2008: Stirling Range, Western Australia

Stirling Range

The Stirling Range Retreat, at the northern entrance, seemed like a good overnight stop. It would have been perfect, had it been open. I was beginning to get used to out-of-season lodgings. The campsite did look sort of operational but I had no equipment for that, nor any food, which was going to be a showstopper no matter what. There was nowhere to buy the stuff.

The afternoon was not too far advanced, so I pushed on across the wandoo-wooded hills but had to miss the by-road up to Bluff Knoll. Still, I hit a bonanza. Birds either flew up from, or foraged by, the roadside. First up was another lifer in brush bronzewing, then as if to confirm the sighting and give me a benchmark, common bronzewing. Five more lifers followed: white-tailed black cockatoo; red-capped and elegant parrots; dusky miner; and grey currawong.

Strewth! I’ve done worse sat for hours in a hide at a birding hotspot. It was lucky the road was empty enough, despite having more hilly bends than the preceding prairie drive, that I could keep only half my attention on it and make frequent screeching halts. You can’t do that up the M5!

So, the life list powered on to 879 and, scratching Porongurup as too much of a detour, I powered on to Albany. Kamballup, Woodburn, Napier and King River all passed, just names on the map with no sign of lodgings. Predictably, those in Albany sported No Vacancy signs even though it was a Sunday night. I drove an approximate spiral out of town before settling on a too expensive motel on the outskirts.

That was OK. I wasn’t wanting the city’s bright lights that night. And the area round the motel held a final surprise for me.

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