Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Around Oz Part 17 - Tunnel Creek, Windjana Gorge

Tunnel Creek Cave
After leaving Fitzroy Crossing (see last post) we left the bitumen Savannah Way to head north on the supposedly 4-wheel-drive-only Leopold Road that links the highway to the Gibb River Road. We did this because we wanted to see two of the Kimberley’s main natural attractions – Tunnel Creek National Park and Windjana Gorge National Park.

Tunnel Creek Cave entrance 
The road was pretty rough and at one point we had to drive through quite a deep creek crossing. Tunnel Creek was the hideout of famed Aboriginal resistance leader Jandamarra before he was tracked down and shot at the entrance to the cave tunnel (above).

Tunnel Creek Cave
This is a wonderful site. You walk for a kilometre or so through a tall cave that has been carved through the limestone King Leopold Ranges. You need a torch and to be prepared to wade through lots of cold water.  The effect is quite stunning.

I saw bats but they were high up on the cave ceiling so light and photographic limitations prevented decent shots. I nonetheless I identified 3 species (Ghose Bat, Dusky Leaf-nosed Bat, Common Sheathtail Bat).

Ghost Bat

Common Sheathtail Bat

We moved on to Windjana Gorge, which I last visited in the late 1970s, for a two-night stay in the overcrowded but pleasant enough national park camping ground.
King Leopold Range, Windjana Gorge

Windjana Gorge
Here, a spectacular gorge has been cut through the rugged limestone mountain ranges which rise abruptly from the surrounding savannah.

Great Bowerbird

Wedge-tailed Eagle

White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike
Birds around the camp included White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Wedge-tailed Eagle and Great Bowerbird at its bower. In the gorge were several Sandstone Shrike-thrushes and plenty of Little Woodswallows.

Freshwater Crocodiles
Freshwater crocodiles were common; we saw perhaps 50, including 20 in one waterhole. They will be gone when the cane toads eventually reach here.

Of interest were fossils of ancient Trilobites (crustacea sort of things) embedded in sandstone caves along the base of the gorge.

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