So for the last couple of weeks we have been based near the popular town of Byron Bay. We are actually up in the hills in the 'hinterland' but the climate is fantastic and there is an amazing amount of life that comes out at night. We are house sitting in the village of Federal and are also looking after a collection of chickens.
One of the biggest problems with looking after chickens here is that there are large Carpet Pythons ... only last night I heard next doors chickens sound an alarm but by the time I got there a 2 metre python had already killed one chicken and was trying to kill a second. It was really sad but if we hadn't have got there when we did, then the whole coop could have been lost!
It isn't just snakes that inhabit the night, there is also an amazing diversity of invertebrates ...
Then there are the amphibians ...
That'll do for now but I will post some more within the next week. I will also update the details for the invertebrates so they are all correctly labelled.
The last stop on our road trip, from Sydney to Federal (near Byron Bay), Coffs Harbour was probably one of our favourite spots. We actually stayed in the village of Emerald in the caravan/campsite there, it was right next to the beach and it was just lovely and peaceful. Even better for me ... the wildlife was fantastic!
As you can imagine, I spent quite a bit of time with the local inhabitants ... they seemed completely at ease as long as you respected their personal space (if only everybody respected the wildlife and didn't try to pet it).
As well as the Kangaroos for company we also had some feathered friends too, some particularly noisy and large friends. The Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo is a monster as far as parrots go and they are pretty vocal. They are inquisitive and love to play at the same time as feeding, they even like to see what you are up to.
The next day we were in for a treat, after a lazy morning around the campsite we decided to head down to the beach. We stayed for maybe half an hour before the strong winds and wind driven sand made us a little irritable. We returned to the tent for a calmer spot to relax and enjoy the blazing sun, of course that meant I ended up photographing the Kangaroos and in particular, a gorgeous Joey who had remained hidden in its mother's pouch since the previous day. As you can see below, it let me get pretty close but that was after sitting with them for a couple of hours and letting them know I wasn't a threat.
A really wonderful experience with a truly beautiful animal, mammals are my passion and to be allowed so close to such a charismatic character is truly a privilege. As well as some close encounters with some large males the local bird life was also pretty obliging.
After this, our last stop, it was time to finish our journey by heading northwards and on to Federal. As we packed up the car for the final time before settling in Byron Bay (where we are staying for 5 weeks), I noticed a little stow away which I thought was particularly photogenic.
After our couple of nights in Port Stephens, it was time once more to move northwards along the eastern coast of Australia. Our next stop on this journey was Port Macquarie. Here we decided to stay close to Flynns Beach and make the most of the gorgeous coastline.
We arrived around lunch time and set up our tent under the shade of the gum trees, after which Vic was reading her book and happened to look up and see this little fella ...
In the afternoon we went for a little walk and enjoyed the wonderful beaches and seascapes.
The next day the Koala seemed to be a little elusive and we were struggling to spot it, eventually (with the help of a campsite member of staff) we spotted it high in a gum tree. We were luck to also have a regular influx of Rainbow Lorikeets. We then headed down to the coast to enjoy the colours and scenery at sunset.
After a wonderful evening, watching the world go by and photographing the rocky shore at the edge of the beach, we headed back to camp for the evening knowing that tomorrow we would be moving on again. This time to Coffs Harbour.
There was one last wildlife encounter before we left though and this time it was a really intimate experience with the Koala who climbed down the tree next to us and headed back up another tree. With a leap to a third tree it settled itself down and posed for a few images. Sadly, the leap was impossible to photography ... imagine a leaping Koala shot!
After a couple of days in the chilly, but ever so beautiful, Blue Mountains we had to start heading north and on to the coastal region of Port Stephens. We stayed slightly off of the coast but our campsite was great for the local wildlife more than the site itself. On the first night we heard an almighty crash in the trees and when we shone our torches, we saw a pair of glowing red eyes! Here is what we saw ...
I realise that Possums aren't rare and are relatively easy to spot at night in Australian towns but still ... to get so close to a wild animal and get a shot like this was pretty phenomenal, especially as we were in the bush.
We did go out beforehand, including a brief visit to Gan Gan lookout (aptly named after Vic's Grandmother). We also had a walk along one of the beaches and really tried to make the most of the gorgeous evening sun.
We had a full day in Port Stephens the next day and after a spot of sunbathing on One Mile Beach we decided to have a look around and see if we could spot any Koalas. Wherever you go in Port Stephens it mentions Koalas, the advice to spot one ... just look up!
We looked up but couldn't see one (well Vic spotted one whilst I was driving but I didn't manage to see it). So instead we went to Soldier's Point and came across a family of Kookaburras and a group of Pelicans!
So after couple of days exploring another small part of Australia's east coast we had to move on to our next stop, Port Macquarie.
Having spent just over a week in Sydney and sorting out the admin side of a working holiday visa (bank account, car, campsites etc.) we headed into the Blue Mountains, to the west of Sydney. These vast wooded hills rise up to over 1,000 metres (3,000 ft to the British readers) and are home to an amazing number of spectacular viewpoints and some stunning wildlife too.
We decided to stay in a village called Blackheath, close to the rural town of Katoomba, for two nights as we explored a little of the region before moving up the eastern coast and on to our next destination, Port Stephens.
The campsite was right next to the bush and we were surrounded by plenty of native flora and fauna, primarily birds and a few frogs which we never managed to see. Anyway ... on to some pictures!
These first two images were taken right next to the campsite and I have to say I was happy to find the Frogmouth ... they aren't the easiest of birds to spot!
So after doing some of the typical touristy stuff I had to get the long lens out again ... I can't resist when there is wildlife that is completely new to me!
So a lot of birdlife was all around but the mammals were proving to be elusive, amazing how it is the same world over! Next stop on our road trip north is Port Stephens ... let's see what that brings us in the way of wildlife and landscapes!