Folks, a blockie* mate reported seeing the ugliest dog in the world stroll through his farm recently; it turned out to be a wombat.
“A wombat?” I cried, “In Gladstone?”
This was actually quite exciting news. Well, it was for me, but then I’ve always been fairly easily impressed.
For a moment, it felt like I was in the Monty Python skit, set during the Zulu wars, where an officer is calmly lying in bed reading a book and one leg is missing. The surgeon informs him that it has been bitten off by a tiger.
The officer is stunned, and replies “A tiger?! What, in Africa?”
It took me years to get the actual joke.
You see, I thought the Python’s were being overly ironic, e.g.: “A llama? In South America?”
Hey, I get irony. Har de har har!
But I was… wrong (boy, that never gets any easier to type).
You see, for once, the Pythons weren’t being ironic, there really are no tigers in Africa.
Plenty of lions, but nary a tiger to be found – in the wild. So the officers’ surprise is genuine.
Much like my surprise upon hearing a wombat was spotted running rampant through my neck of the woods.
You see, up ‘til now, my personal quest to see a wombat in the wild has been a tad disappointing.
I’ve seen plenty of sleeping (or possibly stuffed) wombats in zoos, but none in the scrub.
This wasn’t always the case because, according to local legend, there used to be mobs of them pottering around our region not so long ago.
(Also, on a little sidenote, I double-checked, and mobs of wombats are actually called ‘mobs’, or a ‘colony’, or a ‘wisdom’, or, and I think we have a new winner, a ‘muddle’!)
Regardless of what muddling herds of wombats were/are called, they used to be all over the place like a roller skater on oily lino.
But, and if you’re a bit sensitive you might want to skip ahead a bit, almost all muddles were shot into extinction in the space of one generation.
Because there were so many wombats, a bounty was introduced to cull their numbers. Sometimes they’d be used for food or fur, but mostly they were hunted for fun.
Some people still shoot them for kicks, or use them to blood their pig dogs, even though it’s now (thankfully) illegal and about as challenging as blasting caged hamsters to bits.
As a result, by the time I was started a-roving through the bush as a boy in the 1970’s, sightings of wombats, koalas, and pretty much every other cute furry creature, were about as rare as penguins in these here parts.
Lots of snakes though…, oh, so many snakes.
So, to hear at least one wombat is pottering about in rural Gladstone gives me hope that one day, hopefully soon, I’ll see one doing whatever it is untamed wombats do in the wild (apart from sleep).
And, thanks to the generosity of our big-hearted readers, we’ve been able to purchase a couple of motion sensor cameras with which we’re planning to capture shots, and video, of endangered wildlife in our (alright, my) region.
Happily, this means I won’t have to sit alone for hours in some pig-infested, patch of scrub armed with a camera, snake repellent, spoon and a tin of Milo.
For which I’d like to personally say an extremely heartfelt, ‘Thanks!’
And if you’re still sitting on the fence re: donating or subscribing to this newsletter, then don’t get in a ‘muddle’, simply click on this link:
*Australian slang, a ‘blockie’ is the owner of a small farming enterprise, usually 10 to 30 acres (of mostly weeds and scrub).