Verandah bat

On a very hot afternoon last week, I was visited by a tiny representative of a species that I rarely see. Bats.

There are 20 bat species recorded in these mountains, but as I am not a nocturnal animal, I don’t see them. But this one came to me as I worked on my verandah.

It flew up and down the length of the verandah a few times, attracting my attention, and then landed on the narrow strip of mud wall above the window. Far too close to the tin roof for comfort, I’d have thought.

And there it stayed for some hours, flapping its ears periodically. Its clinging power surprised me, as my mud wall’s not that rough.

I found it very hard to work out its features, but I think it’s an Eastern Horsehoe-bat, from the small size and the horseshoe shape of what my book calls the ’noseleaf complex’.


About five o’clock it flew to a western end rafter and clung to a bolt. It was still there on dark, but gone in the morning. 

I know almost nothing about bats, but I am delighted to have met this little one, even briefly.

Mothers’ morning — and mayhem

Soaking up the morning sun in front of my solar power shed door was this wallaby mum and her helpful joey. In between de-fleaing mum and racing around the shed, he’d return for a drink.


She left her pouch open to the sun’s warmth and his frequent suckling. Within the pale pink pleats, is that a long nipple I see?


In fact there were three mums and their joeys of varying ages.


Or there were, until a randy male burst in to check out the ladies, who all took off, scattering panicked joeys as they went.

It’s definitely spring. As I write, there’s a great deal of grunting, coughing and thumping as five ready males chase a female round and round my house, under the verandah and back out, in and out of the shed, around my ute, through the orchard, around the big shed, then the small shed, back round the house… they’re all panting, it’s been going for abut 10 minutes, and they’re moving way too fast for me to take a photo.


Now one has her cornered under my verandah; they’ve gone quiet so I do get the camera. Three other agitated males are hanging about the steps.

The pair seem to be ignoring each other for a while, then the grunting starts again — and it’s the female. Clearly, she’s saying ‘No!’ Which the blokes accept, sort of; there’s no forcing, but they keep up the chase.

And they’re off again!


The kangaroos are being driven crazy at present with some sort of bitey insects. They are choosing to lie in any dusty spots, which are mainly on the track, where their swishing tails sweep it smooth. 

This male grey kangaroo was ‘caught short’ by the horse flies or fleas or whatever they are, just inside my gate. (There’s no fence now, just a gate!)

His contortions to reach them were impressive for such a big fellow.

Claws and teeth are employed in search of relief; he’s better at reaching those awkward spots than I am.

Job done, he glances around and notices me watching through the window. The look he gives me — ‘So what are you gawking at?’ –—makes me feel a little ashamed of my voyeurism.

‘Sorry,’ I say, ‘but I’m admiring you!’

I am very glad these big fellows are coming in more often; they are still wary. I hope they will accept my respect and that I will keep my distance. In turn, to see them lying down at their ease, big as ponies, in my yard, is a true honour.

One hump or two?

My eyes did a double-take as I saw that my favourite rock seemed to have attracted an echoing rounded hump — spiky rather than spotty.

The lighter echidna, whom I’ve been calling Blondie, looked gingery-red this time, but I am not so intimate with these extraordinary creatures that I can be sure if it’s the same one. Perhaps it’s the spring colour fashion?

If it’s not Blondie, that would make three differently coloured echidnas who use my yard: a blonde, a brunette and a redhead. Like all the others, it was gleaming with health, glossy hairs shining amongst the bright spines.

Like all the others, it was a treat to watch, only about a metre from my verandah steps.

Toddler joey

This wallaby joey is at the very cute spindly-legged, big-eyed stage. It is only starting to spend time out of Mum’s pouch — and that’s a nervous time.

It’s learning to care for itself, like de-fleaing and scratching in awkward places.

But the minute something new occcurs, so does panic, and it’s a headfirst scramble to get back into the safety of the pouch. This one even managed to fits its long legs in, but not the tail.

Took a few seconds for it to get up the nerve to wriggle around and present its little face instead of its tail. From this position it can face the outside world again, not quite as independent as it had thought.

Getting to know echidnas

The echidnas who poke about my yard seem to cope with any terrain, as I’ve shown you before — climbing fence stays, banks, logs, rocks and steps with ease.

They look awkward as they lumber along on their sturdy legs, but seem to have great balance, as you can see by the way this one lifts rear leg to use its special extended claw to scratch between the spines.

In the past, their spiny backs were what came to mind when I thought of echidnas. Now they share the yard and are frequently close by, I think of their furry legs as well, and their faces more, their cute ears and distinct eyelids.

And I am now very aware that their spines are not all straight bristles, the way a child would draw a hedgehog, but grow in distinctive patterns, rosettes on various body parts — like their tails.

Home — my outdoor learning centre.

Tree tortoise

Strong winds find weak branches on mountainside trees like mine, and I am always wary on wild days. This time I heard the crack from inside the cabin, and crossed my fingers it hadn’t landed on the track.

It had, but only the tops of the branches, so easily chainsaw-able.

Except, as they were springy and green, I stupidly got the blade stuck twice. My handsaw freed it.

I put the chainsaw down to move the sawn branches aside, and as I cleared a space, to my astonishment I uncovered a Long-necked Tortoise, just sitting on the track, peeping out of its shell and probably equally astonished at the leafy roof that had suddenly landed on it.

I went to fetch gloves — and the camera.  It had totally tucked itself inside the shell by the time I returned, and remained so as I picked it up and carried it down to the dam. I assumed that’s where it was from originally, but where it was heading I couldn’t guess. How strange for it be there just as the branch fell — and how lucky that the heavier part missed it; even a tortoise shell can be crushed.

Hoping it wasn’t hurt, I placed it partly in the water.  What if it was stunned, what if it drowned? But soon small bubbles began to rise.

After maybe five minutes, one leg extended into the water, and then the head emerged, showing the distinctive pointed nose and bright eyes that are all I usually see in the dam. It was fine!

Morning wallabies

Early mornings are a good time for wallaby viewing as they move into the yard to catch the sun and start their day. Warming up and washing are essential first steps.

This mother and joey are combining the two as the sun rises above my eastern treeline. They looked like they were hugging but as it went on I realised it was mutual fur-cleaning — and maybe mutual affection too. Cute, eh?

But breakfast is also on the list of morning tasks, and in winter the wallabies go harder on all the plants in the yard as the grass growth slows down.

This young male decided to go for the jasmine vine, but all the lower section was stripped, so a standing breakfast it had to be.

After a while even that wasn’t enough, so he stretched up as far as possible and began pulling breakfast down to him.

Watching wallabies wash

This mother and joey have claimed the bank outside my spare bedroom window as their patch. Mum lies there a lot in the warmth of the Autumn days, and the little one lounges inside, sometimes with its head out and one bent arm over the edge of the pouch, for all the world like a kid leaning out a window sill.

When she’s up, she can check out the territory for a good distance from this spot, before attending to daily duties, like the washing.

First she has to do the joey, who seems to submit more willingly than many kids do to a facecloth. I love the way its ears are so disproportionately big at this stage.

This joey is old enough to be useful, and can reach some of the awkward spots without even leaving the pouch. ‘Thanks, Mum. Your turn now; is this right?’

I know this is probably de-fleaing, but it looks so like a loving nuzzle that my heart melts as I watch. And just look at Mum’s lowered eyelashes. 

Other people go gooey over their pets; I can’t help being more than a little anthropomorphic around these creatures with whom I live. I don’t touch them or interfere with them, I just watch and walk amongst them, going about my own business, as they do with me — just another animal on this Refuge.

Mutual washing done, the joey is left to finish its own ablutions. Ears up, doesn’t it look  like a Bilby?

Meanwhile Mum keeps watch, although there’s nothing here to fear. Randy males are more likely what she’s on the alert for; they can make nuisances of themselves.

Patient Mother Roo

I can’t recall how Pooh Bear’s macropod mother and child were allotted the names of Kanga and Roo, but here they are.
I saw this rather awkward drinking session on the bank outside a bedroom window.

It went on and on and on; he was a big and very thirsty Eastern Grey joey.

The mother was almost asleep; the was almost overbalancing on the slope, but he kept his mouth stuck right inside her pouch, latched onto that nipple, until he’d had enough. Or else his neck had.

With a sigh, long-suffering mother and her sated joey immediately set to post-breakfast  ablutions, licking and scratching various parts. I’d say a nap was next on the list.

Echidna crisis

About to walk back up the steps with an armful of wood, I had to look twice to believe what I saw: the little echidna suspended from my verandah edge. Why on earth was it there and how did it get there?

I quickly opened the flimsy wallaby gate and saw that, although it was hanging on tight to the lattice, it wasn’t wedged or stuck. I figured it had suddenly felt thin air beneath it and panicked. Poor little thing!

I dragged the netting away from under it, in case it fell and was caught in that. Then I propped planks and blocks of wood under its rear, hoping it would sense their solidity beneath it, and retreated to let it calm down.

 It worked, and surprisingly soon it backed down, crept through the railings and on to the second bottom step.

But it can’t have been all that panicked. Instead of making a getaway to the safety of non-human territory like grass, it had a leisurely  and thorough scratch amongst its spines, first with one clawed foot, then the other.

Only then did it ease itself rather awkwardly down the steps and waddle away.  I removed the planks.

It was back in the yard next day; I have a feeling this echidna may get too comfy around me and too invasive of my territory, like a certain young wallaby!

Marsupial mowers

Having opened my house yard gates over a year ago, I never expected to have to mow grass again. Given that I was sacrificing so many garden plants and shrubs to the apparently omni-herbivorous marsupials who took up the occupancy offer…

I should have known better. They don’t like long grass, tussocks or certain introduced grasses that must have come in with horse feed. They were too busy with roses and lavender and jasmine and grapevines and citrus to bother with most of the grassed areas.

When I finally began to mow the jungle again, the kangaroos appreciated it, immediately claiming the ‘lawn’ section as their afternoon lolling spot.

Then the mower gave it up as too long, too dense, too damp, and so it remains.

But wallaby or roo, they love kikuyu.

Hearing clicking sounds floating in through my ‘office’ window the other day, I went to investigate.

Several wallabies were so assiduously working on the kikuyu near the cabin that they were audibly chomping, pulling up the grass and snapping the stems.

On the other side of the cabin, a young wallaby was sitting in the trench, paws on the table as it nibbled its way through the grassy fare laid upon it — not kikuyu.

The elongated rear view thus offered was interesting because of the distinct colour changes in its fur.

They are called Eastern Red-necked Wallabies but they are also Red-tail-based and the shadings to grey and back again are soft and subtle.

When it abruptly sat up, its little dark-rimmed ears erect and alert and its childish elbows tucked in close, I followed its stare. A black snake, scooting into the long grass, too fast for the camera.

At least I can see them in shorter grass; keep eating, I urged the wallaby!