Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mount Gambier, South Australia


I donít know when this will get up to the website, as Iím having internet problems (again!), but Iíll write it now, and weíll see when it can get posted.


I was all out of breakfast food this morning, so I went next door to the bakery and bought a chicken pie and a sausage roll, and I took them across the street to a picnic table in the park on Lake Albert.† Both items were great.† I noticed that the flies were bad, even at 7:30 in the morning, and then I noticed that at least some of them were mosquitoes, so I finished up in a hurry and got out of there.† I have had almost no problems with mozzies on the trip, Iím glad to report.† I think I had 2 or 3 bites, early on, and those rapidly stopped itching.† The flies were a big nuisance, but since the ones I have encountered so far donít actually bite you, I can live with them.


Today I had about 200 miles to travel, down the coast.† The road is not on the actual coast, but is several miles inland.† On the first part of the trip, there were lagoons on my right, with large sand dunes separating the very large lagoons from the ocean.† Any ocean access was strictly 4 WD, so I didnít see the ocean on that stretch.


There were some birds, and I stopped from time to time to look at them.† I had a nice conversation with a friendly guy in Salt Creek who showed me his garden where lots of birds come, but it was a cloudy morning, and nothing much was around.† I did manage to see and identify a small group of Yellow Thornbills, which pleased me.† I had seen them with local birder Keith, way back at the beginning of the trip, but this was closer looks and I felt good to be able to identify them myself.


I took a ďloop roadĒ out of Salt Creek, but didnít see anything interesting.† Back on the main highway, I saw a couple of pigeon-like birds in a long driveway, and I went back to check them out.† At first I thought they were Common Bronzewings, but when I got a better look at them, I decided they were Brush Bronzewings, a good bird, and one I hadnít seen on my trip so far.† I even got some pictures, I hope, although I havenít looked at them yet.† So, a trip bird, early in the day, and one I didnít really expect to see at this point in the trip.† I hope my pictures prove out my call of Brush Bronzewing.


I continued on down the road, taking a side route that took me along the coast more, through Robe and Beachport.† I took the detour to Cape Jaffa, hoping for my first look at the actual Southern Ocean.† I managed to see a couple of Kelp Gulls there, which was a second trip bird, but it wasnít actual ocean.† I had expected to see them somewhere along this coast, but it was nice to get them taken care of.† No pictures of them, but I may well see them again and get pictures.† Also at Cape Jaffa, I saw a male Musk Duck out in the sea.† I didnít know they went on salt water.† I counted Musk Duck in northern Victoria, at Lake Boga, but I had only seen a female.† The male has a weird protrusion hanging off the bottom of his bill, and I hope I got pictures that will show that.† It was very distant, though, so you may not see a picture.† It wasnít a bird I could count today, as I counted it before, but it is a fairly uncommon bird, so one I was glad to see and maybe get distant pictures of.


I went into the town of Robe, but it wasnít really on the ocean either, so was I still looking for the waves and such that I associate with the ocean.† It was lunch time by then, and I hadnít had the makings to make myself a sandwich this morning, and I didnít see anywhere in Robe to get something I wanted to eat.† So, I stopped at the grocery store and got some ham, some Diet Coke (on sale), and some potato chips (which I actually am saving for the next couple of days).† I found a park and had ham, cheese, and the rest of my tortilla chips for lunch, followed by my last caramel slice.† A great Rambler lunch, in a nice little park, sitting in the sunshine.


On the way out of Robe, I saw some birds and I went back, and one of them was a Caspian Tern.† That is a bird that I see in California, in the Monterey area, all the time, but this was the first time I had seen it on this trip.† Number three for the day!† I had expected to see one at some point, but again, it was good to get it taken care of.†† I hope I have pictures.


At the little town of Beachport, I again drove the mile or two to the town itself, and in this case, there was a signposted ďscenic driveĒ, so I took that.† It turned out to be very scenic indeed, my first real look at the Great Southern Ocean.† I took pictures and hopefully they will be posted eventually, when I can get time to process them and have a connection to upload them


On that scenic drive, at one stop I scanned the beach and saw a Hooded Plover.† Now, this was very exciting.† Hooded Plover is a pretty uncommon bird, and I was very pleased to actually see one.† I walked down onto the beach, in an attempt to get pictures, and I did get some pretty distant ones.† I donít know how they came out yet, as the bird was pretty far away.† Trip bird number four for the day.† Outstanding.


(I have looked at my pictures now, and the bird ones are all very distant, and thus not very satisfying, except some pictures I took of a Silver Gull.† Note pictures 6594 and 6595 Ė and see if you can see the difference in the pictures.† It is like one of those comic page things Ė look for the difference in the pictures.† Hint Ė look on the pavement under the bird.)


After that, I pretty much just motored on to my current digs.† I did stop a couple of times, and one time I thought I saw a Black-faced Cormorant, but it was in the wrong environment (lagoon, rather than out at sea), and I decided not to count it.† I should have looked at it longer, but I got greedy and tried to take a picture, and it flew before I could do so.† I might have a picture of it flying away, but that wonít be good enough to identify it, I donít think.


So, I finally pulled in to Mount Gambier (second largest city in South Australia, after Adelaide) at about 4:30 PM.† I stopped at the tourist information place and got a map and directions to a Woolworths and my motel.† I stocked up on dinner for tonight and a couple of breakfasts (chicken and vegetable pies, with some roasted chicken breast to supplement it, to bring up the protein) and also some bread, cheese, and ham for lunch sandwiches for the next couple of day.† I have a microwave tonight, so I got the steak and mashed potato dinner that I have enjoyed several times already.


I checked in and signed up for five hours of internet access (wi fi) for 10 bucks.† That is probably more than I would need, but it seemed cheap enough, compared to other places.† Well, it was cheap enough, but I could only barely ďseeĒ the network, with no bars, and I couldnít connect to do anything.† Another Aussie motel internet problem.† What is that?† 8 times?† 10 times?† They really seem to have a problem with wi fi over here.


So, I tried dial up.† I was able to dial and my provider answered the call, but then it cut off before it could connect.† It could be a problem at my provider (named Dodo Ė maybe that is a clue.† An extinct flightless bird?† That is the image they want to project?) or it could be a problem with the phone system here at the motel.† I would bet on the motel phone system, but there is nothing I can do about that.


Next, I moved on to Plan C.† They have a network cable in the office, and I was able to plug in there and get online to check my email and Instant Message with my friend Fred.† I donít know if I will take the time in the morning, or go back over there tonight, so I can get this up, or if I will wait until tomorrow night to do it (assuming my free wi fi of tomorrow night works!).† We will see.


That is my report for today, whenever it gets posted.† It turned out to be a pretty good day.† The drive wasnít nearly as boring as yesterday, and I stopped a number of times.† I also saw some birds Ė not only the four trip birds, but other interesting ones as well.† I really enjoyed seeing the ocean, too.


Tomorrow I move on, back into Victoria.† I will need to set my clocks ahead a half hour.† At the end of my drive, I will be on the Great Ocean Road, a road that runs right along the coast.† There are many great photo ops, and I hope to get a lot of pictures.† Unfortunately, the weather forecast isnít good, and rain or showers will probably interfere.† It was cloudy when I last was there, in 2004.† Weíll see how it goes.† I will have tomorrow afternoon and again Friday morning to see the best stretch, with the Twelve Apostles (only eleven now, actually, as one collapsed since my last trip in 2004).† The ďapostlesĒ are sandstone stacks offshore, and they make for very beautiful and dramatic scenery.† Weíll see how the weather cooperates.


Life rolls on.† This will get up onto the internet when it does.




This whole internet farce just keeps getting better and better.† I wrote this Ramblings and decided to put it up tonight.† The office here is supposed to be open until 8:30 PM.† So, I went over at 8:10, and there was a sign on the door that said the office closed early tonight, and there was a phone number you could call.† Can you imagine a motel in the USA that would close its office at 8 PM (or earlier - I donít know when it actually closed).† We arenít out in the country here, either Ė Mt Gambier is the second largest city in the state of South Australia, and we are in the middle of town.† Service businesses here are just different than in the good old USA.† Maybe Iíll see if I can get this up tomorrow morning.† I have processed a small Photos22, too, and maybe it can get up at the same time.† Iím not counting on anything, though, at this point.