I’ve written oftenenough about how the Dry season brings the birds to town, looking for water and food but the birds aren’t the only creatures on the move. These Allied Rock Wallabies, Petrogale assimilis, normally live on the upper slopes of Mount Stuart but have recently been venturing down to the edge of suburbia (in this case Wulguru) for any green food they can find.
A gap in the picket fence which separates this lawn from the lower slopes of the mountain, allows the wallabies to come cautiously through at dawn and dusk. There’s not much lawn left, in spite of the homeowners’ best efforts with the sprinklers, but it’s still far better than the hill. The homeowners have taken to sitting on the back step to watch their visitors and give them the occasional handout of rolled oats or carrots.
The Allied Rock Wallaby is much smaller than the other common local wallaby, the Agile Wallaby, at around 4.5 kg as compared to 15 – 27 kg (i.e. cat size rather than dog size). Like other rock wallabies, this species lives on cliffs, boulder piles and rocky outcrops, and emerges into surrounding bushland at night to forage; Rootourism has more information about biology and habitat. They can often be seen late in the day at the Mount Stuart lookout and (almost any time) at the feeding station on Magnetic Island.
They particular animals look a bit moth-eaten but we think it’s just because they are losing their winter coats.
Cape Hillsborough National Park and Eungella are both just north of Mackay, which means they are a little too far from Townsville for an easy weekend trip, but both are beautiful and I decided to take advantage of four clear days to visit them last week. I came back (as my regular readers will no doubt have expected) with lots of photos and will spread them across several posts, beginning with these Cape Hillsborough landscapes.
There is a happily low-key camping ground and resort nestled in the coastal scrub behind the beach within the national park – the sort of place that Aussie parents have been taking their kids camping for the last fifty years. Bird life is abundant and Agile Wallabies (Macropus agilis) move freely around the camp-ground and picnic areas; they regularly feed on the beach at dawn, too, although I have no idea what they might be finding there.
A short drive from the camping ground takes the visitor to the remains of an aboriginal fish trap and an indigenous food trail. A boardwalk and walking trail through the mangroves are a similar distance from the resort, on the road to Seaforth.
Also, a walking track to the north of the resort leads over the ridge to Beachcombers Cove and loops back (except at high tide!) to its starting point via the beach. And at low tide it is possible to walk out along the natural causeway, on the horizon in my first two photos, to the island at its end.
Future posts will look at some of these excursions.
Hervey’s Range was incredibly dry a couple of months ago and the wallabies were desperate enough for green food that they went into gardens for anything that had been watered. The Range has had half a metre of rain since then and the need is not so great but it seems that the habit has persisted. They are still not comfortable with people around, so when I got too close to these two they became alarmed and hopped away.
Rootourism, the best online source I found for checking the facts on the different species of wallabies and kangaroos, confirmed my thought that they were Agile Wallabies, Macropus agilis, with this description:
They have two distinctive head features: a dark stripe down the midline between the ears to the eyes and a light colour cheek-stripe. They also have a distinctive light stripe on the thighs. The margins of the ears and the tail tip are black.
Tasmania has some spectacular scenery and plenty that is not so dramatic but is very beautiful. When I escaped from Hobart for a day just after Easter, I went down to the Tasman Peninsula for a bit of both. This gallery showcases photos I took at a gorgeous bay on the east coast of the peninsula and the next one will show contrasting locations between Dunalley and Eaglehawk Neck.
The beach backs onto a section of the Tasman National Park, so there is a small camping and picnic ground (and walking tracks for those with more time than I had), and there is nothing but State Forest behind the park boundary. The helicopter I saw may have had something to do with logging operations but it was the only jarring intrusion onto the natural landscape. And the weather was gorgeous – paddling-in-the-ocean weather even for a North Queenslander like myself!