Birding while having lunch

Yellow Rosella, Balranald, NSW

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.

Laughing Kookaburra, Balranald, NSW

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

Happy New Year

Town Beach, Guichen Bay, Robe, SE South Australia

Happy New Year.

I trust that 2011 will bring you many blessings and enjoyable times.

I have enjoyed sharing with my many readers some of my adventures as I have travelled the wonderful country of Australia. My articles here have been a little spasmodic over the last three years as I’ve struggled with the demands of my Master of Arts degree and with some health issues. Now that’s behind me, I hope to be able to share with you many more travels in the coming years.

New adventure

A few years ago my daughter inspired me to accompany her on a trek through the Himalayas. You can read about my adventures in my archives called Travels in Nepal. Later this year she will be teaching overseas for a semester. My wife and I are planning to visit her and so you can look forward to many photos and articles about our travels in Africa. Stay tuned.

In the meantime come back here often as I plan to update this site at least three times a week.

Happy New Year.

My daughter taking a photo of me, Sydney Fish Markets

Australian travel advice

Travel around the world has become hazardous in recent years.

I thought about that sentence for a few minutes. I guess travel anywhere has been hazardous in many different eras, and nothing has really changed, except perhaps the types and nature of the threats. In 2005-06 when I travelled to Thailand I thought very little about any hazards and I had a great time. I would think twice about going there at the moment with their political problems. (Read about my experiences here.)

from Thailand I went to Nepal for a month. This was a life changing experience, but the Maoists were very active at the time. On one occasion I was confined to my hotel for 24 hours because of bombings a short distance away from my hotel in Kathmandu. It was risky but I survived. Every tourist needs to sum up the relevant risk factors relating to their travel destination and make a call. In reality, there is probably more risk in driving to my local supermarket for shopping than the risks involved in travel to most overseas countries. Far more people die in car accidents than plane crashes, for example.

I recently had my attention drawn to an Australian site which gives Australians advice when planning an overseas holiday. Aussie Travel Advice is an independent travel site especially set up to help Australians. Go and have a look here.

Ama Dablam, Nepal, 2006

Ama Dablam, Nepal, 2006