A walk in the park

On Saturday Willie and I went for a mini road trip to the Dandenong Ranges, which are about an hour out of Melbourne. Willie has been making a list of nearby-ish gardens and bird sanctuaries and the like, which we might want to go and visit. For this outing, we chose the National Rhododendron Garden.

Lots of photos ahead! Click to enlarge them. :)

It wasn't very busy, as the cherry blossoms and most of the rhododendrons have yet to flower, so it was the perfect place for a low-key late afternoon stroll. The first moment of excitement (after sniffing several daphne bushes) was this lovely kookaburra who was keeping an eye on us from its tree:

It looks so much like a puppet or soft toy! What a cutie.

The garden is made up of different areas, featuring different kinds of plants. Massed hellebores under trees, a reedy lake, and long stretches of daffodils under the cherry trees...

I really loved finding unfamiliar trees, like this hornbeam with its very vertical branches, some flowering witch hazels, and some interesting conifers I'd never come across before:

Now I know what fake Christmas trees are modelled after!

Before making our way back through the garden and home (via a great fish-and-chip shop), we paused for a rest by the camellias. Willie took a few snaps of me in my green woolly hat, which I realised I hadn't shown off yet. It's a simple ribbed beanie in Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter. The colour is called 'Button Jar', and the pattern is Swoon. I think it's just right. :)

The Taranaki Trip

This post is a little belated (I've been back for a week!), but in my defense, I have been under the weather. I came down with a cold the day I left for NZ, and it's finally winding down now.

The trip was pretty eventful! The drive down from Auckland to Taranaki was very scenic - we passed through some amazing gorges covered in native bush (the combo of pongas with nikaus was unusual to my eyes), and through lots of pretty countryside.

Once we arrived, party preparation was all on with band rehearsals, errands to fetch food and people, and wrangling giant to-do lists. Just as well we had highly-organised people on board... especially as I was properly sick by then, and kept needing to disappear for naps. In the end, the party was a huge success, and I enjoyed hanging out with Rowan and playing a game of pool while the band played.

Willie, Julian, Chloe, and Julian playing at Sue's birthday

After that, the pace of our holiday became much more holiday-like!
We relaxed in the garden, wandered around the nursery, and even went on a short bushwalk up the mountain.

Knitting on the porch, enjoying the sunshine

A wonderful mass of cosmos flowers!

Bees doing their thing <3

The apple trees in the nursery were covered in apples, as they were on our last visit. I always eat masses of apples when I'm in New Zealand, as I find Australian ones just can't compare. We also gathered a big box of feijoas, my favourite fruit! If you haven't heard of them, they're very much a Kiwi thing, a seasonal fruit that lots of people grow in their gardens.

Brian and Willie strolling in the nursery


Under the trees

Feijoas on the bush...

...and feijoas in the hand

All too soon we were off to Auckland again, where Willie and I visited our old friend Karen, and then back to Melbourne.

I've been taking it easy this past week while I recover (from the trip and from my cold), and doing a lot of knitting, which means I'll have some new things to show you soon! :)


On Sunday night Willie and I picked up some fish and chips, and went to visit the colony of grey-headed flying foxes at Yarra Bend Park.

When we arrived, there were thousands (possibly tens of thousands) of them hanging from the eucalyptus trees on either side of the river. A few were flying around from tree to tree, and others were waking up and stretching. They got noisier and noisier, and more and more restless, until after sunset the air was full of bats...



I'm definitely not used to being around wild animals other than birds, so it was quite disconcerting at first. Some of the noises they made were especially eerie! Luckily the bats weren't interested in us at all - they stayed well up in their trees and sky. 

I took these photos (and video) on my phone, which is why they're a bit dodgy - although I think the blurry motion effects are cool! We'll have to go back again soon with a video camera. Apparently there are also echidnas in the park, and lots of birds, so perhaps a daytime trip too. Now that Willie has a driver's license, we can take advantage. ;)

Apparently these bats used to live in the Botanic Gardens, but had to be relocated "due to the sensitive nature of the vegetation". I wonder how one relocates a colony of bats?

Turnin' Tricks

A couple of months ago I helped out on a 48 Hour Film, which was totally amazing and exhausting and hilarious. My post about the experience is here: A 48-hour adventure.

We were among the four films nominated for 'Best Musical Score' from this year's batch of Melbourne films (although we didn't win), and our music team actually won a prize from a film-making school!

The film is up on Youtube now, so enjoy! Keep an eye out for me, Willie, Julian, and Chloe (aka 'the band'). Celena is starring (and rapping)...

Sanctuary II

It's parrot time! The 'Land of Parrots' enclosure was definitely the highlight of our trip to Healesville. We were a little nervous feeding the birds (with birdseed and 'nectar') at first, because they're pretty rowdy and are as likely to land on your arm/hand as on the feeding dish. But we soon got used to them, and had a great time admiring their colourful feathers close up - and taking zillions of photos! Make sure you click to enlarge the ones below. :)

These green-and-red Scaly-Breasted Lorikeets were the busiest and noisiest birds there:

Feasting on flowering wattle

Nectar party!

Posing with parrots
My favourite birds were the Regent Parrots, who were a little more reserved than the lorikeets. I love their colours, and cute faces...

Such a cool colour combo!

There were also budgies and finches flitting about, and popping in and out of holes in the tree trunks. They mostly stayed out of the way of the lorikeets, and we didn't manage to lure any down for a feed.

Budgie meeting

In an adjoining enclosure, we found the bigger birds. The keeper was trying to lure some of the parrots and cockatoos down for the 'Spirits of the Sky' show, but they had other ideas! This Red-Tailed Cockatoo eventually cooperated, and got a treat for his trouble:

A well-camouflaged bird with a bright blue eye

An Eclectus Parrot eating out of Willie's hand

I definitely want to visit again! Birds are so cool. :)