Bell and Bunya Mountains

After an easy 3 hour drive we arrived in the little town of Bell and settled into a small and very comfortable caravan park. Straight after breakfast the next morning we drove up to the Bunya Mountains to make the most of some cooler conditions before the day heated up. Our first stop was Fishers Lookout on Mt Mowbullan which is well set out with some attractive shelters. The view was spectacular in spite of the smoke haze.

Wallaby feeding on grasses maintained by appropriate fire management.
Explanation of grasslands known as ‘balds’.
Emergent Bunya Pine (Araucaria bidwillii)
One of a large family of Eastern Yellow Robin that we observed below the shelter.
Fan-tailed Cuckoo
I find these shelters and the infrastructure both functional as well as aesthetically pleasing.

Before all the campers finished their breakfasts and took to the Eastern Rainforest tracks we were able to stroll along the Scenic circuit observing a very satisfying number of birds. It was beautiful in the fresh, cool air but the poor forest is showing severe stress from the extended period without rain.

A carpet of Bunya pine leaves
Bassian Thrush blending beautifully with the fallen leaves
Russet-tailed Thrush which looks nearly identical to the Bassian Thrush in the field. However Allen’s photos have been carefully examined by some birders familiar with both these species so we are confident of these identifications.
Yellow-throated Scrubwren

After a morning coffee break we drove further on and walked a short distance along tracks of the western escarpment. This forest is comprised of species more used to dry conditions but even they were struggling. We only hope that heavy rains occur before long as some of the trees appeared to be dying. We did have one more excitement for the day when I spotted the movement of a large bird in the trees ahead of us. As it was a bird I hadn’t seen before (a lifer) I was doubly delighted and Allen managed to get some good photos of her.

A female Paradise Riflebird which continued ripping at bits of bark with her enormous bill as she looked for a tasty insect to eat.

Both the forest on the western escarpment and the eastern Rainforest areas have specimens of Brachychiton discolour. There are some huge specimens along the Paradise walk and the flowers will eventually make a very pretty carpet on the forest floor.

Lacebark flowers (Brachychiton discolour)

After our picnic lunch, which we didn’t share with a Pied Currawong which was trying its best to look endearing, we returned to another Eastern Rainforest track and took a short stroll along the Paradise Walk. Towering Bunya Pines stood majestically along with many other Rainforest species, some named and illustrated by local primary school students.

A very different canopy to our familiar tropical Rainforest.

After returning to Bell and relaxing for a couple of hours we went out to dinner at Geraldine’s Tummy Teasers. This little restaurant situated just inside the caravan park is run by an enterprising and extremely popular Filipino family. They have been refused permanent residency because one of their four children is autistic. One of the Bell local residents started a petition last year to gain support for them. The Custodio family are part of this community and are much loved and not just because they operate such a wonderful little restaurant. To think that they can all be deported because one of the children is autistic is unbelievable.

Geraldine’s Tummy Teasers situated at the front of the Bell Tourist Park.

Bell is a lovely little country town, no special buildings or outstanding architecture but it has good facilities plus friendly inhabitants and it’s just got a good vibe.

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