We are quite excited about visiting Phillip Island and getting to attend wedding while we are here is a double bonus. No bikes or cars racing this week-end but looking forward to checking out the wildlife.
Beautiful beaches to walk on
Our first foray is to The Nobbies and it is a wild and windy day, the surf is big, crashing relentlessly against rocky cliffs continuing the constant grinding, wearing away, changing the coast line little by little. Scattered around the bluff are man made hutches for sea birds and Little Penguins as well as the many tracks and tunnels that have been made by these cute little creatures. It is quite amazing to see how steep some of these Little Penguins have to climb – a real triumph of nature over adversity. The board walk is easy to navigate, the blowhole is not quite what we were expecting with no spout bursting through the rocks but still the views are spectacular.
It a long way to the burrow for a little penguin.
A nice spray back from the blow hole.
The next day we decide to walk around Cape Woolamai – little did we know we were in for more than we bargained for. The walk is an 8km and takes in beach, cliff and bush as well as a seabird sanctuary and some incredible rock formations. Watching the waves hit the beach is beautiful with the wind causing spray to push the peak of the wave back in a soft spray. As we continue around we see many signs of penguins, their little webbed feet leaving tracks all around, up and down some very precarious cliffs. Short-tailed Shearwaters (Mutton birds) and Shy Albatross are easy to spot and come quite close so maybe not so shy. When we reach the other side of the point the sea is calm but the tide is rising rapidly. We make it passed several outcrops, dodging the waves coming up closer. In the end I am persuaded to cut across country but this turns out to be very difficult, no path, so much vegetation to push through and never ending sand dunes. We startle wallabies and keep a wary eye out for snakes. By now we are thinking that the wet feet would have been better alternative than this. We push on and at last see glimpses of the road we came in on so must be getting close. Within another 5 minutes we gratefully plunge through to the car park.
Our last walk is through the Oswin Roberts Reserve where we see plenty Swamp Wallabies, butterflies everywhere but no koalas, apparently those left in the wild are slowly dying out with diseases such chlamydia. The future of these furry Australians lies in the koala research centre which will, in the future, be able to release a healthy new colony to populate the island.
The last activity we are looking forward to is the penguin parade, one of Victorias biggest tourist attractions, and we are not disappointed. Watching them slowly appear out of the water in small groups of roughly 20-30 they tentatively waddle a few metres away from there safe sanctuary of the sea, stop wait for quite some time before the leader seems to get a wave of confidence making a disparate dash across the beach with the others striving to keep up. Finally they reach the grassy banks and make there way towards their burrows. Here you can see up close the Little Penguins, the chicks come out and chase the parent returning relentlessly looking for food, the malting penguins come out and seem to chat to the ones coming back from their fishing trip – obviously to ask about the catch. They are truly amazing creatures and very entertaining to watch – unfortunately photography of all kind is banned but a great experience to be remembered.
This walk was organised by a member of the Wagga Wilderness Walkers.
We head off from Wagga Wagga, travelling passed Tumut and Talbingo. It could be easy to miss but we take the turn off down the Cumberland Fire Trail, this is strictly a four wheel drive vehicle access and although not difficult you do need to have your wits about you with some steep inclines/declines. 4.7km into the car parking area.
The beginning of our day walk to Mt Talbingo starting at 1084m above sea level.
We follow the fire trail, steadily climbing with some quite steep inclines. The road is made up of loose stones so we need to make sure of our footing to avoid a nasty slip on the track. At the end of this section we come to the fire tower and weather station. Now we need to find our own way through the bush to the highest peak, its not far maybe a few hundred metres. The views are spectacular taking in the Talbingo Dam, the village, part of Blowering dam and everything in between. The sheer cliffs mark our walk on the left hand side, rocks covered in lichen, stunted gums, Triggerplants, Kangaroo Grass and so much more line our track.
A very interesting plant so called as when an insect lands on it the flower sends out a ‘trigger’. Apparently the nectar is so attractive the insect isimpelled
A healthy sign to see plenty of Kangaroo Grass.
We are very happy to reach the top after a 2 hour walk, not too strenuous and not going at a fast pace so we could enjoy the lovely bush.
Great to reach the top of Big Talbingo Mountain, now at 1373m above sea level.
We enjoy lunch before heading off and our lead walker invites me to take us out and back to the fire tower.
Not much of a track
Everything is going well, we even get a fantastic view of the Talbingo Dam which is remarked upon as to why we didn’t see this particular angle on the way up and this makes me wonder if I have lead us all astray. 20 metres on and we are at the edge of the cliff face, only a small mistake. Thankfully we only have to back track a short distance and we are on our way passed familiar landmarks. I must pay more attention on walks in the future.
It only takes us 1 hour and 20 minutes to return.
We get a lovely bonus of seeing an echidna strutting across the road on the way back and some delicious figs to take home.
Another creature enjoying a walk around the alpine countryside.
We leave the coast for the day and head up into the beautiful Otway forest on a very winding, narrow and bumpy road. When a sign comes up saying we have to share this already scary road with log trucks things become very interesting. Thank goodness we only meet one, not on a blind corner and it was without logs so we make it quite safely.
It is drizzling a little so I’m thinking our activity may be cancelled but apparently this place operates rain, hail or shine. It’s a bit of a wait so that makes me a little more nervous with a couple of trips to the loo. The thing is I’m going on a zip line with Dan and Jazz at the Otway Fly so although heights don’t worry me too much gliding along nothing but a line 30 metres above the ground at a fast pace did make me more than a little apprehensive. After some safety talks, a practice run we are off. On the way we get to experience some of the local wild life as we gather around a black snail, apparently carnivorous but as this one is smaller than the average garden snail I think we will be off the menu. It is rather special to see one so very happy about that – a good omen perhaps. We come to a tree with a stair case winding its way round to about half way, some 10 metres to a small platform, our first challenge and it is no longer raining. Jazz goes off with no worries at all, Dan warms up to it pretty quickly but my first go is scary as anything I have done. I now fear it will be this way the whole trip but standing 20 metres up in the tree somehow helps my confidence and watching the others I start to relax and go with it. All in all it was a fantastic experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Part of the zip line where we head back down across a very swingy swing bridge
After that great achievement the treetop walk was pretty easy although the tower in the centre was a challenge especially when you reach the top and the whole thing is swaying – we are now 47 metres from the ground. The forest is spectacular, Mountain Ash with its beautiful colours, the ancient Myrtle Beech, tiny ferns, a bubbling brook and loads and loads of tree ferns my absolute favourite plant.
This is a cool weather rain forest and from the bottom to the top it is so beautiful
47 metres above the ground, some of the trees will eventually reach 100m
My favourite a sea of tree ferns
Hopefully these trees will reach their full potential and some will be 100metres high
After an exhausting day we now have the scenic drive along the coast from Apollo Bay to Lorne, only 40km but it takes me over an hour, great views though. It is so good to get to our accommodation and just kickback with a nice bottle of wine. Definitely takeaway tonight!
Our view of the ocean is lovely and the very friendly cockatoos add to the ambiance.
From Halls Gap to Warnambool for fish and chips at the beach and then on to Port Campbell. Our resident pom, Jazz, takes a swim in the Southern Ocean and later drags Dan in too. The water is cold, really cold but according to Jasmine it is quite nice. A walk along the cliffs over looking the bay completes our afternoon.
On return to our cabin I notice that there is a fairy penguin colony nearby so we venture out at sunset prepared to wait it out until they return from a hard day fishing at sea. The sunset turns out to be brilliant, amazing colours transforming the sky and reflecting off limestone cliffs and the surging sea.
London Bridge at sunset
The fairy penguins may as well be ‘fairies’ as we wait, and wait but just like those mythical creatures we don’t see any. Footprints were left behind by them earlier we think but when we read that they don’t come out until it is very dark and that they are very small, difficult to see an uncertainty creeps into our group. After all we are some 20 metres above them, not much light so we reluctantly head back to our cabins knowing if we had not come we would have missed the spectacular sunset – nothing ventured, nothing gained.
The next day is dedicated to the ocean road with all it’s rugged, dramatic coastline. It is truly a pilgrimage worth doing and you really have to just ‘be’ there. In saying that I have included a few pictures that really do not do these sights any justice at all.
Arrive safely at Apollo Bay, Dan and Jazz get in some sun baking and another swim before enjoying a feast of seafood including, lobster, oysters, prawns, muscles and bugs. Mostly local produce which is wonderfully fresh.
A seafood extravaganza!
Mmmm and yum is all I can say about that.
After some very bumpy roads we make it to Halls Gap at the base of the Grampians and manage to unpack the car before torrential rain hit. We did plan a walk for the evening but there is no way we can head out so its staying in for some nice seafood pasta.
In the morning the day looks beautiful, the air is fresh and the bush is sparkling. It’s going to be a big day and we start with McKenzie’s Falls. Due to the rain from the night before the water is thundering over the rocks and the waterfall is amazing. The surrounding bush is still blackened from an extremely bad brushfire a couple of years ago but the signs are there that things are starting to recover.
It’s quite a climb back out so our next ‘port of call’ is the Booroka lookout, not too strenuous but amazing views of the valley below.
After a break for lunch we decide to climb to the Pinnacle, a relatively easy walk I assure everyone but I have forgotten some of the harder sections so I am ‘told’. As we are walking Jazz and Dan think it would a good idea to go and do the adventure putt putt but finding out it is only open today until 5 means our leisurely amble becomes a power walk. Up rocks, across sand, rain pools and through the bush in record time. We do spend time being in awe of the sights even though the boys are a bit nervous hanging out at the very top.
At the top, Dan trying to escape and Jazz trying to hold him back
Off to putt putt and I do have to say it is one of the most challenging I have ever done and it caused quite a stir the last time we played. Lots of giggles, ‘practice’ shots and Daniel ends up the winner on the day.
An impossible shot but Dan keeps the ball on track.
Next up is the sunset trip to the Balconies, very nice, cold and a beautiful spot to look out over the ranges.
It’s good to get back to our cabin for an amazing wine from the Hunter Valley and a first class steak cooked by Dan.
We are currently catching up with our son (Dan) and his girlfriend (Jasmine) who are over from the UK. As this is a meet the family/friends trip we are off to Moulamein to catch up with Karina, do some yabbying and enjoy a beer at the Tatts.
Our friends Jenny and Chris invite us for a cruise up the river in their party boat the next day, the river is high and the weather is perfect. We head downstream first and as we turn the bend away from the town we see a fella dressed in his bowls gear, bowls bag to his side, a sandwich and a bottle of water in hand standing on his own on the deserted bank of the river. Being such a small town he is easily recognised so we steer the boat over and ask what’s going on. “Well,” he says, “I’m waiting for china to pick me up to take me across to the club in his boat but the bugger is late and the bus is gunna leave off at 12:00 with or without us. Can’t have the team forfeit to the Murray Downs mob!” We don’t want that on our conscience so we bring him on board, turn around and head upstream. Just as we get to the mouth of the Billabong we a boat going full pelt, nose up in the air looking like it’s going to flip at any minute. “That’ll be China now, just wants me to balance the boat,”he says. Sure enough it slows down and the nose of the boat hits the water, there is China at the helm, also dressed in his bowls gear. We get the two blokes together and off they go and I’m still shaking my head thinking only in Moulamein. (Later on we find the boat tied up at the club access from the river so I suppose they made it.)
Looks like we might fill the whole box
All in all it has been a great stop over, plenty of yabbies, good catch up with family and friends and a bonus story to tell.