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  • Writer's picturelindavlunnon

Coming home from far west New South Wales with a boat load of inspiration

Back in April, we made the most of school holidays and headed out west to explore Cobar and beyond for the first time. Heading into semi-arid country, my inner bird nerd went into overdrive - I knew we'd be seeing a different kind of birdlife to what we get in the Hunter Valley, but I seriously underestimated the abundance and diversity! I could honestly ramble about this trip for pages and can't even tell you how much inspiration I've brought back for future artworks, but I'll spare you and (try to) keep it to absolute highlights. Our 10 day trip included Cobar - Mt Grenfell National Park - White Cliffs - Mutawindji National Park - Broken Hill - Kinchego National Park - I'd highly recommend visiting all of these places if you can.

Wildlife highlights:

  • Seeing Rakali (native white-tailed water rats) for the first time ever, swimming around in the Darling River

  • Seeing red kangaroos in the wild for the first time

  • Spotting a Centralian Ranges Rock Skink (an endangered population in Mutawindji NP), which Annabelle managed to get a really nice, full length photo of before it disappeared! We showed the park rangers our photos and they confirmed it as the endanagered skink, congratulating Annabelle on getting such an excellent photo of it. We gave them the photos and details so they could formally record the sighting and she was literally jumping out of her skin with excitement for the whole afternoon. We often read and talk about nature and wildlife, but it's firsthand experiences like this that I hope will stay with her and grow her passion for the natural world.

Bird highlights: Pink cockatoos, wedge-tailed eagles, close encounters with a brown falcon and whistling kites, seeing red-tailed black cockatoos in the wild for the first time near Menindee, zebra finches, flocks of wild budgies, red-backed kingfishers, friendly brown treecreepers, chestnut-rumped thornbills (didn't even know about them until I went to ID it!), and we loved all the emus dawdling around.

Location highlights:

  • Cobar Reservoir is excellent for birding

  • Mt Grenfell NP - a well preserved collection of Aboriginal Rock Art (and this is where we saw the Pink Cockies and two pairs of Wedgies)

  • White Cliffs - opal fossicking, a tour with Graham from Outback Opal Hunters and staying in a dugout Air BnB was one of our top experiences from this trip! The locals were great to talk to as well.

  • Mutawindji NP - a large, tidy campground and lots of beautiful walks - if you only have time to do one hike, Mutawindji Gorge walk was the best. Also some excellent Aboriginal rock art here and the park rangers were fantastic to talk to.

  • Broken Hill - camel ride in Silverton, the old Silverton cemetery, Pro Hart Gallery, Living Desert State Park, fabulous food and atmosphere at the Astra, delicious thickshakes at Bell's Milk Bar!

  • Kinchego National Park - we camped on the Darling River and it was so peaceful. Giant old red gums, brilliant birding here and in nearby Menindee Lakes. Another of our absolute favourite experiences on this trip was watching the sun set over Lake Pamamaroo.

Here are a few from our many thousands of photos!

We loooooved the red sand out west! It's great fun to draw in.

Opal mining equipment at White Cliffs.

Mutawindji Gorge - absolutely worth the 7km round hike!

Moorise over our campground on the Darling River.

Stunning sunset at Lake Pamamaroo.

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