When I was in Merida, in Mexico, I got chatting to a bartender, who was, funnily enough, serving me drinks at a bar. He told me he loved to speak English and that he was interested in seeing Australian Animals. I said, ‘you won’t see many around here’. Actually I didn’t, because that would be considered very stupid. He ended up shouting me a tequila and I promised to email him the best places to find Australian animals in exchange.
As the Lannisters incessantly say in Game of Thrones, ‘we always pay our debts’. And as Shrek said when he stole the clothes off of a nobleman, “Thank you, gentlemen, someday I will repay you, unless of course I can’t find you, or if I forget.”
It’s been a few years now, and of course I lost the guy’s email address on the way back to the hotel, but I always eventually get around to doing things I promised even if it was to someone serving me drinks in a bar whom I will likely never meet again – well he was a very nice fellow. I couldn’t even find the bar the next night to chat and get his email again, it just up and vanished and I had the feeling he may have been a figment of my imagination. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t, so if you are he, and you and your bar are real, I hope you find this, and I hope we can meet again one day where I will happily shout you a tequila and show you as many kangaroos as you can handle.
I’m hesitant to give a very detailed account of finding every Australian animal, and even more hesitant to provide ‘useful information’ rather than my usual rambling stories. But here goes, just for Juan, or whatever his name was, the bartender who loved to speak English to Australians.
Firstly, Kangaroos. If you don’t like Kangaroos you’ve got a few screws loose. Forget about wallabies, nobody really knows what the difference between a wallaby and a kangaroo is anyway, but still, they are awesome as well.
My favourite kangaroo spotting places are South Durras Beach, New South Wales, (where the mum and joey photo on top of the page comes from), and other south coast NSW coastal towns like Pambula Beach (see my page on Pambula for poor quality pics of kangaroos sitting on people’s front lawns there). It is super amazing to see wild kangaroos grazing in large numbers just beside the beach. And by the way, it’s not something you’ll see in Sydney so Juan, and other bartenders from Merida or people of other occupations from anywhere in the world visiting Australia, if you are a keen kangaroo aficionado, take the drive a few hours south of Sydney to these places.
The other place you’ll see kangaroos in abundance is around Canberra. My god, they are fricking everywhere. If you find open grassland about, parks, sporting grounds, on roadside verges, you’ll probably find a kangaroo not too far away. So much so that Canberra ranks highest for any Australian city for kangaroo-car collisions. I saw one of the poor things just a few days ago sitting on the road after being hit, dying, and it was the saddest thing in the world. I wish they’d build them some nature bridges to let them hop across the highway like they do it Germany.
Wombats are another poor road kill victim, you end up seeing hundreds of them dead around the place as well. The only live wild wombats I’ve ever seen were on a farm in Nutfield, Victoria where they had a big burrow (or whatever they call their homes) early in the morning when they were going to bed, and another time when riding around some back roads, again in Victoria, where there was one who was obviously injured from being hit by a car.
Moving on from wombats, by far the best place to see kangaroos around Canberra is Tidbinbilla nature reserve. There are hundreds upon hundreds of them there, and a few rock wallabies as well. Picture above, taken at Tidbinbilla, says it all, big mobs of the critters munching away at the foothills of the well, hills.
Another pic of a kangaroo and joey in South Durras below just because they are so cute.
And why not some more pics…
Snakes are fascinating, but you don’t tend to see them all that often. I remember just about every snake encounter I’ve ever had.
There was the time Stephen Badley and I had been siting on a rock out in Currumbin Valley, on the Gold Coast, Queensland, for a few hours by a waterfall before we noticed there was a little snake curled up sleeping in a crevice by our legs, probably just a python. Some other boys cruelly started throwing rocks at. Don’t throw rocks at them or hit them with sticks at that’s what wankers do
And there was that time when I was working on a farm in Victoria where I had this black plastic over a pile of compost and then I pulled it off and on one side there was a massive tiger snake and on the other a massive brown snake. Well the brown snake pissed off pretty quick, but the tiger snakes, they don’t seem to see that well and this was was that big it probably thought none would be stupid enough to hang around once they saw it, so it just sat there, but I needed to level out the area with a tractor, so I got a garden rake and nudged it along, it kept sitting there striking at the rake head not moving until it realised the rake was not going to die or go away before slithering away slowly.
Other places I’ve seen snakes include pythons up near Mount Warning in NSW and red-bellied black snakes at Tidbinbilla nature reserve. If you want to see a snake I suggest the most likely time in southern states is mid to late spring when they are just waking up. In Victoria, when I worked on the farm in Nutfield, I’d often see copperheads, tiger snakes, red-bellied black snakes, brown snakes and the occasional python during this period and then nothing for the rest of summer, not counting that time I went to take a piss into the grass and I started to pee and then I noticed what looked to be a baby brown snake curled up in the grass, and you know how hard it is to stop peeing when you start, so I had to be coordinated to mage to step back and finish the call to nature at the same time that day.
You’ll most likely spot snakes in places where they have lots of prey – such as frogs, mice and rats (hence why you find them around compost heaps which also attract these critters).
Now dear Juan/ others, there’s also an absolute abundance of cool birds in Australia. Again around Canberra/ rural NSW is some of the prime spots to spot them. Large flocks of cockatoos, galahs are easily spotted as well as heaps of rosellas and grass parrots. In coastal areas, like South Durras and Pambula you’ll also usually spot lots of lorikeets. The lorikeet above is feeding on the nectar of some beachside banksia type things. The pair of rosellas below just come to my backyard to eat basil and sunflower seeds.
But by far my favourite, and I don’t think I really need google to tell me, the largest of Australian birds – fine with the exception of the cassowary of far north Queensland – is the Emu. My favourite wild emu encounter was cycling along a road by 90-mile beach in Victoria where I had the privilege of racing with a pair of emus as the ran alongside the road. They won. I think they were on steroids though, I’m pretty sure I saw a copy of Lance Armstrong’s autobiography laying in the bush around there. Come to think of it I also saw a little baby brown snake that day, it was heating itself on the road. As I knew it would shortly get run over if it lay there, and it didn’t seem to itself, I nudged it off with a short stick. It didn’t even strike like the older ones.
Oh, and along with kangaroos and red-bellied black snakes, Tidbinbilla nature reserve also has heaps of emus (pictured below).
Okay, by now you’re screaming, what about the bloody koalas! Well forget about the bloody koalas, you are never going to see a koala in the wild, and if you do it will be asleep. The best place to see a semi-wild koala is, yet again, at Tidbinbilla – press here to go to my youtube channel to see one actually moving: https://youtu.be/_t2B9AL5qZY
To end this off I’ll leave you with what may sound odd, but hell it’s true. Australian animal poo smells good. I love the aroma of wombat or kangaroo as I walk in the bushes. Keep your nostrils open for this, it like smelling a fine wine.
So that’s it Juan, or whatever your name was, good luck out there in ‘nature’.
BTW Juan – write me bro: firstname.lastname@example.org