Bird of the Week: Eastern Whip-Bird

For most of my life I thought I was listening to one bird calling when it was actually a pair. Welcome to the Eastern Whip-Bird, one of the more than thirty species regularly seen – or heard! – at Bunjaree Cottages.

Easternwhipbird2

Image: Barrylb under the Creative Commons license. Source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Whipbird

Its call can be heard in the recording on this page at Birds in Backyards (a fabulous resource). The first “whip-crack” comes from the male, with his mate chiming in at the end with a “choo-choo” response. The Eastern Whip-Bird’s call also contributes to the various sounds Bunjaree’s resident lyrebird weaves into his imitations.

The Eastern Whip-Bird is a secretive insect-feeder, olive green with a long tail, a grey-white belly, and a black head with white cheek and eye patches. They can sometimes be seen feeding on the ground if you’re patient (and lucky!).

March: Blue Mountains Folk Festival

We would expect Blue Mountains accommodation – including Bunjaree Cottages – to fill early for the Blue Mountains Folk Festival in March 2013.

The line-up looks pretty impressive: so far, the list includes Garrumul, Kate Miller-Heidke, Chris Smither, Luka Bloom, and Ngaiire.

And then there’s the headline – Arlo Guthrie. Enough said!

Well, we at least need an offer, so here it is: Any booking for the Blue Mountains Folk Festival will receive three nights for the price of two, for the first two adults. That’s $380 for three nights – within ten minutes of the festival!

For children and extra adults, the normal rate ($15 per night for children, $30 per night for adults) will apply.

The offer is valid until January 31, 2012.

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!

Bird of the Week: Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo

Author: David Cook Wildlife PhotographyLicense:  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

Author: David Cook Wildlife Photography
License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

Ahh, the Black Cockatoos.

As I sit here writing this, they are welcoming the bad weather by with what has to be the best horror-movie sound made by any bird, as they hang around the top of ridges looking for pine nuts (of which there are plenty in Wentworth Falls) and banksias (also available in profusion).

Since there aren’t pine trees on Bunjaree Cottages, it’s the banksia that brings the Black Cockatoo here. They don’t live on the property, but they are frequent visitors, always identified by their calls.

They are the largest birds you will see roosting on Bunjaree trees (as much as 65 cm in length), making their agility truly impressive: they seem completely unfazed at the aerobatics required to fly through spaces barely wider than their wing-span!

While they snack on large nuts, the Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos’ main diet is wood-boring grubs – which means they can do considerable damage to tree branches while feeding!

These are truly magnificent birds, a wonder and a treat to see.

Scenic Railway upgrade

If, like we are, you’re a fan of the Scenic Railway, make sure to visit before January 13. The currenico-railwayt machinery on the world’s steepest passenger railway has been operating since 1994, and the owners have decided that the tracks, winch and carriages need replacing. The project is going to be accompanied by a redevelopment of the platforms.

The redeveloped Scenic Railway will open in Autumn 2013.

School holidays and other events for January 2013

Since there are still vacancies for January 2013, we thought we would gather a “what’s on” for guests planning a school holiday visit.

Mount Tomah – Quirky Nature Quest (Jan-Feb) Tomah

Until the end of February, the wonderful Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens is a summer “adventure into nature” – and maps with clue sheets are just $3.50 each, making this a wonderfully affordable day out. http://www.bluemts.com.au/tourist/whatson/?evID=3967

Leura Shakespeare FestivalLeura Shakespeare Festival (Jan 5-20)

The hard-working performers from the Sport for Jove Theatre and the National are putting on two performances Saturdays and Sundays, drawn from Twelfth Night and a double bill of the Comedy of Errors and The Tempest. Running from January 5 to January 20. http://www.sportforjove.com.au/

Holiday Art School (Jan 7-11)

The Blue Mountains Cultural Centre is running a one-week art school suitable for children between the ages of 5 and 10, at the centre in Parkes Street Katoomba. It’s $45 per day or $200 for the week. http://www.bluemts.com.au/tourist/whatson/?evID=3976

Crop and Swap (Various dates) cropandswap

If you’re a grower or a maker, check out the Faulconbridge Crop and Swap markets on Saturday January 12, February 9, March 9 or April 13. Don’t bring money with you – bring something to swap! http://www.bluemts.com.au/tourist/whatson/?evID=335

LadyLuckLady Luck Festival (Jan 18-19)

For two days only – January 18 and 19 (Friday and Saturday) – Carrington Place at Katoomba will come alive with the feel of the 1950s. The burlesque workshop might not be for the kids, but Saturday’s outdoor event will feature hot rods, vintage cars, market stalls and more. http://www.bluemts.com.au/tourist/whatson/?evID=824

Australia Day: Annual Gnome Convention

Glenbrook Park comes alive each year with stalls, rides, and more garden gnomes than you can count! http://www.bluemts.com.au/tourist/whatson/?evID=669

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!

Now open: Blue Mountains City Art Gallery

Visitors to Bunjaree Cottages will be pleased to know that there’s a new art gallery in Katoomba, just 15 minutes away. The Blue Mountains City Art Gallery launched last month with its first exhibition, Picturing the Great Divide, which features works from the 19th century through to contemporary times.

The gallery is also wonderfully affordable, with a family of four able to see the 100-painting exhibition for $16 ($5 for each adult, $3 for each child).

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!