Ron the two by four and more

Once I left wet Marrawah, I headed across towards Launceston where I thought I’d camp for the night as I had nothing better to do with the poor [pour] weather. But about 30 minutes before Launceston, the clouds buggered off and I got some sun which encouraged me to go further! So I made it all the way to Kempton that day – just 40 minutes outside of Hobart! Unfortunately, I arrived a bit too late to get a key to the shower block at the campsite where I stayed, but that is a day in the life of the vanpacker!

I decided the next day to go meet up with Chrissy and the other plant-bandits near Freycinet – a 2.5 hour drive, some of which was back-tracking north! But it was a fantastic drive, with an even better end-point near wineglass bay!

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The mountains above Wineglass Bay and Freycinet
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Coles Bay on our walk over a saddle between the mountains

 

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Chrissy and Leander, taking a rest
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Wineglass Bay – I’m told it got its name from the colour it turned when the whalers killed whales in it… Like a wine-glass. Yeah much less romantic now, huh?

 

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Coles bay again
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Coles Bay plus a setting sun

After a lovely afternoon and evening with the plant people, I headed out towards Hobart to find bees along the way and a camp! Well, I found no bees despite the good weather. It really does seem like bee season is coming closer and closer to an end… I did however manage to find a camp at a scout-managed piece of land just South of Hobart, which was really quite nice to camp for $10. And that evening, I shared my campfire with an Irishman, a Canadian and a Dutchy… No joke.

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Some more Tassy coastline
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The road West of Orford
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Tasmanian Bushland Garden! Good place to find bees? Not really… Nice walk though
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Even has a guide rope and all – being a moderate hazard of course it needed one
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Found a cool little Bug (Hemiptera) as well – it didn’t need a rope
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And a T-rex thing
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Also this little ball of ouch!
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The Road to Hobart is quite cool as well, with two bridges(?) crossing over some lovely waters
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There were signs warning of sea spray!
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Hobart: only 15 “Wakkas” away…

So I thought, maybe I can find bees tomorrow! But come morning, the weather wasn’t looking great: cold and rainy, not good conditions for bees! Well, I tried to find what I could but was again thwarted. So I decide to drive around the Tasman and Foresteir Peninsulas to see what could be seen!

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A private [and decrepit] jetty
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Tasman National Park Lookout

Tessellated Pavement – a natural formation at Eaglehawk Neck

Lime Bay

Lime Bay rock formations/patterns

As you can see, I found some pretty cool places! And Lime Bay had a great campground on the coast for only $13/night. But there were too many people there (c.a. 10). I thought, “You know what? Tonight I’ll stay somewhere no one else is, and maybe find some Tasmanian Devils!” I knew that there were some devils on the Forestier Peninsula. But there weren’t many free campsites on wiki camps, so I decided to take a little road out East of Murduna. I knew that it wound its way close to the coast, and through some forest that looked pretty wild, and that was enough for me!

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Yep, nice forest (although I understand it is mostly regrowth after a big fire and, prior to that, logging

Everything was going pretty well. I even took a turn onto another road that my GPS had marked but google didn’t which seemed to get closer to the coast! But…

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Turns out that road was kaput. But where was my warning?!
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Ahh, there it is!
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On closer inspection the damage is much worse than I thought, the road being eaten away 1-2m under the road!
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No way I’ll risk bringing Ron over that! (Although I see others have done so by the tracks)
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Hey, look I found a sign!
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Schofields road wasn’t great
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I had to get out and walk through a lot of puddles to make sure I could get past – I couldn’t turn around, and I certainly wasn’t backing out!
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So Maybe I’ll stay here tonight… It’s hard to see the big wet ruts along the road, next to the car, but they are there!

I went through quite a few puddles, ruts and other miscellaneous hazards without being able to turn Ron around, so I thought that I’d stay here the night… I had a look around, and even found the end of what must be a fantastic bush walk coming out here, with an arrow pointing back towards a car park (which I never went to) a few kms back up the road! Where you can find out about this walk, I’m not sure, but I think it’d be amazing – wet, mossy rainforesty stuff, maybe extending to the shore? I only speculate, but I may look into this for future reference. It would be a wild walk! (I found it, and it does indeed extend to the shore – 10km, mostly on Richardsons road (from the carpark), at the end of which is a barrier stating 2 hours return, which is apparently a bit optimistic – http://www.portarthurtasmania.net/cape-surville-bushwalk.html)

Back to the story though. I told both my parentals and Chrissy my coordinates in case I ran into troubles. But my parents thought maybe I should get out in case it got wetter overnight and I got bogged. Sounds reasonable, so I did! And thankfully with no worries, as it was a pretty steep and muddy incline with a sharp right hand bend with a huge tree chopped up close on either side (quite fun actually). Thankfully under the mud was [mostly] gravel, so there wasn’t [too much] slipping and sliding!

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This is just past the top of that slippery hill, I didn’t want to stop on the boggy parts to take pictures
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A crop of the above image shows one side of the chopped up tree (almost as tall as Ron) at the crest of the hill and on the sharp right hand turn. I’d guess the gap is 1.5x the width of Ron, so not too much wiggle room when you’re… literally wiggling!
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So I made it to drier (although less wild and beautiful) grounds.

It’s not hard to see why people think the trees are talking to them. When you stand in the calm of the early evening and hear the rustle of the wind through the leaves, and the soft creaks and groans of the old gums towering above, you are reminded of a long slow conversation of which you are not a part… Yet, you may be the subject of discussion.

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These musings made me hungry so I thought it was time to cook up a storm!
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Another grey fantail!
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And a very cool flower! …It had a crab spider waiting in it when I arrived

That night was the coldest I’ve had yet! I slept in thermal pants, clothes and jacket under my blanket (at which point I was nice and toasty). I managed to find some cool spiders, moths, a couple of possums and something else that I never saw in proper light! Perhaps a bandicoot, but it was pretty big for a bandicoot… I like to think that it was a devil 😛

Anyway, next morning I set off pretty early in hopes of finding some animal life still out and about on the roads! But then I heard a funny noise from under Ron when I reached a certain rev count….

I had a peak underneath the car, and quickly saw that it was a guard plate, which had been knocked pretty hard (by a stone the previous day… I actually remember the bugger). So I took off the plate for a closer look…

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Yep, pretty dinted alright!

It was time for me to use the only tool in Jeremy Clarkson’s toolbox: The hammer.

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And what do you know? Maybe I should take up part-time work as a panel beater?

As luck would have it though, I snapped off a bolt while undoing the damn thing, so I had to zip-tie it back on with my only zip tie! But, panels beaten, bolts substituted with zip-ties, I was ready to go again! Now that’s what cousin Pete would call bush-spec!

Once again though, the clouds and the cold kept the bees away… All I caught that day, was a rather impressive 7.5cm long Gasteruptid wasp (2.5cm body, 5cm ovipositor!). I decided then that it was time to get a service, after all it had been 10 000 km since Perth! I did this in the little town of Forcett, 30 minutes East of Hobart (I was trying to think of a joke about the name, but my creative juices weren’t flowing, and I didn’t want to Forcett). After this, I drove to Hobart and spent a couple of hours parked above Hobart, watching some wallabies having a good time watching the city and eating some grass/wallaby pellets left by a resident.

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The Gasteruptid – a parasitoid of solitary wasps and bees
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The country life isn’t exciting enough for some wallabies
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City slicker
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Wallaby surveying its domain – I can only imagine, that it tells its joeys “One day Joe, all of this will be yours. Everything the light touches is part of our kingdom.” (Damn wallabies think that they own the place)
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All the while, this little dog watched me. Seriously, for like two hours!
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And here is camp for tonight – the urban jungle!
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Good morning, Hobart

Kilometres travelled: 21 339

Bee count: 157

James

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Straight across the Bass!

Well, I managed almost two full days of photographing bees at the Victorian Museum after meeting up with bee expert and senior curator, Ken Walker. While I wasn’t in the museum, I got to catch up with a bunch of friends local to Melbourne, Byron, and QLD (Seeing as everyone seems to migrate to Melbourne)! So Melbourne was a good time, I’ll need to spend a couple more evenings there on my return as who knows when I’ll see them next (I intend to make it sooner rather than later this time).

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A gold-covered (yes literally) Lasioglossum (Chilalictus) lineatum from the Victorian museum. Bees are covered in gold in order to take Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) images, otherwise the electrons go through the cuticle and they get photos of their innards! Bee is about 6.5mm long and lookin’ faaaaabulous!

After all of these meets and photos, I finally had to go and catch the ferry across to Tassy. An hour and a half of sleep was all I needed (all I got) to drive to the ferry terminal and await boarding. The boarding process took over an hour, I managed to stay awake for the whole time, but not the whole time on the ferry!

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Waiting in line, waiting in line…

Well, as it turns out you aren’t allowed any fruit or veg on the ferry (no worries), but you also aren’t allowed any flammables including fuel in a jerry can (into the car, plus some of another guy’s fuel) and absolute ethanol… ooops!

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Yes, this is how bright it was by the time I got onto the actual ferry!
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Auf Wiedersehen, Victoria!
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Hello Tasmania! That was quick wasn’t it? …I wouldn’t know I was probably asleep…
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Thanks Spirit of Tasmania I (in my booking confirmation e-mail they thanked me for choosing the spirit of Tasmania… as if I had another choice! 😛 )
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Another sporting field to sleep at, this one was full because it was so close to Devonport, where the Ferry comes in!

Obviously, I needed to start my hunt for bees ASAP, as this is the only reasonable thing to do when encountering a new place. So I drove around with a vague destination in mind – Gowrie Park, near Sheffield, where my roommate and some of her lab were camped. Unfortunately for them, they are plant people and were forced to work with boring leaves and branches…

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An introduced European wasp eating an introduced European honeybee, why can’t Europeaners seem to get along with each other?
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Another introduced pest – Bombus terrestris a bumblebee, again from Europe, maybe Australia has a problem with Europeaners coming in and setting up shop

Needles to say I did find some natives as well in amongst all of the introduced species. But most of those were found on the weedy little flowers covering the ground next to this garden plant!

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Yep, on these boring little yellow buggers! The red flowers only seemed to have European honeybees visiting them.
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Is that you Cradle Mountian?
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Oh yes!
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Got a bag of plums, purple on the outside, green on the inside! Why I share this is because the moneybox was open inside, with all [I assume] money intact! Hurrah!
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Now this looks like more natural habitat than earlier right?
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And these look like native flowers!
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And lots more where they came from! So yes I found some more bees!

Chrissy and her lab were busy ahhh, working up the Cradle Mountain walk, so I waited in the car park taking photos of bees and disturbing other motorists (I assume, I just don’t look outside). Anyway, the lab head, Leander came speeding back to the car on foot and took off in a bit of a hurry.. I guessed that I wouldn’t be seeing them in a hurry then! …They had missed the last shuttle bus back, or so they thought. Anyway, I decide to make my way to where they would be camping, in my slow and meandering stop here and there way!

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In Tasmania, macropods are encouraged to try and powerlift cars it seems. But only during the hours of dusk to dawn… And only cars going less than 65km/h. You know that last one actually seems reasonable.
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More mountainous roads! Heck yes!
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Hydro power! – Wilmot Power Station
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Lake Cethana, not to be confused with lake Cthulu. Lake Cthulu, while equally scenic is infinitely more horrific.
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Forth River (I don’t know what happened to the previous three… Maybe something to do with lake Cthulu)
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It’s also safe to say that these trees are tall!
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So the European wasps have learned to come to cars to eat the dead insects off the front bumper when they stop! Not pictured are the other dozen or so checking out my car…
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What a lookout! (HDR)… Yes I was looking at the wasps over this. I might have a problem.
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Then I found an even better spot to lookout from
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Oh yes, Tassy!

Now that was a bit of a picture tangent! I did eventually meet up with Chrissy and her lab in their cabin, where I was to stay the next two nights! Of course they beat me there besides my sizeable head start! After much good-natured chat and braiding of hair (fortunately not mine), we all got to bed to go our separate ways the next day!

I don’t have a great deal to share from the next day’s bee hunting, but I did manage to find four more species in a plant out the front of a lovely couple’s house, who came out and had a chat to me and were surprised to see something other than the bumblebee (“Those bloody bastards” – a bit of paraphrasing there but you get the idea) and the European honeybee (“Bush bee”). I did roam out almost to Launceston before coming back, as the more East I went, the less natural bush and flowers there seemed to be!

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Tasmanian place names… I wonder what the second one is like
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Some tall moss near the cabin that afternoon
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We had a gold-covered bee earlier, now we just have a golden bee! It looks black to the naked eye… but green or gold depending on the incident light angle a little closer up!

I decided to bugger off to the North-Western corner of Tassy the next day to see what I could find! I did see plenty of flowers, including various coloured Eucalypts (great for native bees)! But, I was thwarted by the poor weather, so I had a wet drive out, a wet stay, and a wet drive back the next day! Just as I had decided to camp near Launceston though, the clouds broke and the sun poked out from the clouds, quickly drying the roads and allowing me to make my way closer to Hobart! And so now, I am camped in Kempton. Tomorrow I might find Chrissy and her lab, and hopefully some bees!

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Sure beats my parent’s bikes! Although probably not as functional…
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Too wet outside? No worries, wraps’ll sort me!
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Lovely view from the car, but there is just a bit too much water in the way!

Kilometres travelled: 20 500

Bees: 157

James

SA to Vic; crossing another line

 

I managed to leave the Cooroong National Park in one piece, after reading of some disturbing happenings that occurred at the same time that I was there. Thankfully the most violence that I observed while there was that inflicted by some red ants on a European honeybee!

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Red ants subduing a European Honeybee; it started with one ant holding on like a vice and ended like this.

The road to Victoria wasn’t a terribly long one with only a few hours of driving along the coast towards Robe, then inland to Mount Gambier coming across a few different habitat types, including some fairly large pine plantations, especially closer to the Victorian border! I decided upon a great campsite near the Princess Margaret Caves just over the border. There I met a lovely Dutch couple, who I spent the night and morning chatting to and just generally taking it easy (I think I only had a few bees to photograph that night).

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Pine plantations everywhere!
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Yep, another state sign for Ron to pose in front of (bloody show-off)
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Princess Margaret Road, sided on one side by pine plantation, and the other a thin strip of native gum forest.

After a beautiful night under the gum trees near the border I set off towards the Great Ocean Road and Port Campbell. Along the way I got to see some pretty cool stuff, including: What appears to be a rather large real-life map marker, an extremely curious horse, a freaking volcano lake (I should really read more about things as apposed to making outlandish guesses…) and a pretty alright ocean road!

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Circle marks the spot?
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No one but this horse was interested in the guy with a butterfly net on the side of the road (it earned itself some nose pats… Just consider how many ppl missed out on nose pats!)

 

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Freaking Volcano Lake. I’m open to other suggestions. I also promise that there is some water on the other side of the island

 

The Bay of Islands: Great Ocean Road

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Port Campbell: Home for the night around this sports field – free drinking water nearby, why thank you!
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Port Campbell in the morning yes with some tourists taking touristy photos (not what I do, I never do that… Really)

After spending a bit of time relaxing at Port Campbell and turned my sights on Apollo Bay, where I intended to stay 1 or 2 nights before heading on to Lorne and eventually Melbourne. Needless to say I saw some really cool coastline and had a lovely drive along the Great Ocean Road before reaching the lovely, relaxing town of Apollo Bay.

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One of the Great Ocean Road’s many bays… It probably has a name that I should remember
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The end of the world? …At least a stairway to heaven
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The Coast
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SherBrook River, which at least at this point in time never made it to the ocean (directly behind me)
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Loch Ard Gorge
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One of many black swans in a wetland next to Princetown
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The view from The Great Ocean Road
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The amazing township of Apollo Bae

I wasn’t sure where I wanted to stay when I got to Apollo. I spent some time chilling at the harbor, before driving around town and just out of town to do some editing. There aren’t really any free campsites in the area, so I decided to go and stay at a hostel which would cost me $15/night to stay in my van and use their facilities, great! While I was by the beach, a random guy decided to pull up behind me while I was parked, beep his horn and tell me that he would fine me if I stayed the night… Yeah, I think that he might need to get a job as a ranger first!

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The beach in front of where I stopped to do my editing, facing West towards Apollo Bay

Once I booked in to the hostel, I was immediately met with an amazing group of people also staying there! We chatted a little into the night, and I went for a trip to see some waterfalls with one of them (Camille) the next day.

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The track to Marriners Falls
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It was actually closed due to tree falls
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We did not see any evidence of tree falls though, so it was all good!
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The path to Beauchamp falls
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The falls at Beauchamp Falls
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The road back down the hill to Apollo Bay

 

Well, that took most of the day. So the next day I decided to try and find some bees in the town itself. I did find one species in the late morning, but it was still a bit chilly for the poor buggers. So I decided to go for a quick fish (where I once again caught nothing) and take some photos of birds, while I relaxed near the water! After that I did manage to find some more bees, but only one more species that I hadn’t already collected elsewhere. Funnily enough the native bees seemed to prefer the white, followed by the pink but not orange coloured flowering Eucalypts along the street, but the European honeybees didn’t seem to show preference.

A female Superb Fair Wren and Grey Fantail

The next day again I decided to give the bees a rest (it was too bloody cold for them to be out and about anyway). So I went for a drive with one of the other ‘residents’ Fleur, who had to drop off and pick up a friend along the great ocean walk. So we just drove around, saw a re-introduced Magpie Goose, some more cliffs, free coffee and free water for hikers!

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Apparently magpie geese were made locally extinct and subsequently re-introduced from the Northern Territories. I feel bad for the first one to come from tropical NT to freezing Victoria though, talk about cold feet!
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More awesome cliff-faced coast with Kelp forests!
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Free coffee (for some reason from Telstra) at a café that likes babies and boobies.
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A lovely resident leaves out water for the hikers going along the 103km Great Ocean Walk (the only way to do the trip without experiencing horrible tourist drivers trying to kill everyone and everything)
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We then went to the harbour at night for a quick look. I decided to go barefoot, which was all right until we got to the path along the rock wall with individually sharpened stones set into the path 😉

Next day, being too cold for bees (again) I went with a couple of people from the hostel to see the lighthouse at Cape Otway, and go to a talk by some bush-tucker guy. Obviously we saw some cool stuff along the way, such as lots of koalas (often marked by a dozen or so cars and the upward-facing eyes of tourists… Such as ourselves).

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Koala and baby
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The Cape Otway Lighthouse

I had to leave a little before the rest however, as I wanted to make it to Melbourne before dark! As such, I headed off at around 3:30 to complete the Great Ocean Road. Of course it was equally as amazing as the first half, and just as many poor drivers! I got to see some burnt-out hillsides and houses along the way, as well as a sign to declare that I had just driven along the Great Ocean Road (in case I didn’t already know by this point 😉 ).

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A burnt hillside
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The Great Ocean Road
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Ron’s home in Melbourne for the night, near a friend’s house

Today, it is off to the Victorian Museum!

Bee count: 148

Kilometres travelled: >19 000

The desert… Again?!

Last you heard from me I had been doing some very efficient fishing (while admittedly not actually catching any fish efficiently…) and visiting the SA museum and getting seduced by promises of honours projects in Fiji and the like. Oh dear! You might be happy to hear that I have indeed left Adelaide, and then managed to return (like I did in Perth and will in Melbourne) before leaving again. But Adelaide of course, being another city, isn’t really the exciting part of the journey (perhaps excluding my visits to the SA museum and Flinder’s Uni).

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Callohesma matthewsi from the SA museum

I was given some advice by the good entomology people of the SA museum that Lake Eyre was currently holding water (a fairly uncommon occurrence I am told). As such, I decided a trip there might be warranted and was advised on a route to take (which I didn’t completely take in the end). Essentially it would entail quite a bit of unsealed road, and a little bit of dodgy-windy-rocky-roady-stuff… Which naturally was quite stunning! After quite a bit of dirt roads and [often surprising] bitumen roads, I made camp at Marree, next to the pub (for free!)

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No, that is not one of the roads I took, but it is a cool path leading off to… Well your guess is as good as mine really.
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A better part of the dodgy-windy-rocky-roady-stuff through the Flinder’s ranges National Park (there were a lot of [dry] creek crossings).
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A brief escape onto sealed road along the outback highway

A few bits of salty dirt… yes I had to see what it looked like up close, who do you think I am?

Before leaving Marree the next day, I was given a bit of a warning in the shape of an advisory sign prior to the next c.a. 400km of unsealed road. Nothing says, “have fun” like a long list of ‘precautions’ under a bold ‘WARNING’ sign…

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No really, I mean it! It should be a blast

The unsealed road WAS actually quite fun and beautiful, with the added bonus of seeing oncoming vehicles (for the few that I saw) well before they got to you due to a giant cloud of dust on the horizon! The only drawback was the occasional hidden bump and bottoming-out of Ron… Ooops! Getting to Lake Eyre (South.. the dry part) was really quite amazing. With miles of white stretching almost to the horizon and a two-inch thick salty crust to walk on (after a bit of walking through vaguely salty mud), it was truly a sight to behold [and occasionally taste].

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Dirt roads out to Wazoo
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An oncoming truck and associated dust plume
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Footprints in the mud, leading out to the thicker salt (certainly not all made it)
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Naturally, there is some rubbish… I bet you wish I’d can it with the trashy pictures right? …Sorry, that joke was rubbish
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A misguided roo must have had a hard time traversing the mud!
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I know that this beetle did
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Heck so did I, but I know at least that I made it there and back (albeit saltier than before)
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Salt to the horizon
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…But only a little way under my feet. It really felt like I was walking on icy snow. If I could manage to forget the hot wind!

The question remained though as to whether or not I could see Lake Eyre filled with water! To be answered, I would need to travel to William Creek; the home of $2/L fuel, 6 people and a dog (you can’t make this up people).

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More unsealed road and flat horizons
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The William Creek fire truck (I wonder which of the 6 people operates it… or is it the dog?)

At least here my question could be answered! It was a no. Oh well, off to Coober Pedy then! A very interesting town home to some very friendly people and very pretty rocks. For $5/ night I was given a place to park and sleep in my van, have a shower and take some photos (to the curiosity of some Portuguese hitchhikers in and adjacent vehicle and a perpetually hungry [fat] dog). After this stay I went to visit one of the local underground churches, where I met the Pastor, Brian. Now I know that I have not met many pastors before (in fact Brian may be the first), but he was undoubtedly the friendliest pastor that I have ever met (or at least can remember meeting… crap). He shared with me the history of his church (half hand-dug by the people in Coober Pedy from various religions on volunteered time and half dug by machine). Followed by bringing me to a nearby larger church, entirely dug by machine (and in my eyes not as nice as Brian’s church).

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Australian engineering – an opal-digging… thing!
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Brian’s [hand dug] church
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The neighboring Serbian Orthodox church
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The inside, dug by machine with a few hand carvings (yeah, a bit bigger)

After Coober Pedy, there was nothing to it but to return to Adelaide and continue south before heading East again towards Victoria. The road south is quite long and so I stopped at Weeroona Island (near Port Pirie), which at times was overwhelming with mosquitoes, but otherwise quite beautiful (And home to a few bees). But after that, it was off to Adelaide in the morning to replace my blower fan for the aircon, which I managed with a tarago blower. Subsequently I thought that there might be some further underlying problems with the air actually getting to my face in any meaningful amount (that’s for later I guess).

Of course, before getting very far, I had a failed blinker globe that I needed to replace. Naturally the afformentioned blinker was in the least convenient place ever and I needed to spend the night in Gawler awaiting a mechanic that I was recommended at Supercheap Auto. I found a really nice (and somewhat secluded) park around the corner to camp in overnight. When I made it to the mechanic at ~8 AM, it only took 15 minutes and a bit of head scratching to have the globe replaced (by turning the wheels to one side and removing the mud guard in the wheel well!).

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Towards Port Pirie and Weeroona Island
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From Weeroona Island to the ‘mainland’ – a long causeway “subject to tidal flooding” joins the island to the mainland.

The road south of Adelaide (once I got on it) is also really quite stunning and considerably less flat and straight! It was even at points, “ALL COVERED IN BEES!” (- Eddie Izzard, thanks Jem).

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Nice corners huh?
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Check out the curves!
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Some bees for the SA Museum! (I admit the road wasn’t really “ALL COVERED IN BEES”, but there were quite a few on the adjacent Melaleucas!

Today then I have made it as far as the Cooroong, a 130km long stretch of coastal lagoons, really quite nice. I believe that I have made it to the same campsite as the one that me and some of my friends stayed at last year on our road trip south! If it is the same, it has changed a bit with the seasons – no longer covered in mossy ground and a lot drier! BUT Very close to quite a few flowering Melaleucas… Excellent!

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A free 24-hour ferry along our route!
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My campsite! …Until I discovered the giant system of ant nests directly to the left of Ron… Maybe a bit further from this spot then.
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Flowering Melaleucas and Ron’s footprints

Bee count: 139

Kilometers travelled: 18 300

West to East

Three weeks in WA, that’s quite a while. I thought that I should really high-tail it outta there in case I never leave! So I shot east with only the border in mind and a GPS slowly ticking down from a fairly large time to arrival. The landscape is actually really nice along the southern part of WA, and there is still cool wildlife along the roads. Mostly it buggers off if you stop or slow down, like wedge-tailed eagles and goannas, but apparently not blue-tongues! Anyway, I made camp once again in the middle of no-and-where (I really like that place apparently), off the road a little and in some lovely scenery!

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The campsite for that night, overlooking some cool woodlands

 

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Showers moving across the land like big curtains
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The sunset

But all good places must come to an end… or at least I have to leave them, and I hit the road again, planning to be over the border for my next camp! Again I saw more wildlife (more wedge-tails high-tailing it when I slow down), and some more interesting sights! For example an old mine shaft perhaps… I noticed it fairly quickly, but it wouldn’t have been hard not to…. I also got to drive on Australia’s longest straight bit of road! I never realized how much the odd corner added to the driving experience until now…

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This is what a lot of the roads in Australia look like… Long!
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Wedge-tail eagles
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Pulling over to look at some flowers…
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Do you see that over there?
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What about now?
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Yeah… 10-15m deep I’d guess (I threw a rock down and listened, like any self-respecting 10 year old would)
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A long, straight road essentially

Some time after the straight road I was all of a sudden driving down a hill and greeted with a view of a very different landscape! I’m guessing that the landscape below was once under the ocean, and the sudden drop may have been the cliff facing the ocean? Not long after that though, I made it into SA and got to camp on the coast on a c.a.75m high cliff facing the ocean! Amazing views, amazing sunset… amazing winds!

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This new landscape; looks almost like African savannah
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Another border sign
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The track to the coast (~30km into SA)
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A pod of dolphins from the cliffs
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Some of the cliffs’
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Lovely textures in the ocean
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Facing West (HDR)
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My camp!
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Sunset… they are always too tempting to not capture

A couple of the last WA bees that I’ll collect for awhile!

Next day was a fairly big day of driving towards Adelaide. A lot of the coast in SA and across the border in WA seems largely undeveloped and is thus really nice to drive through. Hours of wilderness, and varying degrees of coastal and arid heath! And camp for the night was once again on the coast, but this time on an actual beach! It was also the start of a three day fishing stint for me!

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Everywhere I go there is always road rubbish and one thing that I have noticed is that there always seems to be a spam tin… Why is there always spam? Who even eats spam?!
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The definitely 2wd friendly road to the beach
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Another campsite, not very level, but a great location!

After a lovely but windy night camping on the beach I set off again towards Port Augusta. Not far from my campsite (which I had chosen due to its proximity to the water for fishing), I stopped at another site to have a look. I kind of regretted this, as this site was better and I would have been able to safely drive my van right onto the beach in a better location! My campsite was very good the night before… This one was just better.

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Dayum!
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It even comes complete with a big ‘ol yellow tractor

Moving forward from my error I found a giant ant, and some cool info on it at a servo (very exciting, even though they are basically bees’ less popular cousins), as well as a giant galah. It seems that Australians really like to make big things… For example some more big mines that I passed.

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That’s a big ant
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Don’t say you never learned anything from this blog
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The big galah wasn’t as exciting for me, as I walked passed one [Tas] most days in my share house
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A hill? No, a mine.

Anyway, approaching Port Augusta was quite nice, traveling through some more awesome landscapes (again mostly arid ones). Unfortunately I shot right through to camp at a place quite highly recommended on wikicamps just south of the city itself in a conservation park called ‘Winninowie’ (yes, I know what you are thinking… And I did indeed have to look up the spelling). The reviews, like the knife never lies (…I listened to the book Cloud Street recently…). The place was great! Doug the apparent mayor of the site is a climate/marine scientist who gets to live there in a nice house and chat to all of the people who come by, being more than helpful with advice etc. So I got to chat to him, pat his dog (the thing lives for pats) and park right next to the water’s edge!

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The road to Port Augusta
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The dog that lives for pats (he’s also on a diet… not a pat diet though)
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I know I said right on the water’s edge, but….
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…Come high tide (from the step on my van door)
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The mangroves from the Jetty
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Efficient fishing (so that I could edit photos at the same time as fish… plus it was cold outside!)

After this I have failed to take any photos, but rest assured that it has been as lovely as ever, and I have had a couple of nights in Adelaide so far. I have met with some people at the SA museum to see their photography area, discussed honours options (I may well be coming down here for this… we will see) and taken some photos of the bees in their collection (using my own gear). Tomorrow  will be my last day here before I head north towards Lake Eyre for a few days!

Until then,

James

Kilometres travelled: <16,000

Bee count: ~109