Tag Archives: Great Alpine Road Australia

Australia May 2022 – Bright and Beautiful (Part 3)

Bright Area

A late lie-in and a slow time getting ourselves ready meant we only started our Bright “discovery” around midday with a drive around the town to orientate ourselves, stopping at the river and the park to take in the scenery

Bright is known as a tourist and holiday destination with a focus during autumn on the multitude of European trees that turn streets into multi-hued avenues and add a bright splash of colour to many gardens and parks.

Bright Victoria
Autumn colours, Bright Victoria
Bright Victoria

We enjoyed driving slowly along some of the streets to take in the splendour and to add to the pleasure a few significant birds crossed our path.

The first of these was a Crimson Rosella, scratching in leaf litter at the side of the road, coming up with what looked like acorns or nuts and holding them parrot fashion in its claws while consuming the “meat” of the nut.

Crimson Rosella Platycercus elegans, Bright Victoria

Next up was an unexpected sighting of two small birds that were both new to my Australia list – we were leaving a riverside spot where we had parked, when I spotted movement out of the corner of my eye. I braked, reversed and saw several small birds drinking at a puddle some distance from the road – too far to be certain what they were, even with my binoculars, as they were moving about and flitting back and forwards between the puddle and the nearby bushes.

So I did what I usually do in this situation – I grabbed my camera and rattled off a number of shots before the birds dispersed, which gave me a chance to study what I had “captured” and put a name to them.

As it turned out there were two species – both lifers for me :

Red-browed Finch Neochmia temporalis, Bright Victoria
Silvereye Zosterops lateralis, Bright Victoria

And if you are a Saffer and think the Silvereye looks familiar, that’s because it is remarkably similar to the White-eyes found in Southern Africa, which carry the same genus name of Zosterops

Just for good luck a Superb Fairywren popped up onto an exposed twig for a moment

Superb Fairywren Malurus cyaneus, Bright Victoria

Our motel didn’t offer breakfast, so we got by on rusks and coffee in the room, but were by now feeling decidedly peckish, so we parked in a side street and walked through the village where we came across an ideal looking restaurant with tables set outside on the pavement and ordered their tasty bacon and egg wraps and cappuccinos.

Bright Victoria

That gave us an opportunity to decide what to do for the rest of the day and we chose to not try and cover too much of the surrounds, but to limit ourselves to a trip to a neighbouring area that looked interesting.

Before setting off again, we walked along the main street, admiring some of the well-kept older buildings and a church surrounded by handsome trees and popping into a couple of the shops for a quick browse (well, that was the idea, but Gerda’s browsing is a slightly lengthier affair which usually has me wandering about outside looking for birds)

Bright Victoria

Wandiligong

With most of the afternoon at our disposal, we drove around Bright a bit more, then visited the tourist info centre where a very helpful and friendly lady marked various spots on the map for us to explore.

One of them was Wandiligong, an old village where gold was mined in the mid 1800’s, which we thought was worth a visit and was literally just “down the road” from Bright – an easy 6 kms along country roads.

What we found was not a small village as such, but rather a sprinkling of houses and other buildings with a lot of character and heritage spread over an attractive landscape of forests and mountain ranges, set in a picturesque valley

The whole town is now registered with the National Trust as a classified landscape and features historical buildings such as the Manchester Unity public hall (built in 1874), the general store, several churches and a number of quaint cottages. We spent a very pleasant hour or more meandering up and down the roads through the area, stopping to photograph some of the buildings that caught our eye.

The old Public Library in Wandiligong
Wandiligong Public Hall
The Primary school dates back to 1870
Wandiligong Primary School
An old church in Wandiligong, Victoria

It was heading to late afternoon so we returned to our Motel in Bright for a bit of relaxation at the end of an interesting day

Mount Beauty

The next day dawned sunny and we followed a similar pattern – after a light breakfast self-caterd in our room we heade back along the road to Harrietville, then turned off towards Mount Beauty. The road took us through yet another seriously twisty pass which topped out at 895 metres, which is where we had our own tea and a muffin, while enjoying the view down to the valley below and across to distant mountains topped with snow.

Once we had descended into the valley we entered Mount Beauty – driving around we were a little disappointed as it did not seem to live up to its name and came across as just another town. Driving around the town, it seemed to be ‘closed for lunch’ so we stopped at the info centre which suggested ‘The Bakery’ may be open. We had not seen it so followed their directions and found it tucked away in a side street – their pie and salad was just what we needed and the service friendly so things picked up again

There was not much else to see so we headed back up the pass and down the other side towards Bright. At the T-junction with the main road a roadside stall had been set up – the first time we had come across such a thing in Australia – so we stopped to have a look at the farm produce on offer. The lady running the stall kept up a continuous stream of conversation, some of which we actually understood, and she offered us samples of strange (to us) fruit to taste. In the end we played safe and bought a bag of walnuts from her.

Roadside stall, Bright Victoria
Roadside stall, Bright Victoria

Canyon Trail

There was still time for another walk along the Canyon trail before the sun disappeared. There were many ducks on the river and the late afternoon shaded light made for some interesting photos.

Canyon Walk, Bright Victoria
Pacific Black Duck Anas superciliosa, Bright Victoria
Maned Duck Chenonetta jubata (Male), Bright Victoria
Maned Duck Chenonetta jubata (Female), Bright Victoria
Maned Duck Chenonetta jubata (Female), Bright Victoria

That brought another most pleasant day in Bright to a close. I will be adding a further instalment on our road trip, covering the trip back to Sale – not nearly as epic as the initial trip to Bright but with a few interesting ‘sightings’, not necessarily birding related …

Australia May 2022 – Bright and Beautiful (Part 1)

Road Trip!

It was a very windy and nippy morning when we set off from Sale, Victoria on our 5 day road trip into the mountains north-east of Sale, with our main destination being the town with the charming name of Bright, situated on the scenic Great Alpine Road in the Ovens Valley.

The first leg of our trip was a comfortable 200 kms to the curiously named Omeo, a small town on the Great Alpine Road in the Shire (you have to love these old English terms still used in Australia) of East Gippsland. Omeo comes from an Aboriginal word for hills, which in the event was more than appropriate.

We eventually left Sale just after 12 pm and followed the A1 main road to Bairnesdale, where we had a burger and coffee lunch, then branched off on the B500 which took us onto the Great Alpine Road.

Bright trip

The road soon became twisty and slow as we approached the mountains and even more so the further we travelled, at times feeling like one of those funfair rides as my arms were constantly swinging the steering wheel back and forth through continuous bends. This alternated with stretches of more sedate road where we could admire the roadside scenery and make better progress.

Great Alpine Road map

The road skirted a river for many kms and at one vantage point I stopped for a photo

Tambo River, Great Alpine Road

We passed through several small towns – Bruthen, Ensay and Swifts Creek – the latter town was lined with attractive trees showing their autumn colours and I could not resist another stop to take a photo or two.

Swifts Creek, Great Alpine Road

Omeo

We reached Omeo around 4 pm and took a short drive through the village before heading to Homeo Alpine Cottage which we had booked for the night through one of the booking sites. The name and description of the accommodation had conjured up a charming cottage set in a pretty garden in our minds, but the reality was just the opposite as we stopped outside and viewed our accommodation with some trepidation.

Homeo Alpine Cottage, Omeo, Great Alpime Road

From the road it looked more like a shack than a cottage, set in a garden that was bordering on unkempt. The word rust-ic came to mind and we wondered how we were going to ward off the chilly air in this cold looking place.

Rust-ic comes to mind….

Nevertheless, we found the inside old-fashioned yet quite comfortable, especially once I had lit the fire and switched on every available heater in the house and we started to relax and enjoy our latest “unexpected surprise”. Later we dined on bread rolls and cheese and watched a Netflix series while getting ourselves warm and comfortable under lots of blankets as the temperature dropped quickly.

The lounge – Homeo Alpine Cottage
The main bedroom

Next morning we left the cottage feeling more positive about it and ventured into Omeo for a brunch of a toastie and coffee at the only restaurant that seemed to be open. But not before being “challenged” by three Australian Magpies which seemed bent on blocking our way to the car and one even perched on the mirror in a pose that said “don’t mess with me”. I kept an eye on them while loading the car and we got away without further ado.

Australian Magpie Cracticus tibicen, Omeo Victoria

On the way to the village we came across a flock of Australian King Parrots at the roadside, apparently feeding on something and when I reversed to have a closer look, we found that there was a dead (probably roadkill) Sulphur-crested Cockatoo which was the centre of their attention. So it seems Aussie parrots are not averse to eating one of their kind!

Australian King Parrot Alisterus scapularis (female), Omeo Victoria

Omeo itself is a pleasant small town with some interesting old buildings, many of which were rebuilt after devastating bushfires

Omeo, Great Alpine Road
Omeo, Great Alpine Road
Omeo, Great Alpine Road

The Golden Age Hotel stands in the middle of town and has a long history involving fires

Omeo, Great Alpine Road
Omeo, Great Alpine Road

The next post will cover the next leg of our trip to Bright, Victoria – a memorable one indeed!