favourite summer walk
This was the last photo we took of Charlie before she passed away one month ago. She is resting on a walk at Long Hollow a natural reserve in our local area.
The reserve leads onto a school oval where many people take their dogs for an off leash run. Charlie had many a run around here and chased balls well into her tenth year of age. The image below was taken a few weeks earlier when she was still able to wander around long hollow without needing to take a break.
Peter Gabriel shares how we feel about Charlie right now. Please take a look at this U Tube clip
expecting some lunch
Brambuk is an indigenous cultural centre on the Southern outskirts of Halls Gap. It is the best place to begin an exploration of Gariwerd national park. Jill was participating in a national textiles forum/workshop and her workplace was at Brambuk. Every morning for a week I would drop her off and plan my morning of hikes, haiku and photography from here. Then late morning I would return for a coffee and cake . By this time the resident wild but very tame Sulphur Crested Cockatoo gang would be waiting for their share of tourist offerings. Tame, as in walking up to the plate you are eating cake from , picking up the fork and throwing it on the ground, hoping to steal some food as one bent down to retrieve the fork. I guess this friendly behaviour was encouraged by the staff who fed them bird pellets and conversed with each one according to their name. To give them credit this table in the second photo was their table and they all waited to be served there.The polite birds each had a chair, the rest lacking manners sat on the table. After their snack they would check out anyone else eating. In an earlier post featuring this species I mentioned the beak is quite lethal, I have known people to almost lose a finger . Conversely these lovelies would delicately take pellets from cafe staff fingers. I threw my offerings onto a chair. At times there were flocks of these cockatoos numbering in the dozens flying around Halls Gap. The drought was not impacting on their lifestyle.
from lakeview lookout
This scene shows Lake Bellfield at the Northern end of Gariwerd. If you look carefully you will see a small settlement and caravan park on the creek below the wall of the dam. Three years ago we stayed in a house there and each morning I would walk with Charlie up to the dam and along the top of the wall. This is where Charlie saw her first deer and I was amazed her genetic imprint immediately knew what they were and what she was supposed to do with them. IT took all my strength to restrain her.
softens the landscape
Swinging around this scene looks down towards Halls Gap, where only a year ago Charlie enjoyed many short walks around the town and became slightly used to seeing Kangaroos up close. Legend has it 2 old blokes walk up from the town to this lookout and back down again every day. I did not see them but quite a few other walkers were struggling on fairly even surfaces.
safe for now
Deer are not native to Australia. Along with many other birds, animals and insects they were introduced by the British invaders mainly for nostalgia, hunting or to eradicate some other introduced species. The first deer were brought from India early in the C19th and released for hunting. Unfortunately they moved quickly into mountainous areas like the Alps in North East and East Victoria and NSW and at Gariwerd in Western Victoria and bred like rabbits. This is a real Monarch of the Glen scene ironical that it is in the Grampians, ( Gariwerd) as named by the early Scottish explorer Mitchell . Deer do quite a deal of damage to the foliage and topsoil in the mountains. However cattle and sheep have destroyed much more of the country since their introduction. Usually deer are timid and flee as they are not guaranteed longevity in national parks. I was amazed at the apparent tameness of this one only about 10 metres from us on a walking track. It was difficult to see him against the foliage, other people walked past us and did not see the deer. He was in the creek and enjoying a rub down against the tree. I think he is beautiful and do hope he is safe.
The Laughing Kookaburra is a large kingfisher. They are renowned for catching and eating snakes and other reptiles as well as other bird fledglings. They have a loud and slightly chilling call that sounds like a mad person cackling, hence the name. They are quite fearless of people , security coming from being near the top of the food chain. This bird was sitting beside a walking track in the national park I took early one morning. I suspect it was watching for breakfast.
seeking tasty ferns
A certain indicator of the drought was the small number of kangaroos around Halls Gap township at the northern end of Gariwerd national park. We were up here at the same time last year and there were mobs of kangaroos everywhere. On the property where we stayed there were over 100 roos. Walking Charlie was challenging then as her hunting instincts were aroused everywhere we went. This year I saw 6 roos at the same property. At Halls Gap the kangaroos have come into the town to eat watered grass and for drinking. This large male was beside a bush track and ignored me. People have to always be wary of large males especially in the mating season.
gazing at themselves
This creek was running after rain storms crossed Gariwerd last Wednesday and Thursday. The drought was not broken but the wildlife responded quickly.