Friday, November 21, 2014

Our last day of the Australian trip would be spent in Sydney.  We arrived early in the day and went to rent a car.  We had no idea how hard it would be to get one!   Finally we were able to drive away from the airport and explore the Royal National Park south of Sydney.  What a beautiful area!


We had lunch at The Dance Hall in the park.  We ate our hamburgers and chips outside while we watched Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Black Ducks, kookaburras, Little Wattlebirds and so many more birds. 



Flock of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos in trees
Laughing Kookaburra
We spent all afternoon exploring and enjoying the area. 

Gymea Lily at a lookout
Popular Beach

National Falls



Since our plane left early the next day, we had checked the car back in with the rental company, grabbed a panini at the airport for dinner and walk to the Ibis Budget Hotel.  Since we spent our first night here we knew what to expect - a bed, a desk and chair.  No coffee pot or cups and just enough space to walk at the end of the bed – all for $95 a night!  But it was within walking distance of the airport.

The next day turned out to be the longest day!  We left Oct 4 and flew 1 ½ hours to Brisbane.  We had an hour layover and changed planes.  The flight to Los Angeles airport was 13 hours. We arrived Oct 4 at 6:40 a.m.  Still not sure I really understand the international dateline! But sunrise was spectacular!

sunrise

Our plane from LAX to Phoenix was delayed due to maintenance issues and after an hour or so, we boarded, taxied out and taxied back in due to maintenance issues!  Eventually we arrived in Phoenix and had a 2 hour shuttle ride home!  See why I said Oct 4 turned out to be the longest day?

We had a great trip and are very glad to be home!  And we have over 100 new bird species for our birdlist.  Thank you Australia!
 
Home Sweet Home in Prescott AZ


















Friday, November 14, 2014

Time to Explore The Great Ocean Hiway



Leaving Melbourne we drove southwest and stopped at Cherry Lake.  This was an area of biodiversity and  after we picnicked in the park, we walked around the lake.  There were pelicans, Superb Fairy-wrens and Crested Pigeons. 




Crested Pigeon

Cherry Lake also had a talking toilet.  I took my phone with me hoping to make a video but fortunately for all of us, it failed!  Push a button and the door slides open.  Push a button and it closes.  Then it informs you that you have 10 minutes to do your business and when you are finished the toilet will flush when you wash your hands.  The music plays and sure enough….when I washed my hands, ‘’whoosh”!  Push the button and the door opens.  Made my morning!

Talking Toilet

We drove past beautiful yellow fields of rapeseed used to make canola oil. 

Rapeseed field

Next stop was Angelsea and the volunteer “I” center.  These information centers have a wealth of knowledge, suggestions, helpful hints and of course, things to buy.  We were told to stop at the center in Lorne and they would help book a room and answer our questions.   



The drive along the coast to Lorne reminded me of Big Sur, California (only more of it).  The ocean, rocks, and birds were stunning and so relaxing.  We had to stop several times for those Kodak moments!



Lorne was a pretty town and sure enough, the ‘I’ center suggested the Chatby Lane and booked a room for us.  Then told us were the bottle shop was and a couple of places for a casual dinner.  This was a great help and made me wish we had a system like that at home. The hotel was tucked on a hill in a residential neighborhood and the proprietor could not have been nicer.  After dinner, we focused on the ‘bird list’ because it was getting out of control! We’re going to have over a hundred species.

Dinner!
Continental breakfast and coffee!  Packed and ready for the day along The Great Ocean Highway.  

When we arrived in Kennett River, we found the Grey River Road (a dirt road through a forest of eucalyptus trees) where Koalas are supposed to hang out!  Peter parked and we each walked in opposite directions hoping to see koalas.  Those eucalyptus trees are very tall!  I heard Peter say, “I found one!”  It was in the tree directly across the road from our car and had been watching up the entire time.  One of the things that I noticed was the amazing ability of wildlife to disappear into their habitats.  Bright King Parrots could fly into a group of trees and literally disappear.  The koala sat in a Y branch and was the color of the tree.  We really had to look to see him.  This was definitely a highlight of the day.

 



We wanted to see “The Twelve Apostles” famous sea stacks (coastal rock formations) near Port Campbell.  We stopped for lunch at a little store/café and also got directions.  In order to see the stacks we pulled into the visitor center and walked under the hiway to a series of steps and overlooks.  They were imposing, vast, spellbinding, worth the trip. 




Time to drive back to Melbourne and check into ‘The Vibe Hotel’ and get ready for the morning flight to Sydney.  The end of our trip is getting closer!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Four Days in the Melbourne Area! Another Adventure!

FaceBook Friends Meet!  Linda and PennyJane

We rented a car at the airport, took their map and sketchy directions, and drove to the Albany Hotel by a circuitous route!  It was evening, dark, lots of traffic, unfamiliar territory and I needed a magnifying glass to read the street names on the map!  After a few wrong turns and stopping 3 times for directions we escaped the industrial area and arrived at a very nice hotel in a nice part of town about 8 p.m.

Albany Hotel
Where was dinner?  We were directed to the closest food - Subway - a few blocks away and walking seemed a good idea.  After dinner and some wine, we tucked in for the night.

The morning brought beautiful weather, a buffet breakfast and a walk in the park across the street.  Our first stop was Healesville where we would spend the next two nights.  We passed many vineyards in Yarra Valley with pastoral views.  At a little park, we found several Superb Fairy Wrens and a winding path leading to a river. 

Vineyards!  serious vineyards!
Superb Fairy Wren

Penny Jane, a FaceBook friend, had recommended the Healesville Sanctuary House Resort and we were delighted when we drove in.   http://sanctuaryhouse.com.au/   There were many flowers and paths to explore, lots of birds to watch and a restaurant for dinner.  After checking in, we explored the town, found a grocery store for a picnic food and a bottle shop for some local wine. 

We spent the afternoon at the Healesville Sanctuary, a zoo with Australian animals in natural habitats.  http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/yarra-ranges-national-park/things-to-do/badger-weir-picnic-area  Extremely well done and a great place to see unusual and hard to find animals – like platypus and Tasmanian Devils.

Koala & Baby

Flying Foxes 

Tasmanian Devil
Peter has an Australian Bush Hat and I have a stuffed koala as souvenirs.

The next morning, after a continental breakfast in the lovely dining room, we met Penny Jane and her two children.  They lived about a half hour away and we took a walk through the woods as we got acquainted.  I was so excited to meet her after all the messaging we did about Australia.  The children gave me a lesson in hunting yabbies and recognizing a yabby hole.  I’m so disappointed I did not see the animal!  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_yabby   

Ready for a yabby hunt?

Peter and I drove to Badger Weir National Park to do birding. http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/yarra-ranges-national-park/things-to-do/badger-weir-picnic-area   A couple stopped and asked if we were ‘Snitchers’.  Hmmm!  That is what birders in England are called.  So we said, Yes we are snitchers!   They were having tea at a picnic table and the gentleman was explaining that the park service does not want people feeding the birds but several years ago before that ruling went into effect, the birds would come and sit on your arm.  He put his arm out to demonstrate and a King Parrot flew onto the arm expecting a treat! 



Another area we visited was the Yarra National forest near Marysville where we had lunch.  The area had spectacular tree ferns and narrow windy roads.  The weather turned cool with gray clouds and little sun. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yarra_Ranges_National_Park   We enjoyed such beautiful scenery and nature walks along this route.





After a lovely dinner back at the Healesville Sanctuary House, we were ready for a good night’s sleep.



We woke to Crimson Rosellas and Red-crested Finches, had breakfast and checked out.  What a great place to stay!



Off to Melbourne and The Great Ocean Hiway!
















Friday, November 21, 2014

Our last day of the Australian trip would be spent in Sydney.  We arrived early in the day and went to rent a car.  We had no idea how hard it would be to get one!   Finally we were able to drive away from the airport and explore the Royal National Park south of Sydney.  What a beautiful area!


We had lunch at The Dance Hall in the park.  We ate our hamburgers and chips outside while we watched Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Black Ducks, kookaburras, Little Wattlebirds and so many more birds. 



Flock of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos in trees
Laughing Kookaburra
We spent all afternoon exploring and enjoying the area. 

Gymea Lily at a lookout
Popular Beach

National Falls



Since our plane left early the next day, we had checked the car back in with the rental company, grabbed a panini at the airport for dinner and walk to the Ibis Budget Hotel.  Since we spent our first night here we knew what to expect - a bed, a desk and chair.  No coffee pot or cups and just enough space to walk at the end of the bed – all for $95 a night!  But it was within walking distance of the airport.

The next day turned out to be the longest day!  We left Oct 4 and flew 1 ½ hours to Brisbane.  We had an hour layover and changed planes.  The flight to Los Angeles airport was 13 hours. We arrived Oct 4 at 6:40 a.m.  Still not sure I really understand the international dateline! But sunrise was spectacular!

sunrise

Our plane from LAX to Phoenix was delayed due to maintenance issues and after an hour or so, we boarded, taxied out and taxied back in due to maintenance issues!  Eventually we arrived in Phoenix and had a 2 hour shuttle ride home!  See why I said Oct 4 turned out to be the longest day?

We had a great trip and are very glad to be home!  And we have over 100 new bird species for our birdlist.  Thank you Australia!
 
Home Sweet Home in Prescott AZ


















Friday, November 14, 2014

Time to Explore The Great Ocean Hiway



Leaving Melbourne we drove southwest and stopped at Cherry Lake.  This was an area of biodiversity and  after we picnicked in the park, we walked around the lake.  There were pelicans, Superb Fairy-wrens and Crested Pigeons. 




Crested Pigeon

Cherry Lake also had a talking toilet.  I took my phone with me hoping to make a video but fortunately for all of us, it failed!  Push a button and the door slides open.  Push a button and it closes.  Then it informs you that you have 10 minutes to do your business and when you are finished the toilet will flush when you wash your hands.  The music plays and sure enough….when I washed my hands, ‘’whoosh”!  Push the button and the door opens.  Made my morning!

Talking Toilet

We drove past beautiful yellow fields of rapeseed used to make canola oil. 

Rapeseed field

Next stop was Angelsea and the volunteer “I” center.  These information centers have a wealth of knowledge, suggestions, helpful hints and of course, things to buy.  We were told to stop at the center in Lorne and they would help book a room and answer our questions.   



The drive along the coast to Lorne reminded me of Big Sur, California (only more of it).  The ocean, rocks, and birds were stunning and so relaxing.  We had to stop several times for those Kodak moments!



Lorne was a pretty town and sure enough, the ‘I’ center suggested the Chatby Lane and booked a room for us.  Then told us were the bottle shop was and a couple of places for a casual dinner.  This was a great help and made me wish we had a system like that at home. The hotel was tucked on a hill in a residential neighborhood and the proprietor could not have been nicer.  After dinner, we focused on the ‘bird list’ because it was getting out of control! We’re going to have over a hundred species.

Dinner!
Continental breakfast and coffee!  Packed and ready for the day along The Great Ocean Highway.  

When we arrived in Kennett River, we found the Grey River Road (a dirt road through a forest of eucalyptus trees) where Koalas are supposed to hang out!  Peter parked and we each walked in opposite directions hoping to see koalas.  Those eucalyptus trees are very tall!  I heard Peter say, “I found one!”  It was in the tree directly across the road from our car and had been watching up the entire time.  One of the things that I noticed was the amazing ability of wildlife to disappear into their habitats.  Bright King Parrots could fly into a group of trees and literally disappear.  The koala sat in a Y branch and was the color of the tree.  We really had to look to see him.  This was definitely a highlight of the day.

 



We wanted to see “The Twelve Apostles” famous sea stacks (coastal rock formations) near Port Campbell.  We stopped for lunch at a little store/café and also got directions.  In order to see the stacks we pulled into the visitor center and walked under the hiway to a series of steps and overlooks.  They were imposing, vast, spellbinding, worth the trip. 




Time to drive back to Melbourne and check into ‘The Vibe Hotel’ and get ready for the morning flight to Sydney.  The end of our trip is getting closer!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Four Days in the Melbourne Area! Another Adventure!

FaceBook Friends Meet!  Linda and PennyJane

We rented a car at the airport, took their map and sketchy directions, and drove to the Albany Hotel by a circuitous route!  It was evening, dark, lots of traffic, unfamiliar territory and I needed a magnifying glass to read the street names on the map!  After a few wrong turns and stopping 3 times for directions we escaped the industrial area and arrived at a very nice hotel in a nice part of town about 8 p.m.

Albany Hotel
Where was dinner?  We were directed to the closest food - Subway - a few blocks away and walking seemed a good idea.  After dinner and some wine, we tucked in for the night.

The morning brought beautiful weather, a buffet breakfast and a walk in the park across the street.  Our first stop was Healesville where we would spend the next two nights.  We passed many vineyards in Yarra Valley with pastoral views.  At a little park, we found several Superb Fairy Wrens and a winding path leading to a river. 

Vineyards!  serious vineyards!
Superb Fairy Wren

Penny Jane, a FaceBook friend, had recommended the Healesville Sanctuary House Resort and we were delighted when we drove in.   http://sanctuaryhouse.com.au/   There were many flowers and paths to explore, lots of birds to watch and a restaurant for dinner.  After checking in, we explored the town, found a grocery store for a picnic food and a bottle shop for some local wine. 

We spent the afternoon at the Healesville Sanctuary, a zoo with Australian animals in natural habitats.  http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/yarra-ranges-national-park/things-to-do/badger-weir-picnic-area  Extremely well done and a great place to see unusual and hard to find animals – like platypus and Tasmanian Devils.

Koala & Baby

Flying Foxes 

Tasmanian Devil
Peter has an Australian Bush Hat and I have a stuffed koala as souvenirs.

The next morning, after a continental breakfast in the lovely dining room, we met Penny Jane and her two children.  They lived about a half hour away and we took a walk through the woods as we got acquainted.  I was so excited to meet her after all the messaging we did about Australia.  The children gave me a lesson in hunting yabbies and recognizing a yabby hole.  I’m so disappointed I did not see the animal!  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_yabby   

Ready for a yabby hunt?

Peter and I drove to Badger Weir National Park to do birding. http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/yarra-ranges-national-park/things-to-do/badger-weir-picnic-area   A couple stopped and asked if we were ‘Snitchers’.  Hmmm!  That is what birders in England are called.  So we said, Yes we are snitchers!   They were having tea at a picnic table and the gentleman was explaining that the park service does not want people feeding the birds but several years ago before that ruling went into effect, the birds would come and sit on your arm.  He put his arm out to demonstrate and a King Parrot flew onto the arm expecting a treat! 



Another area we visited was the Yarra National forest near Marysville where we had lunch.  The area had spectacular tree ferns and narrow windy roads.  The weather turned cool with gray clouds and little sun. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yarra_Ranges_National_Park   We enjoyed such beautiful scenery and nature walks along this route.





After a lovely dinner back at the Healesville Sanctuary House, we were ready for a good night’s sleep.



We woke to Crimson Rosellas and Red-crested Finches, had breakfast and checked out.  What a great place to stay!



Off to Melbourne and The Great Ocean Hiway!