“There's a race of men that don't fit in, A race that can't sit still; So they break the hearts of kith and kin, And they roam the world at will. They range the field and rove the flood, And they climb the mountain's crest; Their's is the curse of the gypsy blood, And they don't know how to rest.”
- Robert Service

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Animals (by Michael)

We've seen a lot of new animals in Australia, which I'm super stoked about.  I think we've seen nearly every stereotypical Australian animal, except the elusive platypus.  I hear they're elusive.  We didn't actually go searching for one though.  Here's a recap.  We went swimming with a pelican in Perth.  Admired trees full of colourful loris and galahs.  Saw fields full of roos in Margaret River.  Bumped into black swans all over.  Watched a blue penguin waddle out for a swim in St Kilda.  Hung out with some possums in the park in Melbourne - they were in the trees directly above the metal bands supposed to keep them out.  Had a one-sided chat with a couple koalas in Otway National Park.  Snuck up on some emus at Tower Hill.  Almost slept with a scorpion in Hobart.  Saw Wallabies and Paddymelons all over Tassie.  Pet a wombat at Cradle Mountain.  And were laughed at by a kookaburra.  We managed all this without visiting a zoo, but on our last day in Tassie we still hadn’t seen a Tasmanian Devil, so we decided to go to a wildlife park. 
Possums in downtown Melbourne
 On a side note, there is a whole lot of roadkill in Tassie.  I think this has to do with having mostly small, nocturnal animals, and winding roads with ambitiously high speed limits.  The limit is 100 kmh most places, but the roads are also full of sharp corner caution signs.  The upside is speeding is nearly impossible.  The downside is cars often come around the tight corners hugging or over the centre line.  Back to roadkill -- in one day of driving I counted 4 dozen.  They looked like mostly possums or paddymelons with the odd wallabie mixed in, but I’m assuming there must have been at least one devil in there.  Sarah said that doesn’t count as a sighting though.

This guy did some figure-eight laps of the pen, but unfortunately no tornado spinning.
 The wildlife park we went to, Trowunna, is one of a few devil sanctuaries on the island that are maintaining populations of devils in isolation, while the wild population is being devastated by the recent emergence of devil facial tumor disease (that's a sad looking devil).  Trowunna was one of my highlights of our trip so far.  We didn’t just see devils, we got to pet one, hold a wombat and a ringtail possum, and hand-feed kangaroos.  We also saw an echidna at the park, who was doing his best impression of Papillon pacing back and forth along the wall.

Roos looking pretty casual, until we approached with food
Feeding roos

Echidna pacing back and forth, presumably working on his escape plan.
 Including the camels, stray dogs, and rat temple we saw in India, and the customs beagle that jumped up and sniffed my pack at the Christchurch airport, I’m pretty happy with the amount of animal encounters on this trip so far.  My goal for New Zealand is to see a kiwi.  We have 4 weeks to achieve this.

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