Tag Archives: wallaby

Road kill

Leaving the main road allowed me to reflect on one of the unpleasant side effects of mankind’s ‘progress’. Every Australian who drives on a rural road (and even when on some suburban streets) knows our native animals make unexpected crossings. One minute the road is clear and then the next second something is running or hopping in the path of your vehicle. I was startled by the number of newly dead animals and birds, and the number of different aged skeletons of their ancestors, which had been on or beside the road in the first few kilometres of my walk along the Derwent River.  In a car, you are on and off the dead animal in a split second and your brain has little time to process what you have just seen and felt.  But at a walking pace I had lots of time to look at their remains and think.

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I think these little fellows might have been Bennett’s Wallabies.

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The remains of two different birds; the first photo shows what was once a cheeky curious flitting male Blue Wren, second photo shows what was once a lively little Silver Eye with his olive green head.

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The long tail indicates this skeleton is the remains of a wallaby.

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Once healthy and vitally alive possums.

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One landowner was determined that possums should not run up his trees. Clearly, if possums cannot climb their natural habitat and sleep safely, then the chances of them attempting to cross roads and be killed are increased.

I noticed other ‘skeletons’ on road verges: man-made objects also ended their lives in patterns similar to those of animal skeletons.

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Of course these hubcaps are not biodegradable and won’t break down easily and return to the earth as renewable energy.

It seems we accept everything is expendable.

Tent practice

I have slept in tents but not for many years. Over the past days I realised that I have never camped in a tent without a car nearby, except for my overnighters on the Overland Track (during which I stayed in huts). That is, all my bushwalking experiences have been day walks not requiring the carrying of a tent.

Recently I set out to practice sleeping in my new tent in order to accustom myself to the noises of the night (at home I have double glazed windows so that sleep time is a silent time).  In order to complete my record of all aspects of my trek along the Derwent, I am including this post – but you will recognise a nincompoop in capital letters when you read about my first experience.

Last week I was tired when I put on shoes and socks (trying to be a little authentic), slipped on my headlamp and treked off into the night from my home’s front door. A few metres down the hill into my backyard, where I had pitched my tent earlier in the day, I unzipped the rain-dropped tent fly, fumbled with the tent zip, and quickly fell through the hole created, into the tent. Twisting around, I was immediately sitting comfortably on my borrowed mattress (thanks Ju) all the while slipping around on the new sleeping bag, reaching out and rezipping my tent fly, and untying my shoe laces. Off came the shoes and I was really pleased with the way one side of the tent fly makes a little vestibule. The shoes could sit there on the grass protected from the rain. Pulled in the legs and zipped the tent. It was difficult to keep still; the shiny sleeping bag surface was constantly moving beneath me.

I have an incline for a back yard, not very steep but my block of land is not horizontal.  Earlier in the day I had installed the tent in a place where the trees and bushes wouldn’t scratch past the tent if there was any wind, and where it didn’t seem as steep a slope as elsewhere. Of course I discovered a shiny sleeping bag on a slope is not conducive for continuous sleep. Ridiculously hopeless from the beginning and a good lesson learnt.

Inside the tent I had plenty of room, and was perfectly set up for a good night’s sleep. The sleeping bag was snug and cocoon like. I was wearing a thermal top, socks and fleece trousers but it was too hot in that little tube to wear them all. So I am very happy with the ability of my new sleeping bag to keep me warm overnight.

But whenever I wriggled or turned over, down I slipped heading towards the bottom of the tent. Each downward slide required a new effort from me, inside that zipped up close-fitting cocoon, to lump/hump myself back up towards the top of the tent. Get positioned. Go to sleep. Wake up to find I am turning over in my sleep and heading south. Grunt and groan to get myself back uphill again. Super sleep. Oh oh. Going downhill again. Repeat the manoeuvre. Rest. Contemplate how happily warm I am. Fall deeply and happily asleep.

Waking yet again, I realised the mattress was turning cold. I was very warm inside my nylon tube but where my body touched, a penetrating cold was coming through. Why, I wondered. Was the mattress deflating? No it did not seem to be. Unexplainable but not good. I willed myself to sleep and slipped off yet again into the land of nod.

It was when I awoke around 4am, the mattress was too cold, and I was at the bottom of the tent heading towards a foetal position that I remembered I did have a bed to go to.  Feet into the shoes, out into the drizzle, and then ‘home’. Yes – later I did feel rested. Friends can see a cartoon or two coming out of this ‘adventure’!

This weekend I headed into the country and, thanks to blog follower Ju, I was able to camp on a more rural property out in an apple orchard. Deliberately I set the tent up in an area that is normally considered a possum and wallaby thoroughfare because I wanted to see if the scampering and vocal gymnastics of these native animals would wake or alarm me.

Tasmania is home to 5 species of possum.  The type most commonly found where I camped would have been the Common Brushtail Possum (photo below is from Tasmanian Wildlife Matters http://www.wildlifematters.org.au/Brushtail_Possum.htm)

Common Brushtail Possum

Which of Tasmania’s two species of wallaby were grazing around me overnight, I will never know. It could have been either or both the Bennett’s wallaby

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(Photo from Tasmanian Wildlife Matters http://www.wildlifematters.org.au/Bennetts_Wallaby.htm) or the Pademelon also known as the Rufous wallaby (Photo from Tasmanian Wildlife Matters http://www.wildlifematters.org.au/Tas_Pademelon.htm)

Pademelon

There are no funny stories from my night in the orchard. I slept flat. The mattress didn’t become cold. The animals didn’t wake me.  I slept.  Outside in the morning, a carpet of hard frost covered the land – but I was never cold inside the tent. Apprenticeship over!

A light rain dusted the tent before dismantling, and continued while I packed up. So my only issue now is to find a clever way to dry a tent before repacking when I am out and about on my walks.

The pleasures of people along the Derwent River

The people that I see and meet during my walks along the Derwent River always give me unexpected value.  My experience last Friday walking from Rosny Point to Geilston Bay was no exception.  People of all ages, sizes and racial backgrounds enjoyed being out and about.

There were joggers, runners, walkers, dogs leading their owners, a mother and father wrestling their son on the grass all laughing loudly and not a mobile phone or other communication device in sight, a man with a hand reel trying to catch fish from the rocks, cyclists who surprised me when they came up behind me and passed speedily and silently, the excited father and son who had seen a wallaby in the trees, a line of twelve senior men cycling without wearing lycra, five young mums in lycra with five new-baby laden prams in a row, kids skateboarding along the Trail, and families meandering to fill in the end of the school holidays. There was a man rowing a dinghy somewhere, a paddler in his kayak, and a boat motoring with trailing fish lines held by a family of three all wearing their life jackets.  Some I chatted with, for some it was a nod of ‘hello’, and for others we exchanged a wave and a friendly smile. I find that until around midday most people expect to and enjoy acknowledging others, then in the afternoon for some unexplained reason the experience changes and people are more reserved; perhaps the weight of the day has started to drag on them.

Two specialities of my walk last Friday were:

  • Along our public reserves and walkways, dog walkers can collect a black plastic bag so that when their Big Dog or Little Missie does a poop, the owner can collect the droppings from the path into the bag and add it to the garbage bins further along. The common sight is to see owners swinging a bag of excrement as they continue their walk. But on Friday I watched an innovative practice – and not one that is likely to catch on (hopefully not).  A man was walking along and he was emptying his plastic bag. Inside his bag was a mix of dirt and straw.  After the dog had pooped on the path, he poured a little of this mix over the droppings to cover.
  • A woman doing interval training by walking and running along the path stopped to talk to me about the dolphins she had seen. Her eyes sparkled. Apparently 6 dolphins were playing around the boats in Kangaroo Bay (located between Bellerive Bluff and Rosny Point). Where I had left the bus to start the walk, trees obliterated my view of the Bay at the point where the dolphins would have been. I was pleased the dolphins felt safe to be there and sorry to have missed seeing them.  This event reminded me that years ago, after I met an internet dating partner for the first time at Bellerive’s Waterfront Hotel, we walked along the edge of Kangaroo Bay and watched a small pod of dolphins swimming and enjoying themselves. It says something about me that I enjoyed that experience more than the date.

The photo below shows one of the many dogs that enjoyed their morning walk last Friday.

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