Pennefather and Wenlock Rivers July 21 - 23 2019
  We left the river mouth area early on the 21st. The track along the top of the dunes had seen a bit of traffic since we arrived. A bit lumpy and scalloped and corrugated in places. A slow plod for us as we bounce and sway.
  We returned to our original beachside campsite in the hope of seeing turtles.

We were entertained for a while by a flotilla of jet-skis from Weipa. About 10.

A long way from Weipa to Pennyfather they all had extra cans of fuel. Lots.

  The dune we are on is not like the barrier dune north of the river. The land side is more gentle with thick spiky coastal bushes to stabilise it.

The barrier lake is just a swamp when it rains and is dry now. I walk a couple of km south. Occasional groves of paperbarks, just like the paperbarks around the lagoon to the north of the river. 2.5km south east of where I turned around is the beginning of a creek which flows into Pine River Bay, behind Duyfken Point.

Generally open woodland. And a small flock of red-winged parrots that stopped long enough to have their pic taken.

  White sand (different to the pale orange sand on the dune and beach) through plants that like getting their feet wet for long periods every year.
  We tried a different approach to turtle watching, following daughter's research. Sit still, no lights or noise, at dusk. Maybe see turtles in the water looking for a spot, later maybe see them crawling up the beach.

But no, even the best advice in the world is no good if there aren't any turtles.

We did see one new nest marked, but that was dated 5 days earlier.

Later a 4x4 drove past on the beach with lots of lights and noise. So we watched a movie.

  We left the coast early next morning. A bit of haze from a fire somewhere, but not close enough to worry us. Just to be aware that some burning is occurring.
  North a bit towards Mapoon. To Batavia Landing on the Wenlock River.

The main road is a straight line between the Pennfather and the Wenlock. They are very different rivers. The Wenlock has a much larger catchment and a permanent flow of fresh water.

At Batavia Landing its tidal.

From Batavia Outstation to Batavia Downs station is about 100km for crows.

  A quick look at an unusual (to us) plant. The spiky leaves are on the same stem as  smooth leaves.
  The track into Batavia Landing was reasonably passable.
  A quick stop at Clough's Landing, a few km upstream on the Wenlock. A boat ramp.

We also looked at the track opposite the Pennefather track. Similar but with a pump for filling water tankers and a croc proof fence.

  Then east towards Stone Crossing, through open woodland with lots of grass.
  We pass Stone Crossing. Even if we'd wanted to look there was an awkward ford and a large fallen tree. There are outlines of fish and arrows in orange paint on a couple of trees. We follow the clue.

We reach a lagoon. Similar to Gill's Moon Lagoon, an old watercourse, an oxbow lake to us. About 2km long according to the map. It probably also flows when the main watercourse is flooded.

  It has saratoga in residence, as well as barramundi.

Probably also crocs.

  The track beyond gets a bit tight for a while.

We decided to walk "the last kilometer".

  Saying hello to a yellow-breasted robin along the way.
  After about 2.5km we reach the end of the track marked on the map at a loop in the Wenlock River.

When I returned to the truck I spent a half hour finally exposing the map scale on the gps. Something I've tried a few times and failed. This time urged on by the reality of walking 5km instead of 2km to the track end and back in the heat of the day. Bah humbug.

Looking upstream. Its possible there's a few more camping spots around the corner, the track may go a bit further.

The track is steep down to the river. A bit awkward for the truck. The new course is much lower than our lagoon.

  Looking downstream.

There's something downstream of us marked "barrage" on some maps. We don't know if this is tidal or not, we suspect not. At present the flow is towards the coast and no evidence of tide.

There is evidence of flood, with large dead trees lodged quite high in others.

  We camped beside the lagoon.

In shade as the afternoon sun is hot and there's little breeze. We'll worry about solar tomorrow.

  A stroll along the edge of the lagoon. Its easily accessible, this is fishing country, there are many old campfires.

We have no idea about permits. The Napranum Shire gave us a phone number for rangers, but no answer and leaving a number for a sat phone that may not have a signal later is not practical.

  We think blue-faced honeyeaters. One would imagine that we would recognise them immediately as our garden at home has many. But the light, and the location, cause us to think.
  Perhaps a hooded robin. Though its head is dark blue and the patch under its chin black. We wonder if its a male satin flycatcher but can't see the top of its head.
  A domestic day. Showers, laundry, etc. while we have lots of water.

Between the domestic chores, and moving portable solar panels, we listen to the wide variety of birds, while catching an occasional glimpse.

We follow the lack of success with fishing at Pennefather with an equal lack of success here.

Tomorrow we'll head south, a couple of days to cover about 420km into Oyala Thumotang National Park. With a name like that we have to have a look.


  Of course the day isn't done until its dark. In between the domestic chores I sat and watched.

The sky clouded over and the birds came out to play.

  Despite looking very distinctive it took a while to identify.

A female shiny flycatcher. Closely related to the male satin flycatcher, if that's what it is, that we saw earlier.

  I almost missed this. I saw some movement, pointed the camera, and pressed the shutter - do digital cameras have shutters? And there it was, gone a moment later.

I believe its a little bronze cuckoo.

  A few minutes later a couple of pale headed rosellas stopped for a chat.

All I had to do was sit and wait.

There's something satisfying about simply seeing them. The pics are a bonus. Just like fishing where the fish are a bonus, though it would be nice to catch just one occasionally.

  And then a yellow-spotted honeyeater.

If I was a peak bagger I would have bagged 5 new peaks (birds I haven't seen previously) in the space of a few hours.

I suspect I should look back through the whole blog and list all the birds we've seen in the last 10 years. I wonder if I have the energy.

Oyala Thumotang National Park - Vardons Lagoon July 24 - 26 2019

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