Updated: Feb 14
We live in the Australian bush. Not the 'outback', maybe the 'inback'.
Our place, Istari, is just north west of Grafton, NSW, in the magnificent Clarence River valley, one of Australia's largest east coast rivers. That's about 3 hours drive south west of Byron Bay, Australia's most easterly point. Not on the coast, as is so popular now, but inland, just before the mountains.
This is Bundjalung country, stretching from just north of the Gold Coast in Queensland to the Clarence River in north eastern NSW. This is the original home of the Bundjalung people.
We would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land, the Bunjalung people. We would also like to pay respect to the Elders both past and present of the Bundjalung Nation, "The First Light Peoples".
The Clarence River and its multitude of tributaries dominates the landscape around us. The first Europeans dubbed the area 'big river' country, as they followed the huge Clarence upstream in search of timber from an immense forest of ancient trees.
As the timber was felled and sent down the Clarence more settlers arrived. They continued to clear the bush to graze sheep and cattle or plant crops, especially along the rich alluvial flood plains.
After initial logging our area was cleared for dairy cattle but soon the soils created by the forest, now removed, turned to sand except beside the creeks and streams where regular flooding deposits layers of silt. Dairy cattle gave way to beef cattle.
In the mid 1980s the property, 'Istari', was purchased and set aside as a private conservation area, 'to let the bush grow back'. It was open country with young banksias, wattles, casurinas and other regrowth plants. The hills had few older trees. The flats included open wetlands.
Gradually trees appeared and filled the edges of the waterways and up the hills. The wetlands filled with a variety of plants and the fauna thrived.
The house sits beside a wetland, just up the hill from a little creek finding its way to our boundary creek eventually to join the Clarence River. Surrounded by the bush and its inhabitants.
Looking out across one of the wetlands we watch the daily rhythm of life.
The summer brings the rain to fill the big river and its tributaries, often to overflowing, spilling out across the flood plain with numerous wetlands.
The frogs call out from the wetlands and stream. The snakes search for a feed among the reeds. A goanna strolls past in the search of, well anything really.
Our local wallaby gazes on with a couple of blades of grass hanging out one side of its mouth.
Terry and I live here among all this. It's pretty ideal.
Our closest neighbour is about 1km away. We hear the occasional dog bark from a neighbour's. No dogs or cats here though to frighten or attack the wildlife. The wildlife wanders past our door daily, whether they are wallabies, goannas, purple swamp hens or yes, even snakes. It is a privilege and delight to live in such proximity to our Australian bush with all its colours and characters.
Australian Bush Life is our way to share this wonderland land with our friends here and around the world.
We hope you enjoy our Letter from Istari where we'll give you updates about the local wildlife, show you some of the magnificent plants and flowers and some wonderful views of the land around us and the wonderful Clarence valley. We'll introduce you to a few of our local characters like our resident wallaby, Mos, or our three legged goanna, Jac.
Check out our galleries for images of Istari and the Clarence. We'll add to them over time.
Please drop us a note using our contact page if you like what you see, want to correct something or just want to say hello or you can add a comment below.
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