We enjoyed a big breakfast before the short drive back to the airport. As I was taking pictures of the car, I was asked to move it from the place it was parked. Unfortunately, by this time, I’d already returned its key.
I sat by the window on the flight to Melbourne. I missed the moment when the colour of the earth below changed from ‘red’ to ‘brown’ and from great expanses of desert to small, regular, rectangular fields.
We collected our next rental car and drove to Torquay, south of Melbourne but avoiding the city centre. It was a fast drive along the motorways and it felt strange to drive along a noise barrier for such a long distance.
Donald Trump would be very happy that the Aussies are keeping those pesky Mexicans off their freeways, with a big wall. Big.
We decided to slum it for one night at a motel. Actually, it wasn’t too bad, a nice big room and a hot tub, although in the end, none of us used it.
Jyoti and I walked down the road to Fisherman’s Beach, some brightly coloured birds flying by.
I was impressed by the sundial where you stand in the correct place according to the date, and your own shadow points to the time. It was very decorative, too and I’ve decided that on our next trip, I’ll bring a drone so that I can take fantastic overhead shots of outsize sundials.
What a difference a couple of days makes. It’s more than twenty degrees cooler here in Victoria than in the Northern Territory. But we thought the worst of the scary animals was behind us. Oh no. The first thing Jyoti saw in the morning was a big hairy spider on the net curtain. I didn’t hear the screams, but maybe these old ears of mine can’t pick up such high, piercing frequencies any more.
Not knowing whether it really was dangerous or not, none of us went near it. A huntsman rarely hurts people: apparently most injuries are caused by the surprise of seeing the spider and jumping back or falling off the chair or something.
We were at the start of The Great Ocean Road and our first stop was Bells Beach, famous for its surfers. You thought the spider was bad enough? Look how dangerous this place is!
The waves were stunning, huge, powerful, and of course there was no chance of us going for a dip in the sea here. But we did have a pleasant walk, watching the water and the surfers.
There were too many surfers to count and from our perspective, in the distance, they could easily have been a group of seals. No wonder sharks get confused, sometimes.
We watched one man try to swim out, and every time he made some progress, a wave would bring him back in. He persevered and eventually disappeared into the crowd. And there were some fantastically long rides on the waves, too.
You not only have to admire their skills, but their courage in going out into such strong waters in the first place.
Then, when you’re all done, you just nonchalantly ride a wave back in, all the way to the beach.
Competition time! If anyone can explain or interpret this piece of modern art on the back of a street sign, please let us know!
Tree sap escapes, runs down the trunk and solidifies into a lump of amber. If it’s trapped a fly that has just bitten a kangaroo, then, in millions of years time, they’ll be able to extract the DNA and grow a whole new kangaroo from scratch! There’s a book and a film franchise here, somewhere.
Point Addis was the venue for a nice stroll too. We could look back at Bells Beach from here and watch the surfers from ‘behind’ as we were high up on a bluff. We saw plenty of seabirds, and we think these are shags over on that rock.
Hooded plovers are an endangered species and we weren’t lucky enough to see any here. Sadly, we did see evidence of how inconsiderate dog owners can be. We’d commented earlier on the amount of dogshit left on paths and tracks, and this sign was written by a very angry person.
It was a bit of a messy beach, lots of seaweed and shells, all natural stuff, but still messy.
After all this natural beauty and fresh air, it was only right that we indulge in something tacky. So it was with great joy that we found the Chocolaterie and Icecreamerie.
And our first sighting of kangaroos today.
We decided to have lunch and it was delicious. The main ingredients were sugar, fat, sugar, cream, sugar, sugar and a little bit of fruit. But we also were given shortbreads with our coffee and little cups of thick, hot, milk chocolate.
I tried to help out, but I couldn’t manage to consume all three cups of chocolate. I felt that there just wasn’t enough blood in my sugar stream to cope with even more chocolate.
And it may surprise you, dear reader, but we did not have ice cream for dessert, tempting though it was, especially the (genuine Australian) hemp flavour.
Niblick Street. Golf Links Road. Bogie Court. Fairway Drive. Yes, we visited a golf course in Anglesea. They let us in, after we paid, but we weren’t here for a round of golf, oh no. We were here because kangaroos live on and around the course, and we were driven round to see them up close and personal. Very personal, as this little joey will testify.
There were lots of them, too, some with collars as they’re part of a research programme being conducted by one of the universities. Some of the golfers don’t like the animals on the course, and some really don’t like the idea of these tours, it’s just not cricket.
We walked by Anglesea Beach too, and at the end of the fishing jetty, I was pleased to see a ruler, so you can measure the fish you caught and not measure the ones that got away.
The sand on the beach was lovely, too, very soft. And look at the tanlines on this hoof.
We walked up to Split Point Lighthouse, although it wasn’t open to visitors. The views were good from this height, and I was especially pleased to see a sea stack, even with a couple of photobombers.
There is a great memorial to the men who built The Great Ocean Road, probably the best ocean road in the world, so of course, we had to go and spoil it by standing in front of it.
Although we’d planned to go to Lorne (where I remember a great coffee shop from 2002!), instead, we went straight to our new b&b in Pennyroyal. It’s on an unsealed road, one of several cabins in the woods, and it’s terrific.
More or less as soon as we arrived, we made friends with the local king parrots. To this end, Phil, our host, had left us with a jar of bird seed.
At one point, we were watching over half a dozen kings eating either out of the bowl or from the rail of the balcony. There’s definitely a hierarchy: one, presumably the senior, wasn’t going to share the bowl with his underlings.
Just like Samantha from ISIHAC, I do like to see a cockatoo first thing in the morning. Right outside the bedroom window, he was, on the balcony.
Liesel put some food out and after a short while, he returned with some mates.
Some other little chaps came by to say hello and enjoy our hospitality, too. Red brown firetail finches, apparently, very pretty.
A hundred photos later, I managed to capture the sulphur crest that gives the cockatoo its name.
Jyoti and I went for a bush walk, and in a most unusual turn of events, we visited our second golf course in two days. This one only has three holes but we walked the length of the course without the burden of clubs nor balls. I did replace a flag even though we hadn’t removed it. I assume that’s the correct etiquette.
We heard plenty of birds, but were disappointed not to see any other wildlife. On the other hand, quite glad not to come across any of the snakes that Phil warned us about. But then, he hasn’t seen one for a few years, either. As advised, we stomped around so any snakes would take the hint and vamoose.
In the middle of the woods, we found a child’s slide. I wondered whether I would want my children or grandchildren playing here, knowing about the snakes? Some of the flowers were very pretty and we also found small red berries and blackberries. No, we didn’t try either, just in case.
We had another small but very timid visitor to our balcony, so, until we see another one, this picture taken through the screen mesh will have to do. It’s a superb fairy wren, very pretty.
We drove to Deans Marsh, aiming for coffee at the Martian Café. When it finally clicked, I thought the name was very clever. Deans Marsh. Marsh. Martian. Anyway, it’s closed down and the premises up for lease, so no Martian coffee for us. The Store over the road, however, has everything. Coffee, cakes, pies, a shop, a bakehouse, a post office, alcohol, it really is a one-stop shop for the town. I assume the blackboard is in what was once the schoolroom.
We found Tiger Rail Trail after Lake Elizabeth proved elusive. We’d ended up in the middle of nowhere, along a dusty, unsealed road, no sign of a lake. But the trail was a lovely, flat walk, along the the track of a long lost railway line.
There are some strange plants in Australia. This weed, we don’t know its real identity, is nearly six feet tall, lots of small twiddly leaves, capped off with a very dainty, yellow flower.
Whe ferns were as bright as any we saw in New Zealand, although mostly not as big.
But the best thing of all was our first sighting, in the wild, of a koala. Liesel spotted it first having just pleaded to the gods, show me a koala!
It was a hundred feet up in the tree, unmistakable when you you see it, and very exciting. This was one of those occasions when we would have benefitted from binoculars and a proper camera with a decent zoom lens.
Forrest is home to Platypi Chocolate. I thought the plural of platypus was platypusses or even platypodes but if chocolate and coffee are involved, I don’t really mind what the place is called! And, to be honest, it’s probably as close as we’ll get to seeing a real platypus out in the wild. It’s a new building, looking out over the woods, a perfect spot for bird-watching, although we weren’t very lucky on this occasion. Except, we had great coffee of course!
Colac Batonic Gardens should be the name. We thought we’d enjoy a nice wander amongst the flowers and trees, all beautifully labelled. But what caught our attention instead was a bat flying overhead.
Then another. Followed by more and more. We realised, there were dozens in one tree, far more than we’d seen at Manly last week. And all the other trees, too, hundreds of fruit bats hanging there like old black socks drying in the wind.
We did look at some of the trees too, of course, as we ambled round.
The bats aren’t universally welcome because there are so many and they’re destroying the fruit trees. On the other hand, they’re a protected species. This is according to the elderly, local couple, both on mobility scooters. They also told us why Lake Colac itself is ten feet lower than it used to be. A few years of drought saw to that, killing off all the fish in the process. One flood started to refill the lake, but they need at least a couple more floods to fill the lake to its original level. At attempt to restock with fish was foiled when a flock of 1500 pelicans ate them all!
There are many species of bird on the waterfront so we continued walking along the shoreline. Spoonbills, coots, moorhens, gulls of course and many more.
We returned to our cabin where, after supper, J&L went for a short walk. They saw a couple of kangaroos who soon hopped off. No photo evidence, unfortunately: I’d decided to go to bed early instead, and neither of the ladies had a camera.