Clare Valley South Australia
We spent a very relaxing morning at home. About an hour before lunch we went for a walk. First we visited some ponds near my daughterâ€™s home. Here I observed a flock of some 30 Australian Shovelers, one of the duck species. I hadnâ€™t seen this species in 23 years; the last time was in the very same spot as this morning. We then walked along the banks of the beautiful Lake Inchquin, part of the Clare Golf Club. A delight here was the sighting of about a dozen Bill-Billed Ducks, another hard to see species. They seem to be resident here. We also saw about four Black Fronted Dotterels. This is a beautiful wading bird and a delight to see anywhere.
Next to the lake is a park where the local Model Engineers Club has set up nearly two kilometres of train track. They run their model trains twice a month and provide rides, for a small fee, for those who come along to watch. We stood talking to the members for about half an hour before walking home for lunch.
After lunch we drove to the nearby town of Blyth about twenty minutes away. We went to visit the Medika Gallery run by wildlife artist Ian Roberts. Weâ€™ve known Ian for quite a few years yet weâ€™ve been negligent in never having visited the gallery. I love his work. He has an amazing gift of capturing the character of Australian birds in their natural habitats. When Iâ€™m rich and famous I plan to buy some of his paintings. He greeted us warmly, and after a few minutes discussion he invited us to visit his nearby bush block.
The Windmill Cottage is in the nearby hills about halfway between Clare and Blyth. Ian is also interested in growing and planting Australian native species. He has a five acre arboretum just down the hill from the cottage, one of the many Bed and Breakfast accommodation places in the Clare Valley. We drove to the lookout he has on the property. Here he has set up a picnic table under one of the large old eucalypt trees. The view out over the Balaklava plains is simply stunning in the late afternoon autumn sunlight. The patchwork of fields, some green with the first growth for the new season, some still brown with the last of the drying grass from last year while others a chocolate brown after having been worked up by the farmers in recent days. The recent rain has been promising of a good cropping season to come.
Wonderful picnic spot
We had brought along a thermos for an afternoon cuppa plus a treat from the local bakery. Few picnic areas could rival our spot this afternoon. I managed some lovely photos in the late afternoon light, often the best time for such shots. As we left we stopped for a few minutes to have a look through the arboretum Ian had planted.
We surprised a grazing family of three Western Grey Kangaroos. Ian had installed a rabbit proof fence to give the plants a fair go in getting going, this fence was no barrier to these determined animals. They actually seemed to be quite at home and were not at all upset by our presence. Perhaps they are residents.