Monday, December 8, 2008


After the hustle and bustle of Port Macquarie (featuring many P-plate drivers) I gently pushed the Belafonte up the eastern edge of the New England tablelands to Dorrigo through Bellingen. It's a beautiful drive, and the climb up to the plateau is very cool, winding upwards, crossing narrow bridges over cascades.

I got in fairly late so I cooked a meal at Never Never picnic area (managing to fend off the brush turkey that was intent on finding something of mine to eat) then set out for a bit of a drive as I'd seen some nice creeks on the way in. Walking down the creeks I was pleased to spot the beautiful and rare Stuttering frog (Mixophyes balbus) in good numbers, the males sitting above the creek edges, calling occasionally.

Stuttering Frog, Mixophes balbus

The following day after rolling up the swag, I spent half the day exploring the tracks around Never Never. There are a couple of circuits that wind through the rainforest, often bordering the creeks there. Dorrigo has a huge rainfall (2000mm) so there's plenty of water and numerous waterfalls. On the path I took I went down to the base of Cedar falls and Casuarina falls. Both were spectacular. I spotted lots of tadpoles in the creeks - some were small hylid tadpoles, probably L. barringtonensis, but there were also some large dark tadpoles - these were M. balbus. I even saw a cute little metamorph of this species.

It started raining just as I got back to the picnic area, and it continued for the rest of the day as I relaxed in the impressive log shelter drinking lots of tea and hot chocolate. The rain encouraged a few Pouched frogs (Assa darlingtoni) to start calling around the site. These frogs are amazing. After the male and female produce fertilised eggs in the leaf litter, the male waits around for the eggs to hatch. He has two little pouches on his sides, and when the eggs hatch the tadpoles wriggle into these. Here they undergo their complete development, and eventually hop out as froglets. The most amazing thing is that the adult Assa is less than two centimetres long itself!

Pouched Frog, Assa darlingtoni

I slept another night at Dorrigo before heading westwards again, climbing higher up the plateau.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice to see one of these little Assas again.