Sunday, 18 December 2016

Ozzie Road Trip: Part 1

I arrived in Brisbane early hours of the 6th after close to seven weeks in New Zealand & the Sub-Antarctic Islands. I have been travelling solid now for quite sometime, with one trip following another. It might be nice to play with the grand children, take the dogs for a walk on the beach & drink a few beers & watch the sun go down. But Rowan had other ideas! Farge we are going on a twelve day road trip in the morning so get your washing done! What!? 

We are off!

We (Ceggy, Rowan & myself) set out on time at 9 am on 7th December. We had an uneventful drive northwards on the main Bruce Highway. Their plan was to drive north up the Queensland coast, stopping at various national parks & places of interest, explore the Atherton Tablelands (this was for my benefit to see a few new birds) & then drive south, staying at places that we had over looked on our way north. The plan worked perfectly!

It is really big!

Our first stop was at the Giant Pineapple! They never actually said what they grew on the farm. Strange that!

Rowan at the Botanical Gardens
Bundaberg Botanic Gardens with many
Australian White Ibis nesting.
Australian White Ibis
Eastern Cattle Egret
Little Black (Shag) Cormorant
Australian Pelican
This species often becomes very tame.

Male Australian Maned (Wood) Duck 
Magpie Goose
Dusky Moorhen

Short-finned Eel
Freshwater Turtle

Scaly-breasted Parakeet


After around 470 kms we stopped at the Bundberg Botanical Gardens, where we enjoyed a walk around & saw a few waterbirds & both Short Finned Eel & Freshwater Turtles. It was very hot & that was to be the norm for this trip.

An excellent evening out on the town!

Early evening saw us in the Brewe House in the town. Craft beers & good pizza for dinner!

Ceggy had picked out a free camp site for us complete with toilets & seating with lights! It was great!

Early morning on 8th December we had a short walk through the forest to Sharon Gorge, which was a bit underwhelming! Then it was on the road again, ever north. No birds of note.

It was then time for my first stab at a new bird: Yellow Chat!

I was in the right place!
Rowan, helping me out! 
Searching the habitat, but without success.
Squatter Pigeon
Brown Songlark

We had a stop for the elusive Yellow Chat at Twelve Mile Creek near Marmoor. It was mid day, so not the best time & I dipped! Did see Squatter Pigeon; Masked Wood-Swallow; Red backed Fairy Wren & Brown Songlark. 

The Rockhampton Botanical Gardens 
are well laid out & is a very pleasant place 
to visit.
Photo courtesy of Calum Gillon.

Rockhampton Botanical Gardens
Cotton Pygmy Goose, Pacific Duck & 
Chestnut Teal
Uncommon throughout its range in Australia.
Rainbow Lorikeet
Noisy Miner
Pied Butcherbird
Torresian Crow

Drove to Rockhampton where we visited the Botanical Gardens & Murrey Lagoon. It was pretty warm but we saw a lot of waterbirds including 5 Plumed Whistling Duck;  2 Wandering Whistling Duck & a Cotton Pygmy Goose! Not bad at all!

Evening BBQ at the camp site which was very pleasant.

Little Shrike Thrush
Alex, our tour guide.
These caves are well worth a visit.
This really is a very specialized 
environment & these ferns are rare.
The caves are quite extensive

Tree roots are growing down 
from the surface,

Our tour group this morning.
Rowan coming out of the caves.

The morning of the 9th December was spent at Capricorn Caves. We did the tour, which was both entertaining & informative. Most of the rest of the day was spent driving north.

Broken River
Photo courtesy of Rowan James

My first ever Duck-billed Ptatypus!
Seen from the bridge
Brilliant stuff!

We arrived at Eugenella National Park mid afternoon & spent the rest of the day platypus hunting! We had good views of one animal late afternoon. We stayed at one of the national parks camping areas & it was a very pleasant place next to the river. We were told that it was one of the best places o see platypus in Australia. And so it proved!

This was a different individual 
further down the river.
Photos are a little grainy because of the high ISO
 used in the poor light of early morning.
Very strange, but wonderful!

Freshwater Turtles were also common 
in this river.

Little Pied Cormorant

The next morning (10th December) I was up early birding & looking at another Duck-billed Platypus! It was an amazing experience. Brilliant stuff!

There is some nice montane forest along this road.

Topnot Pigeon
Regent Bowerbird

Fairy Gerygone of the race flavida.

Eastern Yellow Robin

We then drove along the Dalrymple Road & I finally caught up with a couple of the Eugenella Honeyeater! It took a while! They were in the deep forest though & high in the canopy. Impossible to photograph.

Best birds were:

Australian Bush Turkey; Litle Pied Cormorant; 2 Brown Cuckoo Dove; 15 Topnot Pigeon; 6 Red-tailed Black Cockatoo; 15 Sulphur-crested Cockatoo; 30+ Australian King Parrot; Crimson Rosella; Oriental Cuckoo; Azure Kingfisher; Laughing Kookabura; Spotted Pardalote; Striated Pardalote; Large billed Scrubwren; White-browed Scrubwren; Fairy Gerygone; Brown Thornbill; Lewin’s Honeyeater; Brown Honeyeater; Eastern Spinebill; Dusky Honeyeater; Eastern Yellow Robin; Eastern Whipbird; Golden Whistler; Little Shrike Thrush; Black-faced Monarch; Spectacled Monarch; Grey Fantail; Pied Butcherbird; Australian Magpie; Pied Currawong; Torrresian Crow; Regent Bowerbird; & Silvereye.

Putting up the tent!
Does it look like I know
 what I am doing?

Got there in the end!
Photo courtesy of Rowan James

Rowan's food in the bar!
Green Tree Frog

The rest of the day was spent in Airlie Beach, eating at a local bar where I enjoyed a dozen oysters. However late that night I got food poisoning & had a terrible night running to the bathroom! Also, a storm brought both high winds & heavy rain & half flattened my tent! Happy night eh?

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