Surviving Woodgate!

Subject: Surviving Woodgate!
From: REID Colin <>
Date: Mon, 16 Dec 2002 19:35:55 +1000
Hi all
        Last Friday (13th !!!) I scored a day off work and headed north to
Woodgate National Park with visions of Red-backed Kingfishers, dancing
Brolgas and lots of other possibilities churning in my head. This is a
(short) tale of birding and camping and has elements of stupidity and
adventure (I hope) - if you don't want to read on but do want the bird list
pls feel free to ask.
        I arrived at Woodgate (south of Bundaberg, north end of Hervey Bay)
after an uneventful 4 hour drive (or 'bounce' in my little Suzuki). Nothing
much to Woodgate - a post office, one restaurant, one pub, one caravan park,
so eagerly headed for Burrum Point campground. There is a 5 km sand track,
4WD only, very soft that leads to a campground about 50 meteres short of the
beach at B. Pt. Toilets, cold showers and plenty of water (I think it may be
town water piped in 'cause the pressure was fearsome and no restrictions).
        Only one other camp site occupied (there are about 10 available) so
chose the furtherest away for their, and my privacy, and set up camp.
Checked out the beach (I took the long way - via the bush - to then find
there was a marked walkway at the other end of the campsite - this was an
omen for the weekend!)
        An endless sandy beach stretched before my eyes. Caspian Tern
cruising the surf, Redcapped Dotterls beating the waves, a couple of lonely
Curlew hunched and 2 Needletails salshing across the tree tops. Not another
bugger in sight, so quick skinny dip to remove the sweat. This is not a surf
beach - hence, possibly, the lack of interest by the general populace -
thanks, God.
        Let the sun drop a bit (Koels and Channel-billed Cuckoos calling)
then set off on my first walk - expected to be about 5 kms to a "birdhide on
the edge of a shallow lake" that "offers excellent views of a variety of
waterbirds"  - so quoted the Nat Parks literature. Walking through the bush
I had Leaden Flycatchers, Yellow Robins, Olive-backed Orioles (heaps),
Drongos, Noisy Friarbirds (lots), Br Gerygones, Br Thornbills, Scarlet
Honeyeaters, Rufous Whistlers, Little Shrike Thrushes among the more common
species in the dry coastal scrub. I did find some platelets which suggested
Black-breasted Button Quail, they looked recent, but no birds apparent.
        On reaching the hide - later than I had planned as I took the long
track..... I found the lake almost dry and so the NP's promise unfullfilled.
Not their fault, but a bit of a disappointment. However, water bottle nearly
empty, headed back to camp arriving just on dark. Nothing more exciting -
tried some spotlighting, but no success. Very quiet. Crashed.
        Up at 5am and ready for a big one. Took 2 litres of water this time
- I'm not a great water drinker at the best of times, preferring a regular
caffiene hit, however, I figured better safe than sorry.....famous last
        Set off at 5.30 on the Melaleuca Track (12.3kms return) intending to
call into the bird hide again and continue on to Walker's Point 'township'
returning back via the beach. Figured a return to camp about midday.
Not long after I hit the M track I saw new platelets, but still no birds.
Walked slowly through the bush seeing much the same as yesterday, adding
Red-backed and Variegated Wrens, White-browed Scrub Wren and Red-browed
finch until around 8am a pair of BBQs ran along the track in full view ahead
of me. I'd seen them recently at a better known location but it was great to
see them somewhere else. 
        Reached the hide again and started exploring the drying lakes - 2
White-bellied Cuckoo-shrikes, 23 Sharp-tailed Sands, 5 Black-winged Stilts,
1 Marsh Sand and 1 Greenshank. White-breasted Wood swallows flew close
overhead warning me off and then - the one and only tick for the weekend - 5
White-browed Wood Swallow feeding 2 or 3 juveniles. Great views, lovely bird
- love that white eyebrow, looks like it's frowning! Decided to walk, off
track, around the drying mud and, predictably, got temporarily lost, but
found my way back again... I knew where I was I just had to find my way
back! (White-winged and Varied Triller and Cicadabird)     
        Reached the track to Walkers Point (Mangrove Honeyeater and
Gerygone) and, with visions of an ice cold can of Coke (yes, my preference
to beer) floating in front of my eyes I strode heartily down to this haven
of civilisation perched on the bank of the Burrum River. Now it was only a
short stroll back along the beach - after my Coke of course...
        Two things you should note here. 
        1 Walkers Point has no shops...therefore no Coke and  
        2. It is not possible to walk along the beach from Walkers point to
Burrum Point - but noone told ME!       Swallowing my Coke-less
disappointment with another mouthful of tepid plastic water I headed out
resolutely along the beach. After a km or so I reached some mangroves - no
problem I can walk, then push, through this - until I came to a creek. At
this stage I probably should have quit and walked back, but, Oh No, I am
nothing if not adventurous (and this is where stupidity come in!!) Stripped
to speedos - clothes and precious bins tied up and held above head, boots
(muddy) dangled around neck by laces I waded into the mud - and crabs - and
roots - and mosquitoes - and began an odyssey that I thought would never
        I crossed the same creek 3 times, I climbed through over and under
more mangroves than I ever want to see again. I saw small crabs with HUGE
orange pincers. I couldn't see anything beyond the next bush and so was
moving more on instinct than anythig else. I lost my red pen in there
somewhere and I'm sure some crab is waving it around to attract every female
within miles. If a Blue and White Flycatcher or even an Isabelline Wheater
had popped up in front of me in that desperate hour I would have requested
it return to wherever it came from in no uncertain terms or language. I
thought I was going to die. 
        I finally staggered out into trackless bush, mud from eyebrows to
toes, dry, almost waterless, scratched, bitten and generally aching. I
pulled on my filthy, sweaty clothes and, after another half an hour or so
wandering found my way to the blessed beach and another naked dip helped
restore some energy for the 45 minute trudge back to camp. (Actually had 2
Grey Plover fly off the beach as I staggered along) 
        Ate a little, slept a while - coffeed up and relaxed and by 5pm
decided fishing would be the go in the lovely evening. (Warning - not much
more on the bird scene if you're losing interest....)
        So standing knee deep in the warm surf on this completely deserted
beach, getting a few nibbles - nice way to finish the day and, Oh, what's
that? a decent fish? Reel it in - a beautiful Blue-spot Stingray about the
size of a dinner plate, but won't put him on mine - cut him free, turned him
around and hooossshed him back to where he came from. In my enthusiasm to
save the planet, and ensure his safe escape, I managed to stab myself in my
big toe with the spike on his little tail. Hurt? you ask? HURT? It felt like
someone had stuck a red hot needle up the middle of my foot!! Oh GOD!
Cursing my stupidity (it's a day for it!) I hobbled up the beach and back to
camp desperately trying to stay sane and remember the treatment - was it hot
water and about two hours? Were blue-spot stingrays any different? More
dangerous? I popped a couple of Neurofin and washed the bits of my foot I
would allow myself to touch. JESUS CHRIST! SORE?? AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!
        I boiled some water and began applying via washer - the water has to
be very hot, not quite boiling, but at this stage one thinks, nay, one
believes, that a scalded foot would be better than the current agony!! 
        YES, Yes, it worked!! A few seconds after applying the hot poltice
the agony diminished enough for me to dial 000 on my mobile and ask for
advice. A friendly gentleman in Childers hospital reassured me that I was
doing the right thing and "if I could manage it for a while - it was going
to continue, but if it got any worse to get into Childers hospital" Yeah -
right, I can drive 60 kms while pouring hot water onto my foot....... nice
try and I appreciated his help, but I wasn't going anywhere! So for 2 hours
I smoked, boiled water, let it cool a little, poured it over my foot....and
cursed my stupidity.... sound familiar??? However, almost exactly 2 hours
later - the pain disappeared, honest, one minute it was there, next it was
gone, no kidding! And what a RELIEF. I almost danced, but.......I don't like
dancing, ask my partner, so I simply sat back with a smug, satisfied grin.
Yep, knew that would work, mate! I am sooooooo clever, uuuhhh doh...........

        I walked around a bit to satisfy myself that it really was gone,
flexed the toe. examined the puncture wound, cleaned my toe nails - now that
I could finally touch my foot comfortably....   Crashed....
        Up at 6 Sunday morning - no more stupidity I promised myself. I
fished again for a while - 7-9am in speedos with, you guessed it, no
block-out on, so am quite impressively sun burned. Interestingly - I had my
bins around my neck (to watch a flock of approx 50 Needletails skimming the
trees again and in case anything else turned up) so now have 2 white strap
marks and a white shape on my lower chest where they rested!! Left the
campsite at 11.30 and, as it was low tide, drove the beach back to Woodgate.
The only hairy bit being getting off the beach where it was very soft and I
had to use Low for the first time. (Couple of Brahminy and Whistling Kites
above the dunes) 
        Arrived back in Brisbane at 3.30 - glad to see my previous posting
requesting day trippers to get off Bribie before 3 or wait till later,
worked.... no problem with the traffic. Excellent ending to a memorable
weekend. Woodgate National Park - recommended. I'm going back after rain.
        (I apologise to anyone who has found this boring and lacking in bird
detail - but I just wanted to write about it, I hope it doesn't upset
anyone. Look on it as a medical lesson if nothing else.... or a warning -
don't come birding with me!!!)           

> Colin 
> Brisbane

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