Wildlife Wednesday - Camping Edition!

Trip Start May 31, 2012
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Trip End Aug 08, 2013


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Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Monday, November 12, 2012

We went camping this past weekend and, boy oh boy, did we see some local wildlife. And no one died! So that was a bonus, both for us and the local wildlife. Although, there was one kookaburra who almost got a punch to the face, but I'm getting ahead of myself. For everyone back home, there really is only one animal (ok maybe two) that needs mentioning;

Kangaroos! We saw so many kangaroos, we lost count. We saw them eating, we saw them hopping, we saw them spying on us in the dark! We drove about 3.5 hours inland from our home on the coast and this National Park, the Grampians, is known for how many kangaroos and koalas live there. Now, before we go any further, no, we didn't see any koalas. But that also means that no koalas died at our hands, so that left me feeling pretty damn good. But we saw SO MANY KANGAROOS! And I still get very excited at seeing kangaroos. I waved at most of them, it just seemed like the nice thing to do.

We camped at an actual site, but the campground we chose was pretty remote so we really were in the thick of it when the sun went down. We were sitting by the roaring fire, tended to brilliantly by ol' One-Match Kara, when from over in the bushes we heard some rustling. We shone our flashlight over and there were 2 or 3 kangaroos digging around not 15 feet away! There was one really small guy, perhaps a baby, or maybe a wallaby, who was closest. They didn't seem too disturbed by our shining our light on them every few minutes, I just couldn't get over how close they were. We also saw some sleeping when we went on a hike earlier in the day, and then driving out the next morning we saw lots of them along the road, always in pairs. Although we did see one giant guy, the biggest kangaroo we've seen yet. He was hopping across the road and stopped to watch us approach in the car. I slowed right down and came to stop so that I could get a picture, but he was still pretty far away and so it's hard to tell how big he actually was. Our guess is probably 7 feet tall, but they're also very long and so when he turned to hop away, his profile was magnificent. He was like the Arnold Schwarzenegger of kangaroos. If you look closely at the picture, you can see his bulging biceps. It's probably good we didn't get too close to him, he would have boxed us into oblivion. We did come close to death once though on this camping trip, when we came across a.....

Snake! A red bellied black snake to be exact, one of the most deadly of the Australian snakes. I may be exaggerating, I may not be, but the fact remains that we saw a snake at close range. Kara got close to get a picture while I stayed back and looked out for more snakes who might have been sneaking up on us from another angle. What I mean by this is that I stayed back. We also had another close brush with a critter. Well, 5 of them really, 5 really big....

Possums! We had set up camp for the night, had made and eaten our dinner and were hanging out by the fire playing a bit of guitar when we heard some rustling over on the picnic table. This was right after we heard the previous rustling of kangaroos 15 feet away, so we thought maybe some had come even closer, but it turned out to be these 4 or 5 possums who helped us clean up the site. What helpful little guys! And they asked for nothing in return. One even got so close to me that I could have reached out and touched him, but I didn't, because it was dark and I was creeped out. Kara thought she heard some trying to scrape into our tent later on that night but it could have just been the wind. Although, now that I think about it, it could also have been a.....

Lizard! There were plenty of these shingleback lizards crawling around. Some of them just laying in the middle of the road, who wouldn't move, even when we approached them with the car, and then waited in the middle of the road, and then got out and went right up to him. Like he owns the road or something. What, does he pay tax? Does he physically help with the maintenance of the roads? Is he really entitled to lay there and not move for tourists who haven't paid tax or helped out either. I don't know the answers to these questions. Anyway, lots of lizards. I was in the bathroom at one point too, doing what one does in the bathroom, taking my time and not really worrying too much about anything, when I look down and there's a shingleback lizard about 3 inches from my heel. I hopped up off that pot quicker than I ever have I tells ya'. Wasn't so relaxed anymore when I went to the bathroom after that. Lizards are not fun when you happen upon one when you're not expecting them, but I'll tell you what are fun when you see them unexpectedly....

Emus! We were driving along a dirt road, going pretty slow because of the corrugated nature of the road, when from around a corner of trees there appeared a clearing with two giant emus standing really close to the road. I startled them and they took off but luckily Kara had her camera on her lap and was able to snap some pictures before they disappeared into the trees 50 feet away. They were hilarious, all bobbing and weaving and running like Big Bird. They didn't look back once and we just imagined them talking to each other as they ran; "What the hell was that?", "I don't know, just run!", "Run, run, run!", "Aaaaah, are they coming after us?", "I don't know, keep bobbing and weaving!", "I'm sure our black and brown fur will blend us into the green surroundings!", "AAAAAaaaaaaaaaaa!"... all the way around the corner into the trees. We also saw two more as we left the National Park the next day and they just froze until we were out of sight. "Did they see us?", "I don't know, just stay still!". Silly emus. Some birds, however, were not so afraid of us....

Kookaburras! We stopped and did a bit of a hike at a place called McKenzie Falls, but before we set out walking we wanted to have a bit of lunch. There was a picnic area that was quite busy but we were able to get a picnic table. I had made some egg salad sandwiches the night before and so we pulled them out of the cooler and proceeded eat them. Almost immediately, a big fuzzy kookaburra (an Australian bird with a big fuzzy head and a birdsong like a deranged monkey) swooped pretty close to our heads from the trees above. We thought it was odd, but kept eating our sandwiches. We could see him in the trees watching us, but didn't really think much of it, until he did it again and got a bit closer. That one kind of freaked us both out, but especially Kara who hates birds flying at her head. I used to think it was an irrational fear but she has more birds fly at her head than anybody I've ever met. it's like they can sense it in her. Anyway, Kara finished her sandwich and I had just one little bite left, and was about to put it in my mouth when this damn kookaburra swooped down and tried to grab it out of my hands! In doing so, he smacked Kara in the face with his wing and sprayed egg salad all over her lap. Kara then looked down and thought that the bird had shit on her. So, not only did she let out a yelp when the bird smacked her, but then let out another yelp after seeing the spray of yellow and white goop on her lap, assuming the worst. In the end though, no one got hurt and the kookaburra didn't even end up with a sandwich. Although Kara is now even more afraid of birds.

In all, we had a great weekend away and did some pretty awesome hikes. Due to the sheer amount of wildlife we encountered we had to make this post about that, but the hiking was also spectacular. I've included some pictures of the heights we reached, lest you think all we did all weekend was sit around and make fun of local wildlife. We only did that 45% of the time.
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