Days 3-4: 7th & 8th September
There's something magical about the mallee. We could have made a beeline from Bendigo to Mildura, but instead decided to take the chance to revisit Hattah-Kulkyne National Park. And it was certainly a good decision!
North-western Victoria is flat. We chose a saltmarsh reserve - Lake Tyrell, the largest salt lake in Victoria - as our lunch stop ... in the hope of sighting a bird or two, including the Orange Chat. No luck, but that's the nature of a birding adventure ... win some, lose some.
We arrived at the Mournpall Lake camp ground in the late afternoon. Beautiful location among the River Red Gums. Fine weather. And no neighbours. Perfect!
And it gets even better. The first birds we sighted were Major Mitchell Cockatoos! By the time I'd extracted my camera from the back seat, the birds were further away, but I did manage a couple of shots. I took this as a good omen for our stay.
The lakeside vegetation is dominated by large River Red Gums, but they don't extend far from the lake.
A short walk from our camp and we were in true mallee country. I love this landscape. It's so different from the east coast where I grew up. For Paul, it is almost a homecoming, as he was born in mid-north South Australia.
A moonless night. An amazing display of stars. And nocturnal birds too!
To take full advantage of our brief visit, we forced ourselves out of bed into a chilly morning ... and it was well worth the effort.
For the next few hours we wandered a track alongside the lake, then took a brief side trip into the mallee. Here's a small glimpse.
A short drive late this afternoon, and we're now set-up for the night in Mildura. Not nearly so scenic a camp spot ... but the shower was welcome, and we'll head off into South Australia early tomorrow morning.
Read more about the ecology in Paul’s ‘travel post’, Hattah-Kulkyne: contrasting environments in the mallee