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09/22/15 - Good Bye to Australia

We had one last night in Sydney. We loaded up on Chinese seafood at Golden Century - fresh coral trout from the tank and the best salt and pepper prawns ever - and readied ourselves for the grueling flight home.We had time for a brisk walk in the morning, but then it was into the maw of the system. The Pacific Ocean was waiting as was our plane to cross it.

The opera house at night, pink for breast cancer awareness

The quay at night

The harbor bridge

Morning light

The bridge again

A surprise across the harbor

There was an amusement park smiling at us the whole time, and we didn't know it.

Keywords: australia

09/21/15 - Coogee to Bondi

One of the ways Sydney resembles Los Angeles is in its well developed beach culture. Last year we walked from Bondi Beach south to Coogee Beach. This year we took the same hike in the opposite direction. There is a great coastal hiking trail that leads from beach to beach, usually following the headlands, though once or twice going inland.

Coogee Beach behind us

A view from the headlands

More headlands hiking

One of the many coves

That channel is a recreational beach

Headlands and coves

The cemetery

Another small beach

More rocks and salt water

Bondi Beach, our goal

Bondi Beach has a wall full of street art, so this admonition is appropriate.

Keywords: australia

09/20/15 - Sydney at Dusk

We arrived in Sydney in time to catch the sunset. We went to the Rockpool Bar and Grill for the most amazing wagyu beef 9+ skirt steak. The 9+ is the fattiness rating. The scale runs up to nine, so this is as rich as skirt steak can get.


After sunset

The quay at night

Keywords: australia

09/19/15 - Melbourne Morning

Melbourne is chock full of coffee shops, chocolate sellers and bakeries.

Cuban coffee

Coffee gear




Keywords: australia

09/18/15 - Melbourne - Definitely Photogenic

Some cities are harder to photograph than others. You have to be alert to make Los Angeles look interesting. but Melbourne is full of street level detail and spatial dynamics. There are also some pretty nice trees.

A minor street lined with commercial art

That's a great radio tower, like something out of an old movie

Street trees - There's a Melbourne original in the upper right, a go left to turn right sign.


Great colors

Shadows and store windows

More of the city

Keywords: australia

09/17/15 - Melbourne, City of Photographers (and Graffiti Artists)

There were two things we noticed a lot of in Melbourne. First, there were a lot of weddings. This might have something to do with our hotel being across the street from the big cathedral and our stay covering a weekend. Still, there were a lot of people either getting married, watching someone else getting married or taking pictures of people getting married and watching people getting married.

That leads to the second thing. There were a lot of people taking pictures of other people. Once again, maybe it was the weekend, but it wasn't just cell phones and selfie sticks. There was a lot of serious photographic gear out there as well. It might be that Melbourne, like New York City or Venice, is one of those photogenic cities where you can just point your camera any which way and photograph something interesting.

That brings us to Hosier Lane, one of the many alleys in Melbourne's Central Business District, which doubles as an open air street art gallery and studio. Needless to say, all of this street art attracted spectators and, of course, photographers. Needless to say, we were among them.

Combining the two most popular activities in Melbourne, getting married and taking pictures - here in the middle of a major street

More mid-street photography, but with no apparent wedding

Hosier Lane photography

More photographers amidst the street art

The folks on the left were a group of street artists taking a break.

More street art

This looks like a video game screenshot.

Not all street art likes to be photographed.

Hosier Lane, another reason to visit Melbourne and bringing a camera

Keywords: australia

09/16/15 - One of the Many Beaches on the Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road was built back in 1932. It runs along the coast southwest of Melbourne, and the stretch running from Lorne to Apollo Bay is both the most challenging and most beautiful. In many ways it resembles the Pacific Coast Highway in California. It is a twisty road hugging the rocky mountainside with spectacular views of the coast. Along the way there are overlooks to stop at and marvel and beaches to explore. There are also a number of inland walks, most following streams that have worn canyons into the mountains.

One of the beaches, chosen more or less at random

Another view

Eroded rocks and tide pools

More old rocks

One of the tide pools

Another tide pool

Green rocks

A typical view along the Great Ocean Road

Through our windshield

Keywords: australia

09/15/15 - Cumberland and She Oak Falls

From Apollo Bay we headed towards Lorne and stopped to explore Cumberland and She Oak Falls. Cumberland Falls was just a short walk from the parking area. She Oak Falls was a longer walk, and we could have continued a fair ways past the falls if we had been a bit more energetic.

On our way to Cumberland Falls

The water

Old rocks and water

One of the many birds

Another bird

On our way to She Oak Falls, a view of the Great Ocean Road

Heading up and inland

She Oak Falls

More waterfalls

The trail

Another view of the falls

Keywords: australia

09/14/15 - Mait's Rest

Our next stop was Mait's Rest, a magical place right off the Great Ocean Road in the Otways. Almost immediately we descended into a fantastic forest of tall beeches, flowering eucalyptus, cycads and ferns. It was dazzling, gem-like, and overwhelming. It was so true to our imaginings of what a rain forest should be like that there was an air of unreality.

The great trees, beeches and flowering eucalyptus, were too tall for us to see in their entirety. The latter are the tallest flowering plant in the world, The cycads provided a lower ceiling with their oversized fronds and fan-like appearance. Below were the ferns, the fungi and a host of other rain forest competitors. It was a short walk, but wonderful.

The trail descending

A nurse log, not common in Australia

Cycads above

More cycads

Even more cycads

One of the tall trees

A bit of a tall tree, larger than it looks here

Keywords: australia

09/13/15 - Great Ocean Road - The Otways

Heading east from Port Fairy we stopped briefly at the Bay of Islands, but this time we skipped the more famous sites. We zipped by the Twelve Apostles amusement park, the London Bridge and the like. Our first real stop was one of the places we had missed on our last trip. We were looking for Moonlight Cemetery Road and nearly missed it. Unsealed, it led towards the coast. We took a short walk to the overlook for the views.

Down below us, the sea washed the broad flat rocks, covering them and then lowering to let them drain in a lacy pattern of foam and water. It was mesmerizing. Pulling ourselves away, we walked along the Great Ocean Trail a bit. Our first stop here was the cinnamon fungus shoe washing station where we scrubbed the dirt from our shoes and then washed them in soapy water. We stepped on the metal plate as described and our feet sank below and were surrounded by soap bubbles. We were glad to do our bit for pest control.

When not washing our feet, we enjoyed the scenery, the birds and the spring flowers. They aren't as flamboyant as in Virginia, but spring is months away in Virginia, and who can say no to the many orchids and, for us at least, exotic plants of southern Australia.

The Bay of Islands

Some birds

Some orchids

The scenery

More scenery

A lacy rock below

More of the view

A bit of the Great Ocean Trail

More spring flowers

Keywords: australia

09/12/15 - Port Fairy

We made it in to Port Fairy towards evening, so we took a walk down the sea. We followed the river where the boats are all moored and then the causeway in the fading light. We wound out up Merrijig Inn, which is simply one of the best restaurants in Australia.

Calm water

A sea bird in repose

Rocks and water


Sunset light

More sunset light

Cloudy sky

A view up the river

One of the many quaint houses

Keywords: australia

09/11/15 - The Volcano Trail

The road from Dunkeld to Port Fairy is part of the Volcano Trail. It runs between two volcanic sites, Mount Napier and Mount Eccles, and it passes over the great lava tubes running between those two sites. We stopped at the Byaduk Caves, part of Mount Napier Park, and took a look at the caves which are the collapsed openings of those lava tubes. The scenery was green and pastoral, with rolling hills, but those hills concealed hollow underground passages. It was magical in some ways. The park people had used the volcanic rocks littering the countryside to line the trails in the park. This made the park trails look like something from a fairy tale.

We returned to our rental car and had a panicky moment. The car started fine, but we couldn't move the automatic transmission from park. It was time to RTFM - read the manual. A brief perusal did not solve our problem, but it did mention that there was some kind of interlock between the automatic transmission and the brakes. That was our clue. One could not leave the park setting if the brake pedal wasn't depressed.

Our next stop was Mount Eccles and Surprise Lake. We were just too exhausted to walk around the lake, but we did clamber up to an overlook, and on the way down spotted a koala in a tree.

Volcanic rocks in a pasture

Volcanic rocks arranged into magical passages

Entry into the underworld

Another way of getting into the bowels of the earth

Satan's hideaway

Lake Surprise

A Koala near Lake Surprise

Keywords: australia

09/10/15 - Climbing in the Southern Grampians

With all our wandering in the Northern Grampians, we were rather exhausted when we finally made it to the Southern Grampians, so we decided to climb the gentlest hill near to our hotel, The Royal Mail, in Dunkeld. If nothing else, we had to work off our eight course tasting dinner and experiment in molecular gastronomy. We chose the unfortunately named Picaninny, roughly a 400' climb. Perhaps it is a tribute to molecular gastronomy, but we were surprised at how quickly we climbed and how energetic we felt back at the car. This called for a new challenge.

We briefly considered climbing Mount Abrupt which loomed large in the area, but only briefly. Instead, we attacked Mount Sturgeon, perhaps an 800-900' climb. Once again we climbed past grass trees and through forest and when the trail opened up we had magnificent views of the area. Our original plan was to climb until we were exhausted, but we made it to the top and a fabulous overlook.

Grass trees on the Picaninny

An old grass tree, damaged by fire

One of the views of the plains below

Mount Abrupt - maybe next time

A rock wallaby

Blue flowers which we aren't even going to pretend that we are going to look up somewhere.

The view from Mount Sturgeon

Another view under the changing sky

A spider

Carnivorous sundews

The forest

Keywords: australia

09/09/15 - The Balconies - A Mystic Journey

Our last stop in the Northern Grampians was at The Balconies, a spot famous for its magnificent views. The day was cloudy and the views limited by mist and rain. We checked out the view from the parking lot. It was good enough, so we followed the trail.

The forest was shrouded with fog, but the rock formations and spring flowers kept us going. It wasn't a long trail, so we were soon at the main lookout. The view wasn't much better than the view from the parking lot, but it was still a magnificent sweep.

The parking lot view

A misty journey

Rock formations

Our mystic trail

Rock ledges at the main overlook

It was a northern wattle bird, we think

Possibly northern wattle fungus?

Keywords: australia

09/09/15 - MacKenzie Falls

We continued to explore the Northern Grampians, heading off to see MacKenzie Falls. We had no idea what to expect. We hiked a bit through an exotic forest, found a small waterfall, and were reasonably impressed. Then we walked down the stairway. The staff was installing handrails, so we had a brief wait, but the falls were magnificent. There was a wonderful profusion of water falling down the aged cliff face.

We got lost on the way back, so we wound up getting another view of the falls from the far side. Even better, there were parrots posing in the bushes by the trailside.

Exotic forest

Exotic plains

MacKenzie Falls

More waterfalls

One of the parrots

Rock formations

MacKenzie Falls from across the way

A cockatoo

Even more falls

Keywords: australia

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