Birding in Kamarooka
with Peter Allan
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
this remnant lies the Greater Bendigo National Park: a Swiss-cheese
park holed by private land*.
this article was written, some uncommitted public land and eucalyptus-oil
leases have been included into the new park. Ed.)
the poor soil, dry land and lack of minerals have meant much
of the flora still endures.
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.
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 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.
~ 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.
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
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 (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 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.