cockies tongues

winter sun on Templetonia retusa

In early winter Templetonia retusa flowers and sets the bush aflame with scarlet, hence the common name Cockies Tongues. This many branched shrub grows in coastal areas on limestone from Shark Bay southwards, to Esperance and into South Australia. [1]

Continue reading

world oceans day

don't let the sun set on our seas

Today is World Oceans Day. Our oceans cover 70% of the Earth’s surface and hold most of our water, but they are threatened on many fronts and need our help. Climate change is slowing but surely killing coral reefs.

“The magnificent Great Barrier Reef is already experiencing severe bleaching due to a 0.4°C rise in water temperature. Each year, about 60% of our reef is subject to some bleaching. Professor Ross Garnaut pointed out that we are ‘likely to see, by mid-century, the effective destruction of the Great Barrier Reef'” – Australian Conservation Foundation

Continue reading

planting by the sea

planting at Stirling Natural Environment Coastcare

This week Stirling Natural Environment Coastcare (SNEC) started planting in the dunes of at the southern end of Marmion Marine Park. I went to Hamersley Beach yesterday morning to help. In between planting, I took (too many) photos and unbeknownst to me, my phone dropped out of my pocket. Did I bury it in a hole when planting or drop it in a bucket of water?? I spent 15 minutes running around the dunes looking for my phone, with two other volunteers calling my number in hopes I would hear it ringing. And there it was, sitting on a dune plant, protected from the sand and not even wet from the watering hose.

Continue reading

what plant is that? limestone mallee

magpie in Eucalyptus petrensis

I recently identified limestone mallee (Eucalyptus petrensis) growing in a bushland reserve near my house. It took me a while to identify, but I’m not alone there. Limestone mallee was first collected in 1972 but not named until 1993 because it was confused with limestone marlock (Eucalyptus decipiens) [1]. Eucalyptus petrensis grows in shallow soil on limestone, so is found in a “limited coastal distribution on the first and second seaward limestone outcrops” [2]. The strip of bush where I found limestone mallee is very degraded but has been planted in the past. I’m not sure if these trees are original or part of a revegetation project. A stand of naturally occurring limestone mallee grows at Bold Park.

Continue reading

swimming with dolphin

Peasholm Street Dog Beach

At the beach today a bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus) came into shore to wow us beach goers at Peasholm Street Dog Beach. I take photos of every little thing I see, but I didn’t bring my camera today because I planned to swim. I’m not a strong swimmer even though I go to the beach a lot. I only go in the water if the waves aren’t too big, today was such a day. Everyone else had their phone out, recording the antics of Dolph, all I could do was feast my eyes but what a sight it was!

Continue reading

caring for our coast

On this day in 1987 Western Australia’s first marine park was created. Marmion Marine Park follows Perth’s coast from Trigg Island north to Burns Rocks.

Marmion Marine Park

The elephant seal (Mirounga leonina) which came ashore in Perth last month after his long swim from Antarctic waters, rested on Sorrento Beach within the Park. Sea lions and dolphins are more common visitors to the area and the reefs support abundant marine life, from fish to sponges and gorgonian corals. Snorkelling at Mettams Pool and dive sites accessible by boat allow visitors to see these oceanic wonders. The park includes three sanctuary zones: Boy in a Boat Reef, Little Island and The Lumps. People can visit these no-take areas but fishing isn’t allowed.

Continue reading

clean up australia

Andy Warhol once said he was in love with plastic. So durable, so full of potential, everything just sliding off the surface. I could definitely see the appeal.

from Notes from the Teenage Underground by Simmone Howell (Pan Macmillan, 2006)

plastic bottle washed up on the beach

This Sunday is Clean Up Australia Day. Many local councils and community groups are organizing rubbish pick-ups at beaches, bushland reserves and public open spaces. You can find out where to go in your area from the ‎ Clean Up Australia Day Facebook. Go to a local spot on Sunday morning and help out. It’s going to be very hot in Perth this weekend, so take water to drink, wear a hat and sunscreen and enclosed footwear because snakes are active. Continue reading

sand between my toes

summer in Perth is very hot and evenings at the beach are a delight

golden light as the sun sets Continue reading

Going to the Beach

Trigg Beach near where I live

I recently heard that

over 1500 new species have been found in Australian waters in the past 10 years.

Everywhere in the world there are countless species we haven’t yet discovered, and if we’re not careful they will be extinct before we know they’re here. The Jan/Feb 2007 issue of New Internationalist was about the State of the World’s Ocean. They note there’s really only one ocean despite our multiple names because they are all interconnected. This means what we do in one part of the ocean may affect every other part.

rockpool seconds after the crab scuttled off

In Waterworld Sara Holden says,

“on land, 10 percent of our woods, meadows, forests, waterways and even swamps are protected…for the remaining 70 per cent of the planet, which is covered by the ocean, it is a very different story. Only 0.1 percent is afforded any protection” [1]

We need so many more marine reserves so our ocean isn’t over-fished, polluted, mined and exploited to the extent that there is nothing left. Sara Holden works for Greenpeace and she writes about the Greenpeace Defending our Oceans expedition.

windswept plants growing on the sand dune above Trigg Beach. I thought this was such a pretty little hidey hole

One marine reserve is Marmion Marine Park near where I live in Perth, Western Australia. I love living near the beach and although I’m not a strong swimmer I love going to the beach and dipping my toes in or just floating in the water (if the waves are too big I don’t go in past my toes).

limestone rock formation

My dog Sheeba shares my love of the beach and we go to a dog beach south of my house. Recently we re-discovered a dog beach north of where I live which has a reef and limestone rocks. The water is gentler which is good because Sheeba and I don’t like big waves. It has a lot more seaweed and ocean life, very different to the surf beach I spend more time at. Going to this beach brought back memories of building sandcastles and snorkelling on the reef in my childhood.

seaweed washed up on the beach

“The offshore limestone reefs of Marmion Marine Park support abundant plant life. Kelps grow on the upper reef surface. Colourful sponges, gorgonian corals and other animals encrust the cave walls, crevices and overhangs.”

rockfall risk area

I grew up with limestone rock formations and caves. They are so different to the granite rock formations and caves of the coast around Albany, in the south of Western Australia, which we visited recently. Exploring limestone rocks can be painful on bare feet, so I have to remember to take shoes if I’m planning this. Limestone rock formations have a habit of caving in, so there are signs and fences around some of the rocks (the fences are waist high wire, so don’t detract too much from the scenery). When I was a kid we could explore much more (and I guess it may have been kind of dangerous and we probably trashed quite a few plants).

Michael and Sheeba exploring the rocks

I remember sitting in hollows in the rocks (not quite caves but we pretended) and guarding our pirate treasure. The signs and fences still let me investigate the rock pools and even when I tell Sheeba she might do better staying on the sand, she wants to join me.



  1. Holden, Sarah (2007) “WaterworldNew Internationalist, no.397, p.25-27

Autumn in Albany

the view south The granite rock formations and caves on the coast around Albany, in the south of Western Australia are amazing to see. Michael grew up in Albany and we went there for the weekend a couple of weeks ago. This was the first time I’ve been to Albany since childhood holidays and although I’ve seen photos of the coast since then, it’s quite a change from the limestone rock formations and caves with which I grew up. And the coast around Albany can be dangerous.

Fishing off the rocks near The Gap This coastline is unprotected from the Southern Ocean. Michael has a few stories of people he knew who died on the rocks and surrounding water and a week before we visited two men were washed off rocks by a king wave. King waves are unexpected and can cover entire parts of the rocks on the coast for a few minutes and wash away whatever’s in their path. The rocks can be slippery because of these waves and the salt residue they leave behind and climbing on the rocks or fishing off them can be treacherous. If a person falls into the water, it’s impossible to climb back up the rocks, you might get thrown back against them by waves and you must swim around the rocks to a sandy beach which can also be inaccessible (and you might have to contend with ocean predators on the way). the sea south of the Natural Bridge the Natural Bridge

Growing up a teenage boy, Michael also has stories of the stupid things he’s done while drunk and sky-larking with his friends on these treacherous rocks. the view south west to Seal Rock from The Gap The Gap
On the day we visited The Gap and the Natural Bridge, in Torndirrup National Park, Michael and I climbed quite close to the dangerous edges and I discovered how breath-taking it is. It’s exhilarating to look down into the blue, blue ocean and think, “I’m glad I’m not being battered by those waves.” I was also glad the breeze was light and the weather fine, although king waves can occur in any weather and at any time of the year. Michael has abseiled on one rock face of the Gap when he was in high school. I wonder if they still let teenagers do that these days, in our litigation-crazy times.

flowering plant a windswept tree growing on the rocks
I bored Michael by taking lots of photos of the plants that cling to life on these wind and wave swept rocks, but I’ll have to come back in spring when they flower to see their full glory. a lizard sunning on the rocks another plant clinging to the rocks We were even lucky enough to catch some animal life because we came (earlyish) on Sunday morning, before the tourist rush. I was also happy to miss the current crop of teenage locals who the night before left their burnouts and empty beer bottles on the rocks and in the carpark.

While we were in the area we also went to Denmark (half an hour from Albany), visited my friend Josephine and her baby Isabel, and skated Denmark’s new sk8park. It rips, although there’s not much shade when the sun’s shining, not that the sun shines much in Denmark :)