On Walkabout At: The Pennyweight Flat Cemetery In Castlemaine, Victoria

Basic Information

  • Name: Pennyweight Flat Cemetery
  • Where: Castlemaine, Australia
  • Admission: Free
  • More Info: OnMyDoorStep.com.au


Continuing with my Halloween inspired series of postings the next cemetery I decided to write about was the small Pennyweight Flat Cemetery located outside of the historic Australian city of Castlemaine:

The Pennyweight Flat Cemetery is a surviving example of cemeteries that were hastily established during Victoria’s Gold Rush period.  The name Pennyweight is a tribute to the founders of this cemetery since it means a small amount of gold and that is all that was found on this hill thus making it the perfect location for a cemetery.  The bodies at this cemetery were buried between 1852-1857 during the height of the Mt. Alexander Gold Rush that ended up forming the city of Castlemaine.  Many of the people buried here died from contaminated drinking water, poor diet, accidents, and disease which were frequent problems at these hastily established mining camps. The miners needed some place to bury their dead and since this small hill outside of town had no gold to be found they figured this would be a great place to put a cemetery where no one in the future would disturb it:

These early prospectors were correct because even today no one bothers this cemetery that is located on top of a small hill on the outskirts of Castlemaine:

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The cemetery today is nearly completely surrounded by farm paddocks and it appears that the sheep are probably allowed to graze on the cemetery’s ground in order to keep the weeds down:

As I walked into the cemetery I found it was in pretty bad shape with the majority of the graves being eroded, crumbled, or unreadable:

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On Walkabout At: The Taronga Zoo In Sydney, Australia

Basic Information

  •  Name: Taronga Zoo
  • Where: Sydney, Australia
  • Price: $44 for adults, $22 for children (more ticket info here)
  • More Info: Taronga Zoo website


Whenever I travel somewhere I always like to stop and visit local zoos.  So I have been to quite a few zoos around the world, but the one I would say has the best view of all the zoos I have been to is the Taronga Zoo in Sydney Australia.  The zoo is located on a hillside on the north side of Sydney Harbor:

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This zoo is quite famous in Australia since it is located in the country’s largest and most well known city, Sydney.  However, what really made the zoo stand out from other zoos is the breathtaking views of Sydney Harbor that can be seen throughout the zoo:

As my wife and I walked around this zoo it seemed like we spent just as much time taking in the views of the harbor as we did looking at the animals.  In fact it is possible to take in views and watch the animals at the same time as we did during this show of wedge-tailed eagle that performed various tricks for the audience:

The wedge-tailed eagle is the largest bird in Australia and are actually quite common to see in the bush:

There are plenty of other Australian animals to be seen at the zoo such as Australia’s iconic koala:

There are of course wallabies to be seen as well:

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Australia Travelog Archive

Below is a list of all my postings that I have completed from the various locations in Australia I visited during the years I spent living there.  I actually have pictures of many other locations in the country that I have not had the time to type up postings on and will eventually do so.  In the mean time there is plenty of postings here in the archives for people to read about the great places I visited while living Down Under.


Australian Capitol Territory


New South Wales

Northern Territory

South Australia




Western Australia

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Picture of the Day: Spiders Take Over Australian Town

What appears to be snow is actually spider webs blanketing an Australian farm. (Daniel Munoz/Reuters)

Fortunately these spiders that are fleeing flood waters in Australia are not harmful to humans and are actually eating a lot of the mosquitoes caused by the rising water levels.  You can read more about this unique phenomenon at this link.

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On Walkabout On: Mt. Feathertop’s Razorback Trail – Part 3

Prior Posting: Mt. Feathertop’s Razorback Trail – Part 2


The summit of the 1,922 meter Mt. Feathertop was getting nearer as I continued to hustle up the trail in hopes of climbing the mountain before the impending bad weather hit:

The clouds were getting darker and darker as more time passed:

As I continued up the trail even up at this high altitude in late fall I was able to spot some of the colorful billy-button flowers:

It appeared that the summit was just ahead:

The large rocky cliffs on the summit were quite impressive to see on the way up to the summit:

As I reached the top of the trail I could see that the highest point of the mountain was just ahead:

The top of Mt. Feathertop is really quite long with plenty of room for people to hang out.  When I reached the summit of the mountain I saw only two other people up there who were on their way back down.  With the impending clouds beginning to surround the summit of the mountain I was going to have to get off this mountain too, but not before enjoying the views that could still be seen from the peak:

Here is the view from the summit of Mt. Feathertop looking towards Mt. Bogong which was cloaked in clouds:

Here is the view back towards Mt. Hotham:

This has to be one of the best views in all of Australia but the clouds were quickly obscuring the views so I proceeded to head down the mountain towards Federation Hut:

At the hut I saw a few people camping out and the enjoying the views from this popular camp site.  Here is a view of the Razorback extending back towards Mt. Hotham from Federation Hut:

After admiring the view for a little while, I then proceeded to follow Bungalow Spur Trail back down to Harrietsville.  From the hut the trail becomes engulfed by various old snow gums:

Eventually the trail came to the remains of the Feathertop Bungalow Site that gives this trail its name:

This bungalow has an interesting history that can be read about at the above link.  From the bungalow as I continued down the mountain the trees became noticeably larger:

Eventually the trail reaches a stop called Picture Point:

Why this is called Picture Point I am not sure because I saw no place to take a picture because the trail was surrounded by a thick forest of gum trees.  However, further down the trail the gum trees parted enough to provide a view of Harrietville at the base of the mountain:

The forest surrounding this section of the trail was exceptionally beautiful as a thick coating gum trees clung to the side of the mountain:

At the lower reaches of the trail the forest became even more lush as various bushes and large ferns covered the hill sides:

Eventually the trail leveled out and a cabin came into view:

I then heard some noise in the bush along side of me and noticed these horses walking around:

I eventually came to the sign designating the start of the Bungalow Spur Trail.  From here it is 12 kilometers to the summit of Mt. Feathertop:

By now it was getting pretty late with the sun beginning to set over the tree tops:

So I walked across town to the Harrietville Cabins & Caravan Park, which I highly recommend to anyone visiting this beautiful area of Victoria:

So that concluded my hike across the Razorback to the summit of Mt. Feathertop, and back down to Harrietville.  This definitely was one of the best hikes I completed in Australia and definitely my favorite hike in Victoria.  If you have time to do just one day hike in Victoria the Razorback and Mt. Feathertop should top your list.

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On Walkabout On: Mt. Feathertop’s Razorback Trail – Part 2

Previous Posting: Mt. Feathertop’s Razorback Trail – Part 1


As I began my walk across Australia’s Razorback Trail, the weather was cold, but overall I had clear skies and most importantly little to no wind that had thwarted my prior attempt to hike across this exposed ridgeline.  This map shows how trail crosses the ridgeline from the Diamantina Hut Carpark to the 1,922 meter summit of Mt. Feathertop:

The hike to the summit of the mountain is 11 kilometers and then it is 1 kilometer to reach Federation Hut and then another 10.5 kilometers down Bungalow Spur back to Harrietville for a total distance of 22.5 kilometers. Here is a Google Earth image that shows the entire trail from Mt. Hotham to Harrietville:

This is an all-day hike so it is necessary to leave early in order to avoid bad weather that can sweep into the Victorian high country in the afternoons if this hike is attempted in one day.  Federation Hut is a great place to camp out if the hike is attempted in two days like many people do.  Below is a picture of the Razorback as viewed from the trailhead:

Picture from Mt. Feathertop

I started off on my hike across the Razorback and immediately there are beautiful views of the Victorian high country in all directions.  Here is a view looking towards the southeast:

Picture from Mt. Feathertop

Here is the view looking towards the south where out in the distance the rugged Mt. Buffalo is easily seen:

Picture from Mt. Feathertop

The Razorback Trail follows long ridge line spur that is mostly exposed with few trees:

Picture from Mt. Feathertop

As I looked towards the highest peak in Victoria, the 1,986 meter Mt. Bogong out in the distance I could see that the clouds were building up over the high country as well as feeling a slight breeze:

I was hoping that the weather was not going to thwart my effort to climb Mt. Feathertop again, but to make sure I began to pick up my pace to cover more ground towards the summit.  Something I was surprised about while hiking across the Razorback was how few other hikers their were on the trail.  It was late autumn and it was cold outside, but I figured there would be more people out here on such a beautiful weekend day.  I saw two small groups of hikers pass by me coming in the other direction and I caught up and passed these two hikers that were ahead me:

Later I saw a pair of hikers at the summit of Mt. Feathertop and then there was a few people camping out at Federation Hut.  So it ended up being a good time of the year to hike because of the few other hikers on the trail.  I have heard from others that the trail and Federation Hut in particular can get often clogged full of hikers during the summer; that is definitely not the case in the fall.

Anyway I continued down the Razorback and up ahead I could see where the trail enters the tree line ahead of me:

Here is a picture of the trail looking back behind me towards Mt. Hotham:

The trees that engulfed the trail were a bunch of old gnarled snow gums which are probably the toughest trees in all of Australia due to their ability to grow at such an altitude that faces frequent cold weather:

Here are some dried out dead flowers I saw that I believe are Billy-button that I have seen on other mountains in the Australian high country:

After a short while the trail exited the tree line and was once again following an exposed ridge line:

As I continued up and down the various peaks of the Razorback, the highest peak of them all, the 1,922 meters (6,306 feet) Mt. Feathertop continues to hover up ahead in the distance:

As I continued to hustle down the trail and Mt. Feathertop was becoming ever closer:

Eventually the peak was right in front of me and the clouds were getting darker at the same time.  I was going to have to continue to hustle and get up to the summit of the mountain:

From the Razorback Trail, Federation Hut eventually came into view:

At this large old snow gum tree is where the Razorback Trail intersects with the Bungalow Spur Trail that leads hikers down to Federation Hut and further down the mountain back to Harrietville:

I instead took the short trail that led up to the summit of Mt. Feathertop.  Here is the view looking back towards that large old snow gum tree as I headed up to the summit of Mt. Feathertop:

From the trail junction it is only about 1.5 kilometers up to the summit of Mt. Feathertop, but it is a some what steep hike:

As I hiked up the trail I noticed the Melbourne University Mountaineering Club (MUMC) Hut:

For those interested more details about the hut can read at the above link.  There is a trail that leads down to the hut, but due to the oncoming weather I had no time to check it out and just continued to push forward to the summit of Mt. Feathertop, would I make it before the bad weather hit?:

Next Posting:  Mt. Feathertop’s Razorback Trail – Part 3

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On Walkabout On: Mt. Feathertop’s Razorback Trail

Basic Trail Information

  • Name: Razorback Trail
  • Where: Mt. Feathertop, Victoria
  • Distance: 22.5 kilometers
  • Difficulty: moderate to difficult
  • Time: 9 hours
  • More Info: www.visitvictoria.com

Here is a Google Terrain map of the Trail:


The Razorback Trail was one of the best hikes I completed in Australia.  It is a trail that crosses a rocky spur that leads to the summit of beautiful Mt. Feathertop in the Victorian Alps.  However, it takes a scenic drive up The Great Alpine Road to access the trailhead to this popular walk.  The Great Alpine Road travels for 308 kilometers over the heart of Victoria’s high country between the inland, farming city of Wangaratta and the seaside city of Bairnsdale:

The Razorback Trail is located just outside the half way point of the drive at Mt. Hotham.  I have been up to Mt. Hotham before and even attempted the Razorback Trail before but had to turn around due to bad weather that can at any time hit the Victorian high country.  The day I attempted to hike the Razorback again it was a mostly cloudless and beautiful fall day.  As I drove up the Great Alpine Road once again I could see the round summit of Mt. Hotham where the trail begins out in the distance:

Picture from Mt. Hotham, Victoria

To the west of Mt. Hotham I could see the ridgeline the Razorback Trail follows to the summit of Victoria’s second highest peak, the stunning 1,922 meter Mt. Feathertop:

Picture from Mt. Hotham, Victoria

Here is a closer look at Mt. Feathertop that had a slight dusting of snow on it from a recent autumn snow storm:

Picture from Mt. Hotham, Victoria

You can see plenty more prior pictures I took of beautiful Mt. Feathertop at this link.  I think it is the mainland Australia’s most scenic mountain.  I say mainland because the most beautiful mountains in Australia in my opinion are found on the island of Tasmania, most notably Cradle Mountain.  The glaciers that once blanketed Tasmania during the Ice Age carved extremely rugged peaks on the island.  However, these glaciers didn’t blanket the mainland thus causing the mountains there to have rounded features instead of having dramatic rocky peaks like those found on Tasmania.  That is what makes Mt. Feathertop so unique, it is one of the few large mountains on the mainland that is not completely rounded and actually has some rocky features to it.

The Great Alpine Road that takes visitor deep into these mountains is a steep, winding journey up to the top of the Victorian Alps:

Picture from Mt. Hotham, Victoria

Eventually the road reached the top of the mountains and I pulled over to take this picture of my Jeep at Danny’s Lookout:

Picture from Mt. Hotham, Victoria

From Danny’s Lookout the rugged Mt. Buffalo can be seen out in the distance:

Picture from Mt. Hotham, Victoria

Here is a view of the Great Alpine Road as it snakes its way up the rounded summit of Mt. Hotham:

Picture from Mt. Hotham, Victoria

The Mt. Hotham ski resort lies just on the other side of the mountain out of view.  Here is a view of the Great Alpine Road that I already traversed as it snakes its way along the side of these steep mountains:

Picture from Mt. Hotham, Victoria

From this lofty perch there is also plenty of beautiful views of the adjacent valleys that lie between the steep slopes of these mountains:

Picture from Mt. Hotham, Victoria

It is these steep slopes that make for such good ski conditions in this part of the high country.  Just a short drive from the trailhead for the Razorback is where one of Australia’s premier ski areas, Mt. Hotham Ski Resort is located:

Picture from Mt. Hotham, Victoria

The resort is quite nice, very large, and usually very busy during the winter ski season:

Picture from Mt. Hotham, Victoria

You can view pictures of how busy Mt. Hotham is during the winter ski season at this link.  During the summertime many people come up to Mt. Hotham for mountain biking and to hike the various trails in the area.  However, since it was late fall and pretty cold outside the place had the feeling of a ghost town:

Picture from Mt. Hotham, Victoria

Anyway I headed over to the trailhead for the Razorback Trail that is located just a short drive from the ski resort:

Picture from Mt. Feathertop

My wife dropped me off at the trailhead and proceeded to drive back to the cabin we were renting in the small town of Harrietville at the base of Mt. Feathertop.  My plan was hike from Mt. Hotham across the Razorback to the summit of Mt. Feathertop and then walk down the mountain to our cabin in Harrietville.  This was an ambitious hike to complete in one day but I had an early enough start and was fit enough to complete this long hike; I just needed the weather to cooperate with me this day and not force me to be turn around like what happened before.  From the trailhead it appeared that weather was not going to be a problem on this day as blue skies and a few puffy clouds backdropped the beautiful summit of Mt. Feathertop:

Picture from Mt. Hotham, Victoria

 Next Posting: Mt. Feathertop’s Razorback Trail – Part 2

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Picture of the Day: Kayaking Australia’s Murray River

This picture is from a nice photoblog of husband and wife team Heidi and Peter Hutton kayaking nearly the entire length of Australia’s Murray River.  I love the area around the upper Murray River that flows out of the Snowy Mountains. It is one of the most scenic areas of the country.

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Were the Ancestral Aborigines the Greatest Explorers Ever?

Much research has been done in recent years to determine how and when Australia’s Aborigines populated the continent and this latest development shows that the Aborigines populated Australia longer than any other race of people on Earth:

In an exciting development, an international team of researchers has, for the first time, pieced together the human genome from an Aboriginal Australian.

The results, published in the journal Science, re-interpret the prehistory of our species.

By sequencing the genome, the researchers demonstrate that Aboriginal Australians descend directly from an early human expansion into Asia that took place some 70,000 years ago, at least 24,000 years before the population movements that gave rise to present-day Europeans and Asians. The results imply that modern day Aboriginal Australians are in fact the direct descendents of the first people who arrived in Australia as early as 50,000 years ago.  (……………….)

The genome, shown to have no genetic input from modern European Australians, reveals that the ancestors of the Aboriginal man separated from the ancestors of other human populations some 64-75,000 years ago. Aboriginal Australians therefore descend directly from the earliest modern explorers, people who migrated into Asia before finally reaching Australia about 50,000 years ago. In showing this, the study establishes Aboriginal Australians as the population with the longest association with the land on which they live today. [Science Daily]

It is amazing to think about what an ambitious journey it would have been all those tens of thousands of years ago to walk from Africa to Australia?  It makes me wonder how many decades it took for the ancestral Aborigines to reach Australia?  One thing is for sure is that the migration to Australia has to be considered one of the greatest feats of human exploration ever:

Professor Eske Willerslev from the University of Copenhagen, who headed the study, explains: “Aboriginal Australians descend from the first human explorers. While the ancestors of Europeans and Asians were sitting somewhere in Africa or the Middle East, yet to explore their world further, the ancestors of Aboriginal Australians spread rapidly; the first modern humans traversing unknown territory in Asia and finally crossing the sea into Australia. It was a truly amazing journey that must have demanded exceptional survival skills and bravery.”

It gets me wondering why they kept migrating towards Australia?  Was there religious reasons perhaps that caused them to keep moving?  Could the walkabout culture of the present Aborigines be a cultural remnant from their ancient ancestors?  I find this to bel interesting stuff to ponder.

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Picture of the Day: Bushfire Recovery of Steavenson Falls

Picture Via Marysville Tourism.

One of my favorite areas to visit in Australia was the picturesque town of Marysville, Victoria that was devastated in 2009 by the worst bushfire in Australian history.  The above picture is of the town’s iconic waterfall Steavenson Falls that looks much different compared to before the bushfire.  However, it is great to see that the bushland around the waterfall is recovering.  It is pretty impressive how quickly the Australian bush is able to regenerate itself after these large bushfires.

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