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Feathers and Fur

An Australian Point of View #6 Healesville Sanctuary

Australia is renowned for its unique wildlife and we sometimes joke that international visitors imagine there are kangaroos jumping down our main streets. While estimates put the kangaroo population at more than 50 million, urban dwellers don’t tend to see them unless they leave the towns and cities behind and head into rural areas. Other well-known Australian animals like koalas, echidnas and platypuses are even more difficult to spot in the wild.

A beautiful place to see many of our native animals is Healesville Sanctuary, an hour’s drive from Melbourne in the Yarra Valley. A bushland zoo dedicated to Australian fauna, the sanctuary is home to those native animals with which we are all familiar and some others less ordinary.



Two walk-through aviaries, Land of Parrots and the Wetlands, have purpose-built hides where visitors can quietly observe native birds in their natural environment.


Flightless emus have their own large enclosure.

The zoo has an extensive conservation and breeding program for some of Australia’s most threatened or endangered species.

Native flowering plants bring seasonal colour to the paths leading through each bushland environment.

Unsurprisingly, the most popular exhibit is the Koala Forest, where raised boardwalks and platforms rise up into the canopy of the eucalypts. Here, the sleepy marsupials rest in the forked branches of manna gums, seemingly unaware of their admiring audience.

For a close up view of Australia’s unique wildlife, Healesville Sanctuary is the perfect choice – it’s easier than waiting on the street!

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From On High

An Australian Point of View #5 Mountains

One of my most vivid memories of my first year of high school is the day my geography teacher, a European immigrant, made a scathing comment about Australia’s mountains. How dare we call our main mountain range “great” when, in comparison to the European alps it was nothing. I remember, even at the tender age of 12, feeling indignant that he should feel free to criticise my country.

Since then, I’ve seen much of this land and explored many of its mountain areas. I know now that Australia, once part of the supercontinent Gondwana, is the oldest and flattest continent on Earth.

Norseman, Western Australia

Nullarbor Plain, South Australia

Tectonic movement and volcanic activity have shaped the upland areas and erosion by wind and water has worn them away; instead of the rugged craggy peaks seen in Europe and the Americas, Australia’s mountain ranges are characterised by highland plateaus and deep canyons, wide valleys and rounded peaks.

Cradle Mountain and Dove Lake, Tasmania

Mount Wellington, Tasmania

Porongurups, Western Australia

Bungle Bungles, Western Australia

Katherine River and Katherine Gorge, Northern Territory

Australia’s highest mountain, Mount Kosciuszko, reaches an elevation of just 2,228 metres above sea level.

Mount Kosciuszko, New South Wales

The Great Dividing Range, so maligned by my teacher, is the third longest land-based mountain range on Earth. It is 3,500 kilometres long and stretches from the northernmost tip of Queensland, through New South wales and into Victoria. At its widest it is more than 300 kilometres across. The range dates from the Carboniferous Period, making it more than 300 million years old. Surely the term “great” is well-deserved.

Where the mountains meet the sea, Cape Tribulation, Far North Queensland

Daintree National Park, Far North Queensland

Kroombit Tops, Central Queensland

Glasshouse Mountains, South East Queensland

Bald Rock National Park, Northern New South Wales

Alpine National Park, Eastern Victoria

Perhaps that teacher needed to study his geography!

On the Beach

An Australian Point of View #4 The Gold Coast

It’s not surprising that more than 10 million people visit the Gold Coast every year. With its subtropical climate, nearby national parks and beautiful beaches, theme parks, wildlife sanctuaries and dozens of restaurants and cafes, Queensland’s second largest city is one of Australia’s most popular tourist destinations.

For an overall view of the Gold Coast region, go straight to the top. At the Q1 Tower at Surfers Paradise there are observation decks on the 76th and 77th floor.  From a height of 230 metres it’s easy to see the 70 kilometres of beautiful beaches and 600 kilometres of canals which make waterfront living so desirable.

Back down at ground level head away from the popular tourist areas and you’ll find plenty of places where it’s not so busy. Go for a long walk, sit on the beach for a while or swim between the flags where vigilant lifeguards keep watch.

If you’re feeling adventurous, take a surf class or do some windsurfing.

Or simply take some time to relax. That’s what everyone else will be doing!

 

A Collection of Favourites

Kevtoberfest #27 The Beginning and The End

It seems fitting to end this Kevtoberfest series as it began, with a few favourites. I started with some special photos of Glen and Kevin to acknowledge their lifelong friendship, and our first destination on the long journey south was Stanthorpe, where we collected some favourite beverages.

In three weeks, we travelled more than 3,000 kilometres and visited many wonderful places. Sometimes though, it’s the little things we remember – these are my favourites.

Poplars, bare-branched at the end of winter. By the time we returned, they were dressed in new spring leaves.

My favourite native bird – a galah, feasting on seed in Kevin’s garden

Giant metal flowers growing up against a corrugated iron wall in Nundle

The ultimate holiday camper – a renovated ice cream van. Travel and ice cream, a winning combination!

My favourite sign, on the wall of a bakery café

This trip was all about beer, with a few craft shops for balance.

Longstocking Nano Brewery at Pambula was Glen’s favourite.

Mine was the Nundle Woollen Mill, aglow with all the colours of the rainbow.

Sunrise at Mallacoota – a glorious start to a new day

Out of the 3,390 photos we took over three weeks I have one absolute favourite, of Kevin and his lovely wife Mary Lou on party night. It captures the joy of celebrating a milestone with family and friends and the anticipation of what lies ahead.

Kevtoberfest has come to an end, and like children playing a favourite new game, we all say “Do it again, Kevin!”

A Loo With a View – The Kevtoberfest Edition

Kevtoberfest #26

Australian loos have lovely views

from the mountains to the sea,

When you need to answer nature’s call

they’re where you want to be!

~

This bush loo looks a little rough

but believe me when I say,

it’s better than no loo at all

in a bushland hideaway.

The road to Perry’s Lookdown

Perry’s Lookdown, Blue Mountains

~

These stylish loos are made of stone

which is very apt.

They overlook some famous rocks.

At sunset we were rapt!

The Three Sisters, Katoomba, Blue Mountains

~

At Jenolan we found two beaut loos

in excellent locations.

Outside there were garden views

and a hotel for vacations.

Jenolan Caves House, Jenolan

~

The Grand Arch housed a second loo

amongst the cave formations.

Please use this loo

before you start your caving explorations.

The Grand Arch, Jenolan

~

The town of Bermagui

has a loo up on the hill.

With views in all directions,

it really fits the bill!

Bermagui River

Horseshoe Bay, Bermagui

~

This loo may look a little plain

– it’s very practical.

But sunset over the water

is simply magical.

Wagonga Inlet, Narooma

~

This tidy loo is on the lakes –

the water views are fine.

The locals like to gather

and enjoy the bright sunshine.

Lakes Entrance


~

So when you’re on a road trip

and the distances are long,

If you find loos with views like these

You really can’t go wrong!

 

More loos with beautiful views!

The original Loo With a View

Loos with views in Western Australia

The highest loo view in Australia

Loos with views around Australia

Loos with views – The Cruise Edition

Loos with views – The Hawaiian Edition

Loos with views – The English Edition

From Trash to Treasure

Kevtoberfest#24 Mitta Mitta

After our scenic drive through the Alpine National Park, we arrived at the tiny township of Mitta Mitta, home to 31 permanent residents. When Glen asked the manager if there was free Wi-Fi for our phones he laughed and said, “You’ll be lucky to get a TV channel let alone any phone reception.” It was going to be a quiet night.

With a couple of free hours before the sun set, we went for a walk beside the Mitta Mitta River. In the shallows, the water bubbled over the rocky riverbed while on the broad bends the surface was calmer, mirroring the evergreen eucalypts and bare-branched poplars on the river bank.


Kookaburras perched high in a gum tree greeted us, their raucous laugh breaking the silence.

Just as we were thinking Mitta Mitta must be the sleepiest town in Australia we came across some evidence which proved us wrong. Spaced along the grassy path were sculptures, all composed of bits and pieces, discarded scrap metal and household items past their use-by date. The plaque accompanying each piece told us these were all previous entrants in the Bushcraft Sculpture competition at the Mighty Mitta Muster.








We discovered we’d come to Mitta Mitta at the wrong time of year. Every March, the muster attracts thousands of visitors to the little town. Typical country events include a rodeo, wood chop, tug of war and whip cracking, along with craft stalls, horse and dog competitions, athletics and a fun run.

Next time we go to Mitta Mitta, we might need to book ahead!

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Changing Seasons

Kevtoberfest #23 The Great Alpine Road

With the fun of Kevin’s birthday party over, it was time to say farewell and begin the long journey home. Instead of returning the way we’d come, we had planned to travel through the Alpine National Park to the ski resorts of Mount Hotham and Falls Creek. But late winter snowfalls meant the roads were closed in places and only accessible in other areas with tyre chains.

The alternative was to follow the Great Alpine Road from Bairnsdale into the mountains to Omeo, then through the mountain passes to Mitta Mitta on the other side. We’d heard the road was steep and winding, and we were warned to take it slowly on the narrow curves.

The hills and pastures of the lower alpine region were still wearing their brown overcoats, parched and bare after a dry winter.


As the road climbed we began to see signs of the change in seasons, with wattle in full bloom gilding the steep hillsides. Alpine ashes, tall and spindly, had begun to shed their old bark, revealing pristine white trunks beneath.


Even though spring had definitely arrived, winter wasn’t quite gone either. As northerners, we rarely see snow and our first glimpse of a dusting on the distant mountains was exciting. Icy remnants of long ago snowfalls remained in the roadside culverts.


We paused several times to admire the distant peaks, their white blanketed slopes in stark contrast with the deep green of the surrounding eucalypt forest.

Our frequent stops to admire the views combined with the slow pace of travel on the winding mountain road meant our journey of just 236 kilometres took more than six hours.

Lucky we had plenty to look at on the way!