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Published: September 15th 2014
Ah, what a beautiful restful day we’ve had (and needed as we are both very tired). We are camped on the banks of the Murray River at Merbein Common (about 30 kms from Mildura) in Victoria and after arriving at about 11.30am yesterday we have simply sat and watched the parade of people and birds on show before us. The sun has shone brilliantly, people have played and relaxed on and around the river in every conceivable sort of river craft or wheeled vehicle, and the bird life has been amazing.
Right from the moment we arrived here, the birds caught our attention, and of course have had our cameras clicking furiously. For a while I thought I had spotted the endangered Regent Parrot, but closer inspection revealed that it is in fact the tiny Red Rumped Parrot that flits busily through the Red Gums on the river bank. Two other types of parrot have also flitted in and out of the trees with gay abandon both slightly bigger than the red rumped variety, but still much smaller than anything I've seen at home. One is a georgeous aqua and blue colour (possibly the Major Mitchell parrot?) and is I
think the little chap that has eluded and tantalized me a couple of times already on this trip, but which I've never really been able to capture on camera. And of course there are choughs, the common minor bird, kookaburras and galas and so it goes on. But the greatest joy of all has been watching a family of Whistling Kites who live virtually overhead. They have come and gone all day, caught fish and devoured in at the tops of the trees under which we are camped. Called and whistled to each other … I suspect that there are two adults and two juveniles in this immediate vicinity. What treat.
Nothing could have enticed us away from this river bank today. It has been a very special day. Tomorrow we will move a little further up stream, probably to the Kings Billabong just out of Mildura, and to the famous Red Cliffs.
Prior to arriving here we had a very enjoyable drive down the Silver City Highway from Broken Hill. We spent the night at a highway rest area where a constant stream of road trains carrying ore or some sort of mining product to and from
Broken Hill roared past every 20-30 minutes. But it too was a very enjoyable place with lots of bird life (even some of the two legged kind as you will see from the photos below), and it was there I spotted my first Major Mitchell Cockatoo of the trip. Not close enough to photograph however. But the next morning as we headed south toward Wentworth and watched the country side and vegetation change from red soil with blue bush and stubby outback type ground cover into more cultivated pasture country with taller trees, we spotted a cluster of these beautiful pink cockatoos feeding by the roadside. Of course we stopped and tried to creep back closer to get some photographs. But they are very sensitive and did not appreciate our intrusions. Unfortunately the only shots we got were very distant and blurred. But this is a most beautiful bird, and I am hoping that we will have more chances to spot them again. I have included some of the photos I took, but more to prove we saw them than because they are good photos.
We spent a night on the Darling River in Wentworth which is a beautiful
little well kept town where the locals are obviously very proud of their heritage. The river here is full, lush and wide. At the Junction with the Murray, there is little evidence of the drought and water shortage that we had seen along the Darling throughout the outback. We visited the Perry Sandhills just outside Wentworth and felt for all the world as if we were in the Sahara Desert – or perhaps the Simpson Desert. What a remarkable phenomenon they are.
Tomorrow morning we will have been on the road for 4 full weeks … what a magic journey and fantastic distance we have covered in that time. We have moved fairly quickly from one place to another (either because the wind chased us along or we were always too eager to see what lay just over the next hill or around the next corner), and so find ourselves with the luxury of time to spare now. We will play around on the banks of the Murray for a few days yet in this area, and then follow it out to Renmark, Berri and Morgan in South Australia for a while before heading back towards Swan Hill.
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