A Two Tick Outback Trip

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Sometimes you just have to close the door get in the car and drive nine hundred km’s for a break!

If you want to really get away from it all in Australia then this is the minimum distance required to leave all the city slickers behind. At first the plan was to head north up to Cairns to photograph Riflebirds near Atherton, but when I called looking for accommodation I just got laughed at and told I need to book at least four months ahead at this time of the year. It was the same thing at Carnarvon Gorge another place on the “want to hit list”, leaving Cunnamulla and the nearby Bowra Sanctuary as the next best option. So back to Bowra it was!

Driving from Brisbane to Cunnamulla is a set of three hour stages. The first step is to reach the small farming town of Dalby one hour on the other side of Toowoomba which is the biggest pain in the ass town you never want to drive through because every intersection is a traffic light and they are all red. But you know, things don’t happen that fast there, so the locals don’t see it as a problem. After Dalby, its basically three hours to St George with a quick pit stop at the Moonie Roadhouse, and then the last three hours to Cunnamulla with another stop at the small town of Bollon to break the journey. The last two hours from Bollon to Cunnamulla is absolutely the worst. You just never seem to be getting closer to the end, and when you finally arrive you are quite thankful it’s all over.

How things changed in four months since the Easter trip. Then it was dry, very dry. And while it’s still dry some recent rain has started to transform the bush and patches of fresh young green grass and shoots are visible. The creeks also have more water and the birds and animals somehow don’t look as ratty and parched as they did before.

The plus side of dry bush is you only have to find a waterhole and wait and eventually something will fly or wander up for a drink. Like last time, I found it interesting to waste a few frames on Emu’s drinking. Like everything in photography, its a process of refinement, and this time I added a few more not too bad close ups of an Emu as it scooped a drink not at all fussed by my presence close by. They are still not what I really want, but for sure, with a bit of luck one day I’m going to get the mother of all shots of these birds quenching their thirst.


Wary of ticks this time we spent less time wandering and standing in the very dry woodlands of Bowra and concentrated more on the area near the waterhole and pump near the old farmhouse. It was a good plan that worked out quite well because I only had to dig out two buggers busily burrowing into my knee. Lynette escaped tick free with only one picked off her shirt before it could start to chew.

A tip to anyone wanting to get rid of blood sucking parasites such as leeches or ticks is to dab them with hand sanitiser. They absolutely hate the alcohol in the sanitiser and can’t get off your skin fast enough. Trust me it works!

We always knew Bowra to be a place to photograph Red Capped Robins, but never saw them. This time they were all over the place, and best of all posing. While I was chasing parrots Lynette was busy photographing these guys. As is common with brightly colored males the female is a pale tan with only a hint of red on the forehead. I think you will agree they are absolutely stunning little bush birds.




Sharing the same territory as the robins was a family of Splendid Fairy Wrens. Splendid is probably the only word to describe these delightful little birds and Lynette did well to get some nice shot’s, a first of these species for us.



Another common resident of Bowra are Speckled Bowerbirds. This shot of a delicate balancing act is a bit different, so in it comes to the blog.


If you want raptors then outback Australia is the place to find them. It’s no brain surgery. All you have to do is find a nice splattered kangaroo road kill and sit and wait and sure enough something will fly over to investigate. One afternoon on our way to another birders waterhole along the main road between Cunnamulla and Eulo we came across roadkill with a good group of birds feeding on it. The outcome was a number of shots of a Whistling Kite as it lazily surveyed the carcass waiting for us to move on.




Always a sucker for flying shots I spent a lot of effort and wasted frames trying to photograph a Restless Flycatcher as it hovered and swooped before eventually coming away with a few of this quite interesting bird worth posting.



One of the gems and must get birds of Bowra is the Bourke’s Parrot and it’s no wonder it’s much sought after. Most of the Australian parrots are brightly colored. The Bourke’s Parrot is dull, almost dove-like in appearance, but with a wonderful pale pink underside and blue wing feathers. We hunted Bowra for this bird with no luck before driving eighty kilometers from Cunnamulla on the road to Eulo to a small bird spot just off the road to get them. As usual, you struggle to spot and photograph them once and you then see them everywhere. Unfortunately the photos I took don’t do justice to this wonderful little guy. But we’ll get them next time for sure!


Another welcome and colorful capture were a few frames of Mulga Parrots. Like the Bourke’s we chased these guys all over the place, and then after basically giving up, a pair landed five meters from where we were standing and proceeded to eat the buds of some small ground cover. What surprised me was that for some strange reason these guys had no problem with the camera, whereas all the rest took flight the moment we got anywhere near being close enough to photograph them. It’s strange how things turn up when you least expect them.




On that colorful note it’s time to stop the verbiage and have some lunch! But as we have said on previous posts about Bowra. It’s a must visit on any bird photographers list.





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