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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.


  1. What a lovely area! I love the creek. You have managed to score so many great images from this trip. A fabulous birding list too, and so many I have not yet seen!

  2. Emu Creek was very low and under stress but we had a nice view of it from our site and I found it a very relaxing setting.