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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Linville, QLD

On our way to Benarkin State Forest we detoured 7 km off the D'Aguilar Highway to Linville to have a quick look. The village of Linville offers a free camp to travelers alongside the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail. This grassy camping area is nicely located opposite the Linville Hotel which has evening meals Wednesday to Saturday and lunches Wednesday to Sunday. There is also a local store for incidentals. As it was very hot when we looked and there is very little shade available we thought it would be nice to return in the winter and camp there while we walk or cycle a section of the Rail Trail. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of Linville or the camping area.

A further 7 km past Linville there is a free camp alongside the upper reaches of the Brisbane River. I believe this camping area is on private land and there is a sign at the camping area asking campers to take their rubbish with them when they leave. We were pleased to see that campers had done the right thing which helps keep places like this open. The camping area is quite large but has only a few open sites amongst the trees. When we visited, during the January school holidays, one family camping in a camper trailer had the place to themselves. There are no facilities provided. Just past the camping area there is a causeway over the Brisbane River and this is a popular spot for swimming.

The free camping area 7 km past Linville on the Brisbane River.
Having a look at the camp ground.
Steep drop-off to the Brisbane River from the campground.
People enjoying a swim in the Brisbane River next to the free camp

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Peach Trees Camping Area, Jimna State Forest, QLD.

Peach Trees Camping Area.
Peach Trees is 43 km north of Kilcoy on a sealed road with the last 3 km a good unsealed section into the campground. The first thing you notice about Peach Trees is the number of kangaroos lazing about the grassy camping area. Pets are not permitted. There are four new amenities blocks with flushing toilets but no showers. Non-potable water taps and fire pits are scattered throughout the camp ground and there are also a few tables and wood-fired BBQ’s. There is Optus phone reception but no Telstra reception. Standard QLD National Park fees apply. Either pre-book before arriving or there is a public pay phone near the first amenities block. I must admit that I stood in front of the pay phone and realized that I have no idea how to use a pay phone or what coins it takes!

Pay Phone at Peach Trees Camping Area
The Day Use Area is a cordoned off section within the campground which has tables and BBQ’s.

Peach Trees Day Use Area.
We took care to set up in an area with good shade as the temperature was predicted to reach 36 C while we were there. We saw more birds in the first two hours at Peach Trees than we had for our whole stay at Benarkin State Forest. Our site overlooked the path on the other side of Yabba Creek and we were pleasantly surprised to see Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos, Satin Bowerbirds and Bell Miners from our camp. Large numbers of Sulphur Crested Cockatoos were flying overhead.

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos
Bell Miner
There were less butterflies here than at Benarkin but they were mostly the same types: Wanderer, Lesser Wanderer, Glasswing, Common Crow, Evening Brown and Orchard Swallowtail.

Wanderer Danaus plexippus
There are three walking tracks leaving from the campground: Yabba Creek Circuit, Araucaria Circuit and Eugenia Circuit. We also liked to walk to the causeway just before the entrance to the camp ground. The first morning we walked them all in one continuous circuit and on the following days we just redid our favourite parts.

Causeway: The causeway proved a great spot to check out in the early morning or late afternoon. We regularly saw both Azure and Sacred Kingfishers fishing above the creek and there were lots of juvenile Eastern Water Dragons sunning themselves at the waters edge. We saw many small birds in the brush near the causeway.

Azure Kingfishers at the causeway.
Eugenia Circuit is a 2.5 km, Class 4 walk.
Starting near the entry to the camp ground this walk climbs steadily up a shale track to a lookout above Yabba Creek before descending again. The track crosses the creek, which was completely dry at this point, and returns alongside the creek before emerging on the other side of the causeway at the entrance to the campground. 

One of the many Sulphur-crested Cockatoos seen on the walk.
Red-browed Finch
We remember doing this walk after heavy flooding the last time we were here and there are still giant piles of debris perched high above the creek standing testimony to the awesome power of flooding.

Raft of debris left high above Yabba Creek.
The second time we did this walk we were thrilled to see the golden flash of a male Regent Bowerbird flying past us three times. We back tracked a bit and found him and a female sitting in a tree. On our way out the path was blocked by a Red-bellied Black but it quickly departed when it decided that staying still wasn't going to make us go away.

Red-bellied Black Snake.
Yabba Creek Circuit is a 700m, Class 3 walk. 
Yabba Creek Circuit is a pleasant easy walk with the added bonus of a small swing bridge at one end and a walk bridge at the other end. There are plenty of birds on the walk and we saw kangaroos using the path. We walked this circuit several times at different times of the day during our stay.

Swinging Bridge over Yabba Creek
Foot bridge over Yabba Creek
This very young Brush Turkey was seeking shelter up a tree which is typical behaviour for Brush Turkeys every evening. We also saw a Wonga Pigeon up a tree whereas previously we have always seen them on the ground.
Juvenile Australian Brush Turkey and Wonga Pigeon.
Black-faced Monarchs, Eastern Spinebills and Brown Cuckoo-Doves were easy to spot on the trail.

Black-faced Monarch
Brown Cuckoo-Doves
Araucaria Circuit is a 4.5 km, Class 3 walk.
This walk starts just over the swing bridge. At first it climbs through a dry eucalypt forest before entering a cool vine forest of young Hoop and Bunya Pine then returning via the eucalypt forest again.

Araucaria Circuit
Scarlet Honeyeater on the Araucaria Circuit
When we left Peachtrees Camping Area we stopped at the Jimna Fire tower for a quick look. 

Jimna Fire Tower

Bird List: 
Australian Brush Turkey, Australian Wood Duck, Nankeen Night Heron, Topknot Pigeon, Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Wonga Pigeon, Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Rainbow Lorikeet, Australian King Parrot, Pale-headed Rosella, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Pheasant Coucal, Tawny Frogmouth, Dollarbird, Azure Kingfisher, Sacred Kingfisher, Laughing Kookaburra, White-throated Treecreeper, Variegated Fairy-wren, White-browed Scrubwren, Yellow-throated Scrubwren, Brown Gerygone, Brown Thornbill, Noisy Friarbird, Blue-faced Honeyeater, Bell Miner, Noisy Miner, Lewin's Honeyeater, White-naped Honeyeater, New Holland Honeyeater, Eastern Spinebill, Scarlet Honeyeater, Eastern Whipbird, Eastern Yellow Robin, Grey Shrike-thrush, Golden Whistler, Grey Fantail, Rufous Fantail, Willie Wagtail, Leaden Flycatcher, Black-faced Monarch, Magpie-lark, Spangled Drongo, Olive-backed oriole, Australasian Figbird, Satin Bowerbird, Regent Bowerbird, Varied Triller, Grey Butcherbird, Australian Magpie, Pied Currawong, Torresian Crow, Welcome Swallow, Red-browed Finch, Silvereye, Bassian Thrush.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Emu Creek Camping Area, Benarkin State Forest, QLD.

Benarkin State Forest is about 160 km north-west of Brisbane. There are two campgrounds: Clancy Camping Area and Emu Creek Camping Area. From the entry turnoff on the D'Aguilar Highway to the camping areas there is 16 km of unsealed road which is windy and steep in places. Personally, I was glad it wasn’t raining and that we were driving a 4WD and towing an offroad van. We saw a few goanna’s sunning themselves in the middle of the road but they quickly moved away as we approached.

Emu Creek Camping Area, Benarkin State Forest
The first campground is Clancys Camping Area where dogs are permitted and it is about a further 3 km to Emu Creek Camping Area, where pets are not permitted. We booked into Emu Creek before arriving. It is necessary to pre-book the campsites, which are the standard QLD National Parks fee of $5.90 per adult per night, as there is no phone reception at the campground. There is one amenities block with two toilets and a cold shower cubicle in both the men’s and women’s. The women’s shower cubicle also had a large hook if you prefer to hang your own bag of warm water. We did wonder how the amenities would cope on Saturday night as we had noticed that there were bookings for 50 people. The Day Use Area adjoining the campground which also has toilets took some of the load. Both amenities blocks have a tap on the rain water tank but there are no other water taps available in the campground. The Day Use Area has tables and wood BBQ's and there are fire pits scattered throughout the campground.

Emu Creek Day Use Area, Benarkin State Forest
We set up in a shady area with a relaxing view of the creek and were pleased to find that Scaly Lorikeets frequented the trees around our campsite. They were present in large numbers yet we didn’t see a single Rainbow Lorikeet. Laughing Kookaburras and Noisy Miners also entertained us with their antics.

Scaly Lorikeet
In the afternoon, we explored the campground and wandered down to the creek. We startled six Channel-billed cuckoos in the Day Use Area and during our stay we saw dozens of Channel-billed Cuckoos.

Channel-billed Cuckoo
The days were hot so many campers enjoyed cooling off in the creek despite the very low water levels. At the moment it is hard to believe that previously this camping area and the road in was destroyed by flooding and was closed for a very long time before it could be reopened again.

Emu Creek, Benarkin State Forest
In the morning, we set out to look for the walking trail that links the two campgrounds. Eventually we found some trail markers and a very overgrown track and we pushed our way through the meter-high grass before we gave up and conceded that the track was no longer usable. Some people camping near the trail had seen two deer in the early morning; a large stag and a doe.

I haven’t had hayfever for years but there was an abundance of seeding grass and weeds in the area and I developed hayfever with a vengeance. The whole campground was probably getting sick of my loud sneezing. Fortunately, we eventually remembered that we had anti-histamine in our comprehensive first-aid kit. The upside of all these flowering weeds was that there were large numbers of butterflies fluttering around Emu Creek. Some of the butterflies we saw were Monarchs, Lesser Wanderers, Orchard Swallowtails, Common Crows, Blue Tigers, Meadow Argus and Glasswings. The Lesser Wanderers were very common and I spent quite a lot of time stalking them in the hope of getting a photo with increasing frustration until eventually succeeding.
Lesser Wanderer Danaus chrysippus and Meadow Argus Junonia villida
There were quite a few moths about, particularly in the amenities blocks and on our van awning.
Granny's Cloak Moth Speirdonia spectans and The Two-spots Tiger Moth Asota plagiata
The creek area was alive with dragonflies.
Blue Skimmer, Scarlet Percher, Black-headed Skimmer, Graphic Flutterer, Australian Emperor.
After most of the campers had left on Sunday the goannas came prowling through the campground and I saw a large Bearded Dragon sunning itself. We also saw several hares in the early morning and evening.

Bearded Dragon Pogona barbata
One night we wandered up to the Day Use Area, where it was darker than the campground, and enjoyed watching the night sky. A few bats passed overhead and there were large fire-flies dancing about displaying their luminescence. A couple of velvet geckos were prowling the walls of the amenities block and we saw a possum high in a tree.

Robust Velvet Gecko Oedura robusta
Unfortunately,there were lots of young canetoads in the campground but we could hear a chorus of frogs every night so we made our way down to the creek to look for frogs. Seemingly at our feet, there were very loud croaking noises. In fact, the noise was so deafening up close that I felt we should have been wearing ear protection! After sloshing about and peering into the dark we finally found the perpetrators; dozens of Rocketfrogs. It is hard to believe that small frogs of only 40 cm were making all that racket.

Striped Rocketfrog Litoria nasuta
We were fortunate to be camping next to a couple who were keen photographers and knowledgeable birders so we had a bit of fun comparing our birding list tally.
Laughing Kookaburra and Australian King Parrot
Bird List:
Australian Brush-turkey, Little Black Cormorant, Pacific Black Duck, Purple Swamphen, White-faced Heron, Nankeen Night Heron, Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, Australian King Parrot, Eastern Pale-headed Rosella, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Laughing Kookaburra, Dollarbird, Red-backed Fairy Wren, Blue-faced Honeyeater, Noisy Miner, Lewin's Honeyeater, Willie Wagtail, Magpie Lark, Spangled Drongo, Australasian Figbird, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Ground Cuckoo-shrike, Grey Butcherbird, Australian Magpie, Torresian Crow, Welcome Swallow, Double-barred Finch, Red-browed Finch. We saw doves on the drive in and every morning at the campground; we couldn’t make a positive ID but as they were small and had a hint of blue-grey we thought they may have been Diamond Doves.