Once you leave the main city of Darwin, prices go up the further you go into the bush for petrol and groceries. Katherine has a couple supermarkets and some fast food places and small cafes and the petrol there is only a little bit more than Darwin.
We discovered a great place after leaving Howard Springs, the Palmerston Shopping Centre. It’s about a 10 minute drive and the Coles has everything you need at normal prices.
Since we only had a small collapseable cooler, we bought some hamburgers, steaks and sausages for BBQing and sandwich meat, cheese, bread, ramen noodles and snacks for the inevitable picnics in the bush while birding. Soft drinks and large water bottles are cheap here so stock up as it gets hot out there and you need to stay hydrated! Don’t forget the sunscreen and mosquito repellent!
Heading south towards Pine Creek there are some nice places to stop, stretch and use the conveniences. Adelaide River has some nice birding spots but it was around 1pm by the time we got there and any birds were sensibly taking a siesta.
Possible overnight stop if you can make it out of Darwin by 4pm so you get here before dusk.
Throughout the Territory you will find all-purpose stores like this one. The selection won’t be great and the prices higher than the city to reflect the costs of transport.
There were a few birds taking shelter in these trees behind the rest rooms.
We only stayed here for around 15 minutes because there were no birds at that time of day so we continued on to Pine Creek.
Cunnamulla is a very welcome sight after a long drive from Brisbane – especially if you’ve done it all in one day! You’ll pass through here enroute to Bowra Station and possibly come here for shopping and meals during your stay.
Scenes around town
They do have accommodation although I highly recommend birders stay at Bowra Station.
Boulders is a great place to eat and check your emails.
There wasn’t much in the way of souvenirs – a real gap in the market as they could do well selling Aboriginal art and paintings of wildlife.
The resident flock of Little Corellas can sometimes be seen at the town park and sometimes down by the river.
Security guard for the laundry!
The other welcome sign on the east-bound road.
This is a trip I took back in March 2014 that I’m just getting around to blogging about. The destination was Bowra Station near Cunnamalla, but in this case getting there was half the fun! Outback Queensland has some quirky cafes, cool little towns and lots of wildlife.
It’s at least a 10 hour drive, could be more if you run into roadworks and of course you will need comfort and lunch stops so you want to leave as early as possible in the morning. The aim is to reach your destination by dusk to avoid the hazard of kangaroos on the roadside. See my other posts on planning a birding trip in SE Queensland and road trips in general.
Once you get past Toowoomba, just follow the signs to St George. There’s a town named after me along the way. OK, it’s not named after me but it should have been!
Road works can slow you down as they often close one whole lane of traffic.
In this next group, some of the photos are sideways. They are not this way on my computer, they display properly. However when I try to load them to the blog, they are being flipped sideways and WordPress won’t let me edit them. So I apologize for you having to twist your head to see them.
On the outbound, we had lunch at a small town called Moonie with a very quirky cafe, even quirkier restrooms and souvenirs!
Lunch on the return trip was this cool little place in St George.
Your chances of seeing a koala while driving along at 80-100 kph is nil but keep an eye out anyway in case they are crossing the road.
We did arrive at Bowra Station before dark. I don’t remember what time we left but it was around 5am-ish so we made pretty good time. For a future trip, I would probably break the journey somewhere like Lake Coolmunda (excellent birding!) for a night. It was a very exhausting drive!
Over the last few years, we have been concentrating on elaborate overseas birding trips funded by airline miles. Now that the miles opportunities are slowing down, we’ll be doing more road trips out of our home town of Brisbane to birding hotspots. This has always been part of the plan as I mentioned back around New Years. We are actually very lucky in that there are many to choose from within a 3-4 hour drive!
I thought I’d point out a few advantages road trips have over trips that involve flying.
- You can pack as much as you want without regard to size or weight. And you don’t have to fight for overhead bin space.
- You can leave anytime you want, no worries about catching the last bus to the airport or calling a taxi.
- You can stop and eat when and where you want. Grab some fast food or take a leisurely lunch with a scenic view!
- You can bring food from home to BBQ, cheaper than eating out.
- You can bring camping gear to save on accommodation.
- No security (TSA/airport) searches.
- No waiting in line unless you hit traffic during school holidays or Christmas/Easter breaks. Just don’t travel at those times.
- You can play any music you like while driving.
- No screaming kids (unless they are yours)! And if they are yours at least you aren’t bothering other people.
- Stretch out and be comfortable – no cramped airline seats.
- No currency conversions/devaluations (especially since the AUD has been nose-diving)!
- No immigration & customs hassles to deal with – at least for Aussies. There’s no other country we can drive to!
Over the next few weeks, I will be blogging about some cool places you can drive to from Brisbane. We just returned from Lake Coomunda (green dot near Oman Ama) and Karara/Gore/Durikai (red dot). Then I will cover a road trip we did last year which was a bit longer and involved driving to Bowra Station near Cunnamulla (not on this map but to the west of Inglewood), the Stanthorpe/Girraween area (blue dots) and Lamington National Park (purple dot).
This is by no means a complete list of birding hotspots in Queensland, they are just the ones I have been to personally.