3-6 September: Rivers and lakes…continuing our journey south through Queensland

Author: Mrs A

Location: Calliope River and Lake Redbrook, Queensland, Australia

While we were in Rockhampton we received a message from some old travelling friends, fellow Zoners (owners of the same brand of caravan as us, Zone), who originate from New Zealand (‘The Kiwi Zone’!). They were visiting Great Keppel (Wop-pa) Island, and would be travelling back through Rockhampton on the 3rd, staying an hour south of the city on a free camp beside the Calliope River. We decided to change our plans and headed down there early on Friday to secure us a campsite.

The Calliope River winds its way down from the Calliope Range, through this area before emerging into the Pacific Ocean just north of Gladstone. Our free camp was on the northern bank of the river, where we found ourselves a level patch of grass with plenty of sunshine to top up the solar power.

Both north and south banks of the river were packed with caravans and campers. There is a two night limit to staying, but it was clear that some people had spent a lot longer living in this location. You need to have brought in all your own water, and while there are public toilets, there are only two males and two females – hardly enough for the dozens of vans present. I just hoped some of these travellers were spending money in the local region to help pay for the upkeep of these facilities.

We had a wander down to the river, finding people fishing, children launching kayaks, and a pair of Brahminy Kites soaring on the breeze.

In the trees, a frenzy of bird calls led us to look up, and we found the Scaly Breasted Lorikeets lived here – cousins of their more common Rainbow Lorikeets. We’ve seen photos of these birds but never before in person, so this was a lovely sighting.

A pair of Scaly-breasted Lorikeets – a first for us!
A Brown Honeyeater shows it is possible to drink nectar before the flower blooms
A young Mud Crab hiding in the rocks on the river – a huge 2kg crab was caught somewhere near here two years ago, which made the news. There was nothing that big around on our visit!
A Magpie Lark keeps a lookout from up in the trees

We had a lovely evening catching up with Beverley and Ben, many laughs and travel tales told. It was sad to say goodbye the following morning, thinking it may be many years, if at all, before we meet again.

The Kiwi Zoners – Beverley and Ben joined us for an evening

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Lake Redbrook was our next destination, a 165 acre property bordered by sugar cane plantations. Run by ‘Gazza and Shazza’ (Gary and Sharyn Walters) it was a welcome respite from the roaring road trains and frenzy of the Bruce Highway we have spent so much time on, and alongside, the past 10 days.

Located south of Bundaberg and close to the small town of Childers, it’s a nature lover’s paradise, with a bird-filled lake, native woodland and a friendly nightly campfire to meet the owners and some of your fellow campers. In July, Childers holds a festival with food stalls, live entertainment, tours and events, with this lake the location for afternoon opera with local wines and antipasto for sale. It would be the perfect setting for such an event.

While we decided not to visit the small historic town of Childers, a short drive away, we found plenty to entertain ourselves on the property, spending our day and a half spotting just shy of 40 different types of bird.

Redbrook Lake
We get a workout carrying our spotting gear!
Always a Laughing Kookaburra, one of Australia’s 10 species of kingfisher
A muddy beak shows this chap has been digging in the water’s edge for its meal

There’s a bird hide alongside the lake’s edge, from which we spotted Royal Spoonbills, Pelicans, Pied Stilts, Black-fronted Dotterels, Intermediate Egrets and more. As we watched I saw an Australian Kestrel soar low over the water, landing on a dead tree on the water’s edge. I quickly snapped a photo, discovering it was disappearing into a hollow, most likely a nesting site.

An Australian Kestrel has found a fine location for a nest
Pied Stilt on the water’s edge
A pair of Royal Spoonbills
Mark counted 20 turtles balancing on this fallen log and there are more in the distance
An Australasian Figbird – they are more olive than yellow in these parts
Many Tree Martins make their home here and are seen swooping over the lake catching insects
A Crested Pigeon perches precariously on a branch
A group of Grey-crowned Babblers hunting for invertebrates in the orchard
Too common for the aviary, this is a wild Double-barred Finch in the woodland
A pair of Pale-headed Rosellas fly in for a visit
Australian Maned Duck (also known as a Wood Duck)
A Rainbow Lorikeet finds the newly flowering Grevillea

The site owners have quite a collection of birds and animals on site, including a finch aviary, beautiful peacocks (both blue and the more exotic white), a small herd of Moluccan Rusa deer (native to Indonesia). The property is also a working sugar cane farm.

A magnificent Pied Peacock – not an Australian native!
He leaps down as soon as he spots a group of Peahens strolling past, and up go the tail feathers
He is quite a handsome specimin
He knows how good looking he is!
Meanwhile, in the aviary, this pretty Gouldian Finch is an Aussie native, but we haven’t seen one in the wild
Smile for the camera!
They are quite shy deer
Very curious if cautious creatures

There was even one rare creature in captivity:

I didn’t get there in time to put the locking pin in!

It was a great couple of nights’ stay in stunning surroundings with some very welcoming and kind hosts, and somewhere we would definitely recommend to others.

We recognise and thank the Gubbi Gubbi First Nations people upon whose traditional Country we stayed and traveled on, and pay our respects to elders past, present and upcoming.

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