Goulburn, Mittagong, Chiltern - Oct 2007 (long)

To: <>
Subject: Goulburn, Mittagong, Chiltern - Oct 2007 (long)
From: "Tim Dolby" <>
Date: Thu, 10 Apr 2008 13:58:57 +1000
Nice report Pete.

Also for those who may have missed it: looking at the end of your report you 
indicate that you had a very serious car accident! With photos to prove it!

See m("N00/sets/72157603531473960","//");">http:

It looks as though you were lucky to be alive! Who said birding was a perilous 

Tim Dolby

-----Original Message-----
 On Behalf Of Peter Shute
Sent: Sunday, 30 December 2007 1:45 PM
Subject: Goulburn, Mittagong, Chiltern - Oct 2007 (long)

Summary: I went birding in Goulburn in NSW on the way to Mittagong, where I 
stayed and birded for three days.  On the return trip, a couple of visits to a 
reserve outside Goulburn (where I decided contact lenses were not for me).  An 
ill-planned stop in Chiltern in Victoria, where I had time for a rushed morning 
of birding before returning to Melbourne. On the way home we escaped virtually 
unscathed from a serious but unusual crash - no more birding for a couple of 

I prepared by getting lists for the Mittagong area, and making a matching 
playlist for the BOCA CDs loaded onto my phone, and listened to them for a 
couple of weeks on the train to work.  With earphone, of course - didn't want 
all the school kids coming up to me to say how cool they thought the bird calls 

26/10/07 Staying with in-laws in Goulburn, I snuck out early and walked up and 
down Wollondilly Ck, which runs through the town, mainly because it was close 
by.  It's a typical urban creek, a bit overrun by willows and funny looking 
hybrid ducks, etc, but still interesting.  New for me were Sacred Kingfisher 
and Rufous Whistler, and I heard my first Common Koel.  I was glad I'd recently 
seen my first White-winged Trillers, otherwise I mightn't have been able to 
identify the male I saw briefly here.  Full list at

We left for Mittagong the same day, now minus the kids.  I tried an evening 
walk behind the caravan park - I had expected to see a few steep hills in the 
reserve, but not the rocky, virtually uncrossable gorge I immediately ran into. 
 I might have seen my first Olive-backed Oriole beside the golf course, but was 
caught in a thunderstorm before I was sure, and had to run back to the cabin.

27/10/07 Spent about 7 hours dawdling around the Red Track in the Mt Alexandra 
Reserve behind the caravan park.  I was using the map booklet that the 
information centre had reluctantly sold me the day before.  When I mentioned 
birds they were keen to send me to Gibbergunyah, but I read this on the 
leaflet: "Bird life is probably restricted due to the diminished flora".  No 

The booklet is useful ("Bush Walks Around Mittagong in the Mount Alexandra 
Reserve" by Marie Chalker and Trevor Bensley, $3.60 from the Mittagong 
Information Centre), but the walk description is misleading in places, and the 
track markings are inadequate in a few spots.  I wandered about a kilometre the 
wrong way down the creek at one stage because of this, before deciding that it 
was so steep and slippery that I didn't care if it was the right way or not.  
The rule seems to be that if you haven't seen a red marker for a while, you're 
on the wong track.

The creek was low enough for crossings to be made without getting wet socks, 
but not without risk of a fall, so I didn't appreciate the three crossings I 
(correctly) made when I couldn't be sure it was necessary.

New for me were Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, White-eared and Yellow-faced 
Honeyeaters, Rockwarbler, Noisy Friarbird, Red-browed Treecreeper, and my first 
good look at a Spotted Pardalote.  Sacred Kingfishers could be heard 
constantly, and occasionally seen, in the last few kilometres before the town 
(going anticlockwise).  Full list at

28/10/07  Did the Boxvale Track with my wife.  New species: Fantailed Cuckoo 
and Rufous Fantail.  Sacred Kingfishers heard again. Full list at

That afternoon I drove to Wingecaribee Reservoir to see Great Crested Grebe.  
At first glance the whole reservoir appeared to be empty, but I could see a few 
dots in the distance, so went back to the car to get the as yet unused scope, 
hoping to make good use of it.  My the time I got back, one of the dots was 
bigger, and looked grebe-like through binoculars.  By the time I'd set up the 
scope, it was much closer, and by the time I'd aimed and focused it was so 
close I didn't need the scope.

29/10/07  No time for a big walk before leaving for Goulburn, so I just did the 
first part of the Red Track again, going in the reverse direction, hoping to 
see something different earlier in the day.  Having changed to daylight saving 
the day before, and with no point getting up much before sunrise, I'd been 
robbed of an hour's birding.  I saw, very briefly, my first Common Koel adult, 
and had a good view of a juvenile being mobbed by Crimson Rosellas, Common 
Mynas and Pied Currawongs.

I heard Brush Cuckoos and Shining Bronze Cuckoos, but saw nothing else new. 
Full list at

I would have liked to visit Belanglo Forest, Cecil Hoskins Reserve and Fitzroy 
Falls, but had no time, so we headed back to Goulburn as soon as we'd checked 

30/10/07  and 31/10/07 Back in Goulburn again I spent two mornings at Alison 
Hone Reserve, 10km north of town on the Crockwell Road.  Thanks to Chris 
Brandis for this location.  There I saw my first White-winged Choughs, more 
Noisy Friarbirds, Red-capped Robin, Leaden Flycatcher (nesting), Varied 
Sitella, and my first proper look at a Brown Goshawk (on nest). Heard but still 
didn't see Shining Bronze-cuckoo - it was in the private property at the back 
of the reserve.  Full list at and

I entered the reserve with some misgivings because of the sign saying not to, 
but a later call to the reserve trustees reassured me that birders are welcome. 
 The signs are to keep other kinds of undesirables out, particularly rubbish 
dumpers.  But the attractive looking forest beyond the fence to the south is 
private property.

It was here, while peering at the goshawk, that I noticed that the contact 
lenses I had been testing for several weeks as a better alternative to glasses 
for birding had a big blurry patch in the middle of the right eye.  Rubbing, 
massaging, applying saline, etc, didn't fix it, so I decided not to pursue that 
idea. I prefer my vision to be consistent.

1/11/07 We left for Melbourne, but my wife kindly agreed to break the trip by 
spending a night at Chiltern.  A last minute RFI via my Blackberry phone got 
many responses confirming that the caravan park was the place to go, and we 
booked the last available cabin by phone.  We arrived about 5 minutes too late 
to get the booklet from the information centre, because we had to wait for the 
longest, slowest train I've ever seen, but luckily the caravan park had one 
(Barry Traill's "Bird Trails of Chiltern" - free).

The children helped with planning the next morning's walk by refusing to stop 
mucking around until the lights were all out, so I woke next morning not 
knowing where I was going to go.

2/11/07 With a deadline because of the need to check out before 10 (or 11, they 
reluctantly agreed to ), and again robbed by daylight savings, I read the 
booklet in the car for a couple of minutes, and decided to go to Bartley's 
Block, which had been recommended by Tim Dolby.  I followed the directions, 
driving 2.9km out of town, but on the wrong road, and ended up at Frog's Hollow 
- how am I supposed to know which way's north?  The booklet said jump the old 
fence, but the fences either side of Frog's Hollow looked a bit new to me, so I 
wandered up the hill a bit to try to work it  out.  New to me there were 
Yellow-tufted Honeyeater and White-browed Babbler.  I could hear Sacred 
Kingfishers all around again, and they were starting to annoy me.

As it got lighter, I checked the map and description again, and realised what 
I'd done when I noticed the nearby freeway.  So I drove back into town, then 
out again to Bartley's Block, not realising I could have driven through the 
back way and maybe seen something on the way. It took me this long to work out 
what I'd done because Bartley's Block isn't actually marked on the map.

I arrived at Bartley's Block running out of time, and was halfway round when I 
realised how overdressed I was, as it was getting quite warm.  The flies were 
starting to annoy me, and I had no fly spray.  I saw another Red-capped Robin 
and my first Mistletoebirds before the flies got so bad that there were too 
many under my glasses to see properly. I wandered around a bit more, saw some 
more White-browed Babblers through the swarm, then decided to leave calmly with 
plenty of time to pack, rather than arrive back late and fuming. Full list at  Are the flies 
always that bad there, or is it just a bad season for them?

If you're strictly only interested in birds then stop reading now.

We left easily by check out time and headed back to Melbourne.  At about 4pm, 
less than a kilometre from home, while driving at 70 in a 70 zone (70.2 
according to the GPS log I'd left running since the morning), two 4WD owners 
indulged in what appears to be a little bit of road rage in the form of a 
passing duel, forgot we were in front of them, and one of them drove into the 
back of us at 90 or 100.  The other (I suspect) saw us at the last minute, 
swerved into the other, and sent the three cars spinning all over the place.

Our car skidded sideways for a bit (after flipping end over end, according to a 
witness, but I don't believe it), then tipped onto the passenger side and 
skidded along for a bit more before clipping a pole and coming to a halt still 
on its side.  Miraculously my wife, myself and the two kids in the back had no 
serious injuries, just a few scratches and some bad seat belt bruises and sore 

There was a recent discussion here about the merits of various 4WDs, and, for 
what it's worth, I'd like to add that the Subaru Forester survived the impact 
well, as far as protecting the occupants is concerned.  I view roof pillars a 
little more critically now that I've had a set of them as the only thing 
keeping my face off the road that I could see grinding at the side of the car 
just inches away.

And I suspect the very square shape of the car may have prevented it from 
starting multiple rolls.  I also recommend Maxirider booster seats, which kept 
the kids (aged two and four) tightly in position and safely away from the sides.

I'm not sure how much gear from the back would have hit us if we hadn't had a 
cargo barrier - it was loaded up with heavy bags, the stroller, etc.

The Thule luggage pod was ripped right off the roof, taking one of the roof 
bars with it, and had a split up the middle, but didn't burst open.

The camera was handy (everything was handy - all the windows were gone), so I 
grabbed it and took a photo of the car before we got into the ambulance.  See 
m("N00/sets/72157603531473960","//");">http: if you're 

We retrieved our stuff from the car at the towing yard the next day with 
difficulty, as it was the start of the Melbourne Cup weekend.  I was expecting 
my binoculars to be misaligned, as they were in the back where all the damage 
was, but they seem ok, possibly better than before.  It may be that it was just 
my glasses that had improved.  They were badly bent in the crash, but in 
straightening them I think I may have got them straighter than they were before.

Everyone was sore and cranky, and we had to spend a lot of time doing the 
insurance claim and looking for a new car, so I did no birding for several 
weeks.  I certainly had to cancel the binocular testing expedition to the 
Birding Shop, etc, I'd had planned for the Monday before Cup Day.  I got a bit 
of a surprise when I went to tie up my bootlaces when I did finally get out.  
It seems that one of my walking boots, which were in the back, must have 
trailed its laces out the broken side window during the slide, cutting them 
short and heat sealing the ends neatly.

I also recall a thread this year about the danger of wearing binoculars in the 
car, after someone in the US was reported as having had ribs broken by them 
when their air bag went off.  In my case, had I been wearing them there's a 
good chance they could have trailed out the broken side window as we slid, got 
caught between the car and the road, then ... who knows what?.  So there's 
another reason to take them off between stops.

I guess a lot of us also drive with the windows down at times to listen for 
birds.  I think there's a good chance that one of us on the left hand side 
could have easily lost an arm had our windows been down as the car thumped onto 
its side.  I don't believe the windows actually broke until we'd nearly 
stopped, so they may have helped keep our arms in.

Anyway, it was an enjoyable trip except for the crash. I normally go through my 
notes and work out any ids I couldn't do in the field within a day, but because 
of the mucking around with insurance, etc, I've only just got round to it.  
Luckily most of my descriptions were clear enough, but a couple would have been 
easier if  the memory was fresher.

Thanks to all the people who responded to my RFI's, including Chris Brandis, 
Terry Dunlea, Maret Vesk, Troy Mutton, Lorne Johnson, David Stowe, Tim Dolby 
and others.

Peter Shute

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