Attack of the choughs!

October 6
Time to pack up and head inland for a week or so. We are off to help one of Sara’s colleagues do an inventory of mammals and birds in a national park that got royally burned in extreme bush fires last January. So we went for a morning surf at Sandy’s, then folded up camp, dropped off our surfboards with Russ, then headed up the Waterfall Way. This was our first attempt at moving both the car and the camper trailer more than a few feet! I was a bit worried as to how the car would do pulling the trailer and how we’d do as drivers, driving the car. Everything went well, even the ten mile climb up and over the Great Dividing Range. The pass peaks out at about 3000-4000 feet above sea level thus separating the more rainforesty side of the near coast lands with the drier interior.

Once over that, we drove through undulating country for another hour, through sheep and cattle lands, with wide open vistas, and not much natural vegetation. Our stop for the night was at a place called Wallomombi Falls, a gorgeous national park that looks over the edge and down gorges of subtropical vegetation. The falls itself was mostly dried up, even though it is spring. Not such a good sign since the summer bush fire season is coming.

That evening and the next morning a small band of choughs, a smallish crow-looking bird, amused us by pecking on the side view mirrors of campers’ cars or on the rubber windshield wiper blades. They seem pretty smart and a bit mischievous. One rather large motor home rental was taking a particularly punishing beating for the choughs were perched on the rear trim of the vehicle and hammering on the window glass. People inside seemed to be in deep sleep and not paying much attention. We also got great looks at a brush-tailed possum for it was trying to sneak into our campsite while we were having an outdoor dinner under the starlight. These animals are far cuter than the similarly named animal that we have in the States. The Australian possum has a mostly furry tail for one thing. They also are brownish and buff colored, not dead-like grey. Their faces are more monkey or bearish, which makes them seem almost cuddly. I wonder if they make good pets?

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