Winter appetites

As the grass grows more slowly, the wallabies and roos are being driven to eat plants they don’t regularly fancy. 

This wallaby was being very intense about one of the rosemary bushes, which are all grotesquely pruned each winter to leggy topknots.


Several branches were held firmly together in his paws while he stripped them. Still holding these, he then stretched up to seize yet another with his mouth. ‘Greedy beast!’ I muttered through the window.


Hearing me, he dropped the branches and turned around with an expression of great innocence.

H-mm. I wonder if rosemary-fed wallaby would be a gourmet dish like rosemary-fed lamb?

Just kidding.

Cleaning up

As the cloud lifted and daylight tried to become sunlight, the kookaburras watched for emerging worms and the wallabies were out drying off. 

These two mums were close to the cabin.

The nearest had an inquisitive joey, lightly furred over its pink skin. Head out, but wisely not interested in venturing from the warm pouch.


Mum had work to do, cleaning up after the muddy days and dealing with the fleas and ticks. Her joey just had to duck the odd angles that put her in.

First the tail, laid out in front, thoroughly scratched and the fur sifted.


Then between the toes, licked and nibbled. This sent the joey back inside for a moment.


Then the ears, which doubled mum up even more.


It was all so exhausting that Mum decided it was time for a nap. She flopped sideways and almost at soon as she hit the ground bub disappeared to sleep in the soft silky pink world of her pouch. What a life!

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!

Wary and wise

The wallabies often sit up suddenly, on the alert — although for what I usually can’t see.  Unless, that is, it’s me.

Mum sitting up is far more comfortable for the pouched joey than Mum doubled over, feeding her way across the yard.


The older joeys tend to be somewhat scrunched, and it must be far worse in the forest beyond, with tall tussocks and bladey grass and fallen sticks to be negotiated.


This day was one of clear skies and sunshine, so the behaviour of a troop of yellow-tailed black cockatoos was baffling. About eight of them landed in the tall trees that edge the yard, and kept up their raucous warning cries for hours.

Supposedly wise harbingers of rain, they got it wrong this time.  If they are going to hang about often for this long, rain or not, I really wish I could oil their rusty-sounding voiceboxes.

Winter warmth

These last few winter weeks have been my ideal weather: warm, still days and cold nights, no bushfire or snake worries. Getting cosy at night with my wood fires, by day enjoying a sun that doesn’t try to fry my skin in an unguarded instant.

My wallaby mates love it, and the in-pouch joeys of all ages have the best situations, snug against the faint chilly edges, sunsoaking with Mum.


I feel as rich as I ever wish to be when my solar batteries are on float and I have a full woodpile for the nights.


All I need now is some free time to take my Gypsy camper away on a proper holiday – one not dictated by book talks. She’s waiting more patiently than I am. In fact, she’s been sitting there so long she’s growing a green tinge on her southern side.

Colour me perfect

Looking out of my eastern window, I was struck by how perfectly the colours of the fur of the Eastern Red-necked Wallaby match those of the local rocks, here laid as a tank base. They really belong.


Not three metres away I spotted an echidna; not so camouflaged in my yard, but good to see as they’ve been absent lately, no doubt busy aerating other slopes. You can easily twist an ankle in my orchard in the many holes they’ve dug.

Like the wallabies, they have flea problems, but they are at least equipped with an extra long claw to get at them and scratch amongst the spines.


Now, in this non-stop rain, from my wet verandah I see that the wallabies and roos are still out there doing what they must, bedraggled and darkened but hopefully dry underneath their fur.

A few are sheltering under my verandah, but most want to be feeding.

This mother seemed to me to be exhibiting supreme patience as her big joey drank… and drank… and drank… while the wind whipped the cold rain around them. I hope he’s grateful.

Home is where…

I’m loving being home for a spell, especially as the weather is so beautifully verging on Autumn.

Here it’s green and fresh and clear and the wallabies and I are fully appreciating it! All the ‘garden’ trees, like the Chinese Tallow Tree, look happy.


For some reason the Lemon Ti-Tree is only flowering on one of the two main branches, the western one. This tree self-sowed in a potplant in one of my too-many inner Sydney rented homes (as a tenant, not a landlord!). Like me, it is thriving much better up here.



Its widely spreading branches offer the wallabies a choice of sun and shade during the day and they take full advantage of it. I have wondered if the lemon-scented leaves, when brushed against, give them any flea protection? They spend a lot of time de-fleaing themselves — and each other.

World’s edge

Some mornings when we have been inside a cloud, as it rises it leaves us lightly damp and not yet sunlit, but the valleys below me are bright.

I imagine the wallaby inhabitants down there looking up to see the cloud cap lifting off my mountain.

I can also imagine that my tree-rimmed clearing is perched on the edge of the world.

And it often does feel like our own remote world, just me and the wallabies and the roos and the teeming other creatures that share this refuge with us.


The kangaroos are the big bosses here, especially the males. I take care not to approach or look too interested in roo families, for fear the blokes will feel obliged to flex those impressive shoulder muscles to prove who’s tops.

Amongst the feeding wallabies this male is alone, which is usual, but as I posted a few weeks ago, one family is feeding together frequently. In the damp preceding day I had seen them again, a bedraggled but still tight nuclear trio.


One day…

In any given day here I can be offered small moments of splendour or surprise.

One day last week I had three.

It began with a shining morning, where the low early sun set the leaves on trees and shrubs and even the bracken ferns to sparkle and dazzle. A solitary wallaby sat amongst the tussocks, backlit and bright-edged.

 Later in the morning a rare family group of kangaroos grazed amongst the spent jonquil bulb leaves. 

Usually I see the mum and joey together and the male separate, or else only following close to them when he thinks she might be on heat. 

There’s  been quite a bit of that going on lately, leading to a few barneys between old and young competing males.

But this trio stayed together for ages: the family that feeds together…?

And then, when the sun had set in the west and my forest had passed into darkness, this high bank of northern clouds took fire. Turner, eat your heart out!

Morning joeys

At present there are lots of wallaby joeys old enough to be out and about on their own.

They’ve grown past the long-legged spindly stage into one of equally cute chubbiness, and are less nervy and jack-in-the-box bouncy than their toddler siblings.

One sunny morning when the valley below was still filled with mist, there seemed to be hardly an adult in sight, just scattered young ones enjoying the warmth after a damp few days. Like the two above…

…and this one! They weren’t hanging out together, and each one was pop-eyed and watchful, but none moved. I could imagine their mothers admonishing them: ‘Now stay right there until I come back—or  else!’

But nearer the cabin was one of the younger joeys, still very clingy to mum in between mad dashes up and down the track.

A reassuring drink, and then, always astonishing to me, he did climb back into that pouch, long legs and tail the last to fit. It was a very low-slung pouch indeed when all was in!

Happy family

There seemed to be too many ears in the lolling wallaby silhouette I could see from the verandah.  I couldn’t work it out, so I walked closer.

Then I could see that it was two adults cuddled together and a joey in the pouch of one.

Of course I went back for the camera.

Coming from a different aspect made me visible to them – or to those with eyes open. They pricked up their ears but took no more alarm than that.

Check out the size of the joey doubled up in there, with legs and head sticking out into the sunlight.

There are lots of joeys in pouches right now, both wallabies and kangaroos. Some are spending time ‘outside’, slightly wonky on their long legs and oversize feet.

Meanwhile the blokes are happy to forage for green grass shoots amongts my bulbs. I don’t mind, as they are far less destructive than the horses were, and I’m forever grateful that the bulb leaves are unappetisingly toxic.

Wallaby wipe-out

We all know how mothers have to be on the ball to keep an eye on the young. This was borne home to me afresh by my wallaby mates lately.

After days of dreary chilly rain, the sun came out.

The only wallabies that seemed even half-awake were the mums with toddlers.

This one had a very young joey, still mostly pink and hairless. I have since seen it hop out of the pouch for brief second or two; it’s all legs!


But as for the rest of the gang? Lolling, lazing, drying out, cleaning up — or just snoozing. En masse, apart from the mums needing to have their eyes open, they were wiped out by the morning sun, laying out the tails and warming those pale tummies.

They are very good at doing a total flop in a sitting position. I wish I could!