We are just having a quick winter getaway and camped at Tailem Bend on the Murray River for a few nights. After a stunning sunset it was a bit chilly at night and we were pleased to have a campfire.
Ducks and cloud reflections on the Murray.
Last rays of light.
Sparklers after dark.
It is easy to make photos like this with a tripod, and around a 5 sec exposure at ISO200. I found I needed to focus manually on the spot where the sparkler-holding-person would stand.
Campfire on the banks of the Murray River at Tailem Bend, South Australia. A cosy way to end the day.
We finally made our way across to the east coast and to Maryborough which is a lovely town in which to spend a night. It has been quite a while since we stayed in a town! Being boaties, we opted to put our van next to the Marina on the Mary River for the night so that Peter could look at the boats; he has been missing his boat and the sea. Once we were set up, we went for a walk through the beautifully kept Queens Park, which is one of the oldest botanical parks in Australia. Nearby is the historic court house, and beside it …
…is the Sausage Tree (Kigelia Pinnata), a native of South Africa, which was propagated in about 1850 by botanist John Bidwill. It is a very rare specimen and is on the Heritage Register.
The band stand in Queens Park is quite lovely and ornate and it is easy to imagine a brass band playing in the rotunda to an appreciative audience.
The miniature railway line runs in and out between the hanging roots of the ancient Banyan Fig tree in Queens Park. The Banyan Fig is well over 100 years old and quite spectacular with its huge system of roots.
Maryborough has lots of nicely restored historic buildings, but also some modern art such as this water wall near the art gallery.
Egret taking flight on the Mary River. Kind of blurry, but I like it!
Looking up the Mary River, our caravan is the little white blob on the right, next to the marina jetty.
And the sun sets after another busy day.
The longer we have been on the road (over two months now) the more we have come to realise the benefits of finding a decent free camp to set up for a day or two. We use WikiCamps to help us discover what places are suitable then choose according to location and comments from other users.
This was the view from our ‘front door’ at one of the waterholes where we camped.
At a free-camp, you are also free to collect firewood for a campfire, and then cook yourself a meal in your camp oven. It doesn’t get much better than this!
While you are spending time relaxing at the free camp, you are also often surrounded by birds and other wildlife. These Brolgas were feeding at the waterhole mentioned above.
These honeyeaters often flocked around water sources, whether it was a waterhole or just a dish of water collected beneath a tap.
Black-winged Stilts in flight over the waterhole. I love their trailing pink legs.
This little Black Fronted Plover was feeding in the shallows.
I have learned to recognise quite a few new birds on this trip, but nothing in comparison to one of our travelling companions who has photographed and identified over 80 species he hadn’t previously seen. It definitely helps to have a bird identification book along on the trip.
Lawn Hill National Park is in the remote Gulf region of northwestern Queensland. It is over 1800 kilometres north west of Brisbane, close to the border with the Northern Territory.
The emerald waters and lush vegetation of Lawn Hill Gorge form a beautiful oasis in the outback, attracting abundant wildlife and offering exceptional views, walks, canoeing and cultural sites.
There are many walks around the park, some of them quite easy and some more difficult and adventurous.
The steep rock walls rise above you on either side as you approach the start of the lower gorge.
The best way by far to see the gorge is to hire a canoe and paddle upstream.
It is quite spectacular paddling beneath the rock walls. You can see the relative size of the canoe below the pandanus.
Waterfall at the top end of the lower gorge.
Just along from here you need to lift the canoe out of the water and drag it over the rocks to access the upper gorge.
I loved the roots of this tree exposed by the rushing water. This is a permanent waterway and runs all year round.
Emerald waters of the gorge.
Darter resting on a tree branch over the water.
Some parts of the gorge look quite tropical with palm trees and pandanus hanging over the emerald water.
Water lilies in the upper gorge.
Evening reflections as we make our way back to camp.
On our way to Lawn Hill National Park (Boodjamulla National Park) in the gulf region of north Queensland, we camped for the night on the banks of the Gregory River. This is a very remote area, but there were lots of people camping here. It is a beautiful river with crystal clear water which was flowing quite fast; it is spring fed and flows all year.
The old bridge is no longer in use but you can walk across to explore the other side of the river and visit the tiny town of Gregory which pretty much consists of a pub and a couple of houses.
Male Crimson Finch, only found in the most northerly parts of Australia.
Female Crimson Finch
Early morning reflections on the Gregory River.
It is very easy to understand why this is such a popular place to camp. The only downside is that you need to be totally self sufficient to stay here, but if you are organised it is an awesome place to stay especially if you can set up right on the river bank.
Tablelands Highway stretches on for hundreds of kilometres through the Mitchell grass plains which was all very dry in this time of drought. These are some of the birds we spotted along the way:
Bustard, which is quite a big bird. Bigger than I had imagined.
Bustard in flight.
Wedgetail Eagle perched on roadkill. (From a long way away!)
Which also took off on our approach.
Brolgas in front of termite mounds. The young one doesn’t yet have the red on it’s head.
Windmill at a roadside rest area, to provide water from the artesian basin for travellers.
The water at the rest areas attracts lots of little birds, such as these honey eaters, in this arid area.
Following are just some photos I took in a few different free camps that I thought I would share. When you think of free camping, you tend to think of dusty roadside stops, but if you choose carefully, there are some wonderful places you are able to camp absolutely free of charge.
Free camping spot off the Carpentaria Highway in the Northern Territory.
The beautiful sunset colours were also free of charge.
As was the trumpet serenade.
I don’t know if you have heard of Geocaching?
Geocaching is a real-world treasure hunt that’s happening right now, all around the world. Apparently there are 2,468,534 active geocaches and over 6 million geocachers worldwide. We have found one cache….accidentally. It was tucked away in a hole in a rock beyond the edge of the camp area.
Following are a few photos of some of the birds we spotted fluttering around our camp.