Re RFI Trip around Aus

To: "Birding-aus" <>
Subject: Re RFI Trip around Aus
From: "John Walter" <>
Date: Wed, 22 Apr 1998 21:24:30 +1000

I wish you luck, you are biting off more than most could chew. I know, been
there done that several times. Honestly if you want to see birds you need
to cut out Cape York and spend more time doing the rest, believe me to do
that trip in 4 months you will be constantly driving and not birdwatching.

However I will list off a few places for you and I hope they will be of
some use. Some you will know of, I guess others you may not. I will start
after the Flinders Ranges. Stop off at "Talc Alf" in Lyndhurst for a
laugh!! Owing to the amount of rain there has been you could save a lot of
miles by checking the Oodnadatta track road report from back in the
Flinders. SA H/way Dept on 08 11633. Rain will stop you even with 4WD which
I assume you have, I have done most of the route you have described in a
conventional Toyota Hiace Camper with an automatic diff. lock which makes
it nearly up to 4WD standard except for deep sand so I know the roads. The
road itself is not too bad through to Oodnadatta good 80km.p.h. most of the
way. North of Finke in the Depot Sandhills it is slow and definately
4WD.But you can go west to Kulgera on the Stuart H/way. Marree to
Oodnadatta is not what you would call prime birding but most stops will
produce something. Look for Thick-billed grasswrens around Callanna west of
Marree. keep a look out for Chestnut-breasted and Banded Whiteface along
the way. Good place to stop the night is at Coward Springs C/P (old Ghan
railway siding) the Springs are a free flowing bore with extensive wetland
good for chats, as is the overflow from the mound springs which are a short
detour of the road. The William Creek Pub is worth a stop apart from fuel.
They also do a good evening meal.The crossing of the Neales River at
Algebuckina (probabely not the right spelling) is another good camp site
either near the old railway bridge or go through the gate on the right and
camp in along the big waterhole . North of Oodnadatta in a good year it is
good for chats keep a look out for Gibber chats. Dalhousie Springs in a
good year has good wetlands. By the way you need a SA Desert pass for
Dalhousie it costs $50 but includes about 6 maps of remote areas of SA
worth about $35 as well as other useful stuff. I think NRMA should have
them. I would also recommend 2 books by Ian Read which cover all the
outback roads you intend going on. They are Australia's Central and Western
Outback and Australia's Northern Outback published by Little Hills Press at
$24-95 each. They cover the Oodnadatta Track, the Gunbarrel and the
Warburton Road. By the way the road from Ularu to Laverton is not the
Gunbarrel as it is often mistakenly called, it is the Warburton or Centre
road which does follow the Gunbarell for a very short distance only. The
books also cover the Gibb River road and the Roper Bar to Boorooloola road
and the Gulf Savannah road through to Georgetown. The Gibb River road is
710km of the deepest widest corrugations in Aus. the worst area is between
the Durack and Pentecost rivers towards the top end.
Anyway I digress, we had got to the Depot Sandhills. Any of the gorges in
the MacDonnell ranges are good for Dusky Grasswrens and the spinefex
country for painted firetails. Kings Canyon and Ormiston Gorge are good for
spinifex pigeons.. Alice Springs sewerage ponds are worth a look, they tend
to get a number of waders that you would not generally expect in the
center. To find it cross the railway line south of Heavytree Gap near the
showgrounds, go about 1km till you see the ponds, turn down the east side
to a gate where birders can enter, you should find a visitors book and a
list, walk where you want amomgst the ponds. Visit the Gap C/P on dusk and
see the Black-footed Rock-Wallabies come down to be fed. Also visit the new
Conservation Commision Desert Park, we haven't seen it yet but if the
Territory Wildlife Park at Berry Springs near Darwin is anything to go on
it would be well worth a look. The Stuart highway south to the Uluru
turnoff is good for Slaty-backed thornbills. Going through on the Warburton
road keep an eye out for Scarlet-chested Parrots. You will be a bit to far
south for a Princess Parrot but you never know, ( you might even run over a
Night Parro!!). I won't go into the SW much except to say our favourite
areas are the Stirling Ranges, Walpole/Nornalup and Dryandra reserve near
Narogin, early morning or evening to see Numbats.
Going North, the car park at Monkey Mia where you go to see the Dolphins is
a good place for Thick-billed Grasswrens. Once north of about Shark Bay you
will see the Red-bellied form of the Spinifex Pigeon. Yellow chats have
been seen in large numbers east of Broome, (refer todays birding-aus) Once
into the Kimberley start looking for White-Quilled Rock-Pigeons, Sandstone
Thrush, a good place is The Grotto on the way into Wyndham. Also on the way
into Wyndham Parry's Lagoon is excellent for more tropical waterfowl,
Pygmy-geese, Pied Herons, Magpie Geese, Rajah Shelduck, Flock Pigeon, lots
of ducks. In Wyndham itself make sure you go to the C/P and at the rear you
will find a grssy gully behind some big Boab trees, here you should get
Gouldian Finches, along with Masked, Long-tails, and maybe Pictorellas. In
Kunnanurra stay at Kona C/P and have White-browed Robins in your camp or
stay at Holiday land both on the shore of the lagoon. Kunnanurra is the
finch capitol of Aus. see also White-browed Crakes. The DPI Researsh
station at Ivanhoe is worth going in to where you look down on the Ord
River, usually a lot of ducks. Keep an eye out at the melon farms for
Yellow-rumped Manikins with the other finches. Hidden Valley NP near
Kunnanurra and Keep River just over the border are both good for
Rock-Pigeons. Just west of Timber Creek on the Victoria is the Dead Horse
camp ground, this section of river can yield Purple-crowned Fairy-Wrens.
You should get Black-tailed Treecreepers also. The drive into Gregory NP
could be worth while if you miss the Gouldians, we have seen both forms on
that road in a dry creek crossing. Victoria River Crossing is also supposed
to be good for Purple-crowned Fairy-Wrens although we haven't seen them any
time we have been there.
Katherine is not bad for birds. Try Chinaman's Creek 20kms west on the VR
H/way for Gouldians and Hooded Parrots. Springvale Homestead good to camp
if you can get down near the lagoon. Low Level Reserve can be good for
northern birds,also small fruit bats. The Gorge C/P is full of Great
Bowerbirds who spend their time making love to assorted chairs and caravan
jocky wheels! The gorge walks can be good for some of the northern
honeyeaters if the E.miniatas are in flower. North of Katerine; just to the
south about 2-3kms of the Ferguson River is a section of old road on the
right which is now used as a truck pull off, if you stop there and walk
downhill about 100m to a small gully you can sometimes get Gouldians. Pine
Creek Aerodrome for Hooded Parrots. A good camp and walk at Umbrawarra
gorge, it's south of Pine Creek and to the left. Lots of Friarbirds. Darwin
Area-Howard's Springs, East Point, Sewerage works, Holmes Jungle, Mangroves
along the harbour for Red-headed Honeyeaters.
Going out to Kakadu; Fogg Dam, Conservation Commision wetland Center near
the Adelaide River is worth a look but the wetlands below adjacent to the
road can be brilliant. The walk behind the resort at South Aligator is
worth it. As is the monsoon forest walk at East Aligator for Rainbow Pitta
also the Sandstone walk for Chestnut-quilled Rock-Pidgon. Lots of Partridge
Pigeon around the campground at Mel. Ubirr well worth a visit. Norlangi
good chance of Banded Fruit dove. Coinda a must, take the first or the last
boat for best birds. Barramundi Gorge best and easiest place to see Rainbow
Pitta. Gunlom Camp (Waterfall Creek or UDP Falls as it was called) climb to
the top of the falls follow the creek up a short way, walk up into the
sandstone and spinifex for White-throated Grass-Wren.
South of Katherine, Mattaranka- look at the hot springs but stay in Elsie
NP. Walk to Mattaranka Falls. I sugest you follow the Roper River to Roper
Bar and continue on to Cape Crawford rather than going down to the three
ways and following the Barkly H/way back to Qld. From Roper Bar to Cape
Crawford stop at St Vigeon Lagoon and at the various River crossings on the
way, keep an eye out for Red Goshwks and Buzzards along this section. At
Cape Crawford take the Helicopter ride into the Lost City. also visit
Buckalarra Gorge on the way to Boorooloola for Carpentaria Grasswrens. Go
beyond the waterhole up the slope slightly right and along the edge of the
sandstone you may pick them up The sandstone area is of interest too if you
work your way into it. if you get bushed climb up to the top and you can
look back to the road. It is all similar beehive sandstone to the Bungle
Bungles but not as large an area or as well known.
>From here you pass through Boorooloola and over the border via Doomagee
Aboriginal area to Burketown. If I was you from here I would leave Cape
York for another trip and head south to Mt Isa and Home but stoping on the
way at Lawn Hill Gorge and Riversleigh crossing on the Gregory River, both
excellent places. Lawn Hill you must ring ahead for a booking to get in . 
I suppose you know you will need permits from the Central Land Council in
Alice springs to be able to travel the Warburton Road, you also need a
permit from the Warburton Community for the WA side as well I'm not sure
now where you get it but if you get a little book put out by the NRMA on
outback Travel it will tell you.
 Hope this is of some use if I had more time I could probabley come up with
more places. if you want to ask specific questions you can email; me
John Walter      email: 
POBox 180 
Pittsworth 4356    07 4693 1487

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • Re RFI Trip around Aus, John Walter <=

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU