Spring, Bright & Apollo Bay

A spring holiday in Bright.

Mount Bogong with snow, from Bright

Late snow crowning Mount Bogong in mid September.

Photo taken from the Murray to Mountains rail trail near the centre of Bright.

Mount Bogong with snow

Mount Bogong from Tawonga Gap, under an interesting sky.

Mount Buffalo gorge and hang glider ramp

View to the east from Mt Buffalo Gorge. Snow capped mountains on the horizon. The green valley is the Buckland Valley, and just beyond the hills on its eastern side (out of sight in the photo) is the township of Bright. The granite cliffs on the right of the image are the location of the hang gliding launch ramp. It can be seen lying on sloping rock immediately to the left of the line of dark eucalypts.

Mount Buffalo hang glider launch ramp

The view looking straight down the hang gliding launch ramp. It is 3200 feet above the valley floor below and 4527 feet above mean sea level. The thin white ribbon on the right hand side is a tell-tale placed there (and usually one on the left as well) to give the pilot about to launch clear and critical information about what the air is doing at the end of the ramp.

View of Buckland Valley from Mount Buffalo hang glider launch ramp

View to the right (east) from the launch ramp.

Mount Buffalo hang glider launch ramp

The launch ramp as viewed from the fenced public viewing area nearby.

This visit to Mt Buffalo brought back some fond memories. Photos from 20 years ago. (Left) Taking off from Mt Buffalo launch in my Enterprise Wings Combat 2. (Centre) Airborne over the gorge in search of a thermal. (Right) Looking down on the gorge, the takeoff site and the Mt Buffalo chalet, from an altitude of 5520 feet.

Another popular launch site (for hang glider and paraglider pilots) know as Bright Hill or Mystic, is close to Bright. It has a gentler slope than the Mt Buffalo launch. The takeoff area is covered in artificial turf which appeared to be in very good condition. The photo immediately above is the view to the left from Bright Hill launch. The Mount Buffalo outline is on the horizon.

Three favourite Apollo Bay swimming locations

A great feature of life in Apollo Bay for me is a daily swim in the ocean all year round.

Where the beach meets the concrete pier (in the centre of the image) is where many ocean swims in Apollo Bay commence and finish. It is referred to simply as ‘the wall’. The water at the top of the picture is Mounts Bay, just the other side of Point Bunbury on which the wonderfully scenic golf course is located.

(Left) When the conditions in the bay are not suitable for swimming (which is not often), the harbour is usually plan B. It offers great sheltered conditions in strong easterlies in the immediate lee of the breakwater with the bend in it. (Right) The beach where there is a gap in the row of Cyprus trees is known as Tuxion and being close to where I live, is another favourite spot. It is about 800m in a straight line from ‘the wall’ (about 100m further if you hug the coast) and can serve as a turning point for swimmers. Many of my swims start and end here, with a turn at the wall. I swim here whenever conditions are inviting. Good longboard waves and bodysurfing waves are a feature of this beach at the moment. The quality of waves varies as the sandy contours of the seabed in the first 200m or so from shore are changed by storms, swell and tides.

Strong easterly winds at Apollo Bay

Apollo Bay harbour and boats in very rough seas

Apollo Bay faces east, in which direction there is a long fetch for easterly winds to build up large wind waves when the low pressure system lines up just right. This photo of the Apollo Bay harbour mouth shows the wind waves created by a strong easterly, with some swell adding a little to the size of the waves. The boats in the harbour were safe in this blow. On the mid-left margin of the image is a sign, which can be read in the photo below: “Small boat operators beware of swell at harbour entrance.”

Apollo Bay harbour and boats in very rough seas
Mounts Bay in strong easterly with large surf

Mounts Bay is immediately south of Apollo Bay, with Point Bunbury separating them. The swell and easterly wind waves created the wave shown which was breaking over a sandbar which runs parallel to the shore in the location.

Immature Pacific gull with sea snake in bill

While I was photographing the wild seas at the harbour, a pair of immature Pacific gulls flew across my line of sight to the harbour mouth. The one in the top photo had just caught a sea snake. They are quite venomous but the Pacific gull didn’t appear fazed. While sea snakes not a common sight, I have seen them in the shallows in Apollo Bay while swimming. They were not at all curious or threatening and swam away at speed when I appeared. But I have never seen an airborne sea snake on its way to lunch. The other Pacific gull conveniently spread its wings and banked towards me as it flew past, allowing me to photograph the top of the wings in good light on this dull day. A beautiful sight.

Mature Pacific gulls

I took this photograph in Apollo Bay harbour a couple of years ago. These are mature Pacific gulls – for comparison with the immature Pacific gull.

Wild waves at Little Henty Reef in an offshore wind

Wild wave at Little Henty Reef

Solid swell breaking on Little Henty Reef 600m or so off Hayleys Point near Marengo.

Dawn swim in glassy surf at Tuxion

Dawn at Cape Patton from Apollo Bay beach

A dawn swim at Apollo Bay is often rewarded with glassy conditions like this before the wind of the day arrives.

Cawood St Beach from the surf

This is the view from the water after I swam out to where the waves were peaking and breaking. This also shows the gap in the line of Cyprus trees mentioned in an earlier comment above.

Water shot of wave at Apollo Bay

A glassy little wave rising over the sandbar.

Breaking wave backlit by rising sun at Apollo Bay

Glassy green transparent waves backlit by the rising sun. What a start to the day to be swimming in these conditions.

Koala and joey in our backyard

Koala with joey on her back

The koala and her joey apparently stayed the night in a large gum tree in our yard. Top left photo shows the view we had of them from our bedroom window. The other photos show the koala and her passenger climbing down the tree, walking across our lawn, climbing over the side fence and finding a temporary resting spot in a small tree on the banks of the creek that runs beside our house. Koalas are a common sight in and around Apollo Bay. A mother and joey on the move is a less common sight.

Early morning swim in the waves at Tuxion

Breaking wave at Apollo Bay. Water shot.

I was just floating and bobbing around in the waves before breakfast, letting them lift and lower me, and break over me. There was nobody else in the water. This wave was just about to break around me.

L to R: rising wave; view of the shore through the foam as it breaks; and the underwater view of a breaking wave and its white water from inside the wave.

Photo from behind breaking wave at Apollo Bay

I surfaced again as the wave passed, and this was the sight from behind the wave of its breaking crest surging towards shore. The dark object in the water in the foreground is one of my flippers and its yellow ankle strap. I wear fins when taking photos in the surf, when snorkelling, and sometimes when I body surf. I never wear them on my daily ocean swims (1-2kms). In fact I don’t rely on my legs at all for propulsion in long distance swimming. I simply do a gentle two beat kick which helps me maintain rhythm in my stroke from head to toe, and it also assists my directional stability.

Cessna Caravan flying past Apollo Bay at 500 feet above ground level

Cessna Caravan banking over the sea

The pilot of this aircraft is my nephew. He was doing a weekend charter from Moorabbin to King Island and return, and let me know that the return trip was planned via the scenic route of the west coast at low level, from around Port Campbell to Point Lonsdale. He gave me his estimated time of departure from King Island. The scenic route would take the aircraft over the coast at Apollo Bay at 500 feet above ground level. I made sure I was suitably located on a coastal hill to capture this shot, as the weather was ideal (for flying and photography). There is a simple free iPhone app which I used to track his approach and progress in real time. The blue attachment beneath the fuselage is a cargo pod. The aircraft is powered by a Pratt & Whitney turbine engine. It can carry the pilot plus 13 passengers, but on this day I understand 10 passenger seats were occupied. The pilot is an experienced charter pilot, and he did not know as he flew this aircraft on this scenic route in perfect weather that it would be his last charter flight as a general aviation pilot. He learned a few days later that his application to become an airline pilot with QantasLink had been successful. His induction and training with QantasLink commences in early November. I have watched my nephew’s aviation career to date quite closely, and can say with certainty that his move to airlines has been well and truly earned.

Mammatus clouds over Melbourne at dusk

Mammatus clouds at sunset

Mammatus clouds are rounded protrusions which typically form beneath a cumulo-nimbus cloud. The sunset gave this cloud its colour. More often mammatus clouds are a dramatic mixture of light and dark greys. They are associated with stormy conditions and turbulent air.

Wild Dog Creek flowing into the ocean

Wild Dog creek under dark grey skies

Wild Dog Creek flows into Bass Strait at the northern end of Apollo Bay’s main beach. Depending on the amount of recent rainfall and the location and quantity of sand on the beach (which is constantly changing), this creek often flows into the sea by the circuitous route shown along the front of the dunes, finally entering the sea near the headland visible in the distance. Heavy rains and a full or flooded fast flowing creek can see it pour out of the hills and straight-line through the sand to the sea by the shortest route. But the dark sky is what caught my eye. The horizontal cloud is a low layer of stratus hovering over the coast.

2 thoughts on “Spring, Bright & Apollo Bay

  1. Hi John.
    I really enjoyed this edition of South. It reads like a Greatest Hits of your idyllic surrounds and, once again, showcases the elemental joys of a man communing with nature.
    Those snaps of the mother & joey koalas were received with gasps and awe by the family under this roof.
    Thanks for your journey in miniature.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for those comments Hunto. Pleased to hear you and the family enjoyed the photos.

      By the way, happy birthday! I’m sure that at the very least a family gathering and sumptuous gourmet dining featured in your day of celebrations.




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