Sunday, December 29, 2013

D'entrecasteaux National Park and Windy Harbour - A quick WA escape

Another set of photos from some lovely days visiting WA. The south western corner of Australia manages to produce great holidays all year around. Going towards an Australian winter, there is not a place much better for some wind and vistas. In particular, I find the beaches down around Windy Harbour and D'entrecasteaux National Park simply stunning.

A low setting sun gives a fantastically warm, lovely light that is well worth a few shots and some photo stitching. I am fairly pleased with the outcome of the first pano in this post, and equally disappointed about the last one - these two panos were shot with only a few minutes between, but very different light. Click the various photos to be taken to high(er) resolution versions of them.

There was a decent number of waders hanging out at windy harbour. I guess a name like that does not necessarily attract hordes of tourists longing for long strolls along a wind blown beach, and indeed that day windy harbour lived up to its name and those birds seeking refuge at the beach had very few visitors to keep an eye out for.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Wentworth Falls in the wet

Rainy weather and still up for some tramping? Danes are not too scared of getting a bit wet, if we were, we would end up sitting inside our houses waiting for better weather most of our lives - at least true for the Danes having decided to use most of their lives back home in good old DK.

This "not too scared" approach has gotten me into some epic wet walks with Jarrod, who seems to have a even more extreme joy for feeling miserable, wet, lost and cold while tramping the Australian wilderness

Hence, it was not a big surprise that Jarrod was keen to come along for a bit of waterfall spotting in Wentworth Falls after a few weeks of big rain in the Blue Mountains. All that rain had secured record amounts of water in the falls and we were both keen to see the Wentworth fall at its best .. even with the forecast predicting more rain. From the beginning it all looked like a terrible idea. We used the first little hour walking along the Charles Darwin Walk towards the fall in heavy rain and misty conditions - no wildlife, no visibility and no dry clothes. Arriving at the falls, at first, we still did not have much visibility, but the roaring sounds of the fall was pretty impressive. I have seen the falls during a dry Australian summer as not much more than a trickle, the falling water hardly being able to make it to the bottom of the valley beneath, since most of the water evaporated into the dry hot air. Needless to say that waterfalls are more impressive when full of water - Our trip suddenly started to make sense. Standing at the top of the falls, we realized that luck was on our side, it had stopped raining, a breeze had found a way into the valley and the clouds surrounding us slowly began to lift - revealing some of the prettiest views I have had in Australia - A proper goosebumps moment! It is unfair to try to pack all that greatness into a 400 pixel wide photo and clicking to go to the higher resolution version only helps a little. Being wet, tired and having used three hours to get to the top of the falls also helped in making it all feel a little special - even the takeaway pie and coffee seemed to taste better that afternoon, how lucky can you be?..!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Warrumbungle National Park - Grand High Tops Walk - Road trip with Danish visitors - Part 6

The Grand High Tops Walk is one of the best walks I have done in Australia! It is mentioned in my good old "Walking in Australia - 60 Great Walks" book. The beauty of the Warrumbungle National Park is that it has it all, including some spectacular vistas. Alfred J. Pincham donated some very pretty country side - probably not the worlds best farmland, but pretty indeed.
Once again I will have to excuse the ridiculously large delay between when I actually experienced the events described in my blog post and when I managed to get it online. Our Warrumbungle trip was from before the terrible fires that ravaged Warrumbungle National park earlier in the year. Hopefully, the flora and fauna in the park will once again show its resilience towards fires and manage to spring back to glory much faster than what anyone expect.
Great views and the iconic rock formation known as "The Breadknife" located approximately a third of the way into the walk, easily justify the uphill struggle you have to endure during the first part of the walk. The "razor" thin vertical rock formation is pretty special indeed.

Having been amazed by standing at the base of the breadknife itself, it only gets better when continuing the walk. As you wind your way up the mountain, you get increasingly impressive views, of the breadknife in particular.

Halfway through the tour it is mandatory to sit for a while "on top of the world" and just be amazed by the spectacular volcanic landscapes surrounding you. Ancient old volcanic "cores" have been left standing while the landscape around them have eroded away. Creating a varied rough green landscape with huge bare brown-black domes scattered around breaking all the greenness. Fantastic views - That day, sitting there in Warrumbungle looking at all that prettiness, was the day I decided to invest in a wider lens, 50 mm did just not cut it! - I know, I can stitch photos together, but there is something special in being able to catch it all in one go.

There was good wildlife along the way. In the forest part in the beginning of the walk was a good selection of birds, nothing breathtakingly exciting, but nice to have some winged companions around during the walk.
Warrumbungle National Park is a well visited park and the walking tracks are constantly busy, hence birds are very familiar with us humans roaming around in their habitat. This allowed me to get fairly close to a number of birds and get some decent close-ups. Like for the Double-barred Finch and Red-Browed Finch below: In the rockier upper part of the walk we very treated with numerous sightings of White's Skink, Egernia Whitii. Wikipedia mention that "It is highly variable", which the three photos below will support, note that color is by all means a poor identification method for this skink, but the spots is the give away.
Also a Copper-tailed Skink, Ctenotus taeniolatus, was out to enjoy the heat and despite of not seeing any new birds and the sad lack of a snake sighting, we could have hoped for no more.

All in all a fantastic road trip with my Danish visitors! Gundabooka National Park and Warrumbungle National Park is a great combination for a display of some Australian nature. One being dry, red and dusty and the other sporting green forest, old brown volcanoes and fantastic walks - as mentioned above Warrumbungle burned earlier in the year, but I am sure it will soon be worth visiting again.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Warrumbungle National Park - Road trip with Danish visitors - Part 5

Warrumbungle National Park is one of those places that just feels really right from when you first enter the park. Great nature, some of the most spectacular views NSW has to offer, a good selection of wildlife and lovely campsites - all in all an excellent place for a long weekend. The only negative thing I can say about Warrumbungle National Park, is that as a bird habitat it is not different enough from areas much closer to Sydney to support more rare and "exotic" bird species. My Danish visitors were, however, not too concerned about the lack of ticking possibilities and frankly, I enjoyed being able to concentrate on doing some good bushwalking rather than having to stand and examine any scrub or bush that had managed to produce a chirp - lovely to know that there was no chance of the LBB (little brown bird) that had produced the sound would be new on my list. The creature that can get those fresh of the plane Danes fired up is the kangaroo! After nearly six years in Australia, I had forgotten how strangely different these jumping marsupials are compared with the fauna at home. Maybe as a consequence of the new found attention on their behavior, we managed to experience something I have only seen very briefly before, kangaroos fighting each other. Two younger males from a little group of kangaroos were on their back legs circling each other while punching with their front legs and once and a while trying to land a kick from those powerful hind legs.
At first it seemed much like a part of a game, but as it continued it was pretty clear that it was not just for fun and that "the game" would continue till a winner was found. White-winged Choughs greeted us when we returned to the campsite - indeed they greeted us wherever we walked - warning everyone about our arrival. The Leaf-curling Spider below is always a good photo opportunity. Its ingenious way of recycling leaf litter allows it to sit protected while keeping watch over its web. Many other spiders do not dare to be actively hunting during the day, since the roles can easily change and they would become the hunted. Notice how the leaf-curling spider sits with a few of its legs gently placed onto the web, ready to strike as soon as it registers vibrations caused by caught prey. The drive from Gundabooka to Warrumbungle had taken quite a bit of the day and we decided to have an early night, the following day we would do the Grand High Tops circuit, which is best done well rested. We had arrived late at the campsite and had had some difficulty in finding good flat areas for our tents - at least flat areas in safe distance from known snorers. I had, after quite some time, found a great spot away from other tents and had happily pitched my tent. Crawling into my tent that night, my head torch pointed straight down into the ground and I noticed a few circular holes with shiny reflections in them .. I had apparently camped in the middle of a spider colony! I was unlikely to find a better spot for my tent in the darkness and the action packed dirt just outside my tent gave a fantastic opportunity for playing around with my macro lens (the Sigma 150mm f/2.8) trying to get focus (and flash) on the spider sitting approximately 5 to 10 centimeters deep in its burrow .. It took quite a few attempts before I got the one above.