Exploring Naree with Dave and Sue Akers opened our eyes to the subtle variations in vegetation that depend on minute changes in topography and soil composition. Dave and Sue, first managers of Naree, have in 18 months well and truly embedded themselves in this landscape and into the lives of their neighbours, where support and friendship are freely reciprocated.
In the morning, while Dave went off on his motorbike to help his neighbour, Bruce, muster sheep, Sue took us on a tour of the property. We marvelled at the extent of the wetlands, dry at the moment, where every ‘lake’ tells its own story.
There's the wetland that supports clumps of lignum plants, habitat for ibis who build their nests atop the spiky reeds, and for the freckled ducks, whose nests are hidden in the centre.
Another wetland is home to coolabah trees, some so huge and ancient that you can’t help but be awed by the tenacity of life in this harsh environment.
Another lake features nests in the trees that form a ring around it and have grown up on mounds across the wetland. Two metres above the ground and solidly constructed from quite big sticks, these nests await their egret owners, who will return with the next big flood to take front row seats as the water rises to waist high below them.
Peter and I vowed we’d come back when the water comes in, because it will be an extraordinary sight as the wetlands teem with frantic bird and aquatic life pulsating with the need to reproduce in the short space of time that the water affords them.
There's a haunting, beautiful quality at the moment, however, and we're glad we have seen it in its dry state, where cracks in the dried and drying claypan bases pattern the lake floors.
Later that day Dave and Sue discovered a stand of intact vine trees, distinctive for their twisted trunks. Since the leaves are good fodder for livestock , most of the trees have been coppiced over the years, and are relatively poor specimens. These trees stand tall and spreading on fractionally higher ground overlooking the wetland – a great campsite, or site for a new house.
It's good to know that Naree still has secrets to yield.