Thursday, May 15, 2008

DAY 203: Day 1 off in Camooweal

Weds 14th May 2008
Sunny, 30 deg C
Elevation of destination 231 m
Distance to date 12141 km (7588 miles)
Despite the noise last night I slept OK, more lightly towards dawn though as the coldness started to bite as usual. It’s just about bearable, and I can always add more clothing, so my 3-season sleeping bag is just adequate. I would have liked a lie-in but no chance, thanks to some noisy fisherman banging their tin boats with a hammer from 0600, not to mention coughing and spitting; cheers guys. Hope they spring a leak 3 miles out... The CP was a bit smelly too - gas from the STP I guess - and became noisier as 99 dogs woke up and started barking. There’s a housing scheme right next to the CP where a lot of the noise comes from. I have to move somewhere else.
I chatted to the manager and he was great - told me about a free camping area by a billabong where there are lots of birds and which is only 2km away - cool! I’ll check that out later, but after breakfast I had a look around the town in daylight, what there is of it - only 360 population with 2 or 3 shops - and I like it! I saw that the other CP behind the Shell Roadhouse is quiter and shady too, so there’s another option.
I popped in the post office to ask about my parcel, and the postmaster was somewhat negative about the prospects of me getting it before next week! Hmmmmm..... I could have it sent forward somewhere else if I decided not to wait for it though - for $11.50. But happily there’s Broadband internet at the PO, although a bit dear at $10/hr.
Anyway, I quite fancied a couple of days in this little backwater - there’s a nice clean cafe at the Shell, nice pub, and birds (I expect).
I went to check out the billabong, and right enough there were plenty of birds, and quite a few caravanners camping there on the banks. I chatted to a couple for a while, and decided that if the Shell CP was cheap enough I’d stay there - it’s right in town close to everything, and more secure as I would have to leave my gear out here at the billabong, which unsettles me. Back in town I found out that camping at the Shell is only $6.50! Cheapest ever, so that’s settled then - town it is.
The manager at the first CP had been very good in letting me leave my tent up as long as I wanted, and I had washing on the line too, so early afternoon I shifted everything the 400m across and just down the road, and set up in a spot that will be shady all day - unusual. This time of the year here the winter sun stays quite a bit north of directly above, so a site with big trees to the north gives all-day shade, and I tucked right under some such trees.
After a second iced coffee (yes, Dare Double Espresso to further boost my good fortune!) I took bins, Simpson and Day, notebook and pen and posted myself discretely under a shady tree on the banks of the billabong,moving a few times along it’s 1km length. I identified 22 species as follows (non-birders skip this bit)....
Brolga (20 or so)
Black Cormorant (scores)
Magpie-Lark (scores)
Little Pied Cormorant (a dozen or so)
Wood Duck (scores)
Willie Wagtail (scores)
Pacific Black Duck (scores)
Black Kite (handful)
Great Egret (2 or 3)
Intermediate Egret (2 or 3)
Eurasian Coot (scores)
Pelican (half a dozen)
Common Myna (handful)
Torresian Crow (handful)
Hardhead (White-Eyed) Duck (scores)
Wandering Whistling Duck (scores)
White-faced Heron (1)
Black-Fronted Dottrel (handful)
Black-Winged Stilt (a dozen or so)
Little Corella
Masked Lapwing
Green Pigmy Goose
I was particularly pleased to be able to identify the ducks as they are similar at first glance, and the Pygmy Goose. I also saw a pair of snow-white geese that aren’t in the book at all, and I presume these are escaped domestic fowl.
Back to the plot - well, not much more to report really - I went for a couple of beers and the postmaster came up and said that my parcel arrived today! It had been sent by another method, not the one I thought, which has priority delivery, so that was good. Interestingly, he’s noticed on the parcel that my name was Robinson, which is his name too (Steven), and talked about his ancestry. He had heard (how word gets around in wee places!) that I lived in Scotland, and showed me a tattoo on his forearm which was that of a local ‘Clan’ in Caithness, where I live viz the Gunn’s. He reckoned that Robinson was a ‘subordinate’ clan to Gunn if I understood him correctly, which I haven’t heard before, but he was adamant. Anyway tomorrow I’ve arranged to go in at around 1100, after he’s finished postal duties, and we will look up the map of North of Scotland on the internet and discuss further. I had planned to spend another day here anyway, and I think I might be in for some discounted internet time at the PO don’t you? This other bloke in the pub said Steven was far too tight for that - that must prove he’s a proper Scotsman then?
After that I crossed the road for dinner at the Shell ‘Servo’ as they call filling stations here, a very nice steak casserole with pot of tea (in case you were wondering lol).
I also learnt that there is a second Billabong further on from the one I was at today, so I’ll check that out tomorrow too.
It’s been quite a productive day then, got all my washing done, made out ‘Todo’ lists and generally sorted a lot of outstanding stuff out. And yes, this CP is a lot quiter than last night’s.

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