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Published: August 8th 2008
Yes its true, Yungaburra does have tree kangaroos. When I say I am going to be looking for tree kangaroos people reply "what's a tree kangaroo?" to which the only possible answer is "a kangaroo that lives in trees". Its pretty simple. So anyway, Yungaburra is supposedly the best place to go to see tree kangaroos (the Lumholtz's tree kangaroo to be precise). On The Wallaby is the backpackers in Yungaburra and as I said in an earlier post they do pick-ups from Atherton (and also from Cairns which is a bit easier for most people). I had booked a night tour with a one-man outfit called Alan's Wildlife Tours because I wanted to be sure I actually did get to see one, and the tour is only $30 which is a very good price. We were out for about an hour or so, walking along the forest line next to a cow paddock, and saw two tree kangaroos, six green ringtail possums, eleven coppery brushtail possums (like common brushtails but coppery) and two regular common brushtails. I considered it money well-spent. Highly recommended. Plus Alan gave me a tip on where to go to see some sarus cranes the next
morning at their roost site.
After spotting the cranes I wandered along to the Curtain Fig National Park down the road from town. The Curtain Fig is reputed to be the most-visited tree in the world and it is pretty awesome. As all my clever readers probably already know (I've only got about ten readers and I know they're all clever), strangler figs start out life as epiphytes sitting up high in the canopy where their seed has been deposited in a friendly bird's dropping. As they grow they send roots down the trunk of the host tree until they reach the ground, whereupon they suddenly become a ravenous demon of a plant, wrapping their giant tendrils round the host tree in such a constricting embrace that eventually the tree is suffocated and dies, leaving a huge hollow shell of the fig's pylon roots. The strangler fig has taken the place of the original tree. In the case of the Curtain Fig, the tree on which the strangler was growing toppled over to lean against a second tree and the strangler swamped that tree as well, sending down a cascade of roots between the trunks to form a massive
curtain. Hence the name. At the Curtain Fig I did some bird-spotting, as is my want, and saw a superb fruit dove who really was superb, a grey-headed robin and a Macleay's honeyeater (number 16). On the walk along the road I also happened across a group of five or six Victoria's riflebirds which came within a few feet of me. When looking at birds through binoculars sometimes its hard to judge their actual size, but the Victoria's riflebirds are really very small. You could cup a male one in your hands quite comfortably. There are three species of riflebirds, the magnificent, the paradise and the Victoria's. The Victoria's is the smallest; if I was Queen Victoria I would not have been amused. They are really neat though. When they fly their wings sound like they're rustling a Japanese fan. I also contrived to get myself entangled in wait-a-while. This is a particularly nasty climbing palm that sends out long slender whips lined with tiny recurving hooks that it uses to grapple its way up trees. If you get your clothes hooked on it you need to carefully pull the whip in reverse to get free. The hooks can be
Walker's Frother (Amerila rubripes)
a particularly ugly common name for a particularly pretty little moth. This is a member of the family Arctiidae (tiger moths)
so fine that its possible to hook them into your skin without causing any bleeding (but normally it does the opposite). The main problem is if you have long hair in a plait as I do when I'm in the forest. Then the hair gets snagged in every possible place along the plait and you can't see to untangle it because its somewhere up behind your head. Very very annoying!!
In the afternoon I went on a bus trip to Lake Eachem, the Millaa Millaa Falls, and Crater Lake at Mount Hypipamee National Park. It was all right but the only real reason I went was to see if I could spot any new birds at Mount Hypipamee, but the forest there was absolutely silent. The only sign of birdlife was a cassowary road sign. So the next morning I walked back to Lake Eachem, which is only about 6km from On The Wallaby (and by my reckoning that makes about 10,000km I've walked in the last ten days). I finally found some Atherton scrubwrens in the forest there which was good because it would have been embarrassing not to have found any at all during the trip, and
also a yellow-footed antechinus which is a bitey little rat-like marsupial. And right before I left a wildlife rescue lady showed up to collect a duck with a neck injury (I guess it forgot to duck!) and in her car she had a green tree snake that she was going to be releasing. He was a lovely little snake, although being Australia this green tree snake was actually black with a blue belly.
And now I'm back off to Cairns again and then up to the Daintree/Cape Tribulation area. Cassowaries ahoy!
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