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.

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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!

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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!

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Red roads, with red soil 

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

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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!

 

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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.

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the best I could do with a wide-angle without chasing the poor bugger down!
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A leaning fence, dead tree and miles of dry, flat landscape
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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 🙂

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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!

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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

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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?

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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?

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The car doesn’t stay cool for long though…
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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!

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

Enjoy your Christmas everyone!

 

James

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