all you naturalisti al'poltrona (= armchair naturalists) out
there, here is a real-life adventure which goes to show that we all can
be a Harry Butler (whatever happened to him?) or a Malcolm Douglas if we
take the step.
years ago, a friend and I set off for a weekend back-packing campout in
the Megalong Valley following the Cox and Kowmung Rivers. Crimson
rosellas dashed across our path, flashing their bright red and blue
colours while small wrens and thornbills jumped about in search of food.
We stopped to watch a pair of gang-gang cockatoos preening their grey
feathers — the male's splendid red head and crest feathers brilliant
in the sunlight.
proceeded down the track. The sound of the whipbirds occasionally
interrupted the continuous tinkling call of the bell-miners. Further
along the path we surprised a female superb lyrebird which, being
startled by us, took off into the thick shrub.
the junction of the Cox and Kowmung, a large wallaroo was having a
drink. It lifted its head, looked at us, and then slowing bounced away.
A few metres further, a smaller wallaroo sprang out into the open before
scrambling up an almost vertical ridge sending rocks rolling into the
passed quickly and it was now lunchtime. During lunch we amused
ourselves by watching several eels lurking in the river. A few trout
were also in the stream which we tried to catch with a hand line but —
on, the next “critter” on the agenda was a dingo. The dingo was
walking away from the river; we froze and so did the wild dog. He turned
his head and gave us a hard look before disappearing into the bush. The
dingo has almost become extinct in this area: the local property owners
hunt and trap the animals every chance they get.
the day passed, the weather warmed up and on the rocks near the river
two red-bellied black snakes were sunning themselves. We watched from a
it was time to stop and look for a good camp site. We found an ideal
spot with a deep swimming hole and a flat area for our tent. After
dinner that night, we sat around the camp fire watching fire-flies as
they danced and blinked against the dark shadow of the ridges. A grand
finale to a very enjoyable day.