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In December at Sea Zen we keep our ears open for the sound of migrating Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos, our favourite visiting birds. It’s an eerie high pitched wailing ‘Skeow Skeow Skeow’ sound that can penetrate a kilometre before we see them.

Then all of a sudden three of them will fly past and up the Separation Creek valley, off in search of their favourite Pine trees.  You might see them at Sea Zen too – you never know your luck!

A family of 3 Cockatoos appear from nowhere

A family of three Cockatoos appear from nowhere

A few hours later they will lope back down the valley and land in our Banksia tree at Sea Zen and start ripping the cones apart. Hear the eerie bird call here. [click to continue…]

The hidden Rockpools

Although we had lived at Separation Creek for 5 years, we were never aware that there are 3 gorgeous rockpools just off the beach on the walk towards Wye River. We had passed them scores of times and had never noticed.    Sometimes visitors stumble on them and enjoy the experience, even in winter, like these hardy souls.
Visitors enjoy pool

The surf can be raging and the rockpools are always protected.  On sunny days the pools warm up a little and some shallow mini pools are very warm!

The pools warm up in summer

The pools warm up in summer

Where are the pools located?

There is a heavy reef 50 m offshore, and the current has ripped out some deep holes over the years, but they are invisible from the beach. [click to continue…]

Apollo Bay is the Crayfish capital of Victoria and it’s just a half hour from Sea Zen.

Crayfish near Sea Zen

Cooked Crays all year round

What is not generally known is that you can get a freshly cooked Crayfish all year round at Apollo Bay, and legally even when the season is closed.  How come?

The Fisherman’s Co-op overlooking the harbour at Apollo Bay buys crayfish fresh from the fishing fleet, but what is not generally known is they store them in huge holding tanks deep within the Co-op building.  Several thousand are kept in the holding tanks in a state of semi-hibernation.

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Dogs like holidays too!

Dogs like holidays at Sea Zen

Dogs like holidays too!

Most dog owners know this drill but here are our favourite reminder tips to make sure that your pooch is ready for the open road — and that your journey together will be as smooth as possible.

1. Use a crate or mesh carrier if your dog is used to one. Otherwise consider a special dog harness with seat belt – although there are no 100% guarantees studies have shown either of these options help to keep both you and your friend safer in the event of an accident.
2. Give your dogs — and Yourself — a Break. Just as you want a comfort and drink stop so does your dog. If you are travelling to and from Sea Zen and Melbourne via the freeway the BP station near Avalon has lots of lawn for your dog. We stop there with our Tanook at every trip.
3. Bring water and a bowl, leash and ID tag
4. Bring a favourite toy
5. Bring some treats for the journey if it’s a long one

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Accidental discovery

It was hidden under my feet and I stumbled on it walking the rocks. It was a square of rock, with raised edges where the bedrock had cracked over time. I looked closer. It had a crazy abstract pattern framed inside the rock, frozen in time. At the time, I didn’t realise its importance.

Alt words

The abstract panel I stumbled over

No big deal, but when I looked around, there were squares and rectangles beside it, like racked picture frames laid out on the ground. Each had its own pattern, each unique, each exquisite.

More panels beside the first one.

More panels beside the first one.

The stone frames went on some metres more.

Petrified gallery panels

The panels went on and on, each with its own design

The Petrified Gallery

In fact the stone picture frames extended way along the beach, hundreds of them. It was like a long, petrified picture gallery.

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Nature’s megafeast

We had heard of mega feasting on the coast but had never seen it. Stories of a thousand dolphins in a feeding frenzy off Wye about 15 years ago. We thought it might be exaggerated, but on 2 September, we changed our mind.

We were driving past Wongarra on Father’s Day, and noticed an unusually large number of Gannets offshore and stopped for a better look. There were about 50 birds circling and diving about a kilometre from the Great Ocean Road.  Just like this pic.

The circling Gannets

The circling Gannets

 The horizon opened up.

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Gannets at Wye River

These magnificent soaring birds are often seen from our Sea Zen accommodation at Wye River.

Gannet soaring

Gannet soaring

We see the birds soaring out at sea, surfing the eddies on the air waves, way off the land at Wye River.  Often there are just a few, circling and wheeling like aerial ballerinas, in a dance of death for the fish below.  Sometimes many more.

The circling Gannets

The circling Gannets

On a good day with lots of fish,

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Japanese block prints are an unlikely connection between Sea Zen and the bombshell 2017 Van Gogh exhibition in Melbourne.

Many thousands of Melbournians have been blown away by the colour and vibrancy of Van Gogh’s paintings. The last 3 years of his life was an explosion of creativity. He painted one masterpiece a day, each a frenetic outpouring of colour and emotion.

window 600

Van Gogh, Cottage 1888

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hygge fire picAh, the crisp wind is in the air at Wye River. Autumn is in full throttle and winter not far behind. So what’s special about Sea Zen at this time of year?

We recently found out the Danes are the happiest people in the world. And ‘Hygge” has a lot to do with it.

The Danish idea of  ‘hygge’ (pronounced hoo-ga), means ‘coziness’ or ‘happy relaxing ambience’. In their freezing winter Danes love to stay inside, relax, eat good food, munch on their famous cinnamon buns, be with friends and family, read books and be cozy.

cinnamon-rollsSea Zen is ‘hygge’ to the max. [click to continue…]

Yellow tailed Black Cockatoos can often be seen around Sea Zen in small flocks. Photo Birdlife Aust.

Yellow tailed Black Cockatoos can often be seen around Sea Zen in small flocks. Photo Birdlife Aust.

Bird watching is one of the things most of our guests love about staying at Sea Zen. And for us living here at Wye River  & Separation Creek it is a joy every day. But now a study from the Uni of Exeter has found that it’s more than just fun.
Research found that people who can readily see birds, trees and greenery were less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and stress. In fact they found the number of birds people could see in the afternoon was associated with better mental health.

“This study starts to unpick the role that some key components of nature play for our mental well being,” the author Dr Daniel Cox, says. “Birds around the home, and nature in general, show great promise in preventative health care, making cities healthier, happier places to live.”

It seems each week there is a new study on the role of nature in our mental health telling us things we already know and feel. A break away from the stress of the “concrete jungle” is great for anyone and spending time watching the birds of the Otways and Great Ocean Road certainly does that.

For more scientific evidence on the benefits of nature to our wellbeing read here.