The walking track through the hills between Nelly Bay and Arcadia, with its extensions to the Sphinx Lookout and the Forts walk carpark, is longer than most and I hadn’t found an opportunity to explore it until last weekend. The weather was gorgeous and the landscape was at its best.
Head north from Townsville looking for a pretty spot for a picnic and you might end up at Paluma; head south, and you get to Billabong Sanctuary or, just a little further on, Alligator Creek picnic and camping grounds. Turning inland from the highway takes you into Bowling Green Bay National Park (their photo is definitely a wet-season one) and, a couple of kilometres up a narrow road, a basic camping ground and picnic ground serving a popular swimming spot. (Alligator Creek is named after a boat which went aground at its mouth, not after scaly inhabitants, so the swimmers are safe enough so long as they are careful on the rocks.)
We hadn’t been there for years but it seemed like a good thing to do on a Sunday clear of other commitments. The picnic ground, like the bush around it, was very dry but the creek was still running – plenty of water in the pools for kids to splash around in, although you could easily step across the creek between the pools. It is a violent rocky torrent many metres wide in the Wet, so the picnic ground is well above the creek bed.
I rock-hopped my way upstream with my camera after lunch. Dragonflies and damselflies (see this post for similarities and differences) caught my attention immediately, especially one large, gorgeous bright blue variety that I hadn’t seen before. I was sure it was a dragon (big, and resting with wings outstretched) but found when I got home that it was a damsel, the Tropical Rockmaster, Diphlebia euphoeoides.
The early afternoon light among the rocks was very bright (brilliant? harsh? glary?), making the shadows correspondingly black. In this case the shadows could almost fool you into thinking the insect has eight wings, like this one I saw a few months ago.
I also photographed two more typical damsels (one here), a red-brown dragon and a blue-black one (both of which I know from Ross River and Anderson Park), a few spiders (one unfamiliar relative of our familiar St Andrew’s Cross spider and a couple of very skinny tetragnathids, here and here), some fish and tadpoles easily visible in the crystal-clear water, skinks on the rocks and, just before we left, a kangaroo flying through the picnic grounds as though it was being pursued by something with big snappy jaws. It wasn’t, or I might have run instead of picking up my camera:
We took advantage of the Easter break to visit Magnetic Island, just half an hour by ferry from Townsville – close enough that quite a few people live on the Island and work in town. Most of the island is National Park, with just a few mini-suburbs (Picnic Bay, Arcadia, Nelly Bay, Horseshoe Bay) around the southern and eastern coast.
This skink was visiting the sign outside our cabin, possibly in search of ants. Looking at the photo afterwards I noticed some tiny eggs glued to the sign. I have no idea what they are. (As usual, clicking on the photos will get you a better view.)
We were only on the island for 24 hours and it was dark, of course, for half of that time, but I managed to return home with a couple of hundred photographs; I will post the best of them here as I get them sorted out.