Mallee country

Subject: Mallee country
Date: Thu, 20 Apr 2006 11:35:18 +1000
Hello Vikki, we've just returned from a trip to the Big Desert State 
Forest between Murrayville and Nhill, camping in the 'forest' (actually 
mallee woodland and heath).

It's remarkable country but best when the conditions are NOT windy as this 
makes finding birds difficult.  We found early morning walks (with a 
compass or GPS to help) and evening 'sit and listen' were good ways to 
find birds.  We also had some species come past our camp site (eg. 
Southern Scrub Robin and lots of White-eared Honeyeaters).

The Nhill-Murrayville road has a few points where there are scrapes (for 
road building?) and various old sandy tracks put in by brushcutters and 
honey producers (?).  Some of these (not in the park) can make good camp 
sites but note that there are NO facilities in most of the Big Desert 
(it's mainly a wilderness area).  For facilities you need to go to Pink 
Lakes or Wyperfeld parks but these are quite different habitat wise.

Our most common birds were Inland Thornbills and Yellow-plumed / 
White-eared Honeyeaters.  We also heard some Dingoes early last Monday 
morning (rather early to say the least!).  There are numerous flora and 
fauna or bushland reserves, many adjacent to roads in the north west of 
Victoria.  If you obtain some topographic maps (1: 100 000 or better) of 
the areas you plan to visit, many of the reserves will be shown on the 
maps.  The 4WD maps (HEMA?) can also be of use.

Hattah and Wyperfeld are well worth visiting but again morning and just on 
dusk are best.  Keep in mind that feral honeybees can be a major problem. 
Any water attracts them and we had to move camp last year at Hattah due to 
the bees.  The tracks in the state forest can be very sandy as well, so 
care must be taken or limit yourself to the formed roads and just walk 
Finally, go with plenty of thermals.  Easter was literally freezing 
overnight up that way.  Most mornings were minus 2 with one being minus 3 
degrees!  Dew on the tent settled before we went to bed and had frozen not 
long after midnight.

The Atlas of Victorian Wildlife would welcome copies of your fauna records 
and I'm happy to assist in this if required.

Look forward to a trip report.

cheers, Martin

Martin O'Brien
Threatened Species & Communities Section
Department of Sustainability and Environment
2/8 Nicholson St. (PO Box 500), East Melbourne  3002

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