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Bowerbird has a gender identity challenge!

As spring approaches, the Bowerbirds at Wye River are more active, preparing for the breeding season any time now (Sep 2018).  They descend in groups all around Sea Zen, harvesting everything they can find now.  Not helpful for the locals who want to grow a fruit crop later in the season.  They also delight in harvesting our poor struggling Japonica blossoms!

They have a gorgeous green speckled camouflage, and they are a bit larger than a pigeon.  The eye is a lilac colour.  They are very social and make a harsh tzzaar-tzzaar call, so different from the Crimson Rosellas!

Satin Bowerbird

Female Satin Bowerbird

In amongst the Wye bird chaos can be seen a few mature males, who are black.  Not just black, but a deep midnight blue, satin and shiny.  Gorgeous to the admiring females, and to us humans lucky enough to see them.

The male Satin Bowerbird

Male in bower

Male in bower

But why are there so few males?

Actually they are half the bird population, but the young males look the same as the females, quite a challenge to their gender identity.  The gorgeous black only emerges after they turn four, when all is revealed!  So, the males are green when young and black when mature, all very confusing.

In breeding season, the males set about attracting a mate, bowerbird style.  They form a hollow of grass and twigs, an adorn it with blue decorations.  About now the blue clothes pegs will disappear.  Last year Sibylle put out some strips of blue paper, and within two days all 53 had disappeared!

We saw a local bower a few years ago like the one in the pic above – rare and hard to find in the bush, but a work of art!

The bowerbirds are just a fraction of the rainforest birds that can be seen from Sea Zen.

The beach dropped a metre overnight!

During a wild storm two weeks ago in late July 2018, strong currents ripped along the Separation Creek beach, a few hundred metres from our Sea Zen accommodation.   Next morning, a metre of sand had been ripped out, revealing …

Separation Creek rocks

Separation Creek gulch

A huge rock gulch – which now snakes across the beach mid way from the steps and the fisherman’s rocks.

Nature can be surprising.  On the rocks there is even a growth of bright green seaweed!  Hmm.  Was it buried under the sand, or did we just fail to notice it at the old sand level?  It looked to be buried, but how would it be green? Mystery.

Around a decade ago, we had a similar winter storm and almost all the sand was washed from the same Sep Ck beach, leaving nothing but rocks everywhere.  After a month with the prospect of a summer without sand, sure enough another storm raged, and overnight the hand of nature replenished the beach with smooth sand as if nothing had ever happened!

And for today’s entertainment…

Today we were treated to a few hours of Whales frolicking just off shore at Separation Creek. Right up close, so easy to see from the Sea Zen balcony. [click to continue…]

My favourite walk is along the rocks from Sep Creek heading towards Lorne.
Perhaps it’s the isolation. Maybe the little coves. Maybe the chance meetings with the Herons. Definitely it’s the small wind blown caves along the way.

It’s never the same.

After a storm, there is often a jumbled mess of rubbery kelp.

Kelp

Kelp

The coastline meanders in and out. Closer to Sep, the recent repairs to the road are visible, showing how fragile the road foundation is. Further along, the headland has old pathways, with one leading to an ancient aboriginal midden.  In some places locals have piled up some Zen stones, but none recently.

About 20 minutes along, the soft cliff rock has been eroded by the wind into a series of hollows and mini caves.

Caves

Caves

A few years ago, some of these were large enough to hold a dozen adults, but fragile. A few months later, they had collapsed into a pile of rock!
With this in mind, overhangs such as this are not a good place to shelter from the elements! [click to continue…]

There are six popular walks around Wye and Sep, suited to everyone from kids to bushwalking enthusiasts. There are also a few others for the more experienced walkers.

Here is a diagram showing the six most popular walks.

Walking map

Walking map

1 Paddy’s Path

The all time favourite path between Wye and Sep.
Time: 20 mins each way
Difficulty: Easy. [click to continue…]

Playing at the old Wye pier posts

Playing at the old pier posts, unaware of their grand story

They are a place to play today, but the lonely pier posts at the Wye River beach are witness to twenty turbulent years of timber milling at Wye River and Separation Creek a hundred years ago. It is a story of grand plans, grand implementation and dashed hopes that culminated in an explosive end.

Wye River was cut off from the world until the enterprising Harrington brothers, who arrived just five years earlier, built a jetty in Wye at around 1900. They didn’t question the government drawings, so it was a bad start. Their first jetty was too short and shallow to be usable! [click to continue…]

Wye River’s heritage is dominated by one man – Paddy Harrington. His name is unknowingly spoken by the thousands who walk Paddy’s Path each year, as they walk the pretty link between Wye River and Separation Creek.

Few know about the real Pat Harrington and his impact on the two hamlets. How he was a skilled bushman as a teenager, a world champion wood chopper, story teller and craftsman. How he built scores of houses in the two hamlets, many of which survive today. How he owned most of the land in Separation Creek and how the twists of fate led him to lose the land and finally he died penniless in a draughty caravan on the banks of Separation Creek. He may have been penniless, but he was loved more dearly than anyone who has lived in the villages.

Here is separation Creek in the 1960s when fibro shacks were multiplying.

early houses

Pat’s story is the story of Wye River and Separation Creek.

The Harrington family held a lease of 1100 Acres in Wye and Sep from 1895. It was a rough and ready farm run by three Irish brothers including Pat’s father Pat Harrington senior, in the time before there was an Ocean Road. Pat was born in 1912, one of six children, and was orphaned at the age of 12. The girls were sent to live with relatives, but Pat hid for 4 days and stayed in Wye, growing up in the bush under the loose eyes of his two uncles.

Growing up he would help the family who were always short of cash. He would milk the cows, catch fish and set trap lines for rabbits. As a youngster, he took the farm produce twice a week through rough tracks to Apollo Bay.

In 1919 a severe bushfire destroyed most of Wye River but the Harringtons and their homestead survived.

With just the local mill and no local school for most of his childhood, he learned bush survival the hard way. Soon as a teenager he was a crack shot, a skilled axeman and knew how to harvest the sea and the bush animals for a feed.

For a few brief years from 1920, the local Wye River school was open, but for most years he was self-taught, and he opened his eyes to the outside world though books. Around this time, several local mills, once famous as the largest in the southern hemisphere closed in Wye River and Separation Creek. The 1923 flood wiped out the local mill Tram [click to continue…]

The Otways Redwoods

The Redwoods is one of those mystical places in the Otways that is very hard to find, but very special when you get there. It is a quiet grove of huge Californian Redwoods, planted way back in 1936, deep in the Otways.
Redwoods

Redwoods

It is suddenly dark after the sunlight of the picnic area and you step into a very private place. Huge trees tower above and you walk in muffled silence on the fallen needles. A clear Otway creek runs quietly on its border.

It is very Zen, and an appropriate place to visit from Sea Zen, a forest counterpoint to the sound of the sea. Awe inspiring. A perfect place to come and contemplate. A place to think about nature.

A place for meditation

A place for meditation

The vertical lines of these 60 m high giants draw your eyes upwards [click to continue…]

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.

[click to continue…]