Myrniong: landscape and birds

One of the locations I visited in my recent trip to Victoria and Tassie was Myrniong, about halfway between Melbourne and Ballarat, not far from Bacchus Marsh. Melbourne’s West is drier than its East, and the Myrniong landscape is not unlike that of Sunbury, with bare hills dissected by deep narrow valleys; Lerderderg Gorge, nearby, is just one of the bigger examples.

The property was an outdoor education centre, much used by school groups, and featured an artificial lake near the campus buildings high on the hill above the river.

Myrniong
Looking down on the Werribee River gorge

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Whale-watching in the Palm Islands

The number of whales migrating up the coast past Townsville has been steadily increasing, and local residents now catch sight of them from the Magnetic Island ferry quite often. We have never been lucky enough to do so, however, so we booked a whale-watching trip to make sure we did at least see a whale before the season ends.

The tour operator picked us up in the city in his troop-carrier and we went out from Lucinda in his small boat at about 9.00. The weather was absolutely perfect until early afternoon, when a bit of wind blew up (not enough to make us too uncomfortable, just not as nice as the morning) and we had a wonderful day.

Our route took us roughly South-east once we cleared the end of Lucinda’s enormously long jetty, out towards Pelorus Island then South along the Eastern side of Orpheus and into the area between Fantome and Great Palm. (This map might help you keep track of our day.) Continue reading “Whale-watching in the Palm Islands”

Alva Beach

The trip which included the Ayr Nature Display was also my first visit to Alva Beach, Ayr’s local beach just a quarter of an hour from town. The township is much like others along this part of the coast (Jerona, for instance) in existing for holiday-makers and fishing enthusiasts. There isn’t even a shop, let alone a pub or a servo – just a cluster of houses, two blocks deep, between the beachfront dunes and the salt flats, swamps and cattle country of the hinterland.

The country is all very flat and a difference in elevation of a metre or two marks the difference between swamps, cattle country and canefields, as this (2014) photo shows.

Inkerman
Looking over the mouth of the Burdekin towards Alva Beach from the peak of Mt Inkerman

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Porcupine Gorge wildlife

As I said a few days ago, the wildlife at Porcupine Gorge ¬†was abundant when I visited it last week. Here’s a sample of photos under the three broad headings of mammals, birds and invertebrates (i.e. insects and spiders). I did see some reptiles as well – a goanna and a frill-necked lizard (I think) on the road, and several small skinks around the gorge – but have no photos to share here.

Mammals

A large wallaby or small kangaroo species was quite common in the early mornings but I’m not sure which species: possibly red kangaroo or agile wallaby, but I’m inclined to think they were Antilopine Kangaroos, Macropus antilopinus. If so, they were at the Southern end of their known range.

Porcupine Gorge
An adult on the move

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Porcupine Gorge National Park

Porcupine Gorge sunrise
Dawn at Porcupine Gorge

Getting to Porcupine Gorge from Townsville is easy but takes a while: drive South-west to Hughenden (380 km) and turn right. Drive another 70 km, still on good sealed roads, and you arrive at the Pyramid camping ground overlooking the Gorge. It’s too far for a day trip and a stretch even for a weekend, which is why it’s six years since I have been there. After that trip I promised to write about it but other things intervened so this will be my first real report on the place.

The gorge carved out by Porcupine Creek, a tributary of the Flinders River, over millions of years is more than 100 km long and the National Park encloses and protects a quarter of it.

Porcupine Gorge view
Looking across the gorge into rugged country just after sunrise

The camping ground is on level ground on the Western lip of the gorge, offering good views down to the Pyramid. A steep track leads down to the creek and (at this time of year) sandy beaches beside swimming holes, rocky terraces, grevilleas, melaleucas … endless entertainment for anyone willing to explore. Continue reading “Porcupine Gorge National Park”