Welcome to Life Images by Jill

Welcome to Life Images by Jill.........Stepping into the light and bringing together the images and stories of our world. I am a photographer, writer and multi-media artist.
Focussing mainly on Western Australia and Australia, I am seeking to preserve images and memories of the beautiful world in which we live and the people in it.



Monday 25 November 2013

Photographing flowers and using clouds as a natural diffuser

I am taking a break today from blogging about our recent trip through South Australia. For those who are enjoying it, don't worry, I will be back.  Here is a link to the last post if you missed it - and you can scroll down to the complete list so far - South Australia Part 5 - Woomera, Coober Pedy & the Painted Desert

Yesterday I spent most of the day in my garden - my early summer flowers are starting to burst from their cups and it was a brilliant day for working in the garden as there was a light cloud cover, and in fact at one point it started to rain!

I have been so busy that it has been a while since I photographed flowers around my garden. I was grateful that the clouds were shading me as I worked and the overcast day got me thinking about how clouds act as a really great huge natural diffuser of the sun's light. This is perfect for photographing flowers as it balances, softens and evens out the light and you won't have blown out highlights, washed out colors, and harsh shadows. The diffused light will also help the colours of the flowers stand out. 

 So I took a break from my work for a while and got my camera out. 

Please click on "read more" to keep reading and see more pics! .........

Sunday 17 November 2013

South Austalia-Part 5 - Woomera, Coober Pedy & the Painted Desert

Welcome back for Part 4 of our trip through South Australia. If you missed the first three parts, please scroll down to the bottom of this post to go to the links.  Here is the link to the quick overview - On the road through South Australia.

Today we leave Port Augusta and the coast and travel up the Stuart Highway to Woomera, Coober Pedy, Arckaringa Station and the Painted Desert.  The blue line of this map shows an approximation of our route - 

The Stuart Highway runs for 3000 kilometres between Port Augusta up through central Australia to Darwin on the north coast. The Highway was named after explorer John McDouall Stuart who was the first European explorer to achieve the crossing in 1861-62, although the highway doesn't follow his exact route. His exploration to Darwin opened up the north and resulted in both the Overland Telegraph line and the Great Northern Railway. 

Travel along the Highway today is vastly different to what Stuart and his party would have experienced in 1861.  

 Please click on "Read more" to keep reading - there are lots more pics!

Monday 11 November 2013

Quandongs - delicious Australian bush food

Have you ever tasted Quandongs - or Quandong jam? Do you know what Quandongs are? Have you ever seen them in the bush?

Today I have taken a little side step from my blogging about our recent trip through South Australia - but really this post is a little more detail about a bush food you can see and taste in South Australia - the Quandong 

My curiosity with the Quandong started many years ago..... but even before this newspaper article in the West Australian newspaper in 1995 I knew about Quandongs. My mother said when she was a child they used to use quandong nuts on their Chinese Checkers game. 

 I wrote this creative piece for my writing group exercise -

The shiny red baubles hang in clusters glistening in the shafts of early morning light. It is a surprise to see them amongst the dull grey green. Their beauty entices me to crouch underneath their bright canopy. I reach up and gently tug at the nearest bauble. It resists and then yields. The ball is round and hard. I can see where it has been marked by creatures unseen. 
I squat on the carpet of green, red, yellow and brown balls that have fallen from the tree. Some are split and broken revealing a glimpse of the treasure within. I pick up one and pull aside the thin shell to reveal a perfectly round hard ball patterned with wavy lines. 
Curious I bite into the red ball that I have plucked from above. The tart bitter sweetness is a shock, but is irresistible. I nibble away the thin red and yellow layer and then secret the round knobbly nut in my pocket.  
As I reach up to pluck another bauble I sense someone is watching me. Looking across the clearing I see the soft brown eyes of a kangaroo gazing at me. In its hands is a bright red shiny bauble. 
- Jill Harrison, May 2013- 

I had seen plants during our travels through the Western Australia wheatbelt - but it was only a couple of years ago that I saw them fruiting and had the opportunity to taste them. They have a sharp bitter taste when eaten raw. 

Santalum Acuminatum or the Quandong 
CommonName: Quandong; Sweet Quandong, Wild Peach, Desert Peach, Native Peach, Guwandhuna, Gutchu, Wanjanu, Mangata, Goorti, Wadjal (Aboriginal names)
BotanicalName: Santalum acuminatum

distribution map The Quandong is a truly unique native Australian fruit. Traditionally the Quandong was an important food and medicinal source for Australian Aborigines and was also used by early pioneers and settlers as a fruit, or in jams and chutneys. Found in the arid and semi-arid regions of all Australian mainland states, Quandong trees are ideally adapted to arid environments. The Santalum Acuminatum species is known to be a semi-parasitic plant. Quandong trees can tolerate high soil salinity levels and often rely for their complete water requirements from the root systems of host plants. Across their native distribution range, Quandong trees typically grow 2 to 3 metres in height, with a dense leathery crown of leaves perhaps 2 metres wide. 

 You can read more about Quandongs at "Nullarbor Net" by clicking here - Quandongs - Nullarbornet

We have seen Quandong trees many times during our travels through the West Australian wheatbelt and along the Hyden to Norseman Road in Western Australia. More recently we saw them during our travels through South Australia.  They have a dull green dry looking leaf, but in season the bright red fruits attract your attention.
We saw this beautiful specimen you see here in the Coffin Bay area of the Eyre Peninsular in South Australia.

Quandongs are very similar to - Australian Sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) - and in fact belong to the same family.  Below you can see the Sandalwood on the left and the Quandong on the right.  The nut of the Sandalwood is smooth (sorry you can't see it in this picture) whilst the nut of the Quandong is nobbly. 

Harvesting wild Quandong fruit is prohibited, but when we visited the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden  in Port Augusta in South Australia in October, I purchased some Quandong fruit leather, preserves and dried Quandong, from plantation grown fruit by Bush Food Australia - click here - Bush Food Australia . We also tried the Quandong icecream and the Quandong cake in the Arid Lands cafe. The fruit has a tart-bitter sweet taste - delicious!

After our return home I made some Quandong jam - seen here below served with wattleseed pancakes and cream with wattleseed sprinkled over (watteseed is another bush food I bought from the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden)
Oh my goodness I am in raptures over quandong jam! 
I cooked down the fruit with a couple of green apples and the juice of 2 lemons. 

 You can buy dried Quandong from "Native Tastes of Australia" - click here to see more - Native Tastes of Australia
 On their site you will see some Quandong recipes including jam.  

 Here is an interesting post about edible native foods - click here - why-havent-we-embraced-indigenous-foods

 Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed learning something about the Quandong. Next week we will return to our South Australian travels.
If you missed any of my previous posts about our South Australia trip you can catch up by clicking on the links below -

 I am linking up to linkup sharing blogs below. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!  Have a wonderful week.

Mosaic Monday
Travel Photo Mondays
Our World Tuesday
Tuesday Around the World  
Foodie Tuesday
What's It Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday
 Oh The Places I've Been

Monday 4 November 2013

Rock formations and wildflowers in the Gawler Ranges National Park, South Australia

Welcome back to our trip from Western Australia and through South Australia. 
If you missed Part 2 last week, you can catch up by clicking here - Crossing Australia on the Eyre Highway

And so we leave Ceduna and continue along the Eyre Highway through the small towns of Poochera and Minnipa and across the top of the Eyre Peninsula. 

An approximation of our trail is shown here - 

17km north of Minnipa is the granite Pildappa Rock.  This is a lovely spot for a picnic or an overnight bush camp. A track goes around the rock and on one side of the rock you will see a wave formation - you an see it on the LHS of the collage below.  The walk over the rock is relatively easy and you will see various rock formations and fabulous views over surrounding farmland and the Gawler Ranges.  In a rock crevice near the picnic area is a garden reputed to have been planted by the Kwaterski sisters who lived nearby in 1938. It is thriving from run off from the rock. 
You can see it in the bottom middle pic here.....

I am trying out the "Read more" option....so please do click on the "read more" label to continue.... as there is lots more to read and lots more pics to enjoy!......