One of the most distinctive sounds in the Australian bush comes from a bird that has become a real national emblem. Laughing Kookaburras (Dacelo novaeguinae) are social animals that mark their territory by laughing out loud around dusk and dawn in particular. The chuckling and laughter between whole families of these giant kingfishers is a spectacle that keeps me entertained over and over. Luckily some individuals have chosen a branch of a nearby Marri tree as their favourite lookout. You’d like to laugh your head off with them? Just click on the links below! http://soundbible.com/grab.php?id=1786&type=mp3
The Grass Tree (Xanthorrhoea preissii) is endemic to south-western Australia and can be found in almost any nature reserve. In Western Australia Grass Trees are commonly referred to as Blackboys, but are best known by its indigenous name, Balga. The plant has always been extremely important for aboriginals and early settlers. Its thin fronds provided thatching material for shelters, while the resin which oozes from the trunk was used both as a binding and tanning agent. Because the resin is also highly flammable aboriginals used it as a firelighter, but when settlers cut down great numbers for firewood it disappeared almost completely from certain areas. As Grass trees grow extremely slow (about one metre in 100 years) it will take them a long time to recover, however, through a resurgence of popularity in using native plants for landscaping it has started to make a comeback in urban areas.
For as long as I have been in Australia I have always wanted to see a Carpet Python. Most bush walks go through amazing country, the kind of place reminding you of the garden of Eden, unspoilt, serene and beautiful. I have a habit that at the start of almost any of these walks I see the image of a Carpet Python winding itself around the branch of a tree, just as in those biblical images. After many years of walking with this idea in the back of my mind I never really thought I would have the privilege of actually seeing one. Until yesterday when we walked part of the Bibbelmun track, a 1000 kilometre long route named after the early aboriginal inhabitants of South-West Australia, signposted by Waugal, the rainbow serpent from Nyungar dreamtime; a Carpet Python… I caught the first glimpse of this mythical animal when we reached a clearing in the Jarrah woodlands of Beelu National Park. On a stretch of bitumen leading to a deserted airstrip we found this nearly two …
By the sheer number of droppings on the stairs and the penetrating smell of urine underneath the deck of the verandah we should have known we were going to share our Tree Hut with a bunch of possums. Just because of their rather physical presence many people regard those tree-dwelling marsupials as a pest, but because they are protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act possums can’t be removed without permission of the State government. Regarding the abundance of wild fruit on our property and the numerous spaces to establish dens, any vacant possum-smelling space would attract new residents in no-time anyway. Apart from their nocturnal ramblings and territorial fights I guess we have started to love our closest neighbours who come out underneath their Jacaranda tree at twilight almost every day; a routine that makes close-up encounters good fun for kids and easy for photographers!
Hurray! After a few months of hard work we have finally settled in. Our new house is adjacent to Lesmurdie Falls National Park, completely surrounded by tall Marri (Corymbia calophylla) and Jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) trees. As the deck in front of the house is equally high as the canopy we have baptised this wonderful place ‘The Tree Hut’. The surrounding forrest is home to native wildlife including flocks of noisy tail waggling Twenty-eights, a subspecies of the Australian Ringneck (Bernardius zonarius semitorquatis), clearly recognised by its red frontal band and its distinctive ‘Twenty-eight’ call. The Nyungar called this bird Darlmoorluk and regarded it as a guardian or protector of their camps, keeping evil spirits at bay. So hopefully our home is blessed with having those happy birds around, providing us with a place from which we can live our dreams.