Outback tour 10-17th September 2011
We have a still have a couple of vacancies for the outback tour in September (and several for the tour in May).
The folk coming on this trip are keen bird photographers and general wildlife enthusiasts, and instead of the usual six days we will be spending eight, to give more of a chance to explore and to wait for shy species.
The proposed schedule (there may be some slight changes between now and September due to weather, road conditions, unexpected opportunities etc.) is:
Day 1 of outback tour. Saturday 10th September.
Leave Brisbane 8.00am and head west, over the Great Dividing Range and beyond, watching the changes in vegetation as we go and stopping along the way for refreshments and for any raptor, parrot or other species we might see near the roadside or hovering above. Birds such as apostlebirds and black kites will begin to be more common as we get further from the coast.
Eventually we reach St George, which we consider to be at the edge of the true outback. By this time we are past all the cotton and other crops, the soil is red and we have usually seen our first emus and Major Mitchell cockatoos. Here in the late afternoon we will stroll along the river, watching birds in the river red gums so typical of the outback, and settle into in a comfortable motel with private ensuites (a luxury we won’t have on most of the trip – there just isn’t any of that kind of accommodation close to the interesting places).
Day 2 of outback tour. Sunday 11th September.
We cross the Ballone River this morning, entering the real outback. Expect to see more and more kangaroos, emus, parrots and black kites from here onwards.
Today we will travel through the large town of Cunnamulla (probably stopping there for lunch), the small town of Eulo, and right through Currawinya National Park to our farthest point, the tiny town of Hungerford (on our last trip I think the population was 6 – or had it dropped to 4?) on the New South Wales border.
Accommodation tonight is in a genuine Aussie outback pub (it advertises plenty of parking space!) – nothing fancy here, and the dunny (toilet) is out the back, as is the shower, and don’t be surprised to find a couple of frogs there waiting for you, but the pub has a lot of character (and sometimes a lot of characters drinking and chatting there), the meals are great, the stars are bright when you walk outside, the beds are comfortable, and you can stroll from your door to the waterhole before breakfast for some good birdwatching.
Day 3 of outback tour. Monday 12th September.
Today, after birding and breakfasting, we will start to really explore Currawinya National Park. We will head to some little backroads and waterholes to see what we can find, and by lunchtime we should have reached the Ramsar-declared lakes.
We will then call in at the rangers station and make our way slowly to our campsite on the banks of the Paroo River.
We will hae a full moon to dine by and camp beneath that night.
You will have your choice of sleeping in a tent or a large, comfortable hammock. Darren and I always choose the hammock – watching the stars slowly move (well, we’re actually the ones who are moving), the pelicans glide past on the river (they’ll be especially visible in the moonlight) and the changes of mood as night gradually fades into morning twilight, the sun rises and the birds start singing.
Day 4 of outback tour. Tuesday 13th September.
We strongly recommend rising early to stroll along the river looking for birds and other animals (you can always catch up on sleep in the middle of the day when the wildlife is less active). We can have a quick cuppa before such wanderings, and settle down to a proper breakfast afterward.
We will explore the Granites, visit a sample of the bilby fence, watch a video about the bilbies – a charismatic endangered marsupial, some of which have been released here from captive-bred colonies – and generally explore wherever we choose on the day.
Late in the day we’ll return to Eulo, the little town that advertises itself as having a population of 50 people and 1500 lizards. Here we can stroll down to a lagoon rich in birdlife, and before dark head to a waterhole where Hall’s babblers and Bourke’s parrots can sometimes be seen (we have seen the parrots, no luck yet with the babblers).
We’ll spend the night at the Eulo Queen Hotel (small hotel, small town, but prize-winning sausages!). Some rooms have a private bath, some don’t. You may well see kangaroos in the main street of town if you go walking at dusk or dawn, and almost certain to see them if you walk to the lagoon.
Day 5 of outback tour. Wednesday 14th September.
After birding at the lagoon or the waterhole and breakfast, you might like to visit the little shop displaying local opals, or walk just a little further to the Eulo Date Farm at the edge of town. Here you can buy delicious date liqueuer and other products, and also spend half an hour in a warm mud bath while sipping wine or tea and nibbling dried fruits and nuts.
The main part of the day – depending on what the wildlife is doing and what everyone wants – can be spent back in Currawinya or we can head straight out towards Bowra Station, well-known for its abundant birdlife (over 200 species), including several rare species. Shower and toilet are once more ‘out the back’ and we will be all sleepig under the same roof: several bedrooms open into a communal dining and lounge area, which in turn connects to the kitchen.
Bowra vegetation includes mulga, gidgee, river red gums and more, even the coolabah trees of Waltzing Matilda fame, and there are a number of wetland sites. It has recently been purchased by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy.
Day 6 of outback tour. Thursday 15th September.
We will take a picnic breakfast to one of the waterholes at Bowra, and spend the morning exploring. For lunch we’ll head to the town of Cunamulla, where you might like to also explore the small museum and the birdlife in the park Then it’s back to Bowra, exploring its many habitats until dinnertime. If not collapsing into bed we’ll have a look for nocturnal species afterward.
We will spend a second night at Bowra.
Day 7 of outback tour. Friday 16th September.
More pre-breakfast birding (with an eye out for lizards, pythons and kangaroos as well) and the rest of the morning at leisure. We’ll head back to Currawinya for lunch and then back to St George, where we once more enjoy the luxury of ensuite bathrooms in our motel rooms.
Day 8 of outback tour. Friday 17th September.
After an early breakfast we’ll head coastwards, once more stopping for breaks and whenever we see anything of interest, reaching Ipswich mid-afternoon to explore the Nature Centre with its bilbies and other wildlife, before continung back to Brisbane and dropping you at your accommodation.
Cost of tour per person, including the additional two days, all traveling, meals etc. and GST: $1,551.00 (Australian)
Let us know if you’d like to join this tour, or if you’d prefer to join us for six days in May or October.