The lone paddler is a graceful and elegant creature moving silently through the landscape. No sharp noises or sudden movements; no roaring of engines, rumbling of tyres, or falling of feet; just the occasional drop of water falling from the end of a lifted paddle blade. The lone paddler’s gentle touch on the environment is rewarded with wildlife encounters that the non-paddler can only hope to imagine. Sightings of birds, animals, and fish are all moments of speechless wonderment, and highlights of every day on the water.
I’m not shy about raving to complete strangers about the wonderful experiences that paddling has given me, and that’s how and why I met Jack Leighton. Jack and I were camped next to each other on the shore of Lake Dunn in Queensland’s Central West. As we watched the outback sun rise over our steaming mugs of hot tea, I gave him a rapturous blow-by-blow description of the previous day’s adventure. I had seen kangaroos, deer, water rats, emus, and huge numbers of water birds. The fluidity of movement in a group of birds is one that has captivated many a choreographer, and at Lake Dunn it is easy to see why. Swans, ducks, and pelicans float gracefully across the surface, synchronised royal spoonbills systematically vacuum the shallows, and majestic brolgas dance and prance as only they can.
“So you like birds?” asked Jack, with a knowing smile. He told me that he shared my admiration for our avian amigos, and added that he had created a Rainforest Birds of Australia’s “Wet Tropics” 2 DVD set in their honour. There are some people in your life that you are supposed to meet, and Jack is one of those for me.
Rainforest Birds of Australia’s “Wet Tropics” contains great quality video footage and clear calls for 100 birds native to the area bounded by Townsville, Cooktown, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Great Dividing Range. You may well come across them when you paddle at Lake Paluma, Lake Tinaroo, Lake Barrine, Lake Eacham, or Lake Koombooloomba. Aside from a brief intro, there are no words and no music. It’s just you and the sounds of nature, which is exactly what it’s like on many paddling adventures. A soundtrack of bird calls alone also means this DVD is deeply relaxing. I’m taking my copy with me on my next visit to the massage therapist.
Have you ever seen or heard an orange-footed scrubfowl, a woompoo fruit-dove, a double-eyed fig-parrot, a Victoria’s riflebird, or a yellow-bellied sunbird? Maybe you have, and you just didn’t realise it. Jack Leighton’s amazing Rainforest Birds of Australia’s “Wet Tropics” introduces you to these and many more of our feathered friends so you will know them next time you meet.
You can order your copy of the Rainforest Birds of Australia’s “Wet Tropics” 2 DVD set through Jack’s Tinaroo Waters Productions website.