Upside down here in Oz, I have no real sense of where we are in the year. The last two weeks of August, my clothes have been drenched over and over as we get caught in the deluge of rain. The creeks that empty into the ocean are so high we have to take our shoes off to wade through them. We're living just south of Batemans Bay on the south coast of New South Wales - about five hours' drive south of Sydney. I love to walk barefoot along soft sandy beaches with my feet in the sea. We often see dolphins.
We walk along the coast every day, but recently, for something different, we set out at midday on Friday to walk the hour into Batemans Bay and then across the bridge over the Clyde River to the other side. When we stopped to buy a card from the office supplies shop, the lady saw our backpacks and offered some walking suggestions, which is how we found out about the boardwalk through the mangroves by Cullendula Creek.
The sky remained grey and subdued, but I was mesmerised by the colours and textures of the seaweed, the shape of the exposed tree roots and driftwood, the patterns in the sand...
Since Cullendula Creek is a nature reserve, there were helpful signs from which I learned the names of some of the birds I see regularly around here, like the sooty and pied oystercatchers with their almost comical red beaks. Both are endangered species, but the sooty are more endangered than the pied, so they seemed to be refusing to talk to the commoners on this island at the mouth of the creek...
We saw the exposed pneumatophores of the mangroves that stick up out of the mud like dead men's fingers - in fact they're breathing roots so the plants can absorb oxygen from the air at low tide.
Darkness was falling so we had to start heading back. Then I spotted her.
We've seen kangaroos before, not far from the house - a magical moment but they'd bounded away fast. This one let us get very close. I thought I saw something in her pouch but wasn't sure until she moved out from behind the tree and it poked its head out.
Finally we left her in peace, and walked back along the shore as the sun was going down, spotting an octopus washed up on shore and a grey heron among the trees, and more sooty oystercatchers. On a grey Friday afternoon in winter, we'd pretty much had the place to ourselves - apart from the wildlife. We celebrated with a couple of draft beers at the Mariner's Hotel in Batemans Bay, and by the time we left it was pouring with rain again. We got soaked to the skin but it was worth it.
Cullendula Creek Nature Reserve: