Return to 2006 Australia Trip


Monday, October 30, 2006 – 9 PM

Pemberton, Western Australia


Nothing very exciting today, but I’ll tell the story, although I probably won’t post this for another day or so.


I got Ramblings18 and Photos12 posted to the website at the Albany Backpackers place this morning, and then I hit the road.  I had a pretty short drive today, maybe 140 or 150 miles.  This part of the country is very green and very pretty.  There are farms, but most of the day I was driving through forests.  I stopped at a place where you can walk in the treetops, going up metal ramps.  It isn’t the kind of thing I usually do, but I enjoyed it.  The walk is about a third of a mile long, and you get as high as 120 feet off the ground.  The walkways kind of sway as they are walked on, and for a minute, I thought I was going to be motion sick, but it turned out okay.  There were a couple of kids behind me, and they enjoyed making it sway.  The combination of the kids and my bulk walking along the walkways set up some motion.  It was interesting to see the trees, which were very tall, from that perspective.  There was a group of white-tailed Black-Cockatoos up in the treetops, but the walkways were moving enough that I couldn’t really tell if they were short-billed or long-billed.  From the sound of their calls, I would guess short-billed, but I am not great on calls, so I took some pictures, which I have not looked at yet.  It will be interesting to see what the pictures show.  [They seem inconclusive to me, which probably means short-billed.  I’ll post them in the next Photos batch, and ask some Aussie birder who is familiar with them.]


As I exited the treetop walkway, there was one of the large diameter trees (Red Tingle) by the path, and I had a woman take a picture of me in front of it.  I had had an overwhelming number of requests for some pictures with me in them (well, okay then, one request), and this seemed like a great opportunity.  It isn’t often that I get a chance to have my picture taken with a living thing that is bigger around than I am.


By that time I was getting hungry, so I stopped in the next town, Walpole, and found a bakery.  Oh joy, oh rapture – just what I was looking for, a bakery.  I got a chicken pie, a chicken and veggie pie, and a caramel slice.  My most favorite Aussie lunch.


I needed a place to eat the treasures, and I chose to take a dirt road that was mentioned in a birding brochure I had, because my map showed a picnic area at the end of it.  Well, there was in fact a picnic table, but it was a mile and a half on a poor dirt road to get there.  Then, as I was finishing my second pie, I noticed that I was being eaten alive by mozzies (mosquitoes).  I packed up fast after that, and ate my caramel slice in the car, as I drove.  Naturally, just down the highway, there were two great picnic spots, with views and nice trees around.


It was a very nice drive, through forests and some farmland, and I got to my B&B about 3 or 3:30.  There was some confusion about my room, but they were expecting me, and it all worked out okay.


I needed to kill some time, so I went out to a local waterfall, Beddelup Falls.  The falls weren’t anything spectacular, but the area around the falls was very pleasant, and I enjoyed sitting there for a while, after walking to the falls.  I also learned the answer to a question I have been wondering about.  A lot of place names in southern Western Australia end in “up”.  I learned that “up” is the local aboriginal word for “place of”, which explains why it is at the end of so many place names.


So, I came back here to the B&B, which is called the Kookaburra Cottages B&B, in Pemberton, if you want to look it up.  I had a drink or two, and then went to the restaurant around the corner, which is located at a motel.  It seemed very expensive to me, but the food was really excellent, and I enjoyed my meal very much.  I was just saying in the last Ramblings that I should be going to more restaurants.  The biggest downside of restaurants is that it takes so long to be served, and I regret the time “wasted” sitting there.  When you are with someone whose company you enjoy, taking a long time can be fine, but when I am alone, there are other things I would rather be doing.  Now I am back at my B&B, typing in the dining room while the other four guests (two couples) are watching TV in the adjacent living room.


My situation here is very different from what I have gotten used to.  Instead of being all alone, I am sharing a house with four other guests and the couple who own the place.  I am sharing a bathroom with one of the couples.  I was supposed to have exclusive use of the bathroom, but through a combination of circumstances, I am sharing.  It will be fine for one night, but it does seem strange, after being so much on my own lately.  The upside is that I can access the internet from the dining room, where I am typing this.  I was able to check my email earlier, and I will send email before going to bed. I will also be able to check it again in the morning.  I’ll have someone to cook me a nice bacon and egg breakfast in the morning, too, which is nice.  Maybe my early schedule will allow me to get all my morning bathroom duties done before the other people get up.  I have arranged breakfast for 7:30.


So, I’ll close this now, and add to it tomorrow night, if I can.  I think I will download my pictures from today.  There are several of them that I am eager to see, to see how they came out.  I am still experimenting with my new camera and learning things.  To be continued…


Tuesday, October 31, 2006 – 5:30 PM

Augusta, Western Australia


I slept pretty well last night, in the full house, and I was able to get all my bathroom stuff done before the couple next door were stirring, so it wasn’t any problem at all sharing the bathroom.  I got online at about 6:30 and caught up with email, and then was served breakfast at about 7:15.  Very nice bacon and eggs, and the sautéed mushrooms were particularly good.  I was on the road by 8, heading for Augusta, which was less than 2 hours away.


I saw an emu along the road with a bunch of little ones, smaller than chickens, but bigger than pigeons.  I should have stopped to try to get pictures, but I didn’t turn around and go back.  A little later I passed a group of white-tailed Black-Cockatoos, and I did turn around and go back to see if I could get some pictures of them.  They cooperated for a long time, and I think I have some good ones, although I haven’t downloaded them from the camera yet.  I think short-billed, but will have to see the pictures on the computer to get a closer view.  I took some 12X zoom hand-held ones, and then I put the tele-extender on the camera and took some 20X zoom ones with the tripod.  I will be interested to see how both batches come out.


After that, I pretty much drove right on in to Augusta, arriving about 10 or 10:30.  Too early to go to my B&B, so I went straight to the lighthouse at Cape Leeuwin, which is the most southwestern point in Australia.  This is where the southern Ocean meets the Indian Ocean – sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it?  My quest at the lighthouse, besides enjoying the scenery, was the Rock Parrot.  It is a fairly uncommon bird, and this was supposed to be the best place to see it.  I had never seen one.


I got to the end of the road, at the entrance to the lighthouse complex, and went in to check out what the deal was.  You could pay for a tour of the lighthouse, but it was free to go in and wander around the grounds, so I did that.  First I turned back to get my camera from the car, and there on the fence in front of me were six small parrots.  I had my next life list species, without even looking!  I got my camera, and then prowled around the grounds, taking scenery pictures and looking for the Rock Parrots.


After twenty minutes or so, I was thinking that my initial view was going to be it.  I was feeling disappointed that I wasn’t going to be getting any pictures of them, but at least I had seen them.  Then, I wandered away from the main path, and a bird flew in and perched in a tree, posing for me.  It wasn’t the greatest of circumstances, but I did get some pictures, before it flew away.  I hung out in that area for a while, and another one flew in, but the lighting was terrible, and I don’t think I got any good ones of him.  But, then, a little while later, a group of five flew in and perched in some low trees with no leaves, and they were most cooperative.  I got a whole ton of pictures, and I think that some will be good.


So, eventually I moved on from there, and on the way back to town, a raptor of some kind flew over and landed in a tree, right by the road.  Excitement!  I pulled up and got a couple of “record” pictures (just for the record), and then got out of the car and got some more.  I think it was a Brown Falcon, but my recognition of Aussie raptors is terrible, so I am ready to be corrected.  Again, I think some of the pictures are good, but haven’t seen them on the computer yet.


Oh yes, I skipped one other stop, at a historic water wheel with an interesting story.  I think I got a picture of a sign with the story on it, so I won’t tell it again here.  I had another picture of myself taken there, too, so I will be appearing twice in Photos 13, if all goes well.


Anyway, after the Brown Falcon, I was getting hungry, as it was approaching noon.  I had seen a good looking bakery in town, so I went back there and got a couple of pies and a caramel slice, and took them to a picnic area overlooking the mouth of the river.  It was windy, but there was a table that was nicely sheltered, so it was a delightful place to eat my bakery delights.


When I finished lunch, I wandered down the beach and got some pictures of a Pied Oystercatcher.  I posted pictures of a sooty Oystercatcher the other day, which is all black, with a long red bill and red legs.  This one is black and white, but otherwise pretty much the same.  I also got some pictures of a Common Sandpiper.  I had seen both those birds earlier in the trip, but this was the first opportunity for pictures.  I used the tele-extender and tripod for those, I think.


After I tired of that, I went to the Tourist Information Center and asked about beaches, because Hooded Plovers are supposed to be on beaches around here, and I haven’t seen one of those fairly uncommon birds on this trip.  I was directed to the beach at the mouth of the river, near where I had had my lunch, so went back there and went a-walking.  I walked for almost an hour, I think, looking for Hooded Plovers, but found none.  I got pictures of Red-capped Plovers (seen and photographed in Kalbarri a couple of weeks ago), Red-necked Stints (seen and photographed a few days ago), and a shorebird that I am going to call a Common Greenshank, because my Aussie shorebird skills are so poor, and that is the most common species of this size and shape.  It was a lovely walk on the beach, though, and I got some pictures of a guy kite-surfing in the waves.  I flushed a Rock Parrot, too, when I was cutting across the dunes, so the “easy” ones at the lighthouse weren’t the only ones I saw.  I also stopped to scope some cormorants, looking for a Black-faced Cormorant, but I don’t think they come this far west, and I found only Pied Cormorants and Little Pied Cormorants.


By that time, it was past three o’clock, and I was feeling ready to get settled into my latest home away from home.  I filled up with petrol, my biggest fill-up yet, over $A72, which is about US$56.  Then I went to see my new home, the Mayflower B&B (see pictures in Photos13, when they are up).  It is very nice, and very comfortable.  They only rent two rooms, and I am the only guest tonight, at least so far.  I have the whole upstairs of the house to myself.  My room is spacious, and has its own sheltered and covered deck with a view.  My bathroom has a large Jacuzzi bathtub, and maybe I will treat myself to a bath tonight, something I don’t do very often, but I don’t often find bathtubs big enough for me, either.  If I have time, a nice soak would feel good, after all my walking today.


The only drawback to this place is that it is a bit far to walk to a restaurant, and I don’t really feel like going out to a restaurant tonight, anyway.  There is a large guest lounge, and a nice guest kitchenette with dishes and utensils, but no microwave oven, to heat up something frozen.  There is a small refrigerator, though, with a little freezer compartment, and wonder of wonders, a filled ice tray with almost American-sized ice cubes!  Will wonders never cease?


They have two phone lines, and I have already been on to pick up emails, and I’m hoping to get on again tonight, to upload this and send some emails.  I don’t think I can comfortably take the time it would take to upload Photos13, though, even if I find the time to get them all processed and ready to post.  I’ll find a way eventually.  Maybe tomorrow I will stop at an internet café and get Photos13 up that way, assuming I find the time to process the pictures and get them ready tonight.


So, after getting settled in, I went to the grocery store and got some cheese, a few ounces of ham, and some sesame wheat crackers.  That will be plenty of dinner for me tonight, along with the mixed nuts I am eating now, with my drinkies.  The two pies and the caramel slice were a big lunch today.


So, that is my story to date.  I got one lifer today (Rock Parrot) and none yesterday.  The Hooded Plover was my only other reasonable hope for a trip list bird for today (or, maybe a Southern Emu-wren), and I dipped on that.  Unless I see some kind of shorebird that is easy to identify, the only other reasonable bird to expect to add will be the Red-tailed Tropicbird, tomorrow, assuming it isn’t too early in the spring.  They come back from up north about this time each year, so we will see if they are back yet.  I’m also not sure how easy they are to see, even if they are around.  My time in Western Australia is winding down.  This is Tuesday night, and I am scheduled to fly to Tasmania on Saturday.  Tasmania is the southernmost state in Australia, so it is normally the coldest.  On the TV news last week, I saw pictures of snow at sea level, in Hobart, the capital, where I am starting out!  I was expecting it to be cold there, but not that cold!  We’ll see what I encounter.  I have two nights in the mountains in Tasmania, too, so it could be pretty chilly.


But, that is for the future.  First I have some more of Western Australia to see.  Tomorrow, the Red-tailed Tropicbird.  I’ll focus on that for now.  There is still a chance for southern Emu-wren, too, and I will look a few places for those little guys tomorrow, too.


Tom, the host here, just came up and said he was going out tonight, but would be home about nine.  We arranged that I would go online then, so I will try to post this then.


It just keeps rolling along…


Barry Downunder