Rainforest Life: Outing #9 – Day 4

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(Monday 8-September-2014)

@9:08am

Gosh the bees are on the go this morning. It was all blue sky an hour ago, with clouds moving-in during that time, but the forecast says it’ll be a rain-free day, so I’ll go for a wander. Maybe see how many ripe Geebungs I can stuff in before the day ends.

@4:45pm

Back at camp about an hour now, having bushwalked the day away, and found some interesting things.
Before I get into that: Miss Marsupial visited early this morning for her breakfast of broken-up Teddybear biscuits. She had a climb up the tent, ran round the front and grabbed a chunk of biscuit before running off with it in her mouth. Few minutes later, she returned for a more sit-down style munch, before running off across the clearing and down the other side of the hill: A direction I haven’t seen her go so far.

Nice to have a clear view of her as she dashed over the open spaces, stopped and looked up for bad things, ran and hopped over the next open space, checked the sky again.. Gradually becoming smaller the further away she became, before finally hopping over the hill and out of site.

The bushwalk today revealed a few new things, with my first stop being the Narrow-leaved Geebung that’s dropping generous amounts of ripe berries at the moment.

Strange thing is, they’re meant to fruit in spring/summer, so I’m not quite sure why they’re dropping ripe fruit now.

Anyhoo, I gobbled as many of the ripe fruit as I could find on the ground, before heading-out on my walk. Several other Narrow-leafed Geebungs had some fruit at their base, but not nearly as many and some just tasted acid and awful.

Even in the same species – I’ve noticed – Geebungs taste different from plant-to-plant: some are more apple-melon tasting, some snot-flavoured and others have a kind of Quinine flavour, like tonic water.

Having had quite a lot of these strange but tasty fruit from several trees, I started walking in a huge, clockwise circle away from my camping area, where I stumbled upon another species of Geebung I hadn’t seen till now: I’ll assume it’s a Broad-leaved or Sickle-leaf variant. The leaves on each ‘specimen’ of these plants were heavily infested with some kind of tiny bug or mite, but the fruit were easily twice the size of the Narrow-leaf, and more ovular in shape.

None where even close to ripe, and none had fallen to the ground, so – having tasted a single fruit, I decided it wasn’t worth eating anymore until they were ripe.

Leeches were the only negative to the walk really; three times I had to stop and pick the vile things off my shoes and once from my shoulder.

At one point, I got so shitty I mashed one into the dirt after I picked it off – really ground it in with my boot I did; like I was putting-out a really stubborn cigarette.

As soon as I lift my foot, it stands-up and starts swaying around at me as if nothing had happened. The only visible difference was it got a little dirty! Check out photo 6 – it’s like trying to kill a fuckin rubber-band!

Rancid, vile creatures. You know they actually have teeth? Make my skin crawl, and every time I find one on my clothes I start feeling itchy and paranoid there are more I don’t know about *under* my clothes.

Hard to believe they’re related to the meek, common – and much milder mannered – earthworm.

Failed leech-mashing attempts over with, I carry-on to the top of a hill where I find the tiniest mushrooms growing out some wombat shit, then groan as I realise I need a toiletry break myself, and of course didn’t bring any toilet paper with me.

So I head back down the hill through knee-high grass, then ferns and well let’s just say, I confirmed what I suspected: That the soft outer skin of the Paper-bark tree is in fact an excellent substitute for toilet paper. Better than toilet paper, I’d go so far as to say: it’s softer, thicker, and not as dry.

Returning to the area I’d left, I resumed my exploration when I became slightly annoyed to find another abandoned campfire – complete with a rock seat, empty tins and a pile of sticks all snapped and ready to use.

It’s not the fact there’s been someone there, but not knowing how long ago. A year? Ten days? Do they come back often? The panther eat him? Or did the occupant simply vanish without a trace?

You can determine some things, but there’s no real way of knowing *who* was camping there. I can say there wasn’t the usual build-up of leaves around the site: it looked freshly cleared. Someone else has been in my general, extended area – whenever it was.

On the way back to camp, I also stumbled on a pair of crossed sticks over a one-foot-round hole in the ground.

Now, some whack jobs online will try to convince you these crossed sticks are “evidence” of a Yowie visitation. I know right, morons.

The strange thing about it though is that the hole in the ground has a second, tiny hole at the back, only big enough for a mouse or snake to fit through. Two days ago, the larger hole had grass, rocks and saplings growing in it – filling half the hole. Now, the hole has been hollowed-out, and two neatly placed sticks sit over it, yet the hole at the back remains a tiny, mouse-sized mini-hole, and undisturbed.

Anyway, crazy speculations about a hole in the ground to one side, I didn’t find my next campsite this walk, but I did discover a “new” species of Geebung – in quotes because it’s probably only new to me, a very viable alternative to toilet paper, and that I’m very thankful to be wearing long-johns tucked into my socks; without which, I’d be tearing leeches off my toes, ankles, and legs.

@7:36pm

Night-time, and Missy Marsupial is back as usual.

For some reason, she’s made a *thing* of climbing the outside of the tent-inner, and often reaches the mesh windows then just sits there. She shifts her spot but stays up there for a while before climbing back down and coming round the front, where the food is. I have no idea whether she’s checking to see if I’m here or spying what food might be inside, but considering she’s a prey animal whose eyes are on the top of her head, I wouldn’t think she’d see a whole lot from up top. Indeed, all I can see of her is her belly, feet and chin 🙂

Also, the tent door is usually wide-open, so if she’s looking for an entrance, there are easier ways. 🙂

@8:35pm

The Mystery Mammal – known so far only as the “large, smacky eater” – has been identified, at last.

*clears throat* “It was a night, like any other. *mysterious music*…”

After Marsupial Lady came, messed about, then got straight into her milk-arrowroot biscuits I suddenly hear a loud, wet smacking sound right out the front of the tent : the same noisy eating I’ve heard regularly at night, as of late.

Now, the past few times I’ve heard this I’ve moved so quickly, to sit-up and find out what is big enough to make slurping, smacking sounds like that, it’s heard me and bolted before I’ve had any chance to even catch a glimpse of the animal.

So this time, I tuck my torch into my stomach whilst setting it to spotlight mode – so the change in light doesn’t spook our mammal onto bolting – then cover the bulb with my fingers. I sit up, slooowly, and see the very dimly-lit silhouette of something about as tall as a wombat sitting with it’s back to me just pigging out on pasta.

So I move the head-torch into position at the partially open door of the tent, release my fingers quickly and there, a foot in front of me and flooded in light is a very large, fat-looking Brush-tailed possum!

I wasn’t sure until I did a google-images search for a visual reference, then read the wikipedia entry for Possums. I never knew they grew that big!

Turns-out, the Brush-tailed Possum is the second largest possum in existence, with a head and body length of up to two feet and a tail roughly the same length, it spans over a meter all up.

The fact he had his tail suspended horizontally as he scoffed the pasta down yeah, a meter sounds about right and since they use said tail for balance, they probably quite often have it out straight like that.

Shave him down to his skin and I’m sure he’d only be cat-sized, but with the long, fluffy fur and that huge tail – also fat with long fur – he easily made it to medium dog size. Easily.

That’s two Marsupials I have visiting my tent now. I’ll lay-out some pasta again tomorrow night for him and see if I can get a snap of him, as well as the usual small biscuit-dinner for the little she-rat.

Curiously, our little Marsupial Mouse wasn’t at all interested in the pasta until *after* the possum came and demolished it.

Moments after, little Missy snuck over to the leftovers and decided it was worth eating, after all ;

Rainforest Life: Outing #9 – Day 4
Rate in Guidos

Jason
Animal-loving cleaner with a parrot.

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