Mt Field National Park to Lilydale via Ross and Liffey Falls
Distance Travelled - 367.8 km
Woke up at 5.30 am and contemplated getting out of bed to do photography but then sanity kicked in and I went back to sleep for a while reawakening at 6.30 am and finally stumbling out of bed at 6.45 am. I grabbed the camera from the car and walked to the falls for a morning shoot. Rephotographed the single fern and was quite happy with that, the start of a somewhat fruitful day photographically speaking. Continued on to the falls and did another panorama of the falls using 12 photos - 3 rows of 4.
Stayed at the falls for a while just watching and listening to the sound of the water dropping down and the different sounds coming form the forest surrounding it. There is an amazing array of sounds when you take the time to be quiet and listen for an extended amount of time. This is a lesson I learnt over and over again today - sitting and waiting quietly can bring unexpected results. Whilst looking down into the water near the platform I saw a 15 cm long trout holding itself still against the current. I watched for about 2 minutes before deciding to try and take a photo. Just as I raised the camera it took off in a hurry not to be seen again.
After about 20 minutes of sitting at the falls I wandered back to the campsite and had a shower followed by breakfast sitting in the camp kitchen. As I was quietly drinking my coffee, off in a world of my own, a blue wren (known as superb wrens but I think that is possibly going a bit far) came and sat just a little way from me in the bush. I slowly picked up the camera and managed a few shots before he took exception to being photographed and took off with the best insult he could muster (see photo below).
Having been told in no uncertain terms I swallowed the rest of my coffee and went to start packing up, finding when I got there that things were still quite damp and my campsite was still very much in the shade. I shifted all my gear to a nearby vacant site that was fully in the sun and as I charged the Engel battery via the solar panel and let the tent and fly dry out I sat in the sun and started processing more photos. The big trouble with taking panorama shots is that it chews a lot of battery to stitch them together and I am mindful of getting lost in the photography when stitching them with the computer running off the inverter from the accessories as it can lead relatively quickly to flattening the car battery. As a result of over enthusiastic photography yesterday I had several very large panoramas to stitch ( 13 - 15 photos each ) so decided to start on them and consequently flattened the car battery (particularly since I forgot the iPod and GPS were still plugged in and charging) which I discovered 50 minutes later just as the first panorama was finished. I normally remember to start the car after about 25 minutes and let it run for a while but absorbed in looking through photos I forgot.
Realised the battery was flat when I went to start the car thinking it had only been 20 minutes or so since I started and when it would turn over looked more closely at the computer details and realised my error. Turned everything off and attached the solar panels to the car battery and whilst that was charging I packed the tent away and rearranged the way I had the car packed away. Went and filled the water bottle in the camp kitchen and by then the car was ready to go.
Left Mt Field and headed towards Ross. On the way I saw an echidna crossing the road so turned around, parked and watched, somewhat in awe and somewhat in trepidation as it made it's way across the road dodging (with a little help from some observant drivers) 2 trucks and 2 cars. As it got close to the edge of the road I grabbed my camera and jumped out to take a few photos. Got a few from a distance with it on the road and then sat off the side of road in the grass and gravel for it to continue it's travels. After sitting for about 15 minutes it was close enough to reach and touch. As I moved my arms to get the camera in position it curled up and started digging itself into the ground. I got into position and then just waited. About 10 minutes later it decided to check if the coast was clear and started to bring it's head up. I waited a tad longer and then as it got ready to move fired off a few shots and then left it in peace as it burrowed down again, scared, I assume, of the noise of the camera.
Back in the car pleased with seeing my first live echidna close up I continued to Ross. The drive was reasonably pleasant winding through lots of farm land with definite signs that spring has sprung. There were lambs in the paddocks with their mums, calves wandering close by and baby ducklings in one of the rivers. Arriving at Ross I went to the info centre and had a look at their display and museum on Merino wool. Then I went for a look through the woodwork shop which had some nice pieces in it. After that I had planned to look at the Ross Female Factory - a prison for women and girls during the convict era. This however was closed as they were waiting on a snake handler to arrive and remove some snakes from in and around the buildings. Had a very nice vanilla slice from one of the bakeries there (as recommended by Shane and Michelle) but I am not sure if it lived up to it's advertised name as the "World's Best". Friends of mine in Southern Cross make a vanilla slice that I am sure would rival this one. Took some photos of the old bridge and then decided to head towards Liffey Falls as there is no camping available anywhere in Ross or the close surrounds.
On the way to Liffey Falls I saw another echidna on the side of the road and once again pulled over and waited patiently, rewarded with a very nice shot ( or one that I think is very nice anyway). Continued on it Liffey Falls, quite enjoying the winding and hilly roads to get there. Parked up and went for a walk down to the falls with camera and wide angle lens in hand. Very much enjoyed the falls and spent time just listening and watching again.
On the way back up to the car I came across a series of fungi growing out of a fallen log. I had seen an amazing photo in the Mt Field National Park office of some fungi and when out on the track came across a ranger and asked him about the fungi and he told me it was the wrong season, it is best in Autumn to find the fungi. Maybe this section of rain forest is different or maybe they just didn't get the memo but whatever their reason for being there I appreciated it and took the time to take some photos. This did however mean having to walk about 15 minutes up hill to get the other lens and ten came back down again and go up again afterwards but hey, who said you didn't have to work for your photography? After trying to get some decent shots, not overly hopeful - had real trouble trying to focus on the right spot for the image I had in my head but maybe something will look ok - I headed back up to the car ready to find a spot to camp.
Arriving back at the car I was quite dismayed to notice no camping signs that I had not taken in before. The area looked well set up and I was quite looking forward to the prospect of spending the night there and maybe trying to get some nocturnal activity photos of the local wildlife. Given my success so far today maybe that was just pushing my luck too far. Thought about trying to find another place to camp for the night but in the end decided it was just as easy to drive the extra 100 km back to Shane and Michelle's. Set off, waiting to find somewhere with phone coverage so I could let them know of my early return. Eventually found some in Westbury and having sent off messages etc. continued on back to Lilydale, quite weary and looking forward to bed.
Once home downloaded a stack of photos (today is now the new record for photos on this trip) and assigned them to their respective folders before deciding enough was enough and it was time for bed. The blog and sorting of photos for publishing had to wait until tomorrow.
Echidna on the way to Ross
Sign on the Ross Bridge
Echidna on the way to Liffey Falls
Liffey Falls run off
Fungi at Liffey Falls