I am an Australian natural history writer and photographer. My aim is to encourage people to venture outdoors and enjoy the natural beauty of our planet.
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Published February 8th 2016
Down on Maggie’s Farm
There are two parrots perched in the melaleuca tree. One appears to be feeding and the other is watching her intently. I know that the former is the male because of his bright colours, while the female red-romped parrot has more subdued plumage that has evolved for survival rather than show.
I am at the far end of a little lake that sits adjacent to Maggie Beer's Farm Shop which is situated just off the road to Seppeltsfield Winery in the Barossa Valley. The store and restaurant showcase a range of goods from pates and condiments to gourmet ice creams, all sourced from local produce wherever possible. There is also a small vineyard and olive grove close to the lake which provide the raw material for Maggie's products, as well as helping to attract a more diverse range of wildlife.
As I walk a little further along the gravel track that surrounds the lake I can hear the staccato sounds of frogs and cicadas. There are a variety of water fowl from ducks to moorhens feeding around the reed beds as well as numerous short necked turtles basking and swimming on the surface. Two of the aquatic reptiles appear to be following each other head to tail. They separate for a while, then resume their dance; mating behaviour or just chance…who knows?
It takes around fifteen minutes to stroll around the lake; including a few stops to take in the scenery. As I round the last bend in the trail I sit on a bench and spend a few minutes watching the water from behind the cover of some bushes. A white faced heron is wading through the shallows hunting for small fish and yabbies, while swallows hawk for insects across the surface.
With the circuit of the lake completed I meet with a friend on the balcony for lunch. We indulge in a couple of Maggie's gourmet treats; a pate picnic basket for her and a pork pie for me. Throw in the apple and pear cider, plus a couple of seasonal fruit tarts and my day exploring the wildlife of Maggie's Farm has been a real pleasure and far from the toughest assignment I have ever undertaken.