Balranald area extended camping trip

Tue 30 October 2018 12:00am

Noel Luff

Tuesday 30 October to Sunday 4 November – Balranald Area


There will be two camps. The first is three days at Lake Paika, a farmstay north of Balranald. I believe they have access to wetlands on their property. The second three days will be at Yanga National Park. For those who do not wish to camp there is accommodation available at Lake Paika. There is no accommodation at Yanga, but Balranald is close by. I need to know bookings for accommodation at Lake Paika well in advance and will require payment before I confirm the booking. Those who wish to stay in Balranald can make their own arrangements.

In order to make the group manageable I would like to limit the numbers to a maximum of 20 persons.

Bookings for the trip and Lake Paika accommodation to be made by contacting Noel Luff at

Post event report

13 Coggies accompanied Noel and Ethel Luff on a five-day outback odyssey to the Balranald area for some dry country birding.  Our first stop for 3 nights was Lake Paika Station, an historic property set on the shores of a vast lake, about 20 minutes north of Balranald. Given the hot and often windy weather, early morning walks on the lake’s shoreline proved rewarding, with Red-necked Avocet, Red-capped Plover, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Caspian Tern, White-fronted Chat, Rainbow Bee-eater, Australian Reed Warbler, Horsfield’s Bushlark and White-breasted Woodswallow among the birds recorded.  A close fly-by of 27 Glossy Ibis was a highlight.

The first morning was spent exploring the property, stopping in a variety of habitats.  Some of the birds seen included Emu, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, a wide array of ducks (including 260 Australian Shelducks), White-winged Triller, Striped Honeyeater, Pied and Grey Butcherbird, Blue Bonnet, Australian (Mallee) Ringneck, and a Blue-faced Honeyeater on a nest.  We returned home for a relaxing afternoon, capped off by our daily bird call, some quiet drinks (ha!) and another spectacular sunset.

On the second day we met Ranger Simone for an interesting and informative tag-along tour, concentrating on those flooded areas of Yanga National Park not normally accessible to the public. A recent environmental release of water from the Maude Weir to the east has led to considerable flooding of natural wetlands, enhancing downstream river health and creating a veritable ‘Kakadu of the South’. Species recorded included numerous waterbirds, including ducks, herons and egrets, Black-tailed Native Hen, various raptors including Little Eagle and Swamp Harrier, and bushbirds such as Brown Treecreeper, Restless Flycatcher and Rufous Whistler. After lunch, with the temperature gauge nudging 40C, we called it a day.

The following morning, we decamped to Mamanga campground, a picturesque and shady spot on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River. Unfortunately, we continued to be dogged by hot, dry and often strong, westerly winds. After setting up camp we strolled across to the impressive Yanga Woolshed, once the largest and most modern woolsheds in the district, shearing 3,000 sheep and providing work for up to 40 shearers at a time. A self-guided tour and comprehensive interpretive display provides a wealth of information about the pastoral, indigenous and natural history of Yanga. Birds in the area included Sacred Kingfisher, Variegated and White-winged Fairy-wren, Crimson (Yellow) Rosella and Southern Whiteface.

On our last day we visited Yanga Homestead, exploring the gardens and Yanga Lake walking track and viewing platform. Birds included Yellow and Yellow-rumped Thornbills, Singing Honeyeater, more than 1000 Australian Pelicans, Pied Stilt and more avocets and sharpies. We then headed up the Sturt Highway to the Willows campground and picnic area, located in woodland. Some of the new birds there were Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, Red-capped Robin and Brown Goshawk.

Our final evening was blissfully calm and mild, with the calls of Tawny Frogmouth, Australian Owlet-nightjar and Southern Boobook clearly ringing over the camp. And at about 4.30am, just before the kookaburras sounded their morning alarm, the ‘woof-woof’ of a Barking Owl drifted down the river.  A fitting end to a most enjoyable campout, with a total of 126 species being recorded.  Many thanks to Noel for organising this tour and our variety of activities.

Kathy Cook

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