Maddy has taken a short trip back to Sydney to work a couple of shifts to keep her job open, so I have been left alone with Keddie to do some exploring. She is actually drafting a blog entry for Corryong, which we visited after Omeo, but the rigours of Sydney work and socialising are obviously keeping her distracted. So this will have to come later – a bit out of order.
After, Corryong we based ourselves at Lake Hume near Albury and the morning before dropping Maddy at Albury airport to fly back to Sydney, I spent a couple of hours at the Wonga Wetlands. The diversity of birdlife was amazing – I have not counted, but in the space of 90 minutes I probably saw over 50 species of bird. Only one new species for my list however – a striated pardalote. Below is a mediocre picture of one. Also a brown tree creeper (which I had seen earlier, but didn’t manage to photograph) and a shot of some wood ducks. While we have been seeing wood ducks everywhere, I don’t seem to have taken any photos of them until now.
After Maddy left, I spent the afternoon exploring Albury and had another night at the Lake Hume caravan park. I managed to see a couple of new bird species and a few other points of interest.
Although the sign below lists numerous dangers, I still took a risk, had a swim and lived to tell the tale.
The following morning I set off to Lake Cobbler in the Victorian Alps to use as a base to explore the area. I had hoped to get there before the forecast afternoon rain as there is quite a steep track up to the lake at the end. The rain actually started pelting down just as the track got difficult, but by taking it slow, Keddie and Yoga (the Landcruiser Prado) handled it well. Once there it was great to just pull up, jump in the caravan, flick on the kettle and brew a cup of tea in a nice warm shelter.
While it rained very hard, fortunately it did not last long. I was soon treated to a sighting of some white-naped honey-eaters and was able to go far a walk to the nearby Dandongadale Waterfall, which is the highest in the state of Victoria.
The next day started cold and I was treated to some eerie scenes of mist on the lake. However it was clear and the cool temperature was ideal for my planned 8 hour walk from Mt Speculation to Mt Howitt and back along the classic alpine ridge route over the cross-cut saw. The walk was truly spectacular with amazing views of rugged mountains, deep valleys and distant vistas. I even managed to spot a new species of bird. I also got a shot of a cuckoo being fed by its tiny host parent. Unfortunately I could not identify the host, or even confidently identify the cuckoo itself, but I think it might be brush cuckoo.
After finishing the walk at about 6:30pm, I decided it would be great to head back up to the summit of Mt Speculation, cook myself some dinner and watch the sunset. So I got some food from the car and my sleeping bag and walked 15 minutes back up to the peak for an unforgettable sunset all snug in my bag.
Then it was back down in the fading light and plummeting temperatures, followed by a 45 minute drive in the dark back to the welcoming luxury of a hot shower and soft bed at the lakeside camp in the middle of the bush.
After sleeping in a bit, I did a much easier 4 hour return walk up Mt Cobbler today. Again, a very rewarding walk with great views and birds, although no new species.
From Mt Cobbler you can look across to the Mt Buller ski fields, Mt Stirling and also just see Craig’s Hut in the distance. This hut was built for the Man from Snowy River movie and Mt Cobbler features as the rugged backdrop in many scenes of this hut
After getting back to the lake at about 3pm, it was time for a swim (the water is surprisingly warm – probably about 19 or 20 degrees) and some relaxing. I also took the opportunity to do some laundry and refill the water tanks from the clear stream nearby (I have been taking some decadently long hot showers these last two days – I can’t only blame the washing machine for all the water used in just 2 days out).
Now I’m off for a quick drive to the nearby ridge where there is a mobile signal so I can upload this blog before bed.