They’re Ready For You Mr. Hitchcock

January 3, 2023

“We could go for a walk around the Botanic Gardens in the morning before we go,” I suggested to Steve last night, “they’re just down the street.”
“Haven’t we seen enough Botanic Gardens!?”
came the reply, with a barely concealed sigh.
After roaming two such gardens when in Adelaide, in seems Steve had now reached the limits of his lavender, hit the wall of his watsonia, been pulled up by petunias and maxed out on magnolias. No more gardens for him.

But…Steve obviously recovered from his foliage fatigue because we started the day with a stroll around Warrnambool Botanic Gardens. As Botanic Gardens go, it was hard to categorise it as one of those; more like a largish park, but still a nice place to stroll on a cool, grey morning.
“It’s sixteen degrees,” said Steve, “it’s so much nicer to be walking around in this than forty-two like we did in Adelaide.”
We sauntered along the paths, looking at the plants and the amazing Moreton Bay Fig trees with their spectacular, almost prehistoric looking roots. We passed Corellas having a morning pick at the grass, with Magpies looking on. The breakfast buffet for the birds was open for business.

As we walked along a path, I heard a chattering and chirruping behind me. ‘What’s that?’ I thought. It’s like a cocky, but not a cocky. I turned and looked up and there I saw…not a bird at all…but…bats! Dozens and dozens of bats, hanging from trees. At first glance I thought I was looking at some sort of large, tropical pear hanging from the trees, but then realised I was looking at a colony of bats, well flying foxes to be precise. They were absolutely beautiful. Then some took flight and soared from tree to tree, their gorgeous wings opening into that classic shape, as they flapped and glided gracefully above our heads. Absolutely beautiful. Their sweet little faces hung down from the trees and then off they would go, with a chirrup and a chatter and soar and glide around. We stood for ages, just watching them. Mesmerising. Beautiful.

Just hangin’ around
What a classic shape
What’s not to love about that sweet little face

Here are some fun facts about these delightful little creatures:
* these ones are grey headed flying-foxes and they’re the largest of Australia’s four types of fruit bat
* they navigate by eyesight, scent and sound, not echolocation
* their senses are so sharp that a mother can always find her baby among the thousands of other bats in the colony, flying directly back to them after a night’s feed
* they’re important for the building and regeneration of forests because they pollinate and seed disperse over 100 species of native trees
* their favourite food is the nectar and pollen from eucalyptus, banksia, melaleucas and rainforest fruit
* they’re the only mammals capable of sustained flight
* they are clean, healthy animals that groom constantly and can live up to fifteen years in the wild
* they’re currently listed as a threatened species because their numbers have declined because of the clearing and conversion of the forests they rely on for food
* as the bats lose their food source, the trees lose their most important pollinators, so without the bats, many of our indigenous plant and animal species would be under threat, so we need to protect them and protect their habitats and food sources.

There you go, you’re all set for Trivial Pursuit, Mastermind or Hard Quiz!

As we strolled back along the paths, we passed the ducks having a morning sit by the lake, before waddling into the water, then on past some parrots tweeting in the trees, a Cockatoo having a peck in the grass and the Corellas and Magpies still feasting on breakfast.

Just a man and his ducks
Hello Cocky
Pretty Polly
A Corella…like a Cockatoo who left its headwear at home

It was a very pleasant stroll and Steve’s comment as we exited the gate, “I love the Moreton Bay Figs, they’re my new favourite tree.”
“They are awesome,” I agreed.
I think the Big Fella has re-bonded with gardens.

After the garden, we took ourselves down to Lake Pertobe. This was a lovely spot, with a 1.5km looped walk around it, on a mixture of grass, path and at one point, a wobbly suspension bridge! I gritted my teeth, balanced and power-walked across before it could sway me too far to-and-fro.

Not a care in the world

There was a man on the grass beside the lake throwing a ball to his little Bulldog and that little dog was not giving it back. For a dog that’s build like a large house brick on four legs, it could still move at speed. It had the ball in its mouth, the man would approach and reach for the ball and…the little dog was off…zoomie, zoomie, zoomie, then…flop, belly on the ground, all four legs splayed and chin on the grass. The man stealthily approached again…closer…closer…and…we’re off again!…zoomie, zoomie, zoomie… aaaaand…flop. This went on and on until we started walking around the lake. The man had the patience and stealth of a leopard but the little dog had the avoidance determination of a chicken crossing a road of dodgem cars…dodge..weave…zoom and…rest in a chunky great flop! Entertaining, but I had to drag myself away so we could continue our lap of the lake.

The swans were gracefully paddling through the water, the little Superb Fairy Wrens were flittering here and there, a duck and her young brood were going for an educational paddle in the big wide world. As we took a photo of the ducks and walked over a small bridge, a crow was sitting in the branch of a tree right beside us and started its “caw-caw”, as if to say, “What about me? I may not be cute or colourful or graceful, but this is my best side, c’mon I deserve a picture too!” We stopped and took a snap and it opened its beak with a “caw-caw”. “You’re welcome,” we said.
It had sure been a morning for the birds! All we needed was for the cameras to role, Tippi Hedren to appear from the make-up trailer and Alfred Hitchcock to park in his director’s chair! No scary birds here though, just delightful, feathered folk on a cool and cloudy morning, peacefully getting on with things. Lovely.

The royalty of the lake
The little Fairy Wren adding some colour on a grey morning
Even a cormorant got in on the avian action
“Come along children, keep up. That means you Brian!”
What about me? I can strike a pose!

As we headed out of town, we detoured up to Cannon Hill lookout. Another lookout! This one was definitely of the statuesque variety and gave a view across Warrnambool. It was so named because of the cannons sitting along the hill top and one in particular caught my eye. It was a Howitzer captured in 1917, still with its wooden spokes in the wheels that have stood the test of time. What landscapes and WWI battlefields had those wheels rolled over I wondered. We descended down from the lookout and wheeled out of town, through the city centre and passed some brilliant big signs on the side of a church that caught my eye and then we were on our way.

The view across Warrnambool
Put to work in 1917 and sitting out in the elements here, but still here
Not being a church goer myself, I don’t know much about what goes on inside one, but if these are the messages being promoted at this one, then…well done!

On we cruised, heading east towards Melbourne and stopped in Terang for elevenses in a small park beside the main street. Terang looked like one of those Australian country towns that had become frozen in about 1974. The “department store” of Reicha’s Drapery looked like you would be able to find any colour and size of terry towelling hat in new and mint condition, I saw a mum and her three children walking down the street, with the kids all wearing shorts with gumboots and then the butcher emerged from his shop, in cap and apron, walking beside an older lady and carrying a parcel that he then placed in the basket of her mobility scooter and waved her on her way. It all just seemed so wonderfully, sleepily, unashamedly old fashioned. Charming.

An old fashioned town in such a good way, I mean 1974 was a good year after all!

We continued motoring on and hit the city traffic of Geelong.
“I’m so glad we’ve been able to avoid cities most of the time,” I said, “I don’t like this.” It was busy and people and traffic everywhere and I was hankering for our empty country roads again. Steve did a sterling job of calmly motoring us through and we reached our pit stop of Williamstown, outside of Melbourne. We’ll park here for a couple of nights because tomorrow we go to the theatre to see Hamilton. Woo-hoo! We’ve been waiting so long for that!

We’ll take it easy and see what the days bring, before we roll back on the ferry to cross the water on Thursday and return to our little island state of Tasmania. Still some things to see and do, no doubt, just don’t know what they are yet.

In the mean time…I’m ready for my close up Mr Hitchcock!

3 thoughts on “They’re Ready For You Mr. Hitchcock

Add yours

  1. I must say I am not on the same page when it comes to those flying foxes. We saw 2 trees in a park in Sydney absolutely covered in them and the noise. Plus, ugh. I am not a fan of large flying things that get near me, so we gave that tree a wide birth. On the other hand, I love the trees and flowers and your free traveling spirit. Also, the elevenses (spell check hates that word!).


    1. Yep, I’d heard about flying foxes causing some grief in other Botanic Gardens here and being noisy and smelly. Not sure if these were the same sort, because no smell and just chattering and chittering, not loud or screeching. Maybe South Australians are a bit quieter and reserved! 🙂 We’ve been enjoying our “freestyling” but elevenses is always on the schedule. I hear you with spellchecking ‘elevenses’…typing it is always a bit of a jumbled dance for my untrained fingers on the keyboard!


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