Wilpena…. Three Kangaroos and an Emu

26 Jun

Dear Reader:

The hillside behind the cabin is quite steep and the trail leading to its summit zig-zags between rocky outcrops and stands of native pine. Every so often there are depressions and small caves where the rust coloured soil is littered with roo droppings. From the first ridge, the view back across ‘the pound’ is spectacular with the curved formation of peaks that shape this unique environment clearly evident against the deep blue of an outback sky.

 

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A lone euro with the ranges in the background

Euro nremains below a particularly steep rockface

Euro remains below a particularly steep rockface

 

A little further up the scree slope the sound of scattering rocks provides a tell-tale hint of movement. I freeze, lift the camera and wait; nothing but the thumping sound of a large animal bounding further up the hillside. Only a kangaroo makes that sound and only a hill kangaroo, sometimes called a wallaroo or euro, would be living in this steep terrain.

Classic euro habitat

Classic euro habitat

 

 

There are three species of kangaroos, as well as their smaller wallaby relatives, living in the Flinders Ranges near Wilpena Pound ; a crater shaped geological formation in South Australia’s northern outback region about five hour’s drive from Adelaide. Each species tends to favour slightly different habitats in this arid, semi desert environment though there is inevitably some overlap in their territories.

This euro has a rustier tinge to its fur

This euro has a rustier tinge to its fur

 

Euros are generally solitary and they prefer rocky outcrops. Their fur is thicker than the other two species and can have a slightl reddish tinge. They are quite stocky, robust kangaroos measuring up to 195 cms from head to tip of the tail with both males and females similar in appearance. Red kangaroos prefer the open plains and males can measure 2.4 metres and always have a rusty coat and distinct facial markings. Female red kangaroos have grey fur with a hint of blue shading and are considerably smaller. The third species, the western grey kangaroo, is less common in the ranges; they look more like a lighter built euro with smoother fur. Western greys are gregarious and prefer woodlands. They are the most common species in the southern part of the state.

Western grey kangaroos

Western grey kangaroos

 

From the top of the hillside I work my way back down a steep gully to the lower slopes where a couple of euros are feeding on the grass and small shrubs growing close to the roadside. They let me approach to within fifty metres before twitching their ears nervously and bounding off into a stand of native pines at the base of a steep hillside.

A young euro moments before bounding up into the escarpment after its mother

A young euro moments before bounding up into the escarpment after its mother

Female adult euro bounding up into escarpment

Female adult euro bounding up into escarpment

 

The roadside provides a perfect view of both the rugged escarpments that dominate the terrain and the open grassland that characterizes the entrance to the pound. In the distance I can see the outline of several red kangaroos grazing on the grass near an old restored woolshed that serves as a gallery and function centre. They appear to be quite relaxed and as I approach I notice that it is actually a pair of animals; a large male standing close to a resting female.

Red kangaroo male and female

Red kangaroo male and female

Red kangaroo male and female

Art display in the old woolshed

 

I have been quite lucky on my walk, having seen two of the three local kangaroo species and as if to point out that the landscape is inhabited by more than just marsupials a couple of emus run across the walking trail as I am turning for home.

A pair of emus running alongside a walking trail at Wilpena

A pair of emus running alongside a walking trail at Wilpena

 

Satisfied with my morning’s work I head back to the chalets for a shower and lunch at one of the two dining areas. Chalets, dining areas, a well equipped general store and even a small swimming pool for the summer heat; not really roughing it but on the other hand there is abundant wildlife just a stone’s throw away. SA at its very best.

Accommodation Wilpena

Accommodation Wilpena

 

Cheers

Baz

 

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