Sunday, August 07, 2011

Travelogue: Australia – Wildlife

One of my colleagues who is here more-or-less permanently; on contract for the long-haul of the conversion, made the very kind and generous offer to take me to the wildlife park for the day. It is off to the north of the town near where the NASA Radio Communications center is. This, I was assured, would be my chance to see some of the native wildlife in its natural surroundings!

So, after a nice breakfast (or "breaky" as the locals call it) at my favorite coffee bar I returned to the hotel to meet-up with Andrew and head off to the Tidbinbilla wildlife preserve. The weather was not brilliant, the skies were overcast and the prediction was that it would get no better, but what can you do… as Dad is fond of saying: "You play the cards that were dealt to you!"

So we set-out, stopping at the Canberra Historical Center for a look at the map of the area and a quick history lesson and then we set-off in search of the 'roos!

The light mist of my morning venture over to Dzire became a drizzle as we drove through town, and eventually an all-out downpour as we made our way around the park. But, being the intrepid explorer that I am, there was no way I was going to let a little thing like a monsoonal downpour deter me from getting a little sight-seeing in.

At the visitor's center we discussed the conditions of the roads and bridges with the ranger and learned that there was a talk at the eucalyptus forest at one about Koalas. We made plans to be near that area of the park and set out.

Apparently, the wallabies and I have the same view of weather. Just because it is pissing down there is no reason not to hang-out in a lovely little picnic area and have a good time! One family of more intrepid picnickers had the same notion as we came across the family we had seen at the park entrance barbecuing an elaborate lunch at the family playground/picnic area. But I digress…

The day was splendid! We enjoyed the trip around the park, we got a break in the rain long enough to get out and hike along the backbone of the park, where huge blocks of quartz-rich granite sticks out of the ground in a ridge like the remains of the shattered rampart of a giant, ancient castle laid waste by the siege of time.

All-in-all, we saw Kangaroos, Wallabies, Cockatoos, Kookaburras, Koalas, and the coolest little guy; a Potoroo. Potoroos are a sort-of kangaroo rat; and they are fast! I tried getting shots of them and do have one that is only slightly blurred, but they are quick little buggers. At first it appeared that they were scurrying, but when the slowed down a touch it became clear that they were, in fact, hopping along like a kangaroo. What is it about the wildlife in this place and the hopping? Is it that when you have this wide-open and relatively flat a continent to get around in, hopping long distances at a stride is the best way to get along?

Anyway, we had a lovely time, and the ranger who gave the talk on the Koalas was very accommodating and informative. Actually, he had just left as we pulled in for the one-o'clock talk… it was 13:02, I suppose he didn’t want to hang-around in the rain. But he came back and gave us a really nice, informative discussion of the species.

We made it back to town at about four and had had a wonderful time in the bush.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're having a wonderful weekend.

Don Bergquist – 07 August 2011 – Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

No comments: