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Friday, January 31, 2020

Charlie Moreland Camping Area, Imbil State Forest, near Kenilworth, QLD.

Camping at Charlie Moreland Camping Area.
In December 2019, most National Park and State Forest campgrounds in northern New South Wales and south-east Queensland were closed due to fires or fire risk, but Charlie Moreland Camping Area in Imbil State Forest was open and surprisingly, there were only three other rigs in the whole campground. 

We walked the Little Yabba Creek Walk in the afternoon and next morning. This is one of our all-time favourite birding walks, but it was sad to see it so badly affected by both the drought and recent logging activity.

Dry crossing over Little Yabba Creek.
Logging beside the Little Yabba Creek Circuit.
We still managed to see some interesting birds. We had been listening for the distinctive call of the Paradise Riflebird but hadn’t heard any, so we were excited to see a female Paradise Riflebird on the walk. Not the best photos but a Riflebird is always an exciting find.

Female Paradise Riflebird, back view.
Female Paradise Riflebird, front view.
We were lucky to again see Black-breasted Button Quail. This time we saw three but our photos were even worse than when we saw five in July 2018

There are usually lots of Red-necked Pademelons at Charlie Moreland, especially around the horse yards area, but this time we only saw a few.

Red-necked Pademelon.
The next day felt extremely hot and we moved the van to the shadier Day Use Area. We shifted picnic tables about five times chasing the shade. Even so the air was hot; we thought it was probably about 39 C. Most of Little Yabba Creek had dried up but there was still water in the swimming hole. We didn’t swim as the water looked a bit green.

Swimming hole at Charlie Moreland.
We saw quite a few birds in the picnic area. Eastern Whipbirds are easy to hear but harder to see and photograph as they stay in the bushes and move very fast.

Eastern Whipbirds.
We noticed a stately looking Nankeen Night Heron quietly watching us from overhead.

Nankeen Night Heron.
We saw an Emerald Dove on the walk and near the swimming hole. Not a great photo but it is the first time I can remember seeing one at Charlie Moreland. 

Emerald Dove.
Some more bird photos:

Spectacled Monarch.
Olive-backed Oriole.
Brown Cuckoo Dove.

Details for Charlie Moreland Campground, Imbil State Forest:
Where: About 130 km northwest of Brisbane. Southwest of Kenilworth on Sunday Creek Road. 
Access: About 5 km of 2WD gravel road to the campground. Past the campground Sunday Creek Road becomes 4WD and is a popular drive through to Jimna.
Camping: Suitable for tents and all rig types. Open grassy sites, some shade.
Bookings: Online or phone 13 74 68. No mobile phone reception at campground. There is a booking phone at the rangers station on the drive in on Sunday Creek Road.
Fees: $6.65 per adult per night, family rates.
Facilities: Flush toilets, non-potable water taps, fire rings, BYO wood, fires subject to fire bans. Swimming in Little Yabba Creek. Walks. 
Prohibitions: No pets. No generators. No fishing.
Cautions: Gets extremely busy and crowded at peak times.

Wildlife seen over two days in December 2019: 
Red-necked Pademelon. Lace Monitor. Birds: Black-breasted Button-quail, Regent Bowerbird, Australian Brush Turkey, Grey Butcherbird, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, Little Black Cormorant, Great Cormorant, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Torresian Crow, Pied Currawong, Bar-shouldered Dove, Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Emerald Dove, Bar-shouldered Dove, Spangled Drongo, Grey Fantail, Rufous Fantail, Australasian Figbird, Red-browed Finch, Noisy Friarbird, Wompoo Fruit-Dove, Brown Gerygone, White-necked Heron, Nankeen Night Heron, Lewin's Honeyeater, Azure Kingfisher, Laughing Kookaburra, Logrunner, Australian Magpie, Magpie-lark, Bell Miner, Noisy Miner, Spectacled Monarch, Australian King Parrot, Wonga Pigeon, Eastern Yellow Robin, Large-billed Scrubwren,  Yellow-throated Scrubwren, White-browed Scrubwren, Grey Shrike-thrush, Little Scrubwren, Russet-tailed Thrush, Eastern Whipbird, Golden Whistler, Willie Wagtail. 

Friday, November 8, 2019

Tara Cave Walking Track and Belougery Flats Trail, Warrumbungle National Park, NSW

View from the elevated boardwalk on the way to Tara Cave.
Tara Cave, 3.4 km return, Grade moderate:

Old Woolshed Picnic Area
The walk starts and finishes in the Old Woolshed Picnic Area. An Aboriginal Discovery Program tour can be organised at the Warrumbungle Visitor Centre.

There is an elevated boardwalk on the trail towards the cave which offers panoramic views of the Warrumbungles.

Elevated boardwalk.
View of  Mount Exmouth in low cloud.
Tara Cave was used for the manufacture of stone artifacts and the grooved stones have been protected by a mesh enclosure. To our horror, when we arrived at the cave we found evidence of vandalism to this culturally important area. It appeared that someone had passed a small person through a narrow gap in the barrier for the purpose of creating a stack of balancing stones. Furthermore, it appeared that some stones had been broken for this purpose. I am strongly of the belief that there is no place for balancing stones in any Australian National Park; with the exception of some historically significant cairns. When we reported this disgusting vandalism to the Visitor Information Centre it had already been reported and they had organised for the local aboriginal custodians to attend the site. I can't even imagine how heart breaking they must have found this desecration.

Protected Aboriginal stonework.
Modern vandalism in an ancient place.
On our return walk we came across an echidna. We observed it for some time. It sniffed the air a few times in our direction but seemed unconcerned by our presence. It eventually wandered off.

Echidna beside the paved section of the Tara Caves Walk.

Belougery Flats Trail: 5.1 km loop

This is an easy walk that leaves from Camp Blackman. Definitely don't confuse this walk with the Belougery Split Rock Walk which requires a lot more fitness and has steep and rough sections. The walk offers great views and has lots of wildlife.

Distant views of the mountains around the Grand High Tops.
View of Split Rock.
There was an amazing amount of wildlife along the walking track. We encountered several emus and many kangaroos.

Eastern Rosellas
Eastern Grey Kangaroos.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Wambelong Nature Track and Burbie Canyon Walk, Warrumbungle National Park, NSW.

Walking in Warrumbungle National Park is free, however, there is a daily park entry fee of $8 per vehicle. No pets or smoking is allowed. Rock climbing is permitted everywhere except the Breadknife and Chalkers Mountain, however, you must register at the visitor centre if you are intending to rock climb.

Due to the iconic status of the Breadknife and Grand High Tops Walk I have covered it in a separate blog.

Canyon Picnic Area
Wambelong Nature Walking Track: 1 km Loop, Grade 3:

The one kilometer loop walk starts and finishes in Canyon Picnic Area however, the walk can be extended as it has a linking track to Camp Blackman and can be further linked to the Visitor Information Centre.

There were plenty of birds in the picnic area despite the dry conditions.

Red-capped Robin
White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike
Laughing Kookaburra
We did the walk clockwise from the Picnic Area. The trail climbs over a granite dome before descending to Wambelong Creek. Sadly, the creek was completely dry when we were there.

Granite section of the Wambelong Nature Trail
Descending to the dry creek bed.
View of Split Rock.
Crossing the very dry Wambelong Creek.
The track goes past an interesting rock that is a good example of columnar jointing. There was an informative sign at the base of the rock explaining that columnar jointing is caused "when lava flow cools inwards from the top".

Columnar jointing.
We crossed over the dry bed of Wambelong Creek and past a dry waterfall before arriving back at the Canyon Picnic Area.

Wambelong Creek.
We saw lots of White-plumed Honeyeaters along the walk and the ever present White's Skinks.

White-plumed Honeyeater.
White's Skink.

Burbie Canyon Walking Track: 2 km return, Grade 3:

The walk leaves from the Burbie Canyon Car Park on John Renshaw Parkway. Rather than walking one kilometer along the canyon and returning the same way we made a circuit of the walk by turning left at the end of the canyon onto the Burbie Fire Trail and walked to Split Rock Picnic Area and then left back along the short section of road to Burbie Canyon Car Park. At a guess the loop we walked would be about 3.5 km.

Burbie Canyon Walk
Burbie Canyon.
We saw lots of Rufous Whistlers and several Red-necked Wallabies; one of which is the biggest Red-necked Wallaby we have ever seen.

Rufous Whistler
Enormous Red-necked Wallaby.
Burbie Fire Trail.
Split Rock

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Campers Link Walk to the Visitor Information Centre and Gurianawa Track, Warrumbungle National Park, NSW.

Turquoise Parrot
Warrumbungle National Park is famous for the Breadknife and Grand High Tops Walk but while we were camping at Camp Blackman we discovered that the easy walk between the campground and the Visitor Information Centre is an outstanding birding location. In addition, it links to a short easy circuit walk around the Information Centre which is also an outstanding birding location.

Campers Link Track
Views along the Campers Link Track.
Campers Link Walk:

Over the years, we have found Turquoise Parrots to be allusive. Having searched near Wallangarra, NSW without success and infamously coming to the attention of the police who were very suspicious of our camera equipment and of course we didn't have any photos of the Turquoise Parrot to prove what we were up to! We have also searched for them at Sundown National Park were we have since sighted them but hadn't managed to see them before going the the Warrumbungles. A short distance into the walk to the Visitor Information Centre, to our astonishment we saw ten Turquoise Parrots feeding on the ground. We walked a little further and saw eight Turquoise Parrots feeding on the ground. As we walked along, we saw more and more Turquoise Parrots until we gave up counting them.

Turquoise Parrot
The track runs alongside Spirey Creek which was dry when we were there. We saw emus, kangaroos, lizards and a variety of birds. We also saw lots of feral goats. The goats had only been culled two weeks before we went there but they are cleaver and hide out near the campground where they can't be targeted.

Eastern Grey Kangaroos.
Lace Monitor
Molting Dragon
Superb Fairy-wren.
White-winged Chough
Crimson Chat
Eastern Rosella
Feral Goats
Gurianawa Walking Track, Easy Grade, 1 km circuit:

The newly opened Visitor Information Centre
Gurianawa Track
On one of our visits to the Information Centre we were speaking to a national parks ranger about our surprise at the sheer number of Turquoise Parrots and Crimson Chats on the walk from Camp Blackman and around the information Centre. She pointed a couple out to us who had just made inquiries on where to sight Turquoise Parrots and asked if we wouldn't mind speaking to them about where we had sighted the birds. This we readily did and when we introduced ourselves to them we found that they were keen birders from Canada on a birding holiday. They had only been in Australia for three weeks but they had an amazing breadth of knowledge about Australian birds. We took them on a short tour of the Gurianawa Walking Track that circuits the Visitor Information Centre and were able to point out a pair of Turquoise Parrots to them, as well as a number of other birds that they hadn't seen. We all had a great time. They told us that they had been camping in the Warrumbungles for two days without much birding success and had no idea that the circuit walk and link walk was there and had been about to leave when we met them. They were so pleased that they took a photo of us to publish in their birding newsletter back home.

Turquoise Parrot
Jacky Winters.
White-plumed Honeyeaters.
Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater.
Masked Woodswallow.
The walk is very scenic and there is plenty of other wildlife to see besides birds. We saw emus, kangaroos and dragons.

Kurrajong Tree
View along the Gurianawa Track
Eastern Grey Kangaroos