Anne Marie's Australian Adventure

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A Few Words About Melbourne

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on April 13, 2009

We hadn’t plan to spend three nights with Sue and Bill but we were enjoying our time with them that I’m glad we did. So we spent only three nights in Melbourne. We found a rather old but clean B&B on the east side of the city – walking distance to the downtown area. We walked a lot in Melbourne and they have a wonderful free tram that circles the major business district. Melbourne is on the south coast of Australia and it reminds me of San Diego quite a bit flatter than Sydney. It is a very nice city, clean, modern but still with some of that old world Aussie feel – pubs and gardens and Victorian/Edwardian townhouses.

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival runs almost the entire month of April so we went to two comedy shows in two nights. During the day we did the sightseeing things; the old gaol (that’s how they spell jail), Victoria Markets, the parks, Rod Laver Area where the Australian Open is held. The grand prix had just completed the day before we arrived and we were able to drive the course while they were dismantling the grandstands.

Although we enjoyed Melbourne we were a little down knowing that our time in Australia is almost over. Major decisions need to be made and then there is the packing and the travel plans back to the states. All of this was weighing on our minds and putting a damper on our time in Melbourne. In an upcoming (not the next one but the following one) blog entry I will tell you what we are doing about coming back to the US of A.

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Wombats and Possums and Tawny Frogmouths, OH! MY!

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on April 13, 2009

On our last day at Wombat Bend, Ascha and I took a walk along the river that runs behind the billabong at the back of Bill and Sue’s property. Along the banks of the river (really just a creek now because of the drought) are the wombat burrows. It was mid-morning so I didn’t really expect to see a wombat so I was surprised when I saw a dark head and then quickly the big behind of a wombat scurrying back into the burrow. I stood watching for a long time but the wombat didn’t come back out. So Ascha and I continued on our walk.

After we got back to the house I got Fergus’ camera because his telephoto lens is much better than the one on my camera and decided to go back and sit outside the burrow and wait until it came back out again. Well when I got back the wombat was napping just at the opening of its burrow. I was so excited, I had seen my first wombat in the wild!!! I was so worried I wouldn’t see one outside of a zoo. I took several pictures and it never moved. It is rare to see them during the daytime. This one was as peaceful as could be without a care in the world.

My wombat asleep in the shade of her burrow.

My wombat asleep in the shade of her burrow.

Fergus and I went to the Healsville Sanctuary to see more animals since it wasn’t far from Dixons Creek. We saw many of the animals we have seen at the zoos and nature reserves but the raptor show was something new. They had several birds who had been rescued. These birds could fly away now that they have recovered from their injuries but they stay and perform some amazing tricks. The Wedge Tailed Eagle was especially interesting.


A rock wallaby up close

A rock wallaby up close










The sanctuary has an animal hospital where you can watch them operating on animals. They had a kangaroo who was undergoing some procedure. He had an IV in his leg and there were several people discussing what they were going to do. In another theatre (that’s what they call operating rooms here – even for people) there was a very large snake (some kind of boa maybe).  His prognosis was not very good.  Sue and Bill found an injured wombat after the fires and brought it here for treatment. We weren’t able to see him but I think he is recovering. This was very interesting and educational and we spent more time there than we thought we would.

We tried to stop at several wineries on our way back to Sue and Bill’s but many of them were closed because of the fires and it was getting close to five o’clock so we only had time to stop at one. I forgot to take pictures but it was a beautiful setting. It was odd to see the vineyards against a backdrop of charred hills. We picked up some bottles for dinner and headed back to Wombat Bend.

After a wonderful dinner, a few glasses of wine and a lively discussion about the world, Fergus, Sue and I took a late night walk around the billabong. With flashlights in hand we explored the area. As we got close to the creek we heard splashing water and saw a wombat on the far side of the creek bed – a different wombat burrow from the one I was looking at that morning. The wombat was frozen by the lights of our torches (that’s what they call flashlights here). He just kept looking at us until we moved on.

As we were coming closer to the house we saw two possums in two different trees. These are ring tailed possums and they aren’t ugly like the possums in the states, these are rather cute like a cross between a cat and a large mouse. We didn’t bring our cameras with us so I did a google image of one so that you can see what they look like. It’s not a great picture but you get the idea.

Ring Tailed Possum

Ring Tailed Possum

As we got closer to the house I asked Sue if they ever see Tawny Frogmouths around there. These are owl-like birds that are so cute. We have seen them in nature reserve enclosures but never in the wild. She said they hadn’t seen any since the fires…then I looked up and on a branch just above our heads sat a curious Tawny Frogmouth!!! I was beside myself, an actural one in the wild. Well that made my day.  Again you’ll have to settle for a google image but I have witnesses to prove I actually saw one.



All of these animals are nocturnal so it is rare to see them during the day. It was a real treat to do a late night trek around the billabong at Wombat Bend. All-in-all I was able to tick off (that’s what they call checking off) nine more birds in my bird book – just from Sue and Bill’s place. Theonly animal I have yet to see is a wild echidna – I’ve seen a few dead along side of the road, and some at the zoos and reserves but not a live wild one. Our last night at  Wombat Bend and The Burrows B & B was magical thanks to Bill and Sue and their wonderful hospitality and friendship.

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Botanical Gardens

Posted by Anne Marie Serrano on December 12, 2008

It seemed as if all large cities in Australia and  New Zealand have botanic gardens. Canberra’s is a hilly landscape with natural Australian flora. They pride themselves in their large collection of vegetation from all over Australia which by now you know is vast.

New Zealand botanic gardens especially during these summer months looks like it was plucked from England and so much more. I spent a couple of hours at the Christchurch Gardens but my camera battries died so I didn’t get many pictures. This garden is 21 hectares and I didn’t see it all.

By comparison the Wellington Botanic Gardens is 25  hectares but it covers a hilly landscape and I spent several hours there. I got plenty of pictures at the Wellington Botanical Gardens which was in full bloom. It was a lovely day in Wellington and the garden was one of my favorite sites. 

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