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Scribbles on life, the universe and everything… Woy Woy, Ettalong, Umina and teh Central Coast that is!
Tag Archives: wombat
June 21, 2010Posted by on
I love road trips. In Australia, this usually means seeing kangaroo’s. I don my roo glasses (sun glasses) and start “roo hunting” immediately. Al being the good sport that he is, stops (when safe to do so) whenever I start my “ROO ROO ROO” rant. I don’t always take pictures of them anymore, but I never grow weary of watching them watch me.
Last Thursday was no different. Al and I had started out on our road trip to Mudgee for an overnight stay, then on to our final destination of Lightening Ridge. It was a great day for a road trip. The sun was shining, the air was warm and the back roads were calling our name. We do take the highways when we are in a hurry, but this road trip was not hurried so we wound our way through rural New South Wales to enjoy the sights and smells of farmland and the quirkyness of the small towns that dot the roadside.
Imagine Al’s surprise when I started yelling “WOMBAT WOMBAT WOMBAT” (not easy to say) instead of “ROO ROO ROO”. Al dutifully pulled over, but said “it will be dead, because that’s the only wombat you will see during the day”.
“No, it’s alive and grazing on the side of the road”, was my reply.
He humoured me and backed up. Sure enough, there was this very rotund wombat grazing in the nice green grass, near a river. I am not sure why he was there, but I was happy and feeling very lucky to be seeing a live wombat during the day. He may have been out because of all the rain we’ve had lately making everything an unnatural green and lush!
I was stoked! We continued on our way seeing some kangaroo’s and believe it or not, camels! Out in the middle of nowhere was a guy and four camels. He seemed to be walking them. These would not be wild camels because camels are not found in New South Wales. It was interesting to see though!
We stopped at a little General Store on the side of the road. While Al went to the toilet (yes, this is what they would say in Australia). I was asking the lady what the population of this little town was, her reply…five! She did mention that about 30 other people lived in the surrounding area!
We had stopped there because they had a sign saying “best coffee in town”. It was the best coffee in town, even if it was the only coffee in town, it was good. I struggle with the term “town” when only five people live there, but who am I to argue!
It was then my turn to go to the toilet, which was situated out back! As I rounded the building I noticed a woman just closing the back gate after having driven through. She had five dogs with her who were obviously not counted as residents!
Me, being the animal person I am, immediately struck up a conversation with this woman. I had to pet the dogs and chat with her about the beautiful area she lived in. Of course, the conversation finally got around to me saying “I saw a wombat on the side of the road this morning”!
Her reply was expected, “Yes we get lots of dead wombats on the side of the road”.
“No, this one wasn’t roadkill, it was alive, well and grazing on the side of the road”.
She was surprised! Then to my surprise she leaned forward over the fence and whispered to me, ” I have one”.
“I have a wombat”.
I was shocked. Did I just hear her right? How could this woman HAVE a wombat?
She walked over to a big basket that was sitting on her back porch and started pulling blankets and cushions out of the basket. “That little rotter, she has gone in through the cat door again and will be curled up behind the stove. Go to the toilet, I will go find her and meet you out front to show you”.
I was back in a flash, but she had still beat me to the front. She was waiting in the coffee shop with a very excited Al gazing out the window watching for my return. When the lady had walked into the coffee shop with the wombat, Al had got all excited and said, “You have to wait until my Canadian girlfriend comes back, she will go nuts”.
“I know, I am waiting for her”, was her reply.
I got to meet and hold Mia. It was magical.
The story behind Mia… friends of the people who are raising her had come up from Sydney for a visit. On the way, they hit a wombat. Being animal lovers, they had stopped to make sure it was dead. When feeling for it to see if it was still breathing, they noticed a movement in the pouch. They put their hand in and pulled out Mia. She was about three weeks old. They took her back to Sydney and nursed her for a week, but then quickly realized that Sydney is no place for a wombat, so brought her back to their friends in the country.
Mia is registered and will be released back into the wild when she is old enough. She is only eight weeks old right now. I am not going to say which town or which General Store, or I suspect these two very nice ladies would be swamped with visitors wanting to hold Mia. I do appreciate their kindness in allowing me to hold Mia. This is something that most Australians will never have the chance to do in their lifetime, I cherish the opportunity given to me. It was a moment I will remember forever.
Mia was beautiful, soft and cuddly. She is a typical baby and likes to be cuddled. She has huge buck teeth, really long claws that will one day be able to dig burrows for her to live in. She also has a little backwards pouch. Being backwards, this will allow her to dig without the pouch filling up with dirt. Most surprising is that most of her back is made of cartilage acting as a natural armour for protection. Isn’t nature amazing?
Mia will be raised in this home for about one year before being released back into the wild. Her carers are hoping that Mia will one day build her burrow on their large farm and remain nearby. Mia is one lucky wombat to have been saved and then have such incredible people take her in. I am one lucky person for having met Mia and her carers to whom I am thankful for helping to create a lifelong memory for me.
But, alas, we could stay no longer and it was back out on the highway, looking for adventure or whatever came our way!
March 17, 2009Posted by on
Life is full of rules. Some rules are made to be broken, some rules are not. Most rules in Australia are rules that can one day save your life. One of the best places to hear these rules is the zoo. On Sunday Al and I went to the zoo to have fun and teach me some Ozzie rules. When I say Ozzie rules, I don’t mean footie, I mean rules of engagement with poisonous reptiles.
The reptile park isn’t just any zoo, this is a reptile park with a difference. This park is the only place in Australia that has a “venom milking” program of snakes and spiders. Put another way, this zoo saves lives every year. Not just animal and reptile lives, but human lives. Okay, for those of you who know me, I can hear you saying “there is no way Judy is going to look at spiders”. But I did. I will be honest here, that part of the “zoo trip” was not my favourite, but it might save my life one day.
Living in Australia, a person needs to know what a poisonous spider or snake looks like. This information can save lives. I don’t really think it was all that important for me to look at the spiders because if I see a spider the first thing I am going to do is put as much distance between me and the spider as possible. That said, if for some reason a spider gets close enough to me to bite, I want to know what just bit me! So, I did it. I walked through the spider area. I watched (while standing behind Al) a funnel web spider being milked. The spider is big, aggressive and I think if I ever see one, I will just die of a heart attack, but oh well, it’s done! I know my last words would be something like “that was a f###ing funnel web!”
On the other hand, the snakes are a really good thing for me to see because when I see a snake I am curious. First rule of thumb when one sees a snake in Oz is don’t be curious. Get away from it! The best place to see these beautiful snakes is at the reptile park. In the wild, leave them alone! Okay, I am listening, I now know this is a rule that can save my life. I AM listening!
Others things to see at the reptile park, frogs, lots and lots of lizards, tons of colourful and interesting birds and of course, the ones that make you go awwww. Like the koala mommy with her baby hanging off of her or the kangaroo with a BIG joey in her pouch. All you can see is the legs and tail sticking out. There has to be a rule about being “too cute”.
One of my favourites is the wombat. They are just “too cute”. I wanted to pick them up and cuddle them. Not allowed! More rules! The danger with wombats? Stay away from them when they are crossing the road. Hitting a wombat while driving down the highway is like hitting a brick wall. We have already had one close call in a car, I hope we never have one on the bike.
A nice surprise was how adorable the Tasmanian Devils are. There are 3 of them on display in the enclosure and they use all of it. Every time we saw them they are up on logs, under logs, running in circles, running the inside perimeter of the enclosure or taking a dip in the small Tassie pool! We missed feeding time by a few minutes. By the time we got there, one Devil was chewing on a kangaroo leg. I didn’t ask where the kangaroo leg came from, I am hoping it was “road kill”. We decided to watch for a few minutes when low and behold, a fight broke out. It was short and exciting! After the “scuffle”, the winner slid his bum along the ground to spread his scent ( I assume) and then went back to gnawing on the bone. The loser joined the 3rd devil with “chucking laps” once again. The sad thing about these devils is they are facing extinction within 10 years. Tasmanian Devils have been afflicted with a face cancer that is killing them off. In fact the reptile park is currently involved with starting a captive breeding facility here in New South Wales where they hope to house 1000 Devils, which has been targeted as the amount that will save the wild population from extinction. (Must be a rule). In true Oz fashion, they are planning on calling this ranch the “Devil Ranch”. At this time they are looking for major sponsors. Maybe they should look at some of the ranches in Vegas to sponsor them! Check out tassiedevilappeal.org for more information.
The Australian Reptile Park is the perfect place to spend a relaxing Sunday. You will find stressed out Moms, Dads that look like they would rather be at the dentist, happy, excited, inquisitive, and maybe some tired and cranky kids.
Because there are no rules that say you have to be a kid to enjoy the zoo, you will also find Al and I, we are the couple who appreciate all that wildlife and nature has to offer. We both love reptiles and cute, cuddly animals. As for the spiders, I think there is a rule that you can only see them once. If there isn’t a rule, there should be!