River Walk

Western Queensland Road Trip #11 Cunnamulla

For much of the day, the harsh light of the outback is almost blinding, bleaching the landscape of its colour. A few hours later, in the softer light of late afternoon, nature’s hues become richer and more mellow.

When we first see the Warrego River at Cunnamulla late in the day, we can’t help noting the contrast with the Maranoa River in Mitchell. After recent heavy rainfall further north, the river flows deep and full. It’s the perfect time to enjoy Riverwalk, a 1.6 km track beside the Warrego.

Surprisingly, the path leads at first away from the river to the flood plains beyond its banks. Floodwater still pools in some gullies, but where it has evaporated thick dark mud is all that remains.

Baked hard by the relentless heat of the sun, the mud shrinks as it dries leaving deep crazy-paved cracks overlaid with the tracks left by passing animals. Tiny specks of green remind us that water is all that is needed for life to regenerate.

In the quiet of this afternoon, there’s not a lot of wildlife around. A long-necked turtle, secure inside his shell, refuses to greet us and even the meat ants are nowhere to be seen around their huge mounded nest. If we banged hard enough they would rush out in defence of the nest, but that would be asking for trouble so we leave them in peace.

In this flat landscape even the slightest elevation gives a sense of distance. From a raised viewing platform, it’s easy to see where the flood plain gives way to the mulga scrub native to this part of western Queensland.

Eventually we arrive at the river bank. With the sun behind us and much lower in the sky, the shadows of the majestic red river gums along the bank stretch out over the water.

A lone pelican drifts lazily with the current while a large egret stands motionless, probably on the lookout for his dinner. A whistling kite soars gracefully overhead and, although we can hear the raucous calls of cockatoos settling in the trees, we see only a feather fallen to the ground.

We reach the end of the path as the sun sets. The sky begins to fade from blue to gold, before turning that fiery red typical of the end of day in the outback.

The sun drops below the horizon in minutes, but its glow remains for a time. The last rays of light burnish the river gums and light our way back across the bridge into town.

The river puts on one last display, creating a mirror image of the sky above before all the colour of the outback is lost in complete darkness.

Join Jo for Monday Walks


51 thoughts on “River Walk

    • Pauline, that’s such a nice compliment. Thank you. The river was full because there had been two big cyclones up north a few months earlier and the water had flowed south all that time. So even with a full river the surrounding land is still drought-declared. It’s so dry out there.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Very dry – we’re into the fifth year of a devastating drought. The river was full because the water had flowed south for thousands of kilometres after two big cyclones in the north. So even though there is plenty of water, no rain had fallen in this area. There has been some good rainfall since we were there but not enough to be drought breaking.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s only green along the river bank. That rain had fallen much further north in the Gulf of Carpentaria, causing massive flooding. The water in the river had flowed south over many months and the river had broken its banks a few weeks before our arrival. Hence the pools of water and tiny sprouts of green which won’t have lasted long. The devastating drought continues into its fifth year.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Your bird captures are fabulous, and I love that photo of the feather. What a dry place along the river though. The river shots remind me a bit of the Missouri River from my trip out west in September. The gum trees with that burnished light look beautiful. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Fabulous photos. Loved the changes of light through the evening. The sunsets and the one with the still water and branches sticking out – so great. We’ve been watching footage of the devastating fires in Australia on the news – I hope you’re not anywhere near them. They look absolutely terrifying.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That evening light is quite beautiful.

      The fires are terrible and some are very close to us, within 30 km. We have friends who live within the fire zones and have evacuated several times. We have had thick smoke blanketing the city for days now. It’s sad to know that hundreds of hectares of beautiful forest is gone.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Jo’s Monday walk : Seville, second helpings | restlessjo

  4. Another great read with lovely photos! But, how incredibly depressing it is to see our land so parched. Throw in the current bushfires, droughts, and everything else that’s occurring, and I wonder what Australia is going to be like in the next decade. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  5. With hot coffee in hand, I read this post and learned from your walk. As always, your birds are splendid, the turtle is great, but I would definitely leave those ants alone. I deal with ants out in the grass in summer, but have never encountered ones that are capable of eating what these guys are. πŸ™‚ It is raining while I read so seeing the cracked earth is not something I’m familiar with. Interesting to look at, but I know that brings its own challenges. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to learn something new about your beautiful country. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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