Snakes alive

Yesterday we had a field trip at Mt Martha nature reserves for our Habitat Management course. Spring is a great time for indigenous chocolate lilies, the great cormorant, the red-bellied black snake, green comb spider orchid and clematis, not to mention tiger slugs!.

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Homeward run across Gippsland

Dave raced round in the dark, drenching rain and howling wind to dismantle the awning before it ripped to bits. By morning, the rain continued unabated. We decided to skip the planned stop at Marlo and make a run for home.

The wharf at Mallacoota was a soggy sight:

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With weather like this, we could see how the Mt Drummer rainforest, with its dripping lianas and tall timbers had developed:

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By lunchtime, we were at Providence Ponds in Central Gippsland and the rain had cleared, but by then we had made our decision:

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Near Narnargoon we had a driver coffee break at a new roadside service centre next to a wetland with ibis and grebes:

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After travelling over 500km in eight and a half hours, Dave backed the van up the drive and we hurled all our drenched clothes into the washing machine and had dinner watching the news on television. The soggy end to a great shortish trip.

Coastal wilderness walk in rain with shark

From Mallacoota, we followed the Betka Road to Secret Beach in search of a tidal cave that the guy at the Info Centre had told us about. We braved the rain and followed the steep path down. Four dead sharks lay on the wet beach. Had they been caught last night by fishermen and discarded? What a waste. A clamber around a rocky headland revealed the cave, but we weren’t game to go inside as the opening was quite low and the tide was coming in. By the time we got back to the car, we were drenched.

We changed into fewer clothes (Teva sandals, bathers and fleece top in my case), snacked on a banana, water and nuts before continuing by car along the sandy, soggy vehicle track to Shipwreck Creek. The tannin in the creek made it almost black, giving beautiful reflections.

We followed the walking track across the beautiful Sandpatch Wilderness Zone, where heathland wildflowers blossomed in abundance. Alas, out of concern for the effect of rain on camera, I’d left it in the car. Home to a late lunch of soup and toastie while our dripping clothes hung under the awning.

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Melaleuca at Mallacoota

The Narrows Walking Track is a 6km track along a long inlet near Mallacoota in far eastern Victoria. It is an unspoilt wilderness and we passed snow-white lilies, purple swainsonia flowers and red and yellow “eggs and bacon”. A gecko basked in the warm afternoon while a houseboat puttered by, seeking shelter from the incoming winds.

Our campsite is right beside Mallacoota Inlet, with a view to die for.

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Tathra boats, seabirds, turtle, wharf and seascape.

From our cliff top pathway, we heard a loud thud, as fibreglass and propeller hit the concrete boat ramp. An attempt to launch a luxury runabout had gone wrong. With a dozen helpful hands, the boat was hauled back onto its trailer and towed out of the water for checking, before the family all piled in and headed out to sea. Fortunately the boat seemed unharmed.

A few minutes earlier, we had been observing people cleaning fish as the birds helped them tidy up the gizzards.

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A friendly couple even shared their catch of flathead with us, and we are looking forward to fish for dinner tomorrow.

As we rounded a corner driving towards the Bournda National Park, we avoided two children squatting right beside the road. They were watching a long-necked turtle sunning itself.

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Coffee was in a cute cafe in the original wharf building.

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We only did 2km of the Kangarutha Walking Track, but the seascapes were spectacula.

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Fishing at Merimbula – wharf, boat or bar but stay clear of the oyster farms

They had to rebuild a wharf in Merrimbula when the authorities demolished the old one. It was no longer needed for shipping as supplies came in by boat, but the locals wanted somewhere to hang out a line from. Others are lucky enough to have motor launches to take them to fishing spots, while at low tide, the sandbar across the bay is a great location.

Those with boats can clean their fish at a purpose-built platform in the bay, which is a magnet for pelicans.

If you don’t want to fish, the Wharf Aquarium and restaurant is a very pleasant place to enjoy a seafood lunch overlooking the oyster beds and water recreation of the town.

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The world’s your oyster at Pambula on the Sapphire Coast

With translucent seas breaking, shimmering onto russet rocks, you can see why the travel brochures call it the Sapphire Coast:

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We toured an oyster farm that had a delicious seafood restaurant attached.

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We then drove through Ben Boyd National Park to Haycock Point where the ‘roos watched us unperturbed.

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If you look carefully, you can see a joey in the mother’s pocket.

The red and white cliffs at The Pinnacles provided a dramatic contrast to the ocean:

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