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Rollin' On The River

AUSTRALIA | Thursday, 7 December 2023 | Views [59]

Paddle Vessel Rothbury, Mildura, Victoria

Paddle Vessel Rothbury, Mildura, Victoria

THE MURRAY RIVER, THAT IS. Connie pointed out that not only had we rolled on this same river in 2004, we had been on the same Paddle Vessel Rothbury. As I recall, that trip included lunch at a winery, this one just cruised through Murray Lock 11 and we brought our own food along.


           No more cute Murray River references


                                   The Murray River System

The trees along the bank are reminders that the Murray regularly overflows its banks and the marker at Lock 11 shows some of the records. The river is so flat that Mildura has more than a month to prepare for the deluge, time enough for the cabins at the caravan parks to be towed to high ground. The trip was relaxing and a nice way to remember Mildura.


                  Murray River flood levels


                  Opening the Locks

We have returned to Mildura because it’s the nearest gateway to Mungo National Park, a rugged moonscape made more attractive to us by sightings of Crimson Chats. There were also several other birds we wanted to see at nearby Hattah-Kulkyne NP so we made the 4½ hour drive into Victoria for a look around. We won’t bore you with another recitation of our accommodations—suffice to say our AirBnB in Red Cliffs sets the standard by which all others should be measured. 6s! 


                 "The Cliffs," our best AirBnB ever Red Cliffs, Victoria


         Maybe next time, Mungo National Park (istockphoto taken from the internet)

Once we settled in, Connie started some serious research on Mungo. It would have been worth a visit on its own merits, absent Crimson Chats. The Park road had just reopened after a big rain and 150 kilometers on “possibly passable” unsealed roads was enough of a deterrent that even we decided to stay nearer to home. Hattah-Kulkyne is only 30 minutes from Red Cliffs on a nice paved road. Izzie’s final instructions were, “Park your vehicle in 100 meters. You will have to walk to your destination.” The weather was perfect and the trails were sandy and one of our targets, a Chestnut-backed Quail-Thrush, crossed the trail within the first ten minutes. So far so good. 


                Hattah-Kulkyne National Park


                Chestnut-backed Quail-Thrush

Connie, with her Bionic Woman hearing, wandered deeper and deeper into the mallee, pointing in the direction she heard something good. I dutifully followed with the camera, always keeping oriented to the main trail. In the end we saw one new bird, had a nice 3-mile walk and didn’t get lost.


                 Male Splendid Fairywren


                       Chestnut-rumped Thornbill 


                       Mallee Emuwren, Bird of the Day

We returned just after sunrise on Tuesday determined to find a Striated Grasswren and a Mallee Emuwren, both secretive and hard to see. Even when I am supposed to be on the lookout for a particular species I find myself distracted by “bright shiny objects.” While I was photographing a Splendid Fairywren and a Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, Connie both heard and saw the elusive Striated Grasswren—sadly, no photo. I did better with the Emuwren but it took a lot of chasing through the mallee scrub. And nearly all of my patience! 



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