Bendigo Whipstick
Ironbark (K Stockwell)

Several years ago, before prolonged drought hit the area, Peter wrote this article for 'The Bird Observer' about a lovely piece of bush within an hour's drive of Echuca, an area with brilliant wildflower displays in Spring, but an area which is too seldom visited. Since Peter wrote this article, drought has severely impacted upon the vegetation and wildlife.

More recently, the prolonged drought has broken but much of the Kamarooka has been burnt as part of a fuel-reduction program. Unfortunatgly some of the best birding areas have been burnt by the authorities. Environmental groups of the Bendigo area have combined to lobby for better environmental outcomes, sgtressing that the national park is itself an asset worthy of protection.

The northern end of the Whipstick, Kamarooka Forest, is now part of Greater Bendigo National Park.

Bull Mallee
Buil Mallee in Kamarooka (D Ong)

Accessing Kamarooka Forest
The Kamarooka Section of the park can be accessed from Elmore bhy taking Raywood Road to the Tennyson Road intersection and turning south (at the stop sign). After a few hundred metre, the park is entered and there is track on the right, Camp Road, which leads past the Mulga Dam camping area and the start of the Mulga Dam to Black Rock Flat walking track.

The Kamarooka section can be accessed from Huntly, Bendigo via Tennyson Road.

Accessing The Whipstick
The Whipstick section of the park can be accessed from Eaglehawk via the Eaglehawk-Neilborough Road.

The One Tree Hill section can be accessed from Flora Hill via Mandurang Road.

Mount Sugarloaf NCR can be accessed via Axedale-Goornong Road.

Camping
There are commercial caravan parks in Bendigo and Elmore.

In the Kamarooka Forest, free bush camping is allowed alongside Mulga Dam and Rush Dam but there are no toilets.

In the Whipostick section, camping is allowed at Shadbolt, Notley and Loeser picnic and camping areas. There are toilets at Shadbolts and Notley but not at Loeser.

Maps
A map of the park can be downloaded from the Parks Victoria web site.

1:25,000 topographic maps covering the park include:
Summerfield 7724-1-4
Mayreef 7724-1-1
Epsom 7724-1-3
Mandurang 7724-2-4

Links
linkGreater Bendigo National Park, including Kamarooka.
A page dedicated to this national park. Click here to enter.

linkBird list for Echuca-Moama District
Click here to download the document in pdf format

linkPlants of Kamarooka and the Whipstick
Click here to enter

 

 

 

 

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Birding in Kamarooka

Kamarooka
Walking trail through Kamarooka Forest by Keith Stockwell

Birding in Kamarooka

with Peter Allan

Mr Allan
Peter Allan

Extending north from Bendigo is a bushland area with flora ranging from the tall Red Ironbark (Eucalyptus sideroxylon) , at Eaglehawk, through to the unique Whipstick Mallee, blending into tall Kamarooka Mallee and Grey Box woodland further north. Finishing on a 13km front parallel to the Elmore-Raywood Road, it is the remainder and a reminder of the once extensive woodlands of Victoria's northern plains.

Within this remnant lies the Greater Bendigo National Park: a Swiss-cheese park holed by private land*.

(Since this article was written, some uncommitted public land and eucalyptus-oil leases have been included into the new park. Ed.)

Fortunately, the poor soil, dry land and lack of minerals have meant much of the flora still endures.

My preferred area is south, along the Kamarooka East Road and then east on Noble Track in the Kamarooka State Park. At the start of a walk along these roads, the birds are those of the undulating dry land farms that surround the area: Australian Magpie, Ravens, Galah, Red-rumped Parrot, Crested Pigeon, White-plumed Honeyeater and the pesky Noisy Miner. The woodland has a low cover of daisies and native grasses, then an understorey of acacias, hop bushes and cassinias, through which the grey-brown trunks of Grey Box rise up to 20m. or more; probably the largest stand of pure Grey Box in the State. Further along the road our ears attune to the clear musical calls of the Grey Butcher Bird, Grey Shrike-thrush and Rufous Whistler and two species often heard but hard to find, Gilbert's Whistler and the Crested Bellbird. White-wing Choughs rise protestingly from a muddy depression and the first of many Eastern Rosellas fly alongside momentarily.

Gilberts Whistler
Gilbert's Whistler (D Ong)

Due to past timber practice, many poor timber trees were ring-barked. Now, some 40 years later, these grey ghosts, approximately 50 metres apart, provide excellent hollows for the Rosellas, Galahs and Brown tree-creepers and marsupials, in what is still a comparatively young regrowth forest. Despite the unusual surplus of holes, the Rosellas still make use of the remaining old fencing posts, nesting below ground-level at times and suffering meat ants and flooding on occasion.

A busy flock of White-browed Babblers flurry across the track. Their bulky, obvious nests are an important part of the local habitat, recycled not only by babblers, but used as nesting bases by Gilbert's Whistler, Crested Bellbird, Grey Shrike-thrush, pigeons and Diamond Firetail. One nest started as a "Gilbert's" open cup, on which babblers dumped their domed home. Subsequently a Shrike-thrush hollowed out the top and lined it with bark strips, and last summer Firetails added their bottle-shaped nest, complete with dried daisy entrance. This season the Shrike-thrush was back again, adding to the growing pile of debris.

Crested Diamond Firetail
Crested Bellbird (left) and Diamond Firetail (D ong)

Now three kilometres into the Park, patches of Mallee and Yellow Gum appear and the honeyeaters dominate. Numerous Fuscous and Yellow-tufted dispute territories and we hear the calls of Black-chinned and Brown-headed. What attracts these nectar-lovers is the almost continuous supply of blossoms from the eucalypts...and from the mass of acacias, mint-bushes, etc.

Whirrakee Wattle
Whirrakee Wattle(D Ong)
~ found only in box-ironbark forests near Bendigo

At the road's junction with Noble Track is a tall stand of Yellow Gum rising out of low acacias and bordered by tall mallee. Here, this August, I found seven active Wattlebird nests in an area 700m*60m, and further along the track another six nests in a 500m. walk.

Brown-headed HoneyeaterPurple-gaped
Brown-headed Honeyeater (left) and Purple-gaped Honeyeater (D Ong)

 

The bird list of the Kamarooka and Whipstick Parks record 23 honeyeaters and although some of these are rare inland visitors such as White-fronted, Black and Spiny-cheeked and Singing, one should record at least ten species each visit. In the mallee are many Yellow-plumed and occasional Purple-gaped Honeyeaters and in the low scrub White-eared and occasionally Tawny-crowned.

 


White-fronted
White-fronted Honeyeater (Murray Chambers)

 

Little Friarbirds nest along the seasonal creek by Noble Track. In winter, Yellow-faced and White-naped come visiting.

Yellow-faced Honeyeater
Yellow-faced Honeyeater (D Ong)

Species more likely to be found only in the Whipstick are the Noisy Friarbird, Blue-faced Honeyeater, New Holland, Eastern Spinebill and the very rare Regent Honeyeater.

Peter Allan has long studied the birds of Kamarooka Forest. Photographer David Ong is an Echuca resident. "Kamarooka" is an aboriginal word meaning "wait-a-while" and this section of Greater Bendigo National Park is a great place to do just that.

Peter has written a brochure on birding in Kamarooka. Click here to download a copy of the guide (pdf file)

Black Rock
Black Rock by Keith Stockwell

This rock formation is near the end of a walking trail that starts at Mulga Dam and runs south-west to the Whipstick section of Greater Bendigo National Park. Therock formation is surrounded by a high fence to protect the plants which grow on and around the rocks.

Birding in Kamarooka

 

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This site was established during 1996. Latest version: January 2012.