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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Cedar Grove Camping Area, Amamoor State Forest, QLD.

Cedar Grove Camping Area, Amamoor State Forest.
There are two campgrounds at Amamoor State Forest: Cedar Grove Camping Area and Amamoor Creek Camping Area. I have covered Amamoor Creek Camping Area in a previous blog hereStandard Qld National Park fees apply and bookings need to be made online before arrival. Cedar Grove camping area is about an hour and a half drive north-west of the Sunshine Coast and Amamoor Creek camping area is another 20 minutes further along Amamoor Creek Road. Amamoor Creek road is an unsealed road suitable for 2WD vehicles. After heavy wet weather, water can flow over the causeways and the road may be closed. Cedar Grove Camping Area is an open grassy area with no designated sites and is suitable for tents, caravans, camper trailers and motor homes. There are flushing toilets, fire pits and hiking trails. There are no longer any showers here. There is no phone reception but a pay phone is placed at the entrance. Domestic pets and generators are not permitted. However, dogs are permitted at Amamoor Creek Camping Area.    

Before reaching the camping grounds the drive takes you through the small village of Amamoor.
Historic Amamoor Station, Amamoor.
The Amama Picnic Area is on Amamoor Road on the way to the campgrounds and it is worth planning to spend some time there. There is a carpark at the picnic area suitable for cars but if you take the first entrance immediately before the picnic area (coming from Amamoor) there is a small loop road suitable for towing rigs. The picnic area has toilets, tables and wood BBQ's in a lovely tree studded area adjoining Amamoor Creek. A 300 m loop walk starts from the picnic area and proceeds along the creek bank. There used to be a platypus viewing platform here but it was washed away in heavy flooding. However, it is still easy to view the creek from the walk. Unfortunately, we have never seen any platypus at Amama but we have not spent time there in the early morning or late afternoon which is probably when they are most active.
Amama Picnic Area and the trailhead for the Amama Walking Track.
Immediately across the road is the entrance to Amama Walk; a 1.5 km class 4 walk. We did not do the walk this trip but, if my memory serves me correctly, the first half is uphill so some fitness is required.

Cedar Grove Camping Area.
It was fairly hot weather on this December trip but there is plenty of room to find a spot with some shade. There is a waterhole at the campground that is popular on hot days.

Amamoor Creek waterhole at Cedar Grove camping area.
There were a few cattle roaming around the campground from time to time but one day we returned to the campground to find quite a large herd. Our lightweight ensuite seemed to have come off second best from an encounter with a cow. We never did recover one of the tent pegs and can only hope the cow didn't end up with it stuck in it's hoof. We noticed that both the cattle and goannas liked to check out the fire rings.

Australasian Figbirds and Woompoo Fruit Doves were easy to spot feeding in the campground. Spangled Drongos were present in large numbers. Every afternoon we enjoyed the spectacle of White-throated Needletails soaring overhead. 

Spangled Drongo
Wompoo Fruit Dove
Whenever we can, we camp next to the edge of campgrounds so that we are close to the forest. At Cedar Grove we had Eastern Yellow Robins, Spectacled Monarchs and Green Catbirds as our neighbours.

Spectacled Monarch and Eastern Yellow Robin.
We went for a walk along Amamoor Creek Road and were rewarded with sightings of Leaden Flycatchers but the road is surprisingly busy and after being enveloped in dust by the local school bus we retreated.

Leaden Flycatcher
I finally got a photo of our nemesis the Blue Triangle. For the first time, I also managed to get a photo of an Evening Brown with it's wings open. We saw large numbers of Glasswings, Large Grass-yellows and Monarchs when we were on the walks.

Blue Triangle Graphium sarpedon
Two photos of the same Evening Brown Melanitis leda
Unfortunately, the whole area is under threat from the Cats Claw vine, an invasive weed from South America. 
Cats Claw Vine smothering a tree. Cutting the vine is one method of combating it's spread.

There are two walks starting from the campground. The Rainforest Walk has three entrances from the camping area and the Cedar Grove Hiking Trail leads off the Rainforest Walk near the waterhole.

Rainforest Walk: 1 km loop, Class 3.
Despite seeing very few birds on this walk we did it several times on our camping trip because it is a pleasant forest walk alongside Amamoor Creek. 

Cedar Grove Hiking Trail: 4.6 km loop, Class 4. 
There is an advisory sign to take water and that fitness is required on this hike. The initial 1 km is a steady uphill hike. The habitat changes throughout this walk from rainforest, to gumtrees along a ridge and then alongside a Hoop Pine Plantation. 

There were lots of skinks on the forest floor.
Seeds on the forest floor.
Towards the end of the walk the trail divided into three and we had no idea which track to take. We suspect we may have inadvertently taken a shortcut and ended up wading across the creek and scrambling up a cattle trail before arriving back at the campground. At least our sense of direction is good. 

Birds we saw on this trip: Australian Brush Turkey, Pacific Black Duck, Cattle Egret, Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Wompoo Fruit-Dove, Sulpher-crested Cockatoo, Laughing Kookaburra, Forest Kingfisher, White-throated Treecreeper, Red-backed Fairy-wren, White-browed Scrubwren, Large-billed Scrubwren, Brown Gerygone, Noisy Miner, Lewin's Honeyeater, Scarlet Honeyeater, Leaden Flycatcher, Eastern Yellow Robin, Golden Whistler, Little Shrike-thrush, Spaectacled Monarch, Magpie Lark, Spangled Drongo, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Olive-backed Oriole, Australasian Figbird, Australian Magpie, Pied Currawong, Green Catbird, Red-browed Finch, White-throated Needletail.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Return to Charlie Moreland Camping Area, Imbil State Forest, Kenilworth, QLD.

Little Yabba Creek near the causeway into Charlie Moreland Campground is a popular swimming area.
We had planned a two week trip into northern New South Wales but sometimes things don't go to plan. National Parks NSW closed one of the parks we were going to stay at and put fire bans in place due to the early onset of very hot weather and high fire danger. A series of thunderstorms were forecast and with the high likelihood of destructive winds, rain and hail we reluctantly decided that a new plan was prudent. In the end we decided to go back to Charlie Moreland campground, near Kenilworth. We had only been there the week before but we were keen to spend more time there. For details about the campground please refer to our previous post here. With temperatures in the mid 30's we choose a nice shady spot.

A heavy storm with hail went through the campground the night before our arrival. When we went for a walk on the first afternoon we discovered that the crossings over Little Yabba Creek were both underwater. However, by the next morning the water had started to recede.
We only had a fleeting glance at a Noisy Pitta on the walk this time but we did see a beautiful 2.5 meter Carpet Python crossing the path so perhaps the Pittas had fled to avoid becoming python breakfast.

The colours of this Carpet Python are quite good camouflage and I nearly walked right into it.

There were a number of butterflies flying about and we had our first sighting of a Four-barred Swordtail. As usual I couldn't get any photos of the Blue Triangles or Glasswings which flit about too fast for me.

Four-barred Swordtail Protographium leosthenes
Yellow Albatross (female) Appias paulina and Monarch (male) Danaus plexippus
With more time and better light on this trip we saw a few more birds than on our trip the week before. See bird list below. The highlight was seeing a male Paradise Rifflebird up close on three separate occasions. The only female Paradise Rifflebird we saw was high up in a Black Bean tree feeding on the flowers. We also had good views of Rose-crowned Fruit Doves high up in the trees.

Front and rear views of the same Paradise Rifflebird on a large tree branch.

Female Paradise Rifflebirds look entirely different to the males.
The Topknot Pigeons and Woompoo Fruit-Doves were no longer feeding at the fig tree in the campground but Brown Cuckoo-Doves were feeding in a Cheese Tree.
Brown Cuckoo-Dove and closeup of the Cheese Tree.
Black-faced Monarchs were common but we didn't see any Spectacled Monarchs which are also found in this area.
Golden Whistler and Black-faced Monarch.
The call of the Eastern Whipbird resounds around the bush but they can be hard to get a photo of so we were pleased when this immature bird showed itself.

Eastern Whipbird, immature.
Red-necked Pademelons are abundant and as cute as ever.

Red-necked Pademelons.
One of the special things about roadtrips is meeting fellow travelers. Often we are the first out and about and we have the trails to ourselves. On this trip we found ourselves bumping into fellow nature lovers on our early morning and late afternoon walks. It wasn't long before we were sharing observations and knowledge and enjoying the company of like-minded new friends. When observing wildlife we tend to creep about stealthily so it was a new experience for us to walk with Lyn who liked to call in birds with clever imitation calls and whistles.

Birds seen on this trip at Charlie Moreland campground: Australian King Parrot, Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Topknot Pigeon, Wompoo Fruit-Dove, Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove, Emerald Dove, Spangled Drongo, Eastern Pale-headed Rosella, Crimson Rosella, Lewin's Honeyeater, Scarlet Honeyeater, Paradise Riflebird, Regent Bowerbird, Laughing Kookaburra, Australian Magpie, Pied Currawong, Grey Butcherbird, Torresian Crow, Noisy Pitta, Australian Logrunner, Rufous Fantail, White-browed Scrubwren, Variegated Fairy-wren, Weeble, Brown Thornbill, Red-browed Treecreeper, Bell Miner, Noisy Miner, Eastern Whipbird, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Glossy Black-Cockatoo, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Eastern Yellow Robin, Pale-yellow Robin, Grey Shrike-thrush, Golden Whistler, Australasian Figbird, Black-faced Monarch, Willie Wagtail, Pheasant Coucal. Heard many Green Catbird calls.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Kenilworth and Charlie Moreland Camping Area, QLD.

We decided to do a quick camping trip to Charlie Moreland Campground to check out the redevelopment of the site and test a few mod cons we've installed in the van.  The campground is about 2 hours drive north of the Brisbane CBD. If you are towing or driving a large rig avoid the Obi Obi Road. We went further north and took the Eumundi-Kenilworth Road instead.

On the way we dropped into the charming village of Kenilworth. The Kenilworth Cheese Factory has a store with a sample station to help you make your choices from their large range of cheeses. They also make yogurt and mousse and sell sauces, jams and condiments.

Kenilworth Cheese Factory
There is a really nice park with toilets, picnic tables, BBQ's and an excellent children's playground with a flying fox, opposite the factory.

The Kenilworth Showground is very popular with RV's and costs $16 per night for two people with power and water. There are several cafes in the main street as well as a grocery store and bakery.

The turnoff for Charlie Moreland Campground is about 7 km south of Kenilworth. Just past the turnoff (going south) is Little Yabba Creek Park, a free 24 hour rest area. Fig Tree Walk is opposite the rest area and is worth a visit. The walk is a 780 m, Grade 1 circuit. We did not call in this time as it was raining and we have done the walk a couple of times previously.

Charlie Moreland Campground is on Sunday Creek Road about 5 km from the turnoff. The road is unsealed but wide except for a one-way bridge and a concrete causeway just before the campground. As this is a Queensland National Park managed campground it is necessary to book online before arriving. There is no phone or internet reception at the campground but there is a pay phone at the Ranger Station on the way in. Standard NPRSR fees apply of $5.95 per adult, children under 5 yrs are free and there is a family fee of $23.80 for 1-2 adults and 6-7 children (up to 8 people in total). 

Concrete causeway just before the entrance to Charlie Moreland Campground.
The camping area is grass and dirt with no designated sites and is available for tents, vans, camper trailers and motor homes. The campground has been redeveloped in recent times and now contains four amenities buildings with flushing toilets.There are non-potable water taps and fire rings (BYO wood) scattered throughout the campground. Dogs and generators are not permitted. There are no showers or bins provided. A large enclosed horse paddock is at the back of the campground. There is a new Day Use Area with picnic tables, BBQ's and access to an amenities block. 

Charlie Moreland Campground.
The newly developed Charlie Moreland Day Use Area
In the middle of the campground a large fig tree was in fruit which attracted quite a few birds.

Australian Figbird, male.
Wompoo Fruit-Dove
Topknot Pigeon
On the first afternoon we walked the Piccabeen Circuit (3.5 km, Class 3) and combined it with the Little Yabba Creek Circuit (1.5 km, Class 3).

Native Hibiscus and Blackbean trees were in flower on the banks of Little Yabba Creek. There are also quite bad infestations of Castor Oil Plant, Scotch Thistle and Mexican Prickly Poppy (Goat Weed).
Native Hibiscus Hibiscus heterophyllus
Black Bean Tree flowers Castanospermum australe
Mexican Prickly Poppy Argemone mexicana
Spangled Drongo and Lewin's Honeyeater.
At the first crossing of the creek, giant rocks had been dislodged by rushing water but it was still possible to cross over carefully without getting your feet wet.

We saw a large variety of birds on the Little Yabba Creek section of the walk but not many on the Piccabeen Circuit. We could hear Paradise Rifflebirds and Catbirds calling but we didn't see them. Due to the overcast and wet conditions the light was poor and our bird photos didn't come out very well once we crossed the creek. See bird list for the trip below. We were excited to see Noisy Pittas three times but they weren't hanging around to have their photos taken and we only got 2 very blurry photos.

Little Yabba Creek is worth a closer look. We saw several types of small fish including Pacific Blue-eye P.signifer, a small eel and lots of water beetles. We heard the plop of a turtle returning to the water from a log. 
Water Boatman and Water Beetles
We saw several circles in the creek which are spawning nests created by native Eel-tailed catfish (Thanks to the excellent facebook group Australian Marsupials, Reptiles, Amphibians, Invertebrates and Plants for making sure I got my facts straight).

Abandoned Eel-tailed catfish Tandanus tandanus spawning nest. 11/2015
We took this photo of Little Yabba Creek in October 2011. The fish is inside the ring.

Eel-tailed catfish in spawning ring 10/2011
We saw several brightly coloured flies which I think are Bristle Fly zosterops (but I'm happy to stand corrected if there are any fly experts reading this). I love the patches of a small green plant along the edges of the track.

There were a few rain showers about and unfortunately, we both managed to get leeches. Next day we were more careful and sprayed the bottoms of our trousers and the tops of our shoes with "Off" which seemed to deter them.

Back at camp a Kookaburra was keeping a close eye on what we were cooking for dinner.
Perhaps Kookaburras like Kenilworth cheese too.
We went for a night walk and discovered the campground was alive with very small pademelons but we didn't spot any night birds. We did hear a Southern Boobook calling in the early morning.

We hadn't managed to see any frogs on the walks but in the morning we had a nice surprise when we found a Stony Creek Frog hiding out on the toilet roll in one of the amenities blocks. 

Stony Creek Frog Litoria wilcoxii
The pademelons were retreating into the bush.

Red-necked Pademelons
We took another walk around Little Yabba Creek Circuit.  We were hoping to get better photos of the Noisy Pittas but we didn't see any in the morning. We did however see a male Paradise Rifflebird which proved difficult to photograph in the poor light but was very exciting to observe. They are iridescent green and this one gave us good views of its bright yellow mouth. 
Paradise Riflebird, male.
There is also a shared walk from the campground to the top of Mount Allan (about 9 km, Class 4). The track is open to horses and mountain bikes as well as logging vehicles so care should be taken when walking. We have walked this track in the past and it is a steady uphill slog so fitness is required. The reward is that you can climb the stairs of the 9.6 m fire tower; something that is becoming rarer these days.The 360 degree views from the top are excellent and we have enjoyed a picnic lunch on the top of the tower in the past (we love our picnics).

Mount Allen Fire Tower 9/2012

Birds seen over two days at Charlie Moreland campground: Australian King Parrot, Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Topknot Pigeon, Wompoo Fruit-Dove, Spangled Drongo, Eastern Pale-headed Rosella, Jacky Winter, Lewin's Honeyeater, Paradise Riflebird, Laughing Kookaburra, Sacred Kingfisher, Australian Magpie, Noisy Pitta, Australian Logrunner, Rufous Fantail, White-browed Scrubwren, Brown Gerygone, Brown Thornbill, Bell Miner, Noisy Miner, Eastern Whipbird, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, Eastern Yellow Robin, Pale-yellow Robin, Golden Whistler, Australasian Figbird, Pheasant Coucal.