Australia – Melbourne and Brisbane Part 1

Part 1

September October 2019

When both Sally and I go to Australia we have two goals. The first is to spend time with Sally’s two sons and their families in and around Melbourne and to see how her Grandchildren are growing up. Of course while there we take the opportunity to bird too and we have covered many of the different birding locations in Victoria.

The second part of our trip is to spend time birding in different locations around the country. In this respect we have explored Sydney and the Blue Mountains including Capertee Valley; Cairns and the Tablelands; Perth and the South West; Darwin and Katherine including Kakadu National Park; and now Brisbane including Noosa, Lamington NP and Bowra Wildlife Sanctuary. (These trips are all recorded in this blog. Simply use the search box to find them).

Our bird list at each location will be available to view in the second part of the following post. It will be about our time birding around Brisbane.

(Note: Clicking on a photo will enlarge it).

Part 1.

Melbourne and surrounds

18 September to 7 October 2019

Our journey to Melbourne was fraught with one major five hour delay in Johannesburg. At first we were told by Qantas (fortunately not SAA) that there would be an hour delay due to technical difficulties. After an hour they told us there would be a further delay of an hour as they were taking the parts apart. An hour later they mentioned that they were now trying to get all the bits together and perhaps we should have some dinner on them in the restaurant. Chaos as 350 people descended on the restaurant all at once. Eventually we boarded to Sally’s dismay as the perfume she had bought was not at the gate. The Duty Free had gone home. After much ado and several emails we were able to pick it up on our return.

So we arrive in Sydney too late for our flight and very close to curfew time at Sydney airport. But they had arranged for us to be on the last connecting flight to Melbourne. We arrived in a rush at the gate having raced through Immigration and Customs control. The plane had already started their engines as we boarded. They were desperate to get going before the curfew of 23h00 and the fines they would incur.

Our first two days were spent with Sally’s son, David and Katrina in Melbourne catching up with sleep and preparing for a five day family gathering on the Mornington Peninsula.

The Mornington Peninsula is at the bay entrance on the eastern side. We spent our five nights based in a lovely large modern home with views of the Bay.

Geelong to the west of the bay, Mornington and Phillip Island to the east of the bay entrance.

Numerous walks, lunches and even an attempt to get us into the sea. Sally and I refrained but the kids and parents all took a dip – insane. The kids climbing the jagged rock face to jump off into a pool.

Then there were our friendly Magpies which came when called to feast on our veranda.

On our windy and sometimes dribbly weather walks we did manage to see some interesting birds and a colourful butterfly.

There is a ferry which crosses the bay from Sorrento to Queenscliff. A one hour trip. It was interesting to see the other side of the bay and the quaint village of Queenscliff. On the way across we passed a small island with hundreds of Australian Gannets. Also some Australian Pied Cormorants and a 50 cm stingray to meet us as we docked.

David and Katrina very kindly let us have use of their vehicle for the rest of our stay in the Melbourne area. And so after the family get together in the Mornington Peninsula we were on our way to Phillip Island.

Sally’s boys had booked a cottage for us to enjoy two nights on Phillip Island – birthday presents. The cottage was cosy, well equipped and well located in a lovely little village – Rhyll.

From there we explored all the birding spots looking for the local specials. Most we had seen before on a previous visit. However we did find a pair of Hooded Plovers – an endangered species found in few locations and which we had not seen previously. This required a very early morning start to avoid people on the beach. Our timing was perfect.

Hooded Plover

In all we visited the Rhyll Inlet to look for waders; Phillip Island Nature Park and the beaches near Surf Beach for the Hooded Plovers; Nobbies to look for the Little Penguins; Swan Lake for waterbirds; San Remo Coastal Reserve (other side of the bridge) for waders and waterbirds; Churchill Island for waders and waterbirds; the Koala reserve to see the Koalas and inland birds plus a number of roads off the beaten track.

Some of the habitats

And some of the many birds and aminals we saw on Phillip Island.

Following our time in Phillip Island we headed back to Melbourne and spent a few days at Katrina and David’s home before heading to Bendigo.

On one day we took a drive to the Bellarine peninsula on the west side of the bay entrance. This is where the Werribee treatment plant (probably one of the best birding sites in Australia) is located. As we did not have a permit to enter we did our birding visiting local reserves in the area. Definitely not the same as a trip to Werribee.


Apart from the birds here is another interesting sighting that we had.

A real Hummer

Here are a few of the birds we saw.

On another day we met up with my niece, Fiz who is currently studying in Melbourne. We had a superb lunch together and then went for a walk in Albert Park to get some exercise.

There were dozens of Black Swans with cygnets in the park – all ringed as you can see.

Most of our last week was spent in Bendigo with Sally’s son, Philip and family. Bendigo is about 150 kms north and slightly west of Melbourne.

Bendigo is a fast growing city with protected architecture from the past gold mining era. Full of competing churches of different persuasions from that time when the town flourished.

In the centre of the city there is a large park surrounding a lake. Wildlife abounds in the park and they have a colourful Tulip garden.

The trees are full of Flying Foxes – huge bats. Literally hundreds of them if not thousands roosting by day.

The Tulip Garden:

And then the birds:

Alas, family time ended. We had a superb 19 days. And so on October 7th we headed to Brisbane for the second park of our trip. See Part 2 which follows on the blog.

Paul and Sally Bartho

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