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. © W. A. Hewson 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021.