Keating’s Lagoon (Mulbabidgee)

Cooktown, Queensland, 19 July 2022
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Gastro stopped me seeing as much of Cooktown as I would have liked but we are now on our way out, heading towards Mosman Gorge.  On the way we stopped at Keatings Lagoon or Mulbabidgeee.

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Abstract, Birds, Landscape, Mulbabidgee, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Travel, Wetlands, Wilderness, Wildlife

Mulbabidgeee is a wetlands area on the outskirts of Cooktown.

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I could have got closer on the way in, going off the path, but something was holding me back.

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A bit further on there is a view across the lagoon from a bird hide.

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… and some distant waterbirds….

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Giant waterlily in flower.

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After a while one a bit came closer.  Note the extraordinary toes.

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This is a juvenile comb-crested jacana.  It becomes more spectacular as an adult.

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They roost and build nests on the floating lilypads.

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Walking back with some reflection(s).

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The black pile of rocks in the background is Black Mountain or Kalkajaka.

This was originally a tongue of volcanic magma.  Over time, heat and water led to fractures and it is now a heap of granite boulders with the solid granite core buried well beneath.

Beneath the surface rocks is a maze of passages and chambers, with sheer drops in complete darkness, pockets of bad air and likely encounters with bats and snakes.  So access is prohibited and it also includes many sites sacred to Aborigines.

It houses unique wildlife, including Black Mountain boulderfrog, Black Mountain skink and Black Mountain gecko, as well as Godman’s rock-wallabies and amethystine pythons that can grow to more than five metres long.  There have  been numerous reports as recently as a few decades ago of an animal appearing to be a thylaceo or marsupial lion and reputedly living here, though supposedly extinct for 20,000 years.

Aboriginal legend has it that the twin-peaked black mountain was built by two brothers who were competing for the same girl.  They were so invested in this task that they did not notice an approaching cyclone which blew the brothers into the cracks between the boulders and drowned the girl.

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Somewhat further on, we stopped near a bridge and I took some images of the small river flowing through.

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Much further in the journey, getting close to our Mosman Gorge destination, this is the view from Rex Range Lookout, looking north towards the Daintree.

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Now in our B&B near Mosman Gorge, this is the view from our bedroom window.

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Cooktown and Rock Art

Cooktown, Queensland, 17-18 July 2022
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From the bush camp (posts Laura Bush Camp 1 and 2, with much more rock art), we returned to Laura and then to Cooktown.  However, the journey back from the bush camp was quite different for me than the way in.  I was hit by gastro on the last night there.  I have been to several countries including India and Madagasacar where you need to be careful about directly or indirectly consuming water without having problems but it didn’t occur to me I might need to take care within Australia and fulled my camel (backpack water container) with tap water at Laura.  The bouncy and speedy drive in on the tiny four wheel drive was great fun but the journey out was torture and they had to stop several times so I could vomit at the side of the road.  From Laura we went straight to Cooktown and I also stayed in bed for all of the next day.

That next day Jools went out and got some medicine for gastro from the Chemist.  Unfortunately, we later found it produces hallucinations when you are dehydrated, which is what happens with gastro.  I got up during the night for a piss and didn’t turn the light on so as not to disturb Jools.  I then saw dogs and cats in the corners of the room though I knew they were not real.  Walls completely changed in appearance from one look to the next.   The short trip to the toilet became a maze and I became quite disoriented and repeatedly bumped into things.  We were in a split level apartment and I ended up falling down the four steps to the lower level in the dark.  I bruised my left forearm and severely bruised the palm of my left hand.  It took months for my left hand to fully recover but I didn’t hit my head so it could have been much worse.  Also, I am right-handed, otherwise I might not have been able to use the camera.

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Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rock Art, Travel, Wilderness

Mouth of the Endeavour River from Grassy Hill Lookout.

The day after that I was semi-recovered and we went for a short drive in the afternoon.  We did not see much of Queenstown in our time there but at least our accommodation was a good place to recover.

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Grassy Hill Lighthouse from 1886.

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Hibiscus flowers nearby.

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I think this is Finch Bay, not far from Grassy Hill.

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In the late afternoon we visited the bird hide at Keating’s Lagoon.

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These are images from trees in the river along the way.

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I might have been able to get closer images off the path except that the crocodile warning signs made that inadvisable.  More images from here in the next post.

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The following day we joined a rock art tour with Culture Connect and set off along this road.

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We stopped at a river crossing that we later drove through.

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Looking down the river.

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Later, on foot, a stream crossing requiring care when carrying camera gear.

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Rock art.  Kangaroo.

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Lungfish maybe?

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Turtles on the left.

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We walked to another rock art site.

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Crocodile, northern quoll perhaps, cassowary (maybe emu), fish, head of the previous figure.

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Crocodile.

This image and the next one were taken looking upwards in a cramped overhang space that was logistically quite awkward.

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Xanthorrhoea flower cone.

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View from the road on the way out.

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Laura Bush Camp Day 2

 

Near Laura, Queensland, 14 August 2022
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(For the benefit of some Americans who may be reading this, this post has absolutely nothing to do with Laura Bush).

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Landscape, Laura, Macro, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rock Art, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Gnaingar.

On our way to another rock art site, this is the flowers of Gnaingar, or Eucalyptus Phœnicia, or Scarlet Gum, endemic to the far north of Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia.

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A kangaroo, perhaps.

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Male figure.

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Female figure.

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Main figure a snake, probably dreamtime serpent.

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Fish, perhaps.

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A cave for special female ceremonies.

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Inside, dragonflies on the walls.

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At the next site, perhaps a family group.  Appears to be made by a negative process with removal of colour.

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Two females, one over a long figure perhaps snake, eel or lungfish.

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Here is the site overall.  You can see some of the figures shown above.

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We dropped down to a pool fed by a small waterfall.

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A tree trying to grow in a most surprising place.

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Contorted trunk and roots of a eucalypt beside the pool.

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On the move now.  Taken from a moving four wheel drive vehicle.  There has been some fire stick farming going on to manage the land.  This involves small scale slow cool burns that do not escape to destroy land and wildlife.

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Images on the move.

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Passing a large termite mound.  The black pole with a blue cap is on the vehicle.

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Back to the main rock art site.

I was looking for a different perspective this time.  Most of my shots on the previous day were taken with a very wide angle lens (Fujifilm 8-16mm) whereas most of these were taken with a moderate telephoto (Fujifilm 80mm macro).

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These figures may be very old, maybe 20,000 years.

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The upside-down person represents someone who has transgressed fundamental rules of the society and received serious punishment such as exile or death.

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Given how far north we are, this is probably a cassowary rather than an emu.

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Dingo at the front.

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A wider view with many figures.

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Back at the base now, probably after dinner.  The is a macro landscape with some combination of ground cover, bush and miniature tree.

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Rock Art.

In other words, Art created by the Rock.

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Balanda Rock Painting.

Perhaps reminiscent of the cargo cult of Papua New Guinea, this is designed to encourage the great gyroscopic whirring bird to drop from the sky.

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Night sky from near the tent, a ten second exposure from 5:30am. 

If you are on a PC or Mac, this image will appear very dark against the white page here.  You need to click on it for a larger version to see it properly.

There is also something moving in the sky with a somewhat discontinuous light, perhaps a satellite or a plane.

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Laura Bush Camp Day 1

Near Laura, Queensland, 13 August 2022
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We got up early in the morning in Laura and set out into the bush with Johnny Murison of Jarramali Rock Art Tours.

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We were zotting along in tiny four wheel drives.  This is the one following us.

Landscape, Laura, Nature, Photography, Rock Art, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

A brief stop along the way.

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No chance of a school bus coming the other way.  We are on Aboriginal land with no permanent habitations out here.

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Sometimes the road was quite good.

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Other times it was a little rougher.

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Definitely four wheel drive country.

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From memory, it took about an hour to drive in.

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Now we have arrived. 

We were sleeping in a tent but there was a communal meeting room and dining room.  This is the view from the veranda.

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A closer view of the left end of the cliffs in front of us.

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Wedge tail eagles appear.

We were sitting down for lunch when a wedge tail eagle flew past the large window, very close, maybe twenty metres away.  Of course I had put the camera away and couldn’t take advantage of that opportunity.  Soon after it was joined by a mate.  They sat in a distant tree for a while and then climbed into the sky.

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This is the best shot I got.  The eagle is a long way away and the resolution is enhanced by software.

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Where the Green Ants Dream (though Hertzog was not in sight).

After lunch we headed for the rock art site.  On the way we encountered this ants nest, up in the tree for safety.

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This appears to be another one, old and abandoned.

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As you can see, we are now at the main rock art site.

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The figures you see can be as old as twenty thousand years old or as recent as the late nineteenth century.

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Here is Johnny explaining the associations and significance of each figure.

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I remember little of what he said so I’ll just leave you to view and wonder.

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The Quinkan rock art galleries are in many locations in Northern Queensland with only a few open to the public.  They are listed by UNESCO as being among the top 10 rock art sites in the world.

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There is some ochre on the rock at the bottom right.

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An ancient engraving of an emu footprint.

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Walking back, a couple of details on cliffs on the far side of the canyon.

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Moonrise at sunset.

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Yungaburra to Laura

Yungaburra to Laura, Queensland, 12 August 2022
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Atherton Tablelands, Infrared, Landscape, Laura, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

View with typical Queensland blood-red sky.

On this day we travelled north from Yungaburra to Laura.  Along the way we stopped at a viewpoint for this view.

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Somewhat later, the weather was quite different and so was the view.

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A rather dreamy vista furher along the road.

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This one is quite close by though looking in the opposite direction, which explains why the colours are quite different.

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We have now reached Laura, and there are many galahs on the telegraph lines.

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Laura is a massive metropolis in Northern Queensland, just like Brisbane in Southern Queensland, although the population of Laura is 228, as compared to 2.28 million for Brisbane.  There are not a lot of other differences though.  Here are two of the major buildings in Laura.  There is the general store on the left and the pub on the right.

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Across the road is the Town Hall.  To the left of that is a roofed field and basketball court, so schoolchildren can play sports in the rainy season.

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It is not hard to find modern technology in Laura.

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So this is why the galahs have gathered.  It’s feeding time.

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Across the road is the motel where we stayed the night.

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Later we decided to choose the pub for a meal.  Some kookaburra were eating there too.  Like Brisbane, there is a great choice of eating establishments in Laura.  Specifically, there is the pub and the roadhouse.  We’re not in Brisbane so I won’t list the eating establishments in Brisbane for comparison.

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The kookaburra were joined by a blue-faced honeyeater (entomyzon cyanotis).  Whether the honeyeater had made a reservation for dinner is not clear.

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A kookaburra on a branch in the late afternoon sun.

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I set out to capture galahs landing on or setting out from the power lines in the late afternoon light.

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This is a  helmeted guineafowl (numida meleagris).  Not native to Australia, it is from Africa.  They are kept in farmyards to kick up a lot of noise when a fox or feral cat comes in.

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And yes, there were three infrared images at the start of the post.

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Waterfalls and Striped Possums

Atherton Tablelands, Queensland, 11 August 2022
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Atherton Tablelands, Dinner Falls, Hastie's Swamp, Landscape, Mount Hypipamee National Park, Nature, Photography, Striped Possum, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls

In our third full day in Atherton Tablelands, we first headed off to Mount Hypipamee National Park.  Here we are walking the Dinner Falls circuit.

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Falls on Barron River near Dinner Falls.

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Dinner Falls.

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Next we walked on to the Mount Hypipamee Crater.

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This is of course a volcanic crater.

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From the viewing platform, there is a drop of 130 metres to the lake which is then a further 73 metres deep.  It’s a long way down.

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I was intrigued by the patterns on the surface of the lake.

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These are partly natural and partly created by people who frequently throw rocks down into the lake.  (Personally, I’d prefer it just to be natural).

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Panoramic view.

After that, I decided to head off to Zillie Falls again.  I had carelessly exposed my images there at high ISO the previous day so thought to try again.  This image is from a viewpoint on the way.

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Zillzie Falls.

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In the late afternoon I was shooting into the light and I didn’t bracket enough, so there is no detail in the sky.

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. Atherton Tablelands, Dinner Falls, Hastie's Swamp, Landscape, Mount Hypipamee National Park, Nature, Photography, Striped Possum, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls

I decided to head back via the bird hide at Hastie’s Swamp.   That meant a long trip on the back roads, late in the afternoon.  I can’t show you much of what we saw because often the light was fleeting and the narrow winding roads often meant nowhere to pull over.

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. Atherton Tablelands, Dinner Falls, Hastie's Swamp, Landscape, Mount Hypipamee National Park, Nature, Photography, Striped Possum, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls

At Hastie’s Swamp I took some more photographs of the plumed whistling-ducks in challenging low light conditions of the late afternoon.

. Atherton Tablelands, Dinner Falls, Hastie's Swamp, Landscape, Mount Hypipamee National Park, Nature, Photography, Striped Possum, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls .

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This is the opposite shore, which about 200 metres away.

. Atherton Tablelands, Dinner Falls, Hastie's Swamp, Landscape, Mount Hypipamee National Park, Nature, Photography, Striped Possum, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls

Back with the night life where we were staying, the sugar gliders were there initially but when one or two much larger striped possums turned up, they made themselves scarce.

. Atherton Tablelands, Dinner Falls, Hastie's Swamp, Landscape, Mount Hypipamee National Park, Nature, Photography, Striped Possum, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls .

. Atherton Tablelands, Dinner Falls, Hastie's Swamp, Landscape, Mount Hypipamee National Park, Nature, Photography, Striped Possum, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls .

. Atherton Tablelands, Dinner Falls, Hastie's Swamp, Landscape, Mount Hypipamee National Park, Nature, Photography, Striped Possum, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls

Here you can see the elongated fourth finger with a long hooked nail that it uses to extract insects and caterpillars from bark and cracks.  In this it is similar to the very weird Aye-Aye from Madagascar.  They are not related though.  The Aye-Aye is a lemur and a very primitive primate whereas the striped possum is a marsupial found mainly in New Guinea and West Irian but also in coastal North Queensland.

. Atherton Tablelands, Dinner Falls, Hastie's Swamp, Landscape, Mount Hypipamee National Park, Nature, Photography, Striped Possum, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls .

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Rainforest and Sugar Gliders

Atherton Tablelands, Queensland, 9 August 2022
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Click on any image to see it larger (If you are on a PC at least).

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On our second full day in the Atherton Tablelands, we first headed to Malanda, which was not far.  We discovered a wonderful coffee bar near the Visitors’ Centre with great coffee and perhaps the best muffins I have encountered. The owner told us he is a chef and made the muffins himself, whereas most places purchase premade cheap frozen muffins, with a corresponding cost in taste.  Creeping Americanisation perhaps.

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Atherton Tablelands, Grey-headed Robin, Hastie's Swamp, Krefft's turtle, Landscape, Macro, Malanda Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls, Nature, Photography, Red-legged pademelon, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls

Krefft’s turtle.

We walked several trails in Malanda Falls Conservation Park on both sides of the road.  We were hoping to encounter a tree kangaroo in one of a number of locations in the Atherton Tablelands but this was not to happen.  However, there was lots more to see.

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Atherton Tablelands, Grey-headed Robin, Hastie's Swamp, Krefft's turtle, Landscape, Macro, Malanda Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls, Nature, Photography, Red-legged pademelon, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls

There were a number of these turtles swimming round near the bank at a particular location in the North Johnstone River.

. Atherton Tablelands, Grey-headed Robin, Hastie's Swamp, Krefft's turtle, Landscape, Macro, Malanda Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls, Nature, Photography, Red-legged pademelon, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls

I think there may have been a description of this symbiotic flowering plant in the Visitors’ Centre but I did not record it so I can’t tell you what it is.

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Grey-headed Robin (Heteromyias cinereifrons).

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Atherton Tablelands, Grey-headed Robin, Hastie's Swamp, Krefft's turtle, Landscape, Macro, Malanda Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls, Nature, Photography, Red-legged pademelon, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls .

. Atherton Tablelands, Grey-headed Robin, Hastie's Swamp, Krefft's turtle, Landscape, Macro, Malanda Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls, Nature, Photography, Red-legged pademelon, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls

North Johnstone River.

Atherton Tablelands, Grey-headed Robin, Hastie's Swamp, Krefft's turtle, Landscape, Macro, Malanda Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls, Nature, Photography, Red-legged pademelon, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls

Funghi by the path.

. Atherton Tablelands, Grey-headed Robin, Hastie's Swamp, Krefft's turtle, Landscape, Macro, Malanda Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls, Nature, Photography, Red-legged pademelon, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls .

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Atherton Tablelands, Grey-headed Robin, Hastie's Swamp, Krefft's turtle, Landscape, Macro, Malanda Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls, Nature, Photography, Red-legged pademelon, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls

Red-legged pademelon (Thylogale stigmatica) moving quickly through the bush.

Atherton Tablelands, Grey-headed Robin, Hastie's Swamp, Krefft's turtle, Landscape, Macro, Malanda Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls, Nature, Photography, Red-legged pademelon, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls

Funghi by the Path.

. Atherton Tablelands, Grey-headed Robin, Hastie's Swamp, Krefft's turtle, Landscape, Macro, Malanda Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls, Nature, Photography, Red-legged pademelon, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls

Millaa Millaa Falls.

Next we visited the waterfall circuit at Millaa Millaa.

. Atherton Tablelands, Grey-headed Robin, Hastie's Swamp, Krefft's turtle, Landscape, Macro, Malanda Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls, Nature, Photography, Red-legged pademelon, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls .

. Atherton Tablelands, Grey-headed Robin, Hastie's Swamp, Krefft's turtle, Landscape, Macro, Malanda Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls, Nature, Photography, Red-legged pademelon, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls

Zillie Falls.

. Atherton Tablelands, Grey-headed Robin, Hastie's Swamp, Krefft's turtle, Landscape, Macro, Malanda Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls, Nature, Photography, Red-legged pademelon, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls

With a bit of a scramble, I found a good location for the Zillie Falls and also took some studies of water and rocks.

. Atherton Tablelands, Grey-headed Robin, Hastie's Swamp, Krefft's turtle, Landscape, Macro, Malanda Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls, Nature, Photography, Red-legged pademelon, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls .

. Atherton Tablelands, Grey-headed Robin, Hastie's Swamp, Krefft's turtle, Landscape, Macro, Malanda Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls, Nature, Photography, Red-legged pademelon, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls .

. Atherton Tablelands, Grey-headed Robin, Hastie's Swamp, Krefft's turtle, Landscape, Macro, Malanda Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls, Nature, Photography, Red-legged pademelon, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls .

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Atherton Tablelands, Ellinjaa Falls, Grey-headed Robin, Hastie's Swamp, Krefft's turtle, Landscape, Macro, Malanda Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls, Nature, Photography, Red-legged pademelon, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls

Ellinjaa Falls.

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I also had in mind to visit  Crawford’s Lookout, North Johnston Lookout Track, Mamu Tropical Skywalk, Innisfail and Babinda Boulders but we would have needed an extra day for that.

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Atherton Tablelands, Grey-headed Robin, Hastie's Swamp, Krefft's turtle, Landscape, Macro, Malanda Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls, Nature, Photography, Red-legged pademelon, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls

Returning to our accomodation at Chambers Wildlife Rainforest Lodges, we were able to experience nightime observations of sugar gliders (petaurus breviceps longicaudatus).

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Atherton Tablelands, Grey-headed Robin, Hastie's Swamp, Krefft's turtle, Landscape, Macro, Malanda Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls, Nature, Photography, Red-legged pademelon, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls .

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Atherton Tablelands, Grey-headed Robin, Hastie's Swamp, Krefft's turtle, Landscape, Macro, Malanda Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls, Nature, Photography, Red-legged pademelon, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls

A Striped possum (Dactylopsila trivirgata) briefly appeared.

Atherton Tablelands, Grey-headed Robin, Hastie's Swamp, Krefft's turtle, Landscape, Macro, Malanda Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls, Nature, Photography, Red-legged pademelon, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls .

. Atherton Tablelands, Grey-headed Robin, Hastie's Swamp, Krefft's turtle, Landscape, Macro, Malanda Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls, Nature, Photography, Red-legged pademelon, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls

And then it was back to the sugar gliders again, feeding on the sap of a tree.

. Atherton Tablelands, Grey-headed Robin, Hastie's Swamp, Krefft's turtle, Landscape, Macro, Malanda Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls, Nature, Photography, Red-legged pademelon, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls .

. Atherton Tablelands, Grey-headed Robin, Hastie's Swamp, Krefft's turtle, Landscape, Macro, Malanda Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls, Nature, Photography, Red-legged pademelon, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls .

. Atherton Tablelands, Grey-headed Robin, Hastie's Swamp, Krefft's turtle, Landscape, Macro, Malanda Falls, Millaa Millaa Falls, Nature, Photography, Red-legged pademelon, Sugar glider, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife, Zillie Falls .

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Herberton and Tully Gorge

Atherton Tablelands, Queensland, 7 to 8 August 2022
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Click on any image to see it larger (If you are on a PC at least).

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Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife

Cairns/ Atherton Tablelands Road.

This is a view from the road from Cairns to Atherton Tablelands.  I posted an infrared view from the same spot in the previous post.

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife

Curtain Fig Tree.

 In the previous infrared post we saw images of the Cathedral Fig Tree.  This is a different one, close to Yungaburra where we stayed on the first night. the Curtain Fig Tree.

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife

This tree started out as a seed dropped in the branches of a host tree, presumably excreted by a bird.  Over time, the fig strangled the host, causing it to fall over against another tree and the fig roots reached to the ground, creating the curtain you see.

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife

Over more time, the host rotted away, leaving just the fig tree.  It is nearly fifty metres tall and you can get a sense of the height of the roots from the people on the platform near ground level at lower right.  It is believed to be around five hundred years old.

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife

On our way south, we dropped into the Hastie’s Swamp Bird Hide.  These are plumed whistling-ducks, in the reeds near the shore.

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife

Great Egret, in non-breeding plumage.

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife

 We next spent a few hours at Herberton.  This is a grevillea in flower at the side of the path..

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife

One of the main reasons I wanted to visit Herberton was the graveyard of old cars, which we will see more of in a future infrared post.  The is a 1942 UK Austin, ex Forestry Department.

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife

Time takes its toll.

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife

This small bird is a Chowchilla, the southern subspecies orthonyx melasmenus with a longer beak.

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife

Dodge emblem.  The text says Dodge Brothers and is probably from the 1930s.

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife

1936 Pontiac Flat head 6.

I don’t think this one would make a good getaway car, given that it has wooden stumps instead of rear wheels.

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife

1934 Buick Straight 8.

The cornering ability of this one is probably suspect.

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife

No identification for this one.

Since it has no wheels, maybe it was intended to fly.

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife

Perhaps the front of an engine housing.

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife

Gone full circle.

Different view of the same grevillea.  I realised my shutter speed had only been 1/10 sec so retook it, but need not have worried due to image stabilisation on the lens.

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife

Inside Elderslie House, home of J.Newell, Founder of Herberton.

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife

Herberton was established by John Newell in 1880 for tin mining.  In late 1880 it had a population of 300 males and 27 females. The Historic village opened in 1973, on the edge of the actual town of Herberton.  It was created by Harry Skennar and includes buildings and artefacts from nearby and further afield.  There are probably forty or fifty buildings including historic shops.

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife

Coach House.

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife

Day’s Garage.

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife

The Dispensary or Chemist.

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife .

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife

Dispensary window ledge.

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife

Driving on further south towards Tully Gorge, we visited Big Millstream Falls near Ravenshoe.

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. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife

Tully Gorge Lookout.

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife

That bare patch in the lower mid right is where Tully Falls was when it was the largest waterfall in Queensland.  The free flow of the Tully River was stopped in 1960 by the construction of the Koombooloomba Dam, so now the falls only flow during a big wet season.  The road to Tully Gorge Lookout has been sealed for only a couple of years.

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife

A stream flowing by the path on the walk down to the lower viewpoint.

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife

Cliffs and trees from the lower viewpoint.

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife .

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife .

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife .

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife

A closer view of the Tully River above where the falls used to be and might be again from time to time.

. Atherton Tablelands, Big Millstream Falls, Curtain Fig Tree, Hastie's Swamp, Herberton, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Tully Gorge, Wilderness, Wildlife

Looking down also at the Tully River, downstream of the falls, now only occasionally fed by the waterfall.

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Lockdown is for the Birds

Brisbane, Queensland, 1 to 6 August 2021.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.).
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 Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

Butcher Bird.

At the end of the last post, we had stopped off in Brisbane for a couple of days en route to a photographic tour in North Queensland, when our progress was arrested by a sudden seven-day lockdown.  So we spent the next seven days with our friends Jim and Milena in their new home, and with the birds that either visited or lived there.

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

The same Butcher Bird from the verandah (also then next two images).

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife .

. Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife .

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

Back inside, with Percy and Polly (Rainbow Lorikeets) and Milena.  One of the lorikeets is interested in learning how to use the coffee machine.

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

The other, not so much.

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On the verandah again, two Kookaburras.

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

Juvenile Magpie soaring up for food.  this one has a damaged foot.

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

Juvenile Magpie on the rail (the adults are black rather than grey).

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

The Australian Magpie is not related to the Eurasian Magpie.  It is related to the Butcherbird, though.

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Kookaburra.

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Though we were in a city, we were able to go for a brief walk in a forest nearby.

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Inside with the lorikeets again.

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 Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

They are very fast inside the house and challenging to photograph.

Ironically, I had brought a Nikon D850 and 300mm f2.8 lens (plus teleconverters), specifically for photographing birds in flight, mainly from various bird hides I expected to encounter.  I did not anticipate the my BIF photography would be indoors.

These indoor images were all taken with a Fujifilm X-E4 and a 27mm f2.8 lens (40mm full frame equivalent), heavily croppped.  I couldn’t predict when and where they were going to fly I needed loose compositions.  They are all on 1/2,000 sec because the lorikeets are very quick and light levels were quite low so they are all on high ISOs, more that two thirds on 6400 or 12,800.  As well as that, this was a new camera and when I had set up Custom Quick Menus, I hadn’t realised that as well as the values on the Quick Menus, there were also many other values I needed to set or they would revert to the original camera defaults.  This meant I was shooting JPEG instead of RAW so many of the images are lacking highlight or shadow detail.

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This might represent an interesting lorikeet decal on the splashback except that it was a bit too transient for full appreciation at the time.

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

Lorikeet and Jools.

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Percy and Polly powering past.

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. Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

Also a Budgie, even more elusive on the wing.

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

… and here playing hide-and-seek.

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Back on the balcony, an adult Magpie in midair leaping for food, plus a Butcher Bird.

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

  … Coming in to land ….

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Magpie pair.

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife .

. Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

Again, a lorikeet as an interior decoration….

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife .

. Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife .

. Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife .

. Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

Jim with Percy and Polly.

It was difficult to find lockdown information at this time as the Queensland Government told people not to ring them and if you did, you could wait for a long time and then drop out.  Eventually, we worked out that we were free to fly back to the ACT, even while the lockdown continued in Brisbane.  Jools did so first, I did so after receiving an email from the ACT Government advising against further travel. 

Now Queensland is out of lockdown and we are in lockdown in Canberra.  The main problem is New South Wales, which failed to lockdown for ten days after their first case and is now spiralling out of control with over a thousand cases per day.  (That won’t sound high if you live in Montenegro, Malaysia or Miami but is the highest we have seen in Australasia).  (The other problem is the low vaccination rate, due to the incompetence of the Federal Government).  Fortunately it doesn’t seem too bad in the ACT and we may be out of lockdown in a couple of weeks, though the situation remains precarious.

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At the water’s edge

Brisbane, Queensland, 31 July 2021.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.).
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We are on our second day in Brisbane, staying with friends, en route to Northern Queensland, or so we thought.

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Though inside Brisbane, we are on a scenic drive that goes in part through a national park, and we are looking down some distance at a house on farmland.  It appears to be the mansion of a drug baron.  Perhaps a nineteenth century drug baron.  Probably opium, in that case.

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Near the road, we noticed this compact granny flat.  Specially adapted for natural air conditioning.

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And in the distance there are these massive ancient megaliths.  Some of them may be more than a hundred feet high.  How they carried the stones there is a mystery.

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It’s not fire season yet so this was presumably burning off.  These days severe bush fires can occur even in winter though.

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We proceeded on to Wynnum, where we visited a cafe and then wandered out onto the pier.  Beside the pier, this I believe is a gazebo martin (though usually known as a tree martin).  I tried to get them in flight as a test of camera settings for that purpose but they are very fast and I did not succeed.

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Wynnum pier.  The martins were building a nest in the roof of the right-hand gazebo.

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Next we visited the nearby East Coast Marina and I photographed some of the yachts sailing around and in or out of the marina, from the end of a pier.

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Also, a couple of dragon boats.  Going out…

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…then coming back in.

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Small yacht returning to the marina.

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Two launches and a yacht coming out.

The red sign at the left is not blank on purpose for the benefit of people who cannot read, rather it is a marker for the dredged channel.  The water can be otherwise quite shallow around here.

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A launch and a windsurfer exploring the possibility of flight.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

I think the same windsurfer.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

A small flotilla of launches coming in on the channel. 

You can see the channel marker in the mid background (in itself an indication the water is not as deep as it may seem).

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There was a parasurfer there as well.

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We are now around behind the marina and a paddle-boarder is proceeding out.  He may not require as large a mooring as those catamarans.

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The boat at front in the middle is an old pearling lugger with a Maori name, which may indicate it was used by Maori divers.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

We are now a bit further south at Cleveland Point.  There are a number of cormorants on this tree.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

With a slightly different angle, I am now shooting into the sun.  It is still a colour image but the extreme contrast has wiped out the colour.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

This is the old Cleveland Point Lighthouse, no longer in use.  It has an unusual design and was built in 1865.  It is a State lighthouse for local navigation so was not amongst the Commonwealth lighthouses I photographed in 1987 (Lighthouses tab, at top of page).

Half an hour after I took this photo, Brisbane went into a sudden COVID lockdown for at least seven days.  We worked that out later when we drove past a pub that had no patrons.  No flight for us to North Queensland early morning the day after next.

Fortunately, we were able to stay with our friends for the duration.  The lockdown did end after seven days but then there was a North Queensland lockdown for another three days.  That also ended after the three days and I would have waited and kept on going but I received a letter from the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) Government advising against further travel.  The problem was New South Wales where COVID was out of control by Australian standards because the NSW Government waited for 10 days before locking down.  Had I kept going I risked an ACT lockdown and either having difficulty returning or returning to 14-day hotel quarantine (as opposed to the much more benign home quarantine).

 

So after five days, I abandoned the North Queensland trip and returned to Canberra.

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Meanwhile, we stopped for the sunset at a beach a bit further south near Victoria Point.

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… as the light slowly receded.

MacLeay Island in the background and South Stradbroke Island beyond that.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts .

.Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts .

.Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts .

.Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts .

.Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts .

.Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts .

.Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

An obliging pelican swam up and posed for me.

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The light was getting very low and although I was using a lens with good image stabilisation, that does not compensate for subject movement and I underestimated what shutter speed I needed so the pelican in this image is not actually in focus.  (I decided to show it anyway because of the feel and the colour).

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A last image in the gathering doom….

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Then when we got back home, I went to change lenses on my cameras for more compact storage and discovered I was missing a lens – actually the new lens from my recent post on Setting Up the X-E4.  It had fallen out of my bag.

Clearly it wouldn’t be there the next morning so notwithstanding the lockdown, I went back to try to find it.  I thought it had probably fallen out of the bag when I bent down to take a photo using a small post as support. 

When we got back to where we had been, I immediately saw it on the road where the car had been parked.  It had fallen out when I got the bag out of the car, about eighteen inches to two feet.  Fortunately I hadn’t run over it.  It was unmarked, had no apparent ill effects and still worked fine including autofocus.  (Phew!)