Welcome to this blog, the story of a great big Australian adventure. It documents my travels, life in Australia, and a subject close to my heart – environmental conservation. 

Golden days

Brisbanites wax lyrical about August weather, but these April days must take some beating. The clear early-mornings still hold the promise of heat, but calm not stormy. It's been hitting 28 or 29 degrees this past week, but it's clean and bright, not laden with humidity. As I write, the sky is a delightful, profound mid-blue and cloudless. 'It's good to be alive' weather, that's what it is.

Yesterday I was enquiring about booking a birthday weekend on a subtropical island 600km east of Sydney. How warm would it be in October, and how wet, I wondered. Oh, maybe about 21 degrees, quite windy, not wet, a bit like the weather in New South Wales [not a small area], but who knows any more, was the tentative reply. Who knows, indeed? Australians tend to shrug their shoulders and shake their heads noncommittally when asked about their weather these days. Wine-producers in the Lower Hunter may not have had as much rain as they would have normally expected during the growing season, but most people are in the other category - those who have experienced far more than they've seen in living memory.

On ABC Brisbane last week, a weatherman's stab at a 'long-range' forecast mentioned more rain to come for South East Queensland but decreasing towards Easter. We've had a couple of half-days with a few substantial showers since. (My Easter escape to the Blackall Range will now be a washout, you'll see.) Commentators also keep saying that temperatures are currently several degrees above average for April. It's weather anarchy, whether it's La Niña or AGW.

The mozzies have gone – well, most of them – which is a joy. Unfortunately, too, have most of the geckos – presumably to sleep, because it's quite a bit cooler at night. I will miss them over the next few months. When we eat out during the summer months there are always several on the walls or the ceiling above the patio with their eyes on edible critters attracted by the lights. Inside, they often squeeze in above the front door and scurry behind paintings and wall hangings. In gecko season, I have to raise the blinds with extreme caution every morning in case there's one resting on top, a good vantage point for moth-spotting: a gecko rolled in a roller blind may lose a limb or worse. And Australian Magpies are carolling away as a prelude to the breeding season, which may start as early as June in these parts.

Things don't stop growing in autumn here: there's new growth to be seen everywhere, and only a few plants seem to die back.

Today I walked twice by the river. At about 9am, the outlook for the day ahead was exhilarating.

By mid-afternoon a few clouds made for a more interesting sky.

These days, the sun isn't rising until after 6am, and it has set by 5.30pm – one of the drawbacks of a subtropical latitude. On the other hand, its arc across the sky during the day being lower, there's much better backlighting for longer.

Back home in the UK, after a cruel-cold winter, the days are lengthening nicely and there's talk of weekend picnics. This year, the anticipation of spring is probably even greater than usual. Unusually, the days are probably equally invigorating in both my homes, but whereas a late Easter presents better prospects for a holiday weekend in the UK, here it leaves us all wondering, especially after Queensland's wild weather experiences of the last year, whether it's going to hold for our sojourn in a little cabin in Mapleton.

Reflections of New South Wales

East of Armidale