This is an occasional blog – I try not to swamp it with too much about any one of my interests – so I’m not a daily blogger by any means. But if you’ve found me because I’ve commented on your blog … you are especially welcome!

The only other blog that I try to keep up to date is The Hen Garden – if chickens are your interest, do go and take a look.

Older posts now in this blog have been imported from other blogs I’ve kept over the years … I hope the links and images are still functioning, my apologies if that’s not the case.

Eureka Skydeck

Out & About

It began as a cool, cloudy day, so we walked the river into the city centre, and up Swanston Street to Queen Victoria Market (also known as The Queen Vic).


Along the way, we enjoyed the sights and sounds, including the many buskers … the man playing the digerereedoo was quite a performer! We had a quick detour into Chinatown, though there seemed to be as many Japanese stalls as Chinese. But it was too early in the day for there to be much activity.


On arrival at the market, we were overwhelmed with the scale … not of the outdoor traditional street market, but of the food halls – it was like the best farmers’ market ever – with a meat and fish hall, a deli area, the grocery stalls and a separate organic section. The quality and range in each section was excellent … I should love to try some of the meats we saw, and to have access to the green grocery on a regular basis.

We bought our lunch, and decided to eat early, sitting outside as the sun came out from behind the clouds. There was a busker … English accent … using a foot operated multi-track recording device – it was fascinating to listen to him putting down each layer of sound, never breaking rhythm or mistiming a pedal.

It was getting hotter, so we moved on, taking a tram to ease my aching feet (I really do struggle in the warm weather), to the Eureka Skydeck. Tim waited on ground level, while I took the lift (at 35 kph it takes less than 45secs 😮 ) up to the 88th floor … the view is spectacular, and the building impressive … you can feel the gentle sway (especially in the lift), but the unsettling bit is the floor … it’s not level, or at least it doesn’t appear to be level … it may be a visual illusion, but it meant I felt the need to hold on to something from time to time!



The glass is covered with gold leaf (24ct no less), to reflect the light, so the sun isn’t an issue, but it’s never easy to take photographs through glass. Nevertheless I tried … with both cameras … at least the pics will convey the general effect, the scale of the thing.


Once back on terra firma, we walked along the south bank to DFO for Tim to replace his sunglasses, which kept popping a lens. I really couldn’t walk much further after that, so we hopped on a tram, straight through to Fitzroy Gardens . We really enjoyed the gentle walks and especially the modern design of many of the elements. I particularly enjoyed the walk along the stream, which was created to conserve rainwater, but which provides a much more picturesque scene than you might imagine.


Tim was as tired as my feet by this time, so we took the tram home – Tim unfortunately discovering along the way that he had lost his Myki card. We completed our journey nevertheless, stopping to buy supplies at Woolworths as we passed. And so home for today … and a quick dip in the rooftop pool to cool off (at least, for me).

Churchill Island Heritage Farm & Lake

Nitro Athletics, Lakeside Stadium

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We slowly packed up, enjoying the house for as long as possible. Then on the way off the island, we stopped off at a local nature reserve … not much to see, as it’s only recently been established, but you can see the potential of what it will become with time. So we continued on to Churchill Island, over a short bridge, to the Heritage Farm. It tells the story of the early settlers and is a delightful spot … much like our own heritage farms, but with wallabies as well as sheep!


As we drove away from the farm, we noticed a large pond to one side of the road – we hadn’t seen it on the way in. Although it wasn’t signposted, there was a car park, and views across the small lake, which had a few small islands (some more like sandbanks) … and birds, lots and lots of birds. We spent a happy hour there, spotting and photographing as many different birds as we could …

Then a gentle drive back to the car hire to drop off the car before catching the train back to the city … in good time to have a shower and change and eat before heading off to the athletics at the Lakeside Stadium.


It was manic! Athletics with a difference, not only different competitively, but also with the razzmatazz of loud music and incessant hype. Once we adjusted our expectations, we had a great time … loved the athletics, got photos of Usain Bolt and of Seb Coe amongst others, and just about managed to follow the teams’ progress through the competition.



We decided to walk most of the way home – it had taken us quite a while to get there by tram and we figured out a shorter route across the park and picking up a tram nearer home. It was a lovely evening, much cooler but still warm enough wearing a t-shirt and fleece.

Early morning


Rhyll Inlet

Koala Sanctuary

Back on the beach

I am still waking early, so took my camera and the car and drove to Rhyll to see what I could see … I didn’t get far, not even actually into the car, before seeing something of interest – to me, that is, I’m sure the neighbours here don’t even notice them. Galah are really common birds, but they are so pretty, and we have nothing like it, and there was a flock feeding on the verge just outside the house.



I’ve been taking photographs of any bird we see … we can identify them later! It doesn’t matter whether they are common or rare, to us they are all exotic.


I spent some time on the beach, mostly focussed on a couple of trees where some birds (noisy things) were feeding … some good images, but still no idea what they are, even having studied the bird book. I haven’t even tried to id bugs or plants! I’ve been able to send some images to DD2 for identification … we’re not on the internet here, but I have several to send once we get back to the apartment.


Once Tim was up and dressed, we drove a short distance to one end of Rhyll Inlet. It was warming up, but we decided to walk as far as we could while we could. The Inlet covers the tidal reach, with different habits at high, intermediate and low tide lines, ending in the mangroves, trees adapted to the salt water, which provide habit and protection to various species of bird, animal and bug life.


Mangrove roots coming up for air


The mangroves go on for miles

The first thing we saw were the spider webs – not possible to get a good photograph of the spiders with either of my cameras, but they were beautiful. Then someone on the boardwalk called us over to see wallabies in the undergrowth 🙂


The views across to French Island were good, and we considered walking to Rhyll, but it was getting hotter, so we retreated to the car, and moved on to the Koala sanctuary. What a contrast to Penguin Parade, and what a delight! We cooled off in the café area before spending time on the tree top boardwalks, where we saw Koalas as we hoped, but also various birds, including a Kookabura … it is a magical place. We used the café to cool off whenever we needed it, and bought various souvenirs for presents.


See next post for more!

The heat was fairly intense by now, mid-afternoon, so we retreated to the house to cool off, and found ourselves, 10,000 miles from home, watching Pointless on television!

Early evening, we went back down to Rhyll beach, again to see what we could see … no Pelican this time, but there were Ibis on the shoreline … and a heron … magnificent birds.


Australian White Ibis with fledgling


White-faced Heron

Before going back to the house and watching … Tony Robinson in Australia, and then Morse in Australia! We slept with the window open to catch the breeze, but it was still very warm … and there are forecasts of heatwave at the weekend!

Click on any image to bring up a slide viewer …

I’m certainly catching up on sleep, but still waking around 5am every day. I stayed in bed until 6am this morning, praying and planning, before getting up and catching up with emails, FB and other internet activities. I watched the sun rise … initially under heavy cloud, but as the sun rose, the cloud cleared and the heat grew … yesterday’s cooler weather was only a temporary respite.

We took our time over breakfast, getting dressed and packed … I even made some time to hook some stitches, before walking to the local station, South Yarra, just around the corner from the apartment. It’s quite confusing when you are totally unfamiliar with the system and surroundings, but Tim had researched the details and we easily caught a fast train through to Dandenong.


We could see the car hire from the station, so easily found our way there, just a short walk. The first thing I had to negotiate was a U-turn (or hook turn), but it was a fairly quiet road. And once on the freeway (if that’s the right term), it was a long straight drive to Phillip Island. We stopped at McD for a bite to eat on the way … not quite the same the world over, but close.


On the road


On the road


Road bridge to Phillip Island

The house is lovely …. such a privilege to be here. We stopped only long enough to unpack the car, then we went for a drive to get our bearings. We spotted a few places we want to visit, and bought tickets for the evening’s Penguin Parade (cheap seats), before stopping at Pyramid Rock to admire the view … I do have some reasonable photos, but we were being battered by the (warm) wind, which must have been gale force at times, and certainly made it hard to hold a camera steady!


Carisbrooke Lodge


Pyramid Rock

Back via Woolworths in Cowes to buy supplies. Then we followed the coast road home … beautiful views.

We’ve been taking note – and where possible, photos – of all the birds we see … we don’t know which are common, nor can we name them all (though DD2 is a useful resource) … but it was so exciting to spot a Pelican – at first in flight then settling on the water.


After an early tea, we returned to Penguin Parade … we avoided the commercialism and the crowds as far as possible so walked down the boardwalk fairly early. You get a good view of some of the penguin boxes, by the side of the path … and there were a pair of wallaby in the undergrowth, too. (Still no kangaroos)

We found ways of keeping warm in the stiff breeze as the viewing platforms filled up. Photography was not allowed, but the view was beautiful, with the wave tops catching the evening sun. As darkness fell, a single Little Penguin washed up on the beach … and obviously didn’t like being alone. They generally come in, under the waves in ‘rafts’, small groups keeping together for safety – there is a seal colony around the bay, and large birds will predate the tiny penguins given opportunity. So the lone penguin waited for some time to actually come ashore, until he gave up and braved the beach all on his own.

Eventually they came in, a few here, a few there, until they had sufficient numbers to brave the beach – though never more than a couple of dozen at once. We could occasionally hear them calling to each other above the noise of the crowd. They would suddenly appear in the water … apparently coming in with the waves, under the water.

We saw perhaps a hundred or so, over a period of around 30 mins … they head across the sand to a gully, which acts as safe passage to the burrows and boxes further up.

We were then encouraged to walk back up the boardwalk … and from above could see them traversing the gully, then following paths alongside the boardwalk to the burrows … penguins were dotted around everywhere in the brush (can’t decide if it’s gorse-like or heather-like), and we had some really good views in the now artificial light.

But there were so many people on the paths … it was full of talk and laughter, which made it difficult to hear the penguins as they chatted to each other … so a mixed experience overall … lovely to see the birds, sad to see them in such artificial conditions.

As we left, we were reminded to check under the car to ensure there were no strays …



South Yarra (our immediate area of the city)

City Sights

The mixture and scale of the architecture in the city is stunning. Many of the high rise buildings use metalised glass as part of their temperature and light control, which creates some amazing reflections.

Melbourne Museum

The museum is situated in Carlton Gardens, which is also the site of the Royal Exhibition Building

The museum is dominated by the desire to atone for the wrongs of the past, in particular the treatment of the native peoples by the early settlers, so it’s not an entirely objective collection, see Te Vainui O Pasifika for more details

Our favourite place was the Forest Gallery, with a stream, natural planting, underwater displays of local amphibians, birdlife and other wildlife, which in turn leads to path through the outdoor gallery.

A tetchy, tired day best forgotten … though we managed to at least locate the posh shops in the city (not in the mood to explore them!), find a spare battery for my camera, a lightweight waterproof for Tim, and shoes for me (at the cut price factory outlet on the South Wharf, DFO) … so we covered a lot of ground, located some useful sites (including the Eureka tower which is on my personal bucket list), and had time to visit the museum … !


The tallest building in Melbourne – Eureka Tower


South Wharf


One of several pedestrian bridges across the river

It was a cool, cloudy day after the rain … such a relief.

And we ate the best chips I’ve ever tasted from ‘The Fish & Chippery’ on South Wharf, walking back along the South Bank. Tim walked home along the river, while I took a tram, and was home in time for the maintenance man to help me get back online (at least by wire).


Polly Woodside historic ship (museum)

I fell asleep again this evening … Tim cooked Kangaroo burgers … and went to bed soon after tea …

This is what I wrote at the time, so let the record stand! However, we packed a lot into our day, and I have some good memories of some of the places we visited … see the the photos in next entry 🙂

From: The Hen Garden


We lost a bantam this morning – she’s clearly been ailing for a few days but we decided to let nature takes it’s course. The two remaining bantams must be around seven years old (we had them as rescue hens, so aren’t totally sure of their age) … and we are still getting an egg most […]

Avian flu outbreak

With the latest outbreak of avian (bird) flu, the government’s Chief Vet has put long term restrictions in place: even backyard poultry keepers are required to … minimise direct and indirect contact between poultry and wild birds make sure that feed and water can’t be accessed by wild birds take all reasonable precautions to avoid […]

Fox attack

We left the gate open overnight … Charlie is gone, apart from a pile of feathers. Claire was lying on the ground when DD2 alerted us to the noise just after 5am. Claire wasn’t moving and seemed stiff, so I left her to check on the others (who were safe in the coop), but DD2 noticed […]

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