New Territories

Christmas Eve at the billabong just south of Camooweal, QLD was really quite nice; I got to sit in my ‘office’ to edit photos and work on an excel spreadsheet for a bit. Everyone loves excel!


Once the sun was down enough not to threaten my precious skin, I went for another walk along the water’s edge, which was especially nice given that no one else was there!

Whistling kite in the shallows
Moonrise over the billabong south of Camooweal (a nudist site actually)

So my last morning in QLD was very enjoyable, I cooked up a nice [Christmas] breakfast before packing up my things and getting ready for the short drive to the Northern Territories, where I managed to get a cliché photo to commemorate my border crossing….

#NTAustralia. Yep the whole territory is hash-tagged!


Anyway, I was greeted with a 130km/hr speed limit which I fulfilled a couple of times just for the hell of it, but mostly stayed between 110 and 120km/hr! Unfortunately the fan in the front of the van has died (thankfully not the back) so the air-con isn’t going great…

Regardless, having no bees in the back to take photos of, I was on the hunt, and the flowering shrubs on the edge of the highway seemed like a good place to start!

However, I was only able to find a single species along a few hundred kilometers of highway [and later Alice Springs]! Although that little bee seemed to be buzz pollinating, which is quite cool! …Buzz pollinating is when a bee grabs onto a flower then vibrates (buzzes) at a certain frequency to get the pollen to come out of the flower. Not all bees are capable of it – European honeybees for example cannot do it, but bumblebees can!

What else struck me was how the landscape barely changed at all. Whereas when I was traveling through QLD it was always different; today’s drive has been through an almost homogenous landscape. Mostly what seems to change is the last time that it was burned!

The left hand side has been burned much more recently than the right hand side of the road


While it looks like not much is happening in this burned landscape…


Little bits of green start to show through the cracked, red earth


I sometimes feel like there is so much straight road that our eyes cannot be bothered rendering it, and so just display it as part of the sky…. Damn brain setting the graphics too low 😉 An oncoming truck can look twice the size with its reflection in the mirage. Quite an awesome sight!

Mirage and car on the horizon

Near the end of my days drive I still had only found the one damn species of bee! Though I did see a nice big flowering tree on the side of the road, and decided to turn around and go back to have a look! When I turned the car off, I could immediately hear a buzzing, which was promising. I could also see what looked like little specks moving outside… I wondered if it was dust, pollen, flies or maybe bees… the last I though very unlikely as I’d only seen natives swarm once before on the top of Mt. Warning. A few swipes of my net later and I knew the answer!

Part of the swarm!
A little closer…
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A little closer again… ~3mm long

Thousands and thousands of these little yellow native bees! The tree also had quite a few species on it! Of course I can only reach the lowest branches (the low hanging fruit perhaps), but there are only so many photos that I can take in a night while still getting some sleep! So I collected 7-8 species and headed to camp, which was only three hours drive north of Alice Springs!

After two days in Alice Springs I haven’t really done much… A couple of days off and some sight-seeing it is. First day I met a friendly Belgian who I hung out with and saw some sights with the first day and morning after. Next day I met with a friend from Byron, Justin. I had a great lunch, and then watched the new Star Wars with him and his partner in the evening. Such a good film! But now I feel the tug of my restless feet (and net)! Tomorrow I am back on the hunt… I also have more stacking to do, as always…

Tree growing on the dry riverbed near Simpson’s Gap
Dead tree [no longer] growing on a random bit of dry creek
View from a rise just to the West of Alice Springs

So I left for Darwin after a brief search for bees in Alice. Along a dry riverbed I found one new species and another that I already had, and in a small gum tree I found another six, so I had plenty to photograph for that night!

Small flowers on the dry riverbed where I found two bee species
Now to Darwin!
From the get go I was greeted with wet weather on my drive north
Wet desert

This continued past Threeways and into the night and next morning

By morning, the creeks were running, which I imagine must be something of a rarity in these parts, but great to see as I pass through!

An old road is submerged by the creek water
Trees up to their trunks in floodwater

All was going well until now, in Eliot, NT. I’m stuck with 300km of closed highway north. Although an afternoon to catch up on some editing, writing and excelling is not so bad!

Until next time



Editor: Dana Miller


Whatever is West


So, after a lovely stay in Rollingstone, where I got to see my first Olive-backed sunbird! I decided to go West towards Alice Springs, with the threat of a cyclone and a rainy week. On the way out of ‘town’ I stopped by a nice big flowering tree in an empty house block. To my delight, this tree was covered in quite a few carpenter bees, as well as some other natives!! So, car abuzz I headed back to Townsville and West to a little place called Dotswood.

Big yellow tree with lots of female carpenter bees

My trip west got dry pretty quickly! But I’d had three liters of water in as many hours of just setting up camp and sitting around! The bees didn’t seem to mind though… I noticed three little shrubs with yellow flowers next to where I was parked, so in between trying to satisfy my hunger (with a lunch/dinner) I went over and found a few more bees! But I really had to stop looking, as I’ll struggle to find the time to photograph, let alone edit the photos I take of them!

One of three little shrubs with many bees visiting them. another is visible on the right hand side, while the other is behind this one.

One of these bees was particularly interesting because of its behaviour… It was carrying two seeds with its legs!! I really don’t know why. At first I thought that it just had a really pointy abdomen, but when I netted it and got it into a petri dish I was astonished to find otherwise!

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Bee with one (of two) seeds clutched in its legs

What an amazing place though, Australia! I just hope that the bees will be around on my whole way around and that it’s not too late into the season!

Also, it is a very strange feeling being in a big rest stop alone on a windy night. Creepy and cool 🙂

The roads west seem to be as red as the soil around them, must be locally sourced gravel! It certainly adds to the feel of this being a red, hot, arid place… I’m not even that far West yet! I’m having to pull over on the side of the road every once in awhile to give some input to my stacking program to get the photos that I took the day before ready for editing, and that’s before I get onto the ones I took this morning, and am taking now (on the edge of the road). And I still hope to do 600km’s before I stop…. We’ll see about that!

Red roads, with red soil 

I also got to cross the so-called Great Dividing Range (elevation c.a. 400m)

Part of the Great Dividing Range in White Mountains National Park, QLD

Someone’s honey bee sign was my token of good luck, as I found some a couple more species not far from here!


Not the most informative sign, but it was advertisement for honey in the next town

It’s an amazing landscape as you go west. As the landscape gets flatter, the roads do the opposite! Everything seems to hot and dry to support too much life, but the locusts seem to thrive, and I did see one very hot little gecko in the middle of the day… He would only run as far as he thought necessary away from me then look back to see if it was worth running a bit more with his mouth open, trying to lose some heat.

the best I could do with a wide-angle without chasing the poor bugger down!
A leaning fence, dead tree and miles of dry, flat landscape
You know that it’s hot when even the trees are ready for a beer and a lie down…

I only made it a bit 500km’s with my late start and all of my stopping and starting, but that’s okay because I stacked quite a few photos! I then put my other SD card in to find an additional 1000 photos waiting to be stacked! I had best not look for too many bees tomorrow 😉

I’m camping next to a ‘billabong’ in a big gravel pit site, which initially looked quite good with hundreds of birds of prey perched and circling nearby, but then the flies forced me into the heat of the van! It’s too far to the next stop before dusk, and I can’t afford to risk a [literal] run-in with a kangaroo without bull bars! Ahh well 🙂

Some of the hundreds of black kites that were either sitting and cooling off, or circling above in search of prey

The further west I went the less dead Kangaroos and wallabies I saw. But I did see a whole bunch more dead cows, I imagine that they were hit by road trains, otherwise there would have likely been a smashed up car next to the carcasses… But with so many miles of fenced and unfenced roads and so many cows, I’m not surprised!

Some cattle at the side of the road. These at least were behind a fence…

It’s bloody hard to imagine how anything grows in this dry soil though, especially little shrubs like this

A little plant somehow growing in the dry, hot soil…  looking quite healthy even!

But I have been noticing along the road an almost constant supply of green shrubs, which die off not far from the bitumen, I guess that the road must hold and slowly release enough water to sustain them! Oh ecology, what have you done to my road trip?

I can’t help but notice these things now

I am always looking for a shady spot come lunch time, so I was happy to pull over at this vehicle inspection site and grab a bite to eat, while also looking at some of the termite mounds, which dominate the ground’s surface! For a few hundred kilometers after this people had even dressed them up in all sorts of clothes… Not what I chose to do with my free time, but who am I to judge?

The car doesn’t stay cool for long though…
These ones were actually quite spread out compared to others!

Tonight’s camp though is much better than last night far fewer flies (emphasis on the fewer), much cooler, a better view and more diverse wildlife!

The Billabong
A pair of Brolgas!
One of many whistling kites

Enjoy your Christmas everyone!



And We’re Off!!

I left Brisbane on Thursday with two of my good friends, Jeremy and Amelia! We stopped in a lovely free camping site a few hours south of Carnarvon Gorge and were immediately greeted by a lovely couple of grey nomads, Lyn and Alex, as well as their dog, Sammy! We stayed up chatting and drinking their wine until the middle of the night (thanks again!). We leap-frogged each other the next day, and maybe we will run into each other again, but I’m sure that there are plenty more lovely people to meet on the road yet!


The next day we made it to Carnarvon Gorge, where we did an amazing walk with some stunning sites!


“The Art Gallery”


“Ward’s Canyon”


“The amphitheater”


And “The Moss Garden”


After this we stayed together one more night, before Jeremy and Amelia had to go back to the real world (work) for Monday morning. It was sad to see them shrinking in my rear vision mirror, but I suppose that it signifies the real start to my trip.


In these first few days I had only managed to find one bee species that I had not already photographed (below). So, this is my first bee photo of the trip!

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The road between Carnarvon Gorge and Mackay is really quite amazing! I passed between dozens of different landscapes, from grasslands to woodlands, agriculture to mining country! In a day I saw quite a few amazing natural and man-made landscapes. As well as quite a few cows!


On the drive to Mackay I managed to find quite a few more bees on two trees on the outskirts of a small town, Springsure, QLD! So, finally I have some bees to photograph, but how will my little studio treat me?

As it turns out, it’s not the easiest thing to use, ‘little’ might be better replace with cramped and difficult, but it’s what I’ve got and I’ll make do! I guess now I’ll need to figure out the hours of computer time that I need to edit these photos on the trip!

Going from Mackay to Townsville also held some amazing landscape changes, from the coastal, green, hilly agriculture similar to that I am used to south of Ballina, to arid landscapes with bone-dry creeks. Sometimes this change was gradual, sometimes it felt like someone had drawn a line on a map to split vegetation types and nature had conformed to that line! I also managed a peak at some mangroves and got to smell the familiar coastal air before moving on!


Tonight I am staying at Rollingstone (yes, that is a place), just north of Townsville, in a lovely little free camping area!



Rock on, everyone!



Almost gone!  

So I am almost off! I have returned big bee in exchange for Ron the photomobile, a similar van that my uncle has given me. It’s been a busy week of preparations, and a busier weekend of building and designing!

First I had to get rid of those old seats to make room for everything….


The bed has come together, after a bit of cutting, drilling and head scratching…


I have a new radio to keep me entertained on the long drives…


Thank you to Jem for the help with assembly and company!!



And my first-class studio is ready for installation (LED lighting to come)!


Now just another coat of varnish, if only I had time for more than two coats!


Things are coming along well now, I have air con, and my dual battery system installed and my awning is on, and ready to protect me from the weather, rain or shine



Now just a bit of wiring to light my studio!



It’s off to Brisbane tomorrow to collect the rest of my stuff, pack before heading north with some of my ecology friends for the first leg of the journey!


Hopefully my next post will come from somewhere further north.