I am an Australian natural history writer and photographer. My aim is to encourage people to venture outdoors and enjoy the natural beauty of our planet.
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Published April 1st 2020
Wildlife Under the Highway
The trees along the path vary greatly. Some have trunks with smooth bark while others are rough and pitted. Most are shedding their bark at this time of the year which allows me to search for the myriad creatures that use this niche to feed, shelter and even reproduce. As I peel back one rather gnarled section on an ancient Eucalypt, I notice a Marbled Gecko peeping out. I take a quick shot and leave the little lizard to its own devices.
I am walking along a section of the Little Para River Trail that crosses under the Port Wakefield Road (Highway 1) approximately a forty-minute drive from Adelaide's CBD and 10 minutes from the Gepps Cross intersection. The trail stretches for 16 kilometres from the foothills to the Barker Inlet and is ideal for both walkers and cyclists. There is parking alongside the Jani Pepaj Rose Nursery on the southern side of the bridge crossing the river and by the service-station complexes on the northern side. This part of the trail can also be accessed from Lovelock Road Paralowie.
Parrots dominate the area and I can hear the calls of lorikeets, cockatoos and rosellas. They all use the massive River Gums as roosting and nesting sites. Although it is late in the breeding season I manage to spot a pair of Rainbow Lorikeets exploring a hollow tree branch. They might be late nesters or researching the housing market for next season.
Further along the trail, there are several small lakes surrounded by bushes and reeds. They are prime places to search for wildlife especially during the summer months when water is scarce. Small groups of White Ibises and Grey Teal are congregating near a muddy bank while a pair of wary Australasian Grebes sense my presence and head for cover on the opposite bank.
After spending some time exploring the fringes of the lake I decided to head back to the vehicle. My focus has been primarily on birdlife and I make a conscious decision on the return walk to search for smaller animals such as insects, spiders or centipedes.
Over the last few years, I have observed that small invertebrates that sustain the food-chain have become increasingly scarce. This is possibly because of the overuse of insecticides and the degradation of natural habitats. Who knows? But, it is a worrying trend. Luckily, I spot some leaf insects, a couple of centipedes under a fallen branch and several species of butterfly.
The walk has been interesting and I have been lucky enough to encounter a wide variety of species. The service station close to the car has a full range of facilities as it is a well-used truck stop and a pie and bun will be a welcome finale to my riverside walk.
Additional notes This is an easy walk which is quite suitable for families and seniors with toilets at the service station and parking nearby. It is dog friendly and can be accessed by wheelchairs.