23 March, 2011

The traveling circus comes to town

As seems to be becoming a habit on public holidays, we once again took the opportunity of taking to the river for a picnic and family bike ride on Monday 14th. The weather was pleasant and we made it to the river without being run over using the on-again-off-again bike lanes down Swanston Street. First we headed to Breakwater with Peter and Fionn setting the pace on what we now refer to as "the Goodies' bike".
Peter and Fionn and the "Trailgator"
This is not really an exact description as there are only two of them, not three, but with Fionn being towed along behind with the "Trailgator" attaching their bikes, they certainly attract attention.
As I resisted the urge to leap off my own bike and take photos of possible edible plant-life, we made our way to Barwon Valley Fun Park where we decided to stop for lunch. Us and as it turned out, half of Geelong and several dozen Little Corellas who were in full voice. Actually, this was a new one. I had not to that point seen Corellas of any shape or size, however there they were and upon more recent inspection, there they remain. Their numbers seem to be increasing. When I headed past on a subsequent ride, they were settling in the surrounding gums and paperbark trees to the point where they looked like white feathered fruit on every branch. Periodically several dozen of them would take off in great wheeling flocks and head to what appeared to be a point somewhere further upriver on the Highton side.
In any case, on this Monday, we ate and then the boys headed for the play equipment. I took off to try to discover whether a few of the scrubby-looking weeds and grasses by the roadside might in fact have been remnant native vegetation, or rather more likely, re-plantings of native flora.
Little Corella at Barwon Valley Fun Park
After snapping off a variety of shots of what on the whole turned out to be nothing more than weeds or imported plants, we headed towards Fyansford, only to stop short soon after to investigate the Yollinko Aboriginal Park (see posting from 17th March). We discovered that we weren't the only ones taking advantage of the public holiday and stopped to say hi to the Stevensons (no relation) who were out for a walk as well.
We parted ways, with Sarah and I now taking the lead and trundled along to Fyansford.
Having taken control of the pace, I could afford the occasional pause to snap photos. I suspect I am now intimately acquainted with every dandelion between Breakwater and Fyansford, but am no closer to discovering any naturally occurring Yam Daisies. As far as I can tell, Yam Daisies have yellow flowers that to my eye are indistinguishable from Dandelions, Platain and a myriad of other non-descript small yellow flowers. There are some differences in foliage, but the real difference seems to lie in what is under the soil, making identification all the more difficult. Short of taking a small shovel and vandalising the entire length of the river through Geelong, I may have to find another solution to my problem.
The next stage of our escapade, saw the traveling circus head back towards town, with the by now obligatory stop for coffee at the Barwon Edge. With their hot chocolates delivered to the table and no kids in sight, things were pleasantly peaceful. I suggested the waiter quietly deliver them to a table on the other side of the premises and more than happy to oblige, he informed me he'd "deliver them to table 18 (round the corner out of sight) and sell the restaurant." I love a waiter with a sense of humour!

The traveling circus
So, suitably refreshed, we headed back to Swanston Street to complete our lap. At this point, I decided that another lap was in order, but for some reason, I seemed to be alone in my decision. That being the case, the others headed for home and I headed off to do another loop with camera in hand and no-one to leave me behind if I wanted to stop for a photo opportunity and I did find several which I had missed the first time round.  So, unlike the previous day when I had ridden alone and at a rather quicker pace, I completed my trip without coming home looking like a drowned rat and with the evidence to identify several edible Australian native plants and a variety of weeds.

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