Sunday Afternoon, Girraween National Park


It seems like I am writing an awful lot and not processing my pictures, but I enjoy writing, and processing my pictures is like work, so I am indulging myself.


I left Lamington about 9:30 this morning, I think, after using Davidís satellite internet connection again to do email and put up Ramblings07.† I asked him about Duck Creek Road, my unpaved option down off the mountain, and he wasnít encouraging.† He said it was pretty rough and it hadnít been graded since the last big rains, and there were several washouts.† Four wheel drive only, for sure, and a higher clearance vehicle than mine would be advisable.† Needless to say, I went back down the twisty paved road, with its one lane stretches and all.† Going down, I met 32 vehicles, including one huge tour bus.† I had to stop once or twice, but made it easily enough, in about a half hour, to the real roads down below.


So, I set out on my 3 Ĺ hour drive from there, following the directions I had gotten from Google Maps, before I left home.† All went well until the town of Woodenbong, where the road got pretty small, and it looked like it was going to get smaller.† Sure enough, as I went along, it kept getting narrower, until it was too narrow for a center stripe.† There wasnít much traffic, which helped me realize that it wasnít the main road I was expecting.† It went up into the hills a bit, and the narrow bits lasted for about 60 miles or so, I think.† Finally it started down a bit and got a bit wider, and I thought I had passed the worst of it.† Then all of a sudden I had 15 kilometers (about 9 miles) of dirt road to traverse.† I was laughing at myself Ė here I was thinking I was on a main route, and I ended up on a dirt road.† What a riot!† The dirt road wasnít too bad, but it was dusty and somewhat corrugated.† Fortunately, I didnít meet any oncoming vehicles on that stretch, as I would have had to eat their dust.


Eventually the road wound down into Stanthorpe, which is close to where I am staying, at Girraween Na tional Park.† Iím not actually in the park, but about a mile outside of it.


I got gas in Stanthorpe, and I had intended to lay in some provisions, too, but I had forgotten about rural Aussie towns Ė even the Woolworths was closed on a Sunday afternoon.† Never in America, thatís for sure.† I have my ďiron rationsĒ, though, several cans of Campbellís Chunky soup, and some bread, cheese, and a bit of roast beef left, so Iíll be fine.† The place I am staying had promised a generous breakfast basket, too, and it indeed is generous, with three kinds of cereals, a bowl of eggs (from their own chickens, no doubt), and even cookies (biscuits to the Aussies).† There is also orange juice and some home canned apricots or peaches, as well as coffee, tea and hot chocolate mix with milk to make it with.† Also yogurt.† With a little cheese and my roast beef, brekkie will be a fine meal.† A can of soup will do for dinner, with maybe some bread and butter or some cheese, with cookies for dessert.† It is only about 6 miles in to a small town, or about 15 miles the other way to a larger one, so I will restock tomorrow.


I had a late lunch (my roast beef sandwich and the rest of my potato chips) at the Storm King Dam, near Stanthorpe.† I had been told that I might see Musk Duck there, but I didnít.† I had a nice lunch, though.† By that time it was about 3 oíclock, and I hadnít seen any new birds for my trip list.† I was wondering if this was the first day that I would get skunked and not add any birds to my trip list (that day is sure to come eventually).† But, then I saw a small raptor land on a telephone pole, so I turned around to go back.† As I was turning around, I saw an Eastern Rosella in a vineyard, so I was off the Schneid Ė my first trip bird of the day.† I went back to get a look at the small raptor, and it was a Nankeen Kestrel, a very pretty bird.† Number two for the day.† As I watched, a second one flew in and landed on the same pole.† The original one fluttered over to the new one and landed on top of her.† I say ďherĒ because the first one proceeded to get a little ďactionĒ, if you know what I mean.† Wink, wink, nod, nod, say no more.† After he had done his business, he flew off and the female stayed for more viewing.† Beautiful color on that species.† It had just started to rain a bit, and it looked like it would get worse, so I was glad to have seen two trip birds for the day.


My little home from home for the next two nights is another cottage, again at an elevation of about 3000 feet, and again with only a wood stove for heat.† It is about 66 in here now, and Iíll see if it gets cold enough to fire up the stove.† I would guess not, but we will see.† Anyway, when I went to check in, I discovered that there are a number of bird feeders around the front porch (ok, veranda) of the farmhouse where the owners live.† It is also a chocolate shop, and it smells heavenly in there.† Anyway, at the feeders, there were two or three dozen King-Parrots, several Crimson Rosellas, a dozen or so Red-browed Finches, a half-dozen or so Double-barred Finches, several Common Bronzewings, a couple of Peaceful Doves, and one White-browed Scrubwren.† It turns out that they fill the feeders twice a day, about 6:30 am and at about 3 pm.† In that mix of birds, I racked up three more trip birds. †Robin, the owner, knows his birds, and he told me what other ones I would see on the property, and I did indeed already see one of them, Yellow-faced Honeyeater.† So, after being worried at 3:30 that would get skunked today, I ended up adding 6 more species to my trip list, although no lifers today.


As I got settled in to my little cottage (called Rose cottage, and the whole establishment is called Wisteria Cottage), the rain started falling in earnest, and it has kept up for about 90 minutes so far.† It is really nice, sitting here in my cottage, with a great view out across the farm and the valley to the forest on the other side, while listening to the rain on the metal roof.† I love rain anyway, and rain on the roof is one of my favorite sounds.† I am hoping it will all blow through tonight and that tomorrow will be bright and sunny.† For now, life is good, though.† Oh yes, I am also sipping on Queensland beer, which adds to the ambience.† This is a very small cottage, but entirely adequate for my needs.† It is also probably the best bargain of my trip, at Au$75 per night (about $60 American at this point), and that includes the generous breakfast basket.† Robin said I could come over in the morning and use his high speed internet connection, too, so I will do email and try to get this Ramblings up on the website.† His internet connection is via microwave to a tower nearby Ė there are all kinds of creative solutions to the isolation and small population over here.† He offered to let me use his computer, but I will see if I can get mine connected somehow.


By the way, in retrospect, and having looked again at a map, I think Google misled me again.† I think there was a way to get here on main roads that probably would have been faster, although maybe been a little longer in distance.† Still, the way I came was interesting, and it kept me awake, wondering if the road was going to peter out entirely or turn to an unpaved one.† Sure, enough, I did have my 9 miles of dirt, but it could have been a lot more.


Iíve got kangaroos in the paddock (pasture) out in front of cottage, and Iíll try to get some pictures tomorrow, hopefully in better weather, with better light.† It is 5:30 now, and it is starting to get pretty dark out there, with the rain clouds and all.† I also hope to get some pictures of the birds at the feeder, down at the house.† I am up a bit on a hill, about two hundred yards from the house and the road.† Pictures to follow, someday, hopefully, when I am feeling less lazy.† This would be a perfect night to do them, as there is no TV here, but I just donít feel like it, at this point.


Thatís enough for tonight, I guess.† Maybe I will add some more in the morning.† When the rain has passed and the sun is shining.


Monday Morning


I slept well again, although the bed is too firm for me and the one quilt was too warm at the beginning of the night..† It was 62 in here when I settled down at 9:30 and 56 when I got up for good at 6:30.† I am staying on an early schedule so far, which was my intention.


The rain lasted about three hours yesterday evening, and it rained pretty steadily for that time.† This morning it is overcast and things are wet, but Iíll be surprised if it rains again today.† It will be wet walking in the forest, though, and my shoes will get all muddy no doubt.


I plan to cook up some eggs in the microwave and add the rest of my sliced roast beef to them, and then have some cereal, juice, and maybe one of the little yogurts in the fridge and maybe some of the home-canned peaches or apricots.† Then I will go down to the farmhouse and see if I can get online and get this and Photos03 up.† Yes, I actually managed to process a dozen photos from Lamington and I hope to get them up on the site this morning.† Look back up the Index page for Photos03 after the Lamington itinerary entry.† I hope everyone has realized that you can see larger versions of the pictures by clicking on the thumbnails on each Photos index page.† You can also run a slide show if you prefer.† The Help link at the bottom of each page tells you all your options.


Robin just delivered a still-warm loaf of freshly baked bread, so I guess that will have to figure in my brekkie plans, too Ė maybe instead of the cereal.† What a life!


Barry Downunder with freshly baked bread for breakfast