Sunday 6 May: Birds, Turtles, Gliders & Platypus

Author: Mrs A

Location: Carnarvon National Park, Qld

After several early starts, Sunday morning began much slower, and we decided to enjoy a leisurely breakfast while enjoying our view. Tassie of course made the most of us being there, and after her customary explore of our site, settled down on a cushion in the sunshine.We decided a slower pace all round was required for today, and set off to do a 7km walk down in the gorge. We started with a trail called the Nature Walk, an easy stroll along Carnarvon Creek, occasionally crossing via stepping stones, and tagged on another walk to the Rock Pool, a large natural swimming hole further along.The Pied Currawongs were plentiful, and sat in their dozens up in the canopy gorging on tree fruit and whooping and whistling their delight. If you have never heard this sound, I would check out the little snippet of video I recorded while we were walking along, purely to capture it (Click here: Currawongs calling in Carnarvon Gorge) it was incredible.

Little Straited Thornbills, tiny little yellow, mottled birds flitted around the trees on the water’s edge hunting for insects, almost impossible to photograph. And under the water, we spotted a short necked turtle, hunting in the shallows – definitely impossible to photograph!Little red backed fairy wrens were often seen hopping around the trees, their feathers glowing in the sunlight. It was a stunning afternoon’s walk, with barely another soul seen.After seeing someone jump into the waters at the Rock Pool, we decided against going for a dip…we’d heard enough profanities for one day!Instead, we returned to camp for a relax and read before an early dinner. We had more walking ahead.

Michelle and Simon are two experts who have worked in the gorge for a number of years, taking visitors on tours, bringing the scenery and wildlife to life. Simon had presented the introductory talk when we arrived on Friday, and Michelle was who met us and half a dozen other couples after sunset that evening.

She brought along binoculars and herself had a powerful torch with an orange light filter. Yes, we were going spotlighting. Mr A and I saw a brush tailed possum and two black brumbies (wild horses) on our drive down, so had high hopes for the evening. It didn’t take long for us to find our first beast – a chattering call from the treetops drawing us into the woodland and allowing us to see our first Yellow Bellied Glider.

At first, a glider looks similar to a possum, being furry with a long tail, but its main difference is the stretch of skin reaching from its wrists to its ankles, allowing it to deftly glide from tree to tree. The tail is not used at all in climbing, more of a tool for balance and perhaps as a rudder while in the air. We watched her as she travelled from tree to tree, feeding on the sugary sap from the trunks, and hunting for nectar among the flowers.Down at the creek it was seconds before we spotted a Platypus swimming along, hunting for larvae under the water. Just magical, and I gave up trying to capture an image! Across in the gorge, it was a Greater Glider’s eye-shine which captured our attention, sitting on the side of an old gum tree letting his diet of eucalyptus leaves digest.

Our torchlight walk finished around 9pm with a sighting of a little burrowing frog who had emerged from the sand, no bigger than a 10 cent piece, it was amazing nobody trod on him. Michelle’s knowledge about everything was incredible – there was not a question she couldn’t answer, she clearly knew her stuff. A fabulous evening, and great conclusion to our stay at the gorge.

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