Monday, 31 December 2007

Mineral Spot: Metavoltine...

This is the final post for 2007. It has been a while since I posted a mineral spot.
The mineral pictured is metavoltine, a fairly rare sulphate that forms in volcanic exhalative environments (such as fumeroles).
Unsurprisingly, this specimen is from Italy.
It is also a specimen that will be included in one of my auction lots when I post my first for 2008 at OZtion...

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Sun Spot: Adventure Bay...

It's nice being on holidays. Its even nicer when the weather is kind to you too.
Today, the temperature in southern Tasmania was around the low to mid twenties Centigrade and the sun was shining brightly. We decided on a trip over to Bruny Island, catching the vehicle ferry from Kettering.
Adventure Bay is one of the most popular Tasmanian beach spots around, but look at the crowds! White sands, azure sea, and hardly any beach-goers! A great spot for a quiet lunch (or a spot of fishing as this holiday-maker from New South Wales was doing).

Friday, 28 December 2007

Critter Spot: Christmas Capper...

Well, Christmas is just about over and another new year about to begin. 2008 is set to be an interesting, challenging, and hopefully rewarding one for us.
Our dog Capper received a couple of pressies, one of which included a bandanna which she obviously thinks is a good fashion statement!

Friday, 21 December 2007

New Issue of Mineral Collector Magazine...

The fourth issue of the Australian and New Zealand Mineral Collector magazine is now out. Issue 4 is the first one to focus on one area, the Queenstown district in western Tasmania, and in particular, the famous Mt. Lyell mine.

It is full colour, 28 pages, and only $10US available from Lulu.

If you are going to order a copy directly, can I suggest that you use the 'Standard' option for shipping. It is by far the most economical, and usually arrives within a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Critter Spot: Wallabies...

No, these are not members of an Australian rugby team. They are Bennett's wallabies on our new block.



See if you can spot the one hiding in this second photo.




The one in this third photo is almost an albino!

Friday, 7 December 2007

Critter Spot: Echidna...

There are two animals that are known as monotremes (mammals that lay eggs instead of giving birth to live young). One is the platypus, the other is the echidna, sometimes known as a spiny anteater, coz it well, eats ants!

This one was intent on hiding from me...but not doing a very good job of it! I stayed for a short while, hoping to get a better photo, but it wasn't to be. It's nose is at bottom right of the picture.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Cool Spot: Horsetail Falls, Queenstown...

Horsetail Falls is a waterfall that drops off Mount Owen behind Queenstown in western Tasmania. If the area is dry (which is not often as Queenstown averages more than 2,500 mm of rain per year!), the waterfall also dries up.
I had been under the impression that these falls were known as Angel Falls, but a local has set me straight!

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Art Spot: Please do not feed the animals...

...and the painting that I received in the latest SWAP was this wonderful and humorous watercolour from Teresa in Spain!

Art Spot: Waihi Beach...

Its that time again. Every three months, the Sharing With Artists Partners group share their artwork with another artist somewhere around the world. This SWAP, my painting of Waihi Beach, New Zealand, went to Simone in Canada...

Monday, 19 November 2007

Critter Spot: Tropical Butterfly...

Seems odd to go to New Zealand to see tropical butterflies...but that's what we did. This is one of the many South American (I think) butterflies at the Butterfly and Orchid Garden, Thames, North Island, New Zealand. Very humid in the enclosure!

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Bush Spot...

A slice of heaven! This is a shot of some of the mature gum trees on our block of land. Some really good painting opportunities here...

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Hot Spot: Bang!...

Is this an underwater feather star perhaps? Not likely! It's a shot of part of the excellent fireworks display put on for the Zeehan Gem and Mineral Show, held at Zeehan in western Tasmania last weekend.

Sun Spot: Blue Wren...

Singing his little heart out, this colourful male blue wren (sometimes known as the Superb Fairy-Wren), was intent on staking his claim to our back verandah yesterday in the early-morning sunshine. The iridescent blue of the male is his breeding plumage. Show-off!

Friday, 2 November 2007

Hot Spot: White Island Volcano...

White Island is New Zealand's only active marine volcano. Whilst in New Zealand, my daughter and I took a tour with White Island Tours out of Whakatane on the north coast of the North Island of New Zealand. Two hours there by boat.

It is a humbling experience to spend around an hour and a half in the crater of an active volcano. If you are ever in the area, you should consider taking the tour.

On a scale of 1 to 10, it rates an exhilarating 16!

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Mineral Spot: NZ Stilbite...

Got back from New Zealand yesterday. The ten days went fast. Took lots of photos, some of which I will share over the coming days.

I brought back a selection of mineral specimens and this is one of them. It is a stilbite crystal from Waitakauri, not far from where we were for the Symposium and Seminar. The field of view is 9mm.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Mineral Spot: Ferrierite...

In a few days time, I will be heading over to New Zealand for the 30th annual Joint Mineralogical Societies of Australia Seminar which is being held in conjunction with the New Zealand Micromount Symposium at Waihi, on the North Island.

The theme for the Seminar is Volcanic Minerals and Mineralogy. In keeping with this theme, I have included an image of an uncommon zeolite mineral, ferrierite, that occurs in basalts on Phillip Island in Victoria. I'm not sure which series member this is, possibly ferrierite-Mg. It occurs as silky-white fibres or acicular crystals in cavities in the basalt.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Critter Spot: Spring Bug...

Spring is well and truly with us and this little bug was making the most of the early morning sunshine today...

Monday, 1 October 2007

Mineral Spot: Wulfenite...

I really enjoy collecting micro minerals.

A good definition of a micro mineral is a specimen that requires illumination and magnification to be appreciated. It is possible to put together a good collection, without too much expense (microscope purchase aside). Crystals can be more perfect than on larger specimens, and in many cases, rare minerals only occur in small sizes. And your whole collection can be housed in a relatively small space.

Because of their small size, it is not difficult to build up a collection of trading material. This can be used to swap with other collectors around the world. I recently received a small exchange package from a friend of mine, Mark Ascher of Tucson, Arizona. One of the specimens he sent is this unusual blocky wulfenite from the Fulton Mine in Pima County, Arizona.

Did I ever say how much I really enjoy collecting micro minerals?

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Mineral Spot: Vesuvianite...

Vesuvianite is a calcium magnesium aluminium silicate mineral that is most likely found in contact metamorphic rocks (usually a limestone that has been 'cooked' by igneous rocks). It is usually a brownish-green colour but at the Jeffrey mine in Quebec, Canada, can occur as purple or pinkish crystals. This specimen is from the Jeffrey mine and shows an interesting colour-zoning.

It is also one of the specimens coming up in a lot in this week's auction.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Critter Spot: Red Robin...

Spent most of the day today outside. The sun was shining, the air fresh, and lots of birdlife around. Including this robin, a Flame Robin (Petroica phoenicea). We have a pair of these each year through Winter and Spring. Its fun watching them dart down for insects and then back up to their perch. They watch what you are doing, and if you are gardening, will fly down fairly close...

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Critter Spot: Jumping Spider...

Jumping spiders are really cute. OK, OK - so not if you are an arachnophile!

Anyway, this little one is currently residing in our loo and looked like it wanted its photo taken. I was leaning on the wall to keep my camera as steady as possible, when I got a fright! This little jumping spider did what jumping spiders do best. Jumped! Right on to the end of my finger!

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Mineral Spot: Barite...

Barite is a barium sulphate mineral, relatively common. It also quite often forms good crystals which are usually tabular or platy in habit. This one is from the rocky southern coastline of Phillip Island in Victoria, one of my favourite collecting places when I lived on the mainland. Its now off-limits to collectors (some sort of marine reserve?). Barite occurs here with zeolite minerals in cavities (amygdules) in the basalt rock.

It is also one of the specimens coming up in a lot in this week's auction.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Mineral Spot: Analcime...

Ever had one of those gross experiences where you splat a fly and icky maggots appear? This analcime specimen reminds me a little of this.

Analcime (sometimes known as 'analcite') is a common member of the zeolite group of minerals, and occurs as colourless trapezohedral crystals in cavities in volcanic basalt rocks. Often, these crystals 'craze' and turn white after being exposed. Crystals may also appear to be the same colour as the underlying matrix, they are so transparent. This particular specimen is from Flinders, Victoria.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Critter Spot: Ladybird...

Spring has been with us for just over a week. Today, I came across this Southern Ladybird (Cleobora mellyi) sunning itself in the Spring sunshine. These are useful little critters. This specialist ladybird apparently is a predator of psyllids and tortoise beetles, which are pests of both Blackwood and Eucalypt trees.

Friday, 7 September 2007

New Issue of Mineral Collector Magazine...

The third issue of the Australian and New Zealand Mineral Collector magazine is now out. This issue includes articles on Modern Mineralogy and Mineral Collecting Code of Practice; Two Australians in Morocco; Wavellite in Australia and New Zealand; Shale Mines at Latrobe, Tasmania; Sphene from near Broken Hill; Sampleite and other minerals from Northparkes; and more.

It is full colour, 28 pages, and only $10US available from Lulu.

If you are going to order a copy directly, can I suggest that you use the 'Standard' option for shipping. It is by far the most economical, and usually arrives within a couple of weeks.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Mineral Spot: So What Animal Is This?...

Every now and then, a mineral specimen looks like something else. This is one of those times. Bit like a scary-looking monkey!
The white crystals are phillipsite, a zeolite mineral, and it is from Otago in the South Island of New Zealand. The brown 'eyes' are most likely the remains of a ferroan calcite.
This one is coming up in one of my auction lots this weekend.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Bird Spot: 'Hello Cocky'...

An icon of Australia, the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, or 'cocky', is not common in Tasmania. I usually see small flocks along the Midland Highway south of Launceston, and very occasionally, we see a small number of birds near our home, but generally that's about it. On the mainland of course, they are sometimes regarded as a pest when in large flocks.
I came across this small flock while driving to the west coast on Tuesday. I didn't take a photo, but they were still there today (Thursday) so I stopped to take a photo or two. They make a good contrast with the black cows. This photo was taken near Ouse (pronounced 'ooze'!).

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Sun Spot: Spring on its way...

There might be a week of Winter still left, but the last few days have been very Spring-like. Today is grass mowing day, and it is mild enough to wear a T-shirt and shorts.
Mild enough too for early insects to take wing and gather some nectar, like this fly on a diosma flower.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Mineral Spot: Gypsum...

Gypsum is a common calcium sulphate mineral. It often occurs in evaporite deposits in arid areas (places where the moisture evaporates faster than it builds up). It often breaks along cleavage planes, giving a pearly lustre on the cleaved faces. Sometimes it forms as 'fish-tail' crystals, twins that resemble, well, fish tails! It is a very soft material, softer even than your finger nail which will scratch it!
The specimen pictured is from South Australia, probably from the Mt Gunsen area.

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Mineral Spot: Campylite...

Mimetite is a relatively common lead arsenate mineral found in the oxidised zone of lead ore deposits. It forms hexagonal prisms and comes in a range of colours including white, cream, yellow, green, orange, red and brown.
A rarer form is campylite, a name sometimes used for mimetite that occurs as barrel-shaped prisms. The most famous occurrence of this is at Dry Gill, Caldbeck Fells, Cumbria, England.
The ones photographed are from Broken Hill, New South Wales, and individual crystals are about 3mm long. These ones are actually cream in colour, having been coated with brown iron hydroxide.

Friday, 17 August 2007

Silhouette Spot: Zeehan in the mist...

I love the west coast of Tasmania! The light, the atmosphere, the views, are all continually changing. This image was taken this morning near the Zeehan township, looking towards the Dundas district, whilst on my way to work. Hard to take, working that is, in this part of the world!

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Rock Spot: Basalt Columns...

Not the Giant's Causeway I admit, but a nice little example of basalt columns all the same. This 'specimen' sits just offshore at Don Heads, near Devonport, northern Tasmania.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Mineral Spot: Kidney Ore...

Hematite, a common iron oxide mineral, comes in a variety of habits. One of the more unusual-looking forms is what is known as a reniform, or 'kidney ore' habit, such as the one pictured. This specimen is from the well-known Cumbrian (England) locality, the Florence Mine, at Egremont. It will be listed in one of my up-coming auction lots this weekend.

Night Spot: Brisbane Lights...

Just come back from a business trip to Brisbane, Queensland, and I thought I'd share one of my photos taken from the balcony of my hotel room...

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Mineral Spot: Fluorescence...

Quite a few minerals 'glow' under ultraviolet light (known as 'UV'). Some of the colours can be very intense. This particular specimen is franklinite (black), zincite (orange-brown) and the pale mineral is calcite. To the right of the image, you can see how this pale-coloured mineral has reacted to short wave UV. Interestingly, this specimen does not react to long wave UV (some minerals react to one and not the other, some to both). The specimen comes from Franklin, New Jersey, a location well-known for its fluorescent minerals.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Mineral Spot: Supa Nova...

Being a bit 'artistic'. This supernova is actually a calcite specimen from Fyannsford, near Geelong, Victoria...(see this photo). It will also be on my auction site in a batch of 10 mineral specimens this coming Sunday.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Mineral Spot: Reticulated Cerussite...

So what is 'reticulated' you might ask. Its the name given to a crystal habit of forming 'net-like' growths. Cerussite commonly forms in this way. As you can see in the photo, individual crystals form a regular arrangement, crossing each other at 60 degree angles.

This specimen, which has green malachite associated, is from Brown's Prospect, Rum Jungle, Northern Territory, Australia.

It was included in one of my recent auction lots and now resides in a Queensland collection.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Hiding Spot: Tasmanian Rosella...

Must be tough finding enough food during Winter. This Tasmanian Rosella also known as a Green Rosella (Platycercus caledonicus) is an endemic Tasmanian parrot and has been visiting a tree fern at the back of our house regularly in recent times.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Odd Spot: Turquoise (Not!)...

Looking for all the world like a carved turquoise figure, this little chap from the National Gallery of Victoria had me a bit perplexed. Other labels had talc or serpentine or some other carving material noted, but this one had 'faience'. I didn't know what this was until I got back home and was able to look it up and found that it is tin-glazed pottery.

This one is labelled as a 'Pataikos amulet' from the Egyptian Ptolemaic Period, 332-330BC.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Odd Spot: The Wedding Sausage...

Friends of ours got married on Saturday night in Melbourne.

Instead of a wedding cake, we had wedding sausage!

Saturday, 30 June 2007

Art Spot: To The East...

A quick watercolour painting done tonight...

Basically from my head which is full of all sorts of things at the moment, although the tree (or at least, something approximating it) is one that I see when I am driving home from work each day. I've been meaning to turn it into a painting for a while...

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Mineral Spot: Smithsonite...

Smithsonite is a zinc carbonate mineral that occurs in the oxidised zone of lead-zinc ore deposits.

Good crystals of smithsonite are not that common and are often white or greyish in colour. It sometimes occurs as pale coloured crystals in various hues due to impurities.

This specimen is green due to copper and comes from Broken Hill in New South Wales. This particular specimen will be included in one of my auctions starting this coming Sunday...

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Cold Spot: Winter Rose...

A heavy frost this morning. This is one of our few remaining rose flowers (other than the carpet roses which seem to flower most of the year!). It had been in the early morning sun for a while, but the weak sun wasn't warm enough to melt the ice crystals...

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Sun Spot: The Shortest Day...

This week saw the shortest day here in the Southern Hemisphere. This photo was taken late afternoon near Zeehan in western Tasmania where I was working during the week...

Mineral Spot: Redwineite...

Something a bit different - KC4H5O6 - Potassium bitartrate...

Also known as cream of tartar, and produced as a by-product of wine making. There are a number of minerals that form as crystals but do not (or have not) occur in nature, and therefore are not recognised as a valid mineral species.

I've given this one a title of redwineite and was found in a wine vat at an unidentified winery in Victoria. It will soon be on its way to a New South Wales collector...

Monday, 18 June 2007

Sun Spot: Pot'o'Gold...

Heading back from the west coast of Tasmania a couple of weeks back, I came across this rainbow near the Collingwood River.

Unfortunately, I didn't have time to look for the pot of gold...

I have to head off again tomorrow morning. It could be a challenge as there was snow falling tonight coming home from work!

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Mineral Spot: Azurite Roses...

'Rose' is a term used for a mineral habit where the mineral crystals look like a rose. A number of mineral species can form this way. As well as azurite, the minerals hematite, barite, and gypsum commonly form roses. This specimen is azurite from the Spring Creek mine, Wilmington, South Australia.

Monday, 11 June 2007

Cold Spot: The Ice Maiden Cometh...

Well it is Winter here in Tasmania!

Yesterday morning (Sunday), we woke to a medium frost. The grass was white, and the water containers for the dog, chickens and sheep were well iced over (see second pic).

Ice crystals were quite well-formed, particularly in sheltered spots.

In the first picture, the ice crystals have formed in quite unusual radial sprays. They have seeded on a piece of sheep's fleece caught up on the wire fence.

In case you didn't know, ice is a valid mineral species.