Central Australia fauna

On our trip to Central Australia we saw mostly bird life with lots of the birds being new to me. One family that was well represented was the honeyeaters, possibly because they are always in the flowering bushes and so easier to hunt down with the camera.

Another well represented group was the birds of prey. I don’t know if there are more in the arid areas or you just see them more easily. I thought I was seeing a lot of different sorts but a lot turned out to be whistling kites, seeing them often by waterholes. We also got to see them close up at the Desert Park in Alice Springs where they have a great bird show. The wedge-tailed eagles are magnificent and often by the roadside feeding on road kill. You have to slow down when you see them to allow them to take off safely.

The Desert Park also gave us the opportunity to see other birds we would not have see otherwise.

There was an assortment of other birds, big and small.

I thought we might have seen more lizards but only found the one type except in the Desert Park. We saw a rock wallaby which was a highlight and also wild dingos.

The other creatures were all small, lots new to me and having to be identified for which I thank Google images.


Flora of Central Australia

We weren’t visiting in the time of wildflowers but it was rewarding how many plants we did find in flower. They say there is always an acacia in flower somewhere in Australia and we certainly saw quite a few, varying from low shrubs to trees with peeling bark. One came loaded with nasty spikes to deter insects presumably.

The other trees included Desert oak (Allocasuarina), varied Eucalypts and the Corkwood tree, a Hakea that was often in flower.

The main grass was spinifex, the prickly one that discourages you from walking off the track. We also saw some others that were harder to identify. One had very attractive seed heads and when I identified it I found it was buffel grass, an introduced pest plant (they’re always the attractive ones!) In each gorge were many cycads, native to the Macdonnell ranges.

The flowers were spread out in the sand dunes, the rocky ranges and the gorges and we always enjoyed seeing a new one and trying to identify the species.

Enjoy this gallery and if you see mislabeled flowers or know the name of any I have not labelled please let me know.

The Larapinta Trail

The reason we’d been heading to Central Australia was to join with some fellow walkers and walk three sections of the Larapinta Trail. We began at Ellery Creek Big Hole and climbed a saddle in the Heavitree Range to enter Alice valley. We spent two days crossing Alice Valley across stony ground and past straggly shrubs with the allure of the slot of Hugh Gorge getting closer.

Hugh Gorge provided a complete contrast as we followed the river bed with the red walls hemming us in. There was much more vegetation and we even came across a dingo. We dropped packs to walk to the end of the upper gorge where a pool tempted some of us in to the icy water. I was surprised to find the cooling breeze actually felt warm in comparison to the water. We climbed up over Rocky Saddle and gingerly descended the pebbly path to our campsite at Fringe Lily.

We had a rest day there and took advantage to explore a nearby gorge. We were close to a waterhole and had a visit from a dingo on his way to water at 2am, stopping to leave his mark and give a territorial howl right in the middle of the campsite. He came back again the next afternoon but was put off by all the people though he did give us a chance to take some photos. We had a ceremonial burning of all the toilet paper scattered around the area!

We had a big climb up Rocky Ridge the next day with the view opening up behind us. Down the other side we had to follow down a rocky gully before entering Spencer Gorge with it’s plant life reminiscent of when the centre of Australia was much wetter. The last leg along the deep sand of the river bed tested us before arriving and celebrating with a swim at Birthday Waterhole.

The biggest climbs came on the next day with a first climb to Rocky Cleft, a dry waterfall that framed the distant valley. The ascent of Brinkley Bluff was a zig zag up the steep side leading to our grandstand view at the top.

We were lucky to only have a light breeze on our exposed campsite and it wasn’t even our coldest night. We enjoyed the ever changing scene as the sun slowly sank and peeped in and out of clouds.

We had a glimpse of the sun as it rose the next morning and then it was almost all downhill to where we ended at Standley Chasm. There were more great views as we passed amazing rocky hills displaying their origins at the bottom of the sea before being lifted up to the near vertical.