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March 8, 2020
Portland, Australia: Koalas (wild ones this time!)

Russell writes…

Today’s port was Portland, the oldest European settlement in the Australian state of Victoria. We only had a half day here, from 11:00 am until 7:00 pm.

As we travel through these smaller Australian ports, Gail has classified the available excursions as “bus, boat and booze” tours. You either take a bus to a winery, or you take a boat to a winery. Today’s scheduled excursion was the five-hour “Charming Port Fairy & Wine Tasting,” which would bus us from Portland into another town an hour away. But after thinking about it, we decided it was akin to arriving in San Francisco so you could spend the day in Napa. Why not just see San Francisco? And so, we cancelled Port Fairy, and decided to spend the day exploring Portland.

And boy, did we ever explore Portland. From the start, our shuttle bus from the ship to downtown had the nicest driver and guide. While downtown, we visited yet another Chemist (pharmacy) and bought even more medications. (Gail has been suffering from an ear ache, and the ship’s doctor recommended she get some ear drops.) In between, we just stopped and chatted with friendly local people we met along the way.


Downtown Portland

Vivienne, a local. Gail loved her colored hair!

The bulk of our day was spent at Fawthrop Lagoon. This is an inter-tidal wetland where a freshwater river meets a saltwater marsh. The result is a rich area of 150 bird species and rare salt-marsh vegetation. We walked all the way around the wetland looking at birds.

Fawthrop Lagoon

Gail attracting birds

Black swans

An egret enjoys a fish snack

Ironically, just as we neared the end, we met a couple who asked, “Did you see any koalas?” It turns out that this area is also home to many wild koalas. All this time we had been looking at the water instead of up in the trees! So we backtracked, and walked back around the lagoon looking up in the eucalyptus trees. And by golly, we saw a total of three koalas up there! We were thrilled that they were awake, moving, and completely unafraid of people. One of them was less than 10 feet away from Russell.

(These koalas were very much unlike the “lumps of fur in trees” that we saw yesterday at Phillip Island. Those domesticated koalas are fed and don’t have to work for their food, so they can afford to sleep all day. These wild koalas are much more active.)

We were looking left (into the water) when we should have been looking right (up in the trees)

Gail with a wild koala!

A koala on the move

This one started in one tree…

… then it jumped…

… and landed in another tree

We finished the day at the Portland Botanic Gardens, which was currently featuring a breathtaking display of dahlias.

It was a very full day, and we walked continuously from 11:30 am until 5:00 pm. All told, we easily made up for the seven km hike that we didn’t get yesterday. We finished off with an “American Buffet” at La Veranda aboard ship that included macaroni & cheese, meatloaf, fried chicken and bananas Foster for dessert.

The Botanic Gardens

Gail fell in love with this statue

Robert, the port security guard (Gail makes friends with everyone!)

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