Tag Archive | Bloomsbury

Bush Ballerinas

Western Queensland Road Trip #3 Gubberamunda State Forest

The wide expanse of Grafton Terrace Road is deceptive. While the track’s surface looks firm enough, the red sandy soil can be slippery, at times grabbing the tyres of our car and forcing them in a new direction, as if they have a life of their own. Luckily we’re in no hurry, driving at a speed which still allows for control over the steering wheel.

We’re headed north east of Roma to Gubberamunda State Forest, looking for ballerinas in the bush.

For a long time we peer out of the car windows, seeing none and wondering if we’ve gone too far and missed them altogether. Then suddenly we come across not just one or two, but dozens on the side of the road.

Xanthorrhoea johnsonii, commonly known as Johnsons Grass Tree or Queensland Grass Tree, is native to Australia and grows all over western Queensland. In this part of the state forest a stand of grass trees numbering in the hundreds flourishes.

Growing up to 5 metres tall and living for as long as 600 years, grass trees are instantly recognisable by their rough trunks, often blackened by bushfires, and the tuft of long grass-like leaves springing from the top. Old dried foliage bends downwards creating a “skirt” around the trunk.

With a light breeze lifting the leaves, the trees seem like dancers ready to twirl and flick their ballet tutus.

The playful addition of sunglasses almost brings Cousin It to life.

Although the soil quality is poor and there’s been no rain for months, the bush is well and truly alive. Purple nightshade flowers stand out brightly against the red surrounds while circular ant hills are like tiny sculptures, each one precisely and perfectly constructed.

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Our attention returns the grass trees for, although we’ve seen them elsewhere in Queensland, the sheer number here is spectacular. It’s as if a whole company of dancers is about to take to the stage.

Imaginings

I love London…

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…and when I visit London I like to pretend I live there. In my imagination I don’t have to go to work; I have the freedom to wander day after day, taking in the sights and sounds of the city. If the weather isn’t great, I can stay in because there will always be another day, and my inner city apartment is modern and spacious with a glorious view of the river.

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In reality, we never have enough time in London to do everything we want. We like to stay in Bloomsbury, an area we’ve come to know well. Each time we arrive in Cartwright Gardens, it feels as if we’re home.

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The studio apartment we always book is the size of a matchbox and it’s on the third floor, so we get our daily exercise going down the staircase in the morning and up again that evening. Instead of the Thames, we can see the pretty garden between the buildings if we lean far enough out the window.

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But the location is marvellous. It’s just around the corner off Euston Road, yet the traffic noise can hardly be heard. From Kings Cross tube station in one direction or Russell Square in the other we can go anywhere in the city. We buy our fresh fruit and vegetables from the friendly man at the little stall on Marchmont Street. There are several grocery stores nearby and even more pubs. Our favourite is Mabels Tavern on Mabledon Place, and in the evening we walk around the corner to join the after-work crowd for dinner and a drink.

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I will probably never live in London, but when I visit I like to imagine I’m a local!

Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Local