We Really Did It!

In one year’s time, we circumnavigated and birded the whole continent of Australia and more. We passed the “Halfway Across Australia” sign in February 2016 and again in the end of July 2016. We began our Aussie travels on 1 September 2015.
The left photo was taken in February 2016 and the right in July 2016. Notice how much my hat has bleached out.
I will have to find a better way to make maps. This map is crap. It does not include a lot of the places we went, but it gives you the general idea. You can see that we have indeed done it.
Missing a few parts of the route, but it does give you an idea of it.
When we decided to use travel and camping as a way to spend a year in Australia, we decided to “let the birds lead us.” We’d be traveling anyway, so our routing would be based loosely on birding locations and weather. Lynn had no interest in doing a real “Big Year.” Although we were going to keep a list and that list would be kept for a year, from 20 August 2015 to 19 August 2016. It would be a list of birds seen as a couple, a couple’s year list, but not a Big Year. Birders know the difference. I will explain that, and our list in much more detail later. I am extremely grateful for what we were able to do.

We consulted our dear friend John Weigel (I believe his 2014 AUS Big Year total of 770 will remain the record for many years to come). He laid out a basic route for us. Although we followed many of his suggestions, the routing changed again and again as life intervened. We had to push back our departure from the US by a month as I had cataract surgery on both eyes. That changed our original schedule from the start.
John and me at our "planning table" at Maumee Bay Lodge in Ohio, May 2015.
We began traveling on 1 September 2015. In a very abbreviated list, we left Torquay and went to: Little Desert, Hattah-Kulkyne, NP, Gluepot, SA, Bowra Sanctuary, Inskip Point, QLD, Eungella NP, Cairns, Kingfisher Park Birdwatcher's Lodge, Iron Range NP, Lammington NP, Ourimbah, NSW, Norfolk Island, Deniliquin, NSW, Barren Grounds, Portland, VIC, Tasmania and back to the Torquay area for Christmas holidays. Phew.

I love Tassie. It has many faces and moods.
Leaving Boxing Day, we went to Kangaroo Island for a week. Then we house sat for several weeks in Torquay leaving 1 February 2016 heading to: Gluepot (yes again), Adelaide, Whyalla, SA, Lincoln NP, crossing the Nullabor, lots of birding in southwestern WA, then up to Cue, over to Carnarvon, out into the Pilbara and up to Broome for 3 hot weeks. 

The Great Australian Bight near the Nullabor Roadhouse.
Troopi in Broome. I loved the BBO and its people.
Then we went across the Gibb River Road through the Kimberley and up to Mitchell’s Plateau, then down and over to Kununurra and into the NT to Katherine and a few weeks basing at my adopted sister’s (my Yabok, Denise Lawungkurr Goodfellow) in Darwin River, exploring Darwin, Kakadu and the surrounding areas. 

One of my favourite photos from the year... Troopi crossing the King Edward.
Then we went over to Mt. Isa and back down to Alice Springs, further down to Coober Pedy, SA, back up to Uluru and then up and over to Kingfisher Park (yes again, I LOVE it there), up to Cooktown, QLD and into Cape York. Then we came back down the coast. 

My very favourite photo of the year. An unposed shot of Lynn listening intently for Sandhill Grasswrens (she heard, we saw) with Uluru in the background. This. So much this.
In Kurra Kurra, NSW I heard about the Laughing Gull in Venus Bay, SA and we drove across to see it, thus passing the Halfway Across Australia sign in Kimba again. After the gull, we drove up to the Flinders Ranges, then down to Pt. Fairy, VIC and then back to the Torquay area again.
Lynn and me in front of the Kimba Big Galah by the Halfway Across Australia sign, July 2016 in the rain.
And here the year ended on a whimper. It was as if we returned to Victoria and I fell apart. I came down with a horrible cold; then an eye infection, ear infection, and I fell and cracked a rib (one of the more painful things I have experienced). But none of this crap is life threatening and I will eventually be done with it. I just have not felt like writing a blog entry and I have done no birding. It has been an amazing year. I am trying to grok that, and to revel in it as best I can.
Yes, there will be a book about it all. I promise. I am truly grateful (and I am feeling better). 
I will leave you with the 625th bird on the Couple's Year List, the endangered Golden-shouldered Parrot.
RB AUS Life List: 671
Lynn AUS Life List: 654
Couple’s AUS Year List Total: 639

Peace. Love. Birds.