Thursday, 6 March 2014

Melbourne: The Surrounds

I'd seen a few tour options advertised to head out and about around Melbourne.

One was heading out to the Healesville Sanctuary which Rob and I had tried to see if we could head out to. It also took us to a vineyard in the Yarra valley and I'm not one to pass up an oppourtunity for some wine tasting :)

The tour overall looked like it would be an interesting and an easy way to get out and about to see a little of the countryside. I should have known it would be very touristy....

Anyway, the tour took us on the following journey:

Into the Dandendong ranges -> Puffing Billy Steam Train -> Rochford Winery (Yarra Valley) -> Healesville Sanctury

Our driver was pretty cool. He quickly spotted our camera gear, so he was happy to have someone to talk to about photography and show off some of his pics when the chance arose (he does a lot of underwater photography - the photos looked very cool). Also meant he gave us some good tips for photo spots...

First stop was for morning tea in the Dandendong ranges. Cup of coffee, a lamington and a chance to feed some fat, lazy and noisy yellow crested cockatoos. No thanks. Luckily there was a short forest walk on offer, so we popped down there for a walk. Not much to see or photograph though.


Next stop - Puffing Billy, an old restored steam train. Bit of a novelty and a bit of fun. It took us through the ranges a bit in open carriages where you could sit up on the rails :)

Good fun, but the novelty wore off quick. Got some really nice shots of the sun breaking through the forest and smoke from the engines.




Yeap, my feet hanging over the edge of the train :)


From here it was on to the Rochford winery where we had a very nice lunch and a glass of wine. Cab Sav... or was it Merlot? I can't remember, but it was red, alcoholic and tasted nice :)


After a nap on the bus, we had finally arrived at the stop we were most looking forward to. Healesville Sanctuary. We could have easily spent the best part of the day here, but were a little worried on arrival. 

It was late in the afternoon and getting pretty hot. It was likely that most of the animals would be pretty much asleep.... like this:


We had a guided tour... but, um, the guide waffled alot. So we wandered off on our own to have a look at the main animals we wanted to see like the reptiles and the platypus. Unfortunately, the platypus enclosure was pretty dark, so none of my photos turned out. Here's a few of what we did see though..








If one of those snakes in particular ever escapes.... then I think it will be hunting down a certain Mr Wood. Some flash photography = one very pissed off snake!

The main animals we wanted to see at the Sanctuary were the birds of prey and we weren't disappointed! Normally the predator show is on weekends only, but the we got to see the Spirits of the Sky show which opened up with a Kite:



It was pretty impressive watching it catch food in its talons in mid air! But it soon started ignoring the food.... it had spotted something far more concerning and soon we saw what it had already spotted.... the sky was suddenly full of a few wild Kites and a couple of wild Wedge Tailed Eagles gliding over head! Understandably, the show had to go on pause since the keepers couldn't risk flying the birds with other predators above... It was pretty cool to just watch them for the time they were there though.

They moved on eventually and the show continued. Next up... the Barking Owl:

"You are under my control. Feed me a mouse!"

Then came some Cockatoos (one of which has a part time job as a comedian...):



Finally, the star of the show.... a Wedge Tailed Eagle. Magnificent and rather large!



But wait, there's more... and an unexpected surprise! The last bird displayed was an Osprey:



The Sanctuary was great. Definitely recommended! I'm certainly keen to go back to see the Sanctuary and the bird show again. Next time, I'd try and get there to see the Platypus show as well.

Overall though, I'm not sure about the whole tour. It was all organised and we didn't have to think which was good, but most of it was a bit meh and I still think it was overpriced. Don't regret doing it though. The Sanctuary made up for the rest of the tour :)

Now its back to photos of planes. Lots to pick out for my next post.