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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Southend to The Coorong

Here are a few photos from Canunda NP, Beachport Conservation Park, sunsets in The Coorong NP, and a postmodern lighthouse for good measure!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Adventures with wildlife on the way to Mt Gambier

It’s been quite an eventful week. As we set off through Coonawarra and Penola, towards Mt Gambier, there were signs of some wildlife pecking about at the tissues and the rubbish bag in the car. Presumably the birds had had a skerrick around while the doors had been left open. Nothing more sinister came to mind until later in the day when, at snack time, the container of nuts was found to have been chewed through. A mouse.

A plan was needed for a trap (it was Sunday and we were not in hardware store territory), so the now useless container was drilled through to become a spinning wheel on which to balance some cheese. The rest of the nuts, along with some apple cores, were placed in the bottom of a big bucket, which was squeezed onto the front floor of the car. What mouse could resist?

Later in the evening the trap was checked and the cheese had fallen into the bottom of the bucket. Could the mouse have been that smart, or did the trap move when a door had been slammed shut?

Next morning everything was just as it had been left. The mouse had obviously vacated the car. That was the supposition until fresh droppings were found in a place where there had definitely been none the night before…

The whole car was emptied – not a small task for a car as jam packed with gear as ours. The mystery of the tissue bits was solved when a lovely little tissue nest was discovered in between where the back seats were folded down. Some wiping down and a bit of disinfectant spray and all traces were gone. There was just the one minor problem of the mouse, which was obviously hiding up under the dash with absolutely no chance of being spotted.

A proper trap was going to be necessary, and today. There was no way the mouse was going to be left to its own devices for another night in the car. Fortunately we were headed to Mt Gambier, so one of our first stops was the hardware store. After much discussion and testing of the wooden traps in the store, it was decided they were not sensitive enough for a mouse as cunning as ours. A more expensive ‘sticky trap’ was decided upon.

And the outcome? Suffice it to say that it was barely dusk when the trap was retrieved with the rodent helplessly stuck in the middle. The other half of the sticky trap is mounted behind the gear stick with a nut nicely placed in the middle. Apparently there is a bit of a mouse plague around, so we aren’t taking any chances.

The weather was less than perfect for seeing the Blue Lake in Mt Gambier, with a grey sky and a few showers while we were in town. We still enjoyed the gardens in the sinkholes and the area around

the lakes though. We also climbed to the rim of Mt Schank on our way down to Port MacDonnell (and saw a skink eating skink!). One benefit of the weather was a beautiful rainbow over the sea.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Bound for South Australia...

After almost a week of uneventful marking, odd jobs and a general lack of photographic opportunities we’ve certainly made up for it in the past few days. The usually dull and boring trip across the Hay Plains was incredibly pleasant. Not only was it green, but there was water lying around.

Our destination was the Pink Lakes in Murray Sunset National Park. The park books and website made it sound interesting but we really didn’t know what we’d find. There was a forecast for rain the day after we arrived, so as soon as we got there we went for a walk and found the lake was a salt pan. The pink hue comes from carotene in the algae that lives in the water underneath the salt crust (according to the book). We were treated to lots of spectacular views later in the afternoon and the next day as the rain came through. The rain formed a lovely thin layer of water on the salt crust and produced some great reflections.

Now we were so close to the South Australian border the itch to get moving couldn’t be kept at bay. Our first stop has been Naracoorte Caves National Park, and we weren’t disappointed. We did a tour of the cave where they have found fossils of the extinct mega fauna. The tour was very interesting, with explanations of how the animals fell down pit fall traps, as well as the types of clues they use to try to figure out more about the extinct animals’ diets and foraging/hunting habits. There was the usual array of cave decorations, and some pretty native gardens above ground too.

A few more days of marking await us, and then it’s further south to Mt Gambier.