Sweet Home, Korumburra

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2016 been a huge and amazing year for Glenda and I. About this time last year, we made an offer on a huge house with couple of acres in the foothills of the Strzelecki ranges in a little town called Korumburra. This offer was accepted and in early Feb we moved in. Since that time, we have gained three Alpacas, two dogs, seven chooks and some fairies in our 120 year old oak tree.

For a guy who was never a “happy gardener”, I have spent a lot of the year creating a large vege garden and maintaining our native garden and forest. We have also acquired a chain saw, a brush cutter, a large chipper and a ride on mower and trailer. All get lots of use.

I spend three days a week in Melbourne, back working for Millennium Science (who very graciously took me back after my gap year) and stay a couple of nights with my son Locky in my old house. Always interesting being a “visitor” in my home of 32 years. The other 4 days a week I spend here in the hills with our menagerie, our little eucalyptus forests and all the native birds that call our property home. I rarely get “out” with a camera these days, but I do try and capture some images around the property. There is still some scope.

Glenda has been crafting up a storm, spinning, knitting, weaving and dying. She has lots of wool to work with. She is making some amazing scarves and jumpers. It adds a bit of something when the wool comes from your own alpacas or from animals we looked after in 2015. Her experiments with “natural dying” are fantastic, using plants from our property to dye the wool.

While we do miss some of our friends and family at times, we are only a couple of hours away at most and we have had a regular progression of people coming to visit and stay. The house sort of naturally divides into two halves, so our visitors have their own private area with a couple of bedrooms, living area, bathroom etc.. It all seems to work well, and I hope we will continue to have people to stay in the coming years.

We have been talking about living in the country for over 30 years. So, now we finally made it. When we look back over the last year, I still find it pretty amazing how much our lives have changed.

Regrets? None! We are loving every minute.

Merry Christmas everyone and I hope to catch up with many of your in the coming year.

You can have a look at a bit of our year in photos here – http://garyberesfordimaging.com/portfolio/korumburra

Cheers

Gary

Flinders Ranges

It was a great time

It was a great time

Glenda and I spent a wonderful six weeks in the southern Flinders Ranges looking after a large sheep farm over June/July. The farm was 6000 acres of rolling hills and gumtrees, with the addition of quite large areas of burnt out pine plantations and rocky mountains.

Local Gum trees

Local Gum trees

Officially, we had about 4000 head of sheep in our care, but most of these were range sheep that needed no intervention. We did spend some time rounding up escapees and putting them back in the paddocks. The farm and region was devastated last year by massive fires and then huge floods, one month apart. That’s Australia. This destroyed a large proportion of the fencing along with about 500 head of stock. The fences are not all fully repaired and the more adventurous sheep found little problem in finding their way out.

Sheep in the river redgums

Sheep in the river redgums

We had in our direct care two wonderful border collies, Ellie and Polly. Polly is a great working dog and took my vague instructions instinctively and got the job done. Ellie is a beautiful dog, but frankly, useless. She remained locked up in the back of the ute.

Dog Tyred

Dog Tyred

During our time, we had about 300 sheep due to lamb and this wondrous event happened while we were there. The ewes where in one of the burnt out plantations and it was quite eerie wandering through all the dead trees in the fog to the sounds of new born lambs bleating for their mothers. Absolutely fantastic experience!

Newborn Lamb

Newborn Lamb

The region is stunning. No other words for it. From green rolling hills to iconic creeks running through stands of river redgums, from acres of new green crops to rugged 4WD tracks to the top of the range to look at views over the Spencer Gulf, from vast tracts of sheep grazing land to lovely little watering holes hidden in the arid landscape, this area was never boring.

On top of the world

On top of the world

Our house, Illalangi (meaing “house on the hill) was blessed with amazing sunset view over the mountains. We spent quite a few evenings watching the sun go down and the myriad of colours it afforded.

View from our back door.

View from our back door.

The birdlife too was amazing. I have never seen so many raptors in such a small space of time. Black Shouldered Kites, Kestrels, Brown Falcons and the mighty Wedge Tailed Eagle to name but a few. There were also lots of smaller birds. Variegated Wrens, Adelaide Rosellas, silvereyes and many more.

Black Shouldered Kite

Black Shouldered Kite

Adelaide Rosella

Adelaide Rosella

We had a most enjoyable time there and were very sad to leave. We did consider changing the locks and sending the old owners on their way, but then, it was shearing time and I’m not sure we could have coped with that. There are a LOT Of sheep to shear!

On the boards

On the boards

We hope to get back to this region as soon as we can, hopefully farm sitting the same farm.

More photos can be seen at http://www.garyberesfordimaging.com/portfolio/bangor-south-australia

Autumn in Beechworth

The driveway

We spent the last 3 weeks looking after a property about 10km out of Beechworth. Fifty five acres incorporating a significant area of native bushland, an orchard of about 2000 hazelnut trees and a couple of paddocks with 24 alpacas. One of the owners is a professional artist and both are avid collectors of artworks from around the world, so the house is beautifully decorated inside and with some wonderful manicured rockeries outside.

Front door View

Our charges were two large murray river retrievers and an old Burmese cat. The dogs could be a challenge, given they are hunters and once on a scent would ignore everything else. They did like a swim in the dams so we tried to do this every day or so.

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The greater area of this region is at its best in autumn. Most of the regional towns and many of the farms are planted out with deciduous trees – poplars, ashes, elms, maples oaks etc which are resplendent in their reds, yellows and oranges. Couple this with the stunning rural landscapes of green rolling hills dotted with cattle and sheep, the many vineyards in the same autumn tones at the trees and the backdrop of the Australian alpine mountains.. well, it is simply one of the most beautiful sights in the world. We spent most of our spare time touring around through the valleys – Mitta Mitta, Kiewa and Ovens, finding little dirt tracks that lead you along the classic mountain streams, through dense forests and up into the mountain with their amazing vistas.

At nights, it was back home to an open fire and perhaps sampling a little of the abundant local delicacies.

If you have not visited this region before, I highly recommend it. All seasons here have their beauty, but for me, autumn is the pinnacle for all the above regions. I think you would be a very hard person to walk away from time here and not be dazzled by it’s beauty, but give yourself some time. There is so much to see, you could spend years there and not discover it all.

These and more images from the region can be found at http://www.garyberesfordimaging.com/portfolio/beechworth

The Golden Fleece

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We spent the last week in a rather remote property about 50Km north of Clare, South Australia. This is cropping country and April is perhaps the least attractive month to be here. The area is extremely flat, the fields are, at best, sparse stubble from last years harvest or at worst, just dirt and dust. From our yard, it was many kilometres before there was any feature in the landscape worth noting. Our little plot had about 40 sheep left to “graze” on.. nothing really. They relied on hay and oats. We were looking after three orphans lambs, bottle feeding etc, and a menagerie of other poultry, including 11 ducklings. The one piece of landscape interest we did have was a hilly range off in the west which was home to a large number of wind turbines. The other saving grace for the area was the early and late light. I am not sure whether it is the dust or the smoke from the burning stubble, but the evening sun in particular was an amazing gold, stronger than I have ever seen. This, couple with the way sheeps’ fleece picks up rim light, led to some very satisfying photos. I’ve always liked sheep (as a photographic subject I might add) and this combination of golden light and wooly beast made some very interesting photos. I hope you enjoy.

There are more photos to look at from our trip at http://www.garyberesfordimaging.com/portfolio/brinkworth-sa-australia

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Dorrigo and Dangar Falls

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It’s been mighty wet up this way, with the tail of cyclone Marcia mixing in with a rain depression and giving us constant rain for quite some days. There was a break in the weather so we headed up to Dorrigo for the day to have a look around. This is a stunning drive up the hills through the rain forest until you could out into the highland plains around Dorrigo. The town itself is old world, with great old turn of the century architecture. The area was founded on timber logging and then turned into pasture country, originally dairy and now more beef. Everywhere you look is green rolling hills dotted with cattle.

Just out of town are the Dangar Falls. We were keen to see these, given the amount of recent rain, and were not disappointed. The falls were running strong and the views from both above and below were wonderful. It’s a bit of a treacherous walk near the bottom, with slick, wet rocks to negotiate, but well worth the effort. Unfortunately, the weather started to close in on us again and we didn’t have time to explore the national parkland. We will save that for another day.

Crescent Head – Beach, Rocks, Surfers, Golf and Sharks

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There is a price you pay for having green, verdant landscape. The price is rain. Lots of it. We have been stuck inside a lot of the last week and the rain has been pretty relentless. Our property is slushy at best and the rest is a swimming pool. The daily temperature never really changes. It’s high teens at night and high twenties during the day. Very pleasant most of the time, though it can get a little humid at times, but nothing bad.

So, when we see at least a little break in the weather, we try to get out before it turns again. This was the case when we headed down to Crescent Head to give the dog a chance to run somewhere that wasn’t muddy and us a chance to get out of our four walls. This beach, like most in the region, is quite beautiful. Situated at the southern end of Hat Head national park, Crescent head is a long white arching stretch of white sand, with the Killick Creek flowing in at one end near the point with its rugged cliffs and a break that is popular with surfers. On the other side of the point is Pebbly Beach which is in stark contrast to the sandy beaches around the crescent.

Due to all the rain, Killick Creek is running red with tannin and this stain is evident out into the surf, with a red tinge apparent in the white caps of the waves. The town itself is sleep little village at this time of year without the crowds, but it does come alive at the weekends when surfers and holiday makers flock to make the most of what the region has to offer.

There is a lovely little golf course carved into the side of the cliffs and running down to the beach. It’s a little wet to play at present, but hopefully will dry out so I can get a game there before we leave.

We are lucky to have this and other such beaches within our easy reach, and should this weather ever let up, we will be spending a lot more time down and around here. On midweek days like these, we don’t have to share the beach with many others… just the odd person going for a stroll and a few surfers.

I’m told the fishing is good here, though I have had little personal experience of success. There was a sighting a few minutes before we arrived of a 4-5 foot shark leaping out of the water and twisting in the air before splashing back down. This happened just near the surfers. They are made of sterner stuff than me. I don’t like co-habitating with sharks, but it didn’t seem to worry them much.

Macleay Valley

Dragonfiy

Dragonfiy

We’ve settled here in Kempsey now and are discovering what the region has to offer. We have had a few trips to the beaches at Crescent Head, Hat Head and South West Rocks, all of them beautiful and inviting in their own way. I’ve rediscovered the frustrations and relaxation of fishing, and even Glenda has joined in! I’ve had a little success and caught a couple of meals worth of Bass, Flathead and Bream (small meals), and hopefully there will be more to come.

While I couldn’t say we were “busy”, there are things to do around the property. My main task, after looking after the dog, is to mow the lawns. A meagre task you may think, but there are a few acres that need to be mown and I have a variety of boys toys at my disposal to achieve the task, including two ride-on mowers and 3 push mowers. I find the ride-ons a very relaxing way to spend a few hours. One of them even has a cruise control! It’s a bit like painting the harbour bridge – by the time you get to the end, it’s time start at the beginning again.

We wandered up along the Macleay valley to Bellbrook hotel for lunch the other day. This is “real country”, where the dogs wander around the pub at will and the pub grub is a true, old fashioned meal with old fashioned prices and very welcoming service. Sitting in the veranda, sipping on an ice cold beer, looking down on the river and the flood plains, it was hard to imagine being more content anywhere else.

The weather hear is interesting. The temperature never varies, with lows of about 18 and tops of about 28, every day. It can be raining one minute and clear blue skies the next. The rain doesn’t really interrupt much, it just feeds the humidity (which is quite high, speaking as a Melbourne boy). We are in for a bit of a torrent tomorrow I believe, as the tail end of Cyclone Marcia whips its tail at us. We have heard varying reports of between 170mm and 300mm+ in terms of tomorrow’s rainfall. Both sound like a lot to me! We will be keeping an eye on our river on the border, which I am told is the second fastest flowing river in the southern hemisphere when in flood. It is fully expected that our bridge will go under, though I am told that our property has never flooded (I hope this remains true). I’m not sure what this will do for the fishing, other than make it a shorter walk.

The wildlife around here is amazing, especially the insect and spider life. The variety and colour is excellent. There are a plethora of various birds around, but we very rarely see them. There is so much bush and trees for them to hide in, they don’t often come out to be seen, though they are in full voice from sunup. Magpies, butcher birds, whip birds, kookaburras, blue wrens, wagtails, red breasted robins, kurrajongs are just to name a few… My challenge is to capture pictures of them, but I haven’t been too successful to date.

We had a great BBQ with Marie and Steve and friends last Friday at their horse property just down the road. Country hospitality is hard to beat and this was no exception. Great food, excellent company and the odd drink make for a fun evening. Thanks guys! Our turn next…

There’s plenty more to see, and plenty more to experience.