Just before last orders

In under fifty years, Margaret River has started and grown its reputation as the home of some of the finest wine in Australia. It is no wonder as it is backed up by scientific research and evidence, Professor Olmo in 1955, and later in mid-1960s, Dr. John Gladstones claimed the far south-west corner of Western Australia as prime for growing high quality grapes.

This region, in the end of the world, jarrah and marri forests thrive and give way to vineyards that border some of the most stunning beaches of the world – famous for big surf. In half a century, Margaret River has grown to have more than 200 cellar doors, and to produce around 20% of Australia’s premium wines. It is a must-see area for wine drinkers. We, as a few of the 500,000 visitors to the area each year, tried hard to make a dent in the production of this fine beverage. I think it is unlikely we did.

After a long flight across the country and a few hours drive, it felt like Christmas day walking into a winery where two lovely women were happy to show us all the range of fermented grapes they had to offer. And just before closing! Win!

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Bonus day at the beach

Sometimes ideas get formed on a beach. Sometimes those ideas involve beaches. And sometimes investigating those beach ideas end up at a beach on a day you normally would be sitting in an office. It is always better to take those opportunities; especially when you end up being able to swim on a 30 degree day on an empty beach.

Post by Richard

Lumps in the land

You wouldn’t even know that just a short drive north from Brisbane 11 gorgeous peaks of the Glass House Mountains can be found in the hinterland. They are the remains of volcanic activity that occurred about 25-27 million years ago. When the volcanic mountains cooled down, stunning vertical columns emerged in the middle of a landscape of eucalyptus trees and pineapple plantations. However, there is another story explaining the origins of the mountains.

It is believed that the Glass House Mountains area is a special ceremonial site where many Aboriginal people, the Gubbi Gubbi people, gathered for ceremonies and trading. Though the aboriginal people do not talk about which ceremonies or rituals are practiced in the area.

How they got their European name is that Captain Cook was reminded of glass furnaces from the north of England.

Australia’s top predator

Five thousand years ago, whilst writing was being invented, Stonehenge being built and Egyptian dynasties rising, Dingos were being brought to Australia by Indonesian sailors. Dingos are Australia’s wild dogs, thought to be a descendant of (domesticated) dogs in Asia.

Whilst Dingoes are found through most of mainland Australia, they are absent from Tasmania. The biggest threat to dingoes are cross breeding with dogs. Reason why it is very common to see dingo-like dogs in Australian suburbs and truly pure dingoes are extremely rare. Except in Fraser island where dogs are not allowed into the island.

Dingoes are considered magic animals – they are Australia’s top predator, the equivalent of Africa’s lion, and thus dingoes are responsible for keeping Australian biodiversity intact. Dingoes are the only chance against introduced predators like feral cats and foxes. Once the dingo is gone, poisons are all that will be left against these intruders.

As the top predator of Australia, Dingoes help keep wallaby and kangaroo populations at bay as these marsupials constitute the majority of the diet of Dingoes. Being such an adaptive animal, dingoes are most active at dawn and dusk, when their prey is also active.

The two most common myths about dingoes and their counter facts are:

1. “Pure” dingoes don’t bark. Dingoes do bark, but not like domestic dogs. Dingoes’ barks are generally harsher, and given in short bursts. Only bark when alarmed.

2. “Pure” dingoes are all ginger. However, there is genetic evidence that dingoes’ coats can also be black, black and tan, black and white, or plain white.

If one would inadvertently come into close contact with a Dingo, one must defend themselves aggressively.

Decadent luncheon

Three kilometers away from Noosa and its gazillion tourists, Noosaville takes full advantage of its riverfront location with relaxing foreshore and leisurely aquatic pursuits. Running, walking and bike riding are popular activities along the riverside walkways; so is people watching or dining whilst sitting on the public benches. You might even see a boat go adrift. Early mornings you can be woken up by the colourful local and loud rainbow lorikeets with their morning calls.

Noosaville’s location makes it a perfect place to stay away from the crowds. Though it is possible to join them with the ferry service. A river cruise which includes commentary about the local history, wildlife, what to do and the homes along the river. Other more popular destinations are the nice restaurants with stunning river views and degustation menus with matching wines. Indulgence for an Easter Saturday afternoon!

A pelican with eyelashes

Percy the big pelican is 41 years old this year. Built in 1977 it has lived a long life full of adventures; including capsizing in the Noosa River. After that near death experience, Percy got restored for over $10,000 and took 6 months to complete. It is now mounted on a trailer and is sometimes used for street parades. The pelican can rotate its head, blink its eyes, open and close its bill, flap its winds and even wiggle its tail, all controlled by a collection of levers, pulleys and ropes from within.

Nowadays parked in Noosaville in front of Pelican Boat Hire, by the river, serving if nothing else but a good reference point for morning runs or a landmark for locals.

Too big to be a rat, too small to be a wallaby

Bandicoots are small marsupials that have strong hind legs designed for jumping and sharp front paws to dig holes when it detects underground prey. Bandicoots then reach their meal with their long snout and use their pointed teeth to chomp through their prize. These opportunistic omnivores, are happy to eat pretty much anything, from insects, larvae, lizards, mice and snails, to fungi, grass seeds, berries and fruit. They ‘grunt’ happily when they’re munching their food, and make a shrill squeak when disturbed.

Just like in other marsupials, female bandicoots have a pouch. And like wombats, the pouch faces upside down to protect their offspring from the dirt when digging.

Bandicoots have the shortest pregnancy of all mammals (12 days). Like Koalas, baby bandicoots are very small and poorly developed at birth. After birth, they crawl toward the pouch, where they complete their development.

Bandicoots are a protected animal in all states of Australia. Of the 20 species of bandicoots in Australia, 7 are listed as critically endangered or already extinct. Introduced and native species, like foxes, dingos, large birds and feral and domestic cats and dogs are bandicoots predators.

Bandicoots play an important role in the ecosystem as they turn over soil, increasing the rate of leaf litter decomposition, soil production and nutrient cycling. They’re also critical in dispersing fungi spores, so losing bandicoots from ecosystems would have fatal cascading effects on plant diversity, species composition and structure of forests and woodlands in Australia and SouthEast Asia where they live.