Eyre Bird Observatory

From Norseman we turned East.  We had done a trip along the south coast of Australia a few years back and we wanted to spend the last few weeks of our trip on the Birdsville Track and back on the east coast, so we decided to not spend too much time stopping  across the Nullarbor with the exception of visiting the Eyre Bird Observatory as we had missed this on our last trip.

The Observatory is operated by Birdlife Australia and conducts regular surveys of the surrounding birdlife.  It is housed in a 120 year old restored telegraph repeater station which has also has 3 rooms for guests.  It is staffed by volunteer hosts who also provide 3 meals a day, making for an enjoyable relaxing stay.

road to ebo
The last 12km to the observatory is along a narrow sandy track, so we had to leave the caravan at an old microwave tower.  While it felt a little wrong to abandon Keddie, the microwave tower was already 18km off the highway in what is already one of the more remote parts of the country, so the chances of an encounter with miscreants was extremely small.

The slow drive in took even longer as we had to stop to look at wild flowers along the way

ebo sign

ebo veranda
In addition to being a good birding spot, the Eyre Bird Observatory is housed in an old telegraph station building so there is an interesting historical aspect to the place.  The history goes back even further as the telegraph station was built at the location where Edward Eyre camped on his exploratory trip across the Nullarbor in 1841.
telegraph station museum
The current building dates back to 1897 and served as a repeater station on the line from Adelaide to Albany then on to Perth, linking the west coast settlements to the east coast and up to the rest of the world via Darwin and Singapore.   Some old telegraph equipment is on display in one of the rooms.

Several interesting bones and skeletons have been washed up over the years including a turtle which must have been washed thousands of km beyond its normal range by a particularly strong Leeuwin current.

old old telegraph station
The current 1897 building was in fact predated by an older telegraph station nearby from 1877.  Today only the fireplace remains.

Out on one of the walks: a monument to Edward Eyre and his four companions: Baxter, an Irishman and 3 young aboriginals Wylie, Joey and Yarry.   In the end only Eyre and Wylie completed the journey.  Baxter was killed – allegedly by Joey and Yarry, who fled the camp taking two shotguns.

A distant view of the Eyre Bird Observatory nestled behind the dunes where Eyre found water on his 1841 expedition;  one of the many old telegraph poles with rusty wire still hanging.  Today the Eyre Bird Observatory is served by the NBN.  Unfortunately the 150 year old telegraph line was found to be in poor condition and not suitable for even a fibre-to-the-node service, so they have had to fall back to a satellite service.   However this is still better than the cutting edge wheatstone duplex morse system that was enjoyed by the original staff at this building.

And of course what would a bird observatory be without birds.  There were heaps including 4 new species for my list: Chestnut backed quail thrush (too fast for a photo unfortunately); brown headed honeyeater; western yellow robin and blue breasted fairy-wren.

Other birds included (from top to bottom) hundreds of singing honeyeater and new holland honeyeater; brush bronzewing; fantailed cuckoo; inland thornbill; white-browed scrubwren; dusky woodswallow; and unidentified fledgling; white-eared honeyeater; and the spectacular Major Mitchell’s cockatoo.

major mitchells cockatoo 2

Other fauna and flora at the Eyre bird observatory including a fruiting quandong tree just outside the observatory.

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