Saturday, February 9, 2008

Dunns Swamp

Situated in the beautiful Wollemi National Park, Dunns Swamp, provides a picturesque place to camp, walk, kayak, picnic. For a day or more. Maalie and I did some serious Birding here in 2006 and I was keen to return and do more. The weather in NSW has been stormy and this weekend was no different but to sit around was not an option!

The drive there is pleasant and easy. From Sydney you simply head towards Mudgee, keep an eye open for the Rylstone turn off and, once reaching Rylstone, turn right after the hospital. The road is mostly tar with about 15km of dirt towards the park. A standard vehicle will do this trip with ease and apart from some floodways and potholes, only the usual precautions are required.

The rock formations, farms and bushland are simply stunning and with recent rain everything looks green and lush. Dunns Swamp has been damed and provides the water source for Rylstone. Well maintained and with firewood supplied it is popular regardless of the time of year. This particular weekend the local fishing competition was on so a large contingent of 4x4s with tinnies began setting up for the weekend.

Fortunately we had arrived just ahead of them and found a great spot to pull up. Not only is there excellent camping and canoeing but also the walks are superb. Following the waters edge, up pagodas and down into creeks, the walks are an easy grade, and provide some of the best views available. This is well suited to the family or the avid bushwalker alike.

This time I had taken my eldest daughter, Rosalie, to do some bird spotting and to "play it by ear" when it comes to staying overnight. With thunderstorms all around we chose to set off for our walk immediately and were greeted by Brown Thornbill, Sacred Kingfishers and Brown Treecreeper. This is what I like about bird watching- It makes you stop, listen and look. The air was a mixture of cool breezes, eucalypt and warm air, it felt incredible. Lightening could be seen at the same time as blue sky. The thunder clouds looked like ink that had been dropped into a glass of water.

Walking further we observed what is perhaps the most unusual orb weaving spider I have ever seen. About the size of a thumbnail, with short legs, and spines on its back, she looked more like an unusual button or beetle. She did not like to be disturbed and when we returned found she had eaten her male suitor! Large Golden Orb weavers had made their usual huge webs as well, with web a true golden colour and as strong as fishing line!

A short climb up well prepared ladders and we are greeted by one of the best views. In the distance the rock formations look like ancient cities, lost in some jungle. Again good birding was to be had. Spotted Pardelote, Yellow faced Honeyeater and Wee bills flitted about. Only falling silent when the thunder and rain came. Bursting into song and activity again when it stopped.

The walk takes you passed the dam wall, and along the track, through the long cave, and back to the top. The entire walk is about 6km. I was pleased to see the creeks full, trees bursting with new shoots and leaves, and the birds enjoying the "wet season." A careful lookout for Rock Warblers failed to find any but certainly we were not walking in spring time, nor at the best time of day.

A cup of soup and the tranquility of the swamp was a welcome reward for a few hours bushwalking. With the further arrival of the fishing club ( outboard motors and beers flowing), we decided to head home and continue the lookout for interesting birds.
We were rewarded with a superb look at Swamp Harrier, Spotted Harrier, Straw Necked Ibis and Golden Whistler. By the time we headed into Rylstone we had observed about 30 different species.

If you choose to visit Dunns Swamp, take the time to do the walks and you will be rewarded, also take the time to visit Rylstone. Great pie shop, great pub and the town has that sleepy historic feel to it. If you like wine, there are some great vineyards in this district too. I hope you will take the time to expand the photos too.

Bird list:- Brown Thornbill, Brown Treecreeper, White Faced Heron, Yellow Faced Honey Eater, Spotted Pardalote, Sacred Kingfisher, Australian Wood Duck, Straw Necked Ibis, Plover, Striated Thornbill, Nankeen Kestrel, Weebill, Golden Whistler, Welcome Swallow, Coot, Magpie, Galah, Currawong, Wattlebird, Kookaburra, Pee wee, Swamp Harrier, White Necked Heron, Spotted Harrier, Crested Pigeon, Wonga Pigeon, King Parrot.


  1. Beautiful photos again. What a gorgeous place to go walking.
    I loved that spider. Yesterday I caught sight of the most amazing dragonfly... in black and bright yellow... had never seen anything like it before.
    I can't get over how much rain you are getting!

  2. thanks Kiwi! yes its nice, not difficult and certainly worth the "risk" of driving there in the storms...

    Sadly ( for me) the place is never empty. I can understand why!

  3. Great photographs!!! Pretty sure I can see a white cockatoo in that fourth down photo! What a successful excursion for bird spotting, they do all get excited before and after rain! I hope you got your day of sunshine today - we did but the break is only until Wednesday. Fine looking Lorikeets in the sidebar ;)

  4. "The thunder clouds looked like ink that had been dropped into a glass of water."
    If you'd only walked there for an ethereal view worthy of this evocative description, it alone would have been worth it.

  5. Anon! you could be right! Thanks re the photos too.... I did see Yellow tail cockatoo as well and forgot to add it to the list.... Perhaps bird of the week could be Jack checking us out?? ;o)

    Today was very nice- did lawns and garden! I really need a dry few days or my garden will drown for real.

    Merisi:- I cannot begin to tell you just how beautiful the storm clouds were!

    The only "worry" was climbing the ladders as lightening cracked! But then... what a way to go... ;o)

  6. That's right, Jack doesn't miss a thing - that could be him eating the fern :) Those metal ladders in a storm would be worrying; are worrying because I've felt the same. Although, wouldn't really want to go that way ...

  7. G'day Simon - the golden orb shot is spectacular.

  8. i like you picture of the road.

  9. David! Hi! How are you? thanks re the photo

    Nancy- I am sure you will enjoy the National Parks when you come to Aus!

  10. Simon, I don't know if I am more taken with the names of your birds or that spider which looked like it might have been made by a Murano glassworker. I can hardly fault her for offing her mate after being disturbed ... I am tempted to do the same at times, you know.

  11. Hi Lin- yes she was pretty amazing to look at...

    Almost like something out of a childrens story :o)

  12. Great pictures and descriptions.

    Who'd be a male spider, eh?

  13. Hi Rob! thanks for visiting and for the comments too! I am not sure I would want to be a male spider at all!

  14. we are headed for nz next month. we were considering also going to sydney, however, it looks as though we will not be able to. we will be able to see some of the north island before harvest begins on the south island.

  15. We went there! We went over Bell's Line of Road, didn't we? And that's were we saw a Rockwarbler and a Quail-thrush.

    How did Rosalie get on?

  16. she did really well in spotting the harriers- described every detail mate! welcome back!

  17. I'm not sure I would like some of those early breakfast guests. Happy Valentine's Day, btw.

  18. Elleee! Don't worry, Monty is quite H/armless!

    ahahahahah! thanks!