The Mercury's wildlife photographer Jim Thomson is now two weeks into his great four-month photographic sojourn through central Australia. This is his first report back.
The first thing you notice when you head west is the drought. It's unrelenting.
After leaving home in Lorn, my trip really started in Dubbo where I stayed overnight. From there I headed north the next morning and it was not long before I was able to see the extent of the dry conditions. Nothing but brown dust both sides of the road.
I know there's been plenty written about the drought - the Mercury has been pivotal in that - but until you get out here you don't quite realise how desperate things are.
It stayed that way all the way north until I'd just about reached the Queensland border when it started to become green.
Cunnamulla was my first real break in Queensland, spending a few days in the area where I was able to visit a huge property and do some bird watching and photography. There were quite a number of birds I had never seen before and I stayed a couple of days to recharge and take advantage of the birdlife.
The prize of the day would have to be a pair of Major Mitchell's Cockatoos building a nest low down.
Other birds in great numbers were Woodswallows, Black-fronted Dotterels, Blue Bonnets, Thrush and Brolgas.
This was a new experience for me visiting an outback property ... fantastic.
Driving north again the country continued to change, and the thing you notice is the vast distance between small towns. This makes it hard to get shots of birdlife. Towns are fairly small ... say, 200 kilometres apart, with nothing but bush all the way.
It's hard to stay alert and look out for birdlife hour after hour.
I arrived in Winton which is smack bang in the middle of Queensland
Then it was on to Longreach - population of just under 1000 - interesting with its hall of fame. Locals call it the dinosaur capital of Australia.
Maybe so, but I'm more interested in birds. Back to them tomorrow.