September Spring in Reds and Greens ~ Coolum, Australia

In Canada, where I grew up, the shift between seasons was slow with subtly changing colours. I always associated red and green with Christmas: the middle of winter, against a backdrop of frozen white.

Red and blue-green Banksia (Proteaceae) leaves against a back-drop of white water. Coolum Beach, Qld

Red Banksia Leaves ~ Coolum Beach, Queensland

Australia, on the other hand, is the opposite. Reds come out in spring and summer; a white backdrop is more likely to be ocean waves, clouds, white sands or the white-light of a searing-hot day; and even in the tropics, greens are liberally mixed with olives, muted greys and blues.

The dry land and long coastline exposes the continent to severe storms, regular floods and annual bush fires. It is not uncommon for part of the country to be experiencing drought while another region is under rising waters. This year alone, Queensland, in north-eastern Australia, suffered widespread disastrous floods causing deaths and enormous fiscal losses, followed only a month later by a category 5 tropical cyclone, possibly the worst the country has ever seen.

Closer to the equator than most of North America, and surrounded by larger bodies of water, even without inclement weather the country experiences abrupt seasonal changes. One of the things I missed most when I first moved to Australia was the transitional seasons: spring and autumn.  In most of the country, the onset of cooler weather is accompanied by rain rather than frost, so leaves are more likely to turn a muddy brown than red and orange before they fall. After the cool of winter, spring growth explodes into an almost instant summer of opulent foliage.

The weather last week in Coolum, Australia, near the coast and just outside the Tropic of Capricorn, was unseasonably cold and wet. But what I noticed most was the prevalence of reds: dashes of red everywhere against the paperbarks, banksia, bottle brush and eucalypts. Definitely not a North American spring!

Close-up: Tender new leaves in dark red against a green background

A lot of new growth is red rather than "spring green".

Pale pink and white rhododendron

Pale rhododendrons with bright red stamens.

Small red firecracker flowers (russelia equiseriformis)

Red firecrackers light up their green shrubs.

Megaskepasma bush: deep red flower spikes against  broad pale green leaves.

Deep red spiky Venezuelan Megaskepasma flowers contrast against blue sky and pale green leaves.

Detail: Wine red Megaskepasma flower against green leaves

Red white and green: Megas flower

Close-up: Leaf buds in wine red and green

New growth in wine red and green.

Stand of paperbark trees along a curved road

Splashes of red cabbage trees hiding among the stately paperbarks.

Close-up: Peeling paperbark bark.

Peeling bark in layers on a paperbark trunk.

Close-up: Paperbark trunk

The reds, browns and whites of a paperbark trunk.

Looking up along a paperbark trunk into the upper branches.

Touches of red and brown on an arching white paperbark truck.

The dappled green and white bark of a leopard tree

The dappled green and white bark of a leopard tree (Caesalpinia ferrea)

Close-up: new paperbark sprout on a trunk against blue water.

Tinges of red on a baby paperbark shoot.

Close-up: red berries hanging - green leaves

Red berries hanging.

Red grevillea against spiky green leaves

Christmas colours: Fresh red grevillea against spiky green leaves.

Close-up: part of a red grevillea flower against spiky green leaves

Grevillea (Proteaceae) flower

Close-up: New red and pink eucalyptus leaves

Red and pink eucalyptus leaves

Bush turkey on green lawn

Red and yellow wattle on a bush turkey on the move.

Black sculpture bust of of a naked female torso and head against red and green plants

Red and green plants flank a female torso outside the Spa at the Hyatt Regency Coolum

Scene: woman with a green umbrella walking on a wooded path

Green umbrella ~ Red package ~ Hyatt Regency Coolum

Close-up: red-brown banksia in green leaves

Red-brown banksia

Close-up: yellow bottlebrush bloom

Touches of red and green on the dainty yellow bottlebrush.

Yellow flowers on a green-leafed feral bush

A red leaf on a bush growing wild by the golf course.

Red and green-leafed plants, wet from rain

Red and green ~ after the rain

Text: Happy Travels

It might be spring – but it felt a bit like Christmas.

Of course, at the rate this year is going, that will be here soon enough!

Happy travels, what ever season you are in.


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  • gabe - September 15, 2011 - 11:06 pm


  • Signe Westerberg - September 16, 2011 - 1:27 am

    It is fascinating that what we see all about us when we stop and consider what we are actually seeing… all those amazing shrubs and trees blend on a daily basis, I love that you focus on the individual nuances rather than the overall blurb, the majesty of colour that makes up the overall vista, that definition is exposed rather than lush clump. Thanks as always for the share.ReplyCancel

  • gabe - September 16, 2011 - 1:30 am

    I know it was hard work but I am glad you got the soundtrack attached. Sounds great.


  • Lisa - September 21, 2011 - 3:28 am

    Lovely post Ursula – are you excited to be going back to Australia?

    PS – Stella (the dog) loves the soundtrack – she is hunting around madly for the birds . . .ReplyCancel

    • Ursula - September 21, 2011 - 3:32 am

      Hi Lisa! So glad you stopped by.
      At the moment, the move feels more “overwhelming” than “exciting”! It is amazing how much rubbish I have collected in eight years!!
      Cheers! 😀ReplyCancel

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