I'd arrived in Australia, and was awaiting the myriad differences and similarities I'd be confronted with.
|Here be Dragons|
I was beginning to realise that a good amount of time would be needed to recover from the 44 hour journey I was experiencing (note to self, budgeting on the trip might have a cost somewhere else).
I had a long stop over in Melbourne though, and so had the chance to soak up some of the atmosphere, grab a bite, and sketch in my journal.
Sitting by the river Yarra, having my lunch, I was to overhear a wee snippet of the city, and an old connection to Queen Victoria, in the guise of Lord Melbourne. A school teacher had taken all the school girls in his care to the river and was asking them what they knew about the city's name.
I was glad that I would not be relied on to answer, as my history of the Victorians in the old and new country is severely lacking. However, Governor of New South Wales, Richard Bourke apparently named the city after the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Lord Melbourne, William Lamb, a man close to Queen Victoria. As the years go by, I'm beginning to realise that a number of men could claim to be close to the Queen.
There was a vibrant air to Melbourne, and I loved being able to travel on the free trams within the city centre area. This really increased my chances of viewing more of the city.
|Sights and sounds of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia|
After Melbourne, it was a then a final internal flight up to Darwin, and the Northern Territory (NT).
Hugely different climate in Australia's only tropical city, I was met by a beautiful, sunny, warm and occasionally stormy city as the NT moved into its wet season.
|Fogg Damn, Northern Territory, Australia|
I was incredibly grateful to be in the very capable hands of Dave, who had lived in the NT for over 25 years, and his scientific and tour guide background would prove invaluable. It is always better to be in the company of someone who has lived in the area, really experienced a place, and so knows its history. So I was happy to be led whilst we began the task of trying to track down some native wildlife, albeit that I was feeling incredibly out of my depth suddenly.
I had spent the last few months building to this point. All had been to get me here and experience this. And here I was. Now was the time to appreciate it, work with it, perform and produce and have a great time...to boot.
There was a moment of panic...of feeling doubt...of not knowing what to do.
A bit of advice from Dave would help me greatly. The true meaning of NT...
'Not Today', 'Not Tomorrow', 'Not Tuesday', 'Not Thursday'...dont expect too much...and then you can be pleasantly surprised...
And bird watching proved at first to not be such an easy task...wildlife not always being well behaved, nor predictable. Couple this to the challenge of identification, our work would be cut out for us, and expectations were low.
Trying anything new of course comes with a bit of trial and error, and we found ourselves going all David "Attenborough" and David "Bellamy" as we herded some Australian Ibis in the undergrowth!
The Ibis though is quite common in Australia, and is debated as either a nuisance, or endangered. Perhaps it is both, as we as humans judge animals as they attempt to adapt and survive in a world more and more dominated by humans. In any respect, these birds did us at least the courtesy of getting close enough to take a photo, and so work up an image.
|The Australian Ibis in Berry Springs, NT|
I was hopeful that this would only be the beginning of the sights we would see, as I learned more about the birds and animals on this massive continent.
There is a stately, and elegant nature to birds. They carry themselves with dignity which is beautiful to watch. In the wetlands of Fogg Damn, the Brolga, or Dancing Crane could be seen in evidence around the giant water lillies.
|Amongst the lillies|
And I did have a burning wish to see another familiar, yet different variety of a familiar wee bird. The Fairy Wren. Only time would tell....and I'd try to remember...keep my expectations low...