Dayna's Blog

Holidays, walks and who knows what


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Something To Write Home About

As I wrote in my Drive-by Photography post, taking a good photo from a moving car can be a challenge. It’s a good feeling when you’re reviewing photos and find a few have turned out just as you’d hoped.

This was of those photos, even though at first glance it might seem to be of nothing much:

"The road hugs the Orford River"

“The road hugs the Orford River”

Of course, I had no idea that it would end up here:

Spirit of Tasmania ad from The Age newspaper

Spirit of Tasmania ad from The Age newspaper

Let me explain…

I love Tasmania. The island captured my heart on my first trip there.

To express this love, just over a year ago I created a series of pages on my blog that you will find if you look up at the top right of the screen and click on Tasmania – A Treasure Island (or hover over for the drop-down list of related pages). I’d already written what Stephen called ‘Dayna’s Lonely Planet Guide to Tasmania’ for a friend, and I’d subsequently passed it on to a couple more people who wanted tips on where to go and what to see in Tassie – by putting my email online, I was mainly adding photos and making it viewable by everyone.

What about the photo then?

As is our habit, Stephen does the driving while I keep my camera handy and entertain the driver (quizzes, I-spy, etc) as and when required. Although, when we’re driving around Tassie, there’s more opportunity for photography than call for keeping Stephen alert behind the wheel.

You may have noticed that my posts are generally long – yes, I freely admit it. But I like detail. Which is why I included my above photo on my Freycinet & The East Coast page.

Had I not, it wouldn’t have been seen by the Spirit of Tasmania’s media agent, and someone else’s photo would have been used in this ad.

So the moral of the post is – keep posting! You never know who’s looking at your blog.

Oh, and visit Tasmania! Drive there if you can. You may fall in love in love with it, too.

: )

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Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse – 11-13 March 2014 (Part 3)

Return to Tidal River
Via South East Walking Track – Waterloo Bay Walking Track – Oberon Bay Walking Track

Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse Hike - South East Point to Tidal River

Dawn was slightly cloudier, though just as magical, on our second and last morning at the lightstation. There was more activity in the cottage this morning compared to yesterday as all overnight guests were checking out today. We were aiming to be out on the track by 9am(ish) but I think we were beaten out the door by a couple of hours by some of last nights guests! Not that it’s a race; we were there to enjoy the experience after all.

In our tired state of arrival on Tuesday, two days before, we had considered taking the shortest route back out (i.e. back along Telegraph Track). Fortunately, the weather had cooled as predicted and after a day of rest we were re-evaluating our options for getting back to Tidal River. We decided to stick with the original plan of heading up the east side to Waterloo Bay, turning inland from there to Telegraph Track, and following that up and over Telegraph Saddle – an anticipated 24.1km.

We had taken advantage of the spare food draw to leave behind the rice & tuna (hopefully it finds its way into a hungry stomach or two!), which meant we were only carrying lunch and snacks for today (if you’re interested, see what food we took here). Thankfully our packs were now a kilo or three (in Stephen’s case) lighter. When I shouldered my pack and tightened the waist strap, it actually felt right!! Thank heavens for that, because I really wasn’t looking forward to another 20km+ walk with an uncomfortable pack.

Colin, Renata and me

Colin, Renata and me

Walking down the steep path to the lighthouse I was once again thankful that I don’t usually have issues with my knees. With a pack on there’s a bit more strain everywhere.

As we climbed the path up to the main (South East Walking) track we passed the first of three groups we’d see that morning. These young people were trooping down the path, once again looking like they’d been transported from a suburban park. One or two said ‘Hi’ as they passed, but it was the group leader at the end, a middle-aged bloke (possibly someone in the group’s dad?) whose comment surprised me.

“Gee, you took your packs?”

Well, we certainly weren’t going to leave them behind!

He was gone as soon as he’d said it, but it got me wondering – how many people realise that there’s accommodation at the lightstation?

If you're only visiting the lighthouse as an optional side trip, why bother taking your pack with you?

If you’re only visiting the lighthouse as an optional side trip, why bother taking your pack with you?

The South East Walking Track has much to recommend it. So much more pleasant walking than the Telegraph Track yesterday. Lovely path, trees, rocks, views…

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Walking north towards Waterloo Bay there is a long steep-ish ridge to climb, but it is shaded and fortunately for us the group coming downhill didn’t bowl us over.

Occasionally you’ll find yourself up to your waist in brakenfern. And sometimes up to your chest. I hadn’t taken any precautions against leeches or ticks, but thankfully I didn’t pick any up. Whether it was because we weren’t the first walkers through this morning, or because the weather lately had been so dry that leeches were a bit scarce, or because there usually aren’t many along there, I’m not sure – just grateful, whatever the reason.

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By now we had been passed by three groups heading south and an older couple hiking and camping independently – must have been a busy night at Little Waterloo Bay camping area last night!

From the highest point of the track it’s pretty much downhill all the way to Waterloo Bay.

We spotted two figures walking along the beach below and thought it could be Neal and Elle, who we knew were walking this way and had started out before us this morning, but we caught up with them before the bottom of the hill. Must have been another pair of hikers enjoying this magnificent part of the world.

Waterloo Bay is quite beautiful.

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This time it was nice to have company while looking for the track leading off the beach. Stephen may have been pretty confident that it was 1km along, but after our Oberon Bay experience, I wasn’t taking anything for granted.

Waterloo Bay Walking Track  entrance to the beach, 1.2km north of track onto beach from lighthouse. Look for footprints.

Waterloo Bay Walking Track entrance to the beach, about 1.2km north of track onto beach from lighthouse.

Once again it’s not obvious from a great distance, but unless there’s been a really high tide or stormy weather, it could be likely that there’s a lot of footprints around to lead you in the right direction. The clear giveaway here that this is the path you’re looking for is the large gap in the dunes and the mesh that’s been laid down to prevent erosion – more on that shortly.

Waterloo Bay Walking Track found, it was time for lunch. I was starting to get tired of salami, but our guest wasn’t getting fed, even if it did the ‘poor me, I’ve only got one leg’ trick.

Although Neal had very kindly offered to give us a lift from Telegraph Saddle (where they had parked their car) to Tidal River, we decided to push on ahead of them. Shouldering our packs we waved goodbye and set off.

I was expecting this track to be fairly similar to the one on the opposite side that joins Oberon Bay and Telegraph Track, except just over a kilometre longer. Maybe once it was, but currently it’s quite different because you’re not following a vehicle track (thank goodness for that!), there’s more change in elevation, and the vegetation is also much more varied. There are some stretches of sand (especially at the Telegraph Track end), but boardwalks and quite a bit of grid have been put in too. A lot of work has been done to limit erosion along here.

You start out in the swamp, but don’t worry – the boardwalk, though not as long as through Sealers Swamp, is (currently) in perfect condition. The grating also reappears periodically to protect  parts of the track that have been more affected by erosion.

It’s not too long before the gentle rise gets steeper as you climb up the south side of the valley and pass below the Mussolini Rocks.

From there you can see the back of Mt Oberon and across to Oberon Bay.

Despite having walked along Telegraph Track just two days ago, we couldn’t spot exactly where it was from the Waterloo Walking Track until we were right back at Telegraph Junction.

There seem to be signs every which way you look at the junction. It’s not easy to explain, so I’ve made a mud map.

Telegraph Junction mud map

Here are un-cropped photos of the signs (A to D) at Telegraph Junction:

I’ve also summarised the information on the signs because at the time not all of them seemed to agree, and sometimes it’s not until I’ve got pen and paper in hand that I can get things straight in my own mind. It would seem that someone else could have used a bit of pen and paper at some point too…? Check out the Roaring Meg numbers.

Distance (km) from Telegraph Junction - Wilsons Promontory National Park

Now that we were at, very literally, a cross roads once more, our next choice came down to the long, known way or the shorter, unknown, but probably harder way. In other words, back via Oberon Bay, or up and over Telegraph Saddle (via Oberon Carpark)? If we went up and over, the plan was for one person to stay with the packs at the top while the other person walked the final 3.5km back to Tidal River to get the car and come back to collect the other person and packs.

Despite today not being as hot as the first day, we were once again getting low-ish on water. Another steep hill climb really didn’t sound very appealing at all. We chose the known path via the beach – 11km vs 9.6km according to our SV Map or 10km according to Parks Victoria. (Whatever!)

The first section back to Oberon Beach is fairly unremarkable so we just tried to walk the sandy track as briskly as we could.

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Eventually we made it to the beach. It was a very welcome sight. The compact, wet sand makes for easy walking for a kilometre to the northern end of the beach.

Having had a bit of a rest walking along the flat, it was time to climb again. On the plus side, the track around this headland isn’t particularly demanding, and there’s great views and a breeze to be enjoyed.

Climbing up the fine white sand dune to regain the path was tiring. There is a reason why surf lifesavers generally look so fit – sand and sea are not the easiest surfaces to propel yourself through!

The track around the headland past Norman Point climbs just as much as the previous headland, but this time it felt steeper. It was probably that I was just longing to reach the end and re-fill my water bottles. We were both quite tired and more than ready for a long icy drink by now.

Leaving beach views behind, the track heads inland then runs more or less parallel to the beach, back to Tidal River.

It had been a long walk, but we were finally back!

Last turn back to the Tidal River Visitor Centre

Last turn back to the Tidal River Visitor Centre

We’d made it! Unfortunately I don’t have a finish line photo. So here’s a wrap up instead.

Elevation Profile from Wilsons Promontory Lightstation to Tidal River Visitor Centre

Elevation Profile from Wilsons Promontory Lightstation to Tidal River Visitor Centre

Total walking time for ~25km was 7hr 15min but of that actual moving time was only 6hr 20min, according to my Garmin data.

As it was now about 5pm (or there abouts) it was well after closing time for both the Visitor Centre and the General Store. Checking in to report that we’d made it back safely would have to wait until tomorrow, but more importantly in the immediate present we’d have to wait until driving out of the park before getting Stephen the quick sugar hit (a soft drink) he was craving as much as I had been desperate for my effervescent powder at the end of the first day’s walk.

Plain water was going to have to do for now. Since Tidal River is primarily a camping site, finding tap water was not a problem. Knowing if it was safe to drink was a little trickier. There weren’t signs saying not to drink from taps around the place, but to be on the safe side I re-filled our bottles from one of the permanent dishwashing stations (one of the brick buildings around the camp site).

The drive out was easy as it wasn’t late enough for nocturnal/diurnal animals to start feeding by the side of the road and become a traffic hazard – although you should always drive cautiously through the park. It’s about a 30min drive from Tidal River to the park’s entrance in daylight, a bit longer at dusk and night time because you need to slow down to avoid hitting animals.

We had taken (but left in the car while we were out on our hike) pasta to cook for tonight’s dinner back at the studio cottage at Black Cockatoo, but thought we might find something better at Yanakie General Store. Indeed we did! Thursday night was fish’n’chip night! It was fresh and it was good. There were enough chips for probably 4 people, but they were excellent chips, and came with an equally generous tub of tartare sauce. Perfect after a hard day’s hike, and enjoyed as we watched the cows returned to the field after their evening’s milking.

Hike complete, the question is… would we do it again? Yes. Definitely.

Would we do it differently? If we had camping gear it would be nice to take the time to do a bigger loop as I think most hikers do, instead of rushing in and rushing out as we did. But next time, regardless of camping equipment status, we’re planning to go in winter (which will also be off-peak – assuming a stay at the cottages can be booked then) and park up at the saddle carpark to shorten the walking time and distance by half a dozen kilometres! Shorter daylight hours in which to complete the walk, more clothes to pack, but perhaps less chance of encountering snakes on Telegraph Track.

I still want to visit South Point.

But mostly I want to go back and watch the sunrise again in that most serene and beautiful of places.

Sunrise at Wilsons Promontory Lightstation

Appreciating sunrise at Wilsons Promontory Lightstation

See also:

Preparing for Wilsons Promontory Lightstation hike (hiking food, tips on what you will/won’t need to pack)
Wilsons Promontory Lightstation (Part 1) (walking to the lightstation from Tidal River via Oberon Bay Walking Track and Telegraph Track
Wilsons Promontory Lightstation (Part 2) – Lighthouse tour, accommodation options, exploring eastern landing
Wilsons Promontory Lightstation (Part 3) (Return to Tidal River via South East Walking Track / Waterloo Bay)

: )


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Adelaide Part 1, Dec-Jan 2013/14

After a few years of being scornful of my Victorian colleagues heading for the Gold Coast for their summer holidays, telling them that I was glad to be away from the horrible heat and humidity, not to mention crowds, I guess a few people were surprised to hear that we our summer holiday destination this year was not another mountain hide-out with lots of healthy bush walks and quite afternoons reading and enjoying the peaceful surrounds, but… Adelaide.

Yes, that's Adelaide there in the centre. In the middle of the green square. Squint a bit harder

Yes, that’s Adelaide there in the centre. In the middle of the green square.          (Squint a bit harder.)

Yes, Adelaide – the capital city of South Australia. The city that has a deserved reputation of getting extremely hot in summer and most Adeladians would probably tell you there’s not much on there.

However. We were banking on the fact that, like Melbourne, the unrelenting, sweltering (but dry) heat wouldn’t set in until mid-January, and in that optimistic frame of mind we both packed light-weight long pants and a pair of jeans and rugby tops – just incase.

As for boring… I come from Brisbane, which a lot of people (not me) describe as a large country town, and since I’d never been to Adelaide before I had a whole city to discover! And given our previous summer holiday locations – take last year at Walhalla for example – Adelaide was going to be packed full of things to see and do – as you will see.

(P.S. If you do prefer heading to the beach for your summer holiday, keep in mind there’s so much more to the Gold Coast than just Surfer’s Paradise and theme parks.)

Pigs running a muck in the mall

Pigs running a muck in Rundle mall

SUNDAY

Don’t be surprised to hear that we drove to Adelaide. It’s only about 8hrs or so. A good holiday is one where we can take the Mini with us. This time we even managed to pack lightly! Although, had we added the hiking boots and backpacks (etc) it would have been noticeably fuller, I suspect.

I hadn’t realised the towns around the northern Grampians weren’t actually in the mountains. I’d imagined that Stawell (pronounced ‘stall’) and Horsham would be nestled at the foot of the ranges, much like Dunkeld and Halls Gap are. (Mental note: stick with holidaying at Dunkeld for the Grampians.)

The Giant Koala

The Giant Koala, Dadswells Bridge, Victoria – between Stawell and Horsham

After passing the Grampians you’re in the region known as The Wimmera, and it does become a lot flatter. And drier. Some of that is because the majority of fields are of wheat about to be, or recently, harvested at this time of the year. There’s a of hay bales in the fields, too. The colour palette of the countryside is the gold of wheat, dark green of trees that line the roads and dot the fields, and the washed-out blue of the sky. Thank goodness it was only 24oC and there was sunscreen lotion handy, because the sun through the windscreen felt pretty strong.

We saw our first salt lake not far past Horsham (still in Victoria). A number of cars had pulled up at the stop beside it, for the drivers to get out and stretch their legs and take a look. As we’d just had a break in Horsham, we kept going.

A salt lake

A salt lake, just visible beyond the pipeline – this one was in SA

Like a string that was pulled taut then gently released, the road makes its way across the landscape in mostly straight lines. The railway follows beside, sometimes on the left, sometimes on the right. You can spot the next town from a few kilometres away because the gain silos are the only things that stand out on the horizon – aside from communication towers, but they’re not necessarily based in town.

A communications tower. Yes, I was happily photographing anything from the passenger seat.

A communications tower. Yes, I was happily photographing anything from the passenger seat.

As you approach the border from the Victorian side, there are warnings (reminders) that you are not allowed to take any fruit or vegetables (plant matter) into South Australia, and if you’re carrying anything of the sort to use the bins provided ahead to dispose of it. As we passed the bins, I noticed that of the two, one was closed off and had a sign indicating it was ‘FULL’. I wonder why the person who was authorised to come and check and declare the bin full, wasn’t provided with the means of emptying it?

Somehow we missed the sign saying ‘Welcome to South Australia’ – maybe because I was more than half expecting a check point where we’d be stopped and asked if we were carrying fruit or vegetables illegally (which we were not). But it soon became clear that we had crossed the imaginary line because:
– the road grade is definitely better
– the speed limit increases to 110kph
– the lines in the middle of the road are separated to keep traffic travelling in different directions just that little bit further apart although they’re sharing the same strip of bitumen
– overtaking lanes become more frequent
– rest stops also seem to become more frequent
– the power poles are Stobie Poles: invented by James Cyril Stobie who worked for the Adelaide Electrical Supply Company, they’re made of steel, sometimes filled with concrete (which makes crashing into them even more terrible than a regular pole or tree, so don’t do anything stupid on the road).

Separated middle lines - not a bad idea

Separated median lines – not a bad idea

It’s all pretty plain sailing (driving) until you come to Tailem Bend, where the Princes Highway (A8) meets the Murray River.  The first sign you’ll see that you’re approaching town are the pelicans drifting on the thermals above the river. Soon you realise it’s not just a couple of pelicans, but dozens of them, all along the river. Keep scanning the skies (if you’re a passenger) and you can spot various raptors. We saw three Wedge-tailed Eagles and I believe I even spotted a Black Kite

Water tower & Pelican at Tailem Bend

As you cross the Murray Bridge, you’ll appreciate the true meaning of flood plain. This fertile area reminds me of the Lockyer Valley west of Brisbane, or Bacchus Marsh west of Melbourne.

‘Hill’ has now returned to the vocabulary, and it’s not really all that long before you find yourself winding up into the dark green Adelaide Hills. The tall pine trees mixed in with the eucalypts help make the hills feel cooler, and it’s with a sense of anticipation that you’re close to the end of the journey that you sit up and look ahead.

Housing estates by the highway in the Adelaide Hills

Housing estates by the highway in the Adelaide Hills

There are a number of signs warning that the decent from the hills is steep, and so it proved to be. Long and steep. What fun it would be on a bike, but it would take a significant effort to ride up in the first place. It rather reminds me of the approach into Wellington from the north… or was it Dunedin? There was one town that has an impressive drive in – this is longer and more impressive, even though there’s only just a glimpse of the city through a gap in the hills. It even has short-ish (500m) twin tunnels. And emergency stopping gravel banks for trucks, who aren’t allowed to go faster than 40kph on the decline.

Heysen Tunnels

Heysen Tunnels

Arrester bed for trucks who's brakes are failing on steep descent

Arrester bed for trucks whose brakes are failing on steep descent

Once you’ve passed by The Glen Osmond Tollgate (the link takes you to a short clip about the history of the tollhouse by SA Life), you’re in Adelaide! As in Victoria, it appears that ‘greater Adelaide’ is made up of dozens of little local councils. It’s one notion I still think is pretty silly – you can tell I grew up in Brisbane! ‘Greater’ Adelaide is not big, and the drive into town doesn’t take long and is quite pleasant.

After checking in and dumping our bags in our room, we wandered down the Rundle Mall, which started very conveniently about 50m from our hotel on Hindley Street. Being late-ish of a Sunday afternoon, none of the shops were open, but I assure you all the usual suspects were there. Quite surprisingly they have a very large Apple Store. Much bigger than the one we’ve been needing to visit (regrettably frequently of late) at Doncaster. And, most significantly, there’s the Haigh’s chocolate shop in the Beehive building at the corner of Rundle Mall and King William Street. The Haigh’s shop has been there since 1922!

I can’t believe that neither of us took a photo of the Beehive building. Stephen probably – quite plausibly – thought I’d be sure to take a photo of it… but alas I’ve come back without one. So here’s a photo from rundlemall.com.au. You can’t see it here, but there’s even a large bee at the top of the spike on the corner turret.

Beehive Bulding - sourced from rundlemall.com.au

Beehive Building – sourced from rundlemall.com.au

Past the end of the mall are the restaurants and cafes. Fish n chips, a cold beer, and a seat in the cool breeze was just the ticket to round out the day, and the pub at the end of Rundle St, car East Terrace, fitted the bill dry nicely. There was a surprising number of people out and about, for a Sunday night.

We walked off dinner by trying to find a supermarket open after 7pm, but it seems 5pm is closing time in the CBD. Fortunately there was one IGA that was open at 8pm on North Terrace, so we at least had breakfast supplies for the week.

Unlike the Brisbane City Council, who were dismantling their Christmas Tree in King Gorge Square as early as 27 December (they’re getting pretty grinchy in good ol’ Brissie), Adelaide’s Christmas tree in Victoria Square tree looked pretty plain during the day, but was very brightly lit with LEDs of a nighttime. Really lovely! I just wish I could find even one photo of it, however far away I was at the time. Damn. Instead here’s a link to Xenian’s webpage showing a short video of the Adelaide Christmas Tree at night in all it’s glory. They did a really top job! I’m so glad Adelaide City Council didn’t dismantle their Christmas Tree before we arrived.

MONDAY

After a late start (I was tired – and I wasn’t even the driver yesterday!) we walked a couple of blocks over to the Adelaide Central Market for breakfast and fresh food shopping.

The Market is not usually open of a Monday, but since they’ll be closed for New Years Day on Wednesday, a good number were open for business. There were plenty of fresh fruit & veg sellers, a few butchers, a couple of cheese stalls and a couple of fresh seafood places. Around the main fresh food market are permanent shops, but the majority of these were closed.

I can happily confirm that the cherries from the Adelaide hills are just as good as Victorian cherries, and cost the same price. The pink lady apples I bought, however, were definitely better.

Adelaide Zoo was our main destination for today. It was a warm day and we decided to walk along the river to get there. To get to the river we went through the Adelaide Railway Station. I learnt that it doesn’t have a name like Central Station, or North Terrace Station, because it is the only station in the city. It has 9 platforms and is the terminus for all incoming lines. The actual railway station part is below street level. When we walked down into the hallway I looked around and asked Stephen where the rest of the station was – but that’s all there is; basically just the hall and the platforms. The rest of the building that you see from street level is occupied by Adelaide Casino. Wow. What a shame. It is a lovely building though.

We could have caught one of the (3) Popeye ferries that travel between Elder Park and the Zoo, but it was faster to walk there and there was plenty of shade along the path.

The River Torrens isn’t very wide, and doesn’t flow very much. In fact, there are fountains along the river just to keep the water aerated. There are plenty of waterfowl around; Australian Wood Ducks by the score, probably at least half as many Pacific Black Ducks for good measure, numerous Dusky Moorhens and Eurasian Coots, although surprisingly few Purple Swamphens (or Pukeko, as the Maori call them). In this hot weather the ducks sit in the share of the trees along the grassy banks of the river. You can get quite close to them… don’t think I wasn’t tempted to trying catching one, but I behaved myself.

I’ve been to a few zoos (ok, so who hasn’t?) but must say I really enjoyed Adelaide Zoo. It seemed every time I turned around there was another enclosure, or it was only a short walk to the next lot – but mostly I think it was the grounds keeping that was the standout feature. Having beautiful tall trees and lots of plants everywhere – plenty of shade, especially on a hot day – is just heaven! (A couple of shared frozen drinks went down well, too.)

Of course, having lots of enclosures close together is one of the realities of keeping animals in captivity. How zoos deals with their limited space is interesting. One slightly puzzling example here is that recently one reasonable-sized corner of the grounds has been given over to robotic dinosaurs. Yes, I know there’s a link between extinction and conservation, but still, I would have thought the museum would have been better suited for this role? Or is that old-fashioned thinking now? Is this really the best use of that space?

Funi and Wang Wang, the giant pandas who are the zoo’s newest (living) star attractions have the largest and most luxurious enclosures. At the moment they don’t share quarters – there’s his side and her side, and pandas need quite a bit of room. You get treated to all manner of things when you’re representatives of an endangered species, popular with the public, and strongly encouraged to breed.

But I was pretty stoked to see some of our own native animals that I wouldn’t otherwise get to see. Yellow-footed Rock-Wallabies, for instance. Much smaller than what I thought they were, and so cute. And speaking of cute, I can now say I’ve seen a living Fat-tailed Dunnart and two Bilbies in the Nocturnal House. The Ghost Bats were interesting to see up close too. There were plenty of Australian birds to admire in a number of averies around, including a 2-part walk-through avery.

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Of the exotic animal enclosures I think my favourite was that of the Dusky Langurs. Imagine – using a real tree in an enclosure! Brilliant!

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We really enjoyed our day at Adelaide Zoo.

> Adelaide Part 2: Harndorf, Mt Lofty, SA Museum, Adelaide Botanic Gardens, Glenelg

> Adelaide Part 3: National Motor Museum, Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop, SA State Library, Haigh’s Chocolate Factory Tour, Jolley’s Boathouse Restaurant