Gluepot Reserve

 

Gluepot Reserve is a large area of Mallee Scrub.  It was bought by Birding Australia in 1997 and is now a very popular bird watching spot.  It also caters for those who like to camp in isolated locations, enjoying the complete silence and isolation of bush camping.

Gluepot is about 60 kilometres north of Waikerie in the State's Riverland.  Waikerie is about 170 kilometres from Adelaide.  Once Waikerie is reached, it is a matter of crossing the river on the ferry and heading north to the Morgan to Renmark Road.  There is a place called Taylorville and, next to the Kindergarten/Playgroup/Primary School/Community Centre/Church building, there is a dirt road heading north with a sign that says "Gluepot 50".  Alternatively, you could travel to Morgan from Adelaide (through Kapunda and Eudunda) then head towards Renmark until you reach the turn off, which is about 30 kilometres east of Morgan.

Once on this dirt road, just keep following it north.  Periodically, there are signs indicating the way to Gluepot.  It would be difficult to get lost.  It is necessary to travel through several gates, so make sure you close them again.  The road is in pretty good shape, although it is almost a track in some parts, so it's negotiable in all types of vehicles.

Be careful though.  Apparently after heavy rain, the roads within the Reserve become impassable.  I guess it's called Gluepot for a reason.  It is suggested to wait 24 to 48 hours after heavy rain for the roads to dry.  This saves damaging the roads and becoming bogged.  (No mobile phone coverage out there).

When you eventually arrive, there is a central visitors centre, which is very well set up.  There are heaps of pamphlets and brochures full of information.  The map of the reserve is detailed and easy to follow, ditto for the maps concerning the numerous walks.  The whole place is set up for those who enjoy birdwatching and it offers the opportunity to observe species that are not commonly seen.  It is also an important area for the conservation of the Black-eared Miner, which is endangered.  The variety of bird life is amazing, with 190 species being indentified. 

Volunteers man the centre and they are very helpful.  Remember to sign in and out so they know who's where.  As I mentioned, there is no phone coverage.  It costs $5 for a day visit and $10 a night to camp.  (Don't have to pay the $5 visitors fee if you are camping).  Fees are per vehicle.

There are three camp grounds to choose from.  The closet to the information centre is called the Babbler Campground.  There is another further to the north east called Bellbird and the third is west, named Sitella.  I stayed at the Bellbird campground.  All three are flat and offer varied sized sites, including drive through sites for caravans or camp trailers.  Toilets (the long drop variety) are at all three grounds.  There is not much shelter, due to the nature of the country, and the sites are not particularly well screened from one another.  The shelter doesn't really matter because it rarely rains much.  Below are a couple of photos of the Bellbird campground.

  

Throughout the reserve there are 5 bird hides.  In front of each, a container of water has been placed.  It is amazing the number of birds attracted.  I arrived about 2.30 p.m. and made my way to one of the hides.  I could hear the birds as I approached.  Within half an hour I had seen 8 different species, with some hanging around continuously.  The Spiny-Cheeked Honeyeaters are well represented and give all other birds a hard time.  I returned to the hide after tackling one of the walks, and, as it neared sunset, the parrots, Mulgas and Ringnecks, along with the Common Bronzewings made an appearance.  There are survey forms to fill out in each hide, so you can detail the species seen drinking (and numbers off).  Of particular interest to researchers are the appearance of Yellow-throated or Black-eared Miners, or any hybrids of the two.

This is the view from one of the hides, looking out towards the watering station.

I spent a very peaceful night in the campground.  I was the only one there.  In the morning I visited three other hides, seeing birds at them all, but, unfortunately, I didn't see any miners.  I did spot three birds I have never seen before, so it was a great trip.  The peace and quiet were worth it alone, and the stars have to be seen to be believed out there. 

The walks are all flat and not too strenuous, although a couple are lengthy.  Plant life is diverse and other wildlife is, of course, present.  I saw numerous kangaroos and goats.  That's right goats.  Big shaggy coated beasties.  I heard them at dusk and saw two in the morning.  Both were rams(?) with long, black, shaggy coats and a head full of horns.  They took off at the first sight of me.  Morning also seemed to be the time for bats.  There were a few buzzing around just before first light.

So, if you enjoy birdwatching, Gluepot offers an excellent opportunity to observe (and photograph) native species.  I'm told bike riding along the numerous roads and tracks is also good fun, especially for the kids.  It's a large, isolated reserve and offers a unique camping experience.  The quietness of the place is addictive.  A particularly well set up and well run Reserve.

I should mention time of the year to visit.  Winter, Autumn and Spring are the best months, bearing in mind that nights can be very, very cold.  During Summer, the days can be too hot, with temperatures of 45 degrees Celcius (in the shade) not unusual.  It doesn't rain a great deal, with Summer being the more likely time for rain from thunderstorms.

 

A Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater and Mallee Ringneck - both regulars at the hides.