We’re braving a day further afield by ourselves. As we drove in from Melbourne airport along the Hume Freeway, we past an area called the Winton Wetlands, “a wetlands restoration project of national significance” [it says here]. Places with wetland in their title are usually of interest so off we set. It was about a 1-hour drive and, for want of a better target, we headed for what appeared to be a visitor centre on the map.
It didn’t quite make the dizzy heights of a visitor centre, as we would know it. It was basically a car park with a cafe and toilets but, though there were information boards at various points, they all contained a 400-word essay so they’d lost me. Besides, a gale-force wind was blowing so strongly that it was difficult to stand up whilst reading more than a few words. White caps were marching their way across the large water body of Winton Swamp.
Simple to assimilate information was scarcer than we’d have liked. For example, we saw a finger sign pointing to “woodland walk”. What there wasn’t was a distance quoted. Neither could we see details of how long the walk might have been once we arrived, assuming we did. We didn’t. We did head off in the direction indicated. though, but progress was admittedly very slow because I was being distracted by odonata, most of which were hunkering down low in the vegetation against the wind. One of them was a gaudy male Aurora Bluetail (Ischnura aurora) which I had been hoping to see.
We eventually covered about mile where Francine ended up playing with some trees with wet feet, too. Still seeing nothing that looked as though it might be the woodland walk, we decided to head back to the meagre information centre/cafe for coffee and a chat. I finally found a map and mentioned dragonflies which, as so often, caused raised eyebrows. [The subtext is usually, “what, not birds?”] I explained the wind that could’ve blown any interesting specimens into the northern hemisphere and asked if the man if knew of any more sheltered locations. “Not really”, he replied, “I’ve never known it this windy”. We headed for the worryingly named Boggy Bridge Road.
Having turned off along Boggy Bridge Road, there were some exhibition artworks tagged “Art in the Landscape”. We’d certainly gone the right way; as we stepped out to snag the artworks the wind was noticeably less and Francine’s hair stayed on her head. [Mine, of course, is already missing.] We came across pieces called Martin’s Barge (colourful cows in a floating pen affair), Boggy Bridge Fish Trees (colourful images of fish split across several individual tree trunks) and The CFA Tank (a water tank covered in monochrome portraits). Colourful, one in a black and white sort of way, and quite good fun but, as usual with modern art, one is left wondering why? Well, I am anyway but then I am a self-confessed artistic numbskull.
In between a couple of these works of art, we found another of nature’s works of art: a dragonfly that looked new to me was zooming about energetically over a small pond. I stalked it for some time, managing a handful of in-flight shots – it showed no signs of pausing. It showed no signs of pausing, that is, until it found a female and mated. The tandem pair began ovipositing just a short distance from me. A static shot at last.
Avoiding a road recommended only for 4×4 vehicles, we made our way back over safer gravel tracks for a well earned libation.