Swan Lake, Phillip Island
Swan Lake: Hidden Away in a Corner of Phillip Island.
We were staying on Phillip Island in the State of Victoria, Australia, during the Christmas holidays, last summer. My friends knew the island well and one day suggested that we visit Swan Lake. I had been on Phillip Island before, but had never visited Swan Lake.
I was so pleased as I love birds and apparently this nature reserve was well known for its water birds. The name conjured up visions of beautiful ballerinas and the familiar music. This was to be no less beautiful in its own way. It did not take long to drive there, but the lake is situated in swamp land and we had to park and then walk to reach the lake.
The track was well sign-posted and I soon realized that it took us through varying terrain. There was bushland with scrub, but the track was fairly wide and flat. In fact, the beginning part would have been quite suitable for wheel-chairs. I was watching out for my first view of the lake and swans, but was surprised to find that the first creature we saw was not bird life at all. There were some swamp wallabies. Most went hopping off, but one obligingly stayed long enough for me to take a photo. At least, if all the birds had taken off, we had seen something.
Nearby there were some holes that signified a rabbit warren, but they are certainly not the animals we were hoping to see. They're cute enough in captivity, but in the wild they can devastate our delicately balanced native countryside.
We met a number of visitors coming back along the track and were assured that it was not much further - and we were cheered by the further comment that there really were black swans and other water birds to be seen. Our walk would not be in vain.
At last we reached a vantage point where we could see the lake, sparking and blue in the summer sun and soon the track led down a slight hill. We ended by walking into a good-sized hide. It had been built on a little peninsula that ran out into the lake, so we could see the water on either side of us.
Birds to the Left of Us
To our left there was a swampy area and to our delight it was teeming with birds. They certainly had not all vanished.
Among the grasses black swans swam
Or snoozed in the sun, or flew,
Some even nested
Or on one leg rested.
So many birds. I knew
Some, but others could not name,
What a shame!
Birds to the Right of Us
There were birds straight ahead, including white herons, and there were birds to the right of us, as well. They had certainly not all vanished at the news of our arrival.
Scattered along a golden strand
Chestnut teal and others
Had gathered to preen and stand,
Or bicker gently with brothers.
More water birds joined
The beautifully feathered band,
But those who purloined
A morsel or two
Were chased along the sand:
Sought refuge in water blue.
The Purple Swamphen
The ubiquitous water fowl,
Always on the prowl,
Worms are its treat
As it strides on long feet
Clucking and seeking
White tail flicking.
Purple-blue sheen so sleek
A flash of red head near its beak.
Cape Barren Goose
Far across the marsh
Grey geese we espied,
With honk so harsh
But no wee goslings at side.
It's good to see them around
Not so many to be found.
With ceres lime-green,
Red legs to be seen,
Black bill and black feet:
Island dwellers so neat.
We walked to another hide and there we found just what we needed. A whole wall was beautifully painted with images of the many water birds that visit Swan Lake from time to time. We were so pleased to be able to identify those we had not known and discuss those we had not seen on this visit. Swan Lake certainly lives up to its name and is well worth a visit for any bird lovers.
- Nyerimilang Heritage Park, Gippsland, Victoria
A train trip to Bairnsdale and then a bus to Swan Reach, leads to a visit to Nyerimilang Heritage Park. This park is beautifully situated beside Lake King, one of the Gippsland Lakes district, in Nungurner and not far from famous Lakes Entrance.
- Australian Parrots and "Galilee" in Gippsland
A weekend visit to Galilee Holiday Flats in East Gippsland gave me a great photo opportunity as I was able to be quite close to a number of different birds, including the beautiful King Parrots and Crimson Rosellas.
- Walking in Blackhill Reserve, near Kyneton, Victoria
Kyneton, in the Macedon Ranges in Central Victoria, is a delightful place for a holiday. On our last visit we discovered the bushland Blackhill Reserve and can recommend walking there. It reminded us of Ned Kelly country.
- A Visit to the Grampians, Victoria
The Grampians National Park in the Western Victorian Highlands is a great place for a holiday, especially in spring and autumn. It is noted for the lovely views and great hiking and bush-walking.