Summer Rains Spark Profusion of Outback Life

By Samille Mitchell

Life-bringing summer rains have drenched the dry earth of the Gascoyne and Murchison sparking a profusion of new life across otherwise red dusty plains.

The unusually high summer rainfall has caused rivers and creeks to swell with rushing waters, lakes and pools to fill, and carpets of lush green grasses to soften the normally harsh reds of the countryside.

The new water sources lure thousands upon thousands of waterbirds– species like swans and pelicans, heron, ibis and ducks - each descending on the region in great flocks from afar having mystically learned of the rain.

Local bird species also proliferate, with budgerigars and raucous flocks of parrots exploding from trees and wheeling through the skies in great shocks of colour and tiny wrens dancing through the undergrowth.

The water sources themselves also come to life with long-dormant species of frogs and fish, crustaceans and turtles emerging from the red earth into newly formed pools to breed furiously before the waters recede.

The resultant writhing, teeming, mass of life is one of Mother Nature’s biggest gifts in what can otherwise be harsh desert country.

Enjoying Mother Nature’s magic is Frances Jones at Wooleen Station, who is watching the long-dry Wooleen Lake fill and lure waterbirds by the thousand.

“The land just experiences this amazing transformation – it goes from so barren to everything just being so alive,” Frances says.

Ms Jones says there a myriad of places to witness the transformation, from simply driving the main roads through the region to taking the self-drive Gascoyne Murchison Outback Pathways trails, or getting off the beaten track and staying at a station stay.

“The station owners can give you access to secrets spots along their rivers and pools,” she says.

“Otherwise all the Gascoyne Murchison towns have pubs, caravan parks, bed and breakfasts and tourist centres where you can enjoy the local hospitality and get a good insight into what to see and where to explore.”

Similarly rapt with the land’s transformation is Karen Morrisey in Mount Magnet. She says, although it’s not wildflower season, the rain causes some species to bloom.

“The mulga acacias begin to flower profusely about three weeks after rain,” she says.

“With the heavy rainfall last month the usually grey-blue trees are now covered in masses of golden wattle flowers.”

Ms Morrisey marks late Autumn as one of the best times to visit the region.

“The rains have refreshed the landscape with a veil of green and rock holes with tadpole-filled water pools reflecting blue skies above red earth,” she says.

Hotspots to visit include the bridge over the Murchison River south of Murchison Settlement, Gascoyne Junction, where the mighty Gascoyne River rushes by, and national parks such as Kennedy Range and Mt Augustus. The national parks look particularly striking with their brooding hulks of ancient rock softened by soft green grasses.

Then there are the myriad of pools and nature reserves across the region – places like Bilung Pool north of Murchison Settlement, Peace Gorge outside Meekatharra, Lake Nallan outside Cue and The Granites outside Mount Magnet.

Each places holds its own special brand of natural magic – be it rushing waters, temporary waterfalls or striking landscapes blanketed with green.