Shy wallaby gategirls

gategirls When you live in the country it’s always a boon to have a passenger  to act as as gategirl or gateboy, to open the many gates so you don’t have to yank on the hand brake and get out to do it yourself.

I couldn’t wait until my very smart granddaughter Jess was old enough to take on that role, in being tall enough to reach.

City folk may not realise that every gate is an I.Q. test; they are all different. Even if they are using the same basic mechanism for once, the swing of the gate and the distance of gate from post will require a whole new set of possible solutions to the problem.

Worst of all, the driver is watching and waiting while the gategirl or gateboy wrestles with the chain, the gate and the embarrassment. Much mime play generally goes on while the gate’s idiosyncrasies are attempted to be explained through the windscreen.

However, last  week, early one morning, these two shy girls were sitting so calmly and for so long outside my house yard gate that I felt they were waiting to be let in. Too small to be expected to do the job themselves, gloved hands meekly crossed like the best-brought-up convent girls, naught but an ear twitched as they patiently propped there.

They gave up eventually, but thankfully not before I took their photo.

Macropod harmony


It’s been cold and windy, and in my clearing we’re all glad of my protective tree belt below.  I can see the treeline on the western front turned thin and see-through as the trees are battered about; I can hear the fury on the ridgetop above me. But I am only mildly affected here.

My neighbours like the calm sunny spots too. Glancing through my kitchen window, I spotted four of my hoppy friends taking their ease just outside the house fence. Not unusual.

But it was rather unusual that the two on the left were Eastern Grey Kangaroos and the two on the right were Eastern Red-necked Wallabies. Not that there’s ever any animosity between the various macropod species here, but they don’t often share such a small space, or not in such a relaxed way. To pass in grazing, yes.


The male kangaroo stood to see what I was doing at the window; none of the others bothered to interrupt their scratching or sleeping or general contemplation of life.

 What I loved best was that shortly after I’d taken this photo and he’d gone back to grazing at least, his sleepy female partner was so sure of my good intentions that she turned her back on me to settle into a more comfortable pose — and went to sleep.

My redneck neighbours

The perimeter of my house yard fence is patrolled by small groups of Eastern rednecked wallabies. From my verandah I watch them nibble their way along the fence, stopping for a sunbake or a scratch, as this fellow is doing.

Older joeys like this one are still carried in the mother’s pouch, and still drinking from her, but when she leans down to graze, it has a munch as well. Free rides and free lunch!

A protected joey

Walking through my forest, I often come across small groups of Eastern Red-necked Wallabies. On this occasion there were three, who propped and watched me.

Sometimes they take flight, but mostly not, because this being a wildlife refuge, they are used to not needing to fear me or what I allow to happen here. No guns or dogs or roads for careless cars.

I was especially taken with the innocence of this joey, who didn’t move at all, just watched, big eyed, its little black paws relaxed against its pale furry tummy. We looked at each other for some time. It didn’t mind the camera. It’s been born here and will grow up here, as protected as I can manage.


It’s autumn, but it feels like winter. There’s a cool wind blowing. I’m walking through the damp forest early this morning, with the sun only reaching small patches here and there.

I need to keep my eyes on the narrow wallaby track so I don’t trip over the many fallen branches, but a brightness up the hill draws my attention.

In the pool of sunlight allowed by a small clearing, a wallaby mum and her teenage joey are propped, sunsoaking, sunspotlit – almost incandescent in contrast to the surrounding dark forest of fire-blackened stringybarks.