ve been house-hunting. Yes, I’m just one more statistic: downsizing now that I’m at home alone. Until three months ago, I’d been looking at properties almost every week. Then I suddenly realised I felt like I was trying waaaaay too hard, for no result. So I stopped. I took a deep breath, sanded and oiled the front stairs, did a gardening blitz, then chilled out. I’m very blessed: my elevated home faces a small mountain, so …