Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Great Ocean Road - Revisited

The week after Tasmania, we stayed in Kyneton and took day trips around Victoria from there. We took my parents for a drive along the Great Ocean Road, spotting Koalas, Kangaroos, Wallabys, an Echidna and several beautiful birds along the way!

The White Kangaroo Blizzard gets a taste of the great outdoors

Let the Koala spotting begin!

Koalas are very picky eaters. They only munch certain types of Eucalyptus trees, and also make these trees their homes.

They like to eat the young leaves, near the top of the tree, at the ends of the branches.

And of course, they love resting.

Sleepy koala... The Eucalyptus leaves they have evolved to eat do not actually provide as much nutritional value as one would hope, so they have to eat a lot of them and store their energy for when they need it. The leaves may have also a mild anesthetic quality, or something that contributes to koalas' overall lethargic nature.

These two koalas ate up almost all the leaves in this tree, so they will have to move on to a different tree soon.

We spotted an echidna - a monotreme of the same egg-laying mammal family as the platypus. He was very shy, though and ran over to a burrow, where he stuck his head in and left the rest of his spiny body sticking out for defense, ostensibly playing dead.

Trying to get a better look at the echidna

Dad spotted a wallaby and managed to get pretty close to it before it took off.

A lovely Crimson Rosella

...and a male King Parrot

The winding Great Ocean Road

The Venus Grotto from above

Posing in front of the Venus Grotto

London Bridge, which fell down!

Sunday, January 6, 2013


My parents came to visit us in October just in time to see us moving out of our little studio apartment in Melbourne. We went on a nice little 5 day trip to Tasmania. We were all impressed with the island's natural beauty, history and culture. It was spring and all of the flowers were in bloom all at once. Flowers that have different times during the spring/summer season back home were all in bloom at the same time, making for a fragrant and fantastic experience.

Here are some photos from that trip to Tasmania

We stayed in a beautiful apartment in Hobart overlooking the town and mountains. It was fantastic - very clean and new. Two bedrooms, living room, kitchen, bathroom. The price was very reasonable.

Oh! And our apartment also had this balcony with a little table and two chairs where you could sit for breakfast.

Hobart Harbour

Dad and the seagulls

An interesting modern building by the harbor - I think they were bathrooms. This image appears in a time lapse I did that evening.

We couldn't figure out what kind of birds these were. We pulled over because we thought they were penguins, but they were not....
*I think I might have identified them - are they Cormorants?

A scenic outlook on our drive from Hobart to Port Arthur

Tasmania is mountainous, lush and green with lots of little islands surrounding the big one.

A lovely day

We spent most of the day at Port Arthur prison. It was actually a convict colony: built, run and home to convict sent from England to Australia for mostly petty crimes. The convicts were first sent to work off their time as indentured servants/slaves to free colonists on the mainland of Australia, but if they committed more crimes or misdemeanors once they got to Australia, then they were sent to Port Arthur. They would perform various duties, from constructing the very buildings that they would be held captive in, to chopping wood, cooking, cleaning, and even acting as overseers or whippers. Many a lashing was given on the green somewhere close to where this picture was taken. The large building in the foreground was where most of the inmates slept.

With bars on the windows, the place did not seem very inviting

Less than 200 years old, many of the buildings show signs of extreme, perhaps excessive wear for their age. This could be due to the fact that they were built by criminals who would have just as soon seen the buildings fall down while they were still being imprisoned in them.

The round building is a guard tower. In the back on top of the hill you can just see a sentinel that was used to communicate in an emergency situation like attempted escape. Many precautions were taken against convicts escaping, however. For one thing, although it isn't an island, at that time from 1833 - 1877 Port Arthur was only accessible by sea. The peninsula on which Port Arthur is located is naturally secure site, being surrounded by water (rumoured by the administration to be shark-infested). The 30m wide Eaglehawk Neck that was the only connection to the mainland was fenced and guarded by soldiers, man traps and half-starved dogs. Two prisoners did manage to steal the Commandant's boat, rowing it all the way to Sydney, but there they were apprehended and sent back to Port Arthur for countless lashings.

They would bury the dead out on an island, next to Point Puer - the boys' prison for 3000 boys aged 9-14 who were considered too young to work.

On our way up to the Commandant's house

The water was very clear (although allegedly shark-infested)!

The Church

The church behind some of the houses inhabited by the free people who lived and worked at Port Arthur

The "Separate Prison" - a prototypical form of solitary confinement. Each prisoner had his own cell and was required to wear a white hood whenever he could be seen by guards.

Prisoners had one hour of "exercise" per day, during which time they were brought to their own separate "yard" where they were forced to pace back and forth along the wall with the white hood over their head to keep their body and muscles in working order. They were not allowed to make any noise of any kind or communicate with anyone while they were in the Separate Prison.

 The next day we went to the Tahune Airwalk, where we strolled amongst the treetops in a tall, old Eucalyptus forest

The tree-breaker!!

A cantilever about 100m above the fork in the rivers

Wishing tree