Wanna Munna Aboriginal Rock Art Site – Pilbara region WA

The main waterhole at Wanna Munna.  The rock art covers the surrounding rock faces and boulders.

In mid 2009 we explored the Pilbara region of Western Australia, travelling from the Pilbara coast to the Rudall River National Park in the Pilbara’s far east.  On our way from the famous and beautiful Karijini National Park to the mining town of Newman, we stopped at the Wanna Munna Aboriginal rock art site.


The Bush Stone-Curlew

A wild Bush Stone-Curlew on the prowl.  On the Nocturnal Tour, outside at the Alice Springs Desert Park

The Bush Stone-Curlew (also known as the Bush Thick-Knee) is a beautiful and unusual Australian bird, with an equally unusual name.  This species is unusual in being largely nocturnal and ground-dwelling, and its plumage allows it to blend in thoroughly with the woodland leaf-litter on which it dwells.


A Truckload of Trucks hits the Alice (Alice Springs Truck Parade and Show – August 2010)

A lovely old Bedford truck

Before last weekend, I’d never considered a truck to be a thing of beauty.  Sure, I’ve looked on some of the enormous outback road-trains with a sense of awe, or should I say terror, as they loom towards you in an all-engulfing cloud of dust along a rough dirt road.  But the enormous gathering of trucks, old and new, large and small, in Alice Springs for the National Road Transport Hall of Fame re-union changed all that.  I’m now in love with trucks.  I want to be a truck-driver when I grow up!


Henley-on-Todd Regatta, Alice Springs 2010

The regatta gets underway.

Forget all the hype about the Federal Election, there was something far more important and exciting happening today in Australia– the Henley-on-Todd Regatta!  Today marked the 49th consecutive year for this annual event held in Alice Springs.  The Henley-on-Todd is unique among boating regattas in that it is held on the dry, sandy bed of the Todd River.  Indeed, when the river flows, as happened one year, the regatta is cancelled.   After all our rain this year, organisers were nervous in the lead-up to this weekend, especially with rain forecast.  They needn’t have worried – the weather was perfect and the regatta venue suitably sandy and dry.


Spring arrives early in The Alice

Zebra Finch (male) gathering nesting material, Alice Springs

Spring has definitely arrived early this year in Alice Springs.  Everywhere you look, native shrubs are in flower, the birds are building nests and the hills still have a greenish tinge after consistent rainfall all this year.  It is gorgeous.  We are even getting a few days now above 20 degrees, although the nights remain cool.  Who would be anywhere else?!


Owls and Nightjars

Barn Owl, Alice springs Desert Park

Owls and Nightjars are more common in the Australian bush than most of us realise.  Most are nocturnal – active at night – so we are largely unaware of their presence.  We may hear the hooting of an owl in the early hours of the morning, or see a dark shape fly silently overhead if we are outside at night, but otherwise we are unlikely to see them.



Golden-Backed honeyeater, Alice Springs Desert Park

If my memory serves me correctly, Australia has around 60 species of Honeyeater, native Miner and Spinebill.  And that’s not even counting the Wattlebirds and Friarbirds.  Needless to say, we have struggled with our identification of the many and varied Honeyeaters encountered during our adventures. We have both been heard to comment at times that “these Honeyeaters are doing my head in”.

To make the task more difficult, Honeyeaters are supercharged on a diet consisting mainly of nectar.  Like five year olds on too much red cordial, Honeyeaters don’t stay still for very long, making the task of identifying their species, or of taking a half decent photo, all the more challenging.


Birds of Prey

Wedge-Tailed Eagle

Birds of prey hold a special fascination for us humans, and Australia’s birds of prey are no exception.  We gaze in wonder at them as they soar high above the earth, effortlessly riding the wind thermals, searching the ground far below for food using their exceptional vision. 

In many cultures they symbolize spiritual attainment; their high soaring habit representing a capacity to rise above earthly concerns and to view issues from a dispassionate position, a place of wisdom.  We use the expression ‘eagle-eyed’ for people of keen vision and insight.


Australia’s Endangered Wildlife

The endangered Western Quoll, Alice Springs Desert Park.


Where do you start on a topic like this?  When Nirbeeja suggested this as a good theme for a new post, I must admit to feeling completely overwhelmed.   “Endangered wildlife” isn’t the theme for a post, it’s a lifetime’s work.  I soon realised that my initial reaction symbolised how we all feel about this issue – basically that it’s too big to deal with.  As a result we pretend it isn’t there and move on to something easier, or go see a movie, or eat some chocolate….or do whatever it is that we do to avoid reality.

Of course, if we all did that, many Australian species of marsupial, bird, reptile and amphibian, not to mention plants, would disappear in the blink of an eye.  In fact many already have, never to be seen again.  The delicate Lesser Bilby, once seen in the central desert regions, is gone.  Wiped out.  Extinct.  Call it what you like, it is now but a memory.  When you see a real, live Greater Bilby, its bigger and more robust cousin, although it too is a delicate, fragile creature under threat of extinction, you realise that the Lesser Bilby stood no chance at all against efficient feral predators and environmental degradation.  Unfortunately the Lesser Bilby isn’t alone.  As I wrote in the introduction to the earlier marsupials post on this site, Australia holds the unfortunate record for mammal extinctions in the modern world.  Let’s not add to that record if we can help it!


Aboriginal Rock Art of the Burrup Peninsula



The Burrup Peninsula, about two thirds of the way up the enormous Western Australian coastline, is home to the world’s most extensive concentration of rock art, yet is relatively unknown.  Although there has never been a full inventory of the petroglyphs in the region, bodies such as the National Trust of Australia (WA) suggest that there could be up to 1 million individual works.  I am astounded that a place of such cultural significance is not World Heritage listed.  But read on, and you will learn why.