Healesville Sanctuary – meet Aussie critters up close

Today we took two of our grandchildren to Healesville Sanctuary, an hour and a half drive. After backseat snacking and games of ‘I spy’, we arrived about noon for a posed photo by a sculptured giant eagle.

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The snakes impressed the girls, as did a lace monitor nonchalantly walking down the pathway.

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Probably because it was school holiday time, lunch in the cafe was slow in coming, so we had to race across the ‘fast track’ shortcut to catch the 2:30pm Spirits of the Sky bird show, scattering visitor as we charged past. We just made it before they closed the gates. The red-tailed black cockatoo and the buzzard which used a stone as a tool to open an emu egg were both a great hit, but the favourite was the talking corella, which had a vocabulary of at least six words.

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We finished the trail, procrastinating over requests for icy poles. Admiring the active Tasmanian Devils and feeding a wallaby were popular.

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We finished the trip with the promised icy pole and essential toilet trip before a return drive of snacking and games. Children are free at all 3 Zoos Victoria venues in the school holidays, adding to the attraction of the destination. Seeing the animals that feature on Woolworths supermarket cards brought them to life.

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It’s show time in Melbourne

Today my daughter-in-law, Rosalie, and I took her daughters to the Royal Melbourne Show, for an exciting day out. Seeing the show through the eyes of an eight and six year-old is an experience. The floating bubble ride was chosen by the younger, Lily, while Iris chose the bungee jump. We all went on the Ferris wheel, giving us an overview of the show ground activities. It also provided a distant view of the golden-topped Eureka Tower that I ascended yesterday.

As expected, the baby animals were a hit. I was pleased that the girls went for cartoon character showbags rather than junk food.

We left as the sun set and the traffic thinned out a bit. A good day.

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Shuttle off to Melbourne city then deck the sky

Inspired by Leanne Cole Photographer’s blog, we decided to head to Melbourne today for a day visit. It is also homework for me as I am an apprentice guide for Melbourne’s free City Ambassador Program. I need to know what my home city has to offer from a visitor’s perspective.

We began with the Shuttle Bus which takes visitors around the inner Melbourne attractions and until October 1 is free (it’s only $5 thereafter, so still a good deal).

We hopped off at Stop 9, Harbourtown as this is a new precinct that we haven’t seen before. We were so impressed by the vibe that we stayed for nasi lemak at a cafe called Chilli Paddy, just under the shadow of the soon-to-be-reopened Ferris wheel.

Then back on the Shuttle for the rest of the circuit, alighting at the National Gallery of Victoria, where a market was in full swing. from there we walked through Southbank to Eureka Tower, which has the Skydeck, the highest public vantage point in the Southern Hemisphere.

We felt proud of our home city and conscious of how much it has to offer visitors. It is easy to take home for granted!

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Springtime wildflower display on Mornington Peninsula

The Shire cleared and burned the bush land along the estuary of Balcombe Creek, Mt Martha. Now that the straggly ti-tree has gone, the spring wildflower display is impressive, with donkey orchids, nodding greenhoods, yellow guinea flower, sundews that capture tiny insects with their sticky leaves, epacris heath, native flax and common correa.

Thank you Mornington Peninsula Shire!

I’ve also shared a shot of crimson rosellas on the front lawn after a shower of rain.

The caravan goes to be repaired for a few months, so I will be blogging on short local trips for a bit.

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Across Victoria in six hours

We are home. It wasn’t planned that way. We spent most of the morning walking round Lake Mulwala and birdwatching. I managed to capture a purple swamp hen shaking his tail feathers proudly. A mini tornado last March had destroyed the tops of trees and flattened a caravan park.

After coffee we crossed the bridge into our home state of Victoria, in the south-east of Australia. It was a brilliant spring day and everything looked so moist and beautiful. We picnicked by the roadside admiring the pink heath – Victoria’s emblem – and other wildflowers in a box ironbark forest.

But by the time we arrived in the township of Yea, we could feel home calling. We had intended to camp in this town less than two hours from home, but all of a sudden, it seemed to make sense to head for home.

We phoned our daughter, who immediately said she’d bring over dinner. We arrived home about 5.00pm to long lawns and lot of lemons on the ground, Joyfully we unpacked then enjoyed a meal of pasta and salad with Julia and her partner. We are exhausted. I may do a summary post soon, but will not be doing daily posts until our next trip. Thank you to all 89 followers – your interest has encouraged me enormously.

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Superb parrot and Murrumbidgee

We woke to the flash of pink galah into the sunlight through the skylight in the van. Then walking along the slow, mud-coloured Murrumbidgee as the sulphur crested cockatoos socialised above, we marvelled at the breadth of the trunks of centuries-old river red gums.

A pair of parrots soared above and landed on a high branch. With the camera, I zoomed in on them – they turned out to be endangered superb parrots. What a treat!

We made an espresso by the river bank before continuing our journey through irrigated crop land to the next big river, the Murray. We have a large, man-made lake opposite us and had drinks as the setting sun cast a coral hue on the bleached tree trunks.

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Golden springtime in river country

Leaving Condolbolin, on the Lachlan River, we started south past cattle grazing on the unfenced verge, but stopped to bird watch at Wallaroi Creek, where the wattle cascading towards the creek captured my attention: Australia’s national flower. A fitting image for the first day of spring. As it is Fathers’ Day, I took a portrait of Dave before a river gum.

We journeyed on to a bird hide near Lake Cargelligo. The shot taken through the hide’s peephole gave a pleasing panaromic effect.

The lake itself was an ideal spot for a picnic lunch, using up fresh fruit and salad prior to reaching the Riverina fruit fly exclusion zone. A mudlark got very chummy with its image in the mirror of the 4WD. I was inspired by the effect of the light behind a golden jacaranda tree – today gold is the theme colour.

The Griffith area looked fertile, with dazzling canola, cotton waiting in giant bales, ageing vines.

We are camped by the Murrumbidgee River. An hour ago a huge limb crashed down from a gum tree a few metres away. We are relieved that we chose a more open campsite.

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