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Victoria Bird WatchingAuthor: Carl from Pahrump (More Trip Reviews by Carl from Pahrump)
Date of Trip: February 2007
The drive west went along the coast. We stopped several time to take in the ocean views and walk on the beach. We used our detail driving instructions to find the Cockatoo Cottage in Cockatoo, but no one was home. We waited around till 3pm. When no one returned we decided they must have forgotten we were coming. We left a note telling them we had been there, and left to look for other accommodations before it got dark.
We drove 25Km east and found the Ferntree Gully Motel and Casino. We had dinner at the casino. I had a porterhouse steak covered with pepper sauce with potatoes and salad. My wife had a chicken breast wrapped around an asparagus spear with chips and veggies.
On Jan 22 we went to the Visitors Center/Booking Office in Ferntree Gully and reserved a cottage for the next 7 days.
On Jan 23 we arrived at the cottage at 9:30am. After totally unpacking the car, we went for a long bush walk on the fire road thru the forest behind the cottage. We were surprised at how many other people were out walking the steep track. We saw heaps of butterflies and little birds including a Brown-headed Honeyeater. We ended up in the small town of Olinda. We backtracked thru the woods so as not to have to walk on the narrow road with cars and trucks whizzing past.
On Jan 24 we stopped at the outdoors Rickett's Sanctuary in Olinda (37.833S 145.357E). William Rickett explored the connection between Aborigines and the Earth in clay sculptures framed in the rocks and native bush. Rickett's totem was the Superb Lyrebird. We especially enjoyed the video they had of the Lyrebird's dance.
On Jan 25 we went to the Dandenong Ranges NP (37.886S 145.352E) for a 3-hour bush walk. We were excited to see a Pilotbird because they travel with Superb Lyrebirds. Unfortunately, the only Lyrebird we saw was a stuffed one in the VC. We did find a swarm of Ringed Xenica Nymph Butterflies.
By 7am on Jan 26 we were at the nearby Sherbrooke Forest (37.874S 145.362E) to search for Lyrebirds. The forest was alive with hundreds of Crimson Rosellas and Sulphur Crested-cockatoos, and 4 Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos. The forest was pretty open with heaps of Mt Ash Eucalyptus trees -- they are the tallest hardwoods in the world reaching over 300 ft tall in 500 years. These trees were only 80 years old, but were well over 200 ft tall.
On our first 3-hour bush walk we saw Superb Lyrebird scratchings everywhere, stacks of Eastern Whipbirds, a Swamp Wallaby, and a sprinkling of Tree Ferns.
On our second 2-hour track we saw even more Lyrebird scratchings in the Eucalyptus bark and leaf litter. Then I saw a big black bird at the base of a tree. When we got our binoculars on the bird it started to walk away allowing us to see its very long peacock-like tail. We were really fortunate to see one. People spend weeks here looking for them and never see one.
For dinner we went to the Flipin' Pancake. My wife had a Filet Migon smothered in peppercorn sauce with boiled potatoes. I had lamb strips over cooked spinach topped with sun-dried potatoes. Beautiful!
On Jan 28 we left at 10am for the Tarrawarra Art Museum near Healsville (37.660S 145.469E). The museum featured modern art since 1950. Many of the pieces looked like non-art to us (if this is art everyone is a world class artist). There was an interesting metal sculpture of 2 interlocking wire loops.
We stopped at the Pig and Whistle Restaurant in Olinda for lunch. We started with a pone of Cob Bread followed by Pumpkin & Sweet Potato Soup (very thick with a few onion greens). My wife had Wild Mushroom Risotto (rice with mushrooms). I had battered white fish and chips. Good food, but slow service.
It's amazing how your stuff expands over time. When we came to Australia we had 2 duffel bags (60 and 65 lbs), 2 carry on bags, and a computer bag. Today we had to get everything back in those bags. We left about a duffel bag of stuff for our hosts to use or give away including 12 books, 2 insulated picnic bags, 2 beach towels, 2 green eco-shopping bags, 2 umbrellas and ponchos, clothes, and all our cooking utensils, storage boxes, and unused food items. We also threw away about a duffel bag full of stuff. Where does it all come from? It still took us both to get the bags zipped.
On Feb 13 we got our new Toyota Camry from Apollo near the Melbourne Airport and were off by 1:30pm. Somehow we managed to blunder thru a maze of traffic circles and get on the Western Ring Road going SW. The rest of the drive was uneventful, except for some heavy rain. We stopped at a Safeway somewhere along the road to begin restocking for the rest of the trip. We arrived at the Melba Gully Cottage Flower Farm B&B in Lavers Hill at 5:30pm. We were stunned by the array of flowers that greeted us -- heaps and stacks of dahlias -- snowball dahlias, football dahlias, dinner plate dahlias, etc -- you would have to see it to believe it. And Birds -- we saw 2 new ones this evening; i.e. Gang-gang Cockatoos, and Rufous Bristlebirds. Both birds are rare and normally very hard to find, but they are residents here. The B&B has an eclectic assortment of antiques. Most of it has been passed down thru Virginia's family. Their oldest pieces are two William the 4th chairs and a Chiffonier. We drove back to town for dinner at the local Pub (the only place with food around here). We started with a thick and hearty Pumpkin & Fennel soup, and Turkish bread with cheese and pine nut pesto. For the main event my wife had fried Calamari with chips (the Calamari was huge -- they looked like jumbo onion rings). The Calamari was local and tasted great. They had a mango sauce for dipping the Calamari. I had a steak with peppercorn sauce resting on mashed potatoes, field corn and broccoli. Beautiful!
The rest of the evening was spent unpacking and repacking -- interrupted by a few trips to the gardens for flower and bird watching with our hosts Bob and Virginia.
On Feb 14 we woke-up in a dense fog. We watched the Rufous Bristlebirds dart around the dahlia beds picking off bugs and scratching for worms.
For Br we had jam tasting. Virginia makes homemade jam from the berries and fruit on the farm. We had Red Current Jelly, Red Raspberry Jam, Crabapple Jelly, Jostaberry Jam, and Brambleberry Jam. For my tea Virginia had raw honey from her Father's beehives. The milk came fresh from a local farmer.
The B&B generates all their electricity from solar panels and a windmill. The water comes from two gigantic water tanks -- both are full from the recent rains.
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