The first flow from the Warrego River into the Cuttaburra Creek system for three years continues to delight and surprise us here at Naree Station. Although the flow was just 5% of what's needed to create a full-on boom for our ephemeral wetlands, water still managed to trickle into some unexpected places.
We know that our Back Creek Swamp in boom times can become home to thousands of breeding waterbirds. It’s a secluded and enigmatic wetland area where, in the right conditions, rising water from the Cuttaburra takes an alternative back-route through tiny channels to join the massive Yantabulla Swamp to Naree’s west.
In the last few weeks we’ve seen just a hint of how it all works as we watched the waters gently rise (just deep enough for a duck to paddle) and then ebb away again.
Usually when we visit we kick up the dust, but now we’re picking our way carefully around the edges of a real swamp. We’ve come at it from several different directions through the dense scrub over the last week as we try to piece its story together. It’s such a diverse area, ranging from open shallow water to dense lignum bushes with a woodland overstorey.
We were thrilled to find waterbirds feeding in the open areas, although no breeding is happening here this year so far – not enough water yet! The woodlands around the swamp are also alive with birds of all kinds, not to mention the insects and other creatures who are enjoying the improved conditions.
The best way to explore is on foot, and we spent an enjoyable afternoon under the woodland canopy exploring the eastern edge of the swamp this week. Its sheltered and cool greenness is a welcome contrast to the wide open red spaces of other parts of Naree at the moment. If it is this lovely now, imagine how it will be when the big flood waters arrive from Queensland one day!