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Sunday, September 24, 2017

Blackdown Tablelands National Park, QLD.

Mimosa Creek near Munall Camping Area, Blackdown Tablelands National Park, QLD.
Blackdown Tablelands is on a plateau high above the surrounding countryside. The drive in is windy, narrow and steep. After reaching the park entry it is eight kilometers of unsealed road to the campground. There is a sign just after the turn-off from the highway that clearly states the road is not suitable for caravans. 

"Road is unsuitable for caravans."
The first thing we noticed about the campground was that sections of the figure eight driveway are covered in slats. We arrived during a very dry season but the slats indicate that at times it can get very wet in the campground.

Slats on the road near a compost toilet block.
As there is no phone reception at the campground we booked before arriving. As the sites are numbered it is necessary to choose a site number and it can be hard to know which one to choose but there is a map of the campground  online that is helpful. We also read all the comments on WikiCamps before making our decision. Some sites are tent only and  some are multi-use. When we arrived there was someone set up on the site we had booked. They also had a booking and when they showed me their booking email I was able to show them which number they had booked and they moved.

Our site was huge and had its own driveway with one section for camping and another section with a fireplace and log seating. 

Site 11, Munall Camping Area.
There are Kookaburras and large numbers of Pied Currawongs in the campground. Every time we prepared food we were mobbed by about twenty Currawongs intent on pinching food. They are quite brazen and one even entered our service body and tried to steal some cake we had stored in our drop down kitchen.

Laughing Kookaburra.
We met a fellow camper from James Cook University who was studying macropods. She had set out small live mammal traps but the traps were destroyed when Currawongs removed the pins holding them together. Although we found Blackdown Tablelands National Park to be an excellent birding location we were disappointed in the lack of animal sightings. However, we could hear frogs near every waterway, even during the day. Beautiful Mimosa Creek was only a few meters walk from our campsite and was the source of a delightful frog chorus every evening. 

Pied Currawongs

There are four walks in Blackdown Tablelands National Park. Two walks lead from the campground. It is necessary to drive to the trail-heads of the other two walks. There is also a popular 4WD track in the park. We did all the walks and I will cover them in separate blog posts.

Wildlife List: Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Lace Monitor, frogs (possibly Scarlet Sided Pobblebonks and Stripped Marsh Frogs).
Birds: Wedge-tailed Eagle, Grey Butcherbird, Sulphur-crested Coackatoo, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Pied Currawong, Torresian Crow, Australian Raven, Red-backed Fairy-wren, Grey Fantail, Leaden Flycatcher, Noisy Friarbird, Blue-faced Honeyeater, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, White-cheeked Honeyeater, Laughing Kookaburra, Rainbow Lorikeet, Australian Magpie, Magpie-lark, Noisy Miner, Australian King Parrot, Eastern Yellow Robin, Pale-headed Rosella, Rainbow Bee-eater, Little Shrike-thrush, Weebill, Rufous Whistler. We saw Emu along Charlevue Road. We heard Tawny Frogmouth and Southern Boobook.

Details for Munall Camping Area, Blackdown Tablelands National Park:
Where: 190 km west of Rockhampton, QLD.
Access: Not suitable for big rigs. Not suitable for towing anything bigger than a small camper trailer. The sign on Charlevue Road states that the road into the national park is "unsuitable for caravans". The sealed section of road is winding and climbs very steeply. The unsealed section past the entry shelter is windy; corrugated when we visited in September 2017 and slippery when wet. Nearest fuel is at Dingo.
Campsites: 8 km past the entry shelter. 16 numbered dirt sites. Some are multi-use and some are tent only. Tip: Site 6 is listed as a multi-use site but it is not level and didn't seem suitable for most rigs. 
Booking and Fees: No self registration. Book online or by phone before arriving. Gets booked out at times. Standard National Park QLD camping fees. $6.30 pp. Family rates.
Facilities: 2 amenities blocks with composting toilets, individual fire rings with log seats (BYO wood). No water. No phone reception at campground, some available at Yaddamen Dhina Lookout. Emergency phone at entrance shelter 8 km from campground. Walks. Nearby 4WD loop.
Prohibitions: No pets. No generators.
Tip: If you have a caravan or large camper trailer it is possible to camp at Dingo or Bluff and do a day trip to the national park.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Mount Scoria Conservation Park, Thangool, QLD.

Mount Scoria
On our road trip to Blackdown Tablelands National Park we visited Mount Scoria Conservation Park. No camping is allowed at Mount Scoria so we camped at Lawgi Hall which is only about 22 km away via Thangool.

We walked the short track around one side of the mountain to an area with seats and views of the basalt columns that fall down the side of the mountain like pick-up-sticks. National Parks QLD discourages climbing to the summit as descending in the loose scree could lead to injuries. 

Basalt columns at Mount Scoria.

We saw lots of Chequered Swallowtails fluttering amongst the dry grass.

Chequered Swallowtail

We enjoyed breakfast in the day use area before we continued on with our journey.

Day Use Area, Mount Scoria.

Bird list for Mount Scoria Conservation Park (We were there for about an hour): Australian Brush Turkey, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Pied Currawong, Red-backed Fairy-wren, Grey Fantail, Double-barred Finch, White-faced Heron, Rainbow Lorikeet, Australian Magpie, Noisy Miner, Pale-headed Rosella, Golden Whistler, Willie Wagtail.

Details for Mount Scoria Conservation Park:
Where: 543 km, 6 hours 20 minutes, north of Brisbane. Or about 2 hours drive south of Rockhampton.
Access: Sealed road if coming from Thangool. There is a turning circle but limited space to pull up if towing.
Facilities: Sheltered picnic tables, toilets, gas BBQs. Short walk.
Prohibitions: No camping. No pets. No open fires. Do not collect wood from the park. No firearms. Do not strike the basalt columns.
Cautions: Climbing to the summit is not advised due to slippery scree slopes.

Camping at Lawgi Hall:

We really appreciated being able to camp in the grounds of Lawgi Hall. I believe that the hall committee allows people to stay so that they can use the donations for the upkeep of the hall. It was a refreshing sight to see such a lovely country hall in excellent condition.

Lawgi Hall, south of Thangool
Camping at Lawgi Hall.
It's always fun to see a bit of Aussie humour on our road trips.

"RIP Here lies the last toilet roll thief", at Lawgi Hall.
There were lots of Yellow-throated Miners and Little Friarbirds in the grounds of Lawgi Hall. 

Yellow-throated Miner
Large leaved Bottletree Brachychiton australis: flower and seeds (with a few Harlequin beetles).

Details for Lawgi Hall:
Where: Just off the Burnett Hwy, on the Lawgi Connection Road. About 17 km south of Thangool, QLD.
Access: suitable for tents and all rig types.
Camping: allowed for up to 72 hours. No booking. Flat, grassy, open area.
Facilities: Small outdoor amenities block with solar showers and flush toilets. Bins. TV and phone reception. Pets allowed.
Fees: Donation pillar outside amenities block. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Tolderodden Conservation Park, QLD.

Tolderodden Conservation Park
On the first leg of our road trip to Blackdown Tablelands National Park we dropped into Tolderodden Conservation Park. We had intended staying the night here as camping is allowed but it was so early in the day that we ended up having a picnic lunch before moving on. There were plenty of picnic tables and trees provided much needed dappled shade on such a hot day.

We did the walk which is only 700 m return. 

Being early spring, there were lots of butterflies and dragonflies about.

Clearwing Swallowtail, male.

The main birds in the campground were Cuckoo-shrikes.

Wildlife: Several types of dragonfly.
Butterflies: Clearwing Swallowtail, Yellow Albatross, Common Crow.
Bird List: Whistling Kite, Cuckoo-shrike, Peaceful Dove, Laughing Kookaburra, Rainbow Lorikeet, Australian Magpie, Rainbow Bee-eater.

Details for Tolderodden Conservation Park:
Where: Just over 400 km north-west of Brisbane, less than 5 hours’ drive. 6 km from Eidsvold on the Eidsvold-Theodore Road.
Access: just off a sealed road.
Facilities: Disabled toilet, tables, picnic shelter, wood BBQ (BYO wood), short walk, combined camping and day use area. Generators permitted. No bins.
Prohibited: Pets. Collecting wood.
Fees and Bookings: Book online before arrival as there is very limited phone reception and no self registration available. Normal National Park QLD fees. $6.30 per person per night.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Blackbutt and the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, QLD.

Parked up at Blackbutt Showgrounds.
Blackbutt is a great place to take a break while on a road trip. The Blackbutt Wood-Fired Bakery is deservedly famous for its pies and other goodies. Two doors down, Les Muller Park park is a convenient spot to consume your bakery purchases as it has picnic facilities, a playground, amenities and a Visitor Information Centre. 

Blackbutt is situated on the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail (BVRT). On our latest road trip we decided to stay at the Blackbutt Showgrounds so that we could walk a section of the BVRT. The showgrounds has great amenities with clean hot showers. We loved the quirky way they have used up a variety of tiles in the amenities block. Jacky Winters were numerous about the grounds.

The self-registry station makes paying easy.                           Inside the amenities block.

Jacky Winter

Former World number one tennis player, Roy Emerson was born in Blackbutt. The Roy Emerson Museum and the entry to the rail trail are conveniently located just before the entry to the showgrounds. Grey-crowned Babblers were about; inspecting the newly planted gardens.

Statue of Roy Emerson.

Grey-headed Babbler.
Historic railway station: Blackbutt on one side and Nukku on the other.

Blackbutt to Nukku Road section of the BVRT: approximately 8 km return. This section is also part of the Ogilvie Trail which is a loop of 12 km. We picked up a brochure from the Information Centre in Blackbutt and set off on foot shortly after setting up our van. The rail trail is also suitable for horse riding and cycling. The great thing about rail trails is that they are mostly flat and any rises tend to be gradual. The first part of the walk runs parallel to the D'Aguilar Highway but is pleasantly shady and is home to a great variety of small woodland birds. 

Double-barred Finch.

Superb Fairy-wren and Red-backed Fairy-wren

The walk opened up into farmland and we progressed through several gates before returning the way we had come.

Stock Control gates on the BVRT

Horses watching us go by.

We only had time to walk one small section of the rail trail but we will definitely come back to the area to walk or ride on more sections of the trail. 

Bird List: Grey-crowned Babbler, Nankeen Kestrel, Galah, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Torresian Crow, Australian Wood Duck, Superb Fairy-wren, Variegated Fairy-wren, Red-backed Fairy-wren, Grey Fantail, Double-barred Finch, Red-browed Finch, Lewin's Honeyeater, Jacky Winter, Laughing Kookaburra, Rainbow Lorikeet, Australian Magpie, Magpie-lark, Masked Lapwing, Noisy Miner, Crested Pigeon, Welcome Swallow, Yellow Thornbill, Buff-rumped Thornbill, Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Weebill, Eastern Whipbird, Golden Whistler, Willie Wagtail.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Rock Pool Walk and Nature Trail, Carnarvon National Park, QLD.

Rock Pool
One of the things we liked about the Carnarvon Gorge Camping Area was the easy access to walking trails. The rear of the campground has access to both the Rock Pool Walk and the Nature Trail.

Rock Pool Walk: Class 3 walk. Less than 4 km return from the campground or 600 m return from the Rock Pool Car Park. There are picnic tables and toilets between the car park and the rock pool. As we were camping in the camp ground we chose to do the longer walk. Rather than just offer access to the only area that swimming is allowed at Carnarvon Gorge this is a very pleasant walk in it's own right. The vegetation is distinctive and the wildlife is abundant.

Carnarvon Fan Palms
Ripe cone of a Macrozamia moorei

Swamp Wallaby

One of the ears of this Eastern Grey Kangaroo was torn almost in half. 

Pretty-face (Whiptail) Wallaby

Striated Pardalote and Red-browed Finch.

An idyllic spot for a swim at the Rook Pool.

The Nature Trail: Class 3, 1.5 km loop walk.
Starting at either the Visitor Information Centre or the campground this is a pleasant walk exploring Carnarvon Creek. 

Carnarvon Creek

Someone had been producing a little ochre, creek-side. Red, orange and yellow ochre pigments are found at Carnarvon.

Scarlet Percher

Sun basking Turtles in Carnarvon Creek. Kreffts Turtle, left and Saw-shelled Turtle, right.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Baloon Cave, Micky Creek Gorge and Warrumbah Gorge Walks, Carnarvon National Park, QLD.

Baloon Cave:
From the Baloon Cave Car Park: Class 2, 1 km return walk. The formed path is suitable for strollers and may be suitable for wheelchairs with assistance. Evidence of stone axe making and stencil art can be seen at Baloon Cave.

Close up of Baloon Cave 

Stencil art at Baloon Cave.

Swamp Wallaby, Baloon Cave Walk.

Micky Creek Gorge and Warrumbah Gorge Walk:
Class 3 Walk. From the Micky Creek Car Park 3 km return plus an additional 400 m return to the end of the formed path into Warrumbah Gorge. The walks can be extended by exploring past the formed walks at Micky Creek and Warrumbah Gorge.

Mickey Creek
The branch to Warrumbah Gorge
Looking up in Warrumbah Gorge.