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Mt Isa & the Outback

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



Highlights of the Region:

Stopping at the 6 rest areas between Threeways Roadhouse and Mt Isa to bird around the leaky water tanks.

Having Br with the Cowboy Club, and their Cowgirl friends, at the Julia Creek Roadhouse.

The Queensland Border Crossing signs:

Set your watch ahead 5 years and 30 minutes.

Queensland -- It's Beautiful one day and Perfect the next.

Disappointments

No time to bird for the special endemics around Mt Isa or Cloncurry.

Birding Summary

Of the 106 bird species we saw in Outback NT & Qld, 34 were endemic to Australia. Most of the 72 non-Australian Endemic bird species we saw were new for us. 4 species were never seen again during the 255-day trip around Australia; that is:

Name Park Gibberbird (Desert Chat) Barkly Hwy Jungle Fowel Mary Ann Dam Plum-headed Finch Tyto Wetlands Singing Bushlark Flinders Hwy

Special Comments:

sunrise australiaOn Oct 20 we were up early and left Alice Springs at sunrise, just before it started raining hard. We drove an hour before we saw our first vehicle -- a truck-train.

We stopped at the Ti Tree Roadhouse for Cappuccino, Chocolate Milk, and an apricot pastry that was half-dipped in yogurt -- fresh and good! Later we drove thru Wycliffe Well -- the UFO capitol of Australia. We stopped at the Marbles for a picnic lunch in our air-conditioned car. A flock of Crested Pigeons circled the car hoping in vain for crumbs, while a Nankeen Australian Kestrel looked on from its nest in a boulder crevice.

For dinner at the Threeways Roadhouse I had the lamb roast with mint sauce, oven baked potatoes & carrots, cauliflower & broccoli in a cheese sauce, cooked cabbage, and peas with a malt-milkshake for dessert. My wife had fish and chips.

On Oct 21 it was dark, hazy and windy when we left at 5am. We headed east on the Barkly Highway toward Mt Isa (pronounced "Eye-za"). The sun showed up at 6:24am as a white spot on a grayish-haze ceiling. The sun looked like a full moon on a dark night. In the first 2 hours we saw 2 truck-trains and 2 cars. We stopped at all 6 rest areas to look for birds. The rest areas have windmills to pump-up ground water for the tourist and birds. We probably saw a1000 Zebra Finches today.

australian bustardWe stopped at the Barkly Homestead for snacks. These remote locations have to generate their own electricity. The Homestead said they use 500L (131 gallons) of diesel a day to generate electricity. It's amazing the bird life you can see along the road. We saw 22 bird species this morning including 4 first time birds; i.e., Australian Bustard, Peregrine Falcon, Oriental Cuckoo, and Gibberbird (a.k.a. Desert Chat).

As we drove east we realized how desolate this part of Australia is. You can go 100's of Km's without see a house or car. There are a few large Stations out here. The kids go to school by short-wave radio. . At 10:30am we lost the small trees and scrub, and crossed the ancient Lake Eyre seabed. There is only short-sunburned grass as far as you can see in any direction -- sort of like Kansas without the wheat fields.



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