In the backyard


I was enjoying the ambience of Autumn in the backyard this morning, enjoying the vista of sown fields verdant with green shoots and I came across these flowers…

These first 2 photos are of Banksias (I think) Grevilleas.

Banksia

Banksia Grevillea

Banksia

Banksia Grevillea

At the other end of the backyard I found this flower, taken from 2 different angles.

Purple Flower

Purple Flower

Purple Flower

Purple Flower

All 4 photos were shot with a Fujifilm FinePix S1600 digital with the most powerful macros setting (there are only 2 to choose from).

January Cycling Debrief


During this month I had set myself a cycling goal of 600km. This was in response to the Strava Prove-It cycling challenge, which was encouraging Strava members to “start the year off strong, and let January set the tone for the rest of 2014”. There was also the opportunity to purchase a special edition tee-shirt once the 600km was reached. I had my eye on that shirt, but when it came time to buy it the freight to my part of the world made me think twice about buying one. But that’s another story.

The month of January is normally one of the hottest months of the year in southern Australia. But I wasn’t really thinking about that when I joined the challenge. Call that an oversight, or maybe a sign of madness, if you will. The month started off well, with the following rides:

  • 43km on New Years Day.
  • 76km ride on 3rd.
  • 43km ride on 5th.

That was over 150km right there.

On the 6th January there was a really really strong headwind. Probably one of the worst I have ridden in. But I still managed 33km – I had my eye on the halfway point on that ride where I knew I would get a good ‘push’ by the wind all the way home! On the 7th January the ride was 22km, with Jesse, on a loop I hadn’t done very often before.

Then on the 10th January, a Friday, an attempt was made to ride from home to Rutherglen in Victoria – a distance of over 90km. I made it far as the NSW / Victoria border (aka, Murray River) at Howlong. At that point I had ridden 71km and was thinking of riding on, but I knew there were some ‘hills’ I would have to get over and my energy reserves were already low so I waited for my wife and kids to catch up in the car with a very inviting bike rack on the back of it. After the hills it would have been flat all the way to Rutherglen! Maybe one day…

On the 10th of January the total for the month was near 290km – almost halfway, and still 5 days till the middle of the month. I thought I was in good shape to reach the 600km. But then the heat hit! It was just too hot to ride at my normal times, and that was when I started to have doubts as to whether I would reach the 600km. The weather really started to heat up in mid-January with a week of high 30s (C) and low 40s, and I looked longingly out the window hoping for cloud cover or even some rain so I could venture outside our air-conditioned house and go for a ride. To try and keep the pace going, I resorted to getting up early in the morning before sunset (around 5:30am) just so I could go for a reasonable length bike ride. During the heat waves the following the following rides were done:

  • 31km on 12th – before breakfast to escape the heat!
  • 29km on 13th.
  • 20km on 14th.

That brought the 1/2 month total to 368km – I had a buffer of only 68km, so I couldn’t afford to slacken the pace if I was going to complete the 600km! After that, the rides were mostly around the 25km or so but were more often (8 rides in 10 days), with the following rides:

  • 26km on 16th.
  • 28km on 17th.
  • 34km on 20th.
  • 27km on 21st.
  • 22km on 22nd.
  • 26km on 23rd.
  • 26km on 24th.
  • 37km on 26th – Australia Day!

At this point the total was 599km – one km off the goal for the month. Only a catastrophe could stop me reaching the 600 now! By way of celebration, and to complete the 600km, I went for 4km ride with Eliana, my youngest daughter. The 600km had been reached – the challenge completed! A sigh of relief and a sense of achievement. The next day I went for a 5km ride with Eliana, this time along a bike trail in the nearest town to where we live. That was Eliana’s longest ride, and a rather pleasant change compared with some of the rides I had done earlier in the month. But then, in the evening of the same day a 26km ride was completed. Between the 27th and 31st no rides were done, although I did go for a run of 3.8km and suffered some pretty sore muscles as a result.

On the last day of the month, a final flurry of riding was done with the following rides:

  • 28km, starting at 5:45am while it was still dark (did I hear you say the word desperate?).
  • 19km into the nearest town to post a letter, with Jesse to his school, and then around the bike trail.

This brought the total for the month to 682km in 33 hours of riding time, with a 4 weekly average distance per week of 160km. But that was not the longest distance in a month. In September last year a distance of 750km was reached, but that was partially because of a 4 day cycling holiday, and another mini-holiday a week or so later.

Now the question is should I try to better than in February (also a very hot month in southern Australia) in training for a pending cycling holiday in March, or take it easy for the month? I guess I will just have to see how things pan out…

Birdlife life at the Oasis


The town near where we live is labelled as the “Oasis of the Riverina”. And since we have lived here (almost a year) we have seen a large variety of bird life frequenting the watercourse just beyond our backyard fence. Here are some photos of recent visitors…

White Necked Heron

White Necked Heron

Whistling Kite

Whistling Kite

Great Cormorant

Great Cormorant

One of the recent highlights has been the number of Pelicans that have dropped in over the last few weeks.

Pelicans

Pelicans

Pelicans in flight

Pelicans in flight

Pelicans in flight

Pelicans in flight

Late last year and early this year we saw the following.

Australia White Ibis

Australia White Ibis

Great Egret

Great Egret

White Browed Woodswallow

White Browed Woodswallow

Little Corella

Little Corella

Yellowbilled Spoonbill

Yellowbilled Spoonbill

Darter

Darter

Pied Cormorant

Pied Cormorant

And the birds shown here are only the ones where the photos were good enough quality. There have also been the extremely common Galah, the populous Magpie, as well as other birds which were not ‘exotic’ enough / too common for me to bother taking photos of.

The big wet


For the last month or more we have had no rainfall and with the Australian summer heat everything was showing the effects of it – the lawns were turning light brown, the lake just beyond our back yard had more or less dried up, there were a number of fairly impressive dust storms, and the vegetable garden had to be watered every night or the plants would start to wither and die. The water tanks (40,000 litres worth) were getting noticably lower too.

Over the last two days there has been a big wet. Rain, rain, rain…

It started with a few high humidity days, and some fairly impressive cloud formations and colorations.

DSCF4952_500

DSCF4960_500

DSCF4955_500And as a result of two days of fairly solid rain is that the lake is once again back – not full, but there – with some of the bird like that was there before the heat of summer hit. Our water tanks are overflowing, and the driveway is competing with the lake to see who has the most water in them.

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Above: The lake

DSCF4962_500

Above: The driveway

And it looks like there is still more rain on the way – very overcast skies, low clouds, drizzle and more rain seem to be the order of the day!