Have just returned from what I had planned as a combined atlassing trip and
short family holiday to a property in the Cuttaburra Channel country, 150
kilometres northwest of Bourke. Cuttaburra Creek is mid-way between the
Warrego and Paroo Rivers. The area in question has had few Atlas sheets
completed with most 10 minute blocks having none, a few have had only one or
two sheets returned at most.
The trip didn't go quite as planned. The initial plan was to spend 4 nights in
the shearers quarters on the station "Comeroo", leaving Dubbo on Friday and
returning on Tuesday. I was informed that an inch of rain fell on "Comeroo" on
Thursday but that things were still OK to come out. We left after lunch on
Friday, the plan being to overnight in Bourke as Friday was meant to be sunny
in Bourke meaning the roads should be trafficable early Saturday.
Unfortunately a further inch and a half fell on Thursday night and the weather
remained cloudy all day Friday. We eventually left Bourke at 2PM Saturday
afternoon after a sunny morning reasoning that the red sand country would dry
out more quickly.
The trip was interesting but we got through. The last five kilometres from the
homestead to the shearers quarters was to be the most challenging as it
entailed "a little" black soil country. The plan was to tow our station wagon
through the boggy sections. A great plan but the mud was to deep even for the
four wheel drive. As the sun set we conceded defeat and limped back to the
homestead where two adults, two children (7 & 3 years old) plus a six week old
baby were ensconced in a small room with two single beds. Could have been
worse. The kids actually had a great time socialising with the other guests,
yabbying and "organising" the camels.
We left "Comeroo" at midday Monday as more rain was expected that night.
Because of the wet conditions getting access to many of the best areas was
problematic. I managed to get into a number of previously unatlassed blocks
which was the primary goal. Most of my birding was confined to the red sand
country which was also woody weed country. As a result bird diversity was not
great. Compared to a trip to "Bowra" at Cunnamulla last July the birding was
Highlights were few. Major Mitchell Cockatoos seen while bogged in the black
soil on the way into the shearers quarters and again the next day at another
small black soil plain. Mulga Parrots and Red-winged Parrots were,
surprisingly, fairly scarce. Crested Bellbirds and Spotted Bowerbirds
tolerably common, but not abundant as they were at Cunnamulla. White-browed
Treecreepers were seen at a number of sites.
The greatest highlights were actually while travelling to and from "Comeroo".
A Bustard was seen just south of Bourke on Saturday morning. Bourke had the
usual flocks of Red-tailed Black Cockatoos and Brolgas were seen on a billabong
just north of town. On the return journey we overnighted at Byrock, 75 km
south of Bourke. I visited a previously unatlassed block south-west of town
early the next morning. On one 2ha site I was rewarded with Chestnut-breasted
Quailthrush, Major Mitchell Cockatoo as well as Mulga and Red-winged Parrots.
I hope to get Back 'o Bourke again in a couple of months. The area has
promise, I'm convinced that there are some good birds to be found if the access
I recommend that anyone travelling get a printout of the atlas coverage before
they leave. This enabled me to target areas where coverage has been poor. One
interesting thing I found was that the block centred on Bourke had 66 sheets
completed while those immediately around it were neglected. I assume that
travellers overnighted in town and completed a sheet while there. With a
little planning and less effort I travelled a short distance out of town and
contributed sheets in previously unatlassed blocks, and saw a few nice birds
while at it.
Regent Honeyeater Recovery Coordinator
P.O. Box 2111
Dubbo NSW 2830
Ph. Freecall 1800 621 056 or 02 6883 5335
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