Return to 2006 Australia Trip


November 13, 2006 Ė 8 PM

Werribee, Victoria, Australia, Earth, Solar System, etc


When you were a kid, did you ever do that ďEarth, Solar SystemĒ stuff?  I remember that I did.  Maybe Iím in my second childhood.  Or, maybe I never left my first one.


Today was a windy, rainy, blustery day here in the area to the southwest of Melbourne.  I decided to not worry about birding, but to concentrate on sightseeing.  My plan was to go south from Werribee, through Geelong, to the Bellarine (pronounced bell-a-reení, or maybe bellí-a-reen) Peninsula.


But, before I could even get dressed, I was thrown into birding.  I was chatting online with Christina, via Instant Messaging, and a bird landed on the TV aerial of the house next door, right in front of me, maybe 25 feet away.  It appeared to be a bird I was looking for, so I grabbed my binoculars and, sure enough, it was a European Greenfinch!  My first trip bird for the day, and I was still in my nightshirt.  As it turned out, it was the only trip bird of the day, but it was still a good way to start the day.


My host, Alan, made me a huge breakfast, consisting of two eggs, two large sausages, a mess of bacon, a fried tomato, a bunch of cooked mushrooms, and three slices of very nice toast.  I had some yogurt and fruit as well.  Definitely overkill, but it was sure all good.  Iíve ordered the same again for tomorrow, but with half as much bacon and only one sausage.


So, I got on the road about 9, and I headed south.  As I said earlier, it was quite windy, with rain threatening all the time.  At the beginning of the day, there was more time without rain than time with rain, but by noon time, it was more rain than not.  It was only showers, not a steady rain, and it really didnít interfere much at all with my sightseeing day.  It wouldnít have been a good day to bird, though, as it was just too windy.  I did stop at a number of potential birding sites, but never saw anything much, and it was so windy that I couldnít even hold my binoculars steady enough to use, outside of the car.


I drove along a lot of coastline, and I got pictures of some of it.  Eventually I ended up on the ocean side of the peninsula, and then there were some real waves.  Melbourne is on the north end of a huge round bay (maybe 30 miles or more in diameter), and there is only a two mile wide opening to the ocean, at the south end.  Today I went to the west side of that opening at the south end of the huge bay, and then around to the ocean side.


The town of Queenscliff is on one side of that opening, and I got lunch there.  I was looking for fish and chips, but Monday isnít a good day for fish and chips, because the fishermen donít go out on Sunday, so many of the best fish and chip places are closed on Monday.  Instead, I found a nice bakery in Queenscliff and got a chicken and vegetable pie, a sausage roll, and a caramel slice.  They all held up to the high standards I have found in my travels, and I enjoyed them in the car, while looking out at the raging seas of The Rip, which is what they call the opening in the huge bay.


I drove on around on the ocean side of the peninsula, until the rain was getting pretty steady, and it was seeming like time to head for home.  Rather than come straight back to my B&B, I detoured through part of ďthe FarmĒ, the Werribee Western Treatment Plant, the great birding place I think I mentioned yesterday, and the reason I am staying here in Werribee.  The best birding parts of the Farm are behind locked gates, and you need a permit and a key to go in there, but there are some roads outside the locked gates that are open to the public in daylight hours.


I drove along a couple of those roads, and I actually saw a lot of birds, considering the frightful weather.  It mostly wasnít raining when I was there, but it was extremely windy.  I did get some pictures, from the car, and they are in Photos20, which is already up on the website, as I type this.  I especially like the pictures I got of a couple of Black-shouldered Kites, which is a species we have in the US, and one I see in California and particularly like.  It seems strange to me that the same species could live in both Australia and in California; I wonder how they got distributed like that.  It doesnít seem like a species that would migrate.


Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed my little preview of the Farm, and I am eagerly looking forward to going back there tomorrow morning with a local birder by the name of Shirley.  I am counting on the weather being much more benign tomorrow.  Already it seems like the wind is dying down.  Or, maybe that is just wishful thinking on my part.  We shall see.


After that, I had the brilliant idea of stopping at McDonaldís and getting a large cup of ice, for my drinkies tonight.  As it turned out, it was more convenient to stop at Hungry Jackís, which is the Aussie incarnation of Burger King.  I got my large cup of ice, and they didnít even charge me anything for it.  I thought I was pretty smart to have figured out that solution to my ice problem.


I sorted through and processed my pictures from today, and I got them up to the website, and then I had my leftover pizza from last night for dinner.  Now I am writing this drivel, and soon I will go to bed, probably after some Aussie TV.  I donít much care what I watch on TV, but I try to make it be something Australian.  They have a lot of game shows over here, it seems.  The television industry is completely different over here, compared to the USA.  They donít have local stations over here Ė there just isnít the population to support it.  There are three or four national networks, and they do statewide news, but otherwise, I think the programming is all national.  There are also one or more satellite networks, and they offer five or ten more channels.  I havenít run across anything like our cable TV industry over here, but it might exist, in some of the big cities, where I havenít spent my time.  Anyway, I do enjoy Aussie TV, although I havenít had time to watch much of it.


So, there is a report from Monday, November 13, 2006.  What a life!  Tomorrow I get to bird on the Farm again.  Iím hoping to add some birds to my trip list. 


Barry Downunder