First published: 17-Nov-2012
At the end of October I returned from a wonderful trip to Australia. Australia has never been on my list of favourite countries to visit, but now I know that it should have been. One of my best friends moved from The Netherlands to Australia about six years ago and I had been meaning to visit her since a few years. This year it finally happened. First proper holiday in four years and I was away for a whole month.
I spent some time with my friend and her family in Woodend (north of Melbourne), some time exploring on my own and we went to Byron Bay together for a week. The whale watching in Byron Bay was great, we had some wonderful close encounters with the Humpback Whales. The whales were migrating from their breading grounds in the north back to the Antarctic, so there were lots of mothers and calves passing by. One calf was breaching twice right next to the boat.
We were staying in a lovely cottage with a creek just below the veranda. From the veranda we saw numerous species of beautiful birds (our favourite was the bright red Scarlet Honeyeater) and also the resident Platypus.
The first week I travelled to Warrnambool and explored the coast up to Portland and the Great Ocean Road. The coast scenery was stunning and it was lovely to finally get some summer temperatures. The Southern Right Whales had just left the week before, but there was plenty to see anyway. On the way back I stopped off at Kenneth River, a good place to see koalas. I was driving up this unpaved road and sucked in the noises, which to me sounded like what you expect in a rainforest. I saw a couple of koalas and it so nice to see them in the wild. Then at some point I looked behind me and this echidna was crossing the road. Like I said, wildlife everywhere.
The week after Byron Bay I didn’t go far afield. I had a bad cold and there was lenty to see close to Woodend as well. You can’t complain with kangaroos, parrots and beautiful Spotted Pardalotes in the garden! One time I went into a field nearby to photograph the Eastern Grey Kangaroos. However, kangaroos are very wary of people so as soon as I entered the field I saw hundreds of kangaroos hopping away into the distance (very funny to watch). Then I noticed Superb Fairy-Wrens in a cluster of trees and decided to focus on them. I was sitting down trying to photograph them and after a while I looked behind me and there was a row of Kangaroos about 25 meters away, looking at me! So I managed to get some lovely shots of mothers with young in their pouches.
I also went to Hanging Rock a few times. A lovely area with rock formations and, again, many birds. It was a great place for photographing the Fairy-Wrens. It was a treat to also see a family of Powerful Owls with big white fluffy chicks.
In the last week went to the Grampians (not the Scottish ones!) for a few days. We also went on a boat trip from Sorrento to see the Fur Seals, Gannets and we came across a few Bottlenose Dolphins. The dolphins are so much smaller and lighter than our chunky Moray Firth Dolphins. We also enjoyed seeing some Little Penguins coming ashore at St Kilda Pier in Melbourne.
Before I left Inverness, I tried to keep my expectations low with regards to the photography. With wildlife it often takes time to get more than an average snapshot of an animal. But the wildlife encounters and the photos exceeded any expectation I could have had. Everywhere you looked there were beautiful birds and other animals. Within the next few days I will add a gallery with my favourite Australia photos.
It was a fabulous trip!