Newcastle

John Lennon Look – Sort Of


A John Lennon look?This is a photo of myself from quite some time ago – I would say at least 15 years ago, if not 20 years ago. From the look of it it was taken at the Blackbutt Reserve near Newcastle and probably at a Sunday SchoolPicnic with the church I was at back then.

I had a lot more hair then, a lot less grey hair also and may have weighed a bit less than I do now, though that is difficult to tell from this photo. I was almost certainly far fitter than I currently am.

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

Native Wildlife of the Area


It’s another wet and windy day in paradise, so not much to do but sit it out. It also means I haven’t got a lot to type about (as opposed to write about, given I’m using the keyboard). So I’m going back a little and posting about some photos I’ve taken in recent months here. In fact, what I’m posting about today is one of the great things about living here in Tea Gardens, which differs a great deal from other places I have lived down Newcastle and Lake Macquarie way and that is the abundance of wildlife around here. Sadly we have managed to kill of most of the wildlife down around Newcastle, or at the very least drove it all away. Here it abounds and I love it being so.

Diamond PythonI’m not talking about just the smaller animal and bird species you might expect to find in a suburban area, but even the bigger examples of wildlife also. Kangaroos and Wallabies can be found all over the place in this area and it isn’t unusual to see them bounding down the main street in numbers. In fact, sadly, you often find them as road kill on the main road out to the highway. Where I work we have smaller wallabies and kangaroos actually living in and amongst the homes, with joeys in their pouches as well. The odd Dingo can also be seen from time to time. Koalas are known to live in healthy numbers around the area – not that I have spotted one here yet.

Reptiles abound here also, with large numbers of Red Belly Black Snakes, Diamond Pythons (pictured at above left) and Tree Snakes readily found in the warmer months, along with Blue-Tongued Lizards and Goannas. I have seen some Goannas that have been at least 1 metre long. Some of the Diamond Pythons have been closer to 2 metres in length.

It is the bird life that really thrives around here, especially the wetland varieties. The area is rich in bird life. At work you can see on a daily basis Wattle Birds, Blue Wrens, Finches, various Parrots and Rosellas, Black Cockatoos, Galahs, Water Fowl, Wood Ducks, Ibis, Egrets, Spoonbills, Herons, Black Swans and many, many more species of birds. There are the rarer sightings of birds also. A Tawny Frogmouth (pictured at below right) has made its home near where I live, trying its best to look like part of the tree in which it chooses to roost.Tawny Frogmouth

The area also abounds in sea life, of various types and sizes. It is not unusual to have Humpback Whales sighted of the coast here and Dolphins can be spotted almost every morning if you know where to look. The Sting Rays are also easy spot at the right time of the day.

You do get your not so welcome species of wildlife also, such as mosquitos and sand flies, but I guess these play their part in the general run of things, being food perhaps for the more welcome members of wildlife society.

One of the things I’m doing down here, tieing in my interest in web applications and social networks, is being involved with the Project Noah social network. This is a place to log wildlife spots with GPS markings using the iPhone application, along with the web application. I haven’t long been involved in it, but it is something I will be doing more and more. It will be good to build up a more complete picture of what species live in the area. Others can get involved in recording and mapping the wildlife of the area here by joining the ‘mission’ I have started at Project Noah.

The mission I have started for Tea Gardens can be found at:
http://www.projectnoah.org/missions/12346009

Newcastle Earthquake: 1989


This photo was taken following the Newcastle (New South Wales, Australia) earthquake in 1989. The photo shows just one of the many buildings badly damaged in the Quake.

Newcastle Earthquake 1989

A Lookout from the Past


I have recently begun to salvage some images from slides taken well into the past – from the family archives. These archives I have had for some time and now I have the technology to be able to bring these images back into the present. So for the next few days I plan to post a number of these photos from past slides taken by my grandfather many years ago.

Today’s image has me in the middle of the photo pointing to something that can be seen from the lookout. I’m not sure just what it is that I am pointing to – possibly towards my house. I’m fairly sure that the lookout is that of Mount Sugarloaf near Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia. On my left is my brother David and on my right is my cousin Michael.

David Matthews, Kevin Matthews, Michael Matthews

Entering the Harbour


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A ship is entering Newcastle Harbour in today’s photo. This picture shows Nobby’s from Fort Scratchley in New South Wales, Australia. This is the scene of the 2007 Pasher Bulker grounding during a major storm event.

Looking Down the Barrel


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Today’s photo was taken at Fort Scratchley in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.

The photo is taken while looking down the barrel of a cannon at the entrance to the historic fort.

Looking Back on the Newcastle Earthquake


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It has been twenty years since the Newcastle Earthquake this year (December 28, 1989). Just a quick photo to remind us of that event back then.

More photos of the earthquake:

Newcastle Earthquake 1989