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Question: What specific things come to mind when someone says ‘Australia’? If you are to name 3 things, for sure one of them will be an animal. Kangaroo? Koala? Emu? Yup. That’s right. Before we started our trip through Australia, we knew that our experience wouldn’t be complete without seeing at least one of the country’s ‘mascots’. And our wishes were heard. This post will be all about the jumping, flying, crawling or chilling creatures of Oz.

Allegedly Australia is home to some of the deadliest creatures in the world. You can find a few examples here. Well, although we directly or indirectly encountered some of these, our impression at the end of the trip is different: Australia has some of the absolutely cutest creatures on this planet! And whichever are not so cute, they are for sure very interesting.

Shall we start with the most famous? If you ever doubted if it is really so, then you can trust us, kangaroos are absolutely everywhere in Australia. Unfortunately we didn’t come to know by spotting one jumping through the bush every day. It is the ‘1 kangaroo per 10 km’ roadside death rate that we observed. In the heat of the day Skippy hides in the shadows of trees and at as soon as the sun goes down, it is kangaroo o’clock in Oz. Skippy gets all hyper and crazy about car headlights.

DSC_0393However, we had some pleasant encounters too. The first time we saw one was on our 3rd night while camping in Speewah national park. Actually, it was a wallaby, which simply said is a smaller version of a kangaroo. We wouldn’t have noticed anything, if there hadn’t been a campervan arriving to the site at night. The headlights for a while pointed straight at the little wallaby sitting next to our van. For a good half an hour Lucia spent time just watching it with help of a flashlight. The next one was at the Billabong Sanctuary near Townsville (which we will refer a lot to in this article). Kangaroos and wallabies were hanging around freely on the paths here. Used to people they were up for some petting and feeding straight from the hand. And there were 2 mums too with a little ‘Joey’ in their ‘belly-bags’.

DSC_0586The third time we enjoyed the ‘roos’ company was at Cape Hillsborough, which we visited mainly for this meeting. Kangaroos and wallabies here spend their mornings watching the sunrise at the beach in company of humans watching them do it. This was a truly amazing experience. Not only do they get really close to people, they also stayed for a good while and then even showed up in the evening right in the campsite where we stayed at the beach. The fourth time we spotted one jumping across the viewpoint at the Glasshouse Mountains, magnificent hills rising up high from flat land just north of Brisbane. On the fifth encounter we had the pleasure to taste the kangaroo tail, an aboriginal delicacy introduced to us while bush camping on our trip to Uluru.

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The world’s largest sand island introduced us to the dingo, Mark’s favourite Australian animal. Dingoes were brought to Fraser Island by aboriginal people, who used them to hunt down wallabies after they slowed them down with a boomerang. Those we met were nice to us, as they usually respect creatures that are bigger than them. A pair that watched us eating lunch was easily scared away by a wave of hands. Unfortunately, cases when they attacked kids or inebriated and weakened people happened. They look very much like dogs, but, as we were told, have their genes more common with wolves. Their body is skinny and so people assume they are hungry. That’s is why some would feed them which makes them more used to humans and more daring.

DSC_0920The second dingo encounter was without us even knowing about it. On our trip to Uluru we slept in a bush around a campfire only in swags (which is in theory a one person tent, in reality just a thicker sleeping bag). In the morning we found out that a dingo came for a visit and sniffed around the campfire right between all sleeping people. The third time we saw a dingo was at the very same place where in 1980 a young woman (allegedly) sadly lost her child and claimed that “dingo ate my baby”. Also thanks to Meryl Streep and the movie ‘Cry in the dark’, that describes this controversial case, the sentence became famous and stuck in our heads for the whole trip. The woman was found guilty for making up the dingo story and killing her own baby by multiple courts. She kept appealing until she won and made a fortune on the sad case. The crime scene was right in front of the Uluru rock, at the beginning of the base walk where a campsite stood at that time.

DSC_0303Not as famous as others but quite interesting Ozzie animals are cassowaries. They are huge birds, size of an ostrich, with a very colourful neck and head. They are endangered species, live only in certain areas and prefer beach. All across what is called ‘Cassowary region’ big signs are placed near the beach warning people against feeding them and also advising what to do in case of an attack. We were not lucky enough to spot them in wild, but had a chance to feed one grapes at the Billabong animal sanctuary. That is where we saw an emu too. The second time we saw a bunch of them was on our way to Hunter valley, in the middle of nowhere.

Cassowaries and emus are too big to fly, but Australia has a few big flying creatures too. For example bats, or flying foxes. The first time we saw them was at Speewah national park and the sound of their massive wings was scary. Even scarier when we realised that they are interested in our head lamp, that Lucia was wearing. Nothing happened, we just gained a huge respect. We saw bats a few more times, not from such close, but in large amounts. At Emu Park, coastal town near Rockhampton, they flew over our caravan park in hundreds. Presumably to find a place to spend night at.

Australia’s city bird is not pigeon, but ibis. These majestic birds with a long beak reminds us of greek myths and legends and so seem somehow mysterious. Speaking about birds, if you are a bird lover, you must come to Australia. The country (including cities) is full of exotic ones. Cockatoos, lorrikets, parrots and other colourful species can be seen and heard all around.

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DSC_0367Snakes and crocodiles are big here too. Fortunately we only saw them in the sanctuary where we got to hold them as well. There was one particular animal we got a chance to hold too (Lucia did) and which left a great impression on us (on Lucia mainly). It was a koala. Koalas are the fluffiest and the cutest animals of Australia. They are quite stupid too. A koala’s brain is as big as your thumbnail even though their head looks quite large. They spend most of their lives up in the eucalyptus trees eating the leaves and since this diet is low on energy, they sleep up to 20 hours a day. We were eager to spot one in wild, but despite the multiple signs on the roads, we were not lucky. Perhaps, it is because there is not much of them left. Before people started hunting them for fun, there were millions. Now only a couple of 10 thousands are living across Australia.

Oh, and have you aver seen a wombat? :)

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Take a look at selected wildlife pictures here.

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Otazka: Co si predstavite, ked sa povie Australia? Ak by ste mali vymenovat aspon 3 veci spojene s Australiou, urcite aspon jedna z nich bude zviera. Klokan? Koala? Emu? Presne tak. Uz pred nasim vvyletom Australiou sme vedeli, ze nas zazitok nebude stopercentny bez toho, aby sme videli aspon jedneho z australskych ‘maskotov’ A nasa ziadost bola vyslysana. Tento prispevok bude o skakajucich, lietajucich, plaziacich sa ci spiacich potvorach protinozcov.

Australia je udajne domovom hned niekolkych najnebezpecnejsich zvierat sveta. Niekolko prikladov mozete vidiet tu. Aj ked sme priamo ci nepriamo nejak z nich stretli, nas dojem na konci vyletu je iny. Australia je v skutocnosti domovom niekolkych najzlatsich chlpacov na tejto planete. A tie, ktore nie su tak zlatucke su aspon pekne zaujimave.

Zacneme teda s tymi najznamejsimi? Ak ste niekedy o tom pochybovali, tak nam mozete teraz verit, kengury su v Australii skutocne uplne vsade. Bohuzial, sme to ale nezistili tak, ze by sme ich videli skakat po busi kazdu chvilu. Prisli sme na to podla poctu ich mrtvoliek na cestach zhruba kazdych 10 km. Pocas horuceho dna sa tieto zvieratka schovavaju v tienoch stromov, no akonahle slnko zacne zachadzat, pride ich cas. Nadsene poskakuju a specialne oblubuju svetla aut.

Napriek vsetkemu sme zazili ale aj niekolko prijemnych stretnuti. Nasu prvu sme videli uz pocas tretej noci, ktoru sme travili v odlahlom narodnom parku Speewah. V skutocnosti to ale bol klokanik (wallaby), ktory je taka mensia verzia kengury (v anglictine sa rozlisuje kangaroo a wallaby, my ich tu prelozime ako kengura a klokan). Ani by sme si ho nevsimli, nebyt karavanu, ktory prisiel do kempu neskor v noci a posvietil nam nanho. Klokanik sedel len par metrov od nasho auta a Lucia stravila dobru polhodinu pozorovanim s pomocou baterky. Dalsie stretnutia nas cakali v Billabong Sanctuary (prirodna rezervacia, zoo) blizko mesta Townsville. Kengury a klokani tu len tak volne postavali ci poskakovali na chodnikoch a nechavali sa hladkat a krmit od navstevnikov, dokonca i malickych deti. Ako keby toto nebolo uz dost velke vzrusenie, 2 mali dokonca aj male vo svojich brusnych vakoch. Tretikrat, co sme si mohli uzivat spolocnost klokanov, bolo v narodnom parku Cape Hillsborough, ktory sme navstivili hlavne kvoli nim. Kengury a klokani tu travia rana pozorovanim vychodu slnka na plazi za ucasti ludi, ktory zas pozoruju ich. Toto bol nadherny zazitok. Nielen, ze im nevadila nasa blizkost, vydrzali s nami peknu chvilku a dokonca sa objavili aj v kempe pri plazi, v ktorom sme spali. Stvrtykrat sme videli jednu preskakat cez otvorene priestranstvo na kopci, kam sme sa prisli pozriet na vyhlad na Glasshouse Mountains (sklenikove kopce), ktore vyrastaju z roviny kusok od Brisbane.

Najvacsi pieskovy ostrov sveta nam predstavil dinga, Markove najoblubenejsie australske zviera. Dingov na Fraser Island priniesli domorodi obyvatelia, ktori ho pouzivali na lov klokanov, spolu s bumerangom. Dingovia, ktorych sme tu stretli boli k nam dobri, kedze vacsinou maju respekt z tvorov vacsich nez su oni. Dvoch, ktori nas zblizka pozorovali pocas obeda, sme lahko odplasili mavnutim ruky. Bohuzial, dozvedeli sme sa ale, ze v minulosti sa vyskytli utoky na male deti ci ludi opitych a oslabenych. Dingovia vyzeraju ako psi, avsak ich geny su vraj podobne vlkom viac nez psom. Zdravy dingo vyzera trosku vychudnuto, a tak niektori ludia sa nazdavaju, ze su vyhladnuti. Preto ich niekedy krmia a dingo si tak na cloveka zvyka a viac si dovoluje.  Druhe stretnutie s dingom bolo bez nasho vedomia. Na vylete k Uluru sme spali v busi okolo ohniska v ‘swagoch’ (teoreticky stan pre jedneho, v praxi vsak len vacsi a hrubsi spacak). Rano sme sa dozvedeli, ze v noci nas navstivil dingo a ocuchaval zbytky v ohnisku uprostred 21 spiacich ludi. Tretie miesto, kde sme videli dinga, bolo to iste miesto, kde mlada zena v roku 1980 stratila svoje dieta a tvrdila, ze ho vzal dingo (‘dingo ate my baby’ – dingo zjedol moje dieta). Aj vdaka Meryl Streep a filmu ‘Cry in the dark’, ktory opisuje tento kontorverzny pripad, tato veta sa stala znamou a nam sa zaryla v hlave na cely pobyt. Mlada zena bola obvinena zo zabitia vlastneho dietata a z vykonstruovania pribehu o dingovi. Proti rozhodnutiu sa opakovane odvolavala az kym jeden ju zbavil viny a ona sa vdaka tomu a knihe, ktoru neskor napisala, dostala k peknym peniazom. Miesto cinu bolo priamo pred Uluru, na zaciatku turistickeho chodnika okolo skaly, kde v tom case stal stanovy kemp.

Sice nie tak zname, ako ine australske zvierata, ale velmi zaujimave su kazuare (anglicky cassowary). Su to vtaky velke ako pstros a ich krk a hlava su pekne farebne. Kazuare su ohrozen druh a ziju len vo vybranych oblastiach. Oblubuju plaze. Po celom tzv. ‘Cassowary regione’ najdete pri plaziach tabule so zakazom krmenia a radami, ako sa zachovat v pripade ich utoku. My sme nemali to stastie ich vidiet v prirode, no v Billabong Sanctuary sme ich mohli krmit hroznom. Tam sme videli prvykrat aj emu. Druhykrat sme videli skupinku tychto vtakov na ceste do Hunter Valley.

Kazuare a emu su prilis velke na lietanie, no Australia ma aj niekolko inych velkych a zaujimavych letcov. Tak napriklad netopiere, alebo ‘lietajuce lisky’ – ‘flying foxes’, ako ich tu nazyvaju. Prvykrat sme ich videli v narodnom parku Speewah a suchot ich ohromnych kridiel bol takmer strasidelny. Este strasidelnejsie bolo, ked sme zistili, ze ich laka celova baterka, ktoru mala Lucia na sebe. Nic sa nestalo, ale ziskali sme voci nim respekt. Netopiere sme videli este niekolkokrat, nie tak zblizka, no vo vacsich poctoch. V mestecku Emu Park, pobreznom meste blizko mesta Rockhampton, prelietali ponad karavanovy kemp v stovkach. Nazdavali sme sa, ze mali namierene tam, kde budu travit noc.

Australskym mestskym vtakom nie je holub, ale ibis. Tieto majstatne vtaky s dlhym zobakom nam pripominali grecke myty a baje a tak nam pripadali akesi mysteriozne. Ak ste nadsenym amaterskym ornitologom, Australia sa vam urcite bude pacit. Krajina (vratane miest) je plna exotickych vtakov. Kakadu, papagaje, andulky a ine farebne druhy su vidiet a pocut takmer vsade.

Hady a krokodily su tiez australskyi obyvatelmi. Nastastie sme ich videli len v rezervacii, kde sme si ich obidvaja aj podrzali. Najoblubenejsim zvieratkom na podrzanie ale, hlavne pre Luciu, bola koala. Koaly su roztomile chlpatucke a zlatucke tvory, ale vcelku hlupe. Mozog koaly nie je vacsi nez nechet na palci, aj ked ich hlava je oproti telu celkom velka. Vacsinu zivota travia vysoko v eukalyptovych stromoch pojedavajuc ich listy. Kedze tieto maju velmi malo energie, koaly prespia okolo 20 hodin denne. Snazili sme sa ich vzhliadnut aj vo volnej prirode, no napriek vsadepritomnym znackam, sa nam to nepodarilo. Mozno preto, ze ich uz nie je tak vela ako kedysi. Predtym, ako ich ludia zacali zo zabavy lovit ich zilo v Australii miliony, no dnes uz len niekolko desiatok tisic.

A ozaj, videli ste uz niekedy vombata? Pozrite sa ako vtipne vyzera na poslednom obrazku anglickeho textu. :)

Vyber fotiek australskych zvieratiek najdete tu.

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2 thoughts on “Ausome Australia: Wildlife

  1. Pingback: Ausome Australia: Coral Sea | Take it and go

  2. Pingback: Ausome Australia: Nature | Take it and go

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