PHOTOS from Goulburn River NP

We camped at the Big River campground in Goulburn River National Park in early March in 2016, as part of our week-long trip south. 

 

Please find the photos from this camp-ground, below the text.

 

Perched above the Goulburn River, the view from the campsite was spectacular with stunning rock formations, but the site was disappointing in terms of bird-life, probably because the whole area was dominated by noisy miners. These native birds congregate in large family groups and, like bellbirds, are highly aggressive towards most other species that try to share their territory. A few species seem to be able to co-exist with them, but most of the smaller birds were gone. Laura and Pete saw Superb fairy-wrens (blue wrens) down near the river, but they were very fearful and difficult to photograph.

 

I witnessed their aggression towards a lone eastern rosella which they pursued from tree to tree, a dozen times, until eventually it flew away. Galahs and cockatoos didn't seem to feel threatened, and small flocks of musk lorikeets (a new species for us) flew in noisily and then seemed to be able to evade attention by feeding very quietly on the new fruits of just-flowered eucalypts. Other larger birds, magpies, currawongs, and kookaburras didn't seem to be attacked. Noisy friar-birds fed in trees on the other side of the river, maybe out of the danger zone.

 

Black-fronted dotterels and a family of magpie-larks (which we call peewees) foraged along the edge of the shallow water, and a white-faced heron flew in for a brief visit.

 

Eastern grey kangaroos were common and began appearing in the middle of the afternoon. Our spotlights found a brush-tailed possum in the trees above the camp-ground just after dark, and later a single red-necked wallaby. An old burrow was the only evidence we found of the presence of wombats. Wombats seem to be eluding us inspite of our efforts to find them.

 

In the absence of birds, insects were prevalent, in spite of the dry nature of the woodland environment and the sparseness of the grassy understorey. Locusts and grasshoppers surged away in short clicketty flights as we walked through the grass, and then blended perfectly in with their background, making them very difficult to find. Locusts had the curious habit of turning to face you after they landed (minimising their profiles) or retreating to the far side of a grass stem, making them difficult to photograph.

 

Scarlet percher dragonflies (I think), a species common around Australia, and a pair of mating damselflies posed conveniently for photos. Ants made huge low mound nests covering the ground for several metres, and the enormous sticky webs of the large female golden orb-weaver spiders were strung up between trees, which, along with the webs of spiny orb-weavers, created booby traps for people trespassing in their woodland areas on the hillsides. And as we were packing up, Laura found a scorpion that we photographed, near her tent-site.

 

We were so disappointed at the lack of variety of birds at this camp-ground, that we cut our visit short and left after only one night. But I think it would provide a great camping experience for children, with wide-open spaces, rocks to climb, woodland to explore, insects to study, and the river to paddle and swim in.

 

Laura provided the scene shots used in this gallery of photos. Thanks Laura! I find that I am often too lazy to swap the long lens on my camera for my wide angle lens. Laura has solved this problem by having two cameras! 

 

 

Big River camp-ground
Big River camp-ground

This is a view of part of the Big River camp-ground in Goulburn River NP. The river was below the camp-ground to the right in this photo and could be accessed by a steep set of steps down the slope. Photo provided courtesy of Laura. Thanks Laura!

View of the river
View of the river

The Goulburn River was quite shallow while we were there, during a dry spell.

Noisy miner
Noisy miner

It was a very hot afternoon, even in the shade, when we arrived at the campsite and this noisy miner is trying to cool down by holding its mouth open and its wings out from its body. The large group of noisy miners that dominated this camping area may have been responsible for the shortage of other bird species, even in the adjacent woodland.

Musk lorikeet
Musk lorikeet

Small numbers of musk lorikeets seemed to be able to evade the attention of the noisy miners by being very quiet as they fed on the young fruit of recently-flowered eucalypts. They didn't escape notice though, as they flew in in small noisy flocks.

Galah
Galah

This bird was just a silhouette against the sky. I have brightened the image in photoshop, confirming that it is a galah. It was not troubled by noisy miners

Cockatoo
Cockatoo

This cockatoo was, perhaps, too large to be threatened by noisy miners.

Magpie in the heat
Magpie in the heat

A black-backed magpie, trying to cope with the heat by breathing through its mouth and holding its wings out from its body.

Noisy friar-bird
Noisy friar-bird

There was a group of noisy friar-birds feeding in the tops of trees on the other side of the river - too distant for my long lens to be able to take a clear photo, I am afraid!

Laughing kookaburra
Laughing kookaburra

Resting in the trees above our tents in the late afternoon.

Black-fronted dotterels
Black-fronted dotterels

An adult black-fronted dotterel (left) with a young bird of the same species. These two birds seemed to be able to co-exist peaceably, but other adult birds were chased down the river.

Magpie-larks
Magpie-larks

A female magpie-lark feeding her voracious young. Females can be distinguished from males in this species by the white patches above and below her beak. The juveniles have a mixture of female (white below the beak) and male (white eyebrow) characteristics.

White-faced heron
White-faced heron
Eastern grey kangaroos
Eastern grey kangaroos

A pair of kangaroos cooling down in the Goulburn River.

Brush-tailed possum
Brush-tailed possum

This possum which lived in the the trees above the camp-ground, was the only possum that we saw on our single night of spot-lighting at the Goulburn River site.

Red-necked wallaby
Red-necked wallaby

Photographed while we were out spot-lighting. There were plenty of kangaroos here, but this was the only wallaby that we saw.

Wombat burrow
Wombat burrow

This old burrow was the only evidence of wombats that we found.

Dragonfly
Dragonfly

I think this is the species Diplacodes haematodes, the scarlet percher, which is found throughout Australia. It has a yellowish patch near the base of the hinds wings.

Dragonfly
Dragonfly

I think this is a female scarlet percher dragonfly, with a brownish patch at the tips of her wings.

Damselflies
Damselflies

A pair of damselflies, mating. The male is clasping the female behind her head, while she has the end of her abdomen brought forwards beneath the male to collect sperm.

Locust
Locust

In the absence of birds, insects were plentiful, including a variety of grasshoppers. This locust is a male, lacking the two hard dark hooks on the end of his abdomen.

Grasshopper
Grasshopper
Ant nest mound
Ant nest mound

Ants made large nest mounds, several metres in diameter.

Ants
Ants

Ants clustered around one of the entrances to the nest mound.

Golden orb-weaver spider
Golden orb-weaver spider

The large female golden orb-weaver spider (Nephila edulis) in an enormous web strung up between two trees. These are amongst the largest of Australian spiders. The tiny male can be seen near one of her rear legs.

Spiny orb-weaver
Spiny orb-weaver

I found this spiny orb-weaving spider in the centre of a big web strung out between shrubs, but it retreated to the side when I tried to take photos.

Scorpion
Scorpion

Laura seems to be quite adept at finding scorpions while she is packing up the tent she shares with Pete.