Australia, 2007


Home Up: Holidays Back: Sydney Next: Queensland
Rob collecting pebbles to carve

The entire excuse for coming to Australia was that Jenny was keynote speaker at a vertebrate palaeontology conference (CAVEPS) in Melbourne. We stayed with Anne Warren, whom we've known for years. Anne works at La Trobe University, in the same field as Jenny and was one of the main CAVEPS organisers. On our first afternoon we went for a walk by a nearby river, Anne taking her dogs for a walk and Rob collecting a few pebbles, hoping to find one suitable to carve into a head. (see Rob's Stone Heads Project if you want to know why.) By the time I'd started, I'd decided to give it to Anne instead of chucking it either in the sea or the river it was from.

Anne's river pebble head Anne's river pebble head Anne's river pebble head

The next day we went into Anne's department, where those two spent the day discussing early tetrapods, while I was in a different lab beavering away with an air pen on one of river pebbles I'd picked up. An air pen is a small, hand-held tool powered by compressed air, which has a reciprocating point. By the end of the day it was done as far as it was going to be. Because the general idea is that the water should wear away the rough edges, I didn't try to finish it as meticulously as I normally would, though I was more careful than with previous heads. So when I look at the pics now, I feel slightly dissatisfied.

Jenny in Anne's garden Crimson Rosella

Anne has a big, rather wild garden in the suburbs of Melbourne, full of gum trees, through which fly crimson rosellas, sulphur crested cockatoos, kookaburras, magpies, bronzewing pigeons, red-browed firetails, Indian mynas, whip birds, etc. Wonderful. Hanging from the roof above her balcony is a bird table, which attracts quite a few of those. Because the birds are fed there every day and never threatened, you can really get quite close.

A street in Daylesford

Apart from the first morning, when Jenny gave her talk, and another morning when people were talking about pterosaurs and dinosaurs, I skipped the conference and did the tourist bit around Melbourne. In the latter stages, Jenny joined me, and we drove out to Daylesford, northwest of Melbourne. The café by the lake looked unpromising, but lunch was excellent. Entertainment was provided by 4 kids in a rowing boat, 2 tinies with life jackets, two bigger, perhaps 10 years old, without. They clearly had no idea how to control a rowing boat. Predictably enough, one soon lost an oar, and then stood up to wave and call for help, while the boat rocked alarmingly. I pointed them out to the waitress but we left before they either drowned or were rescued. I had read earlier in the day that someone had drowned in that very lake within the previous year, so this really was quite a dangerous situation for them.

Tower in the botanical gardens View from the tower View from the tower

We walked around the botanical gardens, which had been planted in the mid-19th century as a private garden, and many of the trees are original. Not a spectacular place, but rather special, nonetheless. The tower was good, and surprised us with hundreds of ladybirds gathering under the roof to hibernate over winter.

Autumn leaves Autumn leaves Backlit cypress

Among many beautiful trees, we saw several showing strong autumn colours. We also spent time lying on our backs looking upwards into pine, cedar and cypress trees, checking out the patterns of branches in these hundred-plus year old trees. You can see I was playing with using the bright sun for backlighting!

Back: Sydney Next: Queensland

Last updated 24th April, 2007 by Rob Clack