Sunday, June 6, 2010

Atherton Tablelands - Part 3 - The Crater and Lake Eacham

The day was disappearing fast and our visit to the Atherton Tablelands was soon to end. Deciding to only use one day in this fantastic area was hard and it was truly tempting to stick around, but other places were on the list. If we had gone exclusively for the birds we would probably have taken a day more or two, Atherton Tablelands boast a bird list claiming an impressive 327 species of which 12 are local endemics i.e. those 12 species can only(!) be seen while scouting through the tablelands.

Before leaving we had a final few great spots to visit: Firstly we would visit The Crater in Mount Hypipamee National Park and secondly, Lake Eacham - one of the two lakes constituting the Crater Lakes National Park.

The Crater is an impressive volcanic formation called a volcanic pipe - I am no expert, but the internet comes in handy :-) - pressure from gasses generated at the molten lava rock underground have at some point become so large that they literally ripped the granite bed rock above apart, forming a chimney where trough the volcano could vent. The hole is nearly perfectly cylindrical with a diameter of 61m and a dept of more than 140m, the lower ca. 80 meter of the crater has over time been filled with water forming quite an impressive pool - could be a good spot for practicing your free-diving skills(?) ;-)

A small but good walk, a couple of minuets at the crater and an equal amount of time spend at the Dinner Falls and we were of to Lake Eacham. Both Lake Eacham and Lake Barrine in the Crater lakes National Park are old burned out volcanoes that after having been filled with water have created a couple of unique tableland lakes. Arriving at Lake Eacham we were quite birded out - the intense hunt for new feathered sightings had taken its toll and quite frankly we did not really care much about the bird count anymore :-D

Instead of trying to follow every little twitter we decided to do a good solid 4km walk around the lake. We had a lovely walk lots of chatting and very few pictures - not bad at all. A couple of resident water dragons [update; Great Boyd's forest dragons - credit to Jarrod] managed to display so impressively though that I could not resist charging the flash and getting a couple of photos.

A trip like our 5 day escape to far north Queensland generates an enormous amount of brochures readily available from tourist information offices, guides and motels etc. They often end up piled in the bottom of the car making it impossible to find the one you want. Of all the glossy paperwork we received, this folder was the most helpful finding our birding ways in the highlands - so if you are going north then why not bring an electronic copy - I bet someone out there will argue that a certain recent Apple product could prove helpful in such situations :-D

Looks like I will have to hope for the Helmeted Guineafowl becoming tick'able one day ;-)

1 comment:

Jarrod said...

Great Boyd's forest dragon and I thought Helmeted Guinea fowl were on the Aus list but I'm probably wrong.