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Alice Springs and Ayers Rock Bird Watching

Author: Carl from Pahrump
Email: carlball@yahoo.com (More Trip Reviews by Carl from Pahrump)
Date of Trip: October 2006

We left shortly after the sun set at 6:50pm to avoid the mass confusion of people and cars on the parking lot road. We had a good light show on the way back to Curtin Springs with the amber sunset glowing in the rear view mirror, and a powerful electrical storm ahead of us.

Mt Connor, Ayers Rock and the Ogles are part of the same geologic formation but in different stages of decomposition. The beehive rock formations in Bungle Bungle NP in WA is the oldest and most weathered part of this strata.

camel road australiaOn Oct 17 we left before sunrise for Kings Canyon NP. Along the 114-mile drive we saw 3 Brumbies and a colt, a herd of cows near the road, and a camel blocking the road (24.615S 132.292E). We also saw 4 Nankeen Australian Kestrels, dozens of Crested Pigeons, 5 Major Mitchell Cockatoos (a.k.a. Pink Cockatoo), and Mulga Parrots.

We stopped at the King Creek Station "home of the Camel Burger" (24.404S 131.819E) for Cappuccino and Chai tea. The coffee was good, but the Chai tasted like weak coffee.

We hiked the Kathleen Springs trail at Kings Canyon (24.296S 131.593E). There is a permanent spring at the end of the trail so there were lots of birds in the canyon. We saw a pair of Gray Shrike-Thrush nesting, 5 Western Bowerbirds, and 3 White-browed Babblers.

Later we walked the Kings Creek trail to a dry waterhole. We got great pictures of a Brown Honeyeater and a Spinifex Pigeon.

We ate lunch at the Resort Cafe. We had a Veggie wrap, Grilled Barra & chips, and drank 4 bottles of Powerade.

We stopped at Kathleen Springs on the way home. We teased out a female Splendid Fairywren by making kissing sounds. A Splendid Fairywren looks like a wren with its tail stuck up in the air, but the tail is light blue and it has a red circle around the eyes and a red bill.

We stopped at King Creek Station on the way home for more Powerade and cold water. If we were to come back to this area we would stay here.

It rained overnight on Oct 18. We got up late and headed for Kings Canyon NP again. However, we turned back a half-hour later when it started raining.

Mid-afternoon we drove east on the highway to a vast dry salt-lake. We had to walk over a sand dune to see it. We saw a flock of Crimson Chats flashing their red-bellies, a female Crested Bellbird, and a Gray Butcherbird.

For dinner I had the Camel T-bone steak with chips and salad. My wife had the Porterhouse steak. Camel is very lean and tastes just like beef. Great meal!

The sun was rising at 6:07am on Oct 18 as we were leaving Curtin Springs Station. We drove 107 Km east this morning before we passed our first west bound car. We stopped at the Erldunda Desert Oaks Resort Roadhouse (25.199S 133.202E) for coffee and milk, and saw a Welcome Swallow in the parking lot. We saw Wedge-tailed Eagles and other raptors chowing-down on dead Kangaroos. The dead animals get baked in the sun and their hide ends up looking like a crumpled tarp on the side of the road.

We stopped at the dry Fink River for some bird watching. The Fink, like most rivers in the NT, is either dry or 10 foot high. It starts in the West McDonell Range and flows out into Central Australia where it becomes one with the desert. We walked the riverbed for about an hour looking at isolated water holes and sparkling river stones. We saw a dozen bird species including a White-necked heron -- it seemed really out of place in the desert.

Back on the road we saw a herd of wild camels. The Australian/Afghan camels are the most disease free camels in the world, and rather prolific. We looked around Alice Springs for a place to eat, but couldn't find any place that looked better than Long John Silvers: "We have the best fish in the Territory". Their crumbed fish was really good.

The shore bird we saw Oct 15 at the Ponds turned out to be a Broad-billed Sandpiper upon further review by keen birders over the Internet using pictures from a powerful camera - a new confirmed bird siting for Central Australia!

We took Will out for dinner tonight to celebrate his find at Oscar's restaurant. Wilma had oven baked Barra in garlic butter and almonds. I had Saltinboca; i.e., steak and ham in a mushroom & garlic gravy -- Beautiful!

We asked Will why Aborigines don't seem to work. He said the only work they like to do is Cowboy work. Lots of them worked on Stations until about 1970 when the Labor government passed a minimum wage law that resulted in the cattle stations mechanizing their operations and eliminating the Cowboy jobs. The government now supports the Aborigines with every kind of assistance imaginable (food, rent, medicine, clothes, child care, etc). Will said they could live well enough by their standards without working.

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