Friday, 20 July 2007

North to AlaskaParkes, New South Wales

I had intended to leave early but best laid plans and all that. It wasn't helped by a bingle between a couple of cars at the base of the freeway on-ramp. (Still, it's always childishly satisfying to see a brand new Volvo being loaded onto the tray of a tow truck.) I finally got out of Melbourne a little after 10 am.

The first stop was meant to be Shepparton, but I kept going to make up time lost in faffing about this morning. I might stop there on the way back because it has some interesting public art. Australia may have ridden to prosperity on the sheep's back but our artists prefer cattle. Mooving Art is a collection (herd?) of brightly-coloured fibreglass cows distributed throughout town. They look as though they'd be worth the effort.

The cows are periodically relocated. Not so the giant Murray cod at Tocumwal on the NSW side of the Murray. The main street of Tocumwal, which is a rather lovely little town, was lined with caravans and their grey nomad owners, eating sandwiches and drinking tea from plastic thermos cups. They were all on the street side of the levee. Had they walked a few feet, they could have had sandwiches and tea overlooking the river. But it was a pleasant view either way.

It's not easy spotting birds at 110km/hr but I recorded some notables.

  • Lots of kookaburras and black-faced cuckoo-shrikes on the overhead wires.
  • An emu in a sheep paddock.
  • A huge mob of sulphur-crested cockatoos on the banks of the Murrumbidgee at Narrandera.
  • A wedge-tailed eagle feeding on a carcass about ten metres off the road
  • Red-rumped parrots and eastern rosellas
  • Black-shouldered and fork-tailed kites and nankeen kestrels in abundance
  • Bronzewing pigeons
  • Straw-necked ibis
  • Gangs of white-winged choughs refusing to get off the road, so forcing vehicles to slow down
  • A couple of apostle birds (not sure why there were only two)
  • And galahs, of course. Hundreds of galahs.

Tonight I'm staying in Parkes. I want to visit the radio telescope tomorrow. (It starred in The Dish.) But my plans don't always work out ...

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