Australia is for the birds

I spent the weekend with a friend my mom met tole painting, Janice Timmins, in Traralgon (ter-al-gon) about two hours East of Melbourne. We had a great time exploring the area, and I got to see some fabulous birds. On Saturday we went to a rain forest area and stumbled upon a male and female lyre bird, which are apparently pretty rare for people to see. The female was busy scratching around in the dirt, and the male was trying to get her attention by showing off his feathers and running around. We sat still and watched them for quite awhile. On the drive over we also had a close call with a suicidal wallabee that we narrowly avoided hitting.
This morning I got a fabulous bird show outside their kitchen window. They have two cockatoos and some really colorful birds that enjoy the bird seed. It was fascinating watching their interactions, some of the birds seemed to think they owned the place and would chase the other birds away. The cockatoos were happy to share the seed stash as long as they got their favorite sunflower seeds.
After the bird show this morning we went to Wallhala, an old gold mining town in the hills. They had restored a section of the original train tracks and so we took a train ride along the river and through the gum trees. It was a really beautiful area. Gum trees are a lot more spectacular here than they are in the US - there they smell bad when it rains and look very scraggly, and here the giant canopy the gum trees provide is spectacular, and they even smell good. Wallhalla (population: 20) was like stepping back in time and I am looking forward to going back when Phil is here and taking the gold mine tour.
Seeing all the birds here led me to send Phil shopping for a new lens to bring over with him. We have a decent zoom lens, but with all of these amazing birds I can never quite get close enough for the perfect picture before they fly off. He may need to bring me a bird book as well so we can identify what we've seen. I've never been much of a bird person before, but with all of their spectacular colors and sounds it is hard to not be impressed by the birds here.
This week I'm headed to Port Campbell (4 hr drive) to visit 3 sites, then hopefully our container will finally be delivered on Friday. It's been a long 11 weeks waiting. We've been really fortunate to have some great people let us stay with them, but it will be nice to have our own place again. Next week I'm headed to Alice Springs, Katherine, and Darwin for work, and then Phil moves here the following week. Just a couple more weeks until we can start trying to have a normal life in Oz.


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