Friday, 21 August 2009

Port Fairy and Surrounds - 19th of August

Ah - sleeping with no alarm is a truly wonderful thing. Having arrived in the dark last night, we got up and had a good look at our surrounds. The little cottages seem to be original buildings on the edge of the farm. In the paddock right next to us were alpacas who gave us the bored, superior and slightly idiotic look perfected by creatures such as llamas, alpacas, camels and certain upper-class toffs. Our plan today was to check out the Budj Bim National Heritage park. This is an area between Port Fairy and Portland which was a large aboriginal community which were permanently settled. The used the shallow rivers of the area to trap eels which they would smoke and trade with the other aboriginal countries. Evidence of smoked eels from this area has been found as far north as Queensland. There are remains of eel traps at Tyrendarra which is where we went to have a look. After parking the car at the carpark, we crossed a little bridge and looked at the path which meanders through what is an area of low water strewn with smallish basalt rocks. Luckily little wooden bridges have been built enabling a mud-free walk. The path is a large circle, however at one end, a neighbouring farmer's bull had somehow gotten into the area and was sitting on the path. As we approached, it stood up and didn't seem at all interested in moving. In fact, it seemed rather intent on protecting its little dry patch where it was sitting. If the neighbouring paddock was anything like this land, I don't really blame it. In deference to the large quadruped, we headed the other way around. It was easy to imagine people working in the fast flowing water, channelling the eels into a narrow area where they were caught in traps made from reeds. By the time we had walked around the whole path, the bull had not moved. Indeed it showed even less inclination towards moving and it could have been my imagination but he seemed quite prepared to defend his little patch of dryness with violence. As such, we decided to walk back the way we had come even though it meant walking all the way around again. I considered attempting a rock throw at the bull from the safety of the carpark but settled for the thought of just having a big steak for dinner instead. Stupid bull. On the way back to Port Fairy we stopped in at another little lookout place on the coast called The Crags. Similar to the outcrops we had seen the day before on a much smaller scale they were still impressive enough for photos. Back in PF we had a drive around the town for the first time. The town has preserved quite a great deal of the original buildings somehow which makes it a rather eclectic and attractive little village. After grabbing some pies from what seemed to be the best baker in town, we headed to a little spot on the other side of the river for some lunch and a bit of a rest. A cheeky magpie with very little fear started eating the crumbs under our table and I couldn't resist giving him some gingernut biscuit which he ate with glee (and a lot of crunching with his beak). Who knew maggies were fond of sweet biscuits? The next tourist destination was the Tower Hill Reserve which is a massive volcanic crater which has water in it an island in the middle. Okay, the island is still connected to the land, but you get the idea. You can drive down into it and park in the centre. The area was cleared by settlers but has been slowly been turned back in to what it originally was and is now a haven for wildlife. We saw what I thought was a wallaby but what turned out to be a very young kangaroo, still all fluffy and looking like it had been made especially for Japanese tourists. This was before the wildlife walk we did on which we saw no animals. On the way back we saw the same kangaroo again but this time with its whole family - two adults, one with a joey in her pouch and an older sibling. In the car park itself we saw a tree with three koalas in it - a young one having a feed of gum leaves and two adults, one with a little baby koala in her arms. As we drove out of the park, taking it very slow, I pulled over to let yet another impatient Victorian drive past only to see a small flock (a herd?) of emus on the plain beside the road. I was chased by an emu in a park when I was a small child and still have a minor dislike of them so I was glad they were a reasonable distance away. I must admit it was pretty impressive to see five of them all just doing their thing in their natural habitat. We drove back to Port Fairy and bought the obligatory postcards and fridge magnets and had a bit of look around for somewhere cheap to eat that night. Unfortunately PF has the same problem as Apollo Bay and a lot of the menus are city prices. The Stump (now called the Caledonian) is apparently the oldest continuously licensed pub in Victoria (although another pub in Portland also likes to claim the same honour) and we had to have a look. They had Fat Yak on tap which I heartily recommend if you ever see it around so we grabbed a couple of those and looked at the menu. The bartender must have had us pegged as she pointed out there was a bar menu available at the front bar where the meals were only $8. We decided this was a much better option than microwave meals and after heading back to the cottage for a short break, we came back for some food and some more Fat Yak before trundling back to the alpacas and our cute little cottage for a spot of blog-writing, diary-writing and Spicks and Specks.

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