Saturday, April 22, 2017

Easter in the outback

Parkes Radio Telescope

The Easter long weekend is a rare opportunity to get a bit further afield. This year we actually did something and headed west. We based ourselves in Parkes for a couple of nights which is just about where country New South Wales gives way to the outback. Parkes is famous for two things. A radio telescope and an annual Elvis festival when tens of thousands of Elvises bizarrely descend upon the place. The radio telescope is pretty good actually and secured a place in history by receiving the first pictures of man walking on the moon. Most of the time it just listens to the universe in the hope that the little green men will call.

Minor outback road

A few hours further west from Parkes are the legendary Nombinnie National Park and Round Hill Nature Reserve. These two areas are probably the closest bits of mallee country to Sydney and are allegedly full of mallee specialty birds. As we entered the red dust I had high hopes of adding significant numbers to the list. Stepping out of the car at Nombinnie I immediately ticked Gilbert's Whistler #485. And that was that!

Major outback road

There were a load of nice inland species like White-browed Babbler, Chestnut Quail-thrush, Cockatiels and Splendid Fairy-wren but no other mallee birds and no more ticks. It was actually easier to spot what had been around rather than what was actually there.


Sitting kangaroo 

There's not much shade in the mallee and so after a pretty hot day we headed back to Parkes. On the way we had an encounter with a very angry Eastern Brown Snake. Unlike the little Blue Mountains Crowned Snake the big Eastern Brown is the second most venomous land-based snake in the world and is very much in the deadly category. This one was particularly annoyed because I'd just run over his tail. Snakes sometimes head on to roads after dark because the surface is still warm and so this unfortunate individual was lying right across the road like a police stinger in the pitch black. We went back to check on it and were met with a very aggressive response. Sadly it likely wouldn't have survived and so I thought it a bit disrespectful to take a picture. On the way back to Sydney we did see another very nice reptile crossing the road though and so I jumped out and took it's picture instead.

Snake-necked Turtle


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