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Central Queensland Birdwatching

Author: Carl from Pahrump (More Trip Reviews by Carl from Pahrump)
Date of Trip: November 2006

We got talking about Australian Sea Food. Keith said the 3rd most serious offense in Australia (after murder and rape) was harvesting Mud Crabs out of season -- it's a $50,000 fine, plus they confiscate your nets, boat and tow vehicle.

On Nov 24 we started for Byfield NP (22.976S 150.776E) at 6am. The park is a collection of coastline, mangrove swamps, and wetlands. In the early morning we saw heaps of Pheasant Coucals. A flock of curious Red-tailed Black Cockatoos followed us most of the morning. Our best finds were a Mangrove Honeyeater, Satin Flycatcher, and Red-backed Fairywren

The coast road north of Yeppoon was dirt and sand, but very wide -- like someone was going to build a 4-lane road but didn't. We saw some really big Goannas (lizards) along the road, and one dingo.

At the end of the dirt road we took a trail over to the beach across sliding sand dunes (22.976S 150.776E). It was like trying to climb a hill made out of confectionary sugar. Fan flowers were trying to make some ground cover over the sand. At the top of the hill we could see there were no shore birds on the beach -- we went back to the car.

We tried another inland road in the NP to a Wetland, but after driving 10 Km all we found was a big field of dust.

We drove the sealed road to the northern section of Byfield NP. Most of this area has become a commercial pine tree farm. We went for a short hike in a remaining remnant of the Rainforest. We stopped to see a Fernwren. My wife felt something hit her on the head. She looked up and saw the red belly of a Rose-crowned Fruit-dove.

We drove further north and found the Fern Hideaway Restaurant (22.824S 150.663E). We were surprised to find a fancy sit-down restaurant at the end of a dirt road. My wife had prawns wrapped in Filo leaves with ginger dipping sauce and rice. I had the Indonesian Beef Curry and rice the manager recommended - very mild curry taste. Beautiful food!

On Nov 25 we were off at 5:45am enroute to Chinchilla. The route took us into Outback Central Queensland. From Rockhampton we drove west on the Capricorn Highway to Westwood, then south to Banana and on south to Miles on the Leichardt Highway, then east on the Warrego Highway to Chinchilla. The 325 miles took 8.5 hours.

We choose the inland route for a change of bird environment. The terrain was very dry. Amazingly, there were a lot of wild flowers along the road. We ended up seeing 47 bird species.

We stopped at the Hotel-Casino in Miles for Lunch, but they weren't cooking today. Everyone was watching the Cricket match between Australia and England -- and drinking. The bartender suggested we go down to the local gas station, were we got fish and chips.

In the late afternoon we drove to the Chinchilla Weir (a lake behind a dam). By the water we found a Splendid Fairy-wren. The wren sat on a dried-up weed for 10 minutes. Back at the hotel, we saw a pair of Red-rumped Parrots in the field behind the hotel.

We ate dinner at the hotel. We started with Broccoli & Horseradish soup, and Turkish Bread with dukkah, Hummus and oil. We had reservations about mixing Broccoli and Horseradish, but they were really good together. It was mostly Broccoli with a good dash of horseradish and paprika.

For the main dish my wife had a Mediterranean Vegetable Tart (grilled eggplant, zucchini, peppers, onion and Fete cheese in a puff pastry). The plate was decorated with Balsamic Vinegar & oil. I had Yogurt Braised Chicken breast with onions and poppy seeds with Puppodum shells.

E-mail if you would like a file with the specific birds we saw each day.

Carl & Wilma Ball carlball@yahoo.com

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