Smithsdownunder
Our journeys around Australia

21-Dec-2004
   

From the Grampians, we headed northwest to the 'Little Desert' via Mount Arapiles. On the way we passed the Giant Koala.

There are quite a few 'Giant' things or 'Big' things on the roadsides when you drive around Oz, so Ali checked this one out.

The Giant Koala

The Giant Koala
Mount Arapiles

Mount Arapiles is a famous rock climbing area but we decided to do it the easy way and drove to the top (with the caravan on the back!).

Mount Arapiles

The surrounding area is quite flat so the views from the top are great.

The view from the top of Mount Arapiles

Mount Arapiles lookout
Mitre Rock

There is a smaller climbing area nearby called Mitre Rock, which is alongside a salt lake.

Mitre Rock and Mitre Lake beyond

It is harvest time and there were some interesting patterns in some fields just below the mountain. Harvest Patterns

MalleefowlAt the Little Desert, we spent the night at a place called the Little Desert Nature Lodge. The place was set up by a chap called Ray 'Whimpey' Reichelt and, amongst other things, they specialise in breeding Malleefowl. Whimpey showed us around the sanctuary after dark when we saw Sugar Gliders, Bandicoots and Bush-stone Curlews.

In the morning we saw the Malleefowl. These are quite extraordinary creatures, which look something like a pheasant. They are unique in that they incubate their eggs by burying them in large mounds. The mounds are enormous, up to 5mtrs in diameter and a metre high. They first dig a pit in winter and fill it with litter. In early spring, the litter starts to ferment and they lay their eggs on it and cover it with sand. If the sun is strong, they will increase the sand cover over the mound or reduce it if the sun is weak. The temperature of the eggs is kept at a constant 32deg. It has been calculated that they shift as much as 2 tonnes of material a day sometimes in temperatures of 50deg without water to drink. It's no wonder they are an endangered species! When the eggs hatch, the young sometimes dig their way up through a metre of sand and they are fully-fledged and able to fly straight away. They lay an average of 15 - 20 eggs a season.

The place is certainly worth a visit, their website is: http://www.littledesertlodge.com.au

A Malleefowl on its mound.

We left the Little Desert and drove across country back to Yambuk on the coast where we will be spending the next two weeks over the Christmas holidays.