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Friday, December 15, 2017

Seventeen Seventy, QLD.

1770 Beach
Seventeen Seventy is a beautiful place with wonderful walks and beaches. As soon as we had set up our tent at Workman's Beach Camp Area in Agnes Water we drove to 1770 headland. There is a large car park with parking on the side for long vehicles. Large parts of the peninsular are protected by the Joseph Banks Conservation Park. 

We saw a surprising amount of birds in the vicinity of the main car park. There were lots of Welcome Swallows darting about but our favourite sightings were of a male Sunbird and a Pheasant Coucal.

Olive-backed Sunbird.

Pheasant Coucal, male.

Countess Russell's Anchor

Countess Russell's Anchor, Joseph Banks Conservation Park.

1770 Headland Walk
There are two lookouts on this short walk. Wave Lookout is on the eastern side of the headland.

View south from Wave Lookout.
Bustard Bay Lookout is on the tip of the headland and the views are spectacular.

Bustard Bay Lookout

View of Bustard Head and Bustard Bay
Beach Access Walk
From the car park there is also a beach access walk where we saw families fishing on the rocky shore.

 Access to the beach and the Round Hill Creek Walking Trail

Round Hill Creek Walking Trail (1770 Butterfly Walk), 1.2 km one way.
The northern entry to this walk can be found part way down the beach access walk. From here the walk follows the western edge of the peninsula down to the Captain Cook Monument in the Town of 1770. 

Part way along the walk there is a short detour to the water's edge.

Looking north.

Looking south.
During autumn and winter the walk is transformed into the Butterfly Walk due to large migrations of butterflies; including the Blue Tiger from March to June. Even in our summertime visit we spotted a few Caper Gulls and Glasswings.

There are a few steps just before arriving at the James Cook Memorial and the end of the walk.

Captain James Cook Memorial Cairn.

1770 Camping Ground and Endeavour Park
Just south of the memorial cairn is the 1770 Camping Ground which, as it turns out, is more of a caravan park than a campground. This caravan park has an excellent location right on the beach. 

1770 Camping Ground
Beach in front of Endeavour Park and 1770 Camping Ground.

Endeavour Park is a lovely park with a playground, amenities, picnic tables, electric barbeques and a walking track.

Endeavour Park

The town of 1770  has restaurants and holiday accommodation overlooking yet another stunning stretch of beach. The park has a playground, picnic tables, barbeques and a charming boardwalk.

Beach at 1770
Playground at 1770

1770 Marina and Boat Ramp.
Tours to Lady Musgrave Island and the "Larc" tour to Bustard Bay leave from the marina. There is an excellent boat ramp next door.

Boat Ramp at 1770

SES Grounds
We had heard from a National Parks Ranger that there were "birds" nesting in the ground at the local SES facility. We discovered that the birds were Rainbow Bee-eaters and they were nesting in a large area. The area was fenced off so as to protect the nests but we could see these colourful birds constantly flying in and out of the ground. We saw a couple of their nesting holes outside the fenced in area as well. We have seen Rainbow Bee-eaters nesting in sandy banks before but this is the first time we have seen them nesting in the ground on mass. We were aware that these birds do nest in this way but it was still a thrill to actually witness it.

Rainbow Bee-eater at the SES Grounds 
Rainbow Bee-eater nesting burrows
There were a few other birds wandering around the grounds as well.

Bar-shouldered Dove and Wonga Pigeon

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Agnes Water, Queensland.

Agnes Water Main Beach.
Agnes Water Main Beach:
Agnes Water Main Beach is accessed from the parking area off Agnes Street in Tom Jeffery Memorial Park Road. There are good facilities here and the beach is patrolled. Signs warn that swimming is not advised from November to April due to marine stingers. Times vary so check the Surf Lifesaving advisory boards before entering the water. Agnes Water Beach Holidays Caravan Park is conveniently located next to Tom Jeffery Park on Jeffery Court and has cabin frontage to the beach.

Agnes Water Information Centre
Located on Springs Road next to the Library and Museum. The staff were very helpful and we picked up some brochures for the local area. You can also book tours from here for a boat trip to Lady Musgrave Island or a trip on the highly acclaimed "Larc" to Bustard Bay.

Discovery Trail
This walking trail can be accessed from the large car park behind the Information Centre and Museum on Springs Road. The trail can also be accessed from the park next to Workman's Camp Ground. Although the trail is signposted there doesn't appear to be an actual map and I haven't been able to find any details for how long the walk is. Perhaps that's why it's called the Discovery Trail. Regardless it is an enjoyable walk of about 40 minutes. Side by side, there is both a natural lookout and a man-made lookout with scenic views.

Man-made Lookout
Natural Lookout
View from the lookout to the north: Agnes Beach.

View from the lookout to the south: Workman's Beach

We saw quite a few Bordered Rustic Butterflies and Joseph's Coat Moths along the trail.

Joseph's Coat Moth

The reptilian world was represented by Lace Monitors, an Eastern Striped Skink and several Rainbow Skinks.

Rainbow Skink

Paperbark Forest Board Walk:
This interesting 400 m walk can be found in Reedy Creek Reserve, Springs Road. Dogs are prohibited. As the trail passes through a paperbark swamp it is essential to spray yourself for mosquitoes and/or wear protective clothing. Don't be deterred though as this is quite a fascinating walk into an environment that is usually hard to access. Two sections of the trail involve walking across water via concrete filled pipes.

Trailhead for the Paperbark  Forest Board Walk.

Where only the brave shall venture.

Red Rock Trail:
The entry to the Red Rock Trail and Springs Beach is opposite the entry to Reedy Creek Reserve. The 800 m road into the car park is unsealed and quite rough. The trail is 3 km one way and has a time guideline of 2.5 hrs. There is a convenient map of the trail at the start of the beach access down to Springs Beach.

Springs Beach

We walked south along the beach to the trailhead for the Red Rock Trail. We saw several Whiptail Wallabies grazing on the edge of the beach. Sea turtles lay their eggs at Springs Beach.

Whiptail (Pretty Face) Wallaby.

At the trailhead there are signs stating this is a Turtle Conservation Area and prohibiting dogs. We climbed up a few stone steps to the headland where views to the south opened up. It was drizzling when we started the walk but we hoped any rain would be light and pushed on for a while. 

Pandanus along the headland.
Rain setting in.

Unfortunately, persistent rain set in and we were unable to complete the walk. We were happy to briefly see an Olive-backed Sunbird alongside Springs Beach as we returned to the car.

Wildlife we saw in Agnes Water:
Butterflies & Moths: Bordered Rustic, Evening Brown, Common Crow, Joseph's Coat Moth.
Reptiles: Rainbow Skink, Wall Skink, Eastern Strip Skink, Lace Monitor, Sand Goanna.
Macropods: Whiptail Wallaby.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Workman's Camp Ground, Agnes Water, QLD.

Workman's Camp Ground
Workman's Camp Ground
While visiting the Agnes Water and Seventeen Seventy area we camped at Workman's Camp Ground on Springs Road. We managed to find a nicely shaded spot.

Our set-up at Workman's Camp Ground.
The campground is clean and well cared for by the friendly and helpful caretakers.  Technically, the facilities are in a park adjoining the campground. While trying to spot the Frogmouth family that lives in the park we noticed a goanna surveying the world from above.

Amenities and picnic tables in the park next to the campground.
Interesting bracket fungi in the park.
There were lots of Wall Skinks in our campsite.

Wall Skink Cryptoblepharus virgatus
Both Workman's and Chinaman's Beach Picnic Area can be accessed on foot from the campground. It is also only a short walk via the Discovery Trail to the Information Centre, Library and Museum. I will cover the walks in Agnes Water in the next blog.

Workman's Beach:
You can't see Workman's Beach from the campground but it is only a short walk to this lovely secluded beach. The beach is unpatrolled but here are plenty of rocks to explore on the southern end of the beach.

Workman's Beach
Southern end of Workman's Beach
Chinaman's Beach Picnic Area:
A walk of about 700 m leads from the campground to Chinaman's Beach Picnic Area and a lookout. I imagine that the lookout would be excellent for whale watching in the winter. A different branch of the walk can be taken to overlook Chinaman's Beach.

Lookout at Chinaman's Beach Picnic Area.
Chinaman's Beach

Details for Workman's Camp Ground:
Where: Springs Road, Agnes Water, QLD.
Access: Suitable for all rig types.
Sites: 38 clearly defined and numbered sites. The size of the sites varies, some are big enough for big rigs some are quite small. 
Fees & Bookings: No bookings. Arrive at anytime and simply set up in a vacant site. Vacate by 2 pm. $9.20 per person per night, $25 for a family of 2 adults and 2 children under 17 yrs. Fees are collected daily by caretakers who give receipts. Camping is allowed for up to 42 nights however we have heard that this time limit may be reduced in the future.
Facilities: Bins. In the adjoining park there is 1 amenities block with 3 toilets (1 with disability access), 1 outdoor beach style cold shower, tables and free electric BBQ's.
Permitted: Dogs on leash. Low noise generators from 7 am to 7 pm.
Prohibited: No vehicle access to beach. Fires. Noise after 10 pm. Can't leave site unoccupied for more than 2 days.
Caution: Swimming in the ocean is not advised from November to April due to the presence of marine stingers. Check the patrolled area on Agnes Water Beach for swimming details.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Deepwater National Park, QLD.

Deepwater National Park
Deepwater National Park protects the catchment of Deepwater Creek and adjoins a strip of beach favoured by four different types of nesting ocean turtles. A variety of lowland flora from swamp paperbarks, gum trees and cabbage tree palms to coastal flora dominated by Pandanus and She Oaks, supports a great range of wildlife in the area.

There are two campgrounds that I covered in the previous blog and a picnic area in the national park.

Wreck Rock Picnic Area

There are no designated walks so we made up our own circuit by walking from Wreck Rock to Middle Rock via the 4WD Road and then descending to the beach and walking back to Wreck Rock. All in all, this is about 6 km and isn't too difficult if you time your walk along the beach with low tide. The highlight of our walk was spotting where two turtles had emerged from the surf and made their way to the dunes to lay their eggs. One of the turtles appeared to have tried three times before finally finding a suitable spot where the dunes weren't too steep. She must have been absolutely exhausted after that herculean effort. Loggerhead, Flatback Green and Leatherback Turtles lay their eggs along this stretch of beach between October and April. The hatchlings emerge from January. 

This photo is taken into the sun but you can still see where a turtle has done a u-turn when confronted by a steep dune.

After the third attempt this turtle lay her eggs but she appears to have been too exhausted to fully fill the sand back over her nest.

We also enjoyed exploring Wreck Rock which looks like it was tossed onto the beach and toppled sideways millennia ago. There are usually rock pools to explore as well but on this trip they had been filled with sand; no doubt they will reappear again. 

Wreck Rock
Close up of Wreck Rock.

As previously mentioned turtles frequent the beach at Deepwater National Park. Queensland Turtle Conservation Project volunteers camp at Wreck Rock Camping Area during the nesting and hatching season to record the turtle activity.

Native Sand Goannas frequent the campground and dune areas. Goannas love eggs, as do non-native foxes. Unfortunately, we saw fox footprints in the dunes. Another introduced pest that is prevalent is Cane Toads. Crabs frequent the beach, running in and out of the surf.

Sand Monitor
Crabs and Blue Bottle Jellyfish.
The ladies toilet at Wreck Rock Campground seemed to be a haven for gravid female wildlife. A large Huntsmen spider had taken up residence there, as had a large Bar-sided Skink.

Huntsmen Spider Holconia immanis .
Bar-sided Skink
We noticed that the local variant of Garden Orb Spider was the white stripe form.

Garden Orb Spider, Eriophora transmarina
Macropods are easy to spot in Deepwater National Park. We saw Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Whiptail Wallabies and Black-striped Wallabies.

Eastern Grey Kangaroo at Wreck Rock Camping Area.
The main butterflies we saw were Lemon Migrants, Evening Browns and Tailed Emperors.
Tailed Emperor and Lemon Migrant.
Queenslands largest cockroach  Macro-panesthia is found in Deepwater National Park. Although we didn't see any large ones we did see the cream rimmed Barred Cockroach Cosmozosteria subzonata but it was too fast for us to get a photo.

Due to the varied landscape there is a great variety of birds in Deepwater National Park. It is quite common to see Emus, although we dipped out on this trip. A friendly ranger informed us that he saw two Brolgas in November as well. We were happy to see two Sooty Oystercatchers and four Wandering Tattlers on the rocks at Middle Rock Beach.

Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove
A young Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove, before it develops the pink cap.
Dusky Honeyeater
Fairy Gerygone
Wonga Pigeons at Wreck Rock Camping Area
Is Deepwater National Park under threat?

At present, the only way to traverse the full length of Deepwater National Park is by a sandy 4WD track. Accessing Wreck Rock Camping Area from the south is by 2WD but the section between Wreck Rock Camping Area and Middle Rock Campground is categorized as easy 4WD and the section to the north of Middle Rock is harder 4WD. Recently the Gladstone Council decided to upgrade the full length of the road from Agnes Water to the southern end of Deepwater National Park. The upgrade to a sealed road won't simply improve access to the National Park itself. The road will provide a direct route from Agnes Water to Bundaberg, significantly increasing through traffic, which raises concerns about the impact on wildlife. There is a wider concern here as well that needs to be considered. National Parks often protect the last remnants of a natural landscape and they will increasingly come under threat in a world with growing demands for such things as transport corridors. Further information can be found on the Facebook page Save Deepwater NP

Wildlife seen by us in November 2017: Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Black striped Wallaby, Whiptail Wallaby, Flying Fox, Bar-sided Skink, Rainbow Skink, Sand Monitor, Cane toad. Huntsmen Spider Holconia immanis, Garden Orb Spider Eriophora transmarina. We saw the tracks and nests of two ocean turtles between Wreck and Middle Rocks. We also saw the tracks of a Fox. 
Butterflies: Lemon Migrant, Tailed Emperor, Evening Brown.
Birdlist: Australian Brush Turkey, Cicadabird, Pied Cormorant, Torresian Crow, Bar-shouldered Dove, Leaden Flycatcher, Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove, Fairy Gerygone, Lewin's Honeyeater, Dusky Honeyeater, Laughing Kookaburra, Pheasant Coucal, Wonga Pigeon, Common Bronzewing, Grey Shrike-thrush, Little Shrike-thrush, Silver Gull, Sooty Oystercatcher, Varied Triller, Wandering Tattler.