Dreaming of Bunjil the Eagle and all eagles

Dreaming of Bunjil the Eagle and all eagles

The panorama from the Bunjil lookout at Maude north of Geelong takes in a valley in the Barabool Hills where the Moorabool river has cuts its path

Bunjil the Eagle is the dream time creator of the lands and the people that traditionally inhabited the land now known as Victoria Australia

Bunjil is depicted as a Wedge Tailed Eagle, Australia’s largest bird of prey

A majestic bird in flight

The lookout Bunjil Lookout is shaped like an eagle its powerful bill in front and the huge wingspan behind

Many decades ago the air over the Barabool hills would be full of soaring wedge tailed eagles but after years of European settlement the great bird is listed ad threatened in Australia

I parked my Moto Guzzi in front of the look out

The emblem of Moto Guzzi is the eagle, a mythical eagle inspired possibly by the Golden Eagles that live in the mountains that surround Lake Como, the home of Moto Guzzi.

And looking at the two emblems together I could not help but think of how eagles have inspired us through the ages from the Dreamtime of the oldest culture on earth to the modern machine age

And despite this inspiration, this fascination the awe which these mighty birds install in us

We don’t treasure them, but have hunted eagles over centuries, destroyed their habitat and threatened the beautiful birds that are so inspirational.

The old gold mining town of Steiglitz is an interesting stop to look at an old settlement village

And in contrast to the indigenous names of Barabool and Morrabool the is the sister villages of Maude, Meredith and Elaine the run from south to north through the hills.

A stop in Geelong for a coffee and the view over the bay that was created in the dreamtime by Bunjil the Eagle.

On the Umbrial Pass in the Stelvio Region of the Italian Alps

There is a memorial to the to the Italian Aviators of WW1

And at the crown of the monument is the Golden Eagle in flight

Carlo Guzzi and his co-founders of Moto Guzzi were veterans of the Italian WW1 airforce.

And maybe that is their affinity with the eagle and how it found its way to being the emblem of the Moto Guzzi motorcycle.

Release from the Melbourne Covid-19 Lockdown and a loop around Victoria, Australia

Release from the Melbourne Covid-19 Lockdown and a loop around Victoria, Australia

After four long months and the defeat of the spread of the Covid-19 virus in Melbourne, restrictions were lifted and travel within rural parts of the state of Victoria is allowed.

Time to spread the wings

The route – an 1800km loop around the outskirts of Melbourne – A route I will dub the outer Melbourne Ring Road.

Victoria, is the smallest mainland state of Australia but with a diverse landscape some iconic riding roads, along the coast and over mountains.

This route took in aspects of them all

Starting with a trip in company past the Port Phillip Bay Heads (the Rip) an often treacherous piece of water but calm and benign this day.

Off the ferry it was a ride through the Mornington Peninsula to Cape Schank and its magnificent view over Bass Strait

There is a lovely ride from Cape Schank to the township of Flinders before heading up to the first set of mountain twisties around the base of Mount Baw Baw.

And through some magnificent old growth forest.

After a run on the back roads of Gippsland camp awaited at Bruthen and the start of the Great Alpine Road.

From Bruthen the Great Alpine Road runs up the Tambo River Valley

Up to the summit of Mount Hotham

The northern side of the mountain is the most steep and a bit of a testing ride at times and then just after it flattens out there is a turn off to Mount Beauty over the Towonga Gap Road; with its beautiful views over the Kiewa Valley and the Mount Beauty Township.

Storms were forecast and a caravan was found beside the Kiewa River

After the storm the next morning was cool and the clouds still hung in the Valley

The run was now west through the King Valley

One of Victoria’s famous food and wine regions

With beautiful country pubs

And views over the valley from the mountains that flank it

The final twist for the day was to head north over the Macedon Ranges to Mount Franklin

Where there is a camping area in the crater of this old volacano

And walks around the crater rim

Mount Franklin is near the historic gold mining town of Maldon. See previous post here

The route west was then onto Maryborough and its amazing Victorian Era Railway station built during the gold rush

Then Avoca in the central highlands and central to the Victorian Pyrenees wine region

To the Grampian Ranges and a ride through these amazing rocky outcrops.

By this time the weather had turned wet and cold and it was a dash south across the western district plains to a warm hotel in the green rolling hills of the Otway Ranges hinterland.

A gentle ride along the Great Ocean Road.

An old time favourite ride see previous posts here and here

The overall trip was just under 2000km

So different to being confined to a 5km radius

Yes it was time to spread the wings.

Next week the interstate borders open!!!!

Melbourne Lockdown Reflections 13 (the last)- New Delhi

Melbourne Lockdown Reflections 13 (the last)- New Delhi

Arriving in New Delhi on 1 December 2008 for a first visit to India was more chaotic that was to be expected.

It was only 5 days after the the 2008 Mumbai Attacks, which when added to the massive construction program, that was being undertaken for the 2010 Commonwealth Games there was a special craziness in the city and its people.

I wondered if seeing Shiva the Destroyer looming over the city was a strange omen.

There was a level of wariness as well

Evidenced in the usually bustling Koral Bagh area of the city where most of the shops were shuttered and only a few street vendors were plying their trade.

The heavy smog and often frantic foot, car and tuk tuk trafic made photography a real challenge.

As did the heavy military presence at this time.

Like many capital cities New Dehli in its architecture give hints of the history of the country.

From the Minaret at the old fort from the time of the Mughal Empire from the long period of the Mughal domination.

The British Colonial, Presidents Palace and Arch of Triumph, from the high period of British colonialism

But most impresive

Was the understated Mahatma Gandhi memorial or Raj Ghat

A quiet and peaceful place is a busy noisy city.

A place emblematic of India as an independent nation.

Today is the last day of the Melbourne lockdown.

Over 4 months of restricted movement, stay of home orders and not seeing friends and family.

With now 9 days straight of zero infections and zero deaths from Covid 19 the restrictions are eased and the lockdown of the City of Melbourne finished

So the Mighty Breva has been serviced and loaded and ready for a weeks adventure in country Victoria

Along the coast, over the mountains and along the by ways.

Stay tuned!!!!

A place that kept my spirit vibrant during the long Lockdown

A place that kept my spirit vibrant during the long Lockdown

At the end of my street is Newport Lakes

A 33 hectare urban forest created in the 1970’s from an old bluestone quarry

What a wonderful vision of the then Local Government Council to create this haven in what was then a very industrial suburb devoid of open space.

Only about 12 kilometres from the centre of Melbourne

The fate of the quarry was sealed when the digging hit an underground spring and the lake was formed.

Over the the four months of the Melbourne lockdown I have walked the trails of this urban forest.

Seen the changes as winter turned to spring and now as summer approaches.

The trees in blossom

The resident black swans with their cignets

The flock of Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos that came for winter and went back bush in the Spring. Unlike us terrestrial animals free to fly to and fro as they please.

The bird life by the lake is vibrant wattle birds, butcher birds all too quick for amateur wildlife photographer like me

But this little blue wren wasn’t shy and struck the perfect pose.

The hard bluestone walls that surround the lake loom large and bare the cracks from the many explosions that were used to extract the bluestone.

Those cracks now form handholds for climbers to practice their skills.

And in the rock faces there is the subtle marks of human presence

Mosaics of the birds in the park

And as the days got longer and warmer and summer is only an month or so away

The Blue Tongue Lizards come out to bask in the sun.

Walking in Newport Lakes and cycling on the Williamstown bay trail (posts here, here and here.) have made me appreciate my local space very much. How lucky I am to have access to these elements of nature in a big city.

After for months of lockdown in the City of Melbourne the restrictions that have kept Melbournians separate from the rural areas of the State will be lifted in a few days.

The Mighty Breva will roam again across the local countryside, on the coastal roads and over the windy mountain passes.

But before I sign off my local explorations

A pelican in flight a couple of evenings back down at the Koroit Creek estuary.

Lockdown Reflections 12 – Agra, India

Lockdown Reflections 12 – Agra, India

Agra is the home of marvels none greater than the Taj Mahal

In some ways it overwhelms the other significant sites of Agra

So lets save it for last and start with the Tomb of Akbar

Akbar the Great led a huge expansion of the Mughal Empire and built both its military and economic strength.

Akbar arguably took the Mughal Dynnasty from Warlords to Emperors ruling over lands from Uzbekistan in north and well into southern India in the south and to Bangladesh in the east.

Coming by road from New Delhi to Agra the Tomb of Akbar is the significant monument you will come to first as you enter Agra

The Red Fort or Agra fort was the residence of the Mughal Dynasty

The Fort is better described as a walled city given its huge size

But the huge fortifications are definitely fort like

Inside the fortifications the remains of the sumptuous apartments give an indication of the luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by the Emporors who resided here

The Fort became a prison for one emporor Shah Jahan, who had commissioned the Taj Mahal, the tribute to his wife who had died.

While the Emperor was ill his youngest son seized power, imprisoning Shah Jahan, in a wing of the fort

From where he could peer out at the tribute to the love of his life and mother of his captor

The Taj Mahal – the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, the wife of Shah Jahan.

As you walk through the entrance gates you can not be taken by the beauty of the Taj Mahal

I’m sure Ive read it is the most beautiful building in the world and from my first sight I can not fault that claim

From afar

From every angle it is truly an awe inspiring building

Up close the detail of the carving in the marble and the inlay work is breath taking

The view from the main deck of the Taj Mahal back to the main gate one surveys the opulence of the grounds.

And of course I could not help but admire the beautiful colours that are India

Lockdown Reflections 11 – Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

Lockdown Reflections 11 – Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

The Water Palace, Jaipur

I have seen so little of the wonderful country that is India

A country so diverse, and full of contradiction and colur

I think the its the colours in India that stay with me as the most remarkable memories.

Join me as I reflect on the my small taste of India during the next few posts

Starting with Jaipur, the pink city, the capital Rajasthan

The colourful chalk drawings on the elephants in the streets

The ocre and pink tinged buildings that lend the city its name

And the amazing palaces, the Water Palace (top of page)

The amazing Wind Palace

The Maharaja (or City) Palace where the Maharaja still resides

I was most impressed though by the Yellow Fort.

Especially is you take the elephant ride to the main entry to the palace.

Then while winding through the rooms and alleyways of the Palace

There are special treats awaiting

Like snake charmers

With such a burst of colour

Of course a trip to Jaipur would not be complete without a Rajisthani feast – Vegetarian of course

A meal fit for the Maharaj!

Knowing your local place intimately – the bike trail

Knowing your local place intimately – the bike trail

View of Melbourne City from Seaholme

It is into the 4th month of lockdown in Melbourne, Australia.

Movement is very restricted but lucky for me the Bay is near at hand.

One of the activities, one of places that soothes me is an evening ride along the Williamstown to Altona.

I have learnt to watch the colours of the sky, and know the spots to get the best views intimately.

Might have been my years of sailing that makes me such an avid weather watcher.

Early sunset from Altona Coastal Park

I can tell as the sun slowly sets that there is going to be a beautiful show tonight.

The early stages of of the sunset reaches across the bay and lights up the CBD.

City view from Altona Coastal Park

There is the perfect moment when the sun reflects of the city’s glass towers making it glow before the cities artificial lights try to steal the show.

Its hard to believe from this angle that the metropolis is quiet and largely deserted as it sparkles in the sunset.

Its a short ride over a little ford to my favourite viewing point to see the birdlife on Koroit Creek

This night it is the swans gliding and feeding on the creek up near the ford, under the reddening sky

By the the time I reach the estuary end of the creek the fiery sunset is reflected in the still water

At the Jawbone Marine Sanctuary the last minutes of the suns day is an orange smudge across the sky

Gotta say in these difficult times, to be able to be in and rejoice the natural beauty nearby is a special tonic.

I check the lights on my cycle and head home.

Lockdown reflections 10 – The big cats of the Masai Mara, Kenya

Lockdown reflections 10 – The big cats of the Masai Mara, Kenya

Of the big cats of the Masai mara the Cheetah is the at the smaller end and hard to find

And we were lucky to find this one resting under a tree.

In contrast the lions, the Kings of the Jungle were out in the open and unafraid

Such photogenic beasts and totally unafraid in their domain

Even when courting

And mating

The Leopard is more illusive and its young are vulnerable

So the they are kept safely up a tree

But like all young, juvenile leopards don’t always stay put when told to

and decided to climb down our of the tree and take a walk

All of a sudden out of the bushes dashed the mother too fast for me and my camera.

She grabbed up the escaping cub and was gone back into the scrub

But all the action revealed

A second cub hiding in the tree.

On leaving the area we came upon a hyena clan out hunting

Hyena are major predators for leopard cubs and will camp out under a tree waiting for an opportunity to get a cub if the find a tree.

These hyena have tracing collars attached as part of a research project that is being undertaken into the social structures of these amazing animals.

In Ethiopia, in the city of Harrar, I learnt a new respect for the hyena.

This city has a special relationship with hyena that goes back centuries.

Which in more recent times has led to the hand feeding of the hyena and many many mill around

And if you are game

You may feed them yourself

I guess you are wondering if the hyena found the leopard cubs?

When we went back the next day – Both cubs were in the tree!

This brings to an end my reflections on journeys to Ethiopia and Kenya.

I has planned to travel to Morocco this year but Covid 19 put an end to that, but I look forward to visiting some more the diverse countries of the amazing African continent.

Lockdown Reflection 9 – The big beasts of the Masai Mara, Kenya

Lockdown Reflection 9 – The big beasts of the Masai Mara, Kenya

The Elephants are the biggest of the beasts of the Masai plains

You really appreciate how big when you get up close

This huge animal was slowly walking slowly sideways

Our driver creeping forward forward just as slowly

Keeping the elephant the back corner of the van

The driver said that the elephant was trying to get into a position to charge

I think it was just moving us away slowly from its family

The Masai Giraffe is the largest of all the giraffe types

These huge animals are quite a lot larger with darker and more pronounced markings that the Rothschild Giraffes at Lake Nakuru.

Unfortunately, like many of the great wild animals the Masai Giraffe in endangered.

My final big beast of the Masai Mara in the Hippopotamus

A huge beast who has the reputation as the deadliest large land mammal.

These huge beasts weigh around 2,250kg

But it is rare to see more that their head

Lockdown Reflection 8 – The herd animals of the Massai mara, Kenya

Lockdown Reflection 8 – The herd animals of the Massai mara, Kenya

Zebra and Topi

The grassy planes of the Massai Mara

The beautiful markings of the Zebra and the Topi

topi

This trip taken in late November with the grasslands flourishing from the rainy season,

Young animals parrt of the herds

Topi antelope and calf
Hartebeast with young

For the Wilderbeest Great Migration had moved south out of Kenya by this time of the year

There were some older or weaker beasts left in the masai mara

Wiiderbeest

Their fate most likely to a feast for the parts predators

Sneaking through the grasslands is a predator

Its is unlikely that the Jackal would take on the bigger herd animals more likely small er mammals and rodents. But what a sight prowling through the grasslands.

Its the big cats the herd animals really have to look out for.

But we will come to those in a further post

Because sometimes you miss much by looking for the star attraction!