As Leanne was a bit hot under the collar, we drove through to the Head of the
Bight with only a couple of stops. There wasn't much in the way of birdlife
[apart from the corvids] about the lookout, but it is a nice place to visit and
would yield some nice pictures of the eastern end of the Nullarbor cliffs in
We then drove through to Fowlers Bay - an interesting place surrounded by salt
flats and towering sand dunes. Plenty of silver gulls, with some presumably
making the final transition to adult plumage [red bills tipped black].
After that it was off to Ceduna and the Shelly Beach Caravan Park [highly
recommended - it has white browed babblers keeping an eye on things]. We soaked
up the sea breeze and decided to see if we could find a cool change behind the
heat wave by heading down to Port Lincoln [probably one of the coolest places in
SA west of Mt Gambier].
We called into Coffin Bay on the way down - a very scenic spot, but being at the
end of a convoluted inlet meant it was pretty hot and I would have been tempted
to don the snorkling gear if I thought there would have been something to see
under the water. There was a well patronised wader roost near the road at the
bottom of the bay - mostly common waders and much too hot for loafing about.
The big ponds on the way into Port Lincoln had an abundance of birdlife,
including a large flock of cape barron geese. There was also a bird hide on one
of them, but little cover on the walk into it, so many of the nearby birds were
spooked my approach. There were lots of blackbirds about PL, and a couple of
rock parrots doing their thing at the edge of the beach below the Kirton Pt
There was no prospect of respite from the heatwave, so we set of at the crack of
dawn to see if we could track down the black honeyeaters reported a month
previously at the Pt Augusta Arid Lands Bot. Gardens. It had an air-conditioned
vistor's centre, so Leanne was happy, but although there was plenty of flowering
plants in the eremophila gardens, there were no pied or black HEs to be seen.
[The water points in front of the bird hides were pretty effective in attracting
the birds that were about].
We set off through the midmorning heat and stopped for lunch in a picnic area
beside a caravan park at Crystal Brook - the sprinklers were proving popular the
local parrot population.
After lunch we drove though some heavily modified landscapes - treeless rolling
hills on the way through Burra and Morgan [the place where they benchmark
salinity in the Murray River] and then along the blighted banks of the Murray
River round Renmark and onto the grape plains of Mildura [not many birds in the
caravan parks there].
We called into Hattah Kulkyne NP early the next morning to see if we could get
lucky with the mallee emu wrens. We had a bit of a poke around before we caught
up with one of the rangers [lots of parrots - mostly yellow rosellas hanging
about the water point in front of the information centre and a nice flock of
regent parrots flying past - first RPs I'd seen in the eastern states] who
pointed us in the right direction - the Nowingi [sp] Track which runs off the
old Calder Hwy. The vegetation was right, but by then it was much too hot for
me to have more than half an hour unsuccessfully looking for the little
blighters while Leanne sweltered by the car.
While we were sitting at the service station at Hattah, a pair of banded
lapwings landed on the road, and just as I was pointing them out to Leanne, one
of them was wiped out by a passing truck. [I'm not sure lapwings have a lot of
road sense, but they should be able to detect a truck approaching at 110
We then set off through the dreadful plains along the Mid-Western Hwy - clearly
the source of many dust storms - unbelievable the amount of ploughed land left
bare to the wind in a deep drought.
The heat was broken the next day by a series of thunderstorms that passed
through when we were at the Warrumbungles. We saw a couple of king parrots at
the western edge of their range, as well as a couple of koalas doing what they
do best. We stopped off at Cunninghams Gap on the run into Brisbane to hug a
tree in the rainforest [as is our habit on returning from interstate] and then
cruised into town to find that the service stations had racked up the price of
petrol by 10 cents a litre as we passed the outskirts.
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