Innamincka Working Bee/Field Trip – July 2011

Park Ranger: Trevor Whibley

Participating members:

  • Wendy & David Spackman,
  • Marie &Malcolm McDonald
  • Terrie & Trevor Coleman
  • Joan & Gary Vine
  • Christine & Chris Medlin
  • Clare, Martin & Ben Forsyth
  • Kate Buckley
  • Jenny Rolland & Euan Moore.

Everyone camped at Burkes Grave Campground

Sunday: Some of the group took a trailer and collected ash and rubbish from campsites at Cullyamurra Waterhole, and old fence posts and wire from Burkes campsite.

Monday: The group reported to the skid shacks at 9.30am for Induction and OH&S procedures with Trevor Whibley, Ranger.

Our first job was to remove the old fencing around the cemetery.  After lunch we went  to the AIM building tidy up the garden and pack the chairs and tables that the Friends of the Innamincka Reserves had donated.  Trevor gave us a tour of the AIM building.  Late afternoon Alex Clarke, Regional Ecologist Outback Areas came out to campsite to speak about bird-watching and small animal trapping that volunteers may wish to participate.

Tuesday:  At 6.45am we split in to 2 groups, half going with Alex to find/watch birds of the bush, the other half going with Kate and Trevor to watch water birds. We were shown how to identify birds using books and techniques to find them. We were back to camp about 8.30am. After breakfast some of the group installed interpretation signs at entrance to Queerbidie campsite. It has been suggested the Friends Group may wish to be responsible for this campsite.  After lunch some of the group went up to the skid shacks to help clean Elliott traps, then late afternoon out to a creek line to set up 30 traps with Alex. Some of the group checked for ash/rubbish at the Minkie Waterhole, Ski Beach, Wills Memorial and Kings campsites.  Geoff Axford, General Manager Outback Region, and his 2 boys joined the group for trap setting and tea around the campfire.

The Colemans and Vines arrived this morning, the Vines bringing with them a Bakers Delight order, phoned through by Trevor (Ranger).  Cheesymite scrolls and fruit scones were enjoyed by those who had placed an order.

Wednesday:  We met Alex and Trevor at 6.45am at the trap line.  In total, 1 native rat, 2 feral mice and 1 native mouse, were caught.  Uneaten baits were retrieved, we went back to camp at 8.30am.  At 10am we met at the cemetery to dig holes for new fence posts.  There was an hours delay while the damaged auger drill was repaired at the workshop.  The men in the group worked at the cemetery all day, finishing at 5pm. Terrie, Wendy and Marie cleaned park signs at the entrance to Queerbidie and on Clifton Hills Road as they had been under water.  Some of the group met Alex at the campsite at 4pm to set traps at the Mesa, where The Friends had previously done some rehabilitation work. The whole group had dinner at the pub to say goodbye to Medlins and Forsyths who leave tomorrow. Darren and his family, Alex and Trevor joined us for dinner.

Thursday:  We met Alex and Trevor at the Mesa at 6.45am to check traps.  All that was caught was 1 native rat and 15 feral mice. After breakfast Wendy and Marie painted the sign on Clifton Hills Road, the men went back to the cemetery to finish the fence.  Terrie, Jenny and Kate cleaned inside the AIM building and replaced brochures. Some group members met Alex at 3pm near the rubbish dump for buffel grass seed collection.  Late afternoon Alex and Trevor came out to campsite for bird watching, reverse of Tuesday morning. After dark Alex showed group a presentation of “Banded Stilts breeding at Lake Torrens”, which hasn’t happened for 10 years due to drought. The Birdwatchers in the group were particularly impressed. A particularly friendly rat visited us near the campfire, cleaning out an empty mushroom can.

Friday:  Rest day, men cleaned cars, women cleaned houses and used the washing machine in skid shacks. Late afternoon Darren, John Schutz, Director Regional Operations, his wife, son and brother-in-law paid us a visit, expressed his appreciation of work done by volunteers.

Saturday:. No official jobs today. At Ranger Trevors suggestion the group decided to go out to the racecourse to help clean up for the Innamincka race meeting at the end of August.  There was a lot of dirt and silt left by the floods, so lots of shovelling and sweeping, cleaning out cool rooms, chipping and burning weeds.  A big BBQ lunch was put on for us by Janet and Anthony Brooks of Cordillo Downs and Jayne-Marie and Jason Barns of Gidgealpa, accompanied by beer, soft drink and bottles of wine.  After lunch a Santos helicopter circled and landed with a Supervisor and electrician to connect a large generator which had been loaned by Santos, and check the electrical circuits for flood damage.  After about an hour the job was done and the electrician was flown back to his normal job. Our group left about 3.30pm, locals very appreciative of our help. All in bed early, exhausted.

Sunday:  A rest day. Trevor took group on a tag-along tour, first stop a lovely spot near the Nappa Merrie bridge for morning tea, with lots of bird life to observe and a huge black feral pig on opposite bank. On the way out we came across an F250 utility and brand new caravan, stuck in sand.  We gave the people assistance had to unhook van, drive ute out, then pull van free (this broke the shear pin on TC’s winch).  The owner of the van was not happy at being told what to do and was reluctant to let air out of his tyres.  We left after an hour with a donation of a bottle of Bundy rum.  Some of the group visited the Dig Tree and had lunch there, on way out we encountered a big King Brown snake on road, many photos taken.  Later in the day came across a smaller King Brown on the Dig Tree Circuit track.  While on the Circuit Track a request came across the radio from Kate who was in the lead vehicle with Trevor, to please proceed slowly and quietly as they had a sighting of a Grey Falcon, an elusive bird rarely sighted. There was much disappointment when it turned out to be a kestrel. We proceeded through the picturesque Merninie Ranges, on to the Cordillo Downs road, with a stop at the ‘Innamincka International Airstrip’ and got back to camp around 4pm.

Monday:  Out to Queerbidie at 10am to erect new fence at Western end of campsite. Nothing for women in group to do, so after lunch went back to camp, fence finished by 4pm. Trevor joined group around campfire for tea.

Tuesday:  Met at Queerbidie at 9.30am to continue fence work. Barry Cotton arrived with the bobcat, pulled out the old bollards which Wendy, Marie and Malcolm retrieved and stacked in piles, then bored holes for new fence.  Work was also started on erecting a fence at the entrance to the campsite, putting in posts and wire, with help from Rangers Andy Causebrook and Gavin Agius, finishing around 4pm. Group went to pub for tea, joined by Trevor, Barry and Gavin.

On way out of Burkes in the morning Kate met a fellow birdwatcher who told her they had seen some Plum Headed Finches at Cullyamurra and supplied a mud map.  The birdwatcher also mentioned that a Grey Falcon had been seen at the dump.  Kate, Euan and Jenny spent the morning watching for the finches, and were rewarded when 8 came in to drink.

Wednesday:  We met at Queerbidie at 9am for more fencing to be done.  Work finishing around 3pm.  Kate, Euan and Jenny waited at the dump, but no falcon sighted.  Kate spent most of the day at the skid shacks recording bird sighting data for Alex.  Diana and John Revitt arrived this afternoon, and assisted us Thursday.

Thursday:  Last day.  We said goodbye to Wendy and David who are leaving today.  Went out to Queerbidie at 9.30am, more fencing and cabling, 2 more camping nodes were done. Kate continued with bird data, Jenny filled brochures at AIMS building. Work finished at 3pm, then we went up to skid shacks for fuel.  Trevor, Andy and Gavin joined us for tea.  Four birdwatchers from Perth, Judy and John, Cheryl and Martin, also joined for tea around the camp fire.  The BBQs over the campfire working overtime tonight.

Over the past few days TC caught 10 mice in his vehicle, previously Chris Medlin had caught 3. James Cagney, the rat was seen scurrying around most nights.

Another successful Working-Bee has come to an end.

Activity Hours
Sunday 4 x 4 16
Monday 9 x 6 54
Tuesday 7 x 6 42
Wednesday 7 x 7, 2 x 3 55
Thursday 7 x 6, 3 x 3 51
Saturday 11 x 6 66
Monday 5 x 5 25
Tuesday 5 x 5½, 2 x 2½ 32½
Wednesday 5 x 6, 1 x 6 36
Thursday 5 x 5½ 27½
Alex’s Birdwatching 64
Mammal trapping 34
Birdwatching: Kate, Euan & Jenny 150
Total hours 654

Other statistics:

  • Travel time for 15 persons 4 days at 8 hrs = 480 hrs
  • 2200km round trip for each vehicle
  • 400km in Innamincka area for each vehicle to and from work areas

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