I am an Australian natural history writer and photographer. My aim is to encourage people to venture outdoors and enjoy the natural beauty of our planet.
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Published July 21st 2016
Waterfalls and wildlife
There is a pair of rose breasted cockatoos, galahs to use their common name, in the river gums above me. They seem unperturbed by my presence as they fly between holes in the trunks and branches. While the parrots are house hunting a kookaburra takes up a position across the creek and watches the water flowing past. The largest of our kingfishers, laughing kookaburras will take prey from the water as well as on land.
I am cooking an early morning breakfast at the recreation area in the Morialta Conservation Park in the Campbelltown area about a half hour's drive from the CBD. There are expansive grass areas, electric barbecues, a playground and toilets in this park where the walk along fourth creek up to a series of waterfalls begins. Although it is a grey winter morning the weather gurus predict that the sun will clear the mist as the day wears on.
Suitably fuelled up I start to walk along the path that follows the creek. I can hear the raucous calls of wattle birds and rainbow lorikeets high in the trees that border the creek. Like the galahs, the lorikeets seem to be exploring nesting holes and there is a little competition between the species for the choicest positions.
Twenty minutes walking along the relatively flat path brings me to the park's central location, where the tracks begin to climb up into the hills towards the waterfalls. There is a wealth of information signposted here including tips for bush walkers, information about wildlife and trail maps. From past walks, I know that the little island of eucalypts that decorates the centre of this area is particularly attractive to koalas. Sure enough, there is a large animal climbing high in the branches where it uses its deft marsupial version of hands, with two opposable thumbs, to pick off the choicest leaves.
As I start to climb up one of the steeper tracks that cuts across the hills face, I notice a second animal tightly wedged between two limbs. It is still deep in shadow and hard to photograph as the mist is only just starting to burn off.
There are three waterfalls that can be viewed from the trails. Today I am only walking to the top of the first. As I skirt the side of the hill, the weather starts to change and by the time I have reached the top of the first falls it is bright sunlight. The hardy grass trees look almost delicate against the backdrop of the rust coloured quartzite cliffs and there are purple hardenbergia vines growing through the understory.
From the lookout at the top of the falls I work my way back down the trail to the base, where I can sit by a pool and watch the water cascade over the hillside. And Morialta has one last gift, not wildlife or flowers but a glorious little rainbow subtly painting the lower reaches of the falls.