Southern Queensland BirdingAuthor: Carl from Pahrump (More Trip Reviews by Carl from Pahrump)
Date of Trip: December 2006
On Nov 30 we went for a walk around the 55-acre farm. We found butterfly weed, Paterson's Curse (a pretty blue flower that only grows during droughts), and something that looked like Love in a Puff. We spent a lot of time looking at a Crimson Rosella.
On Dec 1 we walked around the farm again. This time a gang of 15 Kangaroos followed us. We managed to tease out a male Red-backed Fairywren and a female Variegated Fairy-wren.
Before Lu we drove to Mt Tambourine NP. We walked the 3.4 Km Witches Falls switchback track down thru the Rainforest. We were fortunate to see the rare Albert's Lyrebird that is only found in this part of Australia. I noticed the veil of tail plumes -- like a peacock but not as big. My wife noticed the rufous back and creamy underbody. We did the walk in under 3 hours.
We had lunch at the Pavilion Garden Restaurant. My wife had the Avocado and Orange salad with pan-fried chicken coriander and mesculin. I had baked avocado with prawns, scallops, and fish in a cheese sauce with salad and toast. For dessert I had the Heavenly Tort -- like strawberry shortcake except the "shortcake" was actually whipped meringue and sugar with sliced almonds. My wife had an Espresso Ice Cream Float (a.k.a. Iced Coffee). The food was beautiful, but their garden was even more Beautiful with red Begonias, Golden Chinese Lanterns (Abultion), Red Fuchsia, rufous Angle Wing Begonias, and other unknown varieties.
We drove over to McDonald's Park, which the local tourist handout says is the prime birdwatching spot in Mt. Tambourine. We went on the 1.4 Km loop walk. Early in the walk we found a Green Catbird with a spotted belly. Next we found a family of four Logrunners dismantling a very large decaying tree searching for bugs. These colorful gray, black and orange birds blend into the leaves and tree bark. Fortunately they move a lot and aren't shy. Our last big find was a male Satin Bowerbird building his "Avenue of Love" decorated with yellow leaves. We marked the spot so we can come back in a few days.
On Dec 2 we were off at 7:30am for Springbrook NP (28.226S 153.271E) on the New South Wales (NSW) border. Springbrook is high in the Great Dividing Range with winding mountain roads to prove it. On the drive we photographed spectacular Crimson and Pale-headed Rosellas.
Our first stop was the 60-meter Tanninaba Falls. We tackled the 4 Km loop trail to the bottom. Going down the switchback trail we had 450 steps to negotiate. The Falls is spring fed, so there was a good flow even though it hasn't rained lately.
The trail loops around slightly behind the falls. There are heaps of ferns and flowers growing in the permanently wet area. It took 2 hours to walk down to the bottom of the falls birding along the way. We made it back to the top in only 45 minutes huffing, puffing, and sweating away.
It was lunchtime when we got to Natural Bridge. We were hot and knacked, so we picnicked in the car to cool off.
The Natural Bridge loop walk was short but steep. The Natural Bridge was unique with a large cave behind it and a waterfall crashing thru a large hole in the ceiling. Fairy Martins were building their adobe houses on the walls of the cave. But it was to light to see any glowworms in the cave.
On Dec 3 we went out for lunch at Noon at Governor's Inn in North Tambourine. We sat in the garden where it was cooler. My wife had a chicken breast stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes and Feta cheese with chips and salad. I had a Rib Fillet with baked new potatoes, mixed veggies, and gravy. All was well till a Laughing Kookaburra swooped down and grabbed the uneaten steak off of my plate. Bugger!
We went for a walk at MacDonald Park. My wife panicked when she came on a Giant Black Skink (it must have been 2.5 ft long) in the track. We managed to see several Eastern Whipbirds up close and some Pale-yellow Robins.
We got back to the horse farm just before a big ugly storm moved in - we got an inch of rain in a half-hour. Rivers of muddy water were everywhere. The downspouts were spouting like geysers where they connected to the filters. The rainwater from the roof here is piped into two 7000-gallon tanks for house use. This was the first big rain of the trip.
On Dec 4 we spent the day at the farm watching the horses and Kangaroos play. Once I saw a race between a small Kangaroos and a racehorse. The Kangaroo won because it could duck under the fence without slowing down.
At 5pm we left with Steve and Jenny, our hosts at the horse farm, for Natural Bridge. We stopped at Sub Way for sandwiches. I had Garlic Beef and Onions. My wife had Beef and Cheese. I was surprised that the Sub Ways in Australia doesn't sell potato chips.
We got to Natural Bridge just before dark. By the time we hiked down to the cave behind the bridge it was damp and vary dark -- ideal conditions for seeing Glow Worms (a.k.a. fly larva). But, first we had to wait for the Vampire Bats to leave.
The walls and ceiling of the cave were clustered with Glow Worms. They glowed with an iridescent green. Being in the cave reminded me of being in a star chamber. They glowed bright enough that I could take time-exposure pictures. At first we were alone in the cave, but pretty soon tour busses from the Gold Coast started arriving.
On Dec 5 we waited around till 9am before leaving so we would miss the rush-hour traffic in Brisbane. We got into downtown Brisbane with no problems. The SE Expressway dumped us on the city streets, which were poorly marked. We missed a key turn and went a few Km in the wrong directions before stopping at an electronic repair shop to ask for directions. The technician got us turned around and back on our route thru town. At 11:30am we arrived at the Haslemere Guest House & Cottages in Highvale, near Samford, in the mountains west of Brisbane.
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