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.
Visit my blog naturallysouthaustralia.com
Published October 11th 2016
Koalas, Skinks and Pub Food
The historic brick cottage sits back into the hillside with trees and bushes growing close to the roofline. Rough cut blocks of sandstone have been fashioned into a low wall on the boundary. It is late afternoon but several of the boulders are still exposed to the sun and retaining its warmth. A wall skink sits on one, stretching out to soak up as much energy as possible to fuel its body for hunting the various insects that find refuge among the rocks.
I am in the car park that services the Anstey's Hill Recreation Park just off the north east road in Tea Tree Gully; a twenty minute drive from the city. In this historic little corner of Tea Tree Gully there are some interesting colonial buildings, good restaurants and a couple of hotels, including the iconic Fox and Furkin which was originally an 1830s flour mill. A number of walking trails can be accessed from this area. Names like Kaurna Way, Old Quarry, Ridge Top Walk, Torture Hill Track and Newman's Nursery Ruins suggest the diverse nature of these trails.
This afternoon I elect to follow the Boundary Walk. There is a small creek about a kilometre from the trail head which should be running after recent rains. Near the water's edge, a pair of kookaburras are scouting the banks for prey and one of the birds lands on a dead eucalyptus branch overhanging the water. Although kookaburras are classified as kingfishers they feed on a variety of animals ranging from insects and crustaceans through to small lizards.
The edge of the track is littered with broken branches and logs that provide a home for many animals. Turn over a piece of wood and you are likely to encounter, skinks, millipedes, centipedes, beetles and much more. With this in mind I gently prise some bark from a fallen branch and jump back smartly as a large huntsman spider scuttles towards me. I replace the bark and give the arachnid back its home.
There is no shortage of large gum trees on this route and some species are just beginning to flower. Yellow tailed black cockatoos, wattle birds and noisy miners all seem to be making the best of this springtime bonanza. But it is a furry shape wedged between the branches that really grabs my attention. A large koala is resting high in a red gum ready to feed as the evening approaches.
After spending an hour meandering along a selection of trails I move off the beaten track, deeper into some of the bush and look for less obvious animals and plants. There are delicate flax lilies in the grassy areas and admiral butterflies and native bees are gathering nectar from their blossoms.
Finally I head back to the park entrance and an afternoon meal at the Fox and Firkin. The British pub style cuisine will certainly make a fitting finale to my stroll through some of the most interesting and easily accessed scrub in the north eastern region of Adelaide.
That Kookaburra photo is the best that I have seen.
The harmless huntsmen...scary...can bite...but unlikely to...if it does..hardly feel it and not poisonous.
This is a place I have never explored and it seems well worth the drive to do so.