So after some heavy downpours crossing the last stretches of highway in Western Australia, we passes over the border with South Australia sometime after dark. The further you drive from civilization in this country, the more expensive "essentials" get, since literally everything gets trucked/trained in. For example, I saw a 4L jug of water being sold for $15 AUD which is close to $16 CAD! At least it's not as bad as up in mining country where some desperate colleagues of mine allegedly spent $43 for a six-pack of beer.
Anyway, the vast area of "nothingness" that sits out in between populated WA and SA is known as the Nullarbor Plain (from the latin for "no trees"). Sandwiched between the Great Victoria Desert to the north and the Great Southern Ocean (everything is so GREAT down here), it is famed for its flatness and bleakness (in the eyes of early settlers anyways). I must say though, initially we were pretty unimpressed--it didn't seem that flat or bleak, but we didn't realize that the best flat/bleak bit was further east in SA, and probably north of the railway where we wouldn't be going.
Oh well, at least when morning broke over our truckstop campsite, the skies were clear... so we headed off to the only spec of human settlement in the area--the Nullarbor Roadhouse.
|While there were more plants growing on the Nullarbor than we had imagined, it was still pipin' hot. I think this was a first for all of us--41 Celsius before 8am! Just another typical December morning...|
|I realized that there were no herps in this post, so I chucked in this one. A "Pine Cone Lizard" as the South Aussies say.|
|A desert roadhouse seems like a strange place for a Southern Right Whale statue. But actually we're only ~18km from the ocean, where these guys can be readily seen in winter.|
|Not even sure where this is, but certainly a typical outback sign. |
#Bring your jerrycan!
|First flat tire (tyre for the Aussies) of the trip! Luckily just outside of Ceduna. Good thing too, as we added our first House Sparrows of the trip here! [Heavily controlled in WA]|
|Driving north, through central South Australia, one comes across a lot of roadkill---this attracts ravens and raptors of course. Here are 2 of maybe 15 Wedge-tailed Eagles that were feasting on this roo.|
|Here we are near Mt Lyndhurst. There were plenty of lifers possible, but we wanted the crown jewel, the only true endemic to South Australia (not counting grasswrens), the little known and notoriously hard-to-find Chestnut-breasted Whiteface.|
|Oh there's one. Quite a relief to find this guy within 15 minutes of leaving the car! Lucky too since we didn't see or hear another one over the next two days. [Photo: Jukka Jantunen]|
|Overnight the winds swtiched from hot northerlies to cool southerlies. Today it was only 30C! |
As you can see we had to bundle up!
|Moving south from Lyndhurst into the beautiful Flinders Ranges. With a wide variety of beath-taking scenery and good flora/fauna diversity, I would have loved to spend more time here.|
|Pertti and I checking out a cool gum-tree in the Flinders|
|There were also plenty of these guys--walleroos I think? Haven't bothered to look them up yet. |
As Pertti would say, "Kangaroo!"
|Gorgeous red cliffs at the south end of Walpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges.|
|Some nice aboriginal art on Akaroo Rock (same place as above)|
|Feral goat, out-competing the largest kangaroo in Australia (the Red) for water... typical.|
|Handsome pair of Mulga Parrots feeding on Casuarina seeds [Photo: Jukka Jantunen]|
|Our only good looks at White-browed Treecreeper for the trip came at Gluepot. Best told from the similar Brown Treecreeper by call, and its affinity for cypress-pines.|
Oh and one more thing... as the title of the post suggests... we were still missing Major Mitchell's Cockatoo, despite having been in appropriate habitat for the last week or so... This was one of Jukka's most-wanted birds and it seemed that everywhere we went, someone had "just seen" one. Well... we keep on rollin.