november 28, 2000
the most recent dispatch from the field... (more)
catch up on previous news postings... (more)
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nov 26, 2000
from Albury campuses to Footscray in Melbourne ... (more)
nov 22, 2000
Three Days in Sydney... (more)
nov 18, 2000
Camping and Fishing on the Kiewa... (more)
nov 16, 2000
Rafting and TAFE-ing in New South Wales... (more)
nov 08, 2000
Wine, Horse Races, Roos on the Ridge and, yes! a bit of work... (more)
nov 05, 2000
3 B's Tour east of Canberra: Bywong, Braidwood, and Batemans Bay... (more)
These next 2 days were devoted to seeing a good chunk of nature here at the bottom of Australia. On Monday, Jan and I headed south to Wilson's Promontory, a triangle wedge of national park that is the southernmost point of the Australian continent, just a few hops across the Bass Strait from the island of Tasmania.
Inside the park, we stretched our legs at the crossing of the Darby River, a deep blue curving creek that winds tis way through think brush. In the distance are the 700 m (2100 ft) elevation peaks such as Mt. Latrobe. The air was thick with bird calls and we spotted some black cockatoos.
Next was a short walk to Whiskey Beach, a pretty swath of white sand nestled among rounder granite boulders. One rock in particular looked like a human head, like something from Easter Island. The dunes behind the beach are covered with a wide variety of tough plants and delicate flowers. Again, we came across a tree full of black cockatoos with red top knots.
today's photos - all photos o o o o
o o Wilson's Promontory
o o Healesville Sanctuary
After a fried sandwich lunch, we drove up to the view from Mc Oberon, where one would start at 18 km walk to the true tip of Wilson's "Prom". We did not have enough time, ahem... to do this, so we just took in the distant view.
From here we took a walk down to Squeaky Beach, named for the irritating sound the sand makes as you walk across it, like the Barking Sands in Hawaii. This was a lovely beach with clear, tropical colored water. Ambitious surfers waited for bigger waves, which were not very forthcoming. I found it thrilling to swim in the surf and jump some waves.
Then we headed northwest, following the coast to Phillip Island. After a greasy fish and chips in Cowes, we aimed for the headquarters of the Penguin Parade. This is a major tourist target (read bus loads), and for good reason. After wading through the visitor's center and gift shops, we assembled on the concrete bleachers overlooking the beach and waited for the sun to completely set. Around 9:00 PM, small groups of black heads started bobbing at the surf's edge, and after seeing some white flashes, it was time for the fairy penguins to "parade" past us up the dunes to their night resting (and dating) areas.
The parade was slow in developing as the little penguins (less than 12 inches high) are wary of hungry birds, but soon they were cutely waddling towards us in groups of 15-20 each. One or two seemed to have eaten a bit too much or were struggling with sore legs. I would have liked to have reams of photos, but cameras are strictly forbidden. The penguins make their way to the brush beyond the board paths, and walking back, one can spend a lot of time watching the penguins pass below the paths, The strut, flap, and squawk at each other; males arguing over territory; males and females courting. And there are lots of curious flapping and whistling noises coming from the bushes.
On Tuesday, I joined Jan for a meeting with a client of hers at CSIRO, the major government sponsored science research arm. After a bit of business, we headed north across the Dandenong Ranges to Yarra Valley (home of championship wines). The target was the Healesville Sanctuary, a wildlife park. This was a fantastic experience to get very close to a wide range of animals, including:
KangarooThere was also a Wombat supposedly available, which I was excited to see since they only ones I have been see are laying on the sides of highways, victims of wombat/automobile collisions. But this one was also stretched out wide, as if he were stuffed as well.
Rainbow Lorikeets (they bobbed their heads in harmony)
Whistling Kite (bird of prey)
Sea Eagle (second largest Australian Bird)
Wedgetail Eagle (first largest Australian Bird)
Black Snake (one of most deadly Australian snakes)
Echidna (porcupine like)
Platypus (must see to believe!)
One can easily spend a few hours to many more here. The exhibits are all well designed and educational. After a day with animals, we enjoyed a fine Thai dinner in Berwick. And this morning, the travel machine cranked up again with a train from berwick to Spencer Street; a bus from there to the Airport; and a 737 from Melbourne to Adelaide.
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