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Adelaide/Strzelecki / Sydney / Brisbane Australia areas: January 17 - February 2, 2004,Gary and Marlene Babic
In connection with a business trip, my wife Marlene and I planned a one-week trip to the Birdsville and Strzelecki tracks for January 2004. However, after receiving multiple cautions that January is a difficult (and potentially life-threatening time) to do this trip, we changed plans and decided to concentrate on the Adelaide area, with a brief foray to the start of the Strzelecki Track. On subsequent weekends, we also stopped in Sydney and Brisbane.
We rented cars via Hertz at airport locations. 2WD was fine for all of our Adelaide and Sydney trips. For Brisbane, we were fortunate a 4WD was available because heavy rains made most of the Cooloola trails impassable. We had earlier considered a 4WD Britz Campervan via Blue Diamond Travel for Adelaide; when we changed our plans, they charged us a hefty cancellation fee even though we had not finalized our reservation, so we do not recommend them. We did not make advance lodging reservations except at O'Reilly's. This could have turned out to be a serious mistake - in many small towns, the motels closed at 8PM or earlier, and during Australian summer that is still daylight and therefore birding time. We had a few close calls locating a place that was open, or of getting one of the last few available rooms.
Maps are readily available. We specially liked Gregory's Sunshine Coast map for the Rainbow Beach area. All of our rental cars had a Key Map which shows every street in detail, making navigation easy around the cities. The roads were, in general, excellent. Most had posted speed limits of 110 kph. Most drivers stayed at or very close to this limit, and there were many signs noting that the police had no tolerance for exceeding the speed limits.
Australia is sparsely populated outside the major cities, so it is important to stock upon water and fuel whenever available - water being critical in the hot Outback regions north of Leigh Creek. As noted above, most hotels and restaurants outside the cities close at 8 to 8:30PM, and earlier on weekends, so lodging and meals require some planning. Also, many places advertised as "hotels" do not offer rooms, - they are simply taverns / pubs, usually with slot machines (pokies). Look for "motels" for lodging.
We used two bird guides: Pizzey and Knight's Field Guide to the Birds of Australia (be sure to get the most recent edition, the editions often are indistinguishable from the covers) and Simpson and Day's Princeton Guide to the Birds of Australia. Simpson and Day do not give any "voice" descriptions. Each has its strengths; having both gave us a chance to double-check identifying marks. An invaluable resource was Thomas and Thomas' The complete guide to finding the Birds of Australia, which has detailed information on many birding sites.
Birding in Australia in summer has its advantages. The days are very long - dawn before 6AM, dusk after 8:30PM in the Adelaide area - allowing time for travel between locations during the hot, mid-day birding doldrums. We averaged 500 km per day (we do not recommend this) and still did a lot of birding each day. As noted above, this sometimes meant scrambling for a meal or lodging as the end of the birding day wound down and we found out everything was already closed. On the negative side, it was hot in many places, and I am sure that is why we did not see many birds which others report as commonplace - for example, we saw no Budgerigars or Orange Chats, despite being in prime habitat for several days. Even so, we found that several key birds, such as the Chestnut-breasted Whiteface, remain in the normal sites even during mid-summer. Also, I do not know if this is typical for summer, but it was very windy at many sites in the Adelaide area. This certainly hurt our birding efforts at Arid Lands and Wilpena Pound. In summary, summer is hardly ideal for birding north of Port Augusta but it is not bad either.
Part 1: Adelaide area.
Saturday January 17, Day 1: Arrived from Bangkok in Adelaide at 7AM, cleared Customs quickly (do not bring any food products or even dairy-related items such as instant coffee as these are not allowed to be imported into Australia under heavy fines). Picked up the rental car and headed to Port Gawler. We made a few wrong turns after turning on the access road to Port Gawler - we should have simply stayed on the main road - before hearing and then seeing a flock of Slender-billed Thornbills in some samphire approximately one km before the mangroves. We continued back to the main road, heading north to Port Prime to try for Fairy Tern. No luck here. This bird would prove elusive for us. Lunch in Dublin. Continued on to Port Augusta and then to Price Salt Works to try for Fairy Tern. Unfortunately, we were advised we needed advance permission and access was only during weekday working hours. We then realized that it was Saturday, everything was either closed or closing (at 4PM), and would be closed the next day (Sunday), and we needed to stock up with supplies. Fortunately, we found one open supermarket in Port Augusta. Close call #1. Overnight in Port Augusta: Port Augusta Comfort Inn, tel: 08-8642-2755.
Sunday, January 18, Day 2: Up early to Arid Lands, only to find the gate still locked. But we soon spotted Chirruping Wedgebills outside the gate. Because winds were strong, we decided that we'd visit Arid Lands another time and headed north to Lyndhurst. Excellent roads en route. Lunch in Leigh Creek. Arrived in Lyndhurst by 2PM, checked in and relaxed as it was 40+ C. At about 5PM went to check out the Chestnut-breasted Whiteface (CBW) site. Saw no birds there at all, but hundreds of Galahs en route. The unpaved Strzelecki Track here was in very good condition. Overnight in Lyndhurst: Rick and Anne's Elsewhere Hotel - Lyndhurst "the place where everything happens elsewhere", tel: 08-8675-7781; fax: 08-8675-7703; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Nice rooms with communal facilities.
Monday, January 19, Day 3. Up at dawn to the CBW site. Crossed the ditch past the parking area and commenced looking for CBW. Within 20 minutes, I heard and then Marlene saw a flock moving away. We were partway up a hill so were able to look down on them; several bold individuals perched on small bushes for beautiful views. We had some confusion when we saw some orange streaking on the sides on the bird; Pizzey and Knight show no streaking at all, but do show this for Banded Whiteface. But Simpson and Day do show it for CBW, as did the post cards we later saw in Lyndhurst. Following this great start, we tried for Thick-billed Grasswren, checking along the dry river, along the road, and finally up the hills on the west side of the road. Here I saw several Cinnamon Quail-thrush. I called Marlene up, and as she arrived we saw some small birds scampered away which were the Grasswrens. They were not shy, but were difficult to see well. After several long looks, they simply disappeared. Other than several Singing Honeyeaters along the riverbed, we saw no other birds at this site. Possibly they move elsewhere during the hot summer; we were glad our two "target birds" stayed around.
We then drove south into Wilpena Pound / Flinders Range via the beautiful Brachina Gorge entrance. This route was barely passable with our 2WD Camry. Although the scenery was dramatic, the birding was unexceptional, with typical birds such as Striated Pardalote. We drove to Stokes Lookout, and armed with our GPS went to several sites which had been reported for the Short-tailed Grasswren. No luck, but it was hardly the best time of day and was also windy. Stopped at the pond at the base of the lookout road and saw Red-rumped Parrots, Ringnecks, Galahs and Crested Pigeons as well as several types of Kangaroos coming in to drink. Arrived at Wilpena Lodge just in time to check in (the desk closed at 7 but we could check in at the restaurant, which itself closed at 8:30). Overnight: Wilpena Pound Resort, tel: 08-8648-0048
Tuesday, January 20, Day 4: Up early to look for Short-tailed Grasswren. The morning started out calm, but soon was gusty. Despite much walking, waiting and listening, no success at any of the many sites given in various trip reports. Departed Wilpena Pound disappointed and headed south to Port Lincoln / Coffin Bay, a very long drive. Arrived Coffin Bay at 6:30 PM, after having spoken to a ranger via mobile phone when I realized we would not make Post Augusta and the Parks and Wildlife office by their 5PM closing time. He suggested Point Avoid for Rock Parrot and advised the roads were OK; he also said Coffin Bay was much better than Lincoln Park for the bird. We drove there, stopped at several parking areas in that area. Finally, at the Golden Island Lookout, Marlene spotted a flock of Rock Parrots flying over the bushes while I was looking down along the coast ! We eventually got great views of them feeding. We then went to the Yangie Bay campground to eat our supper, and saw a noisy flock of Blue-breasted Fairywrens there. Because we had seen Rock Parrot, we decided to go back to Port Augusta to be ready for Lincoln Park the next morning. Upon arrival, we found that every motel in town was closed for the night ! As we were driving by one such closed motel, Marlene through she spotted someone leaving the office, so we stopped and she called out. The woman hesitated, and Marlene later said she felt it was only because of her American accent that the woman re-opened and we got a room. Close call # 2. Overnight at the Hilton Hotel (not part of the global chain, but a nice place), Port Lincoln: tel: 08-8682-1144, fax: 08-8682-3786. e-mail: email@example.com
Wednesday, January 21, Day 5. Today we realize we arrived just as Port Lincoln is gearing up for Tunafest, a local celebration of the tuna fishing industry. We are very sorry we will miss such activities as the tuna toss (with both amateur and professional categories), but birding calls. We arrived at Lincoln Park only after asking for directions twice - there are no signs at all for the park which is only 10 km from town. Drove down to Taylor's Landing, with vague hopes of hearing a Western Whipbird but more realistically looking for Purple-gaped Honeyeater. But we had no sign of either after two hours in and around the campsite area. Many other fine birds, however, including many very bold Southern Scrub-robins. Finally, on one of many stops as we headed out of the park, Marlene spotted a Purple-gaped Honeyeater. Great luck, as this was the only one we saw.
The previous evening, I had called a local birder whose number was posted at Arid Lands. He confirmed that the red gums at Wilpena were best for Elegant Parrot, and that the samphires and salt flats near Chinaman Creek were best for Blue-winged Parrot. We left Port Augusta and en route decided to make another run to Wilpena Pound (an advantage of having many hours of daylight). We drove through Port Augusta, getting a room at the Comfort Inn as before, and then drove up to Wilpena arriving 3PM. Stopped en route to assist someone with an overheated vehicle; although this was done without any ulterior motive, I later thought that such a good deed might be repaid in the form of a new bird at Wilpena. Made another try for Short-tailed Grasswren at one site that seemed most promising, but no luck (weather again was windy). Then went down to scour the gum trees for Elegant Parrot. I found a perched Barking Owl and a Collared Sparrowhawk, but no parrots to be found. Departed at dusk, arriving Port Augusta late. Overnight, Port Augusta Comfort Inn, tel: 08-8642-2488.
Thursday, January 22, Day 6. Started out what would be a busy day heading at dawn to Chinaman Creek to look for Blue-winged Parrot. The suggestion was to follow the main road to the mangrove area, which we did. We saw several Ringneck and Galah, but no Blue-winged. We then drove up to Arid Lands, arriving 8AM, trying for Redthroat. Windy conditions led to very few birds up, and no Redthroat. Headed south, made a brief stop at Mt Remarkable, where the ranger confirmed that the Elegant Parrots "are all over here in spring" but moved up the mountains in summer. We continued south, diverting over to Price Salt Works where we had called ahead and received permission to drive around the salt pans. The target bird here was Fairy Tern (again), but no luck despite probably thousands of shorebirds at this site. Overall, this is a great site and one could spend all day here checking out the salt pans. Then we began our drive towards Waikerie, going through some grape-growing regions and nice scenery. Best of all, at one of our stops to check out some parrots, Marlene noticed a Ground Cuckoo-shrike in a small tree right in front of us. We arrived in Waikerie at 5PM, picked up the key to Gluepot (and our supper), and arrived at Gluepot at 6:30PM. That evening we enjoyed the company of the volunteer ranger Don Royal, as well as a grad student studying geckos. Best of all was being on site with no driving the next morning. Overnight: Birds Australia Gluepot Reserve, tel: 08-8892-8600.
Friday, January 23, Day 7. Although Don said he was not a birder, he did know some sites, plus the maps and notes available at the Visitor's Center were very useful. We went to the Babbler Campsite, where our prime target was Red-lored Whistler. We soon saw some White-browed Treecreepers, and some Gilbert's Whistlers, but no Red-lored (some have suggested that the Red-lored Whistlers lose their distinctive coloration in summer). In any case, nothing was calling. We then drove down to the Malleefowl Trail, at the corner of Trail 8 and the boundary of the Restricted Area. As we walked down the path, a raven kept bothering us; I joked to Marlene that he might prove to be our friend if we found Miners when they came to attack him. We walked about 1.5 km down this trail, and did not see any Miners. We decided to walk east and back up the road along the Restricted Area boundary. At exactly 1 km south of where we parked the car, I saw a Miner flash across the road and it perched very close by. We had prolonged views of it sitting and hopping around, and concluded it was a Black-eared Miner due to no white or gray at all on the rump, none on the tail, and the correct face markings. We were able to do this because we watched the bird from within 10 m for 10 minutes. Then we saw it go on a nest (!) and realized why it was not moving away. Then the raven came by again, and sure enough about a dozen Miners appeared to harass him. We then left the scene. While driving slowly back, we encountered a flock of Masked and White-browed Woodswallows.
We had covered only a small portion of Gluepot and had seen four life birds. It was a shame we had to depart to catch our 6PM fight to Sydney. Many thanks to Don for his hospitality.
Part 2: Sydney area.
Saturday January 24. Left Sydney at 5:30 to drive south to Wollongong for a pelagic trip operated by the Southern Seas Seabird Study Association. The boat departed at 7AM. Seas were very calm which made for a pleasant trip but not as many birds as if the sea had been a bit choppy. Several birds were caught and banded, including a Flesh-footed Shearwater. Other notable birds seen were Great-winged Petrel, Providence Petrel and Tahiti Petrel. At times, hundreds of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters accompanied the boat. We returned at 4PM.
Sunday January 25. Early departure to Blue Mountains and Glen Davis. Overcast skies and rain along the way. Lunch in Lithgow. We decided to make a quick run up to Glen Davis and were rewarded as the weather improved. We searched multiple sites without success for Regent Honeyeater; another group of birders pointed out a flock of Plum-headed Finch to us. We stayed longer than expected, and when we arrived at our intended hotel it was just closing. Close call #3. Overnight at Colonial Motor Inn, Marrangaroo (on Great Western Freeway near the Mungee turnoff). Tel: 02-6352-1655; fax: 02-6352-2471.
Monday, January 26 (Australia Day national holiday). Up early to continue for the Regent Honeyeater at Glen Davis. While in Glen Alice, a local told us that the "there are heaps of those yellow-and-black birds here - when they're here" and then said that they seem to leave in summer. Oh well, bad timing. Left the Glen Davis region by late morning, headed back to Sydney with a side trip to Mt Wilson, where our lunch was interrupted by large noisy flocks of Gang-gang Cockatoos.
Part 3: Brisbane area.
Friday January 30. Arrive in Brisbane where torrential storms have resulted in massive power outages and some flooding. Stayed with friends.
Saturday January 31. Drive north to Rainbow Beach. Upon arrival, find that the only open hotel is almost fully-booked, probably due to campers opting to use the hotel after the heavy rains. Close call #4. After check-in, drove to Inskip Point and parked at the end of the paved areas, and walked to the ferry landing. Checked for Black-breasted Buttonquail platelets. While walking along the beach, we saw two loud Beach Thick-knees and many Brown Quail. Rain was imminent, and as we were returning to our car Marlene spotted a Mangrove Honeyeater feeding. We also appeared to get multiple (very itchy) sand flea bites on our ankles and legs which were still a bother week later. The rain started and did not appear to be slowing down, so we drove to Boonooroo and Tuan. The weather here was clear and sunny, the tides were perfect, and the sun was at our backs as we scanned the waders. Many godwits, curlews, Great Knot, a few Terek Sandpipers among the more common birds, but no Asian Dowitcher which was our target. We departed this area at 6:30PM to drive to the Ground Parrot site at Cooloola. The Cooloola Way track was very messy and 4WD only. We arrived at the Ground Parrot site and, well past sunset, heard several Ground Parrot calls and made notes of their locations. Kept watch for Grass Owl to no avail. En route back to the hotel, stopped at Bymien to try for Sooty Owl, again no luck. Overnight: Rainbow Sands Hotel.
Sunday February 1. Up early, decided to go to Inskip to try for the buttonquail. Driving slowly through the camping area at 6AM, we were stunned to see a male Black-breasted Button-quail walk right across the paved road only a few meters in front of the car. Fortunately, both of us had great views before it disappeared into the bush. We then decided to turn around and try for Lewin's Rail at Bymien, but no luck. Then we drove down to the Ground Parrot site. Due to the ongoing rains, the heath where we heard the parrots was very wet. Everywhere had at least a few cm of standing water, many places had more. After a lot of discussion, we decided to try to flush a parrot. We spent 1.5 hours in the areas where we heard the parrots, then decided to try a higher (and probably drier) area. This latter area turned out to be almost impassable with heavy vegetation. After about 2 hours of slogging through waist-deep heath, we quit, parrot-less.
We then drove south to O'Reilly's, a long drive but on excellent roads. As we approached O'Reilly's, I called ahead and asked Tim O'Reilly if he could suggest some Glossy Black-cockatoo sites en route. We stopped at several of these, but no birds. Upon arrival, we walked the Python Rock Trail and saw a female Paradise Riflebird, female Albert's Lyrebird, many Logrunners, Topknot Pigeon. Green Catbirds were calling loudly. The normal "house birds" were present at O'Reilly's: Crimson Rosella, Australian King-parrot, Australian Brush-turkey, and Satin Bowerbird, but surprisingly we only saw one Regent Bowerbird, which is O'Reilly's star attraction. Overnight at O'Reilly's Rainforest Guesthouse, where we were among the very few guests: tel (in Australia) : 800-688-722; fax: 07-5544-0638
Monday February 2: After discussing Rufous Scrub-bird with Tim O'Reilly and hearing that it was very difficult and far away, and seeing ominous clouds, we opted to stay closer to the base area. We drove down Duck Creek Road checking for cockatoos (many Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos here). Finally, near Marie's Garden stop, two Glossy Black-cockatoos flew over, flashing their brilliant red tail panels, and began to feed in casuarinas very close by. En route back to O'Reilly's we walked partway down Morans Fall trail and, among other birds, had a Russet-tailed Thrush fly in front of us, flashing its bold white outer tail feathers, before perching briefly. We then returned, to find out that check-out time is 10AM and we were supposed to have already vacated our room ! After quick showers and packing, we walked the Wishing Tree Trail, where we saw two more female Paradise Riflebirds, initially quite high up but gradually they came almost to ground level, feeding. By now, drizzle was coming down so we retreated and had lunch. Our flight was not until late Monday, so with little left to do we slowly drove down to Tambourine Mountain to a possible Sooty Owl site. However, the rain increased so we simply returned to Brisbane to end our Australian birding trip, with a total of 24 "new" birds tallied.
Port Gawler / Port Prime / Penrice Saltworks(?)/ Port Germein
To reach Port Gawler, drive north of Adelaide on Route A1. The road to Port Gawler is on the left, approximately five miles north of Victoria. The turn is marked with a very small sign. If you reach Twin Wells, you have gone too far. Follow this road west through farmland and samphire flats. Continue straight; mangroves on the coast can be seen just beyond a turn to the right that leads to a motorcycle race track. These samphire flats are a prime area for Slender-billed Thornbill.
Port Prime is slightly farther north on Route A1. Turn left just after Lower Light; again, only a small sign indicates the road. This area also has samphire but also many salt pans. One of the roads to the left had a sign "Penrice Corporation", so I assume this is the Penrice Saltworks mentioned in other reports. The road was marked "Private" but the gate was unlocked so we drove a few km in. Many terns here, and we saw one Spotless Crake.
Farther up Route 1 is Port Germein. No special shorebirds seen here, but we did see Southern Scrub-robin walking through the salt bush between the road and the beach.
Arid Lands Botanical Gardens
This is located only a few km north of Port Augusta; it is well sign-posted. Details can be found at: www.australian-aridlands-botanic-garden.org/general/visit.htm; tel: 08-8641-1049.
The web site states that hours are 9AM-5PM weekdays, 10AM-4PM weekends, but this refers only to the Visitor's Center (which has a nice café and giftshop). The garden itself is open before and after the Visitor's Center. The garden hours on the gate are posted as 7:30AM to dusk, but this is also misleading. In January, when dusk was 8:30PM, we were told that the gate was actually locked by 6PM.
The good news is that birds are readily seen even outside the gate - we saw several Chirruping Wedgebills, in the very south of their range - one morning as we were waiting for the gates to open. The gardens showcase native plants. There are many trails through the gardens, and two birding hides, one of which had a small water source. Although we saw a nice mix of birds here, we were hampered by a persistent 20-knot wind on several days that certainly limited our chances to see Redthroat.
Access to the gardens and Visitor's Center is free, but donations are welcomed.
This is located approximately 20 km south of Port Augusta and is sign-posted off Route A1. Follow the access road west towards the coast, passing through farmland, then samphire flats, finally to mangrove and the coast. This area was recommended to us as a possible Blue-winged Parrot site, but we did not see any here.
Price Saltfields (Cheetham Salt Limited)
At Port Wakefield, approximately 100 km north of Adelaide, turn west on B85 and then south onto B96 towards Androssan. The town of Price is just past Clinton, well-marked. Upon entering the town of Price, turn right to the salt works. The first time we visited, we were advised we had to get formal permission. When I called a few days later to secure permission, the woman at the salt works was very friendly and said that they hosted many birding groups, and that we were welcome to visit during working hours as long as we signed in at the security gate. I recommend calling ahead to make sure access is OK as this is a working site.
The reason for "during working hours" quickly became evident. The site is a maze of roads that go around massive salt pans. It would be very easy to slide off the road and then be seriously stuck.
Shore birds were everywhere, with massive flocks of stilts, avocets, etc. The salt pans seemed to go on and on. It would be very easy to spend hours here. Highly-recommended.
Cheetham Salt Limited, Price SA, tel: 08-8837-6511.
Chestnut-breasted Whiteface (CBW) site
This location, 27.2 KM east of Lyndhurst, is well-documented elsewhere. The entrance to the dirt track on the left is marked by a small cairn of rocks, plus a small yellow sign 100 m along on the track is visible from the road. The "rusty car" is still there, well to the left of the road and not a useful landmark except to confirm you are on the correct track. Bear left at the yellow sign to the CBW site.
The hills on the right of the track before the parking area are where we saw Thick-billed Grasswren and Cinnamon Quail-thrush. The track ends at a parking area where a mine can be seen approximately 500 m ahead on the side of a hill. We located a flock of Chestnut-breasted Whiteface halfway between the parking area and the mine; others have suggested closer to the mine, or across the small (dry) riverbed to adjacent rocky fields.
This is located inside the Flinders Ranges National Park. Access from the south via Port Augusta / Quorn / Hawker is along excellent roads and takes 2.5 hours from Port Augusta. The turn off A1 onto B47 to Hawker is actually a few km south of Port Augusta. The approach from the north is via Brachina Gorge, and is a rough road across several river crossings. We made it in our 2WD but we were not so sure at times. This is a beautiful drive, however. The turn from A1 to Brachina Gorge is approximately 80 km south of Leigh Creek and is sign-posted.
Wilpena Pound itself refers to a natural crater-like formation. There is a nice gift store and restaurant at the Visitor's Center, and also a nice motel and restaurant (which closes at 8:30PM). The motel was a bit expensive (AUD 150), but is the only option inside the park other than camping. There is other lodging outside the park boundaries.
Our main reason to visit Wilpena Pound was to see Short-tailed Grasswren, which has been reported from Stokes Hill Lookout which is only 20 km from the motel. The tall red gums along the main road north of the Visitor's Center turnoff and along the dry riverbed are also reputed to be good for Elegant Parrot. When turning off the main road onto the road to Stokes Lookout, there is a small pond on the right side which attracted a range of parrots and wildlife at dusk.
Wilpena Pound Resort: www.wilpenapound.com/au; tel: 08-8648-0048
Lincoln National Park
The park is located 10 km south of Port Lincoln but it is not sign-posted and it took us two gas station stops in Port Lincoln for directions to find it. Note that both this park and Coffin Bay are at the southern tip of Eyre Peninsula and over 300 km south of Port Augusta. Park information for both parks is available at: 08-8688-3111. There is an excellent web site with a downloadable map at: www.tep.com.au/nationalparks/np_lincoln.htm
Plus general information at: www.parks.sa.gov.au/west
The tracks to the campsite at Taylor's Landing were in good condition. This is a reputed site for Western Whipbird but the high heath/scrub would make seeing it a challenge even if it was calling. We did see Purple-gaped Honeyeater along the road.
Coffin Bay National Park
This park is easier to find than Lincoln Park because there is also an adjacent town called Coffin Bay and signs to it are well-posted. It is approximately one hour west of Port Lincoln. There is some lodging available in the town of Coffin Bay. The park features breath-taking scenery along the coastline.
Although only a limited amount of the roads are paved or otherwise suitable for 2WD, we were able to easily get to Point Avoid; in this area, at the Golden Island Overlook, we located a small flock of Rock Parrots. At the campground at Yangie bay, we saw many Blue-breasted Fairywrens. Same contact info as above.
Mount Remarkable Park
This park is 25 km south of Port Augusta. Most of the year (except summer) it is good for Elegant Parrot. There are many grassland birds in the lower parts of the park, which also extends to the southern end of the Flinders Ranges. Tel: 08-8634-7068.
This wonderful Birds Australia Reserve is located approximately 65 km north of Waikerie, which is 150 km east of Adelaide. The organization purchased the property in 1997, and it is a fantastic expanse of mallee. It has several dirt roads and there are many well-marked trails, yet the place remains essentially wilderness mallee.
Access to Gluepot is as follows: a key to open gates along the access road must be picked up at the Shell service station in Waikerie. A small deposit is required. The service station hours were posted as 7AM - 8PM but of course these may vary. Directions from the Shell station (which are provided when you pick up the key) are: take the 24-hour free ferry across the Murray River, follow the paved road to the T junction, turn left towards Morgan, after 3 km turn right onto Lunn's Road and follow this to Gluepot. The trip from Waikerie to the Gluepot station takes a minimum of an hour, depending on road conditions. We had no problems with 2WD to or within the Reserve.
The "headquarters" area features an excellent Visitor's Center and small gift shop. However, all food and water must be brought in as none is available inside the Reserve. The reserve is staffed with volunteer rangers, and the ranger graciously allowed us to stay at the reserve. We therefore avoided the long drive in and out, as a collision with a kangaroo would be very likely during dusk and dawn in the Reserve.
The Reserve is renowned as a stronghold for Black-eared Miner, Rufous-lored Whistler, and Scarlet-chested Parrot, as well as Malleefowl. The parrot is primarily found only in a restricted part of the Reserve, but has been known to wander into the public area (we were told of 20+ at the water tank just outside the Reserve HQ last year). We were able to see a Black-eared Miner on a nest here, 1 KM south on the Malleefowl Trail. The habitat is open and should be very good for the Whistler as well if it was calling. We also saw White-browed Treecreeper, Masked and White-browed Woodswallows, and many other good mallee birds. We liked the Reserve so much we really wanted to extend our stay.
There is excellent information about Gluepot available on line at: www.riverland.net.au/~gluepot
The ranger can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Visitor's Center has trail maps and lots of additional information. There is a small fee for day visitors and campers. It is most important to be self-sufficient here - the rangers cannot provide supplies nor dispose of trash. Also note that Gluepot is in a "fruit fly exclusion zone", probably due to the large citrus agribusiness in the area - no fresh fruits or vegetables should be brought in, and police do make spot checks.
Pelagic trips out of Wollongong have been running for the last 15+ years with few cancellations due to weather. These run on the 4th Saturday of each month. A complementary pelagic runs out of Sydney on the 2nd Saturday. We have never done the Sydney pelagic, but we understand it uses a catamaran which reaches the continental shelf faster than the Wollongong boat.
The Wollongong boat, the Sandra K, is not much to look at but is a sturdy fishing boat and has good visibility. The trips sometimes have as many as 20 customers, which would be crowded. Our trip had only 7 due to last-minute cancellations. The boat left the small Wollongong harbor at 7AM and returned at 4PM. The usual sea-watching precautions apply; in particular, bring warm clothes.
One advantage of this pelagic trip is that the long history has allowed good statistics to be developed on what birds are likely to be seen. The web site includes this information at:
The organizer is Lindsay Smith at tel: 02-4271-6004 / mobile 0418-603-007. E-mail: email@example.com
This site is actually an old shale oil refining town that is now largely unoccupied. It is in the Blue Mountains and is a prime site for Regent Honeyeater. While here, we saw Plum-headed Finch but not the Honeyeater.
To reach Glen Davis, and its sister town Glen Alice, drive west out of Sydney towards the Blue Mountains (several routes possible) towards Katoomba. Continue west 10 km past Lithgow to the Mudgee turnoff; bear left and follow the exit as it turns north towards Mudgee for 35 km to the small town of Capertee. Here turn right (east). The paved road goes approximately 10 km. 5 km beyond this, on the right, is a major dirt road that has a sign "Planting trees to save the Regent Honeyeater". This dirt side road is reputed to be good for the bird. Farther down the main road 10 km, there is a small creek crossing the road and the brush around here is a Plum-headed Finch site. Continue down the main road to a T junction; Glen Davis is to the right, Glen Alice to the left. Other good Regent Honeyeater sites are reputed to be in the large eucalypyts behind and at the Glen Davis campground, which has a small community center / museum, and near the church in Glen Alice.
Rainbow Beach / Inskip Point / Cooloola Park
Rainbow Beach is approximately 250 km north of Brisbane on excellent roads. Follow Rt 1 north to Gympie then follow signs east to Rainbow Beach, which is the small town providing access to Cooloola Park (which is actually part of Great Sandy National Park) and Inskip Point. The Parks and Wildlife office for Rainbow Beach is open 7AM-4PM daily, tel: 07-5486-3160. Although many sites are posted as being accessible via 2WD vehicles, we were fortunate to have a 4WD vehicle because the rains during our stay made most of the unpaved roads impassable with 2WD.
When we visited, there was only one hotel open in Rainbow Beach, the Rainbow Sands, which is just south of the town. We recommend making a reservation as the hotels can be filled up on weekends and there are few nearby alternatives.
There are several key birding sites around Rainbow Beach. Just north of town is Inskip Point, which is also a ferry location for 4WD access to the southern end of Fraser Island. The paved road extends to within a km of the end of the point. A good approach is to park here, and then walk along the sandy track, periodically walking along the small side trails that lead to the beach. These are reputed to be excellent for Black-breasted Buttonquail. We saw many platelets, but none fresh and no buttonquail. We did see many Brown Quail, two Beach Thick-knees along the coast near the ferry dock, and a single Mangrove Honeyeater before rain washed out our birding. However, the next morning at dawn, we saw a male Black-breasted Buttonquail crossing the paved road about 1km before the parking area.
South of Rainbow Beach, in the park itself, are two main birding sites. Bymien is a picnic area accessible via Freshwater Road, which is approximately 5 km south of Rainbow Beach. The 3 km road to the picnic area would have been barely accessible via 2WD due to rainy conditions. Sooty Owl and Lewin's Rail have been reported from Bymien.
Approximately 20 km south of Rainbow Beach is the turn to Cooloola Way. This road was definitely 4WD only. Follow this track approximately 3 miles until a set of power lines cross the road. Turn left here onto a narrow track that gradually drops into a heath. Follow this until reaching an obvious culvert. The heath in this area has been known for Ground Parrot, and we did hear several at dusk (it was actually almost completely dark). Grass Owls have also been reported over the fields at dusk. We returned the next morning to try to flush a parrot, but after two hours of trudging through very wet (5 cm+ standing water) and deep heath, we gave up.
Excellent information on the Cooloola Section of Great Sandy Park is available at: www.epa.qld.gov.au/projects/park/index.cgi?parkid=66
Tuan / Boonooroo
This is a great shorebird site. If leaving from Rainbow Beach, drive back towards Gympie. Soon after the intersection with the road to Tin Can Bay, take a right turn (north) towards Marysborough onto the Maysborough-Cooloola Road, which leads through a forestry site. Follow signs approx 40 km to Boonooroo. Look for a caravan park on the right; at the end of the short road, there is a small high-tide roost which held Godwits, Terek Sandpipers and Great Knots. Returning to the main road, drive further north and right onto Schwartzrock Road, which leads to a small housing development on the coast, overlooking Fraser Island. There are several roads here that lead to coast access and various pieces of mudflats and grasslands. We saw large flocks of Curlews, Pied Oystercatchers, Great Knots, plus Scaly-breasted and Rainbow Lorikeets. Following the main road south, back past the caravan park, look for signs for the Tuan boat ramp where we saw a large flock of several hundred Godwits. We were looking for Asiatic Dowitcher and, even though we did not see any, this seems like a great potential site. Of course, check tides; we arrived just at high tide, and within an hour the birds had moved very far out.
O'Reilly's Rainforest Guesthouse
O'Reilly's is a legendary birding location and rightfully so. It is only two hours south of Brisbane, and there are many birds found here that are difficult elsewhere. It is located within the boundaries of Lamington National Park, so the birding is at your doorstep. The facilities are excellent, food is great, and Tim O'Reilly is very helpful with birding advice. One big negative is the price - the least expensive room during our off-season visit was AUD 260 (camping is also available). A Saturday night stay requires a two-night minimum. But there are few options - the nearest alternative lodging is in Canungra, an hour's drive along a winding road. Also, check-out time is 10AM, which means inconveniently checking out before morning birding if you expect to be out after 10AM.
There are many routes to O'Reilly's, but the key is to get to Canungra which is approximately an hour south of Brisbane. From here the road quickly goes up into the mountains along a winding road.
Perhaps the most wished-for bird at O'Reilly's is Rufous Scrub-bird; we did not even try for it after Tim O'Reilly explained it had not been seen well in a long time, a result of over-taping, and the only probable site was at least 8km up the trail (plus, it looked like imminent rain). But O'Reilly's has many other "good" birds - among new birds we saw on this trip were Paradise Riflebird, Russet-tailed Thrush, and Glossy Black-cockatoo; we also saw Albert's Lyrebird, Pilotbird, Logrunner, Topknot Pigeon, etc. - and this in less than a 24-hour visit. Satin Bowerbirds, Crimson Rosellas, King Parrots, and Brush-turkeys were abundant. Strangely enough, we only saw a single Regent Bowerbird, the resort's trademark bird, but they are normally common.
Despite the cost, a visit to O'Reilly's is not to be missed.
tel (in Australia) : 800-688-722; fax: 07-5544-0638
While planning our trip, we were greatly avoided by a recent trip report sent to me by Tommy Pedersen, and by subsequent follow-up e-mails; many thanks, Tommy. I am not sure if this is currently posted.
Among other web sites we consulted are:
General e-mail questions to the Birders-Aus web site resulted in excellent advice from many birders; special thanks to Alan McBride, Tom Tarrant, Roger McGovern, Peter Waanders, Annabel Ashworth/Hoskins, Phil Gregory, Dion Hobcroft, and Colin R.
Much appreciation to Don Royal at Gluepot for allowing us to stay there and for the excellent company.
Bird List ("Special" birds seen in bold)
Collins Field Guide:
Birds of Australia
1) Emu (Dromaius novohollandiae) - common north of Adelaide
2) Ostrich (Struthio camelus) - introduced, at several farms
3) Australian Brush-turkey (Alectura lathami) - very common O'Reilly's
4) Brown Quail (Coturnix ypsilophora) - common Inskip Point
5) Black Swan (Cygnus atratus) - common, many locations
6) Australian Shelduck (Tadorna tadornoides) - a few on ponds east of Adelaide
7) Great-winged Petrel (Pterodrama macroptera) - a few on W'gong pelagic
8) Providence Petrel (Pterodrama solandri) - a few on W'gong
9) Tahiti Petrel (Pseudobulweria rostrata) - one on W'gong
10) Wedge-tailed Shearwater (Puffinus pacificus) - common W'gong
11) Flesh-footed Shearwater (Puffinus carneipes) - several W'gong
12) Hutton's Shearwater (Puffinus huttoni) - several W'gong
13) Australasian Gannet (Morus serrator) - one W'gong
14) Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) - common W'gong
15) Little Black Cormorant (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris) - common W'gong
16) Pied Cormorant (Phalacrocorax varius) - several over Pt Gawler
17) Little Pied Cormorant (Phalacrocorax melanoleucos) - common W'gong
18) Australian Pelican (Pelicanus conspicillatus) - common W'gong
19) Cattle Egret (Ardea ibis) - common, widespread
20) Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) - common, coastal
21) Great Egret (Ardea alba) - common, widespread
22) Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis molucca) - common Brisbane
23) Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus axillaris) a few north of Adelaide
24) Black Kite (Milvus migrans) - common, urban
25) Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus) - one at Gluepot
26) Collared Sparrowhawk (Accipter cirrhocephalus) - one at Wilpena
27) White-bellied Sea-eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) - one at Blue Mtns
28) Wedge-tailed Eagle (Aquila audax) - common at Wilpena
29) Nankeen Kestrel (Falco cenchroides) - common
30) Spotless Crake (Porzana tabuensis) - one at Pt Gawler
31) Black-tailed Native-hen (gallinule ventralis) - common Adelaide area
32) Beach Stone-curlew (Esacus neglectus) - two at Inskip Point
33) Black-breasted Buttonquail (Turnix melanogaster) - one at Inskip Point, crossing road at dawn one km before end of paved road.
34) Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica) - common Tuan
35) Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa) - common Tuan
36) Eastern Curlew (Numenius madagascariensis) - common Tuan
37) Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) - common Tuan
38) Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) - common Tuan
39) Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis) - common, widespread
40) Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) - a few at Tuan
41) Terek Sandpiper (Xenus cinereus) - a few at Tuan
42) Great Knot (Calidris tenuirostris) - common Tuan
43) Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) - common Tuan
44) Pied Oystercatcher (Haematopus fuliginosus) - common Tuan
45) Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) - common Port Gawler
46) Banded Stilt (Cladorynchus leucocephalus) - very common at Price Saltworks
47) Red-necked Avocet (Recurvirostra novohollandiae) - very common at Price Saltworks
48) Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva) - common Tuan
49) Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles) - common, widespread
50) Australian Pratincole (Stiltia Isabella) - common Price Saltworks
51) Pomerine Jaeger (Stercorarius pomarinus) - several W'gong
52) Long-tailed Jaeger (Stercorarius longicaudis) - several W'gong
53) Pacific Gull (Larus pacificus) - common Adelaide area
54) Kelp Gull (Larus dominicanus) - several W'gong
55) Silver Gull (Larus novohollandiae) - very common
56) Whiskered tern (Chlidonias hybrida) - common Price Saltworks
57) White-winged Black Tern (Chlidonias leucopterus) - several at Price Saltworks
58) Gull-billed Tern (Sterna nilotica) - common W'gong
59) Crested tern (Sterna bergii) - common, widespread
60) White Tern (Gygis alba) - one seen only by tour guide on W'gong
61) Spotted turtle-dove (Streptopelia chinesis) - common near Sydney
62) Feral Pigeon (Columba livia) - very common, urban
63) Brown Cuckoo-dove (Macropygia) - common at O'Reilly's
64) Topknot Pigeon (Lopholaimus antarticus) - a few at O'Reilly's
65) Common Bronzewing (Phaps chalcoptera) - several at Lincoln Park
66) Brush Bronzewing (Phaps elegans) - a few at Coffin Bay
67) Wonga Pigeon (Leucosarcia melanoleuca) - common O'Reilly's
68) Crested Pigeon (Ocyphaps lophotes) - common, widespread
69) White-headed Pigeon (Columba leucomela) - one at O'Reilly's
70) Glossy Black-cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus lathami) - two at O'Reilly's
71) Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo (Calyptorhychus funereus) - common, Blue Mountains and O'Reilly's
72) Gang-gang Cockatoo (Callocephalon fimbriatum) - common Mt Wilson
73) Galah (Cacatua roseicapilla) - very common, widespread
74) Little Corella (Cacatua sanguinea) - very common, north of Adelaide
75) Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita) - very common at Glen Davis, urban, widespread
76) Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haemotodus) - common at Tuan
77) Scaly-breasted Lorikeet (Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus) - common at Tuan
78) Australian King-parrot (Alisterus scapularis) - common O'Reilly's
79) Crimson Rosella (Platycercus elegans) - common O'Reilly's
80) Eastern Rosella (Platycercus eximius) - common Blue Mtns
81) Eastern Ringneck (Barnardius barnardi) - common Gluepot
82) Western Ringneck (Barnardius zonarius) - common north of Adelaide
83) Blue Bonnet (Northiella haemotogaster) - common Wilpena
84) Red-rumped Parrot (Psephous varius) - common grasslands around Adelaide
85) Mulga Parrot (Psephotus varius) - common
86) Rock Parrot (Neophema petrophila) - several at Coffin Bay
87) Turquoise Parrot (Neophema pulchetta) - several at Glen Davis
88) Barking owl (Ninox connivens) - one at Wilpena
89) Spotted Nightjar (Eurostopodus argus) - one flushed roadside north of Adelaide at dusk
90) Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novoeguineae) - widespread
91) Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus) - common
92) Albert's Lyrebird (Menura alberti) - one female seen on Python Rock trail, O'Reilly's
93) White-throated Treecreeper (Cormobates leucophaeus) - a few at Cooloola
94) White-browed Treecreeper (Climacteris affinis) - several at Gluepot
95) Superb fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus) - common Blue Mtns
96) Variegated Fairy-wren (Malurus lambertii) - common Gluepot
97) Blue-breasted Fairy-wren (Malurus pulcherrimus) - common Coffin Bay
98) White-winged Fairy-wren (Malurus lecopterus) - very common Arid Lands
99) Thick-billed Grasswren (Amytornis textilis) - several at CBW site
100) Striated Pardalote (Pardalotus straitus) - common Wilpena
101) Pilotbird (Pycnoptilus floccosus) - common at O'Reilly's
102) White-browed Scrubwren (Sericornis forntalis) - common Blue Mtns
103) Yellow-throated Scrubwren (Sericornis citrocogularis) - common O'Reilly's
104) Inland Thornbill (Acanthiza apicalis) - common Wilpena
105) Slender-billed Thornbill - several at Port Gawler
106) Chestnut-rumped Thornbill - several at Lincoln Park
107) Yellow-rumped Thornbill - common at Mt Remarkable
108) Weebill (Smicrornis brevirostris) - several at Wilpena
109) Southern Whiteface (Aphelocephala leucopsis) - several at Arid Lands
110) Chestnut-breasted Whiteface (Aphelocephala pectoralis) - several at CBW site, between parking area and mine
111) Red Wattlebird (Anthochaera carunculata) - several on Eyre Peninsula
112) Little Friarbird (Philemon citreogularis) - several in Blue Mtns
113) Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater (Acanthagenys rufogularis) - common Eyre Peninsula
114) Yellow-throated Miner (Manorina flavigula) - common Gluepot
115) Black-eared Miner (Manorina melanotis) - one on nest, 1KM south on Malleefowl Trail at Gluepot
116) Noisy Miner (Manorina melanocephala) - common Sydney area
117) Lewin's Honeyeater (Meliphaga lewinii) - common O'Reilly's
118) Singing Honeyeater (Lichenostomus virescens) - common north of Adelaide, esp at Arid Lands
119) Mangrove Honeyeater (Lichenostomus fasciogularis) - one at Inskip Point
120) Yellow-tufted Honeyeater (Lichenosotmos melanops) - several in Blue Mtns
121) Purple-gaped Honeyeater (Lichenostomus cratitius) - one at Lincoln Park
122) Yellow-plumed Honeyeater (Lichenostomus ornatus) - common near Adelaide
123) White-plumed Honeyeater (Lichenosotmus penicillatus) - very common at Glen Davis
124) New Holland Honeyeater (Phylidonyris novohollandae) - very common at Lincoln Park
125) Eastern Spinebill (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris) - several in Blue Mtns
126) Red-capped Robin (Petroica goodenovii) - common at Gluepot
127) Eastern Yellow Robin (Eopsaltria australis) - common O'Reilly's
128) Hooded Robin (Melanodryas cucullata) - a few at Gluepot
129) Logrunner (Orthonyx temminckii) - common O'Reilly's
130) Southern Scrub-robin (Drymodes brunneopygia) - several at Pt Germein
131) White-browed Babbler (Pomatostomus superciliosus) - common, widespread
132) Eastern Whipbird (Psophodes olivaceus) - two seen at O'Reilly's (of course, heard constantly)
133) Chirruping Wedgebill (Psophodes cristatus) - several at Arid Lands at dawn, outside entry gate
134) Cinnamon Quail-thrush (Cinclosoma cinnamomeum) - several at CBW site
135) Varied Sitella (Daphoenositta chrysoptera) - a few, widespread
136) Gilbert's Whistler (Pachycephala inornata) - several at Gluepot
137) Golden Whistler (Pachycephala pectroalis) - several at O'Reilly's
138) Grey Shrike-thrush (Colluricincla harmonica) - common, widespread
139) Black-faced Monarch (Monarcha maelanopsis) - several at O'Reilly's
140) Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys) - common, widespread
141) Rufous Fantail (Rhipidura rufifrons) - common at O'Reilly's
142) Grey Fantail (Rhi[idura fuliginosa) - a few in Blue Mtns
143) Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike (Coracina novohollandiae) - widespread
144) Ground Cuckoo-shrike (Coracina maxima) - one en route to Gluepot, one at Glen Alice
145) White-winged Triller (Lalage sueurii) - one at Cooloola
146) White-breasted Woodswallow (Artamus leucorynchus) - widespread
147) White-browed Woodswallow (Artamus superciliosus) - several at Gluepot
148) Masked Woodswallow (Artamus personatus) - several at Gluepot
149) Black-faced Woodswallow - widespread
150) Dusky Woodswallow (Artamus cyanopterus) - several at Gluepot
151) Grey Butcherbird (Cracticus torquatus) - common Wilpena
152) Pied Butcherbird (Cracitus nigrogularis) - common O'Reilly's
153) Magpie-lark (Grallina cyanoleuca) - common, widespread
154) Australian Magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen) - common, widespread
155) Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina) - a few in Blue Mtns
156) Gray Currawong (Strepera versicolor) - a few at Lincoln Park
157) Paradise Riflebird (Ptiloris paradiseus) - three females total seen on Python Rock and Wishing Tree Trails at O'Reilly's
158) Australian Raven (Corvus coronoides) - common, widespread
159) Little Raven (Corvus mellori) - a few near Adelaide
160) Torresian Crow (Corvus orru) - common near Brisbane
161) Apostlebird (Struthidea cinerea) - large flock at Gluepot
162) White-winged Chough (Corocrax melanorhampos) - a flock at Glen Davis
163) Green Catbird (Ailuredus crassirostris) - a few seen at O'Reilly's (heard often on Python Rock trail)
164) Regent Bowerbird (Sericulus chrysocephalus) - surprisingly only one at O'Reilly's
165) Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) - very common O'Reilly's
166) Richard's Pipit (Anthus novaeseelandiae) - common, widespread
167) Singing Bushlark (Mirafra javanica)- common Mt Remarkable
168) Zebra Finch (Taeniopygia guttat) - very common all dry areas
169) Diamond Firetail (Stagonopleura guttata) - common Glen Alice
170) Plum-headed Finch (Neochmia modesta) - several near creek on road to Glen Davis
171) House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) - common, Sydney
172) Mistletoebird (Dicaeum hirundaceum) - a few in Blue Mtns
173) Welcome Swallow (Hirundo neoxena) - common at Lyndhurst
174) Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis)- very common Coffin Bay
175) Common Blackbird (Turdus merula) - a few near Adelaide
176) Russet-tailed Thrush (Zoothera heinei) - one on Python Rock Trail at O'Reilly's
177) Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) - very common
178) Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis) - common Sydney