Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Healesville Sanctuary

Trying to pack as much as possible into a couple of weeks we load our Visitor into the car and head a one hour drive to the Beautiful Yarra Valley.

Zoos Victoria comprises of Melbourne Zoo in Parkville,
Werribee Open Range Zoo
and Healesville Sanctuary.

The Sanctuary is where you go if you want to see  Australian Native Animals in a Bush setting.

Greeting us at the entrance is the beautiful sculpture of BUNJIL - The Creator Spirit with his 7 meter wingspan.

The Wurundjeri believe Bunjil keeps a watchful eye over their people and offers guidance to those who listen.

From there we hurried past Sleepy Koalas with the promise of catching up with them again before we leave.

There was somewhere we had to be before 11:00
"Ornithorhynchus anatinus" - The Platypus is one of Australia's most Iconic animals.

Once considered to be a Hoax as it was thought impossible for such a creature to exist.

We sat in the Amphitheatre and watched the Keepers play with a young Female Platypus who was born during the Black Friday Bushfire while we listened to the environmental talk that informed us as to how to look after the waterways that these wonderful creatures call home.

After the formal talk we held back (letting the crowd leave first) and were rewarded with a personal chat with the keeper as she continued to acclimatise the Platypus to her surroundings.
It is possible to get into the Pool with the Keeper with the "Wade with the Platypus" experience - but at $182.00 per person and having to book well in advance it requires a lot of planning!

Another of the free Keeper Talk sessions, The "Spirits of the Sky" Bird show was next on our list.

The undisputed Monarch of the Skies is the Australian Wedge Tail Eagle - Our largest Raptor with a wingspan of 2.5 meters.  They can be seen riding the thermals up to 2 km high while hunting.

These magnificent birds although not a threatened species are Protected.

Wandering through the Sanctuary we then came to The Avery.

While our guests happily fed the Red Tail Black Cockatoos I took the opportunity to photograph some of our more colourful Birds - The Rainbow Lorikeet.

I am happy to see these small birds reclaiming suburban backyards as more people plant Australian Natives in their gardens.
They like to nest in hollows of Old Trees.

There was certainly plenty of things to see - We even watched, (through a glass wall in the Cafe) a small group of Children feed the Echidnas while we were having our lunch!

Echidnas, together with the Platypus are the world's only Monotremes - or Egg laying Mammals.

After a quick lunch DS#2 had organised a couple of "Wildlife Encounters" for us to enjoy.

A personal Keeper talk and a chance to meet Brother and Sister Alpine Dingoes.

The Dingo is neither a Dog or a Wolf  but a species in their own right.  These two are Beautiful animals - but don't be fooled - They ARE Wild animals who were fighting each other at my feet moments before taking this photo.

Our Last encounter before heading home was with the friendly Kangaroos from South Australia's Kangaroo Island.

It was the perfect finish for a big day out.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Sorrento Beach

The township of Sorrento is situated at the end of the Mornington Peninsula.

From here you can catch the Ferry for a beautiful 40 min voyage across Port Phillip Heads (the Mouth of Port Phillip Bay) to Queenscliff and from there it is just an hour to Anglesea and the Great Ocean Road.

It is a popular alternative with tourists that want to see the 12 Apostles, Mornington Peninsula and the Penguins at Phillip Island without spending a day of their holiday driving around the Bay.

But today we are headed just 1.6 km (1 Mile) across the Peninsula to the Ocean Beach that faces Bass Strait.

Readers of my Blog may have already guessed by now that I am not fond of sitting on an overcrowded Swimming Beach getting Baked in the harsh Australian Sun.

I much prefer the wind in my hair and the sound of the surf any day!

This is where we come when a day trip to 'Blow the Cobwebs' away is needed.

And today it did not disappoint.

There are many more beautiful beaches along this coast but none (I know of) that have a Cafe with a view like this.

You can enjoy a warm meal and a cold drink (or Hot Coffee, Chocolate - whatever takes your fancy) and watch the waves from the comfort of the enclosed verandah.

We had an enjoyable day showing our Guest around this Seaside Town that truly has the best of Both Worlds.

The Morning was spent wandering around the Sorrento Township Street Market, introducing our Overseas Visitor to the delights of Local Produce and chatting to the Vendors.

After lunch we wandered along the freshly washed sand to The Point, where in Summer at low tide, children can play in a large rock-pool that is there. Today we were content to watch the Tide come in trying to guess how far each wave will reach.

Tomorrow will be a rest day for me before heading off for another Day Trip in the opposite direction!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Travelling Victoria - The 12 Apostles

"Morning has Broken like the first Morning, Blackbird has spoken ...."

Well, it was actually a Magpie that was Caroling in the morning.

So worth getting up early to see the dawn
So different to the night before.
The promise of a beautiful day.

The 12 Apostles, arguably the most photographed rocks along the Victorian Coastline, are a 4 1/2 hour drive from Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road.

Inclement weather the day before and some necessary stops along the way meant we ran out of daylight before we were able to see the attractions we had actually come to see.

So a little back tracking was needed.

The wind had blown itself away.

A Rainbow in the Sky

The waves crashing in

It is going to be a GOOD day!

3 minutes down the road from the 12 Apostles is  Loch Ard Gorge.

On the 1st June 1878, the Sailing Ship Loch Ard with 54 Crew and Passengers was wrecked on a reef just off  Mutton Bird Island.
Miraculously, there were two survivors who came ashore at what is now known as Loch Ard Gorge.
Only 4 bodies were recovered and these are buried in a small cemetery on the cliffs above.

Our next Photo-op stop, on the other side of the township of Port Campbell was at The Arch.

Each of our stops was harder to leave than the last.  With mighty waves crashing onto the rocks promising bigger ones next time.

Then it was on to London Bridge.

I think it is now called London Arch - I remember the News reports at the time, as we had been here just a few months before.

On the evening of 15th January 1990 without warning, the main bridge connecting London Arch to the mainland cracked and fell in the sea.

Fortunately there was no one on the bridge when it collapsed, however two people were marooned on the new Island and rescued hours later by helicopter.

I suspect, it is because of events like this that you are no longer able to walk across these natural bridges.

The Grotto is another 'must see' Photo Stop along the Shipwreck Coast.

The arch creates a perfect frame for the Ocean with spectacular waves crashing through the small opening.

It all looks very calm in this photo but as we left we heard squeals from below as a wave sprayed visitors who were not paying attention.

45 minutes later I dragged my companions away.

We had intended our trip to end at Warrnambool for a spot of Whale watching however, after making enquiries at the local Tourist Information Centre, we were informed that there were no Whales at Warrnambool today (they were further along the coast at Portland).

So - we turned towards home Inland via the Gourmet Food Trail and soothed our disappointment with treats of  Locally made Ice cream at Timboon Fine Ice cream and Handmade Cheese from The Timboon Cheesery.
After all - there IS more to the Otways than Rain-forests and Rugged Coastlines....

It's Dairy Country and some of the finest dairy products come from this region of Victoria.

If you would like to see more of this wonderful part of my home state of Victoria and cannot come to visit - check it out on Google Earth.

Just place the 'Peg Man' anywhere along the Coast (on the blue line or dots) and have a virtual look around!