Friday, 9 February 2018

2016 Victoria Trip - Warrnambool, Portland, Mt Gambier & Port MacDonnell

  Following our wonderful flight over the Apostles, we decided to use Warrnambool as our next base. This lovely town is on the western edge of The Great Ocean Road & there was still lots to explore in that region.

This is Middle Island, just off the coast. Middle Island became quite famous as there was a small Little Penguin colony roosting & breeding there. The problem was that at low tide foxes would cross over to the island & decimate the colony numbers which dropped to a low of 10 by 2005.
 After much training an ingenious local placed 1 of his beloved Maremma dogs on the island to keep foxes at bay & be a guard dog to help save the Penguin colony.
The movie "Odball" put the town & the penguin colony on the map & the Maremma dog saved the colony.

Under grey skies we visited Port Fairy

A walk around Griffith Island for me to check out where some oceanic birds called Shearwaters nest. It is not nesting season so I didn't see any of these birds, but it was great to see the nesting site just the same.

 It's an extremely windy day.

Driving around Port Fairy.

Further west along the coast was the town of Portland. Again the rugged coast line continues to  impress us.

Not far from Cape Neslon lighthouse was this impressive walk Enchanted Forest Walk.
The path descends into an area with bower spinach vines hanging down from Moonah trees which gives the enchanted forest feel.

There was a lookout point with great views of waves coming in & filling up a big crack in the rocks.

Further along that road was Cape NelsonLighthouse.

Portland is also well know amongst the bird watching community with a breeding Gannet Colony.
The birds breed on a 40 m space rock edge of the mainland as well as up to 10,000 birds breeding on this island.

Cape Bridgewater is a short 22km drive west of Portland. This small peninsula has an abundance of natural attractions, most caused by erupting volcanoes & other natural events millions of years ago.

The Petrified Forest formed when the forest of Moonah trees were smothered by a large sand dune. Water seeping through the sand formed a crust of sandstone on the outside of the trunks, decaying the organic matter, leaving behind petrified trunks.

Nearby were the blowholes, but the tides were  wrong to see more impressive blows.

The Seal colony walk was quite picturesque for the 2 hr return walk. Some fitness is needed.

After 1 hr of walking, we finally came to the seal colony, at least 50 - 80 m below our cliff top walk.

A pair of Pacific Gulls also cruise by.

The steps to the beach near the cafe. In the distance is the seal colony.

We also found some limestone caves near Cape Bridgewater.

Portland has numerous industries that require a deep water port for exporting.

We saw thousands of hectares of pine forests in the SW of Victoria & wood chip is exported.
There's an alumina smelter nearby. There' s a significant fishing industry with 60 vessels operating in the deep waters near Portland.
Portland also has a significant wind farm in the Cape Bridgewater , Cape Nelson & Cape Sir William Grant & Yambuk area which forms the 1 of the largest wind farms in the southern hemisphere.

We continued on the road westwards to cross the Victorian / South Australian border stopping at Port MacDonnell which is along the coast line south of Mt Gambier.
We were in Port MacDonnell for me to go on a boat trip out to the continental shelf for viewing of ocean birds like Albatross'.
Sadly the boat trip was cancelled due to inclement weather.

Cape Northumberland is just a couple of k's west of Port Mac. The coastline is rocky & quite rugged giving spectacular views once again.

Cape Northumberland is the southern most point of South Australia.

We had our caravan in tow when we passed through Nelson just inside the Victorian border, so we returned to checked out the area. There were numerous colourful houses along the local river

We moved to Mt Gambier to cast our Federal Election vote as absentees, but it was raining most of the day to check out any of the local attractions such as the Blue Lakes.

We had to make a hasty retreat back to our home in Qld as my elderly mother had just broken her ankle, so our holiday came to an abrupt end.

When we passed through these areas 3 months earlier, the entire region was dry, barren &  very brown. Significant rainfalls had changed the scenery for our journey home.

Local flooding beside the highway was in stark contrast to desolate brown farm paddocks we saw 3 months earlier.

It took us 4 long driving days with our caravan in tow to get back to our home in Brisbane, crossing the Qld border at Goondiwindi.

We had a terrific trip touring most areas of Victoria during our 3 1/2 months there.

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