There is a self-guided nature walk that Nikki and Richard recommended, so I parked the car and headed off into the scrub. The plants and various areas were labeled with numbers, which a printed guide sheet explained. A few tiny orchids peeked between the more dominant waves of vegetation, and birds were abundant: mallee fowl, green parrots, blue wrens, currawongs, galahs. There were also a lot of butterflies and dragonflies, which delighted me, and stacks of mosquitoes, which didn’t. It was interesting to note that there were only a few mozzies in the section where the earth was largely sand, but when a new vegetation region growing in clay soil was reached, even bug repellant couldn’t keep them away. I didn’t take a lot of photographs in this section.
I was pleased to come upon a mallee fowl nest–a huge mound nearly six feet in diameter–now deserted but still intact. The mallee fowl use sand and rotting vegetation in the construction of their nests, to create the heat necessary to incubate their eggs. Amazing.
I am delighted with what I am seeing at this point, and yet I miss the outback terribly. I feel like I’m already on my way home, now that it is behind me. Next trip, I need to plan for more time in the arid interior.
After about 45 minute of wandering, I headed back to the car, and then back to the main road, headed for Horsham. I found an old hotel–the Royal–which was once elegant but is now a bit faded in its glory (and a little mildewed), but they had an available room at a great price, breakfast included. Plus, when I got to the room, I found that the sheets and towels were awesomely clean, crisp, and white, and I had a choice of foam or feather pillow. So the glory may be faded, but the effort is being made to have this still be a nice place.
I had dinner in the hotel’s bar, which is the busiest, cleanest, and warmest room in the hotel. I ordered a Strongbow cider and the evening’s special chicken. The very nice bartender, who was also the waiter, asked what I’d been doing and where I was headed. (My accent made it immediately clear, when I ordered dinner, that I was not an Aussie.) He brought me a more detailed map of the area to which I was headed next and made several recommendations of what to see in the Grampians. So a surprisingly pleasant evening at the end of a long day.