Archive for March, 2011

Lunch on the banks of the river

Lunch on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River, Balranald

After leaving Rankins Springs we continued on our journey west heading for home. Driving over the Hay Plains can lonely and there are long stretches of straight road. Most people probably find this section boring, but we are always fascinated by the subtle changes of vegetation as one travels into the drier parts of far south-west New South Wales.

I also enjoy trying to identify the bird species seen along this stretch. While the vegetation may be sparse in places, the bird life is surprisingly varied. Half way between Rankins Springs and Hay we stopped for a mid-morning cuppa and snack. In the twenty minutes we stopped I managed quite a long list of birds.

Our next stop was on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River in Balranald (see photo above). We usually carry a picnic lunch with us whenever we travel as we never know exactly where we will be when we stop. It saves finding a place to buy food, too. We also have hot water with us for a cuppa as well.

The river flood plains near Balranald are covered by huge River Red Gums, Eucalyptus camaldulensis, which make a beautiful backdrop for a picnic lunch.

On the banks of the Murrumbidgee River, Balranald

On the banks of the Murrumbidgee River, Balranald

On the banks of the Murrumbidgee River, Balranald

Rankins Springs, New South Wales

Hotel at Rankins Springs, NSW

On our way home from Sydney last year we stayed one night at Rankins Springs in mid western NSW. I would have liked to have stayed longer and pursued some intensive birding in the area, but we were on a tight schedule to get home.

We stayed in the local motel. This is not the most glamorous motel I’ve ever stayed in, but it did have many good points: the room was clean, the bed comfortable and the hot water made an enjoyable shower. And the price not exorbitant. What more can you want?

We also had a wonderful dinner in the hotel dining room next door and were made to feel very welcome by the owners. Sure, a hamburger with the works is not exactly your meal to die for, but boy, it sure was delicious and filled an urgent need.

The next time we are passing through with our caravan, we must try out the caravan park just across the road (see photo below).

Main street of Rankins Springs, NSW

Rankins Springs caravan park, NSW

Apostlebirds, Rankins Springs, NSW

Apostle Birds, Rankins Springs, NSW

On our one night stay at Rankins Springs last year we took out time from travelling home to drive around this mid western town. On previous occasions we had only stopped for a short time for a meal, or a cuppa. This time we made time to have a good look around.

I am particularly interested in the birds of any location I visit (see Trevor’s Birding site). One of the common birds in this area is the Apostle Bird. It is commonly seen in parks and gardens, along road side vegetation and flying across the road as you travel along.

Apostle birds are gregarious, usually moving around feeding in family groups of about a dozen or so, hence their name. They are often seen feeding on the ground. When it comes to nesting time the whole group will help make a bowl shaped mud nest in a convenient tree.

On our wandering around the town we visited several birding spots promoted by the locals for visiting birders. They have even produced a small pamphlet about the local birds, including a map to show where to see birds in the vicinity. Sign posts along the road direct visitors to these good birding sites. One of them was the dam shown below.

Further reading:

Dam near Rankins Springs, NSW

Rankins Springs, New South Wales

Allan James Park, main street of Rankins Springs, NSW

On our way home from visiting family in Sydney last year we stayed one night at Rankins Springs. I was pleased that we could do this because on many other occasions we had only driven through this delightful little town in mid-western New South Wales.

On several occasions we had stopped for a short break, including one occasion when we had lunch in the Allan James Park shown in the photos on this page. It is a lovely park with many shady trees and it takes the traveller off the busy main road through the town. It is a good spot to rest, relax, have a cuppa or a meal before heading off west towards Adelaide, east to Sydney, south to Griffith or north to Lake Cargelligo.

The park also affords a good introduction to the birds of the area. This town is something of a mecca for birders with many species easily seen here, including Blue-faced Honeyeaters, Apostle Birds, White-winged Choughs and Red-rumped Parrots.

Allan James Park, main street of Rankins Springs, NSW