Thursday, 10 February 2011

Chillagoe: the Ramparts I

Yesterday, I headed inland to Chillagoe with a friend who was looking at plants. As you know, I completely lack any botanical credibility, so I thought this would be a chance to chip away at my ignorance. (It was also a good opportunity to boost my vitamin D levels. It's been a long time since I've encountered so much sun.)

Chillagoe is a small cattle and mining township about 220 km by road from Cairns or 150 km as the Torresian crow flies.

It lies on the Burke Developmental Road, which runs west from Mareeba to the Gulf of Carpentaria town of Normanton. It's not like this all the way.

The vegetation types change rapidly from humid forest to savannah woodland. Kurrajong (Brachychiton australis), a dry season deciduous tree, grows on rocky outcrops along the road.

Roadside plants include the pea Cajanus reticulatus and a variety of eucalypts.

Chillagoe-Mungana National Park is made up of several sections, each covering a patch of limestone with associated vine thicket and savannah woodland. The Ramparts is to the east of town, so is the first section encountered when driving in from the coast. The track is not designed for limousines.

Frilled lizards (Chlamydosaurus kingii) are known for their defence behaviour, in which they erect the frill of skin around their heads and rush open-mouthed at a threat. (The frill is the Darth Vader helmet.)

This one opted for the more downbeat behaviour of clinging to a termite mound and hoping that the threat wouldn't notice. It was wrong.


M said...

Hi Snail,
Love the photos... they enable one to feel the beauty of Australia's diversity and rawness.
Being able to 'click' and read further is interesting... the information appreciated.
Thank you for an insightful journey.
Bestest wishes to you from M(Australia)

Calling Ravens said...

Gorgeous photos and lizard! Hard to believe you are moving into Fall-your summer seemed to zip by. Your lovely photos are really making me yearn for summer here at The Dirt Patch.


I'd go for a bit a sunburn right now. Not a bad one mind you, just a bit of a one.


Snail said...

I'm glad you're enjoying the tour, M!

Meggs, you don't want this sunburn. What a twit I am! Still a while to go before the end of the Wet here, so I'm expecting some more interesting stuff over the next few months.

forestwalk/laura k said...

GREAT lizard!! have seen pictures of this guy with his helmet on!
what a TREAT to see one in person! and THAT's a termite mound he's clinging to?? wow!

great adventure!
OH, and glad to see you made it out of all that bad weather stuff!!
(the sun sounds good...after all the rain...just in smaller doses, eh?)

Snail said...

Laura, yes, he's hanging onto a termite mound. The mounds here are quite small. Out on the savannah proper, they can be as big as small cars. (I believe a VW Beetle is the standard unit of measurement.)

The sun was lovely, but just a bit too much. After all that time in the rainforest it's easy to get over-enthusiastic about it!