Australia Trip Report 2018

As I make my new blog I have a huge backlog of images and stories to share including my two trips to Australia in 2018. Australia had always been a place I wanted to visit most and as my interest in wildlife grew, particularly reptiles, so did my ambition to go down under. After a lot of thought and planning, it was early February when I decided to visit, my first stop - Sydney, to meet an old work friend. It was from those first moments in Sydney that Australia had my heart. Over the next three weeks we racked up nearly 8000km road-tripping from Sydney to Ayers Rock and back. The next stop was Canberra and then to our final destination, Coffs Harbour. After relaxing in Coffs for a few days, swimming with sea turtles and in local waterfalls, I made my way back down to Sydney to hopefully tick off a few reptiles with snake-catcher and now friend, Rob. I was lucky to find my target - Common Death Adder - and other species such as Brown Tree Snake, Diamond Python, Burtons Legless Lizard and a handful of gecko, frog and spider species. Bizarrely it was rather cold in Sydney as we entered March and reptiles were thin on the ground... The absence of snakes only fuelled my desire to go back. After three and a half weeks I was sad to be home, back to work and everyday life. A few months at home had past and two trips to the Isle Of Skye later, I was finally heading back. This time to Perth, in mid October.

It was good being back on Aussie soil. As soon as I landed I was more than excited to hit the road and head up into the Pilbara region where I would be spending a few days. From Perth airport to the Pilbara it took my good friend, Dave, and I almost 16 hours and once in Pannawonica, road-cruising started straight away. We were greeted by the most astounding sunset I have ever seen and it seemed to have set the tone for the trip. Our first snake of the night - Mulga Snake! Our target species for the trip was the Pilbara Death Adder and it just so happened our second snake of the night was just that… BOOM! It was a stunning black-headed melanistic phase individual that we’d hoped for. In awe I rattled off as many images I could... Over the next few days Death Adders came thick and fast, as well as Pygmy Pythons, Little-spotted Snakes and Orange-naped Snakes and unfortunately two dead-on-road Western Brown Snakes! Being in the Pilbara region, so far into the outback, was a rather bewildering experience but half way through the trip we made the long, tedious drive back to Perth - back to civilisation. On route, we found a very special little reptile. A critter that was a target of mine when I was in NT - it is of course the Thorny Devil. I didn’t know their range covered WA but as one dashed across the road in front of the car I couldn’t quite believe it! Photographing it was difficult - the mid day sun creating harsh shadows and my images seemed lacked contrast. Using the 14-24mm was a pain at 14mm as my images weren’t all that sharp. It was a stressful shoot but out of then dozens of images I shot that day, one of them finally caught my eye!

The plan for Perth was to find Tiger Snakes and also to visit Rottnest Island. Tiger Snakes were found in abundance… Herping so close to the city was fun and to see how content and used to people Tiger Snakes were was surreal. Dozens of walkers just strolling past highly venomous snakes was a sight I didn’t think I’d see. Since Tiger Snakes were an easy tick the next and last target for the trip was Dugites on Rottnest. Rottnest Island was one of and if not, the most gorgeous place I have visited. Crystal clear blue waters and sandy beaches, it was perfect. Again, just like tigers, the Dugites were easy to find. As we watched Fairy Terns we saw a large individual slithering along the beach and that was it, our last target of the trip ticked off. For the following two days we enjoyed Oz like a holiday, relaxing on the beaches and eating good food. It was good to wind down and to also spend two nights in a hotel. Australia, you are amazing!

Leaving Oz was once again very hard, however having three seats to myself on both flights home was a welcomed luxury and made the journey much easier. I slept like a baby and before I knew it I was home, back to reality once again. Combining both trips I traveled throughout NSW, ATC, SA, NT, WA and also Victoria. Australia feels like home, I can not wait to return, whether that’s for birds or reptiles!