A special blog for family & friends
This is a departure from our usual website posts. It's a personal blog to share our journey with family and friends. We've been told that some of you would like to see shots of people and places, not just birds and bugs!?! OK, we can do that. But be warned ... it may be a bit rough, and will even include iPhone photos!
Rather than use Facebook, we decided to create a special section on our website, separate from our Life in a Southern Forest stories. More significant ecology stories and photo essays of our travels will still appear on the main website.
Days 1-2: 5th & 6th September
For a few years now we've been wanting to do a trip to a part of Australia that we have previously only glimpsed - the southern part of Western Australia. Our appetites were whetted by a 3 day walk we did about a decade ago in Fitzgerald River National Park on the southern coast of WA. The bizarre, beautiful plants in that park - many of which are found nowhere else in Australia - still stick in our memories.
Yesterday morning we set out from home with camper trailer in tow and pod on the roof at the start of a 2 month trip to that part of the world.
Our departure is timed to coincide with the peak of the wildflower blooming season in WA. But that is only part of the story. There is a bunch of endemic western Australian bird species to be ticked off. Not to mention a heap of unfamiliar reptiles and innumerable insects and spiders to be sighted.
The south-western corner of Australia has a very special biology. For millions of years it has been separated from the rest of the country by a large desert. This lack of contact between the west and the east has led to divergent evolution of plants and animals. In addition, many biological traces of Australia's previous identity as a part of Gondwanaland are retained in the west.
Our planning is brief - 'head west'. We will decide where we want to go just a day or two before we get there. Once we get to South Australia, and the Bight, we'll slow down and start exploring in earnest.
We spent last night in Stratford, a small town on the banks of the River Avon in Gippsland, Victoria. A large flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos entertained us as we set up camp. We've yet to start actually 'birding', but watching these birds feeding, calling, wheeling about, and settling to roost as the sun set did seem a fitting start to the journey.
Tonight we're in Bendigo, at the end of Day 2. We blitzed through Melbourne to arrive in Bendigo in the midst of a thunderstorm and heavy rain. It has been strange to see green grass throughout Victoria, after months of drought in NSW.
Travelling in style
In 2015 we made a 3-month trip to Broome and across the Top End. In a tent. Everything crammed into the car and rooftop pod. Washing dishes in a bucket. Inflating an air mattress at every stop. Not to mention unpacking and packing the gas bottle, single burner, and cooking gear. So this time round our digs seem both luxurious and decadent. The full set-up takes no more than 30 minutes ... and absolutely no effort!
And, yes, we do remember the days of hiking for 2 weeks with just backpacks, or cycle-touring for 100s of kilometres with just panniers. Times have changed! (As have our bodies).
In contrast to most travelling rigs, the Cub really is tiny. Yet once it's set-up it has everything we need. Just like the Tardis ... "it's bigger on the inside!"
New territory, new birds
Tomorrow we'll do some more serious birding, with a brief visit to Hattah-Kulkyne National Park south of Mildura. And there are sure to be a raft of species we don't see at home. Already we have one. White-plumed Honeyeaters were noisily chasing larger birds here in the caravan park late this afternoon. A widespread bird, common inland, we've never seen them on the east coast.
28th-30th October: my final post, as we cross into the mid north of SA
A trip to Head of Bight, just in time to see several whales before they head south again for the Summer.
Our first stop in a natural place en route to WA presents us with two contrasting environments.