Many Peaks Range and Magnetic Island

My very first impression of Townsville’s landscape, thirty years ago, was of dead-flat land interrupted by peculiarly isolated hills and ranges, and it has only been reinforced over the years by views and events.

The views? Getting to know the topography from the top of Castle Hill, Mt Stuart or (most recently) Mt Marlow on the Town Common reveals a coastal landscape of mangrove flats rising (minimally) to the suburbs which wrap around the bases of the hills, with Ross River, Ross Creek and the Bohle River winding lazily through them.

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Many Peaks trail and Mount Marlow

Town Common from the Many Peaks track
Town Common from the Many Peaks track: Freshwater bird hide at centre left, Mt Stuart on the horizon and Bald Rock at far right

I hiked up Mount Marlow via the Many Peaks Trail on the Common (see map) four years ago and noted in my post about it that I was glad I had chosen not to rush it. Last Tuesday I started an hour later, at about 9.20, but finished at the same time, and wished I had allowed more time for it.

Pallarenda to the top of the hill, 4.5 km according to the sign, took a little over two hours of fairly steady walking on the very rough track so I stopped for a snack and the views on top of Mt Marlow. Continue reading “Many Peaks trail and Mount Marlow”

Lovely weather for ducks!

We’ve had lovely weather for ducks in the last week – ever since I posted about last year’s rainfall, in fact, although I don’t think my post was the cause. I visited the Town Common on Wednesday morning and enjoyed sloshing around in intermittent drizzle before the really heavy rain started about 11 o’clock. Everything was beautifully green and the waterbirds were feeding happily.

cattle egrets on Town Common
Cattle Egrets and others under dark grey skies

Most of this group were Cattle Egrets (more precisely Eastern Cattle Egrets, Bubulcus coromandus) – which are pure white in non-breeding plumage and rufous in breeding plumage. The bigger pure white birds are Intermediate Egrets (Ardea intermedia).

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Who knew that Bazas shelled their grasshoppers?

Pacific Bazas, also known as Crested Hawks, are beautiful birds of prey which are uncommon enough to call for a photo at every opportunity. We saw one in the Quarantine Station picnic grounds at Pallarenda on Friday as it flew up to perch in a tree.

From behind, we could see its head jerking up and down as it tore at prey which it was holding against its perch; from in front, I was able to get photos showing us what it was doing. It was carefully shelling a Giant Grasshopper in exactly the way we would shell a prawn, and for the same reason: to avoid the crunchy bits.

Pacific Baza with prey
Baza with lunch

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A stroll up Mount Marlow

Perfect winter weather enticed fifteen walkers to join the Wildlife Queensland monthly excursion on the Sunday just past. The group met at the Freshwater bird hide (see Town Common map (pdf) if you’re not familiar with the park) at 9.00 and ambled along the causeway (someone called it a “dam wall”) to the foot of Many Peaks range near Bald Rock, then up to the top of Mount Marlow, the highest point of the range. I walked down it a year ago and commented that “I would rather go down it than up” but really, going up wasn’t too demanding. Continue reading “A stroll up Mount Marlow”