Magpie Showers

Australian Magpies – Cracticus tibicen are just the most lovely birds. Their striking black and white plumage and beautiful red/brown eyes are topped off with the most wonderful warbling call. It really is one of the iconic bird calls of Australia and its bushland.

Over recent weeks my husband has been spending a fair bit of time pottering around in the garden. He has been putting in a pond with water for the birds. As it has been a particularly dry Spring so far, it seems to being appreciated by a number of bird species including magpies.It is nesting time for Magpies at this time of year and many of the local magpies are swooping at this time of year protecting their nesting zones. Often our neighbours have trouble going into their backyards to do things such as hanging their clothes no the line we have never had that problem. Having been hit in the back of the head by a swooping Magpie protecting it’s nest as a child I can say it really actually hurts! So avoiding their swoop or nesting zones is a definite strategy I would recommend.

Our little band of local magpies however, come into our native garden frequently without any animosity. It is a different matter if you were to go outside the fence but it seems a kind of ‘magpie swooping free zone’ inside the fence.

Whilst gardening one of the ‘locals’ decided it was a great idea to stand nearby my husband and wait for him to throw any earthworms he dug up its way. As a result the two have built up a kind of bird / man relationship of sorts.

It seems this has now extended to lining up for a shower when he goes to water the veggie garden and keep the pond filled up.

Magpie shower 2 Magpie shower 3 Magpie shower 10

This lovely creature preens, fluffs and just so enjoys his little shower.

He flies away but comes back again and again for more of that delicious cool light misty spray from the garden hose.

It has been particularly warm this Spring so far so just was we used to do as kids a good cool off under the garden hose or sprinkler this lovely Magpie thinks it is just the bees knees.

Magpie shower 20

Flight Officer Don Vidler – DFC – ANZAC DAY 2013

In Australia the 25th April is ANZAC Day – it is a time to remember those who died, fought and supported those who fought in wars and conflicts. It is not a time to celebrate war but to remember the contributions of many who found themselves going into war or conflict to defend their country.

Last year I wrote about and recorded the diary of my father –in-law Emanuel Weir who was a Flight Officer in WW2.

This year I am writing about Don Vidler a Flight Officer/Pilot in WW2 who was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross – DFC – and who was not only my second cousin but someone who I grew up seeing regularly and with fond memories of these family times. My Nanna was originally a Vidler before she married my Pop and became a ‘Moss’. Don was my mum’s cousin and we would get together – both our families lived in the Sutherland Shire. He was a favourite with my Nanna!

My memory of him is of a kind, genuine, caring and honorable man with a keen sense of humour and mischief.

This is a favourite photo of mine of Don – it is how I remember him with a broad and ready smile.

I took it at the Anzac Day Sydney march in 1981 as part of my Essay on Anzac Day for my HSC Art major work.

Don Vidler 4WEB

This is a little of his story.

Donald Earl Vidler was born in Ballina in 1919. His father died in an accident when Don was 3 years old and Don left school at 13years after gaining his QC Certificate to work to help and support his mother who owned a store in Ballina. This was the time before Widow’s pensions and Social Security and Don worked hard to help his mother including some time cutting sugar cane by hand – a hard and physically demanding job.

Don joined the Airforce in 1942 and like my husband’s father was posted to, and trained in, Canada as a pilot under the Empire Training Scheme. On completion of his training he was posted to England as a Spitfire Pilot. However his time as a Spitfire Pilot ended abruptly when he was transferred to Bomber Command. Apparently Don and his friend Harry Powell decided to do some air-to-gunnery practice and when turning to attack, Don fired his guns too soon resulting in him shooting the tail off the towing aircraft. By all accounts he and his friend Harry thought it was hilarious but the authorities did not, and he was transferred to Bomber Command.

On a wet and cold night at around midnight on the 8th September 1944 Lancaster LM270D2 of the 626 Squadron RAF, Wickenby of which Don was the pilot was returning to base at Wickenby after a training exercise. He was faced with the possible head on collision with another Lancaster from a neighbouring air base who was also on a holding pattern. Don took evasive action to avoid the collision turning his nose down whilst the other aircraft turned its nose up, narrowly missing a cottage and crashing into a field at 200mph. The undercarriage was torn off, the airplane was on fire and its ammunition was exploding.

An account by John Crompton was to be published in the Lincolnshire Life in November 2000 including:

“Gordon Horner (Navigator) was able to open the cockpit escape hatch and to extricate Don Vidler (Pilot), who was unable to move from his seat. Horner pushed Keith Guy (Bomb Aimer) and Vidler through the hatch. He then managed to free John Fincher (Wireless Telegrapher), whose foot was trapped under his table. Horner and Fincher then escaped.

Don Vidler assembled the four crew members, and they at oce began looking for the other three crew members. David Hooker (Mid Upper Gunner) was found by Horner, unconscious under the starboard wing, and Tom Griffiths (Rear Gunner) was found extensively injured, outside his rear turret. Vidler and Horner attempted to re-enter the aircraft to find the seventh man, but he, Eric Madge (110749) had, in fact, been killed.”

Don had employed evasive action which resulted in a loss of control and the crash of his aircraft. The Flight Engineer was killed and the Rear Gunner broke both his legs in the crash. First to the scene were two teenagers from a nearby farm, and under extreme personal danger, assisted in the evacuation and first aid of the injured crew. One of teenagers, Charles Wright, a Boy Scout, received a Silver Medal – the highest Scout Award presented to him in Lincoln Cathedral, the other Ralph Scott, letters of Commendation from the Commanding Officer of the Squadron, and other sources for his bravery.

Don Vidler - Ralph Scott Comendation WEb

The list of injuries is recorded below.

Destruction of training aircraft which crashed on return from a cross country exercise.

626/D2                        LM270                                    Crash site – Wickenby

Pilot.                P/O D.E. Vidler                       Fractured ribs.                        

W.R. member No. 242

Nav.                 F/S G.J. Horner                      Fractured nose.

W.T.                F/S J.F. Fincher                      Lacerated face.                        

W.R. member No. 233

B.A.                 F/S K.B. Guy              Contused nose and both legs. 

W.R. member No. 346

Eng.                 Sgt. Madge                  Killed

M.U.G.                       F/S Hooker                 Internal injuries.

R.G.                F/S Griffiths                Compound fractures.

LM270 626 SqaudronWEB

Don went on to fly Lancaster bombers over Europe with his crew.

The recollection of the particular mission is recorded by John Fincher – one of Don’s crew in the Eulogy that he gave for Don at his funeral.

“One of our most memorable trips was on the 17th December 1944; we were part of a large force of Lancasters attacking Ulm. Over the target we were attacked by two JU88’s; only Don’s exceptional strength and flying ability saved us. No doubt his strength came in part from his work cutting cane – a hard and difficult task. Don hurled that Lancaster around in very evasive corkscrews. But even then the JU88’s inflicted very heavy loss to our aircraft – rudders, elevators and tailplane were severely damaged and parts shot away. Bullets and cannon shells tore holes through the fuselage and around the rear gunner. The aircraft was extremely difficult to control and Don and Keith struggled to keep it airborne. Don’s strength was such that in an effort to control the aircraft, he bent the rudder bar with his feet. One of our Flight Commanders remarked that without Don’s strength and determination we would never have returned.

We landed on a special emergency drome at Woodbridge and rather than have the Squadron send an aircraft to pick us up. Don decided that we would return by train.”

Don Vidler Citation DFC WEB

The citation for Don’s award of the Distinguished Flying Cross – DFC – says:

            “Flying Officer VIDLER has completed a number of successful sorties attacking such heavily defended targets as HANOVER and COLGNE.

            His tremendous keenness and fine fighting spirit have been outstanding and have set a magnificent example to his crew.

            In December, 1944, during a mission to ULM his aircraft was attacked by an enemy fighter whilst over the target area, but nevertheless he succeeded in dropping his bombs before taking evasive action. His aircraft was severely damaged and most of the control surfaces of the tail were shot away, but by superb airmanship he maintained control of the aircraft and brought it safely back.

            At all times, Flying Officer VIDLER has displayed exceptional skill, coolness and devotion to duty.”

A Telegram was sent to Don’s mother in Ballina – she must of been very proud of her son:

“Congratulations are extended to you by the Minster for Air and Air Board on the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to your son Flying Officer D E Vidler in recognitions of his gallant service stop advice of this award has just been received from the Air Ministry.”

Don Vidler Telegram to mother DFC WEB

As his friend and fellow crew mate John Fincher said in his Eulogy: “When I say that Don Vidler was a very special and remarkable person please remember that Don on leaving school, with only a Primary School education, flew Spitfires and Lancasters over England and much of Europe – a remarkable achievement.”

Photos of the 626 Squadron and crew.

Don Vidler Plane 1WEB

Don Vidler Plane 2 WEB

Here is an extract from a letter he wrote to John Fincher in 1947, written by Jack Yeats an English Engineer who shared a hut at Wickenby airbase with Don and John Fincher.

“I know I am something of a sentimentalist, I’m glad of that, if I weren’t I wouldn’t want to see a lot of old friends, hear a lot of old voices that I haven’t seen and heard for a long time. One of these days I’m going to Wickenby and walk past the old huts – the mess and see and old runways again. I suppose it’s all there yet – even if no lanes are left.

Sometimes at night I can’t sleep and I go over some of the things that Wickenby and old 626 stood for, the nostalgia it brings at times is overpowering. Clay Bridge Corner – the little winding road up to the Camp, the tense busy atmosphere in the locker room – the undercurrent of excitement – faces of friends; outside – the quietness of the sky. The moon – at times an unwelcome guest – how mysterious the stars seemed flying at night, the uncertainty of everything – even the next second; remember John the view of Happy Valley, the wonderful, terrible sight of thousands of searchlights grotesquely leaning sideways and the pin points of flak from a myriad studded pin cushion. The thrill of interrogation that made it all seem worthwhile.

I remember the old mess, the conversations over the pool table, round the fire, over the bus, the little cinema. Above all the friendships that existed, the laughs, the worried and everything else that made up the life at 626 and 12 Squadrons at Wickenby, friendships and comradeship were the two things that made things bearable. How unreal it all seems now, did it really happen John?”

Don Vidler 2 ANZAC DAY MARCH 1981

A photo of Don I took in 1981 Anzac Day march in Sydney with two of his friends from the Airforce. Don marched every year.

I think these words are poignant and give a depth to why ANZAC day is important. It is an understanding that I gained from caring for my father-in-law, that the friendships were important alongside the service. To remember those who fought, to honour those who died and an opportunity for those who still remain amongst us to be able to catch up remembering friendships and comradeship brought forth out of adversity, and honour those bonds.

Australia’s New National Cultural Policy – Creative Australia

Last week the Australian Government’s Arts Minister Simon Crean released the new ‘Creative Australia – The National Cultural Policy’. It has been 20 years since the government released an Arts or Cultural Policy so it was well overdue. I did think it was worth looking at the policy.

It is up to more qualified people than me to assess the full policy but I thought it would be good to take note of it here and what the Arts Minister, some of the Arts Organisations and the media had to say about. You can look up all the references below and make up your own minds as to what implications it will have for your own arts practice.

One of the major difficulties for myself and many others is that as ‘mid career’ artists often struggle far more than emerging artists. There is much more support for ’emerging artists’ at the beginning of their artmaking careers but these opportunities dwindle as you get into ‘mid career’. I do find the definitions difficult especially for someone like me who has been in a kind of ‘holding circle’ for the past few years producing just a small amount of work due to being a Carer within my family for both elderly relatives and my own family needing extra support. Alongside this, I have had issues with RSI and shoulder surgery that has been impacting on my artistic output for the past few years as well. I feel like I have been in a kind of hiatus and am only now beginning to ‘restart’ my career. So does this mean the first few years count and the clock stopped on the ’emerging’ and is just now restarting? Definitions themselves can be used to both help and hinder.

The other aspect for myself is the fact that I don’t really ‘fit’ as either a ‘traditional’ artist in the sense that I am not a ‘painter’ but my subject matter is largely ‘traditional’ ie. flowers. the difficulty is it is also ‘design’ based and printmaking. This has often presented difficulties for galleries who have no idea where my work ‘fits’. They also may not understand printmaking and often have a focus on ‘contemporary’ artworks. The Australian Government website states: “Contemporary art is defined as art that is current, offering a fresh perspective and point of view, and often employing new techniques and new media. Current art means works by both emerging and also established artists.”

These were a few of the ideas I submitted when the government was calling for submissions towards the development of the new policy.

Australian Wildflower Linocut - Australian Floral Emblems

You can read the full policy on Creative Australia website.

If you would like to see Simon Crean’s launch of the policy at the Press Club on Wednesday 13th March you can click here.

I was very impressed to see an Arts Minister who is enthusiastic about the arts and the promotion of Arts with education and within schools.

In the Transcript of the Creative Australia launch, National Press Club, Canberra, Mr Crean says:

“It’s a policy that sees the artist at the centre of creativity.

A policy that sees creativity crucial to the nation’s future.

A policy built on partnership.

But most of all, a policy proud of our culture…

…a culture which uniquely defines us…

…a culture which is admired by others.”


“Culture is expressed in many ways through our stories, the way we live, speak, conduct public life, relate to others, celebrate, remember the past, entertain ourselves and imagine the future.

Our creative expression gives voice to us as individuals, challenges perceptions and helps us see the world through the eyes of others.

I, like many, have long held a passion for the arts.

It’s not just the enjoyment they bring, they’ve shaped and developed many aspects of who I am.

Just as they will have for everyone in this room and for anyone watching this broadcast.

I see the artist as central to us as a nation.

And to securing its future.

I believe government and society must continue to invest in the arts.

That investment produces important dividend”

ABC Radio National Breakfast Program with Fran Kelly has an excellent interview with Mr Crean including him saying:

“So the artist in many ways is at the centre of creativity and a creative society is the key to a competitive, globally engaged economy. So this is something that is about defining us, something about the investment in the artist but something that sets us up for the future as well.”

He also released a News Release for young Artists – Creative Australia to back students to pursue their dreams

Some analysis by Organisations:

NAVA – National Association fro the Visual Arts – National Cultural Policy – A Visual Arts Perspective

The Australia Council – Australia Council and the National Cultural Policy

ABC Radio National – Books & Arts – National Cultural Policy

artsHub – Creative Australia: Where the money goes

The Conversation – Joining the dots: Indigenous art and language in the national cultural policy

Read more: Some analysis from the media:

Modern touch for arts policy as autopilot finally disengaged

Simon Crean’s cultural manifesto is worth a second look

Arts Minister Simon Crean’s revamp encourages performers to ask fans for backing

Arts funding winners grin, but some criticism for Crean report

Creative Australia arts policy to ‘create jobs’



NOTE: Since writing this post we now have a new Federal Arts Minister – Tony Burke. Mr Burke came out as soon as the announcement that he was the new Minister & stated on Twitter : “Simon Crean produced an inspiring cultural policy in Creative Australia. It’s an honour to implement it as Arts Minister.”

New minister stands by arts policy

New Arts Minister Plans To Implement Crean’s Policy

Childhood friends – Sharon Quandt Photography


I have a lovely friend – Sharon – who I grew up with in Loftus, Sydney. We lived across the road from each other and spent most days playing, riding bikes, building cubby houses and exploring the bushland. It was back in the 1960’s and 70’s when kids seemed to roam freely and widely & we had many ‘adventure’ and good times.

We went to school together – either walking or catching the local bus. Here we are in 1971 – where we are both looking decidedly mischievous, and in 1974 when we are looking a bit more grown up.

LYN & SHARON 1971 WEB Lyn & Sharon 1974WEB

We lived in a cul-de-sac which I think was the most wonderful type of street (as anyone who has grown up in one can agree) where we had a ready-made community. All of us kids would have the best time as well as learning to get along better with others. When we fought we had to resolve it pretty quickly – we had to live alongside each other and it was far less fun when we weren’t all together! We had a hill going down into the cul-de-sac flat area and would ride bikes and home-made billy carts. Although I do think this birthday present bike was rather large for me at the time.

LynettePerkinsWeir - Primrose Place Kids 3

Birthday parties were a chance for us kids to dress up and get together. Sharon is on the right between her brother and sister.

LynettePerkinsWeir - Primrose Place Kids 2

Sharon and I were also Bridesmaids for each other – even sharing our Bridesmaids dresses!

WeddingPartySharon & Darren Quandt Wedding 1 WEB

A couple of years ago Sharon decided to take up photography as a hobby but it has become a bit more than that!


I see myself as someone who has always taken photos – family events, people places and of course native wildflowers & wildlife – a ‘snapper’ and recorder. But I see Sharon as a true Photographer. She can tell you all about the cameras and settings and how they work. She has spent many hours learning and developing her skills. I always said to her from the beginning she had a great ‘eye’ for photos – composition, colour and interest and she is producing the most wonderful photos. A little while back I helped her start a new website which she is developing.





I really like her portraits where she has captured some beautiful images and wonderful ‘moments’.

You can see this in her photos – this is of one of her gorgeous niece and three of her nephews.



Sharon’s family has always been involved in the local Bushfire Brigade – a really important organisation especially somewhere like Loftus which is surrounded but native bushland. I remember well many anxious times as we watched out of control fires heading up the gullies behind Loftus and our street. Sharon is also a member of the Brigade and has taken her camera along to trainings and events.



So if you are looking for someone to take some photos (Sharon is in Sydney) – portraits, functions, weddings – I have included Sharon’s new poster below with her contact details on it. She has a website – Sharon Quandt Photography and a Facebook Page where you can follow what she is up to.


Childhood and lifelong friends are just so special.

Sometimes you won’t see these friends for months or years but when you do it is just like you were talking yesterday.

Sharon is one of those friends – a kind and generous person which I think you can see through her gorgeous photography.

Winter lemon-tipped starry blossoms – Swamp Bloodwood


Winter days this year on Northern NSW, have been oscillating between rain, and lots of it, and the most brilliant warm sunshine days. Temperature ranges in Winter for the locals mean that below 18c is a COLD day and 14c is FREEZING!!

Out and about today (‘Son3’s Taxi Service’) came across some Corymbia ptychocarpa it was formally known as Eucalyptus ptychocarpa or commonly know as Swamp Bloodwood. It comes form the Kimberley region/Northern Territory but a few locals manage to grow some of this species here, with a few long standing trees on the roadside of the back roads.

It is a ‘straggly tree’ with beautiful deep green drooping leaves and pink blossoms.

The new growth leaves start a yellow orangey/pink shade and gradually as they get older turn into a large sweep of deep green leaves.

The leaves alone are quite stunning!

Add in some soft pink ribbed flower buds …

… slowly revealing their treasures …

… of stunning starry lemon tipped pink blossoms …

… bursting out of those soft pink capsules …

… and when they’re spent you’re left with pinky green fruit vessels …

… sometimes they still cling their little ‘hats’ for a while …

… leaving weathered spent seed pods providing some final ‘character’.

Now you know why the Australian children’s author and illustrator May Gibbs created her gorgeous Gum Blossom bush characters.

I have been reading ‘May Gibbs – More Than A Fairytale An Artistic Life’ a stunningly presented book outlining May’s early life and development as an artist.  I would love to see a movie about our ‘Miss Gibbs’ such an amazing artist & woman.


Now & Then – Ballina & Yamba: Wild Surf & Beach Foam

After a couple of difficult weeks again with my shoulder overuse injury I was back at the Physio in Ballina. I will need surgery on the shoulder within the next few weeks – something I am not looking forward to. I am however looking forward to the likelihood that it will greatly improve my pain levels and allow me to work more consistently on my lino carving! Thinking positively! Recovery will be a slower process and will mean that I will have to concentrate on artwork other than lino carving for a while. So that means more drawing (that I love doing) and I would like to get back to doing some photography work especially upgrading skills  within the digital photography realm. Another printmaking field I’d like to explore is solar plate etching & am hoping to find some short courses to do.

Anyway after the physio I couldn’t resist a lovely walk on the beach. It has been very very wet here over the past few weeks and it was great to have a day with less rain & a window of opportunity to go for a walk on the beach! I didn’t have my SLR camera with me but did have my iPhone. The surf has been pretty wild and as a result the beach foam was pretty spectacular.





When I was young and right up until I was married, all the holidays that my Dad took found us as a family headed all the way from Sydney to Yamba where my Grandparents lived. My Dad grew up outside Grafton and then Yamba and he couldn’t wait to get back there to go fishing in his beloved Clarence River. In retirement he found a lovely spot with his own wharf to fish off just outside Grafton.  He had moved to Sydney in the 1950’s to find work and later my Mum joined him. It was such a long drive taking about 12 hours driving on the winding and dangerous Princes Highway way back then from Loftus to Yamba. Not a good process for someone like me with motion sickness making the trip fairly tortuous. I used to have to take those awful motion sickness tablets – not sure what was worse the car sickness or the taste of those tablets! Nothing really worked & invariably there was at least one stop whilst I was sick.

The trip I must say has definitely improved. It is about 8 hours now with mostly double lane divided roads and nearly all of those old dangerous roads like around Bulahdelah are now gone thank goodness!

In 1974 there was a major flood from Cyclone Zoe and the one road out of Yamba was cut off. This was most fortunate for me, as someone who was not exactly fond of school this ‘natural disaster’ came at the end of our holiday time and meant we ended up missing a few extra days of school! As a teenager I remember being most excited as this was the first flood I had actually experienced. Living on the North Coast in the last few years in particular, floods have been a common occurrence, from small to moderate and the impact can be from nuisance to devastating.

These photos are from an extreme weather incident that hit the Yamba/North Coast NSW around from memory 1979/80. I was a keen black and white photographer processing and printing all my own photos from Year 10 at High School and these negatives were from this time. I saved up a couple of years later and bought the best enlarger and lens I could afford and spent endless hours in the ‘darkroom’ which essentially was our bathroom with black plastic blocking out light from the window and the door. The processing trays of chemicals were set up over the bath! These photos are some I took of the beach foam at that time. They show Main Beach Yamba and as you can see the foam levels were absolutely huge! It must have been about 10 feet deep! I scanned the B&W negatives and photoshopped them – my film processing skills and photography skills back then were pretty basic so the negatives are a bit limited but they do show an incredible sight. I remember thinking at the time it looked like thick snowfall, beautiful as is was still white but dangerous as well. It would be very easy to have got lost in amongst all that foam, thank goodness everyone had the good sense to watch from afar!

The surf foam and the distinctive North Coast Pandanas.

This shows the foam reaching right up to the Surf House.

This is looking across the beach towards the light house and entrance to the Clarence River. Iluka is on the opposite side of the river entrance and can be seen faintly in the distance.

The handrails that lead into the sea swimming pool that is alongside Main Beach shows the height of the foam that was rolling into shore in deep waves.

This photo below is an old slide my Dad took in about the 1960’s I think – it shows Main Beach at low tide looking from the opposite side where the lighthouse is and gives a sense of the amount of foam that was on the beach.

Outside my Studio Window: Blue Faced Honeyeater & Banksia robur

I have planted 2 large banksias just outside the very large windows in my drawing studio. They are a Banksia serrata and a Banksia robur. I have done this deliberately as they attract some beautiful birds, as well as the usual annoying culprits like the native noisy miner.

One of my regular visitors are a pair of Blue Faced Honeyeaters.

As you can see it has been raining here, quite regularly – am actually feeling slightly sodden, but they seem to carry on wet feathers and all.

They seem to particularly love feeding on the nectar from the local species Banksia robur, and often sticky beak into my studio studying what’s going on.

They have the most stunning green/gold feathers in their wings – but as you can see are easily distracted and can be quite skittish. Although when our small indoors cat ‘Ren’ is stalking along the windows yowling I guess they have good reason although there is no possibility of her ever getting to them.

Just look at the stunning colour around the eye and down onto the beak. This one must be a young one as they say the skin around the eye can be a yellow-green and the more nature birds like in the photos above have that beautiful brilliant blue that gives them their name.

Apparently they are also known as a Banana Bird as they feed on the flowers/fruit of the banana trees.

Their call can be heard here on the Birds in Backyard website – they are early risers and start their call about half an hour before sunrise.

Not that I would notice – tend to be up late with the Owls and sound asleep before sunrise!