Monday, 11 June 2012

Day Nine of a Camper Holiday! - The Best Day Ever!

We finished off day eight by heading south to Coonabarabran via Moree. I felt that remaining on the major highways was the simple choice - we had to be back in Canberra by the end of day ten.

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Our sleep was disturbed at 3am by a hammering noise from the reverse cycle air-conditioner. The temperature in the Coonabarabran caravan park had dropped to minus 2 degrees, and the air conditioner had iced over. The result was that we woke up tired and cold.

X's solution to this was that he and I should go outside and kick the soccer ball as we had done a few times before. Kicking a soccer ball certainly does warm the toes.

Our journey inland was to avoid the coastal rain, and before our diversion A had been looking forward to walking on the beach at Byron Bay. So we headed off to go on the Fans Horizon walk in the Warrumbungle National Park, followed by a double-back to the observatories at Siding Springs.

But what we had planned was not going to happen....

A few minutes away from the track head A swerved the camper around a dead wallaby, and then pulled over: we had both seen the much smaller wallaby standing next to the dead one.

This little joey has a cut nose -
most likely caused when she crawled out of her mothers pouch.
I ran back and picked up the tiny creature which was still covered in some of her mothers blood. I wrapped her in my blue Census jumper and held her close to my chest where she quickly calmed down. When I had picked her up she was shivering and making noises like a sick dog.

There was clearly nothing to be done for the mother - her bright red blood was on the road, and in several places very white pieces of splintered bone were sticking through her skin.

X taking seriously his job of keeping the joey
warm, in the dark, yet able  to breathe.
A few minutes later the four of us marched in to the Warrumbungle visitor's centre where the ranger advised us that the usual WIRES wildlife person in the area was in Sydney, and that we would need to deal with WIRES in either Gunnedah or Dubbo. I was a little surprised that the ranger seemed uncaring about the plight of an injured animal in the National Park (isn't this what rangers are meant to do?) so I was tempted to place the little Wallaby on the floor of the visitors centre and leave.

We resolved to follow through with what we committed to when we picked the joey up. Either option of Dubbo or Gunnedah meant the cancellation of our bush walking and observatory visit. Dubbo was in the direction we needed to travel, and so we contacted WIRES Dubbo and agreed on a meeting point in town.

E was very happy to hold the joey wallaby.
X was awarded the job of nursing the wallaby against his chest while we headed to Dubbo. Needless to say, E was quite put out, but I feel X's more mature outlook and his ability to not take a look at the joey every few minutes made him the right choice.

For two hours the joey rested, and eventually slept against X's chest, wrapped in my jumper.

E was given a turn holding the little one, and she handed the joey over to the WIRES lady in Dubbo.

Being the jubilee, we named the joey "Lizzie the second". We learned that this creature was a Swamp Wallaby, and that swamp wallabies are the only true wallaby - other wallabies being more closely related to kangaroos. The WIRES lady also told us that a Swamp Wallaby of this age would not normally every leave her mothers pouch, and would have most likely been eaten by a fox, if she didn't first perish in the cold weather.

So, in just a few days we have gone from learning about being a wildlife warrior to actually applying the conservation message and saving this injured animal. While Swamp Wallabies are not themselves an endangered species, this little joey was directly endangered and our actions made a difference to her.

X (at left) skates Dubbo skate park.
Note the full pipe in the background and to the right.
The children hadn't had any opportunity to ride their Razor scooters during this holiday trip, so when I pulled into Dubbo's Victoria Park skate park, X exclaimed "THIS IS THE BEST DAY EVER!"

Dubbo appears to have the scoop on the rest of Australia: their skate park doesn't feature a half-pipe, but features Australia's first FULL pipe. I can only wonder if anybody has managed to do the full loop yet, and wonder how many broken bones can be attributed to those trying.

At dinner time when we reminded the kids that this dinner would be the last in the camper van, the howls of protest from both children reassured me that this holiday experience was worthwhile and a hopefully a memorable one for both children.


  1. What a wonderful day, truly. A noble act, and a great example in action to your children too. I hope Lizzie does well and thrives :)

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