Mareeba and Surrounds

Great Egret prepares to roost for the night

 

Greetings from Mareeba,

It seems we have gone from one extreme to another…the van site we had in Cooktown was one of the hardest spots we have had to get into and here at the Trinity Plains Tourist Park we are in a huge paddock, all by ourselves.

Incredible to have so much space around us and the sky here is just enormous. We haven’t got any trees around us so no shade which makes it quite hot in the afternoons but the mornings are fantastic.

We also have the added bonus of the hot air balloons rising above the morning fog outside our dining window so it’s great to watch them while we are having our morning cappochinos.

 

 

With all this big sky around it’s a great spot for watching all the birds of prey.

So far we have seen numerous Black kites which are nesting here, the Black shouldered Kite, Whistling kite, Wedge tail Eagle, Brown Goshawk, Nankeen Kestrel and Little Eagle.

There seems to be a few squabbles going on too between them which is great to watch but not close enough for photos though Anthony is trying his hardest.

 

Whistling Kite at rest on a Termite mound
That Piercing stare of a Black-shoulderd Kite

 

Emerald Creek Falls is one of our favourite waterfalls in the area to visit.

You can climb right to the top where there’s a beautiful view .

Also lots of bottlebrush flowering with heaps of Honeyeaters feasting but extremely hard to get any photos as the birds just didn’t want to show themselves. It’s still great though just to hear them and be in their presence with the sound of water in the background, blissful and it’s only about 10 kms from the van park.

 

Emerald Creek Falls
The top of the Emerald Creek Falls

 

 

This morning we revisited Granite Gorge which is always a fantastic place in nature, we just love it there.

We didn’t see too many birds but there’s plenty of Dragonfly action…..an unbelievable amount of Orange thread tails, and you have to eyeball all of them just in case it’s something different.

I took a photo of Anthony almost crawling up a rocky wall backwards, just like a Goanna …..trying to get photos of a Archtail dragonfly.

It looked quite amazing so please enjoy.

 

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Its all about getting the shot !!!!!

Below is that shot …. I thought it was worth it.

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Archtail Dragonfly

 

And a few more ….

Female Tropical Rockmaster

 

Male Fig bird feasting in a Mulberry Bush at Granite Gorge
Every afternoon we walk around the back of the park grounds here where there is a
small waterhole.
Also a huge family of Curlews hiding in a young Eucalyptus Plantation and truck loads of Double barred finches on the edge of the trees. where they can quickly hide after feasting in the paddocks surrounding the plantation.
There’s a bit of birdlife around the big trees on the edge of the property so Anthony has been getting some amazing photos as the big sun is going down.
We are here for a few more days yet so hope to see plenty more critters.

Pale-headed Rosella this is the Northern Race
Double-barred Finch
Hoping to visit Kuranda tomorrow…..we used to live there so it’s always a bit of nostalgia going back.
Please enjoy the pics, no video as yet as I’m still working on it,
Bye for now Steph and Anthony.

A Mareeba Sunset

Cooktown NQ

Mud Frolicing

 

Hello from Cooktown.
Our road trip here was ok, though seemed rather long.
It was only about 2 and a half hours but we were hoping to stop at either the Palmer River roadhouse or at Lakeland for a cuppa break etc….
Well Palmer was on the wrong side so we decided to keep going to Lakeland and as we were approaching we thought at first the enormous rest area with loos on the left was the roadhouse, so started to pull in there with another car up our clacker which always makes us nervous when looking for somewhere to pull in.
We realised our mistake and pulled out again to realise we hadn’t even looked on the right side of the road and tucked away from the highway was the Lakeland servo……we had totally missed it.🤨🤨
We couldn’t turn around so had to keep going, I suggested we pull over at the next rest stop where I would cook us up some brunch and cappuccinos but there was no rest area big enough for us, which is unbelievable considering the big message out there. Stop Rest Revive to stay alive etc.
With no cuppa fix we were a bit frazzled when we rocked up to the Cooktown Caravan Park.
The site they had kept for us was heaps big enough but no room to manoeuvre….
With juggling other people’s vehicles and yours truly on the hand held uhf we did get in much to the dismay of a ex Truckie who said we would never get in there.🙄🙄

Part of the new Wharf Precinct
Picturesque Cooktown

 

Black Kite over Grassy Hill
Our front electric legs on our van had meanwhile just stopped. We weren’t sure if it was the motor, the switch or absolute horror… maybe the legs are bowed.
We had to manually winch the van off the truck ..not helping, our site was sloped towards the back, so we had to unwind the legs right down, which took forever.
I tried to help a bit, but started getting blisters really quickly from the handle so poor Anthony was stuck with that task. I suggested we at least have a cappuccino first but the power was out at the park……funny how there is always “icing on the cake “.
The rest of the afternoon was taken up with phone calls and we have ordered a new switch and are praying that is the problem otherwise we may be stuck here for a while….There is no way we will be able to winch 5 tonnes of van back on to the truck.
😖

The Endevour River

 

So the last few days we have been in better spirits and have been checking out our surrounds.

Well we really like it here. Cooktown is small but nicely laid out on the Endevour River. There’s lots of history here of course being James Cooks first landing etc so there is plenty to see in the way of monuments and old buildings, also a museum which will be interesting.

There’s a beautiful botanical garden with walks to a lookout and beaches.


Common Glider in flight over Keatings Lagoon

 

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Press Play to View Stephanie’s Video Snippets from 

Keatings Lagoon

 

The Lagoon
We have visited Keatings Lagoon twice, just south of Cooktown and have seen quite a few critters there.
We haven’t seen much elsewhere, but still plenty of places to check out.
The Spider (hunting) Wasp was enormous…..wow you wouldn’t want to get stung by one. I didn’t realise he was tackling a spider till I was filming for a while…..apparently they use the spider as a host to incubate their eggs how bizarre is that?.
I almost trod on the Green tree snake….he was pretending to be a blade of grass, absolutely beautiful green blue colour.
Also the goshawk was a bonus. I think we will be spending quite a bit of time at the Lagoon.
Pity about the Mozzies there, they are just bearable with plenty of spray.

Some amazing Paperbarks here
Female Brown Goshawk

 

Magpie Geese at rest after a frolic in the Mud

 

Enjoy the pics and video, I got great footage of the Spider (hunting) Wasp.

Cheers Steph and Anthony.

 

 

 

Raptor Mania at Iluka

Dog fight part 2
Brahminy and Sea-Eagle in a dog fight

 

Click or press on image for larger view 


Wow what can I say?? The photos and videos speak for themselves. This is a definite must do place to visit again. After missing out on the Sea Eagle photos we decided to cheat a little…… Anthony went to the Bait shop and found a whopping big mullet that cost $6, I couldn’t believe one bait fish would cost that much. We defrosted it and went back to the rocky ledge at Iluka Bluff and placed it where we could get good video and photos. The Brahminy Kite was on to it within minutes and had a great feed, of course birds of prey always eat the eyes first, must be some delicacy for them. He tried to lift it a couple of times but it was too heavy. He flew off  with plenty left over and we were hoping the Sea Eagles would come and pay a visit. We thought maybe they wouldn’t come  this time, we were scanning the perimeters for about half an hour.

Anthony’s battery was going flat and as he was changing it one of the Eagles appeared flying so low across the beach I almost missed him. He zeroed in on the fish and bang …..he grabbed it and was off. He must have spotted that fish from miles away, Amazing hey??
Of course Anthony couldn’t get his camera around in time and focus so sadly missed out but I managed to get it on video.🤩🤩
Today was our last chance to try again so another defrosted $6 fish and back down to the rocky ledge. This time the Brahminy was there with his mate so after one finished having a snack the other one came down. After a while the Sea Eagle appeared and tried to swoop the fish but the Brahminies wouldn’t let him , it was great to watch the mid air tussle going on. We were surprised that the Eagle gave up and took off but came back about an hour later and took us by surprise again, it’s unbelievable how fast a big bird like that is. I only just got it on video and Anthony missed out yet again.😪😪
But Wow what a fantastic show.

 

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Iluka Buff – featuring Sea-Eagle action


 

 

Brahminy Kite
Lunch time
Brahminy Kite trying to get airborne
All attempts failed to get Airborne
White-bellied Sea-Eagle
White-bellied Sea-Eagle

Click or press on images for larger view 


 

Iluka Bluff
Iluka Bluff and shelf

 


Blue-faced Honeyeater
Blue-faced Honeyeater
We walked through the rainforest at the Iluka reserve that is World heritage listed. Lots of birdlife there too and a really nice walk. We were lucky to spot the Rufous Fantails building a nest.The walk goes from the Bluff through to the harbour and township of Iluka around 1.5 hours one way.
So we have had an amazing time here, could probably stay longer but yet again the weather will be deteriorating from tomorrow afternoon so we want to get further up the road. Eventually we will have to work again so have to keep moving along. This was our last day on the coast, we will be inland at the Murwilumba Showgrounds for a few nights and then see how the weather shapes up. Please enjoy the pics and videos.
Cheers, Steph and Anthony.

 

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Other birds of Iluka Reserve

 

Sooty Oystercatcher
Tit bits for an Oystercatcher

 


 

 

‘Look’ a Land Mullet

Iluka Bluff

Whistling Kite
Whistling Kite staring us down
Looking over to Yamba from the Bluff
Looking over to Yamba from the Bluff

Click or press image for larger view


Hello everyone,

Today we hitched up and headed back to the coast. Anthony found a nice caravan park in a place called Woombah, in the Yamba region and the bigger town of Iluka is just up the road. We got here around lunch time, so after setting up and cuppochinos we headed out to explore. We only got as far as the Iluka Bluff, a fantastic headland with a great lookout. We just got to the top of the steps and were greeted by a Brahminy and Whistling Kite hovering very close over our heads. Just another WOW factor. The sky was so blue and not much wind. There’s a rocky ledge that comes out from the headland so we made our way down there and next thing a Brahminy Kite lands in front of us and starts ripping into this big dead fish laying on the rocks. To top it off there were Whales breaching just of the coast, incredible. The Brahminy took off after having a feast and instantly two Sea Eagles came soaring over the headland together…. I mean who ever gets to see two Sea Eagles soaring over their heads, lucky lucky us🤩🤩 We instantly thought they might come down to feast on the fish as well so we were quickly trying to move away, and get in a better position for photos and at the same time a couple were walking from the other direction also into the fish zone and before we could even think …….one of the eagles dived down around the backs of this couple and snatched up the fish prize and flew off into the sunset. We just stood there a bit stunned as we both missed a fantastic video and photos. The couple were hardly even aware that they were witness to an amazing act of nature and were more engrossed in their selfies in front of the waves. Wow people sure are funny.

Brahminy Kite guarding its prey
White-bellied Sea-eagle
The very Majestic Sea-Eagle

 

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Iluka Bluff Snippets

 


 

Pelican Flyby 


 

We ran out of time to explore further, tomorrow’s another day and there’s plenty more to see. The weather is looking good for the next few days so we can’t wait. Bye for now,

Steph and Anthony.


 

Mid North Coast- Last days

We will miss our daily dose of Brahminy Kites
And White-bellied Sea-eagle’s
And of course… Ospreys

Click or press image for larger view


Hello everyone, we moved our van from Grassy Head to Bellingen Showgrounds on Saturday. The school holidays were starting for NSW which means all the coastal caravan parks pretty much double their prices, so time for us to bail out. We have to slowly make our way back to Stanthorpe now, our Apple thinning job starts around the start of November and there’s still plenty of nature hot spots we want to check out on the way. The last few days we have been revisiting our favourite spots, like Urunga Boardwalk and Bongil Bongil NP and Nambucca. We could easily spend a lot more time down here, still many places we never got to see so we will definetly have to come back and explore some more.

The Showgrounds here in Bellingen are a cheaper option to camp and nice too, you can walk into the town easily and also straight over the road to the Bat Island. Most people would cringe at walking through a patch of forest so full of thousands of fruit bats but we thought it was pretty awesome. It’s great that they are tolerated here and have a nice place to roost during the day. Most councils are always under pressure from the public to move them on……God only know where too, well maybe we are just kooky and spooky but we love seeing happy bats of all sizes.

 

Grey-headed Flying foxes on Bellingen Island


 

Beautiful colours of the Wompoo Fruitdove

Other birds captured over the last couple of days


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Last critter snippets from the Mid North Coast 


 

It was great to finally see Dragonflies emerge


 

There is some rainy weather coming so we hope we can dodge around it somehow. We really love the blue sky for our photos. Tomorrow we will head up to Grafton only a couple of hours drive but Chloe our cat is still getting used to the travelling side of things so don’t want to do too big a trip. Enjoy the pics and video,
Bye for now, Steph and Anthony.

Bongil Bongil National Park – Top Spot