Rob managed to see a tiger snake winding its way through a mat of dead vegetation, and took a photo.
I stood awhile taking in the changed light and air and sounds, and hoping to see the endangered Orange Bellied Parrot. One didn’t fly nearby but later another of my fellow passengers was fortunate to see three – an extraordinarily high number considering only 43 pairs have flown in for the breeding season this year and the plains of Melaleuca are vast. Nevertheless, beside a path in the distance, I spotted what seemed to be a large furry rock slightly out of keeping with the rocks elsewhere in the neighbourhood. With a small movement up rose a tiny face with its ears pricked. The native wallaby understood I was not a threat and, with its nose pointed back to the ground, once more it continued to feed acting as a natural ‘lawn mower’ on the native plants.
Large eucalypt trees towered over head.
A couple of hundred metres further along the track I reached the Deny King Museum.
The Museum displayed information panels and artefacts representing aspects of Deny King’s life and others who lived and worked in the area, plus more about the local flora and fauna.
Weather and it’s nuances took prime place in the minds of those who lived here and the following chart of Clouds must have been useful.
The excitement for me from visiting the Museum was looking through the picture window at the table built for native birds to fly in and eat specialist seeds left for them.
A number of Rainbow Lorikeets from mainland Australia, squabbled over their access, oblivious to our watching eyes. And then…I spotted a flash of fluorescent mid-green back feathers turning in a split second to reveal a yellow going on orange belly; in another blink of my eye this endangered Orange Bellied Parrot had flown into my field of vision, swivelled and twisted seemingly at the speed of light, and was gone. I wanted a repeat performance but that “so small, so colourful” bird and no others returned while I waited. Regardless I felt privileged, and could understand why this tiny bird has grabbed so much attention.
“Earlier on arrival at the jetty, courtesy of the knowledge of a fellow passenger, I could identify a pair of Tree Martins that seemed to me to be so similar to Swallows in their shape and movement. They had chestnut coloured throats merging into part of their bellies, and had been swift as they ducked and dived and twisted through the air. The Orange Bellied Parrot also moved fast with twists and speedy direction changes.”
Deny King’s home and grounds is located a short walk from the Museum and we were fortunate to be given access to this private property, edged onto Moth Creek which empties into Melaleuca Lagoon. The property, with its large garden, is still lived in by members of King’s family from time to time throughout the year.
Early on and while we were gathered together, some under the trees and others beneath a shed, we were startled (and those closest shocked) when a slim line tiger snake fell from the rafters and squirmed away to hide in the wood pile. For blog readers on mainland Australia or overseas, the venom of tiger snakes is likely to be deadly if anti-venom treatment is not applied quickly. My experience of these snakes is that they are shy. Any noise, or my footsteps thumping the ground, usually has them moving off rapidly into hiding – as was the case with the snake which fell to the ground between two of my fellow passengers.
Many regular blog readers will know how enamoured I am of weeds; how I love the job of weeding, and how I am forever finding ways to create salads, soups and breads using common weeds. Therefore, it should not be surprising that I spotted weeds, which I encounter in Hobart gardens routinely, flowering in the vegetable gardens on this Melaleuca property. In the days after I returned to Hobart, I made contact with Deny King’s daughter Janet Fenton and volunteered to return to Melaleuca and weed for her. I learnt a great deal from her response. She wrote “Weeds have been present at Melaleuca ever since the miners created food gardens over 75 years ago. The surrounding sedgeland is highly inhospitable for both weeds and garden plants. As well, anything unfenced is soon gobbled up by pademelon mouths. Foxgloves and Rhododendron ponticum of course are not browsed, and the seeds can emerge in areas of disturbed soil, but we do control these as necessary, hoping to eventually eliminate the seed bank.” I learnt that the peat ground would be highly acidic and, since most plants prefer a neutral or slightly alkaline soil, the weeds in the private gardens of the south west Tasmania are easily manageable and won’t germinate elsewhere across the landscape.
My favourite installation was the ‘forest’ of old oars. Delightful whimsy!