The Land Down Under

October 27, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

I've been wanting to visit Australia for a while, but when we found out our friends from Melbourne were getting ready to move, we figured it was time to finally pull the trigger. We took off on Friday night and landed on Sunday morning. Our friend's picked us up at the airport and took us to their place downtown. We spent the day exploring, snacking, and bar hopping, trying to stay up as late as possible to avoid jet lag. The following day we jumped in the car and headed west to the Great Ocean Road. On the way through Great Otway National Park we saw our first wildlife sighting: a koala was walking across the road. We couldn't tell what is was at first, but when we finally realized what it was, I screamed to pull the car over and jumped out of a quick photo.

Koala climbing a treeKoala climbing a tree Koala checking us out through the treeKoala checking us out through the tree

When we stopped for a coffee and a bathroom break, there were crazy birds we've never seen before. You'll notice a lot of bird photos throughout this blog.

Masked Lapwing - Vanellus milesMasked Lapwing - Vanellus miles Galah Cockatoo - Eolophus roseicapillaGalah Cockatoo - Eolophus roseicapilla Silver Gulls - Chroicocephalus novaehollandiaeSilver Gulls - Chroicocephalus novaehollandiae White-faced heron - Egretta novaehollandiaeWhite-faced heron - Egretta novaehollandiae

Eventually we made it to our destination for the day: Twelve Apostles Marine National Park. It was a beautiful sunny day when we arrived. We explored the boardwalks and trails until we saw a big storm cell coming in off the ocean.

Afternoon sunshine at Twelve Apostles (wide)Afternoon sunshine at Twelve Apostles (wide) Afternoon sunshine at Twelve ApostlesAfternoon sunshine at Twelve Apostles Waves crashing into the Twelve ApostlesWaves crashing into the Twelve Apostles Twelvele Apostles alternate viewTwelvele Apostles alternate view Arch at twelve apostlesArch at twelve apostles

Our next big exploration day we headed out to Dandenong Ranges National Park. As soon as we got our of the car we were surrounded by exotic birds. Super colorful birds that you only see as pets in the states were all around us. We spent the day hiking through the forest, looking for birds, kangaroos, and wombats. Sadly, we never saw a wombat, only the square poops they left behind.

The sun shines through the DandenongsThe sun shines through the Dandenongs Crimson Rosella Parrot - Platycercus elegansCrimson Rosella Parrot - Platycercus elegans Sulphur-crested cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) in flightSulphur-crested cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) in flight Grey Fantail - Rhipidura albiscapaGrey Fantail - Rhipidura albiscapa Australian King Parrot - Alisterus scapularisAustralian King Parrot - Alisterus scapularis Superb lyrebird - Menura novaehollandiaeSuperb lyrebird - Menura novaehollandiae Laughing Kookaburra - Dacelo novaeguineaeLaughing Kookaburra - Dacelo novaeguineae Sulphur-crested cockatoo - Cacatua galeritaSulphur-crested cockatoo - Cacatua galerita Yellow wattlebird - Anthochaera paradoxaYellow wattlebird - Anthochaera paradoxa Pied Currawong (2) - Strepera graculinaPied Currawong (2) - Strepera graculina Eastern Yellow Robin - Eopsaltria australisEastern Yellow Robin - Eopsaltria australis Long-billed Corellas - Cacatua tenuirostrisLong-billed Corellas - Cacatua tenuirostris

When we were't doing trips our of the city, we would hit up the city parks. A super cool spot was the Royal Botanic Gardens. Lots of cool plants and birds to check out including my favorite bird of the trip, the Rainbow Lorikeet.

Rainbow Lorikeet - Trichoglossus moluccanusRainbow Lorikeet - Trichoglossus moluccanus Nymphaea LilyNymphaea Lily Pied Currawong - Strepera graculinaPied Currawong - Strepera graculina South Australia state flower - Sturt's Desert Pea - Swainsona formosaSouth Australia state flower - Sturt's Desert Pea - Swainsona formosa Rat Tail CactusRat Tail Cactus

Another great day in the city day we jumped on the tram and headed to St. Kilda Pier. We were hoping to get a glance at the smallest penguin species in the world: the fairy penguin. We found out that during the day they head out into the open water to hunt so we didn't have much luck. But after looking in the jetti rocks we found one hanging out in the shade. As we were walking back from the pier we did catch a glimpse of one fishing. They are awesome swimmers and extremely hard to get photos of them. The other cool species we saw was the arctic tern. We had previously seen this bird in Alaska and Iceland, but always cool to see it in an entirely different place.

Fairy penguin - Eudyptula minorFairy penguin - Eudyptula minor Fishing Fairy Penguin - Eudyptula minorFishing Fairy Penguin - Eudyptula minor Fishing Fairy Penguin (2)Fishing Fairy Penguin (2) Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea) with Melbourne SkylineArctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea) with Melbourne Skyline Arctic Tern in flight - Sterna paradisaeaArctic Tern in flight - Sterna paradisaea

The Australian Grand Prix was happening while we were in Melbourne, so we couldn't explore Albert Park until after the race. We hit a couple jogs around the lake and saw so many birds that we grabbed our cameras and went back just to take some photos. It's so cool that in such a big city there is so much green space for wildlife. Our friends are big birders, but by the end of the trip we had them sending us cool bird spottings.

White-faced heron hunting - Egretta novaehollandiaeWhite-faced heron hunting - Egretta novaehollandiae Australasian swamphen - Porphyrio melanotusAustralasian swamphen - Porphyrio melanotus Blue-billed duck on Albert Park Lake - Oxyura australisBlue-billed duck on Albert Park Lake - Oxyura australis Crested Pigeons - Ocyphaps lophotesCrested Pigeons - Ocyphaps lophotes Black Swan on Albert Park Lake - Cygnus atratusBlack Swan on Albert Park Lake - Cygnus atratus Black Swan - Cygnus atratusBlack Swan - Cygnus atratus Pied Stilt reflections - Himantopus leucocephalusPied Stilt reflections - Himantopus leucocephalus Red-rumped parrot - Psephotus haematonotusRed-rumped parrot - Psephotus haematonotus Crested PigeonsCrested Pigeons Pacific black duckPacific black duck Australasian swamphen - Porphyrio melanotusAustralasian swamphen - Porphyrio melanotus

The last of the things we saw around Melboure was heading out to Fort Nepean. We explored the fort and saw an echidna. What cool little critters.

Fort NepeanFort Nepean Short-beaked Echidna - Tachyglossus aculeatus aculeatusShort-beaked Echidna - Tachyglossus aculeatus aculeatus

We spent two weeks in Oz, and for the middle weekend we decided to fly out to Adilaide and take the boat to Kangaroo Island.

Gohana on the side of the roadGohana on the side of the road Koala resting in a treeKoala resting in a tree Jewel Spider and webJewel Spider and web Black swans, Australian Shelducks, banded stilts, and eurasian coots at Murray LakeBlack swans, Australian Shelducks, banded stilts, and eurasian coots at Murray Lake

When we are on the island we headed out to Seal Bay Conservation Park and took a tour out to the beach to see the Australian Sea Lions.

Australian sea lion yawningAustralian sea lion yawning Australian sea lions nappingAustralian sea lions napping Australian sea lionsAustralian sea lions Males sea lions sparring at Seal BeachMales sea lions sparring at Seal Beach Australian sea lion sleepyAustralian sea lion sleepy Australian sea lion in the surfAustralian sea lion in the surf Australian Sea Lions snugglingAustralian Sea Lions snuggling Seal Beach, Kangaroo Island panoramaSeal Beach, Kangaroo Island panorama Whale bones on the beachWhale bones on the beach

The other day on the island we headed out to Flinder's Chase National Park and hit a few trails. The first was out to Admiral's Arch where we saw a few New Zealand Fur Seals.

Cape du Couedic lighthouseCape du Couedic lighthouse Souther Ocean from Flinders Chase National ParkSouther Ocean from Flinders Chase National Park Overlooking the Great Australian BightOverlooking the Great Australian Bight Southern Ocean tidal zone in Flinders Chase National ParkSouthern Ocean tidal zone in Flinders Chase National Park Admiral's Arch in Flinders Chase National ParkAdmiral's Arch in Flinders Chase National Park New Zealand fur seal on the rocks in Flinders Chase National ParkNew Zealand fur seal on the rocks in Flinders Chase National Park New Zealand fur seal pupNew Zealand fur seal pup

Then we explored Remarkable Rocks.

Overlooking Remarkable RocksOverlooking Remarkable Rocks Remarkable Rocks indeed.Remarkable Rocks indeed. Remarkable Rocks indeed (2)Remarkable Rocks indeed (2) Remarkable Rocks indeed (3)Remarkable Rocks indeed (3) Remarkable Rocks indeed (4)Remarkable Rocks indeed (4)

After grabbing a snack we headed out on the Platypus Waterholes Walk. Since it was the dry season, the chances of seeing a platypus were extremely low but we rolled the dice anyway. No platypi, but we did see a goanna and cool birds. 

Goanna in Flinders Chase National ParkGoanna in Flinders Chase National Park New Holland Honeyeater (2) - Phylidonyris novaehollandiaeNew Holland Honeyeater (2) - Phylidonyris novaehollandiae White-faced heronWhite-faced heron

Since the weather was still nice we decided to hit a short walk along the Heritage Walk Trail. We wouldn't have picked this hike as a top pick since it's was only about a mile long, but we hit the motherlode of animals. On this short trail we saw wallabies, koalas, kangaroos, more birds, and an extended interaction with an echidna looking for food. It was definitely the highlight of the trip.

Wallaby blepWallaby blep Wallaby sitting under a treeWallaby sitting under a tree Splendid Fairywren - Malurus splendensSplendid Fairywren - Malurus splendens Kangaroo Island Short-beaked Echidna walking through duff - Tachyglossus aculeatus multiaculeatusKangaroo Island Short-beaked Echidna walking through duff - Tachyglossus aculeatus multiaculeatus Kangaroo Island Short-beaked Echidna - Tachyglossus aculeatus multiaculeatusKangaroo Island Short-beaked Echidna - Tachyglossus aculeatus multiaculeatus Koala in Flinders Chase National ParkKoala in Flinders Chase National Park Scarlet Robin - Petroica boodangScarlet Robin - Petroica boodang Australian Magpie Portrait - Cracticus tibicenAustralian Magpie Portrait - Cracticus tibicen Grey Kangaroo on Kangaroo IslandGrey Kangaroo on Kangaroo Island Cape Barren Geese - Cereopsis novaehollandiaeCape Barren Geese - Cereopsis novaehollandiae Kangaroo SunningKangaroo Sunning Moon through the gum treesMoon through the gum trees

Not pictured in the blog were all the great restaurants, dessert shops, bars, cafes, night tours, and DRT (designated rest time) naps we had. It was really awesome to visit a city with personal tour guides. City traveling is not usually what we set out to do, but it was a great change of pace. It was also great spending time with friends and catching up. What I also learned about OZ is that it's big: about the size of the US. So that means there's much more to see and do. We have some other places we want to visit in the short-run while we can still hike and backpack, but I definitely think we will be back in the area again. We also have to hit New Zealand and Tasmania. Standard: cross one thing off your travel list and then add two more.

I hope y'all are doing well, we're getting ready for winter here in Montana.

-Jake


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