Last weekend my wife and I drove to the little country town of Dungog at the southern foot of the Barrington Mountains, about 220 km north-west of Sydney for a special booksigning Saturday morning arranged and sponsored by one of my current best book-selling shops Sassafras Dungog. It was a great success and a most enjoyable morning meeting the locals, including their children and signing books. This was preceded by a 15 minute radio interview by their community radio station, to which many responded. There was face painting and other activities on the morning. Here is a brief collage of the time. This has been the first time since Covid that I have been invited to do this again.

As you can see it was a very cold winter morning, as it is out west in winter, but that did not stop the continuous line of people queuing to have their books signed, many having bought several, which is often the case as it is a great gift idea. I was overwhelmed with delight when a grandfather came especially to share how he gave a copy of my book to his grandson who has been the subject of persistent disturbing bullying, and how the chapter on dealing with bullies helped him to a good outcome. These are the testimonies I hear from time to time which almost bring tears to my eyes. If I can help one child or one adult with these books I have achieved my goal and legacy.

While there we were hosted to Blue Gum Cabins set in the bushland of the rainforest nearby. Each morning being greeted by the sound of Kookaburras calling.

Followed later by the continuous chime of Bell Miners (bellbirds) in the tall eucalypt trees that overhung our cabin  in the very cold morning Winter air. These birds are usually heard but not seen and a challenge to photograph as they blend into the tree canopy so well and constantly move about. They control the area and we witnessed larger birds being bullied by them till they left.

You will hear them in this rather poor movie clip of a family of non breeding Superb Fairy-wren hopping about some distance from our cabin in and out of the thicket.

Non-breeding males retain their blue tail and don a white belly, they will start to morph as Spring approaches.

Here is some footage of a Pied Currawong being harassed early in the morning.

Each morning this female Australian Brush Turkey would come foraging around the cabin, the male is most likely controlling the temperature of the egg mound somewhere in the bush. Once she lays her eggs in the mound she is free to wander, and has nothing further to do with her babies, as they will hatch, struggle to escape out of the mound, and if they survive that, flee from the father who may attack them, to begin life foraging alone with no upbringing.

The beautiful Eastern Crimson Rosella family would eat grass seed on the field below the cabin some distance away, looking stunning in the sunshine.

This Willy Wagtail was happily feeding continually on insects near our cabin and quiet unperturbed by my presence.

This Grey Shrike-thrush was hanging around trying to be inconspicuous in the trees, and also created a challenge for us as it would flee when we saw it. He was very quiet, as many of our songbirds are in Winter, it will sing in the spring.

The greatest birding delight was to watch small flocks of the tiny Yellow Thornbill ( predominantly a western bird) rapidly move through small bushes and trees that overhung a creek. We had to stand on the bridge and avoid traffic to catch a photo, which is always the greatest of challenges with these tiny fast moving insectivorous birds. These are but a few of the many taken which blurred or were hidden as these birds are very sensitive to human approach.

While we were exploring the town we saw this Blue-faced Honeyeater (another western bird), sitting on a wire, but quickly left when it saw us looking at it, but caught a glimpse of its partner before it fled deep into a nearby tree. This aggressive honeyeater has quite an attractive coloration.

Just before we met friends for coffee at “Cafe Deaddog” we stopped at this small creek-side park just out of town and got a view of the White-headed Pigeon which is found in these parts.

Of course this area has many other forms of wildlife including Platypus (which we did not see) and wallabies grazing near our accommodation.

A most enjoyable weekend had by all and many books signed and sold. A big thank you to Sharon and Andrea at Sassafras Dungog for hosting the event and inviting me.

Have a most enjoyable week staying warm and staying safe. We found out today that another outbreak threatens the northern parts of our city. Here we go again !

If this is your first visit take a few minutes to check our the many pages of my birding website and my book releases of which “What Birds Teach Us” has been acclaimed by many Visitor Centres and some gift stores and bookshops as their current best selling book, especially during the Covid. The saying I have heard several times is “The Book Sells Itself !”

While we did not have time to see many birds while away, it was good for us to get away and enjoy some country hospitality having been locked-down city dwellers through the Covid. I would like to share a humorous cartoon someone posted on Facebook.

One of the interesting things we noticed about the lovely country folk on the weekend was that the locals were very friendly and good for a chat and you seldom saw a mobile phone in their hand. They communicated quite freely, which I enjoyed, having been a country lad for most of my life. One of the sad realities in the city where I live is that many people will not talk with you and have their heads bowed over a phone. If they are talking aloud it is to someone on their phone as they have ear pieces inserted. I and others have shared how often have young adults run into you as they walk while watching their phones. If I try to strike a conversation on a train or bus they look strange at me and then give a short answer and return to their phone or tablet.

The saddest fact now is that many families have both parents viewing their phones in an addictive manner and the children are left to play on their own, and are not being lovingly supervised. This has led to occasional instances children being lost or locked in cars on very hot days, but most of all frustrated angry children becoming disrespectful undisciplined as they try to get the parent’s attention. Even sadder and more selfish is that many young parents think that by allowing the child to spend their time alone in their rooms with digital devices they are adequately occupied and safely out of their way. How are children going to relate to their parents and socially, how are they going to learn life skills and basic care for themselves, or get adequate sunshine and exercise  if this is where they are encouraged to spend their time. Obesity and other associated ailments are on the rise in children as a result.

The greatest gift we can give our children or grandchildren while growing up is ourselves and our time not material things, how well our children grow and develop depends on how much we have taught them by example in their formative years. These topics are expanded in my recent book release Flight of a Fledgling.

“Discipline [instruct or demonstrate love to] your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their [demise or failure] death.” – Proverbs 19:18 

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” – Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them…” – Ephesians 6:4 (NLT)


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W. A. Hewson (Adv. Dip. Counselling & Family Therapy).

‘To introduce people to our unique Australian birds,

So we can learn from them how to live a healthy and happy life.’

NOTE: All photos, videos and music used on this website are photographed, composed, performed  by the site owner and remains his copyrighted property, unless otherwise stated. The use of any material that is not original material of the site owner is duly acknowledged as such. ยฉ W. A. Hewson 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021.



  1. Awesome weekend, Ashley!! The sales of your books, the radio time, and the lovely overnight abode filling your spare time with birds, so wonderful. Your first photo sharing the Yellow Thornbill put an instant smile on my face, awesome sighting for you both! Loved the video of the Willy Wagtail, that was quite cute. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Donna, it was a very encouraging time for us away, and we do hope it opens the way for future book signing events as Covid subsides, though this week it is all back again here in Sydney and we are all masking up again. The Yellow Thornbill was my wife’s favorite for the weekend and yes I agree, I love that feature capture it is one of the best I have of this bird considering it is so difficult to catch when they are constantly moving.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Another great article. Love the videos. Also, your cartoon. It is amazing when we have been to a restaurant, and everyone the a table are texting, or whatever, and no conversations going on among them. So sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Ash,
    How wonderful to learn more details of this special day! I am glad the book signing event was a success on many levels, and that you were able to interact directly with folks who were touched by your book. I am sure it was extra special for you and your wife, to enjoy real “human” interaction, and I agree that folks in the countryside can be more genuine and generous – perhaps because of the closer proximity to nature.

    The children’s bookshop where the event was held, looks very charming, with a warm welcoming atmosphere. If I were a child (and even now as an adult) I know that I would enjoy being there. I like how they also feature/carry work from all over the world in the shop, which has been produced in ethical ways. The story of the grandfather and his young grandson really touched us – I pray that your book will continue to touch all who come across it. “The book sells itself” is truly a good feeling I’m sure ๐Ÿ™‚

    I have mentioned before, but I am complete agreement regarding the addiction to mobile/electronic devices, and how this is not just a a “young” generation problem. I see plenty of older folk who are quite literally tethered to their devices, and it is frustrating to have a genuine human interaction – even before the pandemic. The cartoon you posted made me chuckle, it does portray our times. For our part, we do our best to maintain a health balance between with the internet/mobile devices (as we do need to use these for our jobs and daily lives), and set rules that we do are best to abide by. And of course no phones allowed when sitting down to a meal, or going birding ๐Ÿ™‚

    This post is a great way to start my day. It also encourages me to keep up with my bird photography and I pray that the time will come when my photographs can be a positive impact to a wider audience and publish a book that will be food for the soul. A “girl can dream” ๐Ÿ™‚

    Many congratulations to you and Mrs H! May you both (and your family) have a blessed week ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Takami, for your very encouraging and informative comments, the are much appreciated. So glad you have finally caught up with my posts, and you are catching up with life, as it has been a tough slog for you so far. I rejoice that you are encouraged through my posts as I am from your latest one, which my wife and I both appreciated. Yes pray that dream into reality, and at the right time you will know as I did when each step should be taken. Enjoy your week dear friend and keep soaring above it all ! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The cabin looks like a great place to stay, it would have been a welcome change for you visiting Dungog after all the lockdowns you’ve had. Glad to see that your book was well received there too. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Sue, Yes it was good to be out and about again, and to be invited to my fist signing event for the year as the Covid had put lids on every event as well as the school ones. However, there has been a fresh alarm this week as you would have heard and once again the masks are on in the city as the new nasty strain is being traced and many are once again concerned. We did enjoy the secludedness of the cabin and it was nice to enjoy the wood fire again after many years. Enjoy your weekend !

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Deborah, yes the signing went wonderfully well and many books were sold and one shared already how the book has blessed and helped his grandson, which was a bonus. We hoped to see more birds there, but were happy with what we saw, as we always see them all as gifts. I do hope you also enjoy your weekend my friend ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderful post in many ways. I loved to hear the Bell Miner and the symphony of others. The Lord really blessed Aussies with such wildlife, thank you for sharing!
    Best of all is Christ flowing through you to others. So happy for you and grateful to the Lord that He reaches out to others through your book and speaking engagements.
    May He water every seed you’ve ever planted!
    P.S. I totally agree that phone preoccupation is a snare and a detriment to familial and other relationships!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lisa Beth, we are really blessed here with amazing wildlife, and we are hoping that soon we will be able to travel around our country again to explore it more, as the Covid has prevented us now for 2 years and we miss the adventure of discovering new birds. Thanks for your precious blessings as I am grateful the Lord uses the books to reach out to hurting and struggling people of all ages. The phone issue has created a new set of illnesses related to social media and phone addiction, which we will see expressed in a much fuller way in the next 20 years. Young people today are much more vulnerable to control and intimidation by the power of media and the things they spend their time watching. Sadly many have become a society of watchers instead of doers. May you both enjoy your weekend dear sister, and stay safe. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Looks like a fantastic weekend and profitable in more ways than one.
    Activities after long lockdowns are certainly stressful at the beginning, but how quickly we can adapt.

    And you also managed some useful views of some fine looking birds.

    Hope all is well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks David, yes it was profitable in several different ways, just enjoying friendly honest country folk was something I had missed for so long, as I was treated as a friend. I did not have time to see many birds, especially since in winter the sun sets early, especially making rainforest very dark, so birding was limited, but we were pleased with what we saw, especially the Thornbills, they were such a delight. I do hope you are able to get out and about again, we are on alert again as you would have heard, but this time it is one of ours who set it off. Enjoy your week my friend ๐Ÿ™‚


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