Birds Way Down Under

4 12 2008

Greetings all! Dave here. I just thought I’d tell you I’m NOT Jade. She is a professional writer and all the posts up till now have been from her. I’ve been told that I need to do a post, and take my turn at keeping this blog up do date, so…

I thought I’d show you pictures of some common and not-so-common birds that you will see when you visit South Aus. Now, some of these may seem fairly exotic to you, but also remember, some of these flyin’ buggas are regarded as pests in rural areas.

Personally, I think they are very pretty. And, after all, they were here first!

Many of the pics were taken in the backyard, or in a nearby national park; you don’t have to go far to see the birdses.

Let’s start with the standard galah. A galah is a type of Australian cockatoo and in the US I believe it’s called a “Rose-Breasted Cockatoo”. These blokes like to “play silly buggers” and clown around. In fact they are sometimes called “The Clown Parrot” down here. Calling someone a “silly galah” is a way of telling them they’ve done something stupid or ridiculous!

You’ll see galahs all over Australia, not just down here in South Aus. Here’s a few shots:




Now we come to the Sulfur Crested Cockatoos. These are BIG boys! Weighing over a kilo, wingspan of 3 feet. Big beaks, big claws, and a flock of them will shred an almond tree as you watch. And they are very intelligent and very friendly.

You will see these blokes everywhere.




Another South Aus parrot you’ll see everywhere is a Rainbow Lorikeet. Fast and colourful — you’ll have fun trying to photograph these little, bright missiles:




If you get out bushwalking, you’ll see many parrots that you won’t see in the suburbs. Black Cockatoos, Eastern Rosellas, Long-Billed Corellas, and Little Corellas just to name a few.

Here’s a couple of shots of some Eastern Rosellas that you could see in the woodlands around Adelaide:



There are hundreds of new birds down here for you to see. So grab an Aussie bird book, some binoculars, a good camera, and come on down and enjoy the colourful display of local birds.


Top of the world … or at least Mount Lofty!

28 11 2008

For the best view of the city of Adelaide … and a great lunch at a terrific cafe-restaurant! — it’s got to be Mount Lofty Summit. This is the highest point in the Mount Lofty Ranges, which rear above the city like castle walls…


The view at night is glorious, as you’d imagine. It’s an easy drive up from the Crafers “park and ride,” and you emerge into a network of wind-blown carparks with national parks all around, and an amazing view at any time of the day:


The rotunda-style building features a great place to dine on one side, and a well-stocked gift shop on the other. Soft toys, teeshirts, books … yes, and postcards!


Even on a hot day, it can be cool(ish) on the summit of Mount Lofty, and it’s almost always windy. On a winter’s day, be sure to take a jacket. The wind can be very strong and surprisingly cold. But having said that, the stronger the wind, the clearer the air … and what a view! And when you’re chilly enough, go right back inside for coffee…

Wild flowers are the joy of October in the Adelaide Hills

27 11 2008

If beaches, wineries, restaurants and culture have all become a bit passe … how about some healthy exercise? All you need is good pair of sneakers, a sun hat, a water bottle — and a reason to walk a few kilometers in the fresh air.

October has the potential to be the best month in South Australia. On an average day it’s warm without being hot, there’ll be plenty of sunshine and also plenty of cloud (though little in the way of rain lately; the drought is settling in, big time), and it’s early enough in the season for the countryside to still be as green as Ireland. In fact —


–everything in the world seems to be blooming. Australia is not well known, overseas, for its wild flowers, but if there’s a botanist hiding inside you … if you have a camera with a “macro” function you can’t wait to put to the test … then here’s your big chance. There’s no better time so visit SA than October, because —


— it’s the one time of the year when you can wander a cool, green woodland trail, and see both delicate floral beauties no bigger than your thumb nail, and huge great “flowers” that look more like a yard scrubbing brush! Australia being Australia, much of our flora (as well as our fauna) is different. Even the folks who live here are constantly astonished by the variety in the flowers —


— which seem to explode into color when spring begins to warm. The honey bees downunder are a little different from those in the northern hemisphere; many of those you’ll see in the countryside are wild. They’re smaller than European and American honey bees, but they work just as hard…


…and they’re equally as harmless. Incidentally, there are kinds of honey down here that, if you’re a honey fancier, you just have to try. We don’t have the heather honeys, but try the yellow box on your toast at breakfast.


Virtually any of the national parks offers fantastic opportunities to see South Australia’s wild flowers in October of any year. Our recommendation would have to be Belair National Park, for several reasons. It’s so easy to get to — just minutes from the suburbs; it’s big enough to get off the beaten path and go “bushwhacking,” with a great chance of also seeing koalas, kangaroos and emus; and since it’s in the hills, it’s also inclined to be cooler and greener than other parks … of which there are many. And we’ll be visiting those on this blog in the weeks to come.

The photos on this post were captured at Belair, and at Worrawong Earth Sactuary.

Hahndorf welcomes you … hope you brought an appetite!

26 11 2008


One of the loveliest places in the hills near Adelaide (and it is near — close enough to head there for lunch!) is the town that’s described as “the oldest surviving German settlement in Australia.”

It’s Hahndorf … 28 kilometers from the city, and seeming like a great hunk of Australian history come to life. The town was named for the captain of the vessel which brought the original colonists out here from Europe. They fled to escape religious persecution and made a new life in South Australia which was so successful, Hahndorf is thriving in the twenty first century and has a wonderful future — quite an achievement, when you remember, the region was settled in the 1830s!


The town remembers its history with a lovely little street-corner memorial garden, in which you’ll find this statue, a likeness of Captain Hahn, who was so impressed by these coloists that it was he who found them a place to settle. His choice was superb: sheltered, fertile and beautiful.


Most people go to Hahndorf for the shopping (Main Street is a kilometer-long festival of curiosity shops, every one different, and astonishing. Want to buy an authentic cuckoo clock, or the best German sausage, or hand-made candles, or leather goods …? You’ve come to the right place here! There are also more curbside cafes, restaurants, pubs and courtyard dining areas than you could check out, if you ate at a new place twice a day for a week! The German Arms (above) is a terrific place for lunch. Imagine a real, German pub … with an Aussie twist!


We like the outdoor dining style, though … coffee and pastries “under the vines,” watching the world go by. Hahndorf is in wine country — some of the finest in South Australia are grown and made not far away. And everyone knows (!) South Aussie wines are the best in the world. (Well, they are!)


But the Old Mill is the place to be … especially for dinner at Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and such family celebraions. Mind you, you not only need a booking, you might need to book a couple of years in advance!

Getting to Hahndorf from Adelaide is easy: it’s a drive through some of the loveliest country on very good roads. But be sure you bring an appetite, because everywhere you turn, it’s fantastic food and wine. Want to stay overnight? There’s hotels, motels and a caravan park with cabins, any of which come highly recommended.