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Akoonah Park, Berwick, Vic

S37 °41' E145°33'

Thu 20 - Sun 23 Apr 2000

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Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary

We spent the morning at the Healesville Sanctuary. It was much smaller than I had imagined. The volunteer in the information centre told us that a decade ago the place had been all lawns like zoos used to be. Western Mining Corp sponsored a revegetation project, presumably to demonstrate their green credentials, and the site has now been returned to its natural state. The horticulturalists have taken great care to use local indigenous species for all the work. The results are pretty impressive.

Sadly there is a perfect demonstration of the ecological results of human interference. The Bell Miners live here in plague proportions and, as is their habit, they cultivate the Lurp which is the source of the sweet exudation on which they live. Because the Lurp is sustained, it has also reached plague proportions and the gum trees are suffering dieback in quite serious degree. The trees are the finite resource and the other living things down the food chain can't help themselves from killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

The highlight of the zoo is the raptor display. Not a big production but the birds are beautiful and have been trained to fly a foot above the audience, less in the case of the Barking Owl which swept my bald head with her wings every time she flew over.

She was a little lacking in concentration and kept looking intently into the sky. The keeper remarked that she was nervous of the eagle which was flying several hundred metres overhead. We humans with our poor eyesight were eventually able to see the bird. It was so far away that we hadn't noticed and certainly wouldn't think of it in a position to threaten us.

photo of an eagle The last bird in the show was a Wedge-tailed Eagle. She certainly knew that the other bird was there and showed us that there were several other eagles flying high overhead. The keeper pretended to be concerned that his bird would fly off the challenge the others.

Healesville Sanctuary is certainly up there with the best of Australian Zoos.

Heading for Berwick, we drove through Woori Yallock. Only Australia could have a town named Woori Yallock, which is of course pronounced Wooriallock. On to Seville, named perhaps after the fruit, and Monbulk, named obviously after the jam. This is the fruit growing area for Melbourne and very productive it looks.

The Solos Meeting

The showground at Berwick is a great place for a large group of motorhomes with lots of grass, lots of trees, and plenty of power and water.

We have met up with several other Highway Wanderers. We were all the guests of the Solos Network. These are people who are travelling by themselves and who are members of their local chapter but who meet together at big rallies to share their experiences of life on the road without a partner.

We had campfires each night and as the twilight set in the Gang Gang Cockatoos came back from the day's foraging to roost for the night in the trees around the site.

On Sunday we all pushed the boat out and went to the pub for dinner. Despite making a prior arrangement, they didn't cope well with the large additional crowd. The food was quite ordinary but it's hard to spoil a can of Guinness or a bottle of wine and we made a really good night of it. .

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Created by Robin Chalmers on 20.04.2000 and last revised 07.05.2000