Mount Mitta Mitta …

AKA Mt Mittamatite is a little over 1000 metres and has its very own web page. Dogs are welcome on a lead and fires are permitted in the fireplaces provided. Camping is possible at the summit and at Emberys Lookout. There are no bookings and no fees. There is an aircraft navigation facility on top.

The view from Emberys (above) is impressive, it is a popular launching site for the hang gliding fraternity. You have to work a bit harder for a view at the summit.

I was hoping for more mist and less cloud. I’ll have to go back.

The weather was closing in with a vengeance. Yesterday’s snow was the start of a southerly outbreak which was only going to get worse. Time to head for home.

From Here to Victoria …

Here being Merimbula, NSW.

As an aside, when we Victorians see NSW on a number plate we wonder if it stands for No Sense Whatever. In outback New South Wales they are fully aware that it stands for Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong which is where the government expenditure goes.

The route takes us through Bega where the cheese in our lunch comes from, then Wyndham and the Robbie Burns Hotel, founded 1848 (by Robbie himself, I believe, and that’s his ute parked outside) …

On to Adaminaby and then over the hill. Given that the ski season is rapidly approaching my forward planning involved the lowest route available. As we ate our cheese sandwiches however, the navigatrix declared that a shorter route existed.

photo GHD

It was an instance when the shortest route proved to be simultaneously the road less traveled, the scenic route and the one that took the longest time. It did give us the opportunity to let the dog have her first encounter with snow. She was unimpressed … but I was. The Great Dividing Range at its greatest.

Victoria at last, we found our way to our intended campsite in the Mitta Mitta Regional Park … the Embery lookout perched high above the bright lights of Corryong.

And the first thing we did was light a nice campfire.

Merimbula …

Jewel of the Sapphire Coast, or so would have you believe. It certainly is pretty, lots of beach, a lake. It’s surrounded by national parks. It has an aquarium. It has grown apace in recent years.

I was on the rocks at the end of Short Point as the sun prepared to rise out of the sea.

Then a long walk by the lake and around the town …

Little Wattlebird
Red Wattlebird

The red flowers of this tree which I believe is Erythrina fusca, were extremely attractive to the local nectar eaters.

Rainbow Lorikeet

Cabbages …

The subdued early light shows off the plumage of this heron to perfection.

White-faced Heron

Today we wake in the Lake Tyers Forest Park. Tonight we will be in Merimbula. The population density in the intervening country could easily be the lowest in coastal south east Australia. We will be passing some of my favorite places, the Croajingalong and Ben Boyd National Parks. These are denied to us today because we have the dog.

One spot than we can visit is the Cabbage Tree Flora Reserve. Baron Ferdinand Jakob Heinrich von Muller is credited with discovering this isolated pocket of palms in 1854. It is said to be the only patch in Victoria and it is the most southerly occurrence of any Australian native palm.

Livistona australis

They grow quite tall, 20+ metres, along the creek surrounded by the wet forest .

As well as being scenically splendid this place is usually a birding hot spot. Not this day, the only creatures flying around were the mosquitoes.

The next port of call was Eden, watch out for the snakes, the first place of note in New South Wales. There is an old joke about spending a week in Adelaide one Sunday, you can do it in a Saturday afternoon in Eden. It does, though, have a very fine harbour.

We arrived in Merimbula just in time to catch the sunset.

Merimbula, NSW


A Jaunt to the East …

Living in western Victoria there is some splendid countryside in easy reach but it’s nice occasionally to have a little variety.  My home is just on the inland side of the Great Dividing Range. Great it is, but in length rather than height. It sweeps off to the east and then heads north. Its highest point is in southeastern New South Wales at Mount Kosciuszko which stands 2,228 metres (7,310 ft) tall. From there it continues north to the tip of Cape York in Queensland. It’s total length exceeds 3,500 kilometres (2,175 miles).

Whereas my part of the world is pretty dry, the Great Dividing Range catches a lot of rain.  East of Melbourne, especially, it supports a lot of forest and that means a very different suite of birds.

I took the wife, the dog and my trusty camper trailer and spent a few days making a circuit of South East Australia.

We spent a couple of days in Melbourne at each end of the trip, in between we covered about 1400km in five days.

On day one we stopped for lunch in Sale. At a picnic spot by the lake the local avifauna consisted of an unruly mob of mostly rejected pets. They were quite happy to provide a close encounter so I sat down with a little bread and tried for a wide-angle close-up. It was hard getting them to pose nicely, their manners were appalling …

Whilst this guy was peering down at me I noticed that there were some much better behaved ducks on the water. Just a few feet away there were half a dozen Freckled Duck , not at least interested in the feeding frenzy nor all that bothered by my presence.  They are Australia’s rarest waterfowl. A photo opportunity not to be missed …

Freckled Duck

Our camp site that night would be in the Lake Tyers Forest Park. A beautiful spot where the dog is legal and so is a campfire.

There are several designated camp sites reached by Tyers House Road just east of Nowa Nowa.It was a crisp and starry night.

Beaumaris …

No kangaroos this morning, I’m in the big city.

Yesterday I took the dog for a walk along the Beaumaris cliff top from the Motor Yacht Squadron to Table Rock. For the uninitiated this is a Melbourne suburb south east of the city on the edge of Port Phillip Bay.

The cliff is a deep red and way below our feet is …

Australia’s single richest marine animal fossil site, spanning the last 5 million to 10 million years of Earth’s history …

… The fossils paint a vivid picture of life below a sea that once covered parts of Melbourne. They comprise remains of ancient whales, seals, dolphins, sharks, fishes and sea birds, crabs, shells, corals and sea urchins.

An added distinction of Beaumaris is that it is one of the only sites known in Australia where we find evidence of our ancient land mammals in rocks formed in the shallows of an ancient bay.

As land animals died, their carcasses were washed out to sea by what was an ancestral Yarra River. This co-occurrence of land and marine animals is world famous, enabling precise dating of the evolution of Australia’s unique marsupial fauna.

The Beaumaris Motor Yacht Squadron has already covered a part of this site, public land of inestimable value, with a carpark and would like to develop a commercial marina. Enriching for them, impoverishing for a landscape that inspired a couple of generations of Australian painters. Let’s hope the council has the wit to deny them that opportunity.

On the journey we pass a sign …

‘At this site in the summer of 1886 the artists Tom Roberts and
Frederick McCubbin first met Arthur Streeton. Together with Charles Conder these men were the founders of the Heidelberg School.’
Fine art has been made at virtually every lookout on the way, not only by Roberts, McCubbin, Streeton and Condor but also by John Perceval, Alfred Coleman, Clarice Beckett and many less famous artists.  You can find more detail <HERE>.

It’s a place that has managed to retain a bit of bush and a little wildness despite the proximity of a busy road. For me it offers a chance to enjoy some of the local birds. I shot all of these within 45 minutes with the dog waiting patiently at my side …

Silver Gull

Silver Gull
Crested Tern
Australian Pelican
Pied Cormorant
Little Black Cormorant

Kangaroo …

I woke up this morning to find a bunch of Eastern Grey Kangaroos at the back door. They were gone in a flash but I found this one again a little later and she was a little slower to flee …

Joey is getting a bit big for riding around in the pouch, the style is typically untidy. It is probably sharing the accommodation with a much smaller sibling fastened on a teat and there may be another sibling in utero in a state known as embryonic diapause.

Despite the heavy load, when it’s time to go it’s time to go …