Autumnal Equinox: Beetles wall up their burrows

March 30th, 2012
by Jo Law

I have not encountered any beetles of late, but I can report more frequent sightings of its distant cousin, the cockroach, scuttling indoors in search of warmer environs. The drier trend continued into this pentad as the Bureau of Meteorology announced the end of the 2010-11 La Niña event. The Bureau’s national media release reports: ‘Southeast Australia recorded its wettest 7-day period in history, and the combined effect of two back-to-back La Niña events contributed to Australia’s wettest two-year period on record.’ Data now confirms that we have returned to neutral conditions and the Bureau deemed a third consequective La Niña event in the coming spring unlikely. The organisers of the forthcoming Thirroul Seaside Festival no doubt welcome the news. Two years ago, we were lucky to miss the special traffic measures and road closures ocassioned by these festivities, as we drove to hospital for Hollis’s birth. … {read on}

Autumnal Equniox: Thunder pipes down

March 25th, 2012
by Jo Law

During this pentad when ‘thunder piped down’ came a few days of glorious sunshine and low relative humidity (of below 50%). From a geocentric viewpoint, on March 20th at 5.14 UTC the sun passed through the ecliptic meridian, the astrononmic position of the sun reset to 0º. In the northern hemisphere, it was the vernal equinox and a public holiday in Japan. In the southern hemisphere, autumnal equinox passed by without much fanfare. On March 25th, the length of night exceeded the length of day by 1 minute. From now on until the June solstice, the day will grow shorter. … {read on}

christmas beetle

March 22nd, 2012
by Michele Elliot

I was surprised to see this Christmas beetle on our verandah last week, better late than never?

White Dew: Flock of birds gather grain

March 20th, 2012
by Jo Law

Liza Dalby’s East Wind Melts the Ice tells us that this pentad marks the harvest season. The above-average rainfall, the associated widespread flooding and the reduced sunshine on Australian eastern seaboard have adversely affected many food crops. ABC Rural News reports: ‘Rain a pain for cane’ in northern Queensland and ‘Flood squeeze grape prices’ in the Riverina. The heavy rain is also delaying the annual harvest of Sydney rock oysters in New South Wales. Conversely, however, the wet weather has been good for the sowing of winter grains in South Australia. … {read on}

White Dew: Swallows leave

March 15th, 2012
by Jo Law

On sunny days I take the laundry out to dry. Tiny skink hatchings dart about on the wooden decking. On rainy nights we sleep with the ceiling fans spinning silently above. In the mornings, the sun rises a minute later each day and its light faintly filters through the cracks between the blinds and the window frames. I notice that the waratah at the front is already forming flower buds and the camellia is set to flower. Change is in the air. … {read on}

White Dew: Wild geese come

March 10th, 2012
by Jo Law

The sun passes through the 345º point on the ecliptic as we head towards mid-autumn. Our star is climbing towards the peak of its 11-year cycle of intense actitivities. Its recent solar flare created a huge coronal mass ejection that travelled towards Earth at around 600,000 km/h, hitting the planet’s thermosphere on Thursday. This geomagnetic storm triggered displays of Aurora Borealis but produced no noticeable affect on electricity or navigational systems. All through these extraterrestial events rain presisted on the east coast of Australia. Then, most unexceptedly, in the midst of these wet days came a gloriously sunny Friday. All the dampened feelings associated with the overabundant preciptation suddenly evaporated. That evening, Hiroki, the English-language student who had been staying with us for the past month, left with his fellow classmates to return to a Tokyo that is on the brink of Spring. … {read on}

Limit of Heat: Rice ripens

March 5th, 2012
by Jo Law

Excess water has once again made headlines news in the past week. The river systems in southern New South Wales and northern Victoria swelled and flooded as a result of the recent heavy rainfall. Residents in Goulburn, Gundagai, the Riverina, and other northern Victorian towns were forced to evacuate from the inundation of water. The deluge is a little less dramatic on the northern Illawarra coast, although water has seeped in some areas of our house. The moist environment has also given access for the outdoor creatures to move indoors, like the leech that Redmond encountered in the shower. … {read on}


March 5th, 2012
by Michele Elliot

The clear skies drew me out and on to the beach early this morning, I walked across to Little Austinmer. I don’t know whether it is a seasonal thing or just the pounding seas that have brought so many cuttlefish up on to the sand, mostly small ones.

I used to collect cuttlefish as a child for our family pet budgerigar. Wally was green, male, had learned to talk and would mimic my mother’s Anglo-Indian accent. In the evenings, when I had finished my homework, I would let him out of his cage for an hour or so. Once, my mother cut off part of his claw when she was chopping vegies for dinner. The bird had to be rushed to the vet, and came home with an enormous white bandage around his foot. He made a full recovery.

Limit of Heat: Heaven and earth turn strict

February 29th, 2012
by Jo Law

The second month of the new year in the Gregorian calendar is drawing to an end. Soon, by the meteorological reckoning of the seasons adopted in Australia, Autumn begins. I wonder whether this current solar term does truely turn out to be the limit of heat. Certainly, if we go by the long-term averages in Bellambi and Wollongong, it will not be the limit of wetness here, where February and March receive the highest rainfall. The Bureau of Meteorology also predicts a wetter Autumn for south-eastern Australia although computer modelling is showing that the dominant La Niña pattern will continue to weaken. Grain farmers in southern New South Wales are not in favour of the prospect of having a wet Autumn; while our concerns are of a different nature.

… {read on}


February 24th, 2012
by Lucas Ihlein


With all the recent wet weather, some fabulous wildlife has emerged in Austinmer. Here above is a monster slug I found on a tree in the yard, with a coin for scale.

There have also been leeches on our front porch, a scenario which is more psychologically challenging than anything else. I’ve not heard it mentioned as a consequence of climate change – but if NSW becomes more tropical, will we also become more leech-infested?

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