We couldn’t have had a more auspicious start to our new life on a bush block in regional NSW near the national capital.
Standing in front of our new house, facing us, was a small female kangaroo, as if to determine whether we were friend or foe. Perhaps she would communicate her impressions with her mob. We could hardly blame her if she was suspicious. Mistrust of humans is learned behaviour born of the worst of experiences.
The reality is, she was one of the main reasons we bought this place, almost sight unseen. The other reasons included the predominantly forested 100 acres, the creek lined with wombat burrows, the marsupials, birds and reptiles that we were certain to discover. We are grateful to the previous human occupiers for not grazing livestock for at least 15 years or more, allowing the land to return as much as possible to its natural state for its original inhabitants – Australian wildlife.
Having been caught up in the angst of wildlife advocacy for some years, we have found that this place has become our haven where we can co-exist with these unique and wonderful creatures. Only five months in, we are still unsure where this journey will lead us. For now, we know that sharing the Australian bush with the charming and benign native animals this continent has sustained for millions of years, has given us a sense of deep satisfaction.
There is sweet joy in observing a kangaroo joey trying out his big feet perhaps for the first time – a little uncoordinated but going as fast as he can, returning to mum before dashing off again.
…And waiting patiently on our driveway while a wombat decides whether to cross or not. And quietly watching as another keeps our lawn neatly mown.
…And watching a myriad of birds – from wedge tailed eagles to weebills going about their business.
We are thrilled by a wallaby coming close to the house to nibble on a bush in the garden, untroubled by our sticky-beaking…and enchanted by echidnas waddling along until they see us and instantly curl into a spiky ball.
The kangaroos are getting used to us and seem to have concluded that we will not harm them. Harming them would be almost the last thing we could ever do.
The plight of our wildlife can bring despair to those of us who love and appreciate how precious and unique our native animals are. Governments invariably fail them. Politicians side with the enemies of habitat, the enemies of wildlife. Money talks. Same old story.
Our little patch of land, fortuitously surrounded by other people who seem to think like we do, is our sincere attempt to preserve safe space for our most endearing neighbours.