Girraween National Park is an area of the Granite Belt in the Darling Downs region of Queensland, Australia reserved as a national park. Girraween is known for its spectacular flowers, dramatic landscapes and unique wildlife. At the time of this visit (October 2020), this area had been in a prolonged drought, with the nearby town of Stanthorpe having completely run out of water for almost a year. Sadly, this has continued into 2021.
Despite this, there were still many opportunities to enjoy the wildlife and scenery. The terrain in Girraween in drastically different to the coastal region where I live, with its huge expanses of exposed granite, and weather-carved boulders.
The number of birds and mammals was fewer than expected, but this was likely due to the dry conditions, as they may have moved elsewhere in search of water. Nevertheless, there were still many species to be seen.
The park’s reptiles of course, have less opportunity to move on in search of water, and mostly just have to make do as best they can in the dry conditions. Bald Rock Creek, which runs through the park, is home to the Bald Rock Creek Turtle, also called the Short Necked Turtle. This turtle is rare and its conservation status is Vulnerable. It is found only in stretches of Bald Rock Creek. Very little is known about these turtles, some have had their back legs tagged as part of an ongoing research project. I was lucky enough to photograph one sunning itself in a shallow part of the creek.
Girraween National Park is a strikingly beautiful place, and one I hope to visit again once the drought has ended. I expect the wildlife will quickly return to its former abundance when the rains finally come.