October 18, 2010

On the weekend

We had an Australian weekend.

The barbie
First thing Saturday we went to collect a barbecue we'd ordered. We didn't have one to bring with us from the UK and in any case we probably wouldn't have been allowed to without risk of fumigation and a to-do. We've survived quite happily for nine months without one, my friend having had a rather strange notion for a while that we might be the first people to come to live in Australia and not become barbecuers. Maybe it was memories of doing it in the rain in the UK or maybe he just didn't want to be like the Aussie Bloke in the corner with tinny in one hand and tongs in the other.

Then I received My Grill: Food for the Barbecue by (chef, restaurateur and TV presenter) Pete Evans for my birthday... from my friend. There had been a sea change. Within two weeks, we were driving back from Aussie BBQs in Murarrie with an enormous box on top of the car. It is a Weber charcoal grill: no namby-pamby, easy-peasy gas for us – well, only in order to get the thing lit in the first place.

The dam
Afterwards, we drove to Lake Wivenhoe, along with many thousands of other people from Greater Brisbane. We were there to watch the release of, according to the Courier Mail, 1,500 tonnes of water per second from the reservoir into the Brisbane River as part of flood mitigation measures following the big rain of 8-11 October (see A bigger wet).

The damming of the Brisbane River had been contemplated since the end of the 19th century, but the Wivenhoe Dam wasn't built until 1985. It is 2.3 kilometres long and 50 metres high, and has a concrete spillway section with five steel gates that are each 12 metres wide and more than 16 metres high. I have read a few times that the reservoir holds more than twice as much water as there is in Sydney Harbour. I imagine few people know how much that is, so I find it more helpful to know that the reservoir holds roughly 2,000 times the daily water consumption of Brisbane. Not that I know how much that is either, but at least now I have some idea when water supplies might run dry if there wasn't any more rainfall over Southeast Queensland.

The reservoir has a catchment area of more than 5,500 square kilometres, which receive an annual rainfall of 940mm. During the big rain, Maleny, a pretty little town in what is known as the Sunshine Coast hinterland and which is not far from the source of the Stanley River, the Brisbane's major tributary, received more than 400mm in less than two weeks at the beginning of October, breaking records that had stood for 60 years.

The reservoir was soon full to capacity after the deluge, necessitating a 'big spill' for the first time since 1999, hence the day tripping to see the action. The strong wind whipped up the spray and, even though all the gates weren't fully raised, the water swirled and tumbled furiously down river, flooding beyond the designated channel so that trees stood with their lower trunks submerged.

The water release coincided with a high tide, so several inner suburbs of Brisbane were put on flood alert. The increased volume of water from rain and spill meant more debris than usual was being carried downstream, and ferry services in the city were suspended for several days.

To get to Lake Wivenhoe, we drove from The Gap (in northwest Brisbane) through the Brisbane Forest Park, an area of high hills and bushland that, in brilliant sunshine but also fierce wind, was uncrowded and very agreeable – below are the views north and south from McAfees Lookout, named after the first settlers in the area.

We drove through Mount Nebo and Mount Glorious, highland hamlets that felt remote and much further away from the CBD than an hour-or-so's drive. The descent to the lake on the other side was twisty and steep. This being merely an afternoon's jaunt, we headed straight for the dam, but there is no shortage of recreational opportunity here, with camping and picnic areas, a walking trail, boats for hire and birds to watch. I was surprised but delighted to learn that fuel-powered boats are not permitted on the lake. Which means no jet-skis, one of the most environmentally irresponsible and irritating gadgets ever invented... in my humble opinion. After our queue-and-view at the spillway lookout, we drove across the dam before looping round to Lowood and back on to the Brisbane Valley Highway, and taking the Warrego Highway and the Ipswich 'motorway' (one of the most speed-restricted roads around at the moment) back into the city.

Sunday is run-day, but not content just with that, we decided to go cycling bayside – which provided another photo-opportunity for recently acquired equipment (the bike carrier).

Bayside refers to all those places on Moreton Bay where would-be Brisbanites who can't face living in the inner city buy homes. (That's not quite fair: onshore breezes and bay-and-island views have attracted people since Brisbane's early days.) They include Redcliffe and Brighton and Sandgate and Shorncliffe north of the Brisbane estuary; and Wynnum and Manly ('No, Mum,' this is Manly in Brisbane, not Manly in Sydney,' one woman explained to her elderly mother as she wheeled her along the prom) and Cleveland and Redland Bay to the south. Roads head out east from Brisbane's southern suburbs to these coastal havens – so the Wynnum Road goes to Wynnum and the Old Cleveland Road goes... you guessed... to Cleveland.

We live very close to the Wynnum Road, so off we went, wary of low bridges. And we did indeed come across what must be one of the lowest in the whole of SEQ as we wended our way through Wynnum to the sea. We cycled along the esplanade pathway – now on the lookout for out-of-control toddlers or smalls on scooters – from the breakwater at Wynnum, through Manly, as far as Fig Tree Point in Lota. And – after all that rain – it was sunny and warm with just the right amount of breeze for the boats in the bay.

And then, tired but content, in beautiful early-evening light we drove back to Bulimba for our first barbecue at home.

We need more practice. Will La Niña permit in the coming weeks, I wonder?

October 12, 2010

The Magpie Chronicle

Above: Mr M on the lookout for locusts

I last left the Magpies of Waterline Crescent with Mrs M sitting on a new nest and no sign of the chicks...

Keen to understand why she'd done this so soon after the chicks had fledged, I got in touch with Darryl Jones, Associate Professor at the Environmental Futures Centre and Griffith School of Environment at Griffith University in Queensland. Professor Jones is a behavioural ecologist and I knew he specialised in the adaptations of a variety of animals to the urban environment and has a particular interest in Australian Magpies.

He replied that, although a Magpie might build two, or even three, nests during the breeding season, she would not normally start a new one until the previous chicks had been successfully fledged or they had all been lost. He added that there was a very remote possibility that something had happened to the original female and this was a replacement one building, hence the lack of interest in the chicks.

One morning shortly afterwards, I heard the unmistakable squawking of hungry Magpie chicks. Mr M and two chicks were on the other side of the park. I grabbed my camera and stalked them for at least half an hour.

Mr M would stride off looking for, say, a locust, while the two chicks, who looked like females to me, hung around at a loose end.

The moment he reappeared, the barrage would start...

Until one of them was fed and off Mr M went again, hopefully to attend to the other chick next time. If there was any sign of favouritism, the neglected one became even more vociferous on his next return.

I heard them for the next few days, until a sighting confirmed that there was now only one surviving chick. I prefer not to speculate about the demise of the other. Mrs Magpie continued to sit on the second nest – for such long periods I began to suspect there must be eggs.

But then came the storm. At 1am on 8 October the noise of the deluge and howling wind was so great you couldn't hear the thunder. What do animals do in weather like that? The Big Rain continued the next day. The nest was still in place but there was no sign of life. I searched for broken eggshell on the grass beneath the bottle tree. There was nothing. The Big Rain continued for three more days.

I was overjoyed this afternoon when I finally heard the chick and saw her following Mr Magpie around beneath the closest bottle tree. She looked a bit grubby and ruffled but OK otherwise. And Mrs M is sitting again.

I have updated Professor Jones on the latest developments. He says nests and incubating chicks can survive such an onslaught. And he's now wondering if the female is the original one after all and is forcing the male to do his bit. I wish they were ring-tagged.

A bit later, Mrs M came into our garden and right up to the window where I was sitting writing. She peered in at me.
'Are you the original Mrs Magpie?', I asked. 'Have your eggs survived?'
She walked on.

October 10, 2010

A bigger wet

It's the same the world over; you know you're in trouble when it's raining but the birds are out and about. They know, you see. It's not going to stop in the foreseeable future and they've got to get out and about otherwise they'll starve. A bad sign. It's a particularly bad sign here because the weather often changes quite quickly. If it's sunny, dramatic dark can bubble up seemingly out of nowhere; or, you can be struggling oppressively under low grey-whiteout and suddenly there's bright blue behind thin, fast-moving rain cloud. It's the tropics, innit?

Since I got back to Brisbane at the end of August the weather pattern has been as follows:
10 days mainly full sun, maybe with the odd bit of cotton wool
20 days some cloud, some sun
6 days overcast for the most part
11 days significant rain amounts or a full day's worth

Some cloud/some sun is overwhelmingly the most common diurnal weather pattern. So let's dispense with the myth of 'it's usually hot and sunny in Australia' once and for all. Although the UK has a reputation here for having fairly dismal, unpredictable weather, it seldom gets heavy downpours that last even a whole day. Here, following a severe storm that hit the southern suburbs of Brisbane at 1am last Friday morning, we have had near-constant rain ever since (it is now mid-afternoon on Sunday). I sit here clad in many layers and winter boots: it is 17 degrees outside and probably colder in. I long for sun.

We've had incessant rain bouts lasting 36 or 48-hours on a few occasions since January. And I have confidently planned a number of trips in anticipation of sunshine but been surprised. We got soaked atop Mount Ngungun in the Glasshouse Mountains in April and drenched climbing Mount Cordeaux in the Main Range in October; we had to abandon a trip to look at the stars in Charleville in July because of thick cloud and, as it turned out, rain; and our whale-watching tour in September only narrowly avoided being a washout because the rain arrived 48 hours later than predicted.

This is a continent with an unforgiving climate and the weather effects are frequently devastating: floods, drought, cyclones, tornadoes, giant hailstones, violent electric storms, land gales – none of these is unusual (see australiasevereweather.com). Australians seem to take it all on the chin. You have to feel for the family in Marysville, Victoria, who, having recently finished rebuilding their home 19 months after the 'Black Saturday' bush fires of February 2009, saw it soaked in early September in the state's worse floods for nearly 20 years. Yet Steve Guilfoyle still had a smile for ABC's reporter Mary Gearin:
'We've had the fires; now we've got the floods. What's next? You know, bring it on. And that's the attitude, you know, just throw what you can at me.'

On 4 October the Courier Mail warned Queenslanders to expect more cyclones, tropical storms and a wetter Wet than usual. (Oh good.) The Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology releases an annual forecast for the cyclone season to come (December to April), and severe weather forecaster Tony Auden had said, presumably rather sternly, that 'ocean patterns, including the La Niña phase, were likely to produce a wetter-than-average summer and above-average cyclone activity.' Brisbane's worst floods last century, in January 1974, occurred during a La Niña phase.

The Australian landmass sits at latitudes where a subtropical belt of high pressure results in dry, sinking air and clear skies. Country rainfall tends to be low and erratic, while Queensland coastal regions are 'watered' by moisture in weather systems coming in from the Coral Sea. In addition, Australia is periodically affected by the El Niño/La Niña Southern Oscillation (ENSO). The Pacific is such a vast expanse of ocean at equatorial latitudes that the interaction of its currents with the atmosphere produces variations in air pressure affecting weather over land on either side of the ocean for up to three years, and sometimes longer.

Essentially, variability of both warm and cold currents off the west coast of South America affects surface water temperatures and air pressure across the ocean. During an El Niño phase, the seas around northern and eastern Australia are cooler than usual, the Pacific trade winds are weaker and less moisture moves over the continent. In a La Niña phase, stronger than usual trade winds and warmer sea temperatures bring more rainfall than usual, to eastern Australia especially.

Since we arrived in Brisbane, we've been told repeatedly how much the region needs the rain after so many years of drought and water restriction. In fact, the drought ended before we got here - which is why everything looked so lush instead of parched - and now it seems we're headed for a summer much the same as the last one. My daughters arrive in less than two weeks, however, and they won't be happy. It's been chilly and rainy in the UK recently and they have high hopes for Queensland. Is La Niña going to spoil our fun?

Eventually on this wet Sunday we had to venture out to blow the cobwebs away. The palms and Norfolk Island Pines were getting a buffeting at Cleveland Point.

And the pelicans gave up on an afternoon at the coast

Now it's Monday morning. It downpoured all night. October rainfall records for SEQ (Southeast Queensland) are tumbling faster than water is emptying from the sky.

October 8, 2010

Great Granite

On Australia Day back in January, we headed southwest from Brisbane along the Cunningham Highway. We turned off for Moogerah Peaks National Park on what was probably only our second foray out of the city. But the highway continuing south beckoned, as did thoughts of what lay beyond the rugged peaks of the Scenic Rim. This barrier was not easy to cross until halfway through the 20th century: in 1949 a sealed road through Cunningham's Gap finally linked the Moreton Bay hinterland with the farmland west of the Great Dividing Range. It was named after English explorer Allan Cunningham who had first spotted a potential gap through these highlands in 1827.

I'd like to show you a photograph of the two peaks standing guard either side of that gap or the view back over the Fassifern Valley, but as the highway climbed from Aratula, what had started out a grey and unimpressive day took a turn for the worse. The thermometer in the car recorded 13.5 degrees as we pulled into The Crest car park in low cloud and what the Basques called chirimiri, which looks like fine drizzle but will more than likely soak you through.

We were determined to do the walk I had planned because the rainforest covering much of Mount Cordeaux would shield us from the worst of the weather... was the theory. And I was keen to see giant spear lilies on the cliffs above the forest. We climbed a muddy, zigzagging path through dense forest that was as interesting as ever; Hoop Pines with their distinctive bark; enormously tall trees that we couldn't begin to identify because their foliage was too high up in the canopy;

slow-growing Grass Trees and super-glossy (in the rain) Piccabeen Palms; moss-covered boulders and fern-filled gulleys. Where the Grass Trees were, the rainforest morphed suddenly into eucalypt forest.

As the forest got thinner we got wetter, and we were on the point of giving up, but something drove us on. Five minutes further up the path were the giant spear lilies. Some were past their best, but we did see a few of these scarlet heavyweights - I could hardly hold one in position for my friend to photograph. We were too wet by now to continue climbing in the hope of seeing more and we had to get back on the road to Warwick.

As the Cunningham Highway dropped down to the still-high open country of the Southern Downs, the clouds lifted and there was even the odd blue bit. This is fertile dairy and grain country: much of the tumpy pasture was patched with purple and yellow flowers. But the smallholdings looked ramshackled and slightly trailer-park: there seemed to be bits of rusty machinery abandoned profusely. Before reaching Warwick we joined the New England Highway which runs from Yarraman, north of Toowoomba, way down into New South Wales. The highway goes straight through Warwick and so did we, preferring to press on to the Granite Belt wineries.

The land rises again steadily as you drive south, grain and meadow giving way to orchard and vine. We were headed first for Summit Estate Wines in Thulimbah. We knew already that some of their wines are quite palatable – my friend had sampled them at the Ekka. But the cellar door experience was not, it transpired, that welcoming or helpful. Chilly, I would say, by Australian standards.

Bud-burst at Summit Estate

Vines and apple trees

Much more enjoyable was Boireann, well worth the drive down Donnelly's Castle Road at The Summit (so called, of course, because it's the highest point in these parts). This is a small winery that is highly thought-of – the best in the Granite Belt according to wine expert James Halliday, and he should know. A variety of red grapes are cultivated here in the fine granitic sandy soils at an altitude of 875 metres. We sampled some of the end product in relaxed surroundings while chatting to winemaker Peter Stark, but unfortunately couldn't get our hands on the much-acclaimed Shiraz Viognier (96 points in Halliday's Australian Wine Companion).

There was something very pleasing about the juxtaposition of vine and granite, and beautiful gardens by the cellar door looked just as carefully tended as the grapes must be.

Then it was down the road to Stanthorpe and a bit further on to Ballandean where we were spending the night in the delightful Vineyard Cottages, just as you drive into town. We relaxed in our large and pleasant open-plan room before dining in their Vineyard Cafe restaurant. I chose new-season asparagus and pork with winter vegetables; my friend had pork rillettes and steak. All the wines were local: we enjoyed a Tobin cab sav. We then shared flourless chocolate cake with salted butter caramel ice cream. The food was almost faultless.

The next morning the weather was much improved and, after a delicious breakfast, we enjoyed our beautiful surroundings – impressive gardens and distant views to the Sundown National Park – from the verandah for a while before moving on. There were Superb Fairy Wrens darting hither and thither and countless bees busy among the flowers and herbs. The wisteria (which grows all over this region) and miniature roses made us feel at home!

As we drove through Ballandean we turned off randomly on to Eukey Road and ended up driving through some beautiful countryside. My friend spotted a goat on warm granite.

We came across Symphony Hill, a modern 'boutique' winery that's family-run and friendly. We were particularly interested in the Halliday-mentioned Wild Child Viognier (great name). We beat a hasty retreat with our purchases when a coach party turned up on this quiet, still-early Sunday morning. We drove on to the Storm King Dam before turning back to Ballandean.

I have to deviate briefly at this point to discuss the use of the word 'dam'. Here is a brief passage from Gregory's Discovering Brisbane and Surrounds to illustrate my problem: 'the dam is stocked with native fish, including perch, silver perch and Murray cod'. Now, the fish aren't in the dam, are they? They're in the lake created by the dam. At Storm King Dam we couldn't see a dam, although I assumed from the name that the lake before us had been formed by damming a river. When we were in Northern Queensland earlier in the year, we were recommended to go visit a dam. How quaint, I thought at the time: how did they know my friend is an engineer. But what they meant was a lake, right?

Next up was Ballandean Estate Wines, a fair old way down Sundown Road. Unfortunately the coach party had caught up with us again and everyone at the winery was a bit distracted by the hordes, who unfortunately were about to take over the restaurant, so we couldn't have lunch. We had a wander round outside until we could get to the cellar counter to buy a couple of bottles of wine (including more Viognier) and food supplies, including local apple juice, from the deli for a picnic lunch somewhere else.

I have been trying to identify this parrot. It doesn't match any of the parrots in our bird book. I wondered if it could be a rare Turquoise Parrot, which looks different in every picture on Google. Can anyone help me?

Olives are also grown in the Granite Belt, the dark green of which reminded me longingly of Spain.

Our next destination – Girraween Environmental Lodge – is about 15 minutes south of Ballandean, just off the New England Highway along Pyramids Road. Although not in Girraween National Park itself, this delightful haven is set in about 400 acres of forest and bush complete with its own dramatic granite outcrops, walking tracks and wonderful wildlife. We had a two-bedroom wooden cabin (made largely from recyled timber) with a large deck and BBQ, a wood-burning stove inside and a bathroom big enough for a party. It was toasty warm and snug, with everything we needed, including silence (apart from frogs and birds) and serenity. No mobile or TV coverage thankfully.

The view from the deck

We soon threw our original plan – to visit the information centre up the road to plan tomorrow's walk in the Park – out of the window. There was too much on offer right where we were. We headed out on the Bird Walk but were immediately distracted by the most Eastern Grey roos I've seen at one go (there's a large resident mob on GEL's land). We hated to disturb them but they didn't seem to mind us quite close. Several females had joeys in pouches, and there were lots of 'roolettes' not long since left others', I suspected.

As long as I live in this country, I can't imagine becoming blasée about roos. Call me a big softie Pom who's batty about animals; I don't care. They amuse me; I like the way they stand up and look a bit spooked as if to say, 'Here they are again'. And I love the way they move, whether it's scratching or bounding.

The Bird Walk is a short amble through largely eucalypt forest edging Ramsey Creek. There are Blue Gum, Blackbutt and Stringybark, and Girraween also has many species of Acacia (Wattles), Black Cypress Pine and Kurrajong, with heath plants forming an understorey in places. We didn't see many birds apart from a few unidentifiable darters, oh and a Kookaburra sitting in an old willow tree.

At the end of the walk was a perfect picnic site. I'm not sure exactly what made it quite so appealing: a babbling brook chaosed with granite boulders; a splendid old Stringybark; a billy ready for boiling water for tea; a pile of wood for the fire; peace and quiet... I suppose this was my idea of the Australian bush experience. Shame we had no tucker with us.

We combined this walk with the Echidna Rock Circuit. I couldn't see the resemblance myself but the balancing rock was impressive nonetheless. As were some of the wildflowers (Stypandra glauca, or Nodding Blue Lily, below but one).

We wandered back to our cabin. While drinking tea on the deck we spotted a lot of bird activity just below us in a Grevillea bush. The honeyeaters couldn't keep away, although the Yellow-faced honeyeaters and smart Eastern Spinebills respectfully took turns otherwise there were squabbles.

Our basket of BBQ goodies was delivered just as my friend was getting hungry, so he upped and manned the barbie forthwith while I faffed about in the kitchen. We had steak and sausages and sauté potatoes and carrots and beans and local wine, and every morsel was to savour. No sitting back after dinner, however: we were off to listen to the frogs for which this area is famous (as well as granite and wine). Pobblebonk is without doubt the best name for a frog I've ever heard: this creature literally goes 'bonk', quite clearly, just a single 'bonk' at a time. Other varieties have great names, too: there's the Red-groined Toadlet and the Eastern Sign-bearing Froglet. Owls don't do too badly for names either: the Powerful Owl is the biggest owl in Australasia, while the Boobook is the smallest, and most common, in Australia.

I could scarcely concentrate on the bonking for looking up to the heavens. Pause for a moment of respectful reflection: the Milky Way was... indescribable. Better than wondrous, astonishing, breathtaking, stunning, extraordinary... all of those, and more. Just as well it clouded over after a while: I would have been there for hours, in total black, gazing in amazement at a canopy of myriad pinpricks of ancient light.

I slept so well I didn't even hear the Kookaburras' wake-up. It was a beautiful morning: it had to be. We were soon up and out because we wanted to catch joeys out of pouches, playing, but we weren't in luck. We had to take a detour to reach them because of a most disturbing encounter with a Masked Lapwing, also known as a Spur-winged Plover. While stumbling about the previous evening looking for frogs, we had inadvertently spotlit a family of Lapwings with their three chicks. This grass forager lays its eggs in a shallow scrape on the ground and is famous for its ferocity when defending its young and is armed with wing spurs. But how good is its memory? It was as if it had recognised us and was set on retaliation as it flew straight at us, fast. We had to dive out of the way.

Far too much excitement so early in the morning: back for a barbie-cooked breakfast to set us up for a walk.

We had to leave early to maximise our time in the Park, but I could happily have stayed a lot longer at our tranquility base. The thought of coming here midweek, when there's hardly anyone around we were told, is an appealing prospect. As we said our goodbyes to GEL's amiable manager Jonathan Marr, we received some instruction on wattles. The amazing specimen below had spring- and sea-green leaves with purply pink seed pods. (The golden wattle is Australia's national emblem.)

Jonathan also told me a fascinating thing about Eucalyptus. Blue Gum, or 'River Blue Gum', is known as Red Gum, or 'Forest Red Gum', when it grows on hills and ridges away from rivers and watercourses, even though it's the same species. Eucalypts can change their form, shape and colour according to variations in climate, soil, elevation, aspect and so on. Some of them grow as a low prostrate under some conditions and as huge trees in other locations.

A couple of minutes down the road was the Girraween National Park information office where we procured a book on wildflowers and got help identifying other plants I'd photographed so far. Girraween is an Aboriginal word meaning place of flowers which is rather apposite because we came across these before we'd even started walking.

Between 200 and 400 million years ago, tectonic plate collisions resulted in ocean sediments being thrust up over the area of continental Australia now known as the New England Tablelands, which lie mainly in northern New South Wales but extend into southern Queensland (Bald Rock National Park is an extension of the Girraween landscape in northern NSW). In addition, molten rock upwelled from the earth's depths, forcing its way into this sedimentary bedrock before cooling to form granite. Over time the sediments were eroded and the granite exposed.

Allan Cunningham was the first European to come to the Girraween area (1827). As a botanist, he must have been delighted with what he found, although the difficult terrain meant his stay was rather short. From the 1840s onwards loggers and farmers settled, and from the 1930s on various pockets of land became protected by declaration of national park status. By 1980 the final pieces of the jigsaw land acquisitions had increased Girraween National Park to the size it is today (nearly 30,000 acres).

The Junction had been recommended as the best walk for spring flowers. This was easy going for about 5km along the northern bank of the Bald Rock Creek to where it meets Ramsay Creek. There were rock slabs and boulders everywhere.

The whole landscape was extremely pleasing as the path wound through the trees. We spotted Scarlet Robins and Crimson Rosellas and some birds we still haven't been able to identify. We sat by the babbling brook to eat our lunch of barbecue leftovers. It was alternately cloudy and sunny, but we did at one point have to crouch beneath a boulder to escape a passing shower. We hadn't taken waterproofs, having been assured by the information office that the weather was clearing completely. Why is it so difficult to get weather forecasting right in Australia?

Not having had quite enough of walking by the time we were almost back at the start, we made a short detour to the Granite Arch, an impressive natural stone archway.

We couldn't even walk back from there to the car without being further waylaid.

And this joey looked as if it had got into the pouch in a hurry.

It's a three-hour drive from Brisbane to Girraween so it is not beyond the realms of feasibility to come down here for a weekend. And I intend to do just that – perhaps to escape summer in the city. Unlike on the outward journey, our climb towards Cunningham's Gap was bathed in golden evening light and as we descended into the Fassifern Valley there was a striking sunset skyline.

This post was last modified 1.8.2011