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Quilpie Qld

News from the Moble Garden – Biodiversity

April 17, 2020
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Moble this morning is an impressionist painting. The early morning light is diffused, another layer of softness added with a little cloud cover. As far as your eye can see, there are layers and layers of colour. Our landscape is a tapestry of blue-green with a fine thread of gold woven through.

We have no improved pastures or sown crops; all our cover is the native, natural grasses and herbages of this region, save a few spurned patches of Buffell grass here and there. This means we have an extraordinary range of plants growing and responding to our rainfall at any given time. That golden word: biodiversity.

If I could paint our biodiversity for you, I would use a broad brush and a gentle hand and finish it with little dabs of highlights. I would choose the colours from only the silver- blue side of the paint box, for our landscape here is not the yellow greens of the coastal plains, so vivid and almost florescent in their race for the sky. Our palette merges the trunks of the trees and their foliage and the distant hills with the ground cover; a symphony in silver, blue-green and purple. The red flash of bare earth catches your eye now and then, like the fire deep in an uncut opal. The seed heads are the fine thread of gold, waving to us as we pass by. So very pleased with themselves to be taller than the rest. The occasional spider’s web, so artfully strung between the butter bushes, adds a silver snowflake, glinting with the sun shining through. As if we needed any more jewels in this crown.

There is no one -dimensional flatness to this landscape, for the different species grow in such a range of heights and spread, giving depth and texture to the eye. Some are course and robust, others so delicate you can hardly believe they pushed through the earth. If you pull up on your bike and look down amongst it all, you will find dotted throughout little white, blue and yellow wildflowers. Again, some are in broad strokes and others sprinkled here and there. Seasoning if you will. And if you listen, very carefully, they are whispering to you. Some would say it is the sound of the sheep whooshing through the thick herbage, but I can hear them calling to me to hop off your bike and lie down amongst us. Naturally I did, it would have been rude not to. As many of you would know, to lie amongst wildflowers in a thicket of green is to live well indeed.

After I had finished dotting in the little flowers, and splodging swathes of yellow lillies, I would have to think about all the birds I have seen this week. Leaving the corellas aside, (there is only so much cottonwool you can include in a landscape masterpiece), the bird colours would let me venture to the other side of my paint box. There are the soft mushrooms, pinks and brilliant orange of the Major Mitchells I saw in Supplejack tree earlier this week, a favoured bird in a favourite tree.

 A little later, I came upon a lone brolga, in some melon hole country. I would always stop for a brolga regardless, but this one gave me pause as it appeared at first glance to be lame as well as being by itself. I watched as it hobbled off away from me, before dramatically dropping its wings, literally dragging them along the ground. When I rode away some distance and looked again, it stalked back towards the waterhole, perfectly well. I had witnessed a Diversion Dance, employed to cleverly protect either a nest or young; I had seen this before often with tiny dotterels. I did not worry it by returning but that majestic brolga will add yet more silver and pink to my painting.

Finally, as we mustered along the Moble Creek, a stark dead coolabah decorated with a pair of kingfishers. At first, I saw only their silhouette, then the jewelled flash of brilliance as Mr. K flew off in all his turquoise splendour. Mrs. K reminds me of a pea hen; by no means as dazzling as her partner but still carries an air of serene elegance that requires no bling. Readily observed but somewhat harder to paint I suspect.

As you can see, I have not been in the fenced garden much of late. We started mustering cattle and then our contractor rang to say the shearing team will be here next week, so then we mustered sheep and cattle. We are quietly enthralled with the tasks to hand and appreciate we are so fortunate to have a good season to be working in, it is a joy to be out in the paddocks.

I realise you have already guessed I am no artist. The only thing I can paint are houses: Solar guard Full Gloss with trim. I have enjoyed using words for brushstrokes though and just like my garden, my landscape painting is very hard to frame!

The Moble Gardener

Vines growing up the stem of the lillies

Yellow Lillies growing where the water lies

Saltbush, button grass, gidgee burr… all the good stuff