Monday, May 28, 2012


Our next destination was Jindabyne NSW, where we stayed in a van park right on the shore of the lake of the same name. The view was great, the weather was perfect and we were hoping it would remain that way for our hike to the summit of the nearby Mt Kosciuszko (our highest mountain for those who may not know).

Lake Jindabyne

The next day was just as good and we caught the ski-lift at Thredbo to the start of the 13 km return walk to the roof of Australia. You can hike up from Charlotte Pass to save the cost of the lift pass but it's an extra 3 km. 

On the way up

The Snowy River originates in the National Park but is dammed at Jindabyne before winding its way for over 350 km to the sea at Marlo on the coast of southern Victoria.

Headwaters of the Snowy River

We passed this lake, a post glacial tarn and the highest (at 2042 metres) on the Australian mainland and about 900 metres from the summit. The name Cootapatamba is apparently an Aboriginal word meaning "the icy waters where the eagle comes to drink".

Lake Cootapatamba

We didn't see any eagles but a couple of  Nankeen Kestrels were spotted in the distance along with a smattering of wildflowers closer to hand. Even though it was late summer there were still a few alpine plants flowering including the ones below that I was able to identify at the park headquarters the following day.

Silver Daisies

Mountain Gentian and Billy Button (on left)

Although it was about 6 degrees celsius with the chilly wind, this lizard had found a protected spot in the sun and was making the most of it.

Black Rock Skink

The spectacular granite tors of the Ramshead range are a sight to behold on the trek up. They add a distinct otherworldly aspect to the already magnificent surrounds, like a scene out of Lord Of The Rings. 

Ramshead Range

The majority of the track is on a raised steel walkway that is easily negotiated by anyone with a modest degree of fitness and we took our time, doing the round trip in just under 5 hours so we could savour every moment we were up here.

The summit to right of Clare

Besides the Kestrels the only other birds we saw were Pipits and Ravens, the latter in a large flock that flew around us at the summit.

Australasian Pipit

Little Raven

One of the aims of our trip was to climb to Australia's highest peak and we achieved this goal with a feeling of great satisfaction. The highlight of our journey to date. And we timed it well, for the next day the weather closed in and most of the range was covered in heavy cloud.

At the summit (2,228 metres)

All up a fantastic day and well worth the effort and the cost of the chairlift to the start ($31.00 each).
Highly recommended.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


After leaving the Capertee Valley we headed to Lithgow, to use as a base for exploring the iconic Blue Mountains. Having never visited the area before and thinking it was a bit of a tourist trap and probably over rated, we were blown away by the stunning vistas and sheer size of  this virtually untouched wilderness on Sydney's doorstep.  

Grose Valley

The weather was perfect on our one and only day of exploring. The next three days it turned nasty with a wet, cold, windy change coming through, apparently not unusual in these parts. There was a plethora of walking tracks to choose from and with our limited time we settled for a couple of the shorter ones and even these were quite steep in parts. The bird life wasn't prolific but one of the more colourful ones caught my eye.

Crimson Rosella

The wildflowers were actually more conspicuous than the birds and with the aid of this very helpful website:  I was able to identify some of the specimens I photographed.

Trigger Plant

Mountain Devil


The Blue Mountains is another one of those places that has to be seen to be believed and pictures do not do it justice. A good week here would probably just scratch the surface.

Three Sisters

The weather finally improved on our way to Canberra and driving through the countryside one of the most common birds was the Nankeen Kestrel. I was able to pull up and get a quick shot of this male before he took off to do what they normally do, hover above the paddocks in search of prey.

Nankeen Kestrel

While in Canberra we visited the Australian National Botanic Gardens, a must see for anyone even remotely interested in plants. I could have sworn I was back in Queensland when we walked through the huge rainforest gully section. I was waiting for a Pitta to bounce out across the pathway! 
How they have created this habitat in a climate of extremes defies the imagination.  

Rainforest Walk - ANBG 

This juvenile Water Dragon was sunning itself on a rock along the walk.

Eastern Water Dragon

And a Raven was eyeing off our picnic lunch.

Australian Raven

One of the more common plants were these pretty flowers along another of the many walks through the gardens.

Christmas Bells

There was also a single young Wollemi Pine, a critically endangered species with less than one hundred trees growing in the wild not far from the Capertee Valley, in Wollemi National Park. It's a wonder they didn't have an armed guard keeping an eye on this one!

Wollemi Pine

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


From the Hunter Valley we headed south towards Glen Davis on the eastern border of the huge Wollemi National Park with an overnight stop at Battery Rock rest area on the way, where we discovered this unusual columnar basalt formation. The only other place we have seen this type of rock is at Mt Scoria near Bileola in central Queensland. See: 

Battery Rock

While taking photos of the spectacular sandstone escarpments of the Capertee Valley, where Glen Davis is situated, we could'nt miss this large raptor perched in a dead gum.

Wedge-tailed Eagle

The scenery around the Valley was amazing and it's difficult to convey in pictures or words the beauty of the area. You just have to see it for yourself!

The Capertee Valley

One of the main reasons for our visit was to look for the rare and endangered Regent Honeyeater and though we had a good look around the only one we saw was on a sign! We were probably about a month late, the last confirmed sightings had been back in late December 2011. The breeding season would have finished earlier and the birds had moved on since.

We weren't disappointed though by the variety of birds in the Valley and I scored a couple of lifers with a pair of Rock Warblers and a group of Chestnut-Rumped Heath-Wrens, all seen only a few minutes walk from our campsite at Glen Davis. Although I didn't snag any pics of these elusive birds there were others that were more obliging.   

Jacky Winter

Sacred Kingfisher

Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos

White-Plumed Honeyeater

Glen Davis itself was once a bustling mining town and the ruins of the shale oil processing plant are still obvious. It was the sole source of petroleum for Australia at one stage during World War Two. 

A return visit to the Valley is on the cards for us, spring being the best time to see the Regent Honeyeaters. Meanwhile a trip to Australia Zoo where this stunning species is on display is the next best thing for those of us yet to experience an "in the wild" sighting. See: