Hasties Swamp and Girringun National Park - Blencoe Falls August 22 - 24 2019
  The crater that isn't a crater. Mobo Crater. The basalt from a volcano ran along the stream bed. The stream flowed over and around the basalt, to erode the softer rock where the basalt stopped.

Or so the story goes ....

  We've glimpsed similar, heard them, failed to picture them. This is the best I could do.

They are bigger than chickens, rummaging in the leaf litter. We don't know if they are the young of something bigger or just little ground dwelling birds.

  Cathedral Fig.

One wonders what the forest around it was like in its original state.

Its a magnificent tree. The original tree, the one it strangled, is long gone.

  There's not much evidence of volcano around Lake Barrine. One of two crater lakes in .... you guessed ..... Crater Lakes National Park.

When lava met water the explosion created the crater.

  It seems that before leaving Atherton Tablelands we must visit Hasties Swamp. We weren't sure why, we were told about it while in Oyala Thumotang National Park. And we always do what we are told ...

Plumed Whistling Ducks.

  Gazillions (well lots) of them.
  And many more, pictured from the top floor of the bird hide.

Even before we ascended the stairs we talked to a serious bird photographer who was very excited to have caught an indistinguishable picture of a Gerygone. He knew where the nest was, but I couldn't see it for looking, let alone see the bird.

We were somewhat overwhelmed by the number of birds. Apparently there are sometimes more.

  Believe it or believe it not. This is a white-eyed duck. It doesn't have a white eye, but that's alright, its female, and anyone who knows, including us now that we've read the bird book, knows the females don't have white eyes.

To further confuse us, the display in the bird hide refers to it as a Hardhead. We don't know how the hardness of the head was ascertained but we know that yet again we fall foul (or should that be fowl?) of the many variations in names for the same bird.

  At least we think we can describe this fluffy bundle of down as "immature". It dives like a professional, so presumably is not a plumed duck.
  And just in case we hadn't noticed. There are lots of ducks. Quite fascinating watching them move closer or apart, and sometimes be sufficiently disturbed to fly.

Having seen Plumed Whistling Ducks resting at the edge of lakes, and flying when disturbed, we see this larger number resting (many of them look asleep with heads under wings) on the water. The space on the land is at a premium and very crowded with just as many ducks as will fit on the small space.

We wonder if we are looking at younger ducks, they look smaller but that may be distance.

  While we watched the ducks a Golden Whistler caught our attention.

While the bird book describes them as common we were quietly pleased when the other person occupying the top floor of the bird hide seemed as keen as we were to take the perfect bird photograph.

To expand on the confusion within Australian bird names it is alternately called Cutthroat, Golden-Breasted or White-Throated or Yellow-Breasted Whistler, Thickhead (to presumably complement the Hardhead), Ring-coachie, Thunderbird or Whipbird. What chance do we have?

I can assure anyone who is willing to listen that it doesn't look at all like the Eastern or Western Whipbird.

It appears that armed only with our bird book we will remain in a state of ignorance for many years to come. Which is perhaps fortunate, we cannot imagine having reached the end of learning in any realm.

Apart from which ....... what beautiful colours.

  There is a vast difference between the rainforests around the Atherton Tablelands and the road south of Mount Garnet which leads via Girringun National Park to Kennedy, just north of Cardwell, on the coastal Bruce Highway.

On the way north we passed through Mount Garnet from the west and headed directly north to Petford. Now we have arrived from the east and headed south.

  The 108 km to Blencoe Falls is very good gravel road. The last 12 km is a bit twisty. Just before the campground there is one of those bridges with lengthways logs. That I dislike. But at least these weren't round. The limit is 15 tonne from the west, but 5 tonne from the east. Either way, we are less than 5 tonne.
  We are welcomed at the campsite by a tribe (flock) of Red-Browed Firetails.

Delightful to watch. They fly down to the ground and hunt around for seeds. Then something disturbs them (I don't think me) and they flit rapidly into the bushes. Almost impossible for me to see. Then a few minutes later they fly back to the ground.

We also see young, that don't have the red brow.

  Next morning a Black Cormorant. Sitting on a rock in the middle of Blencoe Creek.

We wonder at its tail. It looks solid, which reminds us to look for platypus.

  The falls are about 5km south of the campsite. There's a vehicle track, we decide to walk .... of course we did, what else?
  About 250m below us is the Herbert River. We say "about" as the contours, the national park signs, and our intuition are at odds. The gorge starts about 12km west of us, at the Herbert River Falls, south of just about where our road became a bit windy, as we met the coastal mountains. We are looking at the confluence of Blencoe Creek with the Herbert River (from the right - west).

Judging from the contours on our 1:250,000 maps we are on a rolling plain with the gorge cut through.

We will have to drive further east before we start our descent to the coast. We are currently at around 600m, while the coast is ..... at 0m.

The landscape reminds us of the Great Dividing Range in northern New South Wales, around Guy Fawkes River. To some extent our route south is trying to emulate our last Christmas route south following the Dividing Range. We are suffering the same difficulty of roads mostly east-west while we wish to travel south.

  The Blencoe Creek leaves the plateau via waterfall over the granite. All the way to the Herbert River. The first part is 90m, then another 230m to the bottom.

Judging by the number of Scottish sounding station names we passed, a lot of "Glen Something" we suspect the naming of Blencoe Creek may be due to someone's sense of humour or a simple misspelling. A bit catchy now we are used to it.

The dominant trees around the waterfall are Hoop Pines. Very different to the Eucalypt on the plateau.

  We saw one in the pool beside our truck just before we started our walk. But not quick enough with the camera.

On the way back we spotted a couple in the pool just below the bridge (earlier pic).

Keep the zoom wide, wait for one to surface, take a pic, zoom in, take another pic, hope its in focus.

This one moderately so.

The platypus ignored us. We, on the other hand, were totally captive. They are remarkable creatures. Captive, even though they are in the middle of the pond and we only see them on the surface.

Not quite so lucky with the platypus in the pool where we are camped. At dawn, the small movement of raising the camera was enough to startle it. A rapid dive and not to be seen for a few hours. More caution required tomorrow morning!

Its about 40 years since I last saw a platypus in the wild. I still have the pic, but its not as clear as this one. Camera technology has changed more than a bit. Coincidentally in Eungella National Park, a meagre 450km south east of us, in similar landscape.

Girringun National Park - Herbert River Falls August 25 - 26 2019

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