This past summer I scoffed at tourists stopping to take photos of foxes in the Prince Edward Island National Park. Their idling car convoys lining the side of the road, I asked myself, “Haven’t they seen foxes before? What’s the big deal?”
Now, as I scan the eucalyptus trees for the elusive koala or roadsides for wallabies and kangaroos, the locals are no doubt asking the same about me. I understand the fox fascination now. Many would not have seen one in its natural habitat before. We take them for granted. Just as the Aussie’s take their native animals for granted.
I have been slowly ticking off my list of the local wildlife. Flying foxes – there’s a colony just 500 meters from Wingham town centre. The bush turkey was a bonus. Wallabies – I saw several on our way up to the mountains last weekend. While fencing I saw a kangaroo in the distance. It had to be a roo – they are at least three times the size of a wallaby. There is a mob that hangs out at the neighbouring farm.
I have been keen to see a koala, but that is not looking good. James announced one night at supper – sorry…at ‘tea,’ – “I saw a koala sitting on the side of the road today.” I set down my fork and questioned him, “And…did you stop to take a photo for the Canadian?” No, he did not. He sped on by.
Apparently there is a bandicoot on the property. A bandicoot is a marsupial and has been foraging in the garden. I am not bothered if I don’t see it. I just like saying it. Bandicoot. Bandicoot. The bandicoot is eating the beetroot.
There’s a frog living in my toilet. He appeared the first night’s flush. But worse things could be found down there. I have had a couple run-ins with red-bellied snakes and I am thankful for the accompaniment of the dogs’ spotting abilities when walking through the paddocks (fields) just in case there is one lingering. Roger showed up at my door one afternoon, shovel in hand, and asked if I wanted to go whack a snake with him. A damsel in distress from a neighbouring property called to say she had a snake in her garden and was concerned for her two dogs as the red-bellied is very venomous. I jumped at the opportunity to assist in the snake caper.
I’ve lost track of the names of most of the birds about. Strangely there are more rainbow lorikeets and king parrots in the Sydney suburbs than here in the country. But the kookaburra take the cake for the loudest and most unique call – similar to a screaming monkey. They even out shout the roosters. On Friday I will be leaving this beautiful farm and its wonderful, warm family and returning to Sydney to stay with Jacqui and Mathew again. My morning rooster alarm will again be replaced by the rainbow lorikeet.
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.
― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It