A couple of months ago I went to visit my dad who lives in the bush. By bush I mean total bush – thousands of hectares of it.
My dad and his wife spend a lot of time and effort working on ways to conserve their land. They don’t farm livestock (do chickens count?) and have a pet dog who loves the land as much as they do. Over the weekend we went for many walks around their property, which I had done so many times before, but never really absorbed the information. This time I consciously learnt about the many different things there were to appreciate.
Time to explore
On a walk with my sister, we got to a gate marked ‘Ogyris Gate’. I asked her what it meant, and she told me it as a species of rare butterfly, native to Australia and sighted on their land. I never saw one that weekend but was curious, so I looked into it some more when I returned home and I learned that the Ogyris genoviva is a large purple/blue coloured butterfly, found primarily in east and southeast Australia. Its wingspan is 50mm, and it is most often found in Eucalypt woodland.
Offsetting carbon with native flora
They have planted so many trees over the years – and due to drought, not a lot of them have survived. These are the challenges of living on a property like that, changing weather is inevitable. There is a patch of young eucalyptus trees not far away from their house, covering maybe 30 square metres. The trees are thriving, as they have been planted in a patch of irrigation. They are 30 years old – as old as me, and they still look so young and green, not your average climbing tree that’s for sure.
In their ‘front yard’ (an area of grass at least 2km squared), dad told me proudly that there were 11 different species of native grass. Most evenings, dad would walk around the ‘yard’ and pick out prickle patches, cussing the nasty weeds. I had brought only my casual runners for the weekend, and after every walk, I spent time removing the prickles that had embedded themselves into the soles.
A new perspective
I really enjoy staying at Dad’s place. The feeling of being with nature and (almost) living off the land makes me feel somewhat relaxed. Learning about plants such as Old Man Saltbush and taking time to watch the resident eagle through a telescope is not something that happens often for me back in Melbourne.
It has been a challenging start to 2020, first Australia was affected by the ravaging bushfires (while fires had only recently been extinguished in other areas of the world) and now COVID-19. Some good news is that with the majority of people working from home and travel being restricted, carbon emissions have reduced, and nature is slowly changing. While it has taken a global pandemic for this to happen, it will certainly be interesting to see what we learn from all of this; and how our perspective of the issue may change for the better.