Debbie & Geoff's

Australian Safari


Travel Blog     -     March and April 2019

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Friday 1st – Saturday 31st, March 2019

Southward bound with another stop at Urunga for the evening departing again the next morning but not before we took a stroll down to the town for a bacon and egg roll to support the scouts and a walk along the boardwalk which skirts the mangrove and lake edge heading out to the ocean.

 Urunga camp     Urunga river entrance      Urunga river entrance
Urunga camp               Debbie @ Urunga river entrance                     Geoff @ Urunga river entrance


Next night stop was at Bulahdelah which also had a free camp on the river. We made sure that we put some money into the donation box but I am not sure if many people bother which is a shame. The donation box was not easy to spot tucked away near a tap, so they might have to have a big sign to make people more aware. The town is just a short walk across the bridge and it has flushing loos (bonus), which are very important and we spied a free street library book swap which I thought was a brilliant idea.

 Bulahdelah free camp                 Bulahdelah free camp
Bulahdelah free camp


The next stop was back to our old stamping grounds of Sydney staying once again at Lane Cove Tourist Park as Geoff was doing a major over-haul on Sea-EagleCAM cameras , computers and wiring. Geoff and the team worked tirelessly at the reserve each day pulling out old cables, putting in new stuff, getting additional super-duper cameras all ready for the next nesting season. With inclement weather this took longer than we thought as they needed tree climbers to take the cameras down then they needed them to return to replace the cameras again.

 Discovery Centre                     Discovery Centre
Chris rebuilding EagleCAM computer system at BirdLife Discovery Centre


It was a busy time for him but we did manage a day in town together where we had lunch at the rocks and a visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art which had some very different exhibits. We also fitted in a trip to the Maritime Museum to see the National Geographic Photography Competition which is always stunning and something we both enjoy. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures and what we did find interesting was one person even added drone shots.
Time flew past and before we knew it the end of March was nearly here. We thought the Eaglecam work was all done and decided to have a trip down the south coast to Huskisson which is located at Jervis Bay. With one of my girlfriends living there it was a bonus to have time to catch up with her and her family whom I have known for about 40 years. We last visited Kate and her husband Brett just before we started our trip as a trial run for our new van, so with 90,000 km and three years later we had a long awaited reunion.

 Kate and Debbie
Kate and Debbie


We thought Eaglecam was done and dusted but just before we left Sydney one of the cameras slipped losing the view of the nest tree so we headed back to Sydney on the last day of March so Geoff could meet up with the tree climbers to help re-anchor the wayward camera.

Monday 1st – Thursday 4th April 2019

Happy 24th Wedding Anniversary and who would have thought it would be back in Sydney, luckily we only had to spend a few days there as the tree climbers were booked and the job was done ready for us to head back down the coast again. Spending a few more days at Huskisson before we headed to Currarong for a beach destination with great bird life. Geoff had met up with one of the Sea-EagleCAM team, Chris who had shown him the area on our earlier trip and Geoff was keen to spend a few more days chasing Eagles and Waders. We also explored the Light House at Point Perpendicular with the original lighthouse that had been built in 1899 but in 1993 it was replaced with a unmanned automatic light but the lighthouse still stands and is well maintained.

 Looking south         Old Point Perpendicular Lighthouse          Lighthouse and keepers house
Looking south               Old Point Perpendicular Lighthouse                     Lighthouse and keepers house


 Juvenile Sea-Eagle 3 to 4 year     Juvenile Sea-Eagle 2 to 3 year      Juvenile Sea-Eagle 1st year
Juvenile Sea-Eagle 3 to 4 year           Juvenile Sea-Eagle 2 to 3 year             Juvenile Sea-Eagle 1st year


We also ventured to Target Beach which was part of the Beecroft Weapons Range My husband does take me to the most salubrious places on our holiday.

 Looking to Target Beach     Debbie on Target Beach      Target Beach
Looking to Target Beach               Debbie on Target Beach                 Target Beach


Thursday 11th – Saturday 13th April 2019

Oh no, we had to again go back to Sydney, this time for a few errands that demanded our attention, but it was only for a few days and we were both champing on the bit to start our touring again but this time we are heading way out west.
First stop is Orange where we stayed for three days exploring the town and area. Having been through this town on numerous occasions it was wonderful to be able to stop and explore the region. Yes it has brilliant wineries, beautiful restaurants and historical buildings and though we didn’t sample the first two (I think the most interesting) we did go to the Botanical Gardens and I loved the autumn leaves that were just starting to take colour. From there we did the historical walk around town, calling into Cook Park to marvel at the Begonia display.

 Autumn colour     Debbie in the garden      First power pole in Orange
Autumn colour               Debbie in the garden                 First power pole in Orange


 Begonia     Geoff in the garden      Autumn in Orange
Begonia               Geoff in the garden                 Autumn in Orange


 Autumn colour     Orange's old pumphouse      Autumn fun in the park
Walk in the park               Orange's old pumphouse                 Autumn fun in the park


Our next adventure was to go to Mount Canobolas where we walked up to the lookout, then drove to the top of the mountain to do a bush walk in the area. Mount Canobolas is the highest mountain from the east coast to the west coast at 1,400 meters. After that we drove down to Lake Canobolas for a bite to eat before walking around the lake and visiting the old pump house. There was water in the lake but it certainly was low and as we will see everywhere now we are heading west, they badly need rain.

 Mount Canobolas     View from lookout      On top of the lookout
Mount Canobolas               View from lookout                 On top of the lookout


Wednesday 17th – April 2019

Still heading out west we passed through a small town of Cumnock which had a sculpture trail of Animals on Bikes. How cute was this with all the properties getting involved including the town with novel ways to show different animals on bikes. From dinosaurs to eagles, made of wood, steel, tyres and old bikes we enjoyed the drive through the countryside spotting the different exhibits. Eventually we made camp at Trangie a small town with a population of 1,200 and the main industry is cotton.

 animals on bikes     animals on bikes      animals on bikes
Animals on bikes


Ahh cotton, ready for all I learnt from our park host? I think the biggest question is water usage and we got to put into perspective, but I personally think water is still a very thirsty crop.
• Cotton uses 7 million litres per hectare
• Lettuce uses 5 million litres per hectare
• Tomato uses 4 million litres per hectare
Cotton growers pay a licence per hectare to Monsanto for the privilege of using the seeds that were developed by our CSIRO being resistant to weeds and then on sold to Monsanto. Now cotton doesn’t like to get its feet wet hence why it is grown out west, but our wonderful scientists are trying to establish a seed that will tolerate more rainfall so this thirsty crop can be successfully grown up north in the tropics.
When cotton is harvested it is wrapped in plastic sheets, (which are totally recycled to new sheets) prior transportation to the Cotton Gin. The farmer is donating $50 per bale to Breast Cancer to the McGrath Foundation if it is wrapped in pink. Ian McGrath was born not far from this town. The word Gin comes from Cotton Steam Engine, and was shortened to gin by the Negros working on the cotton fields in America.
I am not going on with more info as I don’t want to bore you but if you are in Trangie after April 25th the gin is working and you can go on a tour to see what happens. Unfortunately we are just a smidgen too early so might have to plan a trip back. The gin operates approximately 11 weeks of the year.

 Cotton on side of road     Pink cotton bails      Trangie caravan park
Cotton country               Pink cotton bails                 Trangie caravan park


We took an exploring drive and walk around the area noticing again how low the river is and how dry the region is. A stop at the local park to enjoy a stroll on green grass was nice as we read the information boards with the Trangie timeline. Trangie was the name of the original station that was on this site.
Driving along the road we noticed how much cotton has come loose on its transportation from farm to gin, I did ask if you could pick up all this cotton and take it to the gin to sell, but the answer is no. You must have a barcode to put on the bale to prove you had bought a license from Monsanto.

 Gin Gin Creek     Cotton country      Cotton country
Gin Gin Creek               Cotton country                 Cotton ready to harvest


After our 3 nights we made our way to Warren which has double the population of Trangie to a total of 2,200. This is the window to the Macquarie Marshes and another bird region. The wetlands are reliant on water being released from the Macquarie River for it to survive. Warren’s wetland is also part of the sewage treatment works. Our stroll around the area was a bit disappointing but Geoff managed to get some wonderful bird photos. Oh and when walking, keep an eye out for snakes.

 Galah drinking     Warren wetlands centre      Warren wetlands
Galah, afternoon drink               Warren Wetlands Centre                 Warren wetlands


After two nights we headed further into the Macquarie Marshes to Willie Retreat. This is a working sheep station, a few cows that are pets and run by a 93 year old lady who was not there when we were as she was in hospital having tests done. Of course its dry and dusty but looking out from the van it has a certain beauty about it, especially when a few emus wander passed our van window. This camp is very close to the main wetlands that Geoff wanted to come to and he spent the days wandering around looking for eagles nests and taking doing drone shots of the area. One part is owned by another farm and Geoff got permission to enter so he could find the actual nest.

 On the road to Willie Retreat     Willie Retreat      Willie Retreat Station
On the road to Willie Retreat               Willie Retreat                 Willie Retreat Station


 Drought strikened sheep station     Camped at the Wool shed      No feed on the ground
Camped at the Wool shed               Drought strikened sheep station                 No feed on the ground


 Macquarie Marshes     Macquarie Marshes      Macquarie Marshes
Macquarie Marshes


 Yellow-billed Spoonbill     Sea-Eagle      Wood Sandpiper
Yellow-billed Spoonbill               Juvenile Sea-Eagle                 Wood Sandpiper


We finally arrived at Bourke and stayed at the Kidman Camp Ground. Once again you could see the ravages of the drought with no water in the Darling River and the paddle boat that is a tourist attraction is sitting on the dry river bed.

 River boat Darling River     Bourke Weir on Darling River      Darling River below weir
River boat Darling River               Bourke Weir on Darling River                 Darling River below weir


A visit to the Tourist Information centre is always our first stop and we also visited the museum which was attached to the centre. We found it very interesting and enjoyed the displays which included a slab cottage with photos of and stories of people from the past. The also had a visual of the trip on the paddleboat when there was actually water in the river.

 Geoff at Information Centre     Geoff at Information Centre      Interesting Gumtree
Geoff at Information Centre               Geoff at Information Centre                 Interesting Gumtree


Our few days were filled with a trip to the Cemetery to visit the grave site of Fred Hollows, what an inspirational person he was and the grave site commemorates his love of nature, the outdoors and climbing. Stones laid around the site are shaped as an eye, and the stone carving is to represent his work.

 Fred Hollows Grave     Fred Hollows Grave      Fred Hollows Grave
Fred Hollows Grave


Visiting the weir was interesting to see exactly how bad the water situation was in the town, not that we needed more evidence to know things were a bit grim. Though they had had some rain in the last week, only an inch, but we could see from that drop the landscape getting a green tinge over it. Must be election time as we saw Gladys Berejiklian down on the river with a camera crew doing an interview.
Visiting the Back O’ Bourke Art Gallery was another highlight where the Artist Jenny Greentree was there to greet us personally and tell us about her beautiful artwork which is based on the outback scenery. Her pictures are amazing and she even wrote a verse called “Hope on the Horizon” to go with a series of pictures that she had painted to celebrate the drought.

Heading north west and cross the border into Queensland we arrived at Cunnamulla and it was amazing as we travelled further north from Bourke there was water on the side of the road and these people had received the rain that sadly missed further down south. There river was flowing and the weir overflowed and it was a wonderful sight to see.

 Cunnamulla Fella     Rose in Cunnamulla      Showing evidence of rain
Cunnamulla Fella               Rose in Cunnamulla                 Showing evidence of rain


Another information centre and museum where we entered the time tunnel to take us back in time to when dinosaurs roamed the earth and the artesian basin was formed. A bit of a gimmick but it was fun. The museum was filled with history of the area, even the old Sylvester switch board made it along with band instruments and Masonic Lodge medals. The main street had sweet smelling rose bushes surrounding the roundabout and quirky statues made of iron dotted the centre island. Also met the statue of the Cunnamulla Fella which was made after Slim Dusty sang a song about him and my he was a big chap.

 Cunnamulla museum     Sylvester switch      Coolibah Tree
Cunnamulla museum               Sylvester switch                 Coolibah Tree


 Kangaroo after rain     Ground cover after rain      Pipit in green folage
Everyone is happy after some flooding rain


Of course we did the walk along the river and marvelled at the orange dirt with areas of emerald green emerging since the rain. The colours were striking and made us appreciate how lucky we are to see it so lush. I also got to see my first Coolibah Tree, I might have seen one before but this had a sign on it so I knew for certain it was the genuine thing. No jolly swagman was found nearby and no jumbuck in sight.

Not travelling far we head to a tiny town of Eulo on the banks of the Paroo River where we come to a stop. Literally, the road is closed with the river flooding the bridge by a meter and surrounding countryside. Again we realise how lucky we are to see this as it has been over 7 years since their last decent rainfall and it was a blessing that Cyclone Trevor came low enough that the river system was being fed this far south. What a quirky little town this is and is famous by the discovery of the fossil of a Diprotodon the largest marsupial to have ever lived. Australia’s giant wombat like mammal lived between 1.6 million and 45,000 years ago and its name means “two forward teeth”.

 Road closed     Eulo sign      Town of Eulo
Road closed               Welcome to Eulo                 Town of Eulo


 Road west     Diprotodon      Eulo main street
Road west bridge in the middle               Diprotodon                 Eulo main street


So, here we sit, in the camp behind the Queen Eulo pub, waiting for the water to recede so we can proceed further around this country.