Animals, Australia, Gardening
Comments 26

Spiders in the Sky: A Water Dragon Trilogy #2

Hey, folks, so my Korean kitty-kat post a little while back has broken — vaporised, really — all my personal records on TGTW.

As this post goes to the presses, the tally of “likes” from other WordPressers stands at 330, way more than 10 times my average number. Unbelievably, comments have reached about 75 and it’s been re-blogged a dozen or so times.

Evidently there are a lot of cat people out there in the blog-reading world. If I’d known that, I would have carried a bag of dried fish with me on my Korean rambles. But without a zoom lens it was only due to good old dogged (catt-ed?) persistence (and having nothing better to do with my time) that I got the shots I did.

Anyway, as a thank-you for all the nice feedback, here’s yet another picture of a certain devilishly handsome feline:

Heinrich back in the early-summer twilight in Saratoga Springs, fixated on the back door, which some sadist has slammed in his face.

Heinrich back in the early-summer twilight in Saratoga Springs, fixated on the back door, which some sadist has slammed in his face. Note that his whiskers are more impressive than those of most coffee-shop hipsters, and he had them way before they were considered fashionable.

Cheers, 山羊

*          *          *          *          *

“I might grow old in Brisbane, but I would never grow up.”
~ David Malouf, ‘Johnno’

It feels like cheating to quote from a novel I haven’t read yet, but I thought for this post I needed to seek out some Brisbane references from arguably the most famous novelist to come from this city.

By chance I found a used edition of Johnno in an op shop (thrift store) the other day — I’ve been meaning to read it for years, and every time I go to Roma Street Parkland


Roma Street station, just below the park. That notoriously ugly black building is the Transit Centre. I remember when it was built near the end of the infamously corrupt right-wing authoritarian Joh Bjelke-Peterson era, it seemed like a symbol of all that was rotten in the state of Queensland; at one protest demonstration in its dark shadow, a speaker described it as “like Darth Vader looming over Roma Street”. Ah, the memories. Anyway, the conservatives running the place at present have promised to tear it down if they are granted another term. I believe them, as they learned a lot about tearing things down from their idols & predecessors.


..and see Malouf’s name on the “Queensland Greats” wall…


Malouf’s company on the wall includes noted Queensland politicians, health professionals, scientists, sportspeople, actors such as Geoffrey Rush — and a certain celebrity hairdresser.

..I’m reminded of this egregious gap in my reading history.

I’m not the reader I used to be, sadly. Fiction reader, anyway — I’m lucky if I get through two or three novels a year nowadays. I don’t know if that stems from getting older and (even) more cynical, so that it’s just Facts and Information I seek from my books, or whether too many cable-TV dramas have sated my appetite for escapism.

Maybe it’s just another casualty of my reduced reading speed, which was never that high to begin with. I do spend hours reading each day, but it’s nearly all online, and is mostly news, opinion, humour, technical stuff…INFORMATION.

Too much information.

And the photos — always the damned photos…

Johnno, one of the scant volumes out there to be set in Brisbane, remains on my shelf, almost alone — most of my library is over with Kate. It seems reassuringly slender, but I have an American crime novel to finish first — I started it at least three or four months ago.

But back to the park, which on this trip was special not just for its usual quota of charismatic reptiles…


Dig that splendid nuchal crest & those beautiful markings.

..but for its creepily wondrous golden orb spiders:


A solitary golden orb…

Golden orbs are the most visible arachnid component of the landscape in this part of Australia. They’re big spiders, they stay out there in their webs all day long, and their golden-threaded webs are wide and strong — supposedly strong enough to snare small birds, though I’ve never seen this.

You don’t know the meaning of the word “creepy” till your face has made contact with one of these metre-wide webs in low light. And I’m speaking as someone who’s had an inch-and-a-half-long flying cockroach land on his neck after turning on a light…

Think that sounds creepy? How about a golden orb colony?


..& a spider jamboree.

Yes, golden orbs occasionally organise themselves into multi-webbed colonies of hundreds of individuals. They’re not the only species to do this, and apparently some spider species even cooperate to a degree in their feeding patterns, though not with the organisational prowess of several insects.

This amazing colony at Roma Street, situated on some high ground where breezes would deliver a cornucopia of prey into the waiting traps, is the best I’ve encountered. On this trip they came close to supplanting my quest for dragon pictures. But again: no zoom, so “capturing” them was a challenge.

I’ll switch over to visual mode now, and intersperse some spiders with the lizards, flowers and other Roma Street residents — and a few of Malouf’s observations about the Brisbane of the 40s and 50s which may or may not still ring true…



“Brisbane is so sleepy, so slatternly, so sprawlingly unlovely.”



Brolgas — “Australian cranes”.








“The pavements gave off a heat that rose right up through your shoes.”







As it was getting dark, I left the exotic flora and fauna behind and wandered towards Central via Wickham Terrace, home to countless medical specialists and one of our historical gems, the convict-built windmill:


Built in 1828, this is Queensland’s oldest building. It was once sail-powered and was used to grind grain. Two Aborigines were hanged from the tower in 1841, an early example of still-troubled black-white relations in this state.

This is one of the coolest parts of the inner-city…


Here I am revelling in the vibrant Brisbane nightlife.

..though I usually tell visitors that the “real Brisbane” is more likely to be found in certain older suburbs and along the river.

“It is simply the most ordinary place in the world.”

Well, yes and no…

~ And that’s all the Goat wrote


  1. jessiemartinovic says

    absolutely love the spiders in the sky pictures!!

    and how you have a cautionary foot half in black and half in white 🙂

    wonderful post as always

  2. Cheers, Goat
    I have to agree with you that if the current Santos-sponsored dictators tear down the Transit Centre, it will be the best (read: only half decent) thing that have done since entering office. Very glad the Old Windmill survived the Sir Joh era. Anyway, Merry Christmas to you.

    • Happy Xmas to you & the family, Cam, and thanks for reading. That windmill is a treasure — I wonder if it’s ever been open to the public or if it would just not withstand that kind of foot traffic.

  3. Wonderful post, thank you.

    You did fine w/o a tele-lens, and I see you had “glass of wideness” to compensate for it. And your self portrait is fantastic, the icing on the cake; the philosopher`s portrait.

    Take care, mate.

    • Heheh, thanks. Yeah, there are usually ways to compensate if you can’t get as close as you’d like. I’ve had a telephoto on my shopping list for a long while (plus lots of other goodies) but no $$$ at present. Both my lenses are pretty wide, and I have a fisheye adaptor for one to make it even wider, but wildlife such as birds is very tricky. In general I would far prefer a wide lens than a tele for landscapes and most outdoor stuff, though.

      • Long lenses for nature photography, more precise: wild animal photography, are so expensive. They have to be very long to do some good, some actual cropping. I can`t go beyond the 200mm mark at this point, but who knows, perhaps in the future. I don`t got those $$ either 😉
        Have you ever considered a macro lens, around the 100mm? To me this is the perfect universal lens, and it`s a great way to come close to your subject w/o using a very long lens, Macro can be used for all kinds of things, and I use macro lenses a lot. I like the compact perspective, like i have it with a tele. Your spiders fx., if it`s not too creepy.. would be cool to meet while carrying a macro lens. Unless they´re “jumpy” of course!! And while we`re at it, oh.. imagining ending up in one of those nets by acciden – *shiver*.

      • Yeah, my photographic gear philosophy is that it has to be mobile and reasonably light. My style is very active and I’m used to getting as close as possible to my subjects. I don’t want a huge lens, just something to let me get more details out of birds really, and as you say, to get that compressed effect which is wonderful in some situations.

        A macro is indeed on my list, and yes, a lot of people say they’re good for general photography as well as insects. I absolutely love photographing insects and other invertebrates like spiders. Fortunately many of our spiders are large, so that helps!

        As for spiders: yes, they are chilling. It would be a horrible way to die. But those webs are miracles of nature as well!

  4. Wow those spiders are terrifying! I love the close ups of the lizards though. Their eyes are really wary….or bored. Probably bored. Awesome post!

    • Yes, those dragons do seem a bit world-weary to me. They’re a little like cats: they will only put up with so much intrusion by humanoids with big glass eyes before they tire of the whole thing.

      Thanks for all your encouragement as always, Katie!

  5. Christina Tanski says

    Those spiders filling the sky…yikes! But the pic with the spider in the front and his mates in the back is priceless! You caught perfectly their creepy, but really awesome Net of Doom for their prey!

    • Thanks, mate! Great comment! I was glad I could get that close to at least one of the spiders. I would have had to go back with a step ladder otherwise!

    • I love taking spider shots, and few things are as satisfying as capturing a web dripping with rain or dew, but it’s very hard to “love” a spider even for me — believe me, I’ve tried.

  6. jRhoPhoto says

    Amazing shots, I love the fisheye effect in some of these and the lizards look beautiful! But..the spiders…oh my…I cry

    • Haha, yeah, it’s the photographer’s job (in part) to find beauty everywhere, or at least to make the viewer look at the subject with fresh eyes (if that’s the expression) — but even so, it’s a freaking spider, and I’m glad I’m not an insect.

      The fisheye is great. The image quality isn’t as good as with my main lens, but its advantages as an outdoor lens are considerable. I’m surprised they’re not used more often in outdoor photography.

  7. Ah, the golden orb weavers… we didn’t see them often in Adelaide.
    Some of the closely related jorogumo over here take on a similar green-gold tinge.
    And, oddly enough, the jorogumo is one of the few spiders that can give me the willies!

    • Sorry, Andrew, your comment got buried in the Festive Season comments stocking. I know “gumo/kumo” means spider in Japanese — how about the “joro”?

      I had an unpleasant face-to-web encounter with an orb weaver (presumably) last night as I slumped home from a thwarted New Year’s Eve “adventure” (see forthcoming post). Nothing worse than the feeling, as you attempt to peel the silk off your face, that you didn’t get (shudder) everything off…

      • What does the joro part mean? You’ll find the answer here

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