When to visit SW Qld in 2010

To: Robert Inglis <>
Subject: When to visit SW Qld in 2010
From: Alistair McKeough <>
Date: Sun, 7 Mar 2010 22:13:40 +1100

Thank you for taking the time to post this - it is appreciated.


On 7 March 2010 15:46, Robert Inglis <> wrote:

> In response to my recent posting about visiting SW Qld later this year a
> number of people have asked when would be the 'best' month/s to visit that
> area.
> I apologise for the delay in answering but I have been a little busy
> checking my records and I also decided to take a bit of time off from
> staring at the computer screen to do a bit of bird-photography.
> Anyhow, below are some of my thoughts on the matter.
> A lot of what I have written will be familiar to many readers but I do
> think that it is still worth saying.
> Please remember when reading these notes that these are my personal
> thoughts and ideas; other people may have different opinions and more
> experience of the area.
> Being asked to give advice on travelling in the 'outback' is, I have found,
> often fraught with danger, but, as I did encourage people to travel to SW
> Qld I think I should make an attempt to give some good advice. Please note,
> though, that I give this advice in good faith knowing that different people
> have different expectations, different capabilities and different tolerances
> to environmental conditions. Also, different people will have different
> amounts of time in which they can do such a trip.
> Most of the places I mentioned in my original posting can be easily reached
> by bitumen roads, in fact, many of these places are on 'main' highways. I
> would think, however, that even the main highways could have been damaged by
> the floods and that will mean slower travelling and numerous road-works
> areas. So, even if the plan is not to venture off the hard-top, the 'usual'
> average speed of 150 kmh that a lot of birdwatchers seem to travel at
> (judging from the descriptions of their travels I often see on the 'net)
> would not be advisable. If the plan is to travel on the more minor roads
> then I suggest that travelers should be prepared for slower trips and more
> delays and deviations.
> During at least one year back in the 1980s the track from Nappa Merrie
> (near the Dig Tree) to Innamincka was practically impassable for several
> months after heavy rains early in that year.
> Places such as Hungerford and Currawinya NP have to be reached by
> gravel/dirt roads and full restoration of these roads may not have been
> completed by 'later this year'. Also, it may be necessary to drive short
> distances off the bitumen at places like Lake Bindegolly NP to reach a camp
> site. In the 'old days' it was possible to drive to the edge of the lake
> there but these days vehicles are prohibited from doing that, I believe,
> which is probably a good thing in one way: the edges of the lake are very
> soft and it is easy to become bogged. The downside is that Lake Bindegolly
> covers a huge area so be prepared for a bit of walking and the hazards that
> can be encountered doing that (think of huge thorny burrs that can easily
> pierce light-weight walking shoes). Of course, if the lake is full it will
> be possible to stand on the edge of the road (well off the road would be
> best as the traffic moves past there at high speed) and view the scene from
> there.
> Anyone contemplating travelling off the bitumen should seriously consider
> being in a 4 wheel drive vehicle or, at least, a high-clearance vehicle.
> When is the 'best' time to go?
> I don't know! But I can give some pointers to when would be a 'good' time
> to go.
> It would seem that I have visited some parts of SW Qld in all months from
> March to October but most of my pleasure-time trips there have been in
> August and September.
> The reasons for that would include:
> - that's when I could easily get leave from work;
> - those months are usually dry and cool (not as cold as June or July and
> not too hot as in the summer months);
> - there seems to be a certain mystique about travelling outback in the
> months approaching Spring;
> - this is often said to be the time for the wildflowers.
> I have been to Lake Bindegolly in March but had to leave after a few days
> because of the excessive heat; I moved to Girraween NP near Stanthorpe
> hoping for some cooler weather and was nearly frozen by the sub-zero
> temperatures there!
> One trip in May saw me arrive west of Thargomindah a few days after 4
> inches of rain in the area - the roads were a mess and the going was very
> hard. Knowing what I know now I should have turned around and gone home.
> A trip in October was interesting but the heat took the gloss of it all.
> My photos (remember slides?) show that Aug/Sept can be a very good time for
> wildflowers around Bollon (flooded at the moment) and the Birdsville Track
> near the Cooper Creek crossing. Actually, that year the Birdsville Track had
> been cut by the Cooper in flood and there were wildflowers everywhere.
> Going now or in the next few weeks would be interesting if you want to see
> lots of water but the roads could be difficult and some places could still
> be isolated. Thargomindah has been cut off from the rest of Australia for
> all but a few days this year so far.
> Also, after the rain stops and the sun comes out to warm the place up,
> there could be a massive eruption of mosquitoes. I experienced such an
> eruption one time out past Thargomindah and it was horrendous. If you think
> you have seen big mossies, think again. One of those mossies could suck the
> blood out of a horse in less than 5 minutes and then look around for more! I
> was lucky to survive.
> On the other hand, if Bowra after the rains at the beginning of 2008 is
> anything to go by, a trip there as soon as it is accessible and traversable
> could be interesting for the waterbird breeding. A boat would be handy as
> the breeding takes place on the banks of the Gumholes waterhole and the only
> effective way to see the birds is from the a boat.
> The grass is already over knee high in parts of the area we are talking
> about and some bird species are probably already breeding madly. April 2008
> saw thousands of budgies, Diamond Doves and Little Button-quail around
> Bowra, Cunnamulla.
> I would probably favour September for this year but I am semi-committed to
> being in Perth, WA, during Aug/Sept (family commitments) so it could be July
> or October for me.
> Late September/early October (school holidays for most) for those birders
> with school-aged children could still be good; there might still be a few
> wildflowers around and the birds which bred earlier in the year probably
> won't all have died of starvation by then.
> Hope that helps.
> Good luck and take care in the outback.
> Cheers
> Bob Inglis
> Sandstone Point
> Qld
> Australia
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