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I've been a Canberran since moving here from Adelaide on the first day of 1980. I now live in suburban Duffy with my partner Louise Maher, ABC 666 radio and on-line journalist. Among my early memories is following Sleepy Lizards (Shinglebacks) around the paddocks north of Adelaide, guarded by the faithful bull terrier. I have always been passionate about the natural world, trying to understand how it works, how the nature of Australia came to be, and sharing those understandings. My especial passions are birds, orchids and mammals. For much of my life I have been a full-time naturalist, running bush tours, writing books etc, doing consultancies, presenting a regular radio slot on local ABC, chairing a government environment advisory committee and running adult education classes. Recently I have eased back somewhat, but am still writing, teaching, doing some radio work and running overseas tours - as part of my fascination with our Gondwanan origins I've been running tours to South America for the past decade. I was awarded the Australian Plants Society Award in 2001 and the Australian Natural History Medallion in 2006, both for services to education and conservation. In January 2018 I was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for 'service to conservation and the environment'.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Idyllic Idalia

I have many favourite parks, in Australia and elsewhere, and for no good reason I want to introduce you to one today - assuming of course that you've not already had the pleasure. Idalia National Park, in central Queensland, is south-west of Blackall just south of the Tropic of Capricorn. For those not familiar with Australian or Queensland geography, here's where it is. (Look for the red arrow!)

We were last there in April a couple of years ago, when things were still pretty dry (but read on!), so not many flowers to share this time. It is close to the eastern edge of the Mulga lands; a quarter of the whole of Australia is dominated by communities associated with this species, Acacia aneura.
Mulga plains from Emmet Pocket Lookout, Idalia NP.
Mulga, Idalia NP.

Mulga flowers.
We spent time walking and driving slowly, but also just sitting quietly at water holes, especially Murphy's Rockhole, in the rocky ranges.
Bar-shouldered Doves
White-plumed Honeyeater.
Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater.
Euro (Macropus robustus). This is a large, rugged, shaggy kangaroo of the rocky ranges, found over much of Australia.
The Euros are common in the park, and always appreciated by us.
Young Euro, Idalia. The shaggy fur and big ears are obvious.
However, as well as this common kangaroo, Idalia features one of the rarest and, in our opinion, perhaps the most beautiful of kangaroos. The rock-wallabies are a specialised group of small kangaroos which specialise in living in boulder piles and sheer cliff faces; where Euros power up a cliff, rock-wallabies flow, like running water. All rock-wallabies have suffered from isolation, from 19th century hunting, and especially from introduced Red Fox predation. Yellow-footed Rock-wallabies survive only in the Flinders and Gawler Ranges of South Australia, near Broken Hill in New South Wales, and in the Idalia region. Here they are relatively easy to see.
Yellow-footed Rock-Wallaby, Idalia NP.
This phasmid, or stick insect, was huge - at least 15cm long - but I can't identify it.
In camp, Hall's Babbler, another much sought-after species by bird-watchers (it was only described in 1964), is a regular visitor.
Hall's Babblers, Idalia camp ground.
It was in camp that things went wrong for us, after a rather nice camp-oven roast dinner.
At 3am we were woken by several centimetres of water rushing through the tent (so much for drought); to cut a long soggy story short, we 'slept' the rest of the night in the car, and by early afternoon when the rain eased off, made a break for it - we were the only ones in the park, including staff, and all our bedding was sodden. It took some five hours in low ratio four wheel drive to do the 80km to the bitumen. I can't offer you any pictures of it, partly because I didn't dare stop, and partly because my camera was a victim of the deluge. Nontheless, we'll certainly be back, and I'd recommend you visit if you're in the area. Four wheel drive is preferable, but as long as it's dry you'll get in and around with a two wheel drive in reasonable condition. Check the forecast though...
Moon over the Coolabahs; I didn't want to end on even a slightly negative note!


Flabmeister said...

Speaking from experience at Mt Crawford in the Barossa, an advantage of the old style lilos was that when the water rushed through the tent you floated up with it!


Anonymous said...

This sounds like such a great spot - a long way from anywhere! Fancy getting rained out!
I would love to see the Yellow-footed Rock-wallabies!

Ian Fraser said...

Yellow-foots truly are one of the most beautiful mammals I know anywhere at all.