The Disappearing Emu

Australia’s early settlers hunted emus for food and as a result the emus that were abundant in Tasmania and Australia’s east coast disappeared.  Today, only one population remains in existence, aside from the thriving Australian inland emus, the coastal emu. The New South Wales (NSW) Government, in 2002, listed the coastal emus as an endangered population as its numbers were, and continues to be, in steep decline.

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The coastal emu. Photography by Stephen Otton

The coastal emu is genetically distinct from the inland emu and an important seed disperser. It travels large distances and plays an important role in the regeneration of native species. Other species do a similar service but not to the same capacity. If the coastal emu is lost from the ecosystem it will reduce diversity and populations of species that depend on the plants, not to mention the loss of another emu species.

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The range of the endangered coastal emu population. (Image credit: Coastal Emu Alliance). An estimated 50 Coastal Emus remain in crucial habitat areas of the Clarence and Richmond valleys.

A concerted effort is necessary to save an endangered species with numbers as low as the coastal emu. It is encouraged that sightings of coastal emus and/or nests are reported to The Coastal Emu Register. Identifying nesting sites can help target feral animal control at the local level. Tracking the seasonal movements of the emus, will help build an understanding of the survival rates of adults and chicks, and whether a captive breeding may be required to re-build the number of Coastal Emus found in the wild.

If you are out and about coastal emu spotting, for accuracy sake, please be aware that there are also adventuresome PJ Paintings emus running around.

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Family Outing
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Bonnie and Me!
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Surfing Clifton Beach, Tasmania

Take care and thank you for visiting the unfurling artist. 🙂

PJ Paintings prints are available at http://www.pjpaintings.com

With a Little Help from my Friends

Sometimes I paint something that no matter how hard I rack my brain, I can’t think of a title. I know you can go with the title “Untitled” but I’d rather not.

A good friend of mine, from the northern end of Tasmania, asked me if I could paint an ice skating emu so that she could get a print of the painting to give to her daughter, who LOVES ice skating. She regularly travels to Hobart for that very purpose – to ice skate.

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Thinking of a title turned out to be more difficult than drawing and painting the picture. Has anyone else had this problem?? Some of the titles I came up with were:

  • Spin- ster
  • Going for a Spin
  • Ice Queen
  • Ice Princess

Unhappy with all of the above, I decided it was time to elicit some help from my Facebook friends. Ideas were proposed and I narrowed it down to “Emu Icecapades”. I think this is an awesome title for the painting.

Thank you friends for helping me name this painting!

Prints are available at www.pjpaintings.com

Emus Barred from Bar

The Yaraka Hotel in outback Queensland, Australia, has banned entry to Kevin and Carol emus, and as a consequence gained worldwide notoriety, as the story has gone viral. The world is in need of some light-hearted news during the COVID-19 pandemic and this story seems to be fulfilling some of this demand.

A local Animal Rescuer, Leanne Byrne, found an abandoned emu nest of eggs and raised the clutch of emus. Kevin’s and Carol’s brothers and sisters have moved on, but this pair remained and endeared themselves to the locals and visitors alike.

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Leanne Byrne poses for a photo with one of her feathery babies.

A rift developed after Kevin and Carol learnt how to climb stairs to gain entry into the pub.

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The inquisitive emus were captured on digital by pub customer and visiting tourist Sam Guzzardi.

The pair caused havoc by eating guests’ food and leaving messy, smelly deposits behind, which the pub owner wasn’t too thrilled about having to clean up each time it happened, and apparently emu toileting needs are frequent!

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The emus are no longer allowed in the Yaraka Hotel after a spate of bad behaviour.(Supplied: Chris Gimblett)

In order to maintain a good working relationship, the owner of the pub set up emu barricades, citing ‘bad emu behaviour’ as making this a necessary action.

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The hotel has erected barricades and put up signs urging tourists to keep the emus out.(Supplied: Chris Gimblett)

Kevin and Carol aren’t the only emus strutting there stuff around town. I’ve captured other emus in their strutting action too.

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Bright & Breezy
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Walking with Flair
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A Fashion af-Flair

Take care everybody and be careful around misbehaving emus.

P.S. Original paintings and prints are available at http://www.pjpaintings.com

Four Iconic Australians

The yellow-tailed black cockatoo is native to Australia and Tasmania. I often see flocks of yellow-tailed black cockatoos swoop and fly around my house, announcing their arrival with their distinctive raucous call. It is an iconic and beautiful Australian bird and one that I am very fond of.

There is uncertainty whether galahs are native or not to Tasmania. Records show that they were here as early as the 1840s. I thought galahs were rather harmless and not causing too much trouble in Tasmania but it turns out that the north-west Tasmanian council wants to cull galahs!! Apparently they are “costly and dangerous” because large flocks are killing trees and gnawing powerlines around Ulverstone.

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a yellow-tailed black cockatoo and a galah

The sulphur-crested cockatoo is also an iconic Australian bird and it has established itself in Tasmania. They are thought to have migrated over the Bass Strait under their own wing, and there is this same line of thought about galahs. They are a common sight in Tasmania. The sulphur-crested cockatoo is viewed as a pest by many farmers as large flocks regularly settle on fields of crops for a nice healthy feed.

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a sulphur-crested cockatoo

Kookaburras were introduced into Tasmania, in 1906, by humans, to try to reduce snake numbers.  The laughing birds were brought to Tasmania to eat snakes but they also eat native lizards and impact the native birds. They are nest robbers.

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Despite two (or three?) of these four iconic Australian birds not being native to Tasmania, and worrying about Tasmania’s native species, I love seeing and hearing them. Birds are beautiful and I love them.

Take care from PJ Paintings

Prints are available at http://www.pjpaintings.com

Share houses

It is a little too squishy for three tawny frogmouths and a baby wombat to share a nest, so the frogmouths have generously given the best room in the house to their guest, while they try to get some shut-eye on the outside premises.

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Share house

It’s a tight squeeze but this little wombat has managed to get comfy in this share house (wombats have such cute, gnarly feet!). Luckily wombats and Superb fairy-wrens are such gentle souls.

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House sharing

Prints of my “Share house” and “House sharing” paintings are available at http://www.pjpaintings.com under the Animals tab.

I hope that you are keeping well and safe.

Cheers, from PJ Paintings

What a Treat!

Ingenuity is amazing. A friend, at the beginning of the COVID-19 isolation restrictions, was sitting in his house, looking at the picture ledge in his Federation House and decided it needed a train. In six weeks, he built a train track that takes a train from the front entrance, down the hall, into the lounge room, then dining room, into the kitchen, through two kitchen cupboards and back out down to the other side of the hallway. Apologies in advance for the poor quality photos.

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The train track starting at the entrance of the house
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Train crossing the hall and making its way to the lounge room
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Train travelling in the lounge room
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Train about to leave the dining room and enter the kitchen.
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The Train travels through two kitchen cupboards and the back out to the hallway to do it all over again.

It was a real treat to enjoy a delicious home cooked meal with friends and a train!

The most exciting thing happening at my place is the succulent that my son bought me for a Mother’s Day present years ago, is flowering.

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love my succulents!

Hope the upcoming week chugs along well for you.

Cheers from Pj Paintings

Sometimes you just gotta get Out!!

I teach academic writing, normally in a classroom, face-to-face with students, but now, due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, I’m trying to do it via online, while developing content for the online platform. There’s a lot of sitting involved with the marking of assignments, phoning students, online development and delivery. Then for a break, I sit and paint.

Sometimes you just have to get out of the house and away from sitting, sitting, sitting. So, that’s what I did. I thought I might be able to squeeze a sketch in before it got dark. So, at around 4:30ish pm, I sketched this house while “sitting” in the car. (I went for a walk this morning to help combat the too-much-sitting problem). It’s in the Sandy Bay area, around the University of Tasmania. I forgot to take note of the street but I think it is Duke Street??

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It’s getting dark!

I used my usual approach to sketch this house. I firstly used a coloured water colour pencil, then ink and then painted it at home. I don’t usually do cars so I left them unfinished. I was noticing in the photo that there are a lot of overhead wires, I wonder if it would add interest or detract from the drawing?? What do you think??

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I hope that you get a chance to get out and enjoy some nature.

Take care, Pj Paintings

You call that a hedge??!

After Friday’s inspirational walk in Lenah Valley, besotted by hedges, I wanted to re-visit a well-known hedge in my neighbourhood.

I got up early on Saturday morning and set out with my sketching gear. It was a balmy 4 degrees when I left the house and as I was making my way down to this house, I spotted a familiar friend, the Bridgewater Jerry.

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The Bridgewater Jerry on the move

During the winter, the Bridgewater Jerry occurs, on average, once or twice a week. Tasmanians like to think it is unique but in reality a lot of places around the world experience similar fogs, it is just that we have named ours. It is believed the term “jerry’’ came from London where it was thieves’ slang for mist or fog and the term was transported to Tasmania with the convicts.

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creeping towards kunyani

This weekend’s fog had fuzzy edges but sometimes the edges are so sharp and crisp, giving it such an amazing 3-D appearance of a ribbon curving and winding its way in front of kunyani. It looks so incredible that I forget to take a photo of it each time!

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A visitor is coming, kunyani

At night, in the cooler months, cold air drains down the mountains and collects in the Derwent Valley. Fog will form if this air is moist and cool enough. Then Bridgewater Jerry drains out of the valley in the mornings. The fog mainly affects the Derwent, northern and western suburbs of Hobart, but occasionally it reaches the Eastern Shore. I have seen it once travel all the way across the river to Tranmere.

Some of the hedges I saw reminded me of the Crocodile Dundee knife scene, “You call that a hedge? This is a hedge!”

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A nicely trimmed, manageable hedge
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 This is what you call a hedge!

There is a house along the Esplanade and Derwent River in Bellerive that is referred to the “wave-hedge house’.

My fingers were numb so I sketched it as fast as I could and painted it when I got home.

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The wave hedge house in Bellerive

I wanted to exaggerate the colour of the hedge, almost give it a bit of an abstract look and make the hedge the dominant feature of the painting. I wish I had drawn it from a more side on angle… another time.

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My sketch of the wave hedge house

Thanks for joining me on my art journeying.

Take care and stay safe.

Going for a Walk in Lenah Valley

Two days ago, my friend and I went for a walk in Lenah Valley, a suburb in Hobart, Tasmania. The sky was a brilliant cobalt blue, the sun was sparkling, the greens were singing and as we walked by houses, they were beckoning “sketch me!”, “sketch me!” but we were going for a coffee and a walk, so we tried to ignore them.

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Glorious kunanyi from the Lenah Valley perspective. Look at the sky!

We came across this round-about, which started as a wool-bombing spot and has remained as a community sculptural/art-communication spot. The decorations and little driver is regularly changed.

And then we came across this house.  There was something about this scene that made us pull out our sketch books. The angle, the leaning mailbox, the sheep and the juxtaposition of the tall tree behind the house.

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The house that said, “Sketch me!” “Sketch me, please!” the loudest
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the sheep and leaning mailbox

I ran out of room to really show how small the house looked in front of the huge tree behind it.

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My sketch, drawn on site, painted at home

Then we continued our walk and we were awe-struck by hedges. They seemed alive,  moving, writhing green waves. They were entrancing.

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Massive hedge that hid house from view
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Friend standing in front of hedge to help establish how tall it is!
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Gorgeous, swirling hedge in front of a charming house and tree. I’d love to draw this too.
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House playing peek-a-boo! in Lenah Valley

There are so many gorgeous suburbs in Hobart with glorious houses to sketch. I hope that if you haven’t visited Hobart, that one day you will be able to.

Stay safe and take care.

Thanks for visiting and sharing the unfurling artist’s journaling and journeying.