Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Tuesday 31st October Brisbane - Sydney

On the road again! Reluctantly we said our goodbyes to Roger and the family - great to see you guys! We decided to take the inland route south to see a different part of the country. This took us (eventually) through Tamworth - country music capital of Australia so the guide books told us. Here we saw a gigantic statue of the Big Guitar, to add to the Big Prawn, the Big Banana, the Big Apple and the Big Pineapple we had already seen. I thought it was only Malaysia that was into these outsized monstrosities, but apparently not. What an enriching experience!

These Cotton Pygmy-Geese were actually seen on the evening of the 30th at a backwater near Ipswich. Not Ipswich, my home town in the UK, but Ipswich, Queensland! We were struck by how many Suffolkian place names were concentrated in this area - must have been where the Suffolk contingent of Her Majesty's convicts were originally settled. Oh, Cotton Pygmy-Geese are a pretty rare bird in Australia too!

Straw-necked Ibis was a bird that I had seen several times on the trip while driving. Until now we had never stopped to take a proper look, on the assumption that we would see one later on. So this one (actually a small flock) we finally did stop for, so that I could really say I'd seen one!

This was my other 'on-the-raod-tick' - a common bird we had missed in Brisbane - White-naped Honeyeater.

A juvenile Yellow-faced Honeyeater. This species is pretty common up and down the east coast.

Fairly typical scenery and weather from our trip south.

A little north of Tamworth we were looking for a place to spend the night, when we saw a sign advertising a camping area that boasted "Platypuses seen daily!" Since Duck-billed Platypus was at the top of my list of most-wanted Australian wildlife, the decision about where to stop for the night was easily made!

The camp site was by a very scenic river, and the proprietor told us he could only recall one person who had failed to see the platypuses during their stay. He told us that the baby platypuses even swim around in the water alongside bathers! This was great news for us, as we had supposed platypuses to be incredibly shy and difficult to see.

After a quick shower we quickly moved to the riverbank to see what we could see. Water dragons were common, and the frequent cause of false alarms. Eventually we disturbed a creature in the water that my wife saw and confirmed was a platypus, but all I saw was the splash as it dived! Despite staking out the place and waiting quietly till dusk, we didn't so much as get a sniff of another view. Knowing that we would need to leave reasonably early the next morning, I felt a little apprehensive. Was I about to become the second person to visit and leave without having seen a platypus?!

One of the things we saw while waiting for a platypus was this leucistic Superb Blue Wren.

Black-fronted Dotterels (actually in the Charadrius family - like Ringed Plovers) were much in evidence but never really approachable.

The river at dusk, sadly platypus-less!

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