Saturday, 28 June 2014

Amazing Australia:Part Three Famous and Infamous Creatures of Oz

 

Every tourist has one request for their visit to Australia and that is to see a kangaroo.  Anyone travelling outside the city will have that opportunity. Kangaroo and their smaller cousins the Wallaby as well as the Wallaroos are impossible to miss. Everyone knows about the dangers of hitting these bouncers at dusk and most vehicles are fitted with roo-bars to protect the vehicles and their occupants from injury. We saw a field studded with huge kangaroos that appeared black as their coats were soaked after a rain. We could not stop for photos but they were an impressive six-seven feet tall. Al loaded up his Land Rover with the two Canadians and one Brit on a few evenings to view the grazing icons in the pastures near the farm. The tourists were dutifully impressed!!

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The only Wombat we saw was this artist’s metal relief sculpture at a rainforest restaurant.

IMG_1974   Maybe I’ll see a live one next trip, third time lucky!?

Many want a glimpse of the cuddly koala but there are only a few places to see them and I was lucky on my visit last year to see one in the wild and a couple in the zoo. Gators and crocks are also famous ‘down under’ but we were not in an area to view any.

The poisonous snakes and spiders in Australia get a bad rap although they are a true threat, awareness makes hiking in the country a viable option.  We saw a Red-Belly Black on our hike near the rain forest.  These are fairly docile but very poisonous.  It was basking in the sun beside the path and we “moonwalked” by it in slow motion.  The Brown Snake which we did not see; is very aggressive and Danielle and Al have had a few sightings on their travels. It is important for dog owners to train their pets to avoid “playing with” snakes in Australia!  On the same day, Chris and Al hit a six foot long Diamond Back Python on the road.  He seemed to survive as they watched it slither off into the safety of the woods.

We only saw one arachnid,a Jewel Spider, colourful  and spiny, looking like he’d been designed by Dr.Seuss. Gregarious insects like ants and termites build huge mounds, not to be messed with.  Nonbiting but annoying, are the flies that are famous for creating the “Australian Wave” a hand gesture to keep the flies at bay by gently moving one hand rhythmically but casually, in front of one’s face.  Also, the addition of wobbling corks around the brim of the classic Australian hat is the fashionable way to deter the bothersome insects.

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Anyone who has visited Australia will be able to confirm that there are a large number of birds worthy of gold medal prizes for the volume of their screeches, cries and screams.  Even the most sound of sleepers cannot snooze through the extreme morning squawks of the Butcherbirds, Corellas, Kookaburra and Cockatoos and Mynas.

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In the city and around the sea, and near ponds, the usual culprits can be spotted: Gulls, Terns, Pelicans, various Ducks, Little Pied Cormorant, White Ibis, Great Egret and Herons.

IMG_0349 Skinny Chai Latte Please!

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_MG_2370        _MG_2380  Free seafood at the restaurant!

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As we drove and hiked in the country we often caught a glimpse of a soaring or diving Brown Falcon or Goshawk. Flocks of Corella, Parrots, Lorikeet and Cockatoo would flash noisily overhead or sit together in the fields parading their plumage.  As well as sightings in the wild, a visit to the Aviary in Tamworth provided close-up viewing of many birds.  The majority of them have been rescued and will live our their future in the protected environment.  Many of the parrot-breeds have learned a small vocabulary and can ‘converse’ with visitors saying thing like “Hello” “How are You?” “Where you from?” and “BYE BYE”

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_MG_1451 Nesting Dove

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Australian King Parrot                   Critically Endangered  Orange-bellied Parrot                          Parakeet (Budgie)

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Endangered Eastern Rosella                    Gray Cockatiel                                             Barra band Parakeet                       

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                                                                                      Double-barred Finch

Rainbow Lorikeets (noisy but curious)……

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These colourful beauties visited our balcony at the coast each morning.  In Australia, even the common Robin is more vibrant. The Eastern Yellow Robin added a sweet spot of sunshine to our rainforest resort.

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Farming and raising domestic livestock are huge industries in Australia.  Everyone knows about the drovers of the Outback who herded the cattle.  Beef and dairy farms are common in the southeast area where we travelled.  Australian lamb? Yes.  Regular followers of the blog know that Danielle is an Equine Veterinarian and works on one of many stud farms in the Hunter Valley. Chicken (called Chooks) turkey and emu are raised for their meat and eggs.  Dani and Al have some laying chickens in their backyard.  Bee keeping and honey production is also common around Australia.  The variations of honey flavours vary widely according to the flowers “harvested” by the bees: Ironbark, Eucalyptus and Manuka to name a few.

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                                                                         Black Angus around a Billabong.

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