Up into the mountains again
2007 New South Wales trip report #31
After lunch we continued our drive through the Royal National Park south of Sydney. This drive took us through some beautiful forest areas as we continued to meander our way south towards the city of Wollongong. We didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t stop along here and three are only a handful of parking spots anyway. Because the road was extremely windy and unfamiliar to us, and as it was now my turn to drive, the birding opportunities were very limited.
The obvious birds flying across in front of the car included Laughing Kookaburras and Pied Currawongs. Leaving the national park we took the road that hugs the coast. Here we drove through a series of small towns dotting the ocean front with some million dollar views along the way. At one stage to elevated road is actually a bridge over the ocean. This was done after landslides caused havoc a few years ago.
We skirted around the large city of Wollongong and headed further south, this time travelling on the motorway. I noticed a few Australian Magpies and Common Mynas, the occasional small flock of Galahs and pairs of Eastern and Crimson Rosellas if my memory is correct. I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t write them down because I was driving and my wife was busy navigating. (This was only the second time weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d ever been this way; the last time was over thirty years ago.)
We turned off the main road south along the coast and headed inland again. The road was relatively flat for the first fifteen kilometres or so before we climbed rapidly up the Illawarra escarpment. I estimate we went up over a thousand metres about ten kilometres. Whatever the figures it was very steep, twisty and very interesting. On some corners I had to change down to second gear; I was pleased I was not towing a caravan. Some longer trucks would have trouble actually getting around some corners, and there were signs warning about this difficulty.
As we topped the range the views back over the coast were spectacular. It was a pity we could not stop to enjoy another national park on our way up; time was getting away from us. The increased altitude soon dropped the temperature dramatically, and, combined with a cool change moving through, I donned my jumper at the next town we stopped in.
We headed down the main Sydney to Melbourne freeway and then on to Canberra and we were able to make good speed. We were aiming to reach Canberra before dark. Along this section my wife was driving and there was no navigating to attend to, so I was able to observe birds in the fading light. Just north of Canberra I saw three Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos, a small family of White-winged Choughs, and more Magpies and Ravens.
I also saw a single White-necked Heron feeding by a creek in a nearby paddock. This is one species I rarely get to see and I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know why. It is relatively common, yet IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve only seen it on a handful of occasions. In fact, I just checked my database Ã¢â‚¬â€œ this was the second sighting in twenty years. I am obviously looking in the wrong places Ã¢â‚¬â€œ or I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get out enough.