I have just got back from a spin around my beautiful home state with Mark Brazil and Mayumi Kanamura as well as my current dearly beloved. Gayle and I have travelled with Mark overseas, this time it was his turn to travel with us, and there could be no better excuse to have a fresh look at Victoria.
We started in the Dandenongs and headed west via Werribee Sewage Farm to Port Fairy. Then north into the Goldfields, west into the Little and Big Deserts and the Sunset Country. Then down the Murray Valley Highway, over the Alps and east to Mallacoota, coming back to Melbourne via Wilson’s Promontory. The round trip was nearly 2,500 km in fifteen days and took in every National Park, forest and sewage pond in reach. The weather was all that one could expect … everything from torrential hail, heavy rain and cold wind to uncomfortably hot, but nothing that could stop us having fun.
The objective was to see as much of Victoria’s natural heritage as we could find in the time available.
Mark managed to level his Swarovski 10X32’s on 214 species of bird and a dozen species of native mammal. He was impressed by the birds whilst I was impressed with the binoculars, I am currently using the much heavier Swarovski 10X42’s and as lovely as they are, they are not worth the extra weight in these days of restricted hand luggage.
After the first few days had passed Mark and Mayumi began a fascinating debate on their top ten, the only criterion for consideration was the impact the bird made on them. Some gorgeous birds had their moment in the sun, stunning views of Brush Bronzewing, for instance, put it in real contention for a few days. For a while Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo was in top spot but fine feathers are not always enough to beat off the opposition. Mark and Mayumi’s final top ten were :-
- Laughing Kookaburra
- Splendid Fairywren
- Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo
- Red-kneed Dotterel
- Turquoise Parrot
- Gang-gang Cockatoo
- Red-capped Robin
- Varied Sittella
- Variegated Fairywren
- Rainbow Bee-eater
My highlights were somewhat different, I really did enjoy seeing all four Victorian Treecreepers in one trip and I was thrilled that the visitors so enjoyed the Kookaburra, it is the bird I miss most when I am away from Australia for any length of time.
They put together a similar hit parade of native mammals :-
- Sugar Glider
- Yellow-footed Antechinus
- Swamp Wallaby
- Brush-tail Possum
- Ring-tail Possum
- Red Kangaroo
- Dusky Antechinus
It’s nice to see the little creatures beating out the Grey Kangaroos and pushing the over-rated Koala well down the list.
Mark was kind enough to give us a copy of his latest book, The Nature of Japan, and Mayumi gave us a beautiful furoshiki and a calender. We look forward to catching up with them again…
My apologies, dear reader, or maybe, even to both of you, for the current lull in my instruction of how you should think.
I am part way through a grand tour of Victoria with Mark and Mayumi Brazil. Mark is a well known ornithologist and author of some good books on birds, a resident of Japan and regular contributor to the Japan Times. It is the couple’s first visit to this neck of the woods. So far we have waded through the mud in the pouring rain in the Dandenongs, enjoyed the great pleasures of the Werribee sewage works, frozen in the bitter winds of Port Fairy and the Great Ocean Road, thawed out in the Goldfields and enjoyed every minute.
Our next leg takes us through the Little and Big Deserts and the Sunset Country. Then we head east.
I will post some photos and more detail when we hit some broadband.
Thomas Kelly was walking along a footpath when he was king hit by Kieran Loveridge, a completely unprovoked and random attack. Thomas died as a result. Mr Loveridge pleaded guilty to manslaughter for which there is a maximum sentence of 25 years. He will serve four. Tim Blair has this to say …
One day a perfectly average Australian will face court on a violence charge. This person will be from a middle-class family in a plain suburb. He’ll be a middle-ranking employee at an ordinary business, earning the national average wage. Nothing from his background will be exceptional.
This bloke, whoever he is, can expect the longest sentence in Australian judicial history.
… that there might be intelligent life somewhere out in space.