Travelling Australia - Journal 2009
11-12 July 2009 - Boulia
Boulia is a small service centre for pastoral properties in western Queensland. The township is on the Burke River which becomes a series of waterholes at this time of the year. One long waterhole extending from near the caravan park into the distance still has a lot of water in it but the level has gone down more than half a metre in the past week. The waterhole is the home for a variety of birds; most prominent are a couple of hundred corellas which perch in the trees screeching before they take off to fly around for a while, still screeching. Black kites soar overhead upsetting other birds. On the water, pelicans and black cormorants swim in oddly mixed groups with pelicans looking for fish and cormorants repeatedly diving. The pelicans weren't getting many fish. When not looking for fish, pelicans soared over the waterhole in groups of five to ten then glided down to the water. Pelicans are transients moving between bodies of water to find fish to eat. They cover thousands of kilometres by soaring to height then gliding towards their destination; sooner or later they will decide the Boulia waterhole does not have enough fish and will leave for more promising fishing.

Less vocal and less prominent were the waders (herons and egrets) hunting along the water edge. The wader's diet of invertebrates seized in mud and shallow water differs from the pelicans' and cormorants' habit of eating fish. Waders are long-term residents of Boulia's waterhole and will still be there after the pelicans and cormorants have departed. A number of juvenile white-neck herons from the latest breeding cycle were feeding in the waterhole and it would be interesting to see how many of them survive the coming drier times.

On the first morning in Boulia we visited the Information Centre which concentrates on the Min Min Light occasionally seen in the Boulia area and not explained. We had a brief look around the township which is very small with a well maintained main street. We also drove to the rodeo ground hoping to see somebody practicing camel riding in preparation for the forthcoming race.
Boulia Shire Hall Boulia Shire Hall.

River River - dry, sandy bed with river red gum growing along the bank.

One day I went to a waterhole about 25 kilometres from Boulia and reputed to have never run dry. Standing on a rock looking down on a deep water hole 50 metres long on the edge of the dry and dusty Mitchell Grass plains was an odd contrast. Nearby, down a rough track part of the Burke River contained water between river red gums. But the Burke River would dry up in a hot dry season, the waterhole was expected to retain water.
Police waterhole Police Barracks waterhole. This waterhole is supposed to never run dry; in the nineteenth century a police barracks was built here so the horses could have access to permanent water.