Friday, 5 August 2011

Riversleigh


Part of the Lawn Hill National Park is a World Heritage site. For twenty years scientists have been searching the fossil deposits at Riversleigh that document terrestrial fauna and ecosystems 15-25 million years ago. One section is open to the public and is well worth the effort of getting there. We drove south from Lawn Hill gorge for about 50 kms on a dusty and rocky road with several river crossings. There were several other cars there when we arrived but after they left we had the entire place to ourselves. What a vast unpopulated country we live in.


From the road the information centre is almost invisible - it's been designed to look like a pile of rocks - and is formed like a cave inside. The information panels in the cave and on the 800 m walk are excellent. We read the illustrated panel and then saw the exact same fossil in the rock 'in situ' alongside. This is the turtle and there were about eight other animal fossils on the walk as well as information about the rocks and geology.



Fairy Martins had taken possession of the centre's ceiling and when we were inside we could hear a gecko clicking somewhere above us.


The drive down was really interesting as well. Huge termite mounds, cattle, the changing geology, river crossings, many birds including numerous flocks of budgies. There's always something of interest to look at.

We had our lunch at a little river crossing, flowing quite swiftly from a spring upstream, and ended up staying there all afternoon. It was so peaceful and I counted over twenty species of birds without moving from my deck chair. Many were coming down to the water to drink (Double-barred Finches, Crimson Finches, Painted Button-quails, White-gaped Honeyeaters, Yellow-tinted Honeyeaters, Rufous-throated Honeyeaters) and others were feeding in the trees and shrubs - some of which were flowering (Great Bowerbird, Black-chinned Honeyeater, Buff-sided Robin, Red-winged Parrot, Rufous Whistlers, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike). A Brolga waded down the creek towards us before veering off into the grass, Budgerigars and Black Kites flew overhead, the ubiquitous Willie Wagtails and Magpielarks were entertaining as usual and the noisiest of all were the Restless Flycatchers. The Brown Quails were a delight, walking in a little covey of about seven to the water to drink - of course the camera was in the car but then I don't generally do bird photos.

Termite mounds

Our lunch site. Magic.

Bauhinia cunninghamia Bauhinia (Bean Tree), a semi-deciduous tree flowering near the creek.

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