In October we visited two national parks in Northwestern Victoria: Little Desert and Wyperfeld. Both parks have many beautiful walking-only tracks and can be reached from Melbourne in five hours. Spring is a good time to go because of the wildflowers, and Wyperfeld is a great place to see some inland parrots. I would say that these two parks are probably the best parks in Victoria.
Little Desert NP
Kiata campground is close to many of the walks. We picked up our first new species on the short loop near this area: the White-browed Woodswallow. We also saw White-browed Babbler, Crested Pigeon, and Diamond Firetail, Weebill, and Brown-headed Honeyeater.
The Kiata campground is only a few kilometers from the Kiata Sanctuary picnic ground. Here starts an interpretive walk that comes with a self-guiding pamphlet. The Kiata Lowan Sanctuary was actually established to protect the endangered Malleefowl, and on this walk there is actually a Malleefowl mound. We did not see the Malleefowl, but I don’t think it wanted to see us.
Kiata campground is also not far from the Little Desert Nature Lodge, a friendly place that will give you maps. They have a few walks inside the lodge area and also they are not far from even more walks in Little Desert. There is one walk that takes you through a revegetation area, another place where you can see Malleefowl. They told us they’ve spotted three in this area. Although we didn’t see any here, they have a nice bird hide. It can be found about half way through the walk. It is has two chairs and a perfect view overlooking a small pond, which is probably the only water in the revegetation area. Thus lots of birds come to drink here. There is a list of birds hanging in the hide that you are encouraged to update if you find any new ones. Normally, we don’t have good luck in hides but in this one we got excellent views of Brown-headed Honeyeater. We also saw large numbers of New Holland Honeyeater drinking. They displayed a fascinating social structure in the way they took turns drinking at the pond.
We did not have time to explore all the walks in this park, but we would certainly like to come back and do so. In fact, both Little Desert and Wyperfeld probably have the best walks in Victoria.
Our next stop was Wyperfeld, and we knew that we would find some new parrots there. There are two parts of the park: the southern and northern parts. In a 2WD, you actually have to go around the park to get from one area to another. We only visited the southern area for a couple of hours to go on the Discovery Walk.
It is clear that a lot of effort was put into this walk. Along the way, there are informative signs that identify some of the flora and fauna. Be careful because you have to open a metal lid to expose the signs and sometimes there are spiders in them. The best time to see the flowers that go along with the panels is the spring, and in fact it was already getting quite hot so perhaps September would have been an even better time to come to avoid the heat.
The walk has an extension that goes to “Lake Bambruk”, which I put in quotation marks because it actually is devoid of water. Along the way there is the Devil’s Pool, which is a small pool that actually does contain a small amount of water, which I fancifully imagined to be replenished by birdwatchers carrying buckets of water to it. That’s because many birds come here to drink. While we didn’t see anything new at the Devil’s Pool, it’s probably because we weren’t there early enough. However, on the walk we did see new species: Splendid and Variegated Fairy-wren, and Spiny-cheeked and Striped Honeyeater.
We spent most of our time in the Northern area of the park. At this point, we still had not seen any new parrots. But when we drove into the park through Meridian Track, we were greeted with an outstanding viewing of the beautiful yellow Regent Parrot. There were a few in the trees on the east side of the track. They like the trees here perhaps even more than the trees inside the park.
At the same time we saw a couple of Blue Bonnets. These are more common in the park and in the campground and of all the parrots, probably Ringneck and Blue Bonnet were the easiest to see. So that left Mulga Parrot and Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo to find. We never saw the Mulga Parrot. The next morning we woke up early and saw a small flock of Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo fly over. That was the only confirmed sighting we had of them, and although they look similar to the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, they are far more shy.
There is a loop walk by the campsite that is about nine kilometers. We saw a few new birds here too like Pallid Cuckoo and Varied Sitella. More than halfway through the walk we came across the impressive sight of Wedge-tailed eagles that took off into a tree only a couple meters from us. We looked at it quietly for a few moments and continued on.
Unlike the Kiata Campground, the Casuarina campground has individual sites and some of them are fairly private.