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.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Around Oz Part 37 - Mildura & Broken Hill: Redthroat, Chirruping Wedgebill, Flowers and Sculptures in the Desert

Following our visit to Hattah-Kulkyne National Park (see previous post) we moved on to Mildura for two days at the Palms Caravan Park on the edge of town. Mildura is a hotspot for all things River Murray – irrigation; paddle steamers (some built 120+ years ago and still in service); those grand red gums linings its banks. We visited various spots including old homesteads, Loch II, the wharf area, Kings Billabong (most impressive and looking like a great place to camp), Etiwandi Wetlands (totally unimpressive) and Red Cliffs. Mildura is a nice town with lots of character.

Murray River paddle steamer

Murray River - Red Cliffs
I checked out some of the Murray River wetlands around town but nothing of interest, though I had the first Red-rumped Parrots of the trip. We headed north from Mildura to Wentworth, where we saw the confluence of the Darling and Murray rivers, then on to Broken Hill for a two-night stay in the Lake View Caravan Park.

Murrary and Darling Rivers meet at Wetnworth
The park is on the eastern fringe of Broken Hill, a town with a rich historic and artistic heritage. Broken Hill once boasted 60 pubs but we struggled to find one open on a Sunday night, ending up at the quaintly named Democratic Workers Club.  Early in the morning I searched some of the bluebush-acacia woodlands in the hills on the edge of town. It was nice to see Chirruping Wedgebill seemingly everywhere.

Chirruping Wedgebill

Chirruping Wedgebill
Then I found a magnificent male Redthroat - a species I had failed previously to get a decent snap of - and a male Black Honeyeater briefly. There were also plenty of Rufous Songlark about.


We visited Sculptures and the Living Desert Sanctuary, 12km from town. This is a collection of sculptures of varying quality from artists around the world sitting atop an imposing hill in the middle of the desert; definitely worth a visit.

Broken Hill nestles in the desert

Sculptures & The Living Desert Sanctuary
Emu, Zebra Finch and Budgerigar were here, as well as Euro and Central Bearded Dragon.
Central Bearded Dragon

We dropped in on the Broken Hill Synagogue Museum, a stately building with a lady manager who talks way too much, and the Minerals Museum.

Old Broken Hill Synagogue

 No sign of drought in this neck of the woods. Again, the arid woodlands are ablaze with wildflowers.

Wildflowers aplenty about Broken Hill
Among the wildflowers were some patches of iconic Sturt's Desert Pea growing in depressions beside a railway line.

Sturt's Desert Pea

On our last morning I birded about 15 km out on the Wilcannia Road. I saw more Redthroats and Chirruping Wedgebills along with Red-capped Robin, Crimson Chat, loads of Rufous Songlarks, Southern Whiteface and the first Chesnut-crowned Babblers of the trip. 

Southern Whiteface

Chesnut-crowned Babbler

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