Sydney Trip June 2011
On the second day of our trip home from Sydney earlier this year we stopped at the Malleefowl Rest Area. This is part way between Balranald in far western New South Wales and Mildura in north western Victoria. We were heading to Mildura where we had a cabin booked in one of the caravan parks for the night.
The rest area is set just off the highway in the midst of typical mallee country complete with saltbush, bluebush and spinifex. This open eucalypt scrubland is widespread in these parts of Australia, as well as large tracts of South Australia and Western Australia. I have a strong affinity with this type of bushland because the farm house I grew up on was set in the midst of some mallee scrub. And for the last twenty eight years I’ve had my own piece of mallee bush to live in.
Sydney Trip June 2011
On the second day of our return visit we stopped briefly at Balranald for lunch. We visited the tourist information centre, then drove down to the picnic area on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River. During and after lunch I did a little birding and captured a nice shot of the White-faced Heron shown below.
Whenever we travel, we try to pick suitable places for meal breaks. For us, suitable places are not shopping malls, places with crowds of people and busy locations. We prefer quiet, natural spots where I can do some birding while we have lunch or a cuppa.
On our way home from Sydney last year we stopped for lunch on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River in Balranald, far south western New South Wales. While we ate I managed a few photos of the local birds, including the Yellow Rosella shown above. This rosella is a sub species of the common Crimson Rosella usually seen much further east. For a better photo click here.
A Laughing Kookaburra also came near for a look at what we were doing, but I was unable to get a close shot before he flew off downstream. For better photos click here.
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.
We are off on another road trip – this time to Sydney for Christmas. The photo above was taken on our trip last year; this year we are driving our daughter’s car, but we didn’t stop to take a photo of the Hay Plains this trip.
We left on the Monday before Christmas so this article has taken a few days to appear. Over the coming few weeks I will be adding many more articles about what we did and what we saw. I will also be adding heaps of photos.
On the first day we left home in Murray Bridge soon after breakfast. We stopped at Underbool in Victoria for a very hot lunch. We had been travelling just ahead of a cool change sweeping across the countryside. We had afternoon tea at Piangil on the banks of the River Murray. Soon after we crossed the river at Tooleybuc and into New South Wales. We bypassed Balranald and travelled on across the Hay Plains shown in the photo above.
Because of the heat the birding was poor all day. I saw very few birds as we travelled along.