natural

Website: Wilderness Photos & Videos


As most people who have visited some of my Blogs know, I have a thing for running Blogs – I love managing Blogs. I have many of them that I run, with each of them serving some purpose. The link below is to a tumblr Blog that I run called ‘Wilderness Photos & Videos.’ The name is self-explanatory I think and well worth a visit if you love the world’s natural and wild places.

For more visit:
http://wildernessphotos.tumblr.com/

Hunter Region Botanic Gardens


 

Southern Wetlands

ABOVE: The Southern Wetlands Boardwalk – Hunter Region Botanic Gardens

Late last week I decided I should do something with the final day of my annual leave that I had taken this time round, so I thought I’d pop into the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens near Raymond Terrace in New South Wales, Australia. I had been here before, but that was a long time ago. I wasn’t impressed on that first visit, so after more then a decade had it improved? Well that was the question I was keen to answer.

Rotunda

ABOVE: The Rotunda  BELOW: Succulents Section

Succulents

There was a $4.00 ‘escape’ fee, which would allow a token to be purchased and then the boom gate would rise once it was placed into the proper slot at the exit. So no entrance fee, just an exit fee. I was willing to pay this for a quick look and wander around the gardens.

So has it improved. Yes it has thankfully, but I still don’t rate it as brilliant or even what would come close to mildly impressing me for a botanic gardens. It is probably on the right track, but has a long way to go. And here’s the thing I think – a botanic gardens really needs time to develop, so those who will really benefit from the gardens are those who will visit it in about 25 years or so, when the plants have been allowed to mature somewhat across the gardens. It will also allow other pieces of infrastructure to be completed and for the gardens to achieve some ‘polish,’ so to speak. The central section of the gardens is very good and has been progressing well over the years (yes, it is a relatively young botanic gardens) – areas such as the bromeliad section, orchids, etc – even the succulent section a bit further away.

Orchid

ABOVE: Orchid  BELOW: Bromeliads

Bromeliads

So should you go? Look, it’s only $4.00 to get out of the place once you are there and you can get to see some great plants and do some good, easy walks – especially into the natural bush and wetland areas. So I’d say yes, just don’t expect a fully developed botanic gardens.

For more on the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens visit:
http://www.huntergardens.org.au/

Tree Ferns

ABOVE: Tree Ferns and Palms

Blackbutt Reserve


Since I was unable to visit Gap Creek Falls the other day, I decided I might pop in to have a look at the new animal enclosures at Blackbutt Reserve near Newcastle. I will say straight off the bat that I do have something of a prejudice against Blackbutt Reserve, as I see the place as nothing like a natural bush setting, it being far too ‘corrupted’ by human activity, weeds and the like. Having said that it is a good place for a family or group outing/event. It certainly has its place, but it is not a true nature reserve (in my opinion).

Visitor Centre

ABOVE: Visitor Centre

I do think that some well designed animal and bird enclosures at Blackbutt could lift the value of the reserve dramatically and make it a really great place for families, especially young families. There are opportunities for educational visits for kids, possible environmental activities and the like there. So the potential is certainly there for Blackbutt.

The enclosures of my youth are giving way to those that are much better and up to a more modern standard, which is great to see. Certainly the improvements I saw are great and some of them are outstanding. The Quoll enclosure, with nocturnal habitat viewing was brilliant. Some of the other enclosures are getting there also, though I was disappointed with the size of some of the aviaries and poor vegetation choices they appeared to have. They didn’t look to great for the birds, which I think is not a good look. Still, they are a major improvement on what had been there before.

Some of the other enclosures for snakes and amphibians were really good also I have to say and overall the place is going ahead and improving all of the time. So I think it has a place into the future, if it can continue to improve along the way. Just some thoughts…

Modern Enclosures Koala

ABOVE LEFT: Modern Enclosures  ABOVE RIGHT: Koala BELOW: Nocturnal Quoll Enclosure

Nocturnal Quoll Enclosure

Yacaaba Headland Walk


I ran out of time yesterday to post about my walk up Yacaaba Headland and how I only just avoided being in a storm that was moving in. So today (it’s actually the 27th July 2012 as I type away) I must get two days of posts done, even if I slip this one in back in time, so to speak (as you can with the post time when posting).

BrunchSo I decided to do the Yacaaba Headland walk just before lunch and had lunch in the carpark, while reading the paper. Nothing too healthy – I tend to eat far too much junk when I’m on holidays. So it was a bacon & egg roll, as well as a couple of potato scallops and some chips (and coke of course) See Picture at Left. It was really brunch and I needed the energy boost to accomplish the walk. Sounds like a fair excuse anyhow. You do burn a bit bushwalking and climbing mountains.

So after lunch I set out on the walk. It was a beautiful day, spring like, which was quite strange given it was the middle of winter. It was really quite warm and a great day for a walk along the beach and for being in the great outdoors. The walk to the top of Yacaaba Headland from where I set off was a good 1km along the beach, then a further 1.5km from the beach to the top of the headland. So not a great distance really, though the same ground would have to be covered again on the return, so something like 5km all up. I had plenty of time to cover that distance and I knew that from having done this walk before. So of I went.

First up though was a picture of the scene before me as I got through the sand dunes and onto the beach.

Beach & Yacaaba

ABOVE: The Beach and Yacaaba Headland in the Distance

There were very few people out and about, just a couple of people fishing along the beach and a few walkers as I approached Yacaaba. I could see what appeared like a storm brewing back towards the north and out west. Nothing to worry about at this stage though. Plenty of time.

SpongeOne of the things I noticed along the beach was the amount of debris from the sea. There was a fair bit of what I would call natural debris, such as timber, weed of various types, sponges (See Picture at Right), heaps of shell fragments and even a small fish. However, there was a bit of human debris (rubbish) also, which was a shame. Got me to thinking if anything from Japan would end up here in the long run – from the tsunami. Most of it is heading to the US and west coast of North America, but it wouldn’t be at all surprising if a bit made its way to the Australian east coast.

After a bit more than 1km I reached the headland and began my ascent up Yacaaba. The track to the the top of Yacaaba is easily followed and not too difficult in my opinion. There are some steeper sections and the track can be a bit rocky, loose and a bit unstable underfoot, but not too bad overall.

There aren’t a lot of wildflowers to see there at the moment, variety wise I mean. There are plenty of Wattles in flower of course and the usual Banksias, as well as one or two other flowering plant species to be seen.

Wattle

ABOVE: Wattle BELOW: More Wildflowers

wildflowers  wildflowers

As you walk towards the top you begin to get some fantastic views over Port Stephens and in particular Hawks Nest, Tea Gardens and Winda Woppa. The further up you go the greater the views of course and as you near the top there are views up and down the Pacific Coast. It really is a great place on a clear day for fantastic coastal vistas.

View Towards Tea Gardens

ABOVE: View towards Tea Gardens BELOW: View over the Pacific Ocean

Pacific View

Having enjoyed the views for a while, I decided I had better start the trip back and try and beat the storm that was now rapidly heading my way. It was very dark out to the west and north, thunder could be heard rumbling along and flashes of lightning in the clearly heavy rain off in the distance. So down I went. The trip back down was fairly quick, having observed plenty on the way up and knowing the storm was rapidly approaching the descent was somewhat quicker than the ascent had been. No surprises there really.

Bottom of Yacaaba View

ABOVE: The View up the Coast from the Bottom of Yacaaba – Shows the Approaching Storm.

The view up the coast (as seen in the above picture) was marked by the approaching storm, which became increasingly menacing as it adavanced and I got closer to the car. It doesn’t look too bad in the photo above, but as I neared the car It was fairly severe in its appearance and I just got into the car as the first drops of rain began to drop. It was pouring by the time I got back home (just 5 minutes or so away). Yet the storm was gone as fast as it hit.

The Beaches of Newcastle


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It has often been said that Newcastle has some of the world’s best beaches. I wouldn’t know about that – I haven’t visited all of them.

What I do know is that having travelled around a lot of Australia, Newcastle is certainly up there with the best that Australia has to offer.

It is hard, in my view, to define just what makes the best beach. I imagine that someone who surfs would have certain criteria that differs from someone like me, who likes the natural beauty of a place more than anything else when it comes to liking a beach.

I think the beaches around the West Australia town of Esperance are simply stunning and I currently rate these as the best beaches in Australia that I have seen. There may well be better beaches, but in my opinion, those of Esperance are better than Newcastle’s beaches. But that opinion includes criteria such as seclusion, natural beauty, etc. For recreational use, access, etc, Newcastle has some brilliant beaches that the locals adore. They are certainly good for a walk along when it isn’t too hot and they aren’t too crowded.