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The latest posts are about our stay at Lara Wetlands.

On our Queensland Outback trip we spent five days at Lara Wetlands, a camping property made available on a cattle station Lara Station. We had a great time there, thoroughly enjoyed the scenery, all the birds and especially the homestead tour and the camp oven dinner. If you are in the area, make sure to drop in for a few days. Lesley just published a series of posts about our stay at Lara Wetlands, well worth a read.


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Sub-Antarctic Cruise – Final days

7th March, 2019.

Another sea day.

Lovely skies.

The food on the ship was absolutely exemplary. French chefs, French wines and mostly French cuisine could not be faulted. On this evening we had a special French cheese degustation.

8th March, 2019.

Heading to Antipodes Islands, another group where landing is not permitted so the Zodiacs were pressed into service again.

Our first sightings of Erect-crested and Rockhopper Penguins.

Farewell to Antipodes Islands.

9th March, 2019.

The last island on our itinerary was Bounty Island but the weather was quite bad and very little could be seen so the Captain decided to make a leisurely trip towards Dunedin where we would be disembarking early the next morning.

Synchronised flying.

10th March, 2019.

11th March, 2019.

Sunrise over Dunedin as we made our way back to Fryatt Street Wharf for disembarkation.

All too soon this part of our adventure was over and we were sitting in Dunedin airport awaiting our flight to Auckland.

Final approach to Auckland Airport.

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Sub-Antarctc Cruise – Enderby Island Revisited, Campbell Island Hike

4th March, 2019.

Following our exciting days at Macquarie Island, we had a sea day while the Captain repositioned the ship to pick up our route again. Not much to see appear from lots of sea birds.

It is quite a feat to be able to photograph these various Albatross.

5th March, 2019.

Arriving at Aucklands Island and unfortunately the seas were again too rough for a planned Zodiac tour of one of the bays so the decision was made to revisit Enderby Island where the seas were calmer and another cross-island excursion took place.

The expedition team checking out the conditions.

The New Zealand Pipit was still around.

More sightings of the endangered Yellow-eyed Penguin.

Tom-tit was also flitting about in the shrubbery.

Nesting Southern Royal Albatross.

A research vessel at anchor. Access to these islands is tightly controlled so only ships with the appropriate permits are allowed.

Some of the passengers resting after the hike to the far side of the island.

6th March, 2019.

On the schedule today was the much anticipated 5km return hike across Campbell Island from Perseverance Harbour to North West Harbour and fortunately, the weather was on our side


Le Laperouse anchored in Perseverance Harbour.

Awaiting our return.

Southern Royal Albatross with chick.

See the chick under the wing.



A stunning view over North West Harbour was our reward.

The hike was quite arduous at times and took over 4 hours to complete the 5km round trip.

This aggressive sea lion was not too happy about us walking through his domain. Members of the expedition team fended him off with opened umbrellas as we made our way back to the Zodiacs.

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Sub-Antarctic Cruise – Macquarie Island

1st March, 2019.

The Southern Ocean is notoriously unpredictable and a front was moving in from the west so the Captain, in consultation with the Expedition Leader, decided to rearrange the itinerary to try to avoid the worst. Civilian access to both Macquarie Island and the NZ Sub-Antarctic Islands is strictly controlled so it was not just a matter of changing direction; permission had to be gained from both the Australian and New Zealand authorities. Having a NZ Department of Conservation observer aboard made the task somewhat easier though.

We were in for a very rough day. Deck furnishings were lashed down and it was a real feat simply staying upright when moving around the ship. The Captain did a terrific job in keeping the ship as smooth as possible.

2nd March, 2019.

Next morning we had our first look at Macquarie Island and thankfully the seas were relatively calm. Macquarie Island lies approximately halfway between New Zealand and Antarctica and has been a part of Tasmania since 1900 and a Tasmanian State Reserve since 1978. In 1997, Macquarie Island was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as a site of major geoconservation significance, being the only place on earth where rocks from the earth’s mantle are being actively exposed above sea level. We anchored off the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions (ANARE) station located on the northern end of the island. One of the Expedition Team had lived and worked for 18 months at the station and was a wealth of information.

Once we had landed via the Zodiacs, the weather became a bit less pleasant as the mist rolled in.

The animals were in the middle of moult. Elephant seals.

A Royal Penguin looking a bit scruffy.

There were hundreds of

looking like they were in their Sunday bests.

Two bull elephant seals facing off.

Just as we were heading back to the Zodiacs, we were fortunate to see the release of one of the two daily weather balloons used to capture scientific data which is then sent around the world to various Meteorological organisations.

Back aboard ship the anchor was raised and we continued south along the coast.

3rd March, 2019

When we awoke the next morning, we were anchored in Sandy Bay and surrounded by hundreds of King Penguins ducking and diving around the ship.

The Blue Eye, an underwater observatory, is a feature of Le LaPerouse. Most of the time there is nothing to see but the diving King Penguins were entertaining.

Giant Petrel

The King Penguin Rookery with lots of fluffy baby penguins.

Still moulting.

We were so lucky to have visited on such a beautiful sunny day. Many of the expedition team who had been there several times told us they had never experienced such lovely weather there.

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Sub-Antarctic Cruise – The Snares and Enderby Island

27th February, 2019.

Leaving Milford Sound, we headed south towards the Snares Islands where we were looking forward to a Zodiac tour around the islands. Unfortunately, on arrival, the weather was simply too rough to deploy the Zodiacs but nevertheless the scenery was magnificent and we saw a lovely rainbow to top it off.

For the entire cruise, we had free satellite wifi internet. We were amazed that we had access wherever we were.

Once again we were awed by the birdlife.

Cape Petrel

Buller’s Albatross

Seeing a pod of Dusky Dolphins was certainly a highlight.

28th February, 2019.

Auckland Islands – Enderby Island, the northern most island of the Auckland group was to be our next stop. Luckily the seas were relatively calm so that we were about to land and hike across the island.

We were lucky enough to see some endangered Yellow-eyed Penguins.

A New Zealand Pipit

A Southern-Royal Albatross

It was towards the end of the season for the native flowers with just a few blooms remaining.


The Ponant Ship Le Laperouse

Albatross courting ritual.

We were thrilled to see a Tomtit.

Sea Lions can be very aggressive and this one was lying almost across the boardwalk. We had strict instructions that we were not allowed off the boardwalks at any time during our shore excursions but disturbing the wildlife is also a no-no. Our Expedition leaders had to scope out a track through the surrounding area for us to pass at a safe distance.

Waiting for our Zodiacs to arrive, a group of sea lions surfed onto the beach.

Yellow-eyed Penguins making their way from the sea to their burrows quite a long way inland. Their track, known Penguin Alley, had to be crossed to get to and from the Zodiacs. We had to wait quite a long time for them to waddle off out of sight before we were allowed back to the beach.

A great end to a wonderful day.

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Sub-Antarctic Cruise – Dusky, Doubtful and Milford Sounds

23rd February, 2019.

Finally it was time to board.

Fryatt Street Wharf was not very inviting.

The open-air Grill Restaurant on the pool deck.

Larnach Castle which I had visited on my first trip to Dunedin some 38 years ago.

First order of business was to be fitted with our complimentary expedition jackets.

Complimentary drinks and canapés were served in the lounge whilst embarkation and border security was completed.

Leaving Dunedin as the sun was setting.

Re-fueling before departing on our big cruise.

24th February, 2019.

A beautiful sunrise.

Perfect weather for lunch in the Grill Restaurant.

Heading west along the southern coast of the South Island on our way to Dusky Sound.

Hundreds of sea birds kept the photographers entertained.

Approaching Dusky Sound.

Entering Dusky Sound.

Looking out from the forward observation lounge on Deck 6

The water creating this waterfall flows out through a hole in the mountainside.

Dropping the anchors.

25th February, 2019.

A perfect morning in Dusky Sound for our first Zodiac adventure.

Members of the Expedition Team head out at first light to check conditions for a Zodiac tour.

Looking back at the ship from our Zodiac.

A fur seal at rest.

The ever-present gull.

One of the 14 Zodiacs with passengers and two of the Expedition team of 12 Naturalists.

A Sooty Oystercatcher.

A plaque in Pickersgill Harbour in Dusky Sound where Captain James Cook moored the Resolution at Astronomer’s Point in 1773.

Returning to the ship after completing our first Zodiac trip.

Zodiac storage on Deck 7. The unloading and reloading of the Zodiacs was quite a feat even in the smoothest seas.

Leaving Dusky Sound and heading north to Doubtful Sound.

26th February, 2019.

Early the next morning we were entering Milford Sound to almost perfect weather.

The Expedition team was already scouting in the Zodiacs.

Loading the Zodiacs from the rear hydraulic platform. Passengers in red, Expedition team in yellow.

We had a wonderful Zodiac tour around the Sound getting right up close to the waterfalls – so close that we were covered in spray with no possibility of taking photos, apart from a few fur seals sunning themselves on the opposite walls.

Our ship looking magnificent against the majestic backdrop.

Underway once again and there is always something to do if one is inclined – a bit of line dancing in the lounge.

Or, more to Erich’s taste, lots of Albatross to photograph, adult and immature.

A perfect end to a wonderful tour of some of New Zealand’s rugged south west coast.

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Sub-Antarctic Cruise – Dunedin

20th February, 2019.

After a serious health scare that caused the cancellation of our planned 3 month Europe holiday in August, 2018, we now had the green light to begin our travels again. A trip to Macquarie Island, located in the sub-Antarctic region of Australia around 1500kms south-east of Tasmania, had long been on Erich’s wish list. There are only a couple of cruises that take in this region as civilian vessels are strictly regulated. After some research, Erich found a suitable cruise with Ponant, a French cruise line that we had not heard of before. One of its newer ships, Le Laperouse, was making its first sub-Antarctic journey departing Dunedin NZ for a 17 night round trip which would include Dusky, Doubtful and Milford Sounds on the NZ South Island and then venturing to a number of the NZ sub-Antarctic islands as well as Macquarie Island.

But first we had to get to Brisbane from our home in Maryborough, some 250kms north. Flight times in both directions mean that it was simplest to drive down and leave our car in the long-term parking area at the airport. As our departing flight was relatively early in the morning, we spent a night at a nearby motel as we have done in the past.

Any trip to Brisbane is a good opportunity to catch up with family and friends, so dinner at a local hotel with two of our daughters and their families was a great way to spend the evening.

This is the most photogenic thing that Erich could find in close proximity to the motel.

21st February, 2019

Waiting to board our flight to Auckland.

Our connecting flight from Auckland to Dunedin was delayed by several hours so we did not reach our hotel until after midnight. We had allowed ourselves a day and a half to see some of the sights of Dunedin thinking that we would hire a car for a day. However, our late arrival and subsequent sleep-in put paid to that idea so we spent time walking to the centre of the city and making use of a hop on hop off bus tour.

It is not obvious from this photo but this is the steepest street in the world.

We hopped off the bus at the Botanic Gardens and meandered through, stopping off for a light lunch at the Gardens Cafe.

The stunning glass house was under renovation so we were unable to get any closer than this.

From the gardens, we continued walking back towards the city centre stopping at the historic University of Otago to photograph some of the stunning buildings.

More stunning architecture at the Law Courts.

The Railway Station.

The Art Deco style Law Courts Hotel contrasted strongly with some of the more historic buildings.

Scooter hire at the Octagon.

Walking back to our hotel, we stopped off at the lovely Chinese Gardens.

23rd February, 2019.

Embarkation was not due to commence until 5pm giving us most of the day for further exploration. As Le Laperouse had already berthed and was within walking distance from our hotel, we decided to check her out. The Fryatt Street Wharf is a commercial wharf so there was no access for us to get any closer but it was still exciting for us.

Our walk back to the City Centre took us past the Railway Station once again where one of the scenic tour trains was waiting to depart. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to take advantage of it.

A close up at the Railway Station.

We spent the remaining time before embarkation sitting in our hotel lobby making use of the free wifi before bundling our luggage into a taxi for the relatively short trip to the ship.


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Nanango – Mingo Crossing

From Peach Trees we drove to Nanango, stopping for a pie at the Blackbutt Woodfired Bakery. It was a very hot day in Nanang0 and we decided to stay on power in a low-cost caravan park. Apart from re-stocking supplies we pretty much remained inside. We played card games and enjoyed a good internet connection. Towards the evening I went for a quick walk and took a photo on my phone in Pioneer Park.

We had good memories of Beef and Reef at the RSL here. Although it was not far, we decided to drive to the RSL.  A good meal, but no Beef and Reef on the menu this time.

The following day we left for Mingo Crossing, east of Gayndah. On the day of arrival, we had an interesting sunset.

Apparently, a lot of work has been performed in the unpowered area – new roads have been put in and sites have been pegged out. We were the first to camp in this area since the road had been put in.

Mingo Crossing is another place with not much to do, especially if you don’t fish or boat. So bird watching and generally taking photos were the main activities. And more card games.

Plenty of Pelicans around.

A Great Egret fishing.

Lesley heard the Whistling Kites in the distance so I went for a walk to find them. I spotted one on a dead tree on the foreshore.

An Australasian Darter drying its wings.

Red-winged Parrot.

A White-necked Heron.

Hundreds of Comorants flew across the Burnett River the first couple of evenings we were here. To a lesser extent we also saw them in the morning.

Close by there is a bat colony. The bats were not very happy about me walking by, taking photos.

The bat colony is close to this creek entering the Burnett River.

Cormorants on the other side of the river.

We only left Mingo Crossing once during our 7-day stay. We went on a round trip through Degilbo, Biggenden, Booyal (on the Bruce Highway), Gin Gin to Mt Perry to return to Mingo Crossing. All beautiful scenery, but the only photos I have are from Mt Perry Lookout. Mt Perry in the background on this photo.

Panorama from the lookout.

Back at Mingo Crossing – Whistling Kite in flight.

Some drone photos around Mingo Crossing, looking away from the campgrounds.

Looking across the river – looks like rain

Australasian Pipit

So many stars…

More drone photos

Awning in. Almost ready for departure to drive home tomorrow.

I really enjoyed this short trip away. I hope we will be able to do similar trips in the future, although we are planning some big trips. If all goes well we will head to New Zealand, go on a cruise to the sub-Antarctic islands of New Zealand including Macquarie Island and a motorhome trip on the north island of New Zealand. When we return we have about two weeks to go down to Wagga Wagga for the Stone the Crows festival. No firm plans after that.

We really enjoyed last year’s festival and want to do it again.

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Peach Trees Camping Area near Jimna

29th November 2018 to 3rd December 2018

Lesley had picked Peach Trees Camping Area near Jimna, north of Kilcoy, as our next stop. This was a short drive (around 100km) along interesting country roads. The last part I took slowly along steep and winding roads. The drive was sure worthwhile – Peach Trees is a beautiful spot and we managed to get a great site. Kangaroos were grazing all around us, not scared by our presence.

The campsite was flat enough to stay hooked up. No need to unhook as we were not planning to go sight-seeing.

In addition to the kangaroos, there was also plenty of birdlife to entertain us.

This brush turkey strolled under our awning…

This Noisy Friarbird has a face only its mother could love.

We didn’t really do much while camped here. It is such a relaxing place, no need to do much. Of course I always take photos… so here are a few more.

A female Satin Bowerbird perched on a branch beside our campsite to snack on berries.

A Laughing Kookaburra.

A few aerial photos of the camping area.

I went for a fairly long walk along the Eugenia Circuit which took me high above Yabba Creek.

All along the track, I could hear birds singing.

A Red-browed Finch

In particular, I could hear the distinctive call of Bell Birds. We have heard them many times before, but I had never seen the bird itself until now. The correct name is Bell Miner.

I think this is Lantana, a pest that unfortunately seems to grow everywhere in this area.

At the highest point there is a viewing area overlooking a waterhole along Yabba Creek.

After passing the viewing platform, the descent down to Yabba creek is fairly steep in places and I was careful not to slip – you wouldn’t want to have an accident in an area that does not have phone coverage.

My last bird sighting on this track before returning to the campsite was a Lewin’s Honeyeater.

The following day I went for another walk – this one was more of a stroll along a well made track, partially on boardwalks. All the same, it provided good views and wildlife.

Another Bell Bird.

A male Australasian Figbird.

The following two photos I took while sitting under our awning. A Brown Cuckoo-Dove.

In the evening I walked over to the creek, hoping to see platypus, but no such luck. They are definitely there as other people have sighted them.

A Little Pied Cormorant.

Back at the van, this little one came to say hello on our last night here. A Pale-headed Rosella.

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A few days at the Redcliffe Showgrounds

22nd November 2018 – 28th November 2018

I had a couple of medical appointments in Brisbane. We thought we would take the van down and camp at the Lawnton Showgrounds. However they were expecting a big group and couldn’t be certain they could accommodate us. After considering a few different options, we decided on the Redcliffe Showgrounds. This was a very good choice. We were parked in a quiet spot and it is not far to anywhere. On the first day I walked to the Redcliffe Esplanade, past the famous Redcliffe Jetty. This is the third Jetty built at this location, constructed in 1995.

On the way I came across a lovely canal with lots of birdlife.

It clouded over towards the evening and we were quite lucky to catch the full moon between the passing clouds.

Following are a few of the photos I took over the next couple of days, right in the showgrounds.

One morning I went for a drive on the Redcliffe Peninsula. First stop was at the Woody Point Jetty. It brought back memories from my first visit here – an early morning Photography Session with a professional photographer.

View from the jetty.

Close by is the Gayundah Wreck – although this makes it sound as if the ship grounded accidentally. In reality the stripped hull was purchased and beached as a breakwater for Woody Point in 1958.
I walked a bit along the foreshore, practicing my drone flying skills.

In the evening we returned to Woody Point for fish and chips. We were lucky to catch a nice sunset.

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Back on the mainland – Part 9

10th April 2018
We were now truly on the home stretch. Next stop was Mendooran, a spot close to the river.

11th April 2018
Quite a long drive for us on this day to Bingara, some 300km. We have stayed along the Gwydir River before and once again managed to get a nice spot.


12th April 2018
Another big drive – some 330km to Cecil Plains. Once again we are staying at a campsite we remember well from past visits. Just a few photos close to the campsite.

13th April 2018
The following day we actually made it home. The end of a 6 month trip with plenty of good memories.

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Back on the mainland – Part 8

5th April 2018
We left Wagga Wagga together with most other campers. All the same Lesley managed to find a campsite where we were on our own – Touts Lookout north of Young. Spectacular views from this place. Many photos in this post, I just couldn’t resist the temptation to take just another one.

6th April 2018
A few more photos from Touts Lookout before we left.

Destination for the day was Macquarie Woods Recreation Area – a drive just a bit over 200km.

We had camped here before when it was lush and green. This time around it was all very dry. All the same a nice spot.
7th April 2018
We stayed a second day at Macquarie Woods. Just some photos around the campsite.

8th April 2018
We had arranged to meet our friends Chuck and Catriona in Lithgow for a get-together and lunch. We camped at Lake Wallace nearby. A nice campground, close to the lake.

We had lunch at Station Expresso in the old Railway Station Wallerawang. A great place we would have liked to go to for lunch with our friends. However, they were closed the next day.

9th April 2018
Our friends arrived mid-morning and we enjoyed a good reunion and chat before driving the short distance to the Lithgow Workers Club for lunch. It is always good to meet up with friends that you haven’t seen for some time.

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Back on the mainland – Part 7

The Stone the Crows festival was now just one day away. We were allocated a 7:30 entrance slot, so we wanted to be close the night before for an early start on the day. We decided to stay at Oura Beach. The campsite was very busy but we managed to get a good spot.

We had a bit of a surprise when a herd of cattle was driven into the campsite. Apparently the council had asked the driver to get the cattle in to clean up the area.

We were close to Wagga Wagga and were close to the flightpath. My star photography ended up with the streak of the airplane lights.

We left early in the morning, it was just getting light. We got to the Stone the Crows festival to join the queue.

We stayed at the festival the full seven days and had a great time. The performers were fabulous. We especially enjoyed the String Family and the Bush Poet/Comedy duo Mel & Susie. We met up with friends and made new ones. We were busy with all sorts of activities. I didn’t take any photos. This was the first such festival we have attended as we don’t enjoy crowds but this festival afforded us the opportunity to camp up over the Easter break when roads and camping areas can be a nightmare for travellers. The bonus was that it was very enjoyable.

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Back on the mainland – Part – 6

26th March 2016

From Yass we travelled to Gundagai, another pretty town with lots of historical buildings. We camped in a donation camp within walking distance of the town center.

The town originally was on the floodplain (where the campsite is) and was completely destroyed in floods in 1852. Two Aborigines rescued many people from the floods and this story is being kept alive by numerous monuments in the town. The old townsite was abandoned and a new town was built on the hilly slopes on the edge of the floodplain.

There are a couple of abandoned bridges over the floodplain, a railway bridge and a bridge for vehicles. I would have loved to explore along them, but access is barred.

27th March 2018

We went on a round trip to the old goldmining towns of Adelong and Tumut. First stop was at a lookout above the town of Gundagai.

It was a short drive to the Adelong Creek Falls Gold Ruins. This is a worthwhile stop not only for the historical buildings, but also for the scenic landscape along the creek which tumbles over many small falls.

There are extensive walks on both sides of the creek, but I wasn’t keen to walk across the narrow bridge which had no railings…

It wasn’t far to the small Township of Adelong. Once again, historical buildings make this town attractive.

Our next stop was Tumut, a considerably larger town. We walked around the town, had lunch at a bakery before returning to Gundagai.

Back in Gundagai we went to the Tourist Office where I wanted to see the Rusconi’s Marble Masterpiece. This is a miniature cathedral assembled from tiny pieces of marble. An audio guide explains the history of the work and the man. The main object of the sculptor was to show of the beauty and diversity of the NSW marble.

The rest of the photos I took around Gundagai.

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Back on the mainland – Part 5

24th to 26th March 2018
We still had a bit of time on our hands so we decided to visit a fellow traveller who was part of our tour group in Vietnam. Alex lives in Yass, a pretty little town, not that far from Canberra.
The first photo is at our campground in Jugiong early on the morning of our departure.

The following photos are in and around Yass, where Alex gave us a guided tour.

After our tour we went to her place and had a lovely dinner with good company.

The following day we drove to Canberra to visit Lesley’s nephew, Stephen, and his family; the first time we had seen them since Stephen’s father’s funeral at the end of 2012.

The following photos are back at our campground in Yass.

The school at the entrance to the rest stop.

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Our backyard

i spent a few minutes watching the bees hovering around the bottlebrush in our backyard. So pleased i got a good shot out of it.

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Back on the Mainland – Part 4

16th March, 2018.

With our fridge now fixed, we had no plan for our couple of days in Mildura so we decided to drive to Wentworth as we had not been there before. Along the way, we drove in to the camping areas at Merbein Common thinking it may be a good place to camp sometime but there really was not a lot of room and the tracks were badly rutted in places. Not somewhere to inspire us. We continued on and spent some time looking around Wentworth.

The town’s main claim to fame is that it is situated at the confluence of the Darling and the Murray Rivers, important river systems in this country. There is a lovely park overlooking the spot where the rivers merge. The Darling on the left and the Murray on the right.

We decided to make the return trip into a loop along a road we haven’t travelled before and found ourselves back in Mildura at lunchtime. The last time we were in Mildura, almost 6 years ago, we had a wonderful dinner at Stefano’s Restaurant and had thought we would go there again. Stefano De Pieri, is an Italian born chef who migrated to Australia in 1974 and later moved to the Mildura area. Some years ago he had a cooking program on the ABC and Erich was quite impressed by him. He certainly has gone from strength to strength in the last 6 years and now has 4 different eateries in the city. At lunch time, our only choice was his cafe and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Next time we return to Mildura we will make sure our timing is right to try out both his Bistro and Spanish Grill.

17th March, 2018.

A beautiful morning at the Winery but it was time for us to move on.

We found a good spot at Lake Benanee just off the Sturt Highway. Unfortuntely, the weather deteriorated and the wind picked up considerably sending clouds of sand through everything, but it did make for some interesting photos.

A White-breasted Woodswallow with lunch.

Striking feather patterns on this Common Starling.

A stunning evening sky.

A White-plumed Honeyeater.

A House Sparrow.

A Yellow Rosella.