My ongoing exploration of the Ross River bikeways has ameliorated the lockdown for me to some extent, and bike shops report booming sales as others enjoy the same outlet.
I completed the Riverway circuit (introduced here) by riding on the Riverside Gardens side of the river from Black Weir to the motorway bridge and returning past the Riverway Arts Centre (closed since the 2019 floods), sports fields and playgrounds. That side was more interesting and enjoyable than the other, which just runs through a narrow strip of parkland between houses and the river like the rest of the Riverside Gardens section.
The Ross River bikeway (introduced here) extends nearly three kilometres downstream from Bowen Road bridge on the Idalia side, past the meatworks chimney and the new Fairfield Waters residential subdivision.
An Easter break in which everyone is staying in town has reminded me of my intention to write about the bike paths which run along almost the whole length of Ross River. I have often mentioned sections of the network as I visited them so the overview is long overdue. Here goes!
Well-constructed paths follow both sides of the river from the Bowen Road bridge in Rosslea to the new motorway bridge between Riverside Gardens and Condon. The five river crossings – Bowen Rd bridge, Aplin’s Weir, Nathan St bridge, Black Weir and the motorway bridge – automatically create four loops for walkers and riders.
The city council has named the loops on its excellent downloadable maps:
Wetlands circuit, 5.9 km, Aplin’s Weir – Bowen Rd bridge
Aplin’s Weir circuit, 5.3 km, Aplin’s Weir – Nathan St bridge
Federation circuit, 7.2 km, Nathan St bridge – Black Weir footbridge (Weir State School)
Riverway circuit, 3.7 km, Black Weir – Motorway bridge
The path continues from the motorway bridge to Ross Dam, 11 km further upstream, but only on the Condon – Kelso side of the river.
We know they are there, but we don’t often see them – freshwater crocodiles in Ross River, that is.
Freshies, as many locals call them, are smaller than salties. They are generally shy, attacking only when startled into defending themselves; and when they do, their narrow jaws and relatively small teeth can’t do as much damage as a saltie’s heavy head, although the Australian Museum warns us that they can still cause serious injuries.
They can also be hard to spot, even in plain view.
One of my readers used the workaround ‘comment’ routine recently to ask me about some birds she sees on her side of Ross River:
I live on the river in Annandale and since moving here 18 months ago have developed a great love of birds – they are in my garden and on the river. I manage to identify most of them but there is one little fellow I just can’t – I have googled, looked in the books and sites.
It is not a very pretty little bloke but I love them. They are, I would imagine, a finch, [with] the round little fat body, always in a flock of around 10 -15, fly very fast, love the seed in my lawn, love my bird bath as it’s very protected. He is a medium flat brown with a black mask across his eyes, has a short tail, easily frightened.
This little bird is too small for me to get a photo with my camera. Malcolm do you have any idea what it is, I would be grateful for your comments.
I was happy to help, especially as Lynne had provided such a good description that there was only one real candidate, the Spice Finches (Lonchura punctulata). As I told her, they are Asian birds, relatively recent arrivals in our region but now well established in our parklands, so older bird books might not describe them, or might not show them as living here.
I have already written about them here and, more recently, here but Lynne’s enquiry reminded me that I had intended to write about them again after my return from Bali in April (this link will lead you to earlier posts about the island). They are a native species there, so seeing them was no surprise. Seeing them feeding on a tidal rock platform, however, was quite unexpected. Continue reading “Spice finches in Bali”