The guest with the paintbrush

We have had a treat, and it’s going to be a treat for Banksia Cottage guests as well. A guest, a decorator by profession, traded a couple of extra nights for paint. It seemed like a good deal to us – but only after the work was finished did we discover just how good!

I’ll need to do the photography properly, rather than just using my camera-phone, but here are a couple of teasers to give you the idea. First, Banksia’s master bedroom. Banksia Bedroom

 

What follows was once a fairly nondescript wall in the hall.

Hall Wall

The loft now has a lovely unity with the colours of the mud bricks.

The LoftI wish I were a photographer! – Our wonderful guest also re-imagined the idea of a bird feeder. And yes, the birds like this a lot more than a plate on a stick!

The bird feeder at BanksiaWe had one last surprise: a little rock carving that apparently occupied the evenings!

Guest sculptureIf anybody in Melbourne needs a thoughtful and creative decorator, ask us and we’ll put you in touch with him!

Merry Christmas to all our friends

As 2012 draws to a close, Trudi and Richard would love to wish all our guests a Merry Christmas, and our best wishes for 2013.

It’s a privilege being able to host people at Bunjaree, and it’s wonderful having guests tell us how much they love the environmental values we’re trying to bring to our four wonderful cottages. There are few things as precious to us as listening to the various species of frog in the “dam”, or watch the small birds flitting through the bush.

Love and blessings and good health to all, and don’t be a stranger in 2013!

What our visitors tell us

We’ve taken the liberty of posting a page of Visitors’ book comments – all from 2012, none older than September.

We have taken this liberty after being dive-bombed on TripAdvisor – where we don’t get a chance to respond in any detail (we tried, but could only get posted with a generic “sorry” message). So I can’t tell TripAdvisor what we would say to guests: if something is not right, tell us. We will always do our best to help!

Bunjaree Cottages is our labour of love, and a site like TripAdvisor can be devastating to a business operated by a husband-and-wife team. We hope, however, that our guests who have bothered to take up a pen and write are worth listening to!

December school holidays

The Christmas season is almost here, and we’re fielding many, many inquiries. Except in the worst heatwave, the Blue Mountains is a great place to be in December, with most nights below 16 degrees.

We’re seeing a profusion of wildflowers at the moment, and it’s a great time to get out and about in the longer evenings. Get in touch with us to ask about availability and feel free to ask us about bushwalks and activities in the Blue Mountains!

Bird of the Week: Eastern Spinebill

Male Eastern Spinebill. Photo by Stilgherrian, Creative Commons license.

I have, in other posts, complained that the small birds around Bunjaree Cottages are difficult to photograph because they move very quickly and don’t sit still. This week, our friend Stilgherrian has managed a rare treat, getting pics of both male and female Eastern Spinebills.

The Eastern Spinebill can be seen all the way from Cooktown in Queensland all the way around to the Flinders Ranges in South Australia – but they’re less common around urban areas, because they like heaths, forests and woodlands.

Female Eastern Spinebill. Photo by Stilgherrian, Creative Commons license.

Their down-curved bill is designed for nectar-eating – in these photos, they’re feeding on the flower of the iconic Mountain Devil shrub that grows throughout Bunjaree Cottages. Their distinctive call is a high pitched, short, repetitive piping whistle.

While a kid of honeyeater – and they have a hummingbird-like hover while feeding – Eastern Spinebills also occasionally add small insects to their diet.

Days out with Thomas – April 13 to 15

The Zig Zag Railway has its “Thomas the Tank Engine” days on April 13, 14 and 15. It’s a fabulous day for families with younger children – as well as the Thomas the Tank Engine ride, there are amusements displays and much more. More information here.

Bird of the Week: the Wonga Pigeon

Australia has quite a number of native pigeons, but none of them quite match the Wonga Pigeon, Leucosarcia melanoleuca.

The photo doesn’t really do it justice: the Wonga is a seriously large amount of pigeon.

Source: Glen Fergus, O’Reillys Guest House, Queensland

While quite shy, the Wonga pigeon is a ground-forager. Around Bunjaree Cottages, early risers can get lucky and surprise a Wonga Pigeon around their cottages.

If the pigeon sees or hears someone, it will leave as quickly as possible, and here you will get your second treat: its takeoff is noisy and rather ungainly because they’re so heavy by pigeon standards. The wing-clapping noise is quite impressive.

Bird of the week: Superb Lyrebird

The Superb Lyrebird is almost a mascot of the Blue Mountains: it only takes a little good fortune (and a watchful eye) to spot lyrebirds on a bushwalk. And we feel incredibly lucky to have Lyrebirds living around Bunjaree Cottages.

They are very shy, but can sometimes be spotted in the early morning, moving between feeding spots and crossing the driveway. Lyrebirds feed by scratching around the leaf-litter for insects and spiders, and leave quite distinctive scratchings.

Superb Lyrebird. Author: Attis. Source: Wikimedia

We’re more likely to hear the Lyrebirds than to see them. They mimic a huge variety of sounds, but are particularly fond of putting whip-bird songs into their repertoire. I was so pleased with this recording of a Lyrebird (taken on my phone) that I use it as my ringtone!

Bushwalks where we have spotted Lyrebirds include the Prince Henry Cliff Walk, which runs between Leura and Katoomba; between the Three Sisters and Scenic World; and around Katoomba Falls.

Here’s another Lyrebird performance I recorded. First it has a dog bark, then it imitates the owner (“Yoo-Hoo!”), and then it kind of riffs on other birds. “Yoo-hoo Lyerbird”

Bird of the week: Crimson Rosella

We can’t guarantee that you’ll see every one of the 30 or more species of birds that frequent the bush around Bunjaree Cottages – some are shy, some are rare, and some are nocturnal. But we can absolutely guarantee that visitors will see Crimson Rosellas – Platycercus Elegans – because there are several families living here.

Image: Richard at Bunjaree Cottages

These beautiful birds love visiting the feeders at our cottages, and will stay around for several hours on any given day.

Apart from their looks, the Crimson Rosella is notable for its variety of calls. There are sounds that you will recognize as normal for parrots – the chattering when they’re around the feeders; a loud, short screech in flight; but most astonishing is the beautiful bell-like “family call” when they are perched in a tree and calling to their family. It’s a two-note, high pitched “who-he-whoo” (low-high-low) that seems to mean either “here I am”, “where are you?”, or “come here, there’s food!”

They’re also extremely agile in flight. We’re constantly amazed at the way they can streak through dense bush at high speed – it’s really something to see!

Bird of the week: the King Parrot

I’m celebrating the new WordPress version of the Bunjaree Cottages Website by instituting a “Bird of the Week” series to celebrate the many species of birds that live on the property. There are 30 species that we’ve been able to identify, although some of them are very shy; we know there’s at least one Lyrebird around, but we haven’t yet made his acquaintance.

First in our “Bird of the Week” series is the King Parrot. Although the Crimson Rosella is more numerous, the King Parrot is very impressive and fairly comfortable around people.

Image of a King Parrot

Male King Parrot. Copyright: Brett Donald, under the Wikimedia Commons license

They seem to hang around in families rather than flocks – the male (pictured) and the female (which has a green head rather than red), and a juvenile at the right time of year.

And the King Parrot will happily hang around the cottages and feeders for hours. They’re truly magnificent and a treasured guest!