Reflections on a Month Gone By

A cloudy morning turned into yet another beautiful day. A day filled with plant propagation, seed collection and interesting chat, the last day of my volunteering month was completed. Loving every minute of the project work, further volunteering opportunities may be considered. Keen to see the output of a week of seedling work, I may well be back in July to help plant some of the many trees, perhaps some that I have sown, into the ground.

The day finished, high visibility vest free, we were given the opportunity to see some of the island. Passing by the American River, atop the 512 steps of Prospect Hill and surrounded by the waves at Pennington Bay I was blown away by the island. Truly beautiful and only a fraction covered. With time in between, I was able to reflect on the weeks that had passed.

Week 1, with perhaps not a lot of conservation aims achieved, I was able to reconnect with old friends, embrace other cultures, learn a language and make new friends. A hard week personally, I am glad that there were so many interesting people around. Week 2, an embracing of the non native challenge and the finding of a place that lets me feel free. Week 3, the learning of a new skill and a reminder of why I left Scotland. Week 4, undoubtedly the best conservation wise, but perhaps not for meeting people, I have achieved the aim I sought. Reflecting, perhaps this time of year in Australia is not the best for a variety of conservation work, however, my week on Kangaroo island has let me see that conservation work focused on creation of life rather than maintaining areas would be a potential career interest. Happily staying on kangaroo island, being paid for the work I had undertaken would be no problem! With the onward journey edging round the corner, I will be looking for myaporum and pine trees out of the corner of my eye!

A last supper BBQ at Hog Bay, luggage van loaded, we watched the sunset over kangaroo island as we headed back east. A truly awesome week, I think it was a decision well made!

A reminder of Christmas

After a day that could rival the UK weather wise, we awoke to another cool, murky morning. Our task in Nelson – to rid Lower Glenelg National Park of non native pine trees and to GPS mark their locations. De-tented and fuelled up, we headed back to the same site as the day before. A day of different challenges, 200 odd trees later, our work for the day was done. Had it been November we could have made ourselves a lot of money!

The sun finally out, looking beautiful, told it was only 15 mins away by our team leader, we headed to the beach. A pit stop at the lake informed us it was 6km away, and would most definitely take us longer than 15 minutes to reach. A rest on a bench, overlooking the lake, though pretty, was not the beach we sought. Defeated, we headed back to camp for Spag Bol and evening plans were negotiated.

An evening visit to Nelson beach was awesome. Sun setting, grouped together and chilled out we spent the last few hours of daylight by the coast. The lengths of sand reminded me of Straddie and of the memories made there. A txt to those involved, I’m not sure if it worked or not…

On return to camp, discussions over ‘catterpillows’ and ‘gummy bears with swords’ proved entertaining and we prepared for the night ahead.

Progress and Plans Being Made

The previous hot day made it difficult to sleep and I was also preoccupied over whether I had made a wrong decision in the East/West debate. Phone playing up again, poor signal and wifi unattainable after 6pm, I was unable to check my emails or even manage a short sentence in response to Dave due to my screen not working properly. Suspecting the same problem that I had in Brisbane, and a bit frustrated, I now think I am going to have to buy a new phone…. I don’t mind being incommunicado, I just need to check my emails regarding the onward journey and book transport!

After not much sleep we headed back to the same site to cut tree stumps shorter and spread mulch. We were told how the land would be replanted with native species and whilst we will not be the group progressing this work, it was good to have a vision in our heads. Mulch down and spread, progress on site was felt and our efforts seem to have been appreciated.

After a pit stop to pick up laundry, we headed into town in search of sushi. Finding the only place a takeaway and wanting to sit, we opted for Chinese. Tasty and satisfying after a hard day’s work. Returning home just in time to see the last 2 sets of Murray beating Federer, a good day was had. Good banter had with my volunteering chums made me content in my decision to stay and camp and then head west and plans are afoot to spend a little time in Adelaide then drive the ocean road back to Melbourne 🙂

Seeing the sun in a different light….

After a morning of tree felling, non native of course, we finished early to avoid the forecasted 39 degrees. Our team leader took us to Nigretta falls. Dried up at this time of year, we sat by the lake at the top of the falls and had our lunch. On walking back to the car, after someone asked ‘what is wrong with the sky?!’ various poses were taken to try and get a good snap of the amazing sky! An inbound UK txt let us know that it could also be seen on the other side of the world! Where’s an astronomer when you need one?? Amazing!

After that we went and cooled off in an Olympic sized swimming pool. 8 lengths later and knackered we headed home and cooked Spag Bol for dinner. An evening spent watching 50/50, I think it is going to be a warm night!

Fajitas and Mt Rouse

An early start for a new week of volunteering. Doing my favourite thing, which we shall now call non native species removal for the purposes of the CV, at least I felt a bit more purpose and was able to see some progress being made. Updated, we were told that we would be beach bound in Nelson next week. A lunchtime phone call from the Melbourne office prompted a decision in the east/west debate. Wanting to stay and have some banter camping, and already halfway to Adelaide, I decided kangaroo island would be a good plan for week 4.

After replenishing the food stock for the house, we returned home and I made fajita's en masse. A suggestion from our team leader to head to Mt Rouse to see the sunset was acted upon and was pretty impressive. Peaceful, and with some kangaroos and wallabies for company, it was what I had imagined my volunteering evenings would hold. Here's hoping for a good week.

 

Quarries, Bushfire Blacksmiths and New Companions

Whilst struggling with the conservation part, there was still fun to be had. Time spent with Korean housemates proved enjoyable and now able to speak a little Korean, and having shared some englishisms, my week still held purpose and life lessons.

On the Thursday we went to a quarry. I took upon it myself to ask lots of questions, and in so doing, learnt more about Australia’s native and non native species so that at least I was learning whilst I was weeding! I met an American Irishman living in Melbourne who was quite a character. Unsure how to take him at first I quite enjoyed his company and his good mood rubbed off on me. A Malaysian boy living in Australia provided good banter and compliments and had the most amazing scorpion tattoo. I wish i had taken a picture! At 39 degrees, we finished early and headed up to the top of the hill to look back at the view of Melbourne. Impressive. Team leader Andrew facilitated an excellent group photo, which is one of my fave pictures so far. Good day had, it felt like progress had been made.

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Today we went to help the tree project clean out new premises where they will be building an 8m tall tree to commemorate the 2009 black Saturday bushfire, one of the worst fires in Australia’s recorded history, killing nearly 200 people. Leaves forged from blacksmiths from across the globe, it puts everything into perspective. Whilst we diverge from conservation aims, it was interesting to be involved in part of its journey and I will be interested to see the final result.

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On return to our abode, a chat with staff made me feel much better. ‘Jal ga’ said to companions moving on and ‘annyeong’ to new ones, banter was had over a couple of drinks. With high hopes for the week ahead, and a new place to explore in Hamilton, I hope it will be a good week.