Central Goldfields, Victoria to Wakerie, South Australia – 615km.
A long day to get a good step over the familiar. Travelling north west through the sheep-wheat-painted silo country of Victoria, pausing at Patchewollock to admire the art work and allow Fifi McGee to stretch her legs.
Next step the border, quarantine and new time zone. The quarantine station was unmanned which made for a speedy transition.
Onto Waikerie and the newly minted silo art, a double sided affair …
Three silos together make for a wavy canvas that is hard for the artist to get a great result from.
The campsite we chose is at Holder Bend on the banks of the mighty Murray. Quite picturesque but very close to the Sturt Highway. The dawn chorus was a competition between a Darter and a choir of Mac trucks.
I visit Barmah National Park from time to time largely because it’s the one spot in Victoria where the Superb Parrot turns up. I’d love to add it to my state list and one day I might.
The Sandridge track runs from the park entrance to River Road and the mighty Murray. It’s about 15km of dirt road and a good test of the camper trailer which passed with flying colours coping well with the corrugations and some muddy patches. And the muddy patches on the way in were nothing compared to the muddy patches on the way out after a night of steady downpour. It really was the first sharp bite of winter, there were blizzards and snow down to 700 metres in the high country.
I had a more realistic target as well as the elusive parrot which was to photograph the beautiful Azure Kingfisher. I was able to camp right on the river bank at a spot where I have seen adults feeding a brood of youngsters on a previous trip. The light was actually quite good during the afternoon so it was just a game of patience.
Good things soon happened. This Jacky Winter presented itself for a nice natural portrait. While the next one came even closer, posing on the UHF radio aerial.
A White-bellied Sea Eagle cruised up the river …
A Kangaroo checked me out.
A Scarlet Robin took a bath not far off
And yes, the Azure Kingfisher played nicely.
The lovely Gayle and I are soon to embark on a road trip and I used the weekend to iron out any problems with the camper trailer which has recently undergone some modifications. Terrick Terrick National Park is a couple of hours drive from home. It’s 65km north of Bendigo, 225km north-west of Melbourne.
The park protects four quite heavily wooded blocks, the two eastern blocks include some impressive granite outcrops while the western blocks are home to a rapidly recovering forest of Callitris pines. The surrounding grasslands were lightly grazed sheep country in the past, the land management favoured the rare and endangered Plains Wanderer. Indeed it was their Victorian stronghold. A patchwork of old farms has been added to the park for its protection. Despite this the odd one still turns up occasionally.
The campsite is at the foot of Mt Terrick Terrick which is probably the most visited feature of the park. In its great wisdom Parks Vic put it on a slope that enjoys a flash flood every time it rains, this in a park where 75% of the terrain is flat. They do provide a composting toilet which is very pleasant after cleaning which I think happens sometime in June. Do remember to take your own toilet paper.
The weather forecast was dire but it was fine when I arrived and I explored the granite boulders with camera in hand.
But before sunset the cloud rolled in rapidly and a rainy night followed. The following morning was misty and somewhat atmospheric …
Some good birds turn up in the Terricks but on this occasion I encountered nothing out of the ordinary. Still, Galahs and Hooded Robins are always good to see.
Then it was a case of packing a wet tent and heading for another spot – the Barmah National Park.
The Buddhist Festival of Light was celebrated at the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion over the last couple of days. I was there last night with my camera in hand. It was a very pleasant evening enjoyed by a good crowd. There was an excellent choice of vegetarian food available!
Kids were particularly thrilled with the illuminated creatures. The light show and the fireworks also hit the spot.
Festivities concluded with the Burning of the Bad. People had written their negative thoughts and problems on pieces of paper during the course of the two days. These were added to a great fire in the hope that all negativity would be dispelled by the flames. The Buddha was kind to those who’d written the names Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten.
Well, yes, that was the objective …
I was particularly keen to see how the falls would look when light painted. So I tucked into some sandwiches and waited for the light to fade. What do you think?
The Grampians National Park is one of Victoria’s jewels.
If you think of the Great Dividing Range as starting in north Queensland, sweeping south inland of Australia’s east coast and around the bend into Victoria the Grampians is where it makes its last desperate attempt to be mountainous. And a very scenic effort it is.
It and Wilson’s Promontory are the two Victorian parks under the greatest visitor pressure. At peak season the crowds are really bad, but don’t expect to feel lonely the rest of the year.
It has given Parks Victoria every opportunity to indulge itself in regulations, warning signs, railings and outrageous penalties. The rock climbing fraternity are the latest victims.
For a photographer who likes to use a drone as one of his cameras the frustration is immense. Drones cannot be flown without written permission on any Parks Vic property no matter how remote or lonely. Which locks away most of the great landscapes in the state.
Nonetheless it’s still worth a visit. My intention was to do some waterfall photography but I also felt the need for some exercise so I got there early with a view to climbing Mount William, the highest point. Although there was nothing on the Park’s website I found the Mount William Road closed. My 4 km hard hike had turned into a 24km hike, I wasn’t that early.
I settled instead for a ramble up to the Pinnacle via the Grand Canyon and Silent Street a 4.2km return hike from the Wonderland car park. There are plenty of excuses available to the photographer to rest along the way.
The view from the top is heavily polluted with man made constructions but with careful placement of the camera, towns, dam walls, railings, signs and tourists can all be avoided.
From there it was off to Mackenzie Falls for the late afternoon light.
Swimming, of course, is forbidden.
Captain John Hart saw Cape Nelson off to starboard and set his course for Adelaide. It was March 30th 1837 he was sailing from Launceston, Van Dieman’s land (known since 1856 as Tasmania) to Adelaide in the three masted barque Isabella with a cargo of livestock and the Pearce family as passengers.
Not long after that the Isabella was wrecked. She ran into the real Cape Nelson. Captain Hart had misidentified Lady Julia Percy Island.
Twenty five passengers and crew took to the boats and made it safely to Portland which had been settled about three years earlier, the first town in what would become Victoria. I doubt the livestock fared as well.
It’s a wild and woolly spot now guarded by a lighthouse.
The following afternoon the cloud cleared …
Which meant another trip to the lighthouse …
Then to bed. To sleep and dream until 3.00AM for this was the peak of the Eta Aquariid meteor storm. This is debris from Halley’s Comet. This little time lapse was shot in Victoria’s Western District from about 4am until just before dawn. The sky is at it’s most frenetic just as Venus comes up behind the gum tree.
So it’s new moon and I’m at the coast. The Night Augmented Reality module of Photopills shows the milky way emblazoned across the night sky with the lighthouse beneath. All that stands between me and a photogasm is a dense layer of cloud. The lights of Warrnambool are a poor substitute …
The recent foray in search of a good foreground for the magnificent background of the Milky Way took me to the Mallee. This word describes a habitat type and the region of Victoria where that habitat once stretched to the horizon in all directions.
Mallee trees are eucalypts usually slender and not very tall. They tend to be multi-stemmed. They are found on light soils and are extremely well adapted to fire, resprouting from underground lignotubers after a wildfire has gone through.
In the Mallee region much of the land has been cleared for agriculture and the winter crop here is mainly wheat. This summer has been as dry as a Nun’s … Australian English is rich in metaphors, most of them rude, best I just say very dry.
The word rain, though, had been mentioned in the weather forecast and farmers were out optimistically disturbing their top soil.
Widespread rain fell in Victoria the following day and was very very welcome.