The Forest Swords

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About a month ago – Mike and I were in a record shop (Diabolik Books & Records) in Mount Hawthorn looking for Cards against Humanity.  If you’ve not heard of this offensive game – please look it up.  We were hosting some friends and stayed up late with deep belly laughter over the rediculousness and creativity that came out of this game and our minds.  Warning – This game is not for the pure of mind.

Back to the record shop – we heard this intricate – unusual music playing. I was almost too embarrassed to ask what it was – but I knew it was obscure and the chance of ever hearing it again would be slim.

I. am. that. person.

desperation in needing to know < potential embarrassment

The sales person was really helpful and wrote down the artist and album for me.  “Forest Swords” the album – “Engravings”.  The entire album flows really nicely – and can indeed feel at times partly medieval spliced with indian sounds.  It’s relaxing and uplifting simultaneously.  If you’re keen to get a full copy – it can be bought on iTunes and was released in August 2013.

If you’re wanting to hear something a little different – or get a feel for what I’m rambling on about:

The Forest Swords – The Weight of Gold

The Forest Swords – Thor’s Stone

Also – I’d like to thank a few friends and family for emailing and putting their hands up for the Australian/Canadian food swap.  I was too pleased to see quite a few emails waiting for me this morning.  Yey, you are all amazing!!  My junk food dreams might become a reality soon!

ps: The photo is from our camping trip in September – that is located in Fitzgerald River National Park.

pps: A slew of new music has been compiling on this list that I’ve been keeping here.

Fluffy Bums?

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A few months back I saw this creature online and I wondered if I’d ever be lucky enough to see something similar here in Western Australia.

Well, today was that day.  I went out with my camera hoping to find something new and discovered a large crop of these “fluffy bums”.  Techinically called “scolypopa australis” they are found all over the planet – and at this stage they are teenagers yet to morph into their adult form.  In New Zealand they can secret nectar when feeding on a specific type of plant – which in turn is actually quite toxic.  Bee’s collect the nectar and unfortunately can poison the honey…which has lead to some illness.  These little creatures – oddly are not native to New Zealand but come from Australia.

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This I believe is a fly – but what type exactly I’m not quite sure.  There are ‘bee flies’ but they are a bit hairier…Screen Shot 2015-11-07 at 6.21.47 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-07 at 6.23.51 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-07 at 6.21.40 PM

I know I had promised it would be a little wait until I revealed my big secret…but we must wait just a little longer.  I should be able to tell you when Mike is back in just under two weeks time.  For the time being I hope these dainty flowers will suffice.

xo Holly

ps: totally unrelated – I’m looking to do a Canadian/Australian “treat” swap – If you’re in Canada and would like to receive some amazing Australian goods… please let me know and I’d be happy to ship some over.  I have a couple of items that have been front of mind the past couple of months… and I’m so (desperate) keen to get my hands on a couple of inexpensive yet classically Canadian items.

It’s Official. We’ve lived in Australia 5 Years.


Baby Wuzza – when he was about 2 months old.  We were inseparable.
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It’s been an amazing 5 years living in Australia.  We are grateful to have had such an amazing journey here as a couple and individually have both had great opportunities to grow and learn in our work and careers.  We started in Melbourne…and found ourselves farming in Eneabba.  We’ve now been living in Perth for 2.5 years saving so we can buy our own little slice of paradise.  Every day we miss the farm and the simple lives we kept whilst we stayed there.

I wrote to readers who registered here personally this year to give a little heads up that there was some exciting news coming this year…it’s taken us a long time to get here.

You’ll need to hold tight for just a little while longer, we are n e a r l y ready to announce it.

I’m being a major tease – however, we can’t wait to share the news with you.



Holly & Mike

Stirling Range National Park – For Nature Lovers!

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Mike found this little king skink on top of a mountain.Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 4.49.09 PMScreen Shot 2015-10-15 at 4.57.32 PMScreen Shot 2015-10-15 at 4.59.46 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 4.58.35 PMScreen Shot 2015-10-15 at 4.59.13 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 4.58.54 PMScreen Shot 2015-10-15 at 4.50.01 PMScreen Shot 2015-10-15 at 4.41.18 PM

I was just going through some of the images from our trip last month (already reminiscing) and found a few we’d not yet shared. I’m in love with this landscape and believe I could have easily stayed there well into November even when the orchid season had passed.

A few of the critters I described in previous posts are now shown in all of their glory (or partially in the case of the snake).

If you ever come across a bob tail lizard – just be warned they can really injure you if you’re not careful.  You can pick them up behind their head rather easily but beware of putting anything near their mouse trap like mouths.

– Unrelated to our trip – 

It’s beginning to really heat up here in Perth as summer is just around the bend.  We’ve been growing a number of herbs and veggies on our balcony along with some small seedlings – and I can say we have for the first time (in 5 years of living in Australia) managed to grow a rather bountiful roma tomato plant.  It’s just starting to ripen and I cannot wait to eat them with some fresh basil and mozzarella with olive oil.  That will be heaven on a plate.

I know some of you are now slowly morphing from the cozy comfort of the sun, indoors to artificial heating – and I truly hope that winter is not too long for you (though I do love the snow – so will admit my slight jealousy of missing out on snowboarding!).

I’ll post again soon.



Wildflowers of Western Australia – Stirling Range National Park

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These are some of the images that were taken during our trip last week, I don’t know the names of everything for certain at this point.

It’s the long weekend here in Western Australia.  I hope you’re all out and about enjoying the sunshine too!

I’ll be catching up with friends and soaking up some sun – my alabaster body needs some vitamin d stat!

What will you be doing with all this free time?


Fitzgerald River National Park, Western Australia

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We spent the last leg of our trip in Fitzgerald River National Park, which is a further 2 hours drive South from The Stirling Ranges National Park here in Western Australia.  It was here that we spent one night in a room Quaalup Homestead (which was really cool, and if you do get a chance you should definitely consider staying there).  This park is immense.  It covers 330000 hectares of protected wilderness.

Although our stay was relatively short, we did count it amongst the highlight of our trip for one reason…and one reason alone.

An energetic baby Southern Right Whale and a pod of 20 bottle nose dolphins were frolicking together in the shallow waves, whilst mum hung out further in deep water to keep an eye over her little playful calf.  This was at 7.00am with little to no wind…and absolutely no other tourists.  We had the beach all to ourselves and felt so privileged to be able to see this activity in the wild, unspoilt.

We also managed to spot a wallaby here, as well as crested tern, grand hakea and “red beaks” orchids.  The flora in this park is highly concentrated and boast some of the most diverse on the planet.

Have you been to Fitzgerald River National Park?  What was a highlight for you when you came?

Native Orchids of Western Australia

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Right off the front foot of our trip, Mike and I made a wager (honestly, though it’s very rare we are not in some form of a competition).  It was: Whomever could spot the most orchids would owe the other person $100.00.  Mike then stipulated that he would need a 10 point lead to keep things fair as he thought I might be difficult competition (and that he’d be hard pressed to get me out of the bush before he found his).  I accepted the challenge.

We couldn’t double up – and tracked our progress daily (Reminding each other constantly of how much the other needed to catch up – and shouting with extreme enthusiasm when one did find a new orchid).  Who would have thought this could be such a thrilling activity?

Mike was well and truly ahead of me by day three as he had stayed at the front of the orchid walk and counted every new species as one of his own (we saw 14 during 1.5 hours at Mount Trio on our second day).

The end score was: Mike – 22 species  &  Holly – 16 species

He beat me by a mile.  In the end it made our hiking and wandering very interesting and pushed us to take the time to find more plants.

What helped us was a book called “A Guide to Native Orchids of South Western Australia – Second Edition” by Bob Liddelow.  Mr. Liddelow details the GPS coordinates as well as shows small maps of prime locations to find orchids.  It was with his help that we were able to find large concentrations of orchids throughout the many regions that we came across, in fact we planned our travels around these locations.

Orchids flower here from July – October so there is a large period of time you’re bound to spot something.  We were both very happy with the information that Mr. Liddelow shared, his gifting of this sometimes confidential information has helped us both stoop down low and really look for the treasures that the forest floor might otherwise be hiding from us.

Here are a few of the orchids we found during the trip:

  1. Purple Pansy Orchid
  2. Sugar Orchid
  3. Purple Enamel Orchid
  4. Sugar Orchid
  5. Lemon Scented Sun Orchid
  6. Hare Orchid
  7. Little Laughing Leek Orchid
  8. Greenhood Orchid
  9. Jug Orchid
  10. Red Beaks
  11. Silky Blue Orchid
  12. Crab Lipped Spider Orchid
  13. Dancing Spider Orchid
  14. Little Pink Fairy Orchid
  15. Cowslip Orchid
  16. Common Dragon Orchid (this one attracts a male wasp with pheromones to pollinate it)
  17. Zebra Orchid
  18. Dwarf Spider Orchid
  19. Fringed Mantis Orchid

Just a note if you’re curious about the camera set up I’ve used for these images.  They are all shot with the Canon 5D Mark III and a 100mm 2.8 Macro lens. (All of the images on this blog from Sept 2014 onward are taken with this gear.  No special lighting or flash were used, simply harnessed the natural light available at the time.

Do you shoot macro?  I’m curious to learn more about the different techniques… do you have a favourite subject that you like to photograph?

Stirling Range National Park, Western Australia

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This is the stunning entrance to the Mount Trio campsite. Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 4.38.29 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 4.38.39 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 4.36.23 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-21 at 4.38.49 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 4.40.10 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-21 at 4.42.45 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 4.44.47 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 4.49.47 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-21 at 4.53.07 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 4.54.37 PM

We’ve just returned from our camping trip in the Stirling Ranges here in Western Australia.  We packed our tent, sleeping bags and plenty of hearty carb loaded fuel food – pancakes, hamburgers, sausages, scrambled eggs, fresh fruits…and drove the 4 hours South toward the rugged, and colourful landscape.

Mount Trio is a camp site that is situated right in the heart of the Stirling Ranges and is managed by a lovely couple named John and Margot.

Our first evening was spent around a campfire getting to know our fellow campers.  All 65+ years old whom were from the Eastern States here either for hiking or the wildflowers.  They came in two distinct groups that did not mingle with one another. We got along very well with the hiking crew, chatting for many hours and turning ourselves from front to back to warm our extremities from the 3 degree weather.  It was like the Church Group vs The Hipster Green’s Group.  

We chose the original hipsters.

The first night I froze… I basically did not sleep, and woke Mike with my groaning and commiserating commentary.  Thankfully we were able to sort ourselves out for the rest of the trip and I slept snug as a bug.  I say with regret that I am a stubborn fool, and had previously refused to bring an extra blanket on account it would make for too much more “stuff”.

We ended up buying another blanket.

We woke each morning first to the sounds of magpies, then kookaburras and dozens of other lovely sing song noises.

There are plenty of native orchids in full bloom at the moment and so to make the most of our time we paid to join a wild flower tour on our second day – which was well worth it as John pointed out around 15 species nearby.

After our wildflower tour, Mike and I did some driving in the park and scouted for any signs of unusual flowers.  We found a few and then decided to hike 1.3km straight up hill on a marked trail, without any water.  It was gruelling and although it does not sound that far, it was literally vertical the entire hike.  Our knees were flaming by the end but the view was well worth the strained muscles.  Not only was the view spectacular… there were some interesting sights along the way.  Mike spotted some lizards up on the mountain top, we passed a cave, and there were several orchids growing along the trail.  What really captured my attention was the prolific number of birds we saw and heard.  They were loving wildflower season too.

Not pictured but sighted:

  • Endangered Carnaby Cockatoo
  • Echidna
  • Bobtail
  • Kangaroo
  • Emu
  • Bandicoot
  • Red Capped Parrots
  • Kookaburras
  • The largest dugite snake known to man

I’ll write some more about the next bit of the trip tomorrow.

Stay tuned!

Holly (and Mike)

Western Australian Wildflowers in Kings Park

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Thursday after work, I walked myself home and on the way I took note of the weather.  It was overcast, drizzling rain, and there was virtually no wind.  Until I made that observation I was imagining myself and my book – reunited and enjoying a hot dinner.

These are the IDEAL conditions to photograph wild flowers.

  1. The clouds cast over – help bring out the deep colours of the flowers.  You’ll find the images are more rich and saturated on these days.
  2. The rain drops add a little magic to the photos (I’ve heard of some photographers just bringing a spray bottle with water to enhance their work – but as of yet I’ve never been tempted with this trickery. Instead I wait for days like this one).
  3. The wind lacking – will help you take sharper image.

I hurried myself upstairs and changed from my dress into more appropriate warmer clothes.  Topped myself off with a rain jacket and put my camera in my backpack surrounded in a plastic bag (note to self invest in a camera bag for the love of god).

The images throughout this post were taken in these peak conditions…only a couple of days ago.

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Now that it’s the weekend I’ve been out and about moving my little legs and enjoying a cruising pace – but I’ve got things on my mind.  Nothing major except I’m overwhelmed by the endless possibilities of what to bring/pack/cook/bake/preserve? for our camping trip next Wednesday.  We’ll be out for a week – and I am exploding with ideas but cannot pinpoint what I really want to pack for food or more rather – what can I bring that will last – and be easy to prepare.

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Of course I found one of these cutie pies too.  It’s a young Opisthoncus polyphemus male.

Mike is away – so I’ll be getting everything ready before he lands.  We’ll be up early and away so I’ve got to sort out what’s on the menu.

For those of you whom enjoy camping…

Do you have any go-to meals that you make while you’re roughing it (no fuss kind of stuff)?  I’d love to hear any suggestions that you love.

The “creepy” sweating sniffer.

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This morning I woke up and found that I had been sweating in my sleep.  This is not an unusual occurrence, as sometimes I am soaked through and the bedding is too.

When I wake from those nights I generally smell sweet and soft, and find the smell comforting.

Surely I must not be the only person on the planet who finds their own scent pleasing?

I don’t just love the smell of me though, I actually find I cannot get enough of Mike.  Often I find myself getting really close to his neck and chest just to smell him.  The smell reminds me of a young child, it’s soft and delicate (not musty or sweaty ever!)  In fact, I might sound crazy saying this – but I’ve never smelt him with a foul scent.

This cannot be said in the reverse.  If I eat onions, my skin smells of onions, if I’m running around and sweating Mike sometimes hints that I may need a shower.  Basically, I do not always smell like a lady.

When he’s away I will grab his pillow and take a deep inhale.  Or if he’s left a sweater lying around – I’ll do the same. I’m addicted to his soft perfume.  Just to note, I only do this with pillows and sweaters – never socks and undies.

I have this feeling that this may be a common practice for people whom are separated from their loved ones.

While I’m writing this I’m still covered in my pyjamas and resting on the couch.  I’ve opened the doors on the patio, and while it’s only 6.00am the air is warm and is rushing through with that pleasing smell of a fresh new day.

The thing is I’ve been waking up in pools of sweat for a few years and I’d never really known what causes is.  I’m never too hot when I wake, in fact usually by the time I wake up I’m freezing as all the water has significantly cooled my body temperature.

A few weeks back now, I wrote briefly of having something happen to my heart (which happened during the day time).  I spent a week wearing a heart monitor afterward; which was absolutely not the most fun situation but it did give me some results or at least kind of an answer.

It’s name is “mild sleep apnea”.

I think it’s the answer to this mystery sweating.  Mystery solved!

I’m not the first person in my family to have this issue, as I do know someone older than I, whom snores used to snore loud enough to shake down a house.  But not anymore.  He wears this cyborg looking contraption and now sleeps as quiet as a mouse.

I’m not due to wear any thing but was told I am fine, and got a clear bill of health otherwise which is awesome.   At the moment I am delaying getting ready for work, because I’m enjoying the way I smell and taking in the view with today’s offering of fresh air.

Adieu for now.