Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Fleurieu 2011: Stormy weather over South Australia's Lakes District

Tookayerta Creek is brimming after the rain -- and with a stormy night still ahead --
Yes, there really is a Tookayerta Creek -- you couldn't make this stuff up! We're in the region
of Finniss now: flat lands, the Lakes District --
How flat is the Finniss region? Very. This shot has been doctored to get the most out of it.
In Photoshop, I split it, sky from land; enhanced both, and then put them back together.
Great result -- look at that sky! In fact, the day was almost like twilight...
As the saying goes, "great weather for ducks" -- or, in this case, for black swans. These guys
are in their natural environment, in a flooded area --
-- right off the side of the road! About ten minutes away from Milang, we pulled over to photograph this...
-- while, on the other (higher) side of the road, cattle scoped us out: "What in the world
are the weird pink monkeys doing now?" Heading for Milang, before the weather hits, guys!
A lone pelican cruises Lake Alexandrina...
... the sail boats are battened down, ready to take whatever comes.
Stormy weather over Lake Alexandrina is dramatic, picturesque --
This isn't twilight by a long shot; it just looks that way!
The old jetty at Milang, looking far more like art than photography. In fact --
-- the whole vast landscape of sky and water was extraordinary reminiscent of some of the work of the late
Dutch artist, Rien Poortvliet ... The Living Forest, Journey to the Ice Age, and Dogs. Google-Image this! Go on!
A couple (not Dave and Jade) takes a last stroll on the shore of Lake Alexandrina, before the weather "arrives."
Next morning, Dave and Jade strolled in the opposite direction -- the wetlands.
The mollusk population certainly approved of the wet weather. Several million of these guys were out to play
The Milang wetlands were strangely silent -- nothing to be heard from any direction...
...oddly enough, no birds, no other hikers, just Dave and Jade. Oh yes, and at least million mollusks!

Checkout time came around to the accompaniment of screeches of an arriving flock of parrots --
they often roost in the vineyards just over at Langhorne...
Little corellas are among the loudest birds in the world, and they travel in mobs of up to a hundred. 
A broad-scale irrigation system at Langhorne ... somewhat redundant in this weather. 
The Langhorne region is not as well known as the Barossa, McLaren Vale or the Coonawarra, but it boasts
some marvelous wineries; and its wines are unique ... rich, piquant, potent.
Wine tanks at Bleasdale Wines. It's imposible to think that Adelaide is only an hour away...
The vineyards here are incredibly lush, producing the best shiraz wines in existence. These vineyards
depend on yearly flooding for irrigation...
The history of the Langhorne region dates back to 1850 ... and this wagon was probably in use the day
the first vines were planted.
Wine barrels at Bleasdale Wines ...

-- and the original red gum lever press used at Bleasdale for 70 years. 'Huge' is an understatement. 
Cellar door sales at Bleasdale. You'e spoiled for choice, but -- their sparkling shiraz is heaven in a bottle.
Leaving Langhorne Creek ... where to now?

If rain wasn't enough -- fog came down as we headed north, on our way home...
Driving conditions were fun through the hills, where hairpin bends and sudden steep valleys
appear right ahead of you. Dave had  a whale of a time -- he loves this stuff...
Closer to Mylor, the fog began to clear and the rain returned...
The sheer amount of moss on the trees at Mylor Oval (ie., cricket field), where we stopped for lunch
before heading on home, indicates that it can be pretty damp, pretty often, in this neck of the woods...
Hahndorf, in the rain ... everyone driving on headlights. We didn't even bother stopping ...
time to get home, get warm and dry, and check out the pictures.
Beyond Hahndorf, though, we just had to stop and photograph this: looks like a rain forest ... primordial ... hushed,
still, air heavy with the scent of eucalypt and the calls of distant parrots.
This image, and the next, illustrate the fact that the camera does lie. You'd swear we'd found a herd of deer
in a clearing in the woods. Alas, it's a venison farm off the roadside --
-- these photos were captured shooting carefully between the links of a very tall cyclone fence.
Twenty minutes later, we were home and unpacking.
Rain, rain and more rain was the way it went for us in 2011 -- but sometimes you can get fantastic photos in conditions that would give the average travel agent the heebie-jeebies. They'll never sell a vacation package to the Lakes District on the strength of flooded lowlands, brooding skies, black swans on the roadside and so forth ... but if you happened to find yourself there at the time, it was refreshingly different.

In the morning we hiked into the wetlands, hoping to see birds and instead encountering mollusks by the millions. By ten o'clock, a flock of little corellas arrived from across at Langhorne, and ... well, loud is an understatement. Great mobs of these birds haunt the vineyards; in February, when the crop is ready for picking, the vineyard staff will routinely fire off something like a small cannon, to scare them off. The gunshot doesn't injure the birds, but it does send them whirling over Milang in great shrieking clouds. The vineyard caretakers can apparently also fire off the cannon at 2:00am (which makes little sense, because the birds aren't nocturnal), which can create havoc over Milang in the wee small hours.

The drive back to Adelaide was an adventure in fog -- Dave had loads of fun, since he loves a challenge. The Adelaide Hills are rolling and can be precipitous, not very unlike his native Fairbanks hills, so he felt right at home piloting the car around hairpin bends where the world seemed to fall out from under you, right ahead...

And then were were home, unpacking, and sorting pictures: that's it for another trip!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Fleurieu 2011: Surf, sea birds, sailboats and stormy weather coming up!

Surf's up at Parson's Beach, way west of Victor Harbour ... and even though the sky is starting to
promise a storm, surfers are game to go out --
The waves are not of the magnitude you get in Hawaii (duh!) but they're still surfable...
The beach is accessed from a parking lot set back into Newland Head Conservation Park,
and the signs are up, bright yellow, obnoxiously loud and clear -- see it there, by the path? What's it say --?
No swimming, it says -- high waves, dangerous currents! So...
Guess the No Swimming sign doesn't work so well!
Newland Head Conservation Park would be a great place to spend a day whale watching,
if we could just judge the season. These are southern right whales --
Newland Head looks like this, across its entire area: a haven for shore birds -- but we were
starting to think seriously about lunch, so ... time to head for Victor Harbour!
The weather certainly didn't improve as we headed east in search of civilization!
In all fairness to Victor Harbour, I'm going to digress right here and put in a few images of the town and Encounter Bay in nice weather. Judging by the images from the 2011 trip, you'd wonder why in the world anyone would bother going to a place that looks like crap! In fact, it's a lovely place, as these few glimpses will show:

We'll come back to Victor Harbour and Granite Island another time ... ride the horse-drawn tram across the causeway, which you see right above, hike the island, have lunch at the cafe there -- in decent weather! For the moment, we'll just return to 2011, when the whole place was reminiscent of the sub-antarctic, and looked like this:

The petrel rookery, right beside the road -- Franklin Parade, which follows Encounter Bay right around,
from Kent Reserve at the outfall of the Inman River...
Petrels actually breed far away, and you find them all over the south Pacific outside of breeding season.
Above and behind Victor Harbour the hills stretch away toward beautiful Inman Valley. Meanwhile -- 
Just around the point from the residential area on Encounter Bay is Petrel Cove,
which is amazing -- filled with "ship-killer" rocks on which the surf pounds. and --
Killer rocks or no, surfers were out at Petrel Cove; which must take courage, because --
-- when you look down from the cliffs, you can see the danger.
It seems Petrel Cove is also a good spot for beach fishing.
A sailboat rides at anchor against the backdrop of Granite Island. After raiding the picnic basket\
for lunch, we headed on east out of Victor Harbour --
The drive takes you through Port Elliott and Middleton. We were heading for
Goolwa and Hindmarsh Island, and Jade grabbed this one through the car window, in Port Elliott.
Once again -- souther right whales, as depicted on the info board at Newland Head Conservation Park.
The Goolwa Channel separates Goolws and Hindmarsh Island. This tour boat was going out,
despite the weather, which was looking increasingly doubtful.
Goolwa Channel is spanned by the road bridge. The island has recently become a hot-spot
for property developers. New homes on the "lagoons" there cost a small fortune.
Little corellas graze along the shoreline, where pine cones are falling -- 
Sailboats anchored just offshore are battened down for the approaching weather, but - 
This powerboat was roaring along, towing a water skier. Just time to get in one more run!
The sky lowers over Hindmarsh Island...
it's a world of water and sky, stark beauty ... and sailboats ... like much of South Australia's Lakes District.
Heading off Hindmarsh Island, rain starts to hit the windscreen.
The Goolwa bridge is misted with rain...
...pelicans turn their noses into the wind and hunker down. 
Back in Goolwa, it's already bucketing down!
You can plan everything except the weather, and we were really out of luck in 2011. It rained; and then it rained some more. As Dave says, we have nothing to worry about -- we're not likely to melt and we do know how to swim! We'll come back to Victor Harbour and Granite Island another time, with pictures shot in good weather ... we even have some videos of the horse-drawn tram.

This part of the trip was all about water: sea, surf, and rain ... and as we left Goolwa we were headed for Milang, on Lake Alexandrina, where we were booked overnight. So --

Next on this trip: Finniss, Milang, and Handorf.
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