Turning 50 Down Under

I woke up days before turning 50 and realized time sure flies when you’re having fun. For my 50th, I was planning to be somewhere down under, and that place wound up being Wilsons Promontory, The Prom to locals, and located in Victoria, Australia. From seeing tons of wildlife close-up, hiking great trails and only mildly getting assaulted by March Flies, turning 50 did not disappoint!


The Prom… WOW!!! Seeing wildlife in their natural habitat was an incredible experience and one I will treasure, always! To start my birthday weekend off, we did a hike to the top of Mount Oberon for 360 panoramic views of the Tidal River, the coast and islands off The Prom. On the walk up, I saw my first wallaby, which just like the roos, I fell instantly in love, as they are so incredibly cute!

My first wallaby sighting on the trail up Mt Oberon.
View from the top of Mt Oberon
View from the top of Mt Oberon

After getting wind-blown for a bit while enjoying the views, I started down the path and stopped short hearing what sounded like a rockslide. I tried to see what was causing it, but saw nothing. Moments later, I met up with Janelle from our group that said there were three wallabies hoping down the mountainside, and I missed them… (FAIL)!

Given most animals are relaxing during the day to beat the heat, we were fortunate to be leaving the park around dusk. We saw so much wildlife in the 20-minute drive out of the park it made my earlier (FAIL) disappear. There were lots of wallabies and wombats, a fox, and several roos, just hanging out on the side of the road every few miles. We actually stopped to get up-close to one of the wombats, that was casually walking around and unbothered by our presence.


My friends made a delicious dinner and then surprised me with streamers, singing and a tasty, decadent chocolate cake. And then the real surprise came, when Aiuyen shrieked and pointed up into the corner of the kitchen. We were looking up at this massive (to me anyway), Huntsman spider. I saw one, albeit dead at Karina and Craig’s house in Western Australia, but this was different. This one seemed way bigger and VERY much alive. Aussies don’t think much of these spiders and reassured me they won’t bite and are not poisonous. To appease the concerned American who does not come across these types of large, hairy insects, Gavin and Jodie grabbed a broom and assisted the huntsman, who they named Harry, out the front door. Let’s just say I slept a bit better knowing Harry was outside. However, with all the spiders, March flies and other insects encountered since I entered Australia, the thought of the creepy-crawlers definitely affected my sleep throughout the night. Of course, my brilliant room-mate Janelle decided to play it safe and slept fully covered.

Next day we did the Darby Saddle trail, which was four hours of incredible sea views, a picnic lunch at Tongue Point, and a stop to dip our toes in at Fairy Cove, a beautiful clear beach with calm and rather warm waters. Loved everything about this hike, the company, the views, seeing a guy on the trail wearing a Portland Trailblazers basketball jersey, and the warmth of the sun.

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The one bit of wildlife I was not overly keen on was the March flies that assaulted us for much of the hike. Those flies are viscous and don’t take a swat seriously. They are determined and after your blood in a major way, no matter what repellent you have on. We managed our way to the end of the hike without anyone needing a blood transfusion, so all in all not a bad day. Whenever in The Prom, come in full armor, buy spray specific to March flies, or expect to get a full-body workout from swatting them away, non-stop.

After dinner, Janelle went to catch the sunset. I watched her walk towards the field where two cows were grazing, or so I thought after a few glasses of wine. I said let’s grab a selfie with the cows, which turned out to be very large bulls. If you remember from my Western Australia blog post, when I told Craig to “have fun with it” in the deep sand, perhaps, I don’t give the best advice at times? Luckily, no harm came to the bulls, or us, and the only selfie we got was with the bull’s back-end. Guess he was not interested.

After our fun with the bulls, Janelle and I decided to head to the Wildlife trail back in the park. While walking around in the slightest light left of the day, we came across a roo that was within ten feet from us. We squatted down to watch the roo eat. While he looked up at us a couple times, I asked Janelle what she thought the roo was thinking we were, as it was not disturbed by us being so close. She replied, “probably a shrub”. Umm, aren’t roos herbivores??? A few minutes later, the roo seemed to sense we were a bit more than a shrub and hopped right past us, and thankfully not over us.

Another great thing about turning 50 down under was being able to celebrate two days instead of just one. Loved celebrating my birthday once in Australia and then hearing from friends from the states the next day. The weekend was truly an amazing and fun birthday celebration and I am so fortunate to have such thoughtful friends!

The remainder of my time in Victoria was spent on a two-day tour to see The Great Ocean Road, Phillip Island and many highlights in-between, such as The Twelve Apostles, which actually are only eight, but who’s counting? I wanted to try out Aussie wines, so I did a day of wine tasting in the Yarra Valley. They have some great bubbly and a few of their Pinots would give even our Portland Pinots some serious competition.

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I had so much fun and the time flew by. Next up is New South Wales. Starting off with a few days in Sydney and then onto Mereweather to visit a friend I met in my 20’s in Miami, who moved to Australia over a decade ago.

Thanks so much to my great friends Aiuyen and Gavin for making my 50th an unforgettable experience, and being great hosts during my stay in Melbourne!

Aiuyen, Jess, Charlie and Gavin (from left to right). Incredibly fun and generous friends and hosts!

One thought on “Turning 50 Down Under

  1. Great post Shauna but you forgot a major thing which I think deserves a mention… Breakfast on your birthday, Kangaroo on Thursday night & spring rolls on the last night of your stay. I’m turning into my mum whereby food is a part of hosting and what Melbourne (and Vietnamese) people.. Are known for!!


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