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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sundown National Park - Spring 2013

After purchasing a camper trailer just before winter, we set off on our maiden voyage to Sundown National Park for two days to test it out and also with the hope of seeing a platypus in the wild and I had high hopes of viewing stunning wildflowers and orchids.



Sundown National Park is located on the Qld/NSW border in between Ballandean and Texas on the Severn River.  The entrance to the park only has the one sign as shown above and as there are many camping areas at the park, at first I wasn't convinced we were entering at the right gate.  It seems you are entering a private cattle property, however after a few kilometers drive though this dusty track, further signs to the National Park appear and the main park entrance is evident.

We stayed at the Broadwater Campgrounds during our stay which has many sites of different sizes suitable for caravans, camper trailers and tents.  We pre-booked site #1 right at the end of the park, thinking we were clever choosing the end spot to avoid other vehicles driving past and stirring up dust everywhere...which turned out to be a funny surprise on arriving at out booked campsite and finding that in the middle of the designated fenced site was a massive tree stump!!  What could you do but laugh!!  Fortunately our camper fitted in between the stump and the fence and it didn't cause any problems, although it was a little strange.

Our Campsite - with huge tree stump in the middle of the designated area at Broadwater Camp Grounds - Site #1. 


Along with platypus, Sundown National Park is known for an abundant array of bird species - all of which were on vacation when we visited.  The park itself was very dry and dusty woodland scrub and the Severn river was only about 60m walk from the campsite and was a wide beautiful river at the base of the mountains, surrounded by plenty of lomandra grasses and bottle brush trees and perfect for swimming and kayaking in.


End of Day overlooking the Severn River at Broadwater Camping Area, Sundown National Park, September 2013


Our camper-trailer set up (right up against the tree stump!) at Sundown National Park. 


White-winged Chough's happily wandered throughout the campsites at Broadwater Camping Site.

Brown Honeyeater feeding on the Mistletoe in a She-oak Tree beside the Severn River at Sundown NP.


During our two night stay we only did one of the bush walks which was the one to the Permanent Waterhole which was a 2km return walk.  We did this twice, once during the middle of the day and the second time at just before dawn to sit and wait for the platypus to show itself.

Information Hut at Broadwater Campgrounds, Sundown National Park

Permanent Waterhole Walk at Sundown National Park

View from the Permanent Waterhole Track

The Permanent Waterhole Track - nearing the waterhole.


Beautiful Flowering Pea's - We saw two different shrubs of this plant on the Permanent Waterhole Track walk.


Permanent Waterhole at Sundown National Park

Permanent Waterhole at Sundown National Park


Red-browed Finches at the Permanent Waterhole.
Can you see me?

This skink moved rather quickly once I spotted him in the grass above.
One of the two Orchids I noticed - this one had a flower ready to open.
Grasses in flower at Sundown NP.
The walk to the Permanent Waterhole, while hot and dry was definitely worth it, although after waiting for hours before and during dusk, perched quietly up on the high rocks on the side of the waterhole, the platypus failed to show itself to us.  We did however hear of other campers who had seen the platypus in the waterhole at 5.30am in the morning - so sun-up is obviously the better time for a sighting rather than sundown... better luck next time we hope!!


All in all the birding was rather disappointing really.  We had hopes of seeing the common Spotted Bowerbirds, red-capped robins, spiny-cheeked honeyeaters and striped honeyeaters that are known to live at Sundown.

The Bird list for the 2 1/2 days at Sundown National Park is as follows:

Eastern Rosella
Red-winged Parrot
Red-browed Finch
Brown Honeyeater
White-plumed honeyeater
Lewin's honeyeater
Noisy Friarbird
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
Willie Wagtail
Superb Blue wren
Darter
Little Pied Cormorant
Wood Duck
Common Bronzewing
Pied Currawong
White-winged Chough
Toresian Crow
Laughing Kookaburra
Azure Kingfisher
Galah
Southern Boobook Owl
Barking Owl
Welcome Swallow
Unknown bird of prey

Butterfiles:
Common Crow
Orchard Swallowtail
Lesser Wanderer
Cabbage White

Swamp Wallaby
Red-necked wallaby
Eastern Grey Kangaroo

Eastern Water Dragon
Unknown Skink


White Plumed Honeyeater at Sundown National Park

Lichen on the rocks near the waterhole at Sundown.

White Plumed Honeyeater  & Noisy Friarbird at Sundown National Park

Kangaroo's and wallabies were always close by at Sundown National Park.

Superb Blue Wren at Sundown National Park


Wildflowers - we had missed the flowering of the lomandras and many grasses had the dead flowers still attached and we were obviously too early for other natives as I noticed many grasses and ground herbs with buds.  I did find one beautiful tiny purple wildflower/grass and a couple of other tiny flowers also growing amongst the rocks in the dry areas of the river bed.  I will add a separate post for the flower pics here.

Brendon Kayaking and trying his luck at fishing on the Severn River at Sundown National Park.

All in all, despite the lack of bird & platypus sightings, the camping experience at Sundown National Park was a good one and it was a great first run of the camper-trailer.  The park is neat and tidy and has pit toilet and donkey-shower facilities and each campsite has a small bbq plate/fireplace which was very handy.  Ample national park maps and brochures on hand and easy walking distance & easy accessibility for kayaks and swimming at the broad Severn River.  The days were warm, while the early morning were a touch cool as you would expect with Stanthorpe weather.  The ample tiger-pear prickles we could have done without!!

We are looking forward to the next camping and bush walking adventure and are pleased to be able to tick off Sundown as one we have visited in our list of South East Queensland National Parks.

J & B.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Spring Baby Birds & a Bunny in Highfields!

Just a couple of photos that I have taken over the last month, on my little point 'n' shoot camera that I keep in my handbag.

Baby Plover's "Masked Lapwings" at Highfields

Baby plovers at Highfields, three babies this year, last year the same pair of plovers had two babies which we watched daily, until their sad demise.  These ones we also watched daily and would stop on our drive by to watch these cute little ones.. until the day the council mowed this block of land - hopefully the birds moved on, but we didn't see them again after this.

Baby Wood Ducks at Kleinton
We have enjoyed thoroughly watching these nine baby wood ducks at our neighbours property over the last few weeks - last slighting there was still nine!  Fingers crossed the carpet pythons and one neighbours wandering cat stay away from these little cuties.  The parents do such a wonderful job of protecting their young - it must be hard work looking after nine feathered ones.

Baby Bunny at Highfields
I spotted this baby bunny at Highfields while driving home one day in the last two weeks. I had to stop and turn around to check I had seen correctly - sure enough a dusty grey rabbit by the roadside eating the grasses under some wild daisy bushes.  We stopped the car and the kids and i watched him for ages - very cute although I know they are a pest animal.  We saw him again in the same location the next day but haven't seen him again.  We have had many sightings of rabbits in the area over the last few years, although they aren't apparently here!!  This confirms that this spring baby is not a hare but indeed a rabbit.

J.