Are koalas really as cute as they look?

2 Apr

One of my favourite bloggers, Servetus, asked after my last post if koalas really are as cute as they look. And yes, they really are. At least as cute as puppies, certainly as cute as kittens. Watch this koala joey’s first photo shoot for a cuteness overload!

Sadly, they’re a lot more vulnerable than those domestic pets, despite their cute factor and their popularity as Australia’s national symbol. koala sleepingThey’re wild animals, generally nocturnal, very curious and often surprisingly trusting of humans. It used to be very rare to see a koala in a suburban environment, but increasingly as their habitat is destroyed by urban encroachment, we’re seeing them during the daytime seeking help – usually needing water. Here a young male has wandered into a suburban backyard and gets a drink from a kind stranger.

It’s not only urbanisation that’s threatening them. Along with many native Australian animals, they suffer severely during our summer bushfire seasons. Photos from this video were seen around the world after Australia’s 2009 bushfires. Again, a koala is desperately needing water, and puts up with being petted for the sake of a drink.

Domestic dogs are a threat. Cars are a threat. Backyard swimming pools are a threat (in my suburb, homeowners with swimming pools are installing ropes just under the lips of their pools, so koalas who fall in after seeking a drink have a way of climbing out again). Chlamydia is ravaging many koala populations, causing blindness and infertility.

koala bathIn rural areas, cattle are a threat. Young male koalas, particularly, are attacked by cows which herd and trample them as they attempt to move between trees. This photo went viral in Australia under the heading “Koala takes a bath”, until it was pointed out the koala was probably trapped between the water trough and the cows behind it. Unlike roos, they’re fairly slow moving and can’t get themselves out of trouble in a hurry, particularly on open ground.

Sorry, this is all very grim! The question was their cuteness, but it’s hard to talk about how beautiful they are without despairing over how endangered they are. Back to the cute!

Their fur is just as soft as it looks, even on full-grown adults. They have very sharp claws, and have been known to climb human “tkoala mum and joeyrees” standing too still watching them. And they’re often not terribly nice to each other, either. This pair fought like children over a favourite tree. The crying you hear in the video isn’t how we usually know koalas are about. More often, they sound like this (and usually in the depths of the night!).

Their feeding habits also appear to be changing. It used to be believed they only ate leaves from a very limited range of eucalypt species, but researchers are now discovering they’re also eating insects as well as from a much wider variety of tree species – whether this is an adaptation to their changing environment or simply a new discovery of longstanding behaviour, we’re not really sure.

Their smell is unmistakeable, thanks to their eucalyptus diet, but unlike possums, it’s not particularly unpleasant. In fact, there’s nothing nicer, really, than bushwalking through a eucalyptus forest and sniffing that koala aroma on the breeze!

So yes, they are absolutely as cute as they look. Come on down and visit, Servetus, and I’ll introduce you!

Gracie x

 

Friday in Five

1 Apr

Got five minutes? Here are a few of the things I’ve loved this week!

View of the week

3689783_origIf you’ve not yet read the momentous first meeting between Matt and Pippa in my new novel, A Case for Trust (ha! See what I did there?!), this beautiful video will provide your imagination all the fuel it needs for the setting: a magnificent full moon rising over the spectacular Cape Byron Lighthouse in Byron Bay. The Eastern-most point of the Australian continent, it’s a wild and beautiful spot, a perfect spot for romance, and inspired the very first scene in A Case for Trust! Enjoy the video, and enjoy the story!

 

Pic of the week

Amanda's Moulin RougeAmanda Hamilton’s quirky, through-the-looking-glass watercolours are taking over the world (it’s all part of a cunning plan to bring the world more colour and joy, I assure you!). This one is a particular favourite of mine, from a fabulous series Amanda made last September while we were exploring Paris together. It makes me smile every time I see it!

 

Flick of the week

Courtyard, Palais du Luxembourg 5It doesn’t take much to have me dreaming of Paris. Amanda’s Moulin Rouge does it; and this week, so has Paris, Je t’aime, an omnibus of short films by an extraordinary roll-call of writers, directors and actors.  Through the neighbourhoods of the City of Light, love is ‘veiled, revealed, imitated, sucked dry, reinvented and awakened’. It’s delicious, poignant, visually stunning. And more than enough to have me salivating once again for my soul city.

 

 

Song of the week

La MerOh, look, why not? We’re talking lighthouses and crashing oceans and Paris and romance, and bestselling Regency romance writer Anna Campbell suggested weeks ago that this song, in French naturellement, and by the dashing Charles Trenet, trumps every English version. Also: I get to show off another beautiful (non-French, very Australian) beach!

 

Person of the week

Easter copperThis Brisbane Valley policeman. Easter is very often a deadly time on Australian roads – perhaps it’s the extra weight from all the chocolate, applied to car accelerators – and without our stern copper’s intervention, it could have been very sad indeed for this local pedestrian.

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Have a fabulous weekend! And remember to drop me a line about anything you’ve loved and want to share!

Gracie x

‘A Case for Trust’ is here!

25 Mar

A Case for Trust Cover
It’s such a thrill to have the chance to bring this book into the world.

A long, lazy Easter weekend coming up?

22 Mar

For me, the long Easter weekend is the perfect escape for reading! If you’re looking for something new, may I humbly suggest these two romances?

Hearts on Hold is still on sale (for just a few more days) and has had some lovely reader reviews…

9780857990594_Hearts On Hold-1“…beautifully written, a story of love, grief and acceptance, and finding the one that can make you feel whole again. First time author Ms. MacGregor is a magical storyteller.” 

“Gracie Macgregor has written Hearts On Hold beautifully with good research and likable characters. Her description of the smallest detail and her insight does not fail to move you.” 

“This is a smart, sexy, funny and suspenseful tale. Oh, there’s romance alright – but it’s at the heart of a multi-layered story filled with mystery, foul play, heartache, history, art and humour.” 

 

A Case for Trust Cover

And A Case for Trust is available for pre-order to arrive on your e-reader this Friday, 25 March.

It’s early days, but some four-star ratings are appearing from the advance readers, so here’s hoping you might enjoy it, too!

You can read an excerpt here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both are available through all the normal e-book sellers.

Whatever you get up to this weekend, bring on the chocolate and stay safe and joyful! Happy Easter!

Gracie x

 

Friday in Five

18 Mar

What an interesting week! Here are some of my favourite things. Hope you enjoy them – and feel free to share your own!

Flick of the week

video-the-lady-in-the-van-trailer-1-superJumboEvery single bit as good – as mad, sad, hysterical and wonderful – as it looks! Dame Maggie Smith is The Lady in the Van, and she is superb. Long, long, long may she live and continue to bring us these rich, real, exquisitely crafted characters.

 

Vivid festival

Pic of the week

I’m very excited because for the first time, I’ll be in Sydney this year when the amazing Vivid Festival lights up the Sydney Opera House. There are already some brilliant images predicted – but of course, the fun is all in the surprise on the night! It’s one of the world’s great arts festivals, and well worth scheduling a trip to Sydney for!

 

rose petal martiniSip of the week

I confess it was rather more than a sip. I had the great good fortune to spend part of this week in spectacular Noosa, where the lavishness of the shopping is only outdone by the decadence of the cocktails. As I don’t “shop”, the cocktails had no competition for my attention. I was momentarily disappointed that my Rose Petal Martini wasn’t actually accompanied by rose petals – until the waiter arranged the beautiful Turkish glass filled with Persian fairy floss (cotton candy, for our American friends) alongside. It was a terrifically pink and romantic drink, and I didn’t stop at one!

 

Quote of the week

the-price-of-anything-is-the-amount-of-life-you-exchange-for-it-4

 

jon english - early years 3_t639

Song of the week

This won’t mean much for friends outside the Wonderful Land of Oz, but Jon English died last week. This has been one of my all-time favourite songs for forty years – which ONLY shows just how incredibly young I was when I first heard it! It came shortly after I saw him in my first-ever musical theatre production. He was Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar, and he has never been bettered. This song hasn’t been off my mind or my iPod since I read the news. Oh, boy.

 

What have you loved this week? Drop me a line and let me know!

Happy weekend,

Gracie x

Friday in Five!

11 Mar

Got five minutes? Here are a few of the things I’ve loved this week. Feel free to share, and let me know what’s made you happy!

Song of the week

let-it-be
With the sad passing this week of Beatles producer George Martin, I’ve been reprising some of my favourite Beatles tracks. Let It Be is my all-time favourite, and while I grew up loving the version produced in 1970 by Phil Spector, I love even more this stripped-bare version Paul McCartney released in 2003 from the original bootleg recordings of 1969, on Let it be…Naked. George Martin’s influence is obvious through so many of the Beatles’ great recordings, but his restraint on numbers like this one – as well as the re-released The Long and Winding Road – helps reveal the purity of melody and of intention. Quite rightly, this recording allows you to hear only a sample of the song, but if you loved the Beatles’ originally-produced work, I promise you won’t be disappointed if you treat yourself by purchasing the album.

Flick of the week

Spy.jpgThis week we celebrated International Women’s Day, and I can’t think of a better movie to shout about than Spy. Not an intuitive pick, right? Watch it. For all the (deserved) talk about how Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Mad Max: Fury Road provided us with fierce and fabulous women’s stories, Melissa McCarthy’s stellar performance made me happier, prouder, fiercer and more convinced of my own potential to be … well… fabulous!

Book of the week

The Game of KingsI read a lot of books each year, but somehow my to-be-read pile never seems to diminish. It’s a source of enduring anguish and guilt. But nevertheless, every year there comes a day when I just have to start rereading Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles. From scratch. I started The Game of Kings again yesterday – it’ll take me around eight weeks to get through the whole series – but every single time, I find new wonders, delicious phrases, clever clues I’ve previously missed. Dunnett’s writing is not for the faint-hearted – it’s incredibly dense and evocative, rich with classical allusions, with complex plots and complicated characters – but if you have the patience to get past the first 100 or so pages of The Game of Kings, I promise you will be richly rewarded. Dunnett fans are a passionate lot. If I can engender a fraction of the lifelong loyalty and love Mrs Dunnett’s readers devote to her work, I’ll consider myself a very successful writer indeed.

Quote of the week

“To the men exposed to his rule Lymond never appeared ill_ he was never tired; he was never

Pic of the week

I live in such a beautiful part of the world! I’m blessed, and I’m grateful.IMG_1501

What have you loved this week? Feel free to share!

Gracie x

On sale! (Shameless plug!)

9 Mar

xlendi_bay_final

Hearts on Hold, my first novel with Escape Publishing, is currently on sale for just 99 cents on Amazon and iTunes, in advance of the release of my next novel, A Case for Trust, which will be available from 25 March (although you can pre-order it right now at a great discount, too!).

All the usual ebook sellers have it, so if you’re in the mood for a little suspense and plenty of romance, why don’t you try it? And please let me know what you think!

With love and thanks,

Gracie x

A sad refrain

5 Mar

 

Pat-Conroy-The-Prince-of-TidesWe’re losing too many great writers, too many great words. Vale, Pat Conroy, Prince of Tides.

Friday in Five: Angsty edition

4 Mar

I’ve been in a reflective, melancholic mood this week. Here are a few of the things I’ve loved. If they comfort you too, feel free to share!

tiny beautiful thingsBook of the week

Before there was Wild there was Sugar. Cheryl Strayed, author of the bestselling memoir Wild, was the once-anonymous online columnist at The Rumpus, and the person thousands turned to for advice. Tiny, Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar is perfectly titled. Dip into it, be charmed by it, be inspired by it. A chapter a day is a wonderful antidote to so many of life’s ills. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Song of the week

Blacklab-1Paul Durham and Andy Ellis are the core members of Californian indie rock band Black Lab. Their 2007 album, Passion Leaves a Trace, is my go-to collection for dosing an attack of the blues. This Night has perfectly suited my mood every night this week.

 

 

Pic of the week

Nathan McNeil

The Canon Light Awards 2015 include some breathtaking images. My favourite is this one by Set in Stone Photography photographer Nathan McNeil, titled The Courage to Let Go.

 

Flick of the weekWho would you most like to have dinner with

Who would you most like to have dinner with? Not a commercial entertainment film at all, but full of emotion and heart. Two-tissue warning!

 

 

Person of the week

KimmelJimmy Kimmel. Not usually a guy I like to spend a lot of time with, but this week his clips have appeared in my various feeds at strange and serendipitous times. Take this one for example. Batman. And Superman. Henry Cavill. Ben Affleck. Even Matt Damon drops in. For making me laugh when I was quite determined life was no laughing matter, my person of the week is Kimmel. Enjoy!

I’d love to hear about your favourite things this week. Drop me a note?

Gracie x

Friday in Five

26 Feb

Got five minutes? Here are the top five things I loved this week!

Book of the week

So Far Into YouLily Malone’s So Far Into You

I opened this by accident on the weekend. By accident, inasmuch as I’d already read it a few months back, and my fidgety fingers clicked the wrong title on my Kindle.
But there’s this terrific scene I remembered in the first couple of pages, some clever dialogue, some stunning imagery… and before I knew it, I’d read the whole damned thing again. Enjoyed it just as much the second time round!

 

 

Song of the weeksmd_115602_dario_marianelli_farewell_from_atonement_web

Not a song so much, not this week, but a soundtrack that keeps insinuating itself into the shuffle mix in my car. My measure of a truly great film is its soundtrack. And I don’t believe I’ve found a better soundtrack, ever, than the music from Atonement, by Dario Marianelli. Listen to Love Letters. The tenderness. The yearning. The cello! If I’m ever struggling to create the mood to write a deeply emotional scene, Atonement puts me there in a heartbeat.

 

Pic of the week

Lincoln Harrison is an Australian photographer who spends long nights in the Australian outback capturing the magnificence of our night skies with long-exposure photography. 1-centrifuge-lincoln-harrison
His work is beyond magical. I keep looking at the walls of my home, wishing I had room for a print. Really, I just need BoyWonder to evacuate his bedroom, which has the biggest window-free walls in the house (please don’t tell him I said that! I love him! I do!).

Flick of the week

the-age-of-adaline-poster-blake-lively-2015Chick flick alert… or maybe not! My son was engrossed, and got up to the fridge in all the right places to avoid discovery of his teary cheeks. One review describes The Age of Adaline as ‘A sensitively directed slab of romantic hokum that wrings an impressive amount of emotional conviction from a thoroughly ludicrous premise.’ That about sums it up. It’s fabulous. Don’t miss it.

 

 

 

Person of the week

denton_andrewAustralia’s Andrew Denton is best known for his fiercely intelligent and very funny social commentary. Now he’s using his profile to challenge Australia’s long resistance to legislation which would help people die a death of their own choosing. No, voluntary assisted dying is not a romantic topic – but it’s an important one, and in Denton’s new 17-part podcast, Better Off Dead, he investigates the stories, moral arguments and individuals woven into discussions about why good people are dying bad deaths in Australia, because there is no law to help them. There’s perhaps no heartache greater than having a loved one beg you to help them end their life, and no happy endings until our community is able to have an informed, compassionate and mature discussion of the issues. For trying to start that conversation, Andrew Denton is my favourite person this week.

 

Hope you’ve found lots to love in your own life this week – I’d love to hear about it! Happy weekend,

Gracie x

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