A quick early morning stop at the Big Murray Cod on the way out of Tocumwal on the final day of our trip. This particular Big Thing is Australia's second oldest, dating back to 1968. Not as big as the Big Murray Cod in Swan Hill, but still worth a visit. After a quick look at the Murray River we set off north, heading for Fivebough Wetlands at Leeton.
These wetlands are one of the best in Australia and after finding only two Aussie lifers in Victoria we were keen to get another tick before heading home.
The RAMSAR listed wetlands on the edge of town were quite pleasant at 25°C when we set out at 9:30 in the morning. The first interesting sighting of the day was not a bird, but a snake. We spotted a rather large brown tail disappearing into the reeds. For those who don't know, the Eastern Brown Snake is highly venomous. Ranked 2nd among the world's most venomous snakes they have been responsible for 23 deaths since 2000. However, this encounter did not deter us. It certainly made us more cautious, being careful to scan ahead on the track and watch where we put out feet, but during our lives we have encountered dozens of these snakes so we carried on.
Arriving at the first hide, we spotted lots of waterbirds, including a few that we don't come across too often, such as Glossy Ibis and Magpie Goose. We continued along the loop track, encountering four more snakes, both black and brown, including a very determined brown snake digging in a burrow. It paused its hunt long enough to eyeball us and then carried on in search of its prey. By this stage Lil Sis was more than a bit nervous but as we were over halfway around the loop already, the only option was to press on.
At the second hide I heard a call which belonged to Spotless Crake. A tiny rail that neither of us had seen before. With a little patience we managed to get a clear view of it as it stepped into a gap in the reeds and then darted off again. A great sighting.
At the third hide, we found ourselves surrounded by Zebra Finches and Purple-backed (recently split from Variegated) Fairy-wrens. We spent a little while admiring these beauties, but the temperature was climbing rapidly, reaching 33°C by the time we made it back to the car at 11.30am. All that was left to do now was hit the road and complete the 1,075km drive home from Portland.
All up on this trip we did 3,272 km. We drove Victoria's two Great Roads; Alpine and Ocean, climbed mountains, saw some awe-inspiring scenery, encountered rare and beautiful wildlife and spent some quality time with good friends. A huge thank you to all our hosts for your hospitality. You made our trip a memorable one, not to mention very cost effective. Until next time...