I have many favourite parks, in Australia and elsewhere, and for no good reason I want to introduce you to one today - assuming of course that you've not already had the pleasure. Idalia National Park, in central Queensland, is south-west of Blackall just south of the Tropic of Capricorn. For those not familiar with Australian or Queensland geography, here's where it is. (Look for the red arrow!)
We were last there in April a couple of years ago, when things were still pretty dry (but read on!), so not many flowers to share this time. It is close to the eastern edge of the Mulga lands; a quarter of the whole of Australia is dominated by communities associated with this species, Acacia aneura.
|Mulga plains from Emmet Pocket Lookout, Idalia NP.|
|Mulga, Idalia NP.|
We spent time walking and driving slowly, but also just sitting quietly at water holes, especially Murphy's Rockhole, in the rocky ranges.
|Euro (Macropus robustus). This is a large, rugged, shaggy kangaroo of the rocky ranges, found over much of Australia.|
|Young Euro, Idalia. The shaggy fur and big ears are obvious.|
However, as well as this common kangaroo, Idalia features one of the rarest and, in our opinion, perhaps the most beautiful of kangaroos. The rock-wallabies are a specialised group of small kangaroos which specialise in living in boulder piles and sheer cliff faces; where Euros power up a cliff, rock-wallabies flow, like running water. All rock-wallabies have suffered from isolation, from 19th century hunting, and especially from introduced Red Fox predation. Yellow-footed Rock-wallabies survive only in the Flinders and Gawler Ranges of South Australia, near Broken Hill in New South Wales, and in the Idalia region. Here they are relatively easy to see.
|Yellow-footed Rock-Wallaby, Idalia NP.|
In camp, Hall's Babbler, another much sought-after species by bird-watchers (it was only described in 1964), is a regular visitor.
|Hall's Babblers, Idalia camp ground.|
At 3am we were woken by several centimetres of water rushing through the tent (so much for drought); to cut a long soggy story short, we 'slept' the rest of the night in the car, and by early afternoon when the rain eased off, made a break for it - we were the only ones in the park, including staff, and all our bedding was sodden. It took some five hours in low ratio four wheel drive to do the 80km to the bitumen. I can't offer you any pictures of it, partly because I didn't dare stop, and partly because my camera was a victim of the deluge. Nontheless, we'll certainly be back, and I'd recommend you visit if you're in the area. Four wheel drive is preferable, but as long as it's dry you'll get in and around with a two wheel drive in reasonable condition. Check the forecast though...
|Moon over the Coolabahs; I didn't want to end on even a slightly negative note!|