Thursday, November 29, 2018


Recently there was a letter to the paper about a boy who kept a magpie as a pet. This prompted JL to recall his pets whilst living on a Group Settlement farm with his family when they had just migrated to Australia.

In the years 1928 --1934 my sister and I lived as very young children on a
dairy farm on Miamup Rd. just west of Cowaramup. We had a cat and a dog but
also a kangaroo and a magpie as pets for much of that time. Experiments with
an owl and a 28 parrot were not so successful.

Your article about the magpie reminded us of many things about our magpie
which was simply called "bird". It never made a mess in the house and would
often sleep on its back under a sheet. In the morning it would sometimes get
up early and peck your toes if they were poking out the bottom of the bed.
(We slept out on a verandah).

"Bird" was attracted to bright shiny things such as coins and would fly off
with them into large trees not too far away where it would celebrate its
'find' with a song and of course drop the coins or whatever it had stolen.
Our mother used to have quite valuable earrings (keepers) and the magpie
used to travel around on her shoulders and keep tugging away at the earrings
until it finally did get them off. "Bird' would sing while it was doing this.
 It had different songs for different purposes but we could never teach it to talk
 as you could with a parrot.

"Bird" was very friendly with the cat and used to try to ride on the cats
back using its wings to balance. It used to get on quite well with the
kangaroo and used to perch on its head. It never attempted to pick anyone's
eyes. It would not come on to the table when everyone was eating, but would
share some food later, especially meat. Mostly he fed himself around the

The wild magpies were always trying to get him back but never succeeded.
They would attack him but never come very close to the house.
Neither "Bird" nor the kangaroo liked our chickens or big animals very much.
The kangaroo would sleep on a mat in front of the fire in winter like a dog,
and was very careful around the house, never hopping but pivoting on his
tail. He never stole anything but as a "joey" liked spent tea leaves mixed
with the chickens’ bran  and paspalum seeds.

This is our magpie/kangaroo story.  John and Ann Lewis.

We don't have a photo of the magpie and kangaroo, but the following was taken a few years later when the family had moved to Quairading.  On a very hot day, brother and sister were spraying themselves with a hose pipe!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Camino paintings


A very talented pilgrim (Wei Ho) has returned from the Camino and turned his photos into watercolours.  I wish I had his artistic skill!

St Jean Pied de Port

Near the summit in the Pyrenees
Puente la Reina
San Anton

San Juan de Ortega

Crossing the Meseta

Still on the lonely Meseta


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Last of the wildflower season

Hot weather is upon us, so Sunday was my last chance to see a few flowers this year. I decided to do the John Forrest walk again as L rushed us so much last week that I hadn't chance to see everything properly. There are several walk trails up there and we were on the Wildflower Walk, though L wasn't interested and just wanted to walk!

This is a "rails to trails" walk, following the line of the old Midland to Northam line. There is also the opportunity to go through the tunnel, but it's rather dark and stony underfoot and sometimes wet and impossible to see without a torch. There are plaques telling us about a train crash, where some carriages came uncoupled and ran backwards down the hill, killing 7 horses on board. This reminded me of another runaway train in the Pilbara recently, when the driver got out to inspect something and it set off without him, gathering speed as it went.  It had to be stopped remotely and its huge load of iron ore trucks toppled like dominoes, tearing up the track and all.

Tunnel entrance
Train crash in 1896
Having a picnic in years gone by
Maybe Grevillea thelemanniana?
Another Fringe Lily
Trigger plants
Close up of Isopogon
Isopogon showing flowers and cones

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

John Forrest N P Bushwalk

This was the last bushwalk of the season. It's now getting too hot!  This is one of my favourite walks, which I've done many times and the only one I'm confident not to get lost if I do it on my own.

Starting off
Morning tea spot - overlooking the almost dry waterfall
A thieving magpie watching us - having stolen a piece of sandwich!
Pink verticordias everywhere
One sided bottlebrush: it's been a good year for bottlebrushes
Close up of bottlebrush
Beautiful fringe lilies
Pom poms - Pilotus manglesii?
Spiked Scholtzia - Scholtzia involucrata?

Still trying to identify the last two!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Lovely Boy

(The cat not the film!). We named him Othello when C first got him from the cat haven, but we soon started calling him Boy for short. He was very black at the beginning, but his fur has gone brownish in old age. Like all of us, he has put on weight whilst living the good life. He is on a diet at home, but evidently roams the neighbourhood searching for extra nourishment. Here in the photo, he is sitting on top of the compost bin waiting for a low flying bird.