August 2014September 2014 October 2014

09/30 - On the Road to Port Fairy

We followed the coastal road from Penola to Port Fairy and made a few stops along the way. The Limestone Coast is named for the underlying rock, so there were a number of interesting formations. We took a chalk road to the Piccaninnie Ponds right along the coast. This was mainly grass and scrub land, but we spotted a lizard or two and found a lovely, deserted beach.

We continued along the road through flat country and noticed a mountain jutting out of the fields to the right. This was Mount RIchmond, an extinct volcano. We didn't know what to expect, and we were a bit tight on time, so we never did get to the overlook. Still, we spotted our first wild koala perched in a tree which was a real treat.

A view of an extinct volcano from Mount Gambier

The trail at Piccaninnie Ponds

One end of a lizard

The beach

The other end of the lizard, or more likely, the other end of another lizard


The trail on Mount Richmond

A koala

A better look

The road down from Mount Richmond to the flat plains below

More wild trees of Mount Richmond

Keywords: australia

09/29 - Penola and the Naracoorte Caves - 2

One of the caves had a huge fossil bed, with ancient kangaroo skeletons. It was an active research site with a lecture area, so we got to see some restored skeletons and examine some of the interesting specimens. Then, we explored the cave's more recent history and learned a bit about Victorian cave decoration. Calla lilies are not native to limestone caves, though they are rather pretty.

Back in Penola, we visited the Katnook WInery which had excellent wines which we doubt we will ever find in the United States. We explored the town, particularly Petticoat Lane, an old, partly restored, Victorian section of town. There were a lot of charming old houses and charming old fashioned gardens, including an herb garden, open to the public. For a small donation, one could even grab a few fresh herbs for one's dinner.

To be honest, we hadn't planned on seeing this area, but we did have to get from Adelaide to Melbourne, and an article in our in flight magazine made us curious. We aren't big improvisors when we travel, but this improvisation definitely paid off.

Some restored fossils in the Fossil Cave

A cave entrance

Some flowers

Down below

A view from down below - look closely for calla lilies

Some Victorian era gardening at a cave entrance

Dramatic light

More caves

Historic Penola

An old fashioned garden

Another garden in Penola

Keywords: australia

09/28 - Penola and the Naracoorte Caves - 1

Reluctantly, we left Kangaroo Island and flew to Adelaide where we rented a car and drove through farm country, not wine country, to Penola. Penola is the main town in the Coonawara Wine district and home to Mary McKillop, the first Australian saint. Needless to say, we were more interested in the wine country, and even more than the wine country, we were interested in the Naracoote Caves.

This whole area of South Australia is known as the Limestone Coast, so the wonderful limestone formations of the Naracoorte Caves were irresistible. We signed up for three tours in a row, preceded by and followed by some exploring on our own. The guided tours were wonderful, so we saw speleothems galore. Speleothems are sometimes stalactites, hanging from the ceiling, sometimes stalagmites, rising from the floor, and sometimes columns, connecting the floor and ceiling.

We also took a remote camera guided tour of the bat cave. There's a huge colony of bats in a cave that is closed to the public, but monitored by a number of remote controlled cameras. We zoomed in on juveniles hanging on street corners, mothers huddling with others and otherwise virtually entered the life of the cave.

To be continued.

The water tower in Penola - Water is a big thing in Southern Australia. Everyone has a cistern.

We had two excellent dinners at the Rendezvous Restaurant in Penola. We also had two excellent breakfasts based on their porkerhouse pork roasts.

The "warm up" diorama at Naracoorte Caves got us in the mood for exploring.

The caves

and more caves

We love exploring underground.

We were down below for hours.

Another great limestone formation

Almost crystalline pipes

Dramatic lighting and transparent rock

And even more caves

Keywords: australia

09/27 - Kelly Caves to the Sea

The sky was gray and threatening, but we set out anyway. We pulled into the Kelly Caves parking lot, eight kilometers inland, and set out for the sea. The walk was through brush, mainly a variety of eucalyptus which varies in height from ground cover to full fledged tree depending on growing conditions. There were also yucca like grass trees that looked like oversized bunches of grass, but with sharp spikes all around.

We made our way slowly, sighting two echidnas by the trail side. We made our way to a large flat lake and had a black swan experience. This was Australia, so there was a flock of black swans on the glassy surface.

Then, we climbed a sand dune, now fully vegetated and well inland. It was over a 100 meter climb, quite a challenge on soft sand. It looked like any other hill, but the soft footing reminded us that this, like many others on Kangaroo Island, was a stabilized sand dune.

Eventually, the trail opened out to a large green field, almost like a golf course. Here was a great field of kangaroos. This was the far side of the great green field we had visited earlier for our sundown Kangaroos and Canapes excursion. There were no canapes on this side of the river, but plenty of kangaroos.

We left the green field, and from here the trail followed the river, and the river led us to the sea. For a while we were in brush land, but then we saw the line of coastal dunes ahead. Soon we were looking down from the dunes at a gorgeous crescent of beach by the sea.

An anthill - The high walls forecast flooding rain.

The trail through the brush

A grass tree with its seed stalk

A spider orchid

Black swans

One of the echidnas quite sure it is hiding

More of the scene

Another echidna not bothering to hide

The river we followed on the latter part of the hike

The beach and the sea

A more dramatic view, thanks to lots of threatening looking sky

Keywords: australia

09/26 - Seal Point Sea Lions

Kangaroo Island has a lot more animals than just kangaroos. Today we went to Seal Point to see the sea lions. These look a lot like seals, but seals tend to wriggle along the ground rather awkwardly. Sea lions are more like quadrupeds, actually using some component of their tails for locomotion, rather than just dragging behind.

The reserve has slowly accustomed the sea lions to people. If we don't hassle them, they don't mind us. This means we can wander around in clusters and get a close look at these wonderful sea mammals. We saw females nursing and males engaging in pushing matches, so we felt right at home.

It doesn't really show up in the photos, but male sea lions have a pale area around their necks and on their heads that look a bit like lions' manes, hence the name sea lion. There were other land mammals waiting for their turn visiting theses sea mammals, or we would have spent the day on the beach with them.

The view from our window

The walk down to the beach

Look who's here.

Welcome to the beach.

Just resting

Some of the gang

Two males tussling - The guy on the left was a real trouble maker.

A nursing mother and baby

More sea lions

We almost took this guy home with us. Unlike seals, sea lions don't smell like fish.

The vegetation behind the beach

Keywords: australia

09/25 - Rocky River to Maupertuis Bay

We took a long walk down the Rocky River from near the Snake Lagoon to Maupertuis Bay. The walk started inland with high shrubs and bushes. Then it opened out with our first view of the Rocky River. We crossed on a wooden bridge and followed the canyon walls across folded rocks.

It was spring, so the flowers were in bloom, but few were familiar. We saw lizards, the blue sky and the blue river as it flowed in broad channels and through rapids. There was some climbing up and down rocks, but it was easy going.

Then we saw our first glimpse of the sea. The river flowed over rocks in channels with little rushing waterfalls and emptied out onto a sandy beach. It was a smuggler's paradise, a lovely beach in the middle of nowhere, perfect to bringing in a small boat loaded with contraband koala skins. Above us in the canyon were the smuggler hideouts, shelters naturally carved from the rock walls.

Maybe we let our imagination get ahead of us, but the mouth of the Rocky River was a wonderful, evocative place to be.

The trailed started closed, a cut through the high native vegetation.

It was spring.

Our first look at the river

More of the river

A lizard

So, why is it called the Rocky River?

Another lizard

Our first glimpse of the sea

More rock formations

The mouth of the river

A smuggler hideout, we're sure.

Keywords: australia, waterfall

09/24 - Admiralty Arch and Remarkable Rocks

We've been exploring Kangaroo Island. We visited Admiralty Arch with its seals and sea lions and the Remarkable Rocks which are an unusual granite formation on an island of limestone. We also spotted a few koalas with some help from our guides.

RIght near our hotel

One of the koalas

Plant life

Sea life

More sea life

The Southern Ocean in action

Wild waters

Sea life

Remarkable rocks

Post modern sculpture - either that or more remarkable rocks

The rocks from a distance

Keywords: australia

09/23 - Welcome to Kangaroo Island

We made it to Kangaroo Island. The next thing south is the Antarctic. We're staying at an amazing hotel built into the cliff side. The chef is a genius. They have to truck in electricity, and we don't want to even imagine where they get the water for our rain showers.

FIrst thing, we took the cliff side hikes east and west of the hotel. The scenery is exotic. The shrubs are gum trees of various sizes. The flowers are in wild bloom.

We took the Kangaroo and Canapes tour. It's less formally known as Booze and Roos. We took a shuttle bus to a field not far from the hotel. It was once a farm, cleared from the brush, but now home to enough kangaroos to launch a Volkswagen to the moon by sheer hopping power. The grass is cut as short as a golf green's, and the ground is covered with kangaroo by-product, but the kangaroos are calm even as we approach them.

That was just our first day.

A view from near our hotel

That's where we are staying, or at least part of it.

Flowers - It's spring down here.

Another view

The view west

Another view from the cliffs

Here's where we went to watch kangaroos.

Can you guess what we saw on Kangaroo Island?

The sunset scene

More roos

Sunset light, and, oh yes, kangaroos

Keywords: australia

09/21 - The Taronga Zoo

Whenever we are in Sydney, we make a point of getting to the Taronga Zoo. We take the ferry from The Quay and then get ready for spotting wildlife in Australia. This means the usual wombats, bandicoots and koalas, but also getting used to spotting Australian critters in the wild. They are redoing the Australian section of the zoo, but the exhibits of birds, the nocturnal animal house and the platypus aquarium were all open. It takes a while for one's eye to get used to spotting the various birds hidden in bushes and behind grasses. We didn't even try to take any pictures of them. They never come out. The nocturnal animals are even more of a challenge, as the exhibit hall is dark. After a bit, we got used to it, so we saw a number of animals, and to our surprise, photos weren't too bad. The platypus was a real treat. It had caught and was eating a yabee, a sort of miniature lobster.

The view from the Taronga ferry.

The zoo entrance

One of the many koalas

Another koala


These two mouse like creatures were the first we managed to spot in the dark. The photo is surprisingly good considering that no flash was allowed.

This is an echidna, covered with feather quill spines.

Keywords: australia

09/20 - Bondi Beach

So, where are we? If you guessed Vancouver, you were right, but we're in Sydney now, in New South Wales, not the one outside of Victoria.

We've already been to the Sydney Aquarium and taken a long walk from Bondi Beach south to Coogee. Bondi is Sydney's famous surfing beach. The water was wild, and the waves were high, but, no, we didn't do any surfing. We left that to others who have some slight clue about the surfer's art. We did follow the trail along the beach, up along the bluffs, then down to another beach, then up, then down and so on. Parts of the route reminded us of West Seattle, some Honolulu, some Santa Monica, and some the Monterey waterfront trail.

It was a beautiful walk. We didn't have to get wet to enjoy it, though in some places the water was tempting. Especially tempting were the wild, sea water swimming pools along the way. These are swimming pools built low, so they are flooded by the surf at high tide, so one gets the benefits of fresh salt water, but one is protected from the surf.

Bondi Beach, the quintessential beach town

A wild sea water pool

Another wild beach below a wild bluff

Surf's up!


More wild beach, this one a bit like Monterey

Bluffs - That's the Waverly cemetery above

A more protected beach

Coogee, our final beach

One of the many birds

End of our journey

Keywords: australia

09/19 - Where Are We?

We're being deliberately mysterious here. These photos are from one of our waypoints en route to our big destination. Luckily, we're taking an interesting route.

The seal of this mysterious city

Sulfur, it's iconic!

It's not Copenhagen. This little mermaid is wearing a wet suit.

They have 9/11 truthers here.

Flying in to town

Keywords: flying

09/15 - To The Lighthouse

The walk out to the the Dungeness Light is one of the amazing hikes of the North Olympic Peninsula. It's not completely obvious from the pictures, but it's a walk out to sea along a narrow strip of land. There is salt water on either side, but one walks for miles along the outer beach as it curves away from the mountains and out into the Strait of San Juan de Fuca.

We've been watching the tides at Dungeness Spit. There is usually a period from mid-autumn into mid-winter when the tides are just too high during the day to hike all the way out to the lighthouse without pulling oneself across soft sand and clambering over driftwood. Worse, during the winter, the sand washes away leaving a rocky beach behind. We decided to take advantage of this prime hiking time for our hike.

As you can see in the photos, we made it to the light. We did the full ten mile round trip in excellent time, well under four hours, thanks to a sandy beach and beautiful weather. We kept an eye on the sea and saw seals, seagulls, plovers, and sea ducks. The sky really was as blue as in the photos. Our next chance is not until February, and then only if the spit has some sand. Otherwise, it might not be until next summer.

The Dungeness Light

The curving spit

Our first view of the light

Beach flowers

A common flower

On the way back, mountains

A plover

More mountains and sea

Driftwood fashioned into a shelter

Keywords: autumn, ducks, dungeness spit, flowers, tides

09/12 - Fall Colors at Obstruction Point

We always like the Lilian Ridge hike out of Obstruction Point in the autumn. In truth, this hike has its charms in every season, but in the fall the wild, high country foliage starts changing color. There are bright yellows, pale silvers, and some amazing brilliant reds. The high country is exotic enough, but sometimes we feel like we are on another world, hiking the bright red plains of Mars.

Bright reds set off by deep summer greens

One of the many crickets about

More brilliant red

Red fields and red stairs

More early autumn color

A few last harebells

Cedums and dried flowers

More alpine flowers

A patch of red

Red grasses

More red fields

Keywords: autumn, high country, obstruction point

09/10 - Elderberries

We forgot to mention that we saw some elderberries on the drive down from Hurricane Hill. There are two trees right near the road. We've been watching them. First there were the flowers. Now, the berries are ripe.


Keywords: flowers, hurricane hill

09/08 - Fall Colors

We've been awfully busy lately, but we have been getting up to Hurricane Hill to check out the fall colors. Each time we go, the grasses have more color, and, here and there, we spy some fiery red fall foliage.

This trip we spotted our first blue grouse of the season. Is the plural of "grouse" "grouses" or "grice"? Walt Kelley, the cartoonist who drew Pogo, once said that the mongoose is a singular animal, because no one can say two of them. The blue grouse seems to be a singular animal as well. If we saw more than one of them, we couldn't tell you.

A bit of gold

More color

A young blue grouse

The same grouse again


More color

Almost the same place as the photo to the left, except a cloud was blocking the sun and the pallete shifted

Hints of red among the green

More gold

More red

This will resemble the plains of Mars in another few weeks.

Keywords: grouse, hurricane hill

09/06 - Another Quick Trip to Seattle

We made another quick trip into Seattle. We really had to do some shopping. Besides, we needed our urban fix. We love living out in Port Angeles, but we sometimes hear the call of the big city.

Bad camera optics show off a city skyline full of cranes and the Space Needle.

More bad optics and the Space Needle.

This car was in the lot outside of Tamarind Tree. We had Beef Seven Ways. The car is for sale.

Keywords: seattle

09/04 - Rotisserie Duck

Some years back we posted a movie of a leg of lamb being rotisseried on our grill. It was a big hit on Baidu. It seems to be time for a new rotisserie movie. Click here or on the picture to the right to see the movie.

Rotisserie Duck - Click for a movie

Keywords: food

August 2014September 2014 October 2014