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Superb country

Superb country
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When a charismatic parrot needed help, an entire town came to the rescue with a project harnessing citizen science, conservation, a little marketing – and hope.

On the outskirts of the small farming town of Boorowa, on the south-west slopes of New South Wales, there’s a sign announcing “Superb Parrot, Superb Country”, inscribed with pencil drawings by local schoolkids of bright green parrots.

I pull over to photograph the sign and, within minutes, hear a throaty “chirrupy chup”. My heart skips a beat. Swooping low over a wheat crop, two long-tailed parrots fly past and disappear into a clump of trees. Superbs.

That never happens. You don’t just think about superb parrots and conjure them. There are only an estimated 10,000 left in the wild. Many keen birdwatchers have never seen one. 

The welcome sign doesn’t lie; this really is superb country. In Boorowa’s main street, I spot a big metal cut-out of a parrot perched on the verandah of the Superb Bakery. I step over a colourful mosaic of parrots outside the visitor centre. I walk past the Absolutely Superb Bibliothèque and Occasional Wine Bar. 

About 30 years ago, Boorowa adopted Polytelis swainsonii, the superb parrot, as an unofficial mascot. In the past generation, this town of about 2000 residents has nurtured its love for the vulnerable Australian species through conservation, citizen science, a touch of tourism marketing and hope.

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