24 hours in Booderee National Park, NSW, Australia

7.30pm-5.37am
Croak croak, bwaaaark, bur bur, croak, bwaaark, pop! Croak croak, bwaaaark, bur bur, croak, bwaaark, pop! Croak croak, bwaaaark, bur bur, croak, bwaaark, pop!

It’s dark. It’s late. It’s loud! There’s no mistaking the proximity of the neighbouring swamp: Croak croak, bwaaaark, bur bur, croak, bwaaark, pop!

Head on the pillow, canvas whimpering gently in the breeze, I tune in completely. As the frog chorus reaches a crescendo I recognise the tune. A fine rendition of the beautiful concerto: I love you, let’s do it. Hang on a sec what's that...



…Egad Mrs Possum! I don’t care if you’ve the cutest joey on your back, STAY AWAY FROM THE BACON!

6.08am-8.33am

The frog chorus fades as the dawn chorus begins. Inimitable sounds pierce my dozy brain:

“Aieeeeesquiwaiiiiiiiiiii Aieeeeesquiwaiiiiiiiiiii Aieeeeesquiwaiiiiiiiiiii honk honk honk booooing. Good MORNING! Hello beautiful day, wake UP! La la la, fiddledeedee.”



My hand slinks out from under the covers, fingers blindly searching. Success! Squeezing the small yellow cone into shape I plug the hole in my head and the noise fades to bearable.

8.54am

A yawn, a stretch and an unzipperoo to see the day.

“Hello world. Oh hello Prop Joe.”


The big fat eastern grey kangaroo sits up and regards me idly. Grass waltzes and waves as he munches slowly. A little way off his missus and little Prop Joey stop to consider my interruption. My sleep-round face poking out the canvas is not unlike Prop Joey’s little face protruding from the safety of his pouch. He gives me a knowing wink.



But, unlike him, there’s no ready source of victuals in this here tent. Wishing I could retreat and suckle on a cup-of-tea-teat I emerge, slightly ungracefully, into another sun-drenched day. The other hoppers ignore me and continue to graze their corners.

11.45am

Rustle rustle rustle, waddle. Eeek danger! Head down.

“Hello Mr Echidna!”
I say happily and stop walking. “No, please don’t exert yourself. No need to transform into a spiky ball, wave your long beak in the sunshine and let’s be friends!”

12.16am

An arm shoots out and stops me in my tracks. The diamond python regards us suspiciously and the skink bolts for freedom. We form a frozen tableau for a few minutes before Mr Diamond retreats in slow dignity.

3.19pm

Thud thud thud! The brutish elegance of the goanna strides into sight. Booof booof booof, buff reptilian guns show the ground who’s boss.



4.47pm

“The swamp’s that-a-way.” We say.

The turtle, however, is on a secret mission. He uncurls his neck and we catch his eye but a fire trail in the baking sun isn’t a place to keep a turtle lingering so we leave him and walk on..



5.49pm
“Oooouch!” I scream and slap myself hard. “What the?”

The red swell and burn, which will mark me for days and drive me crazy, gathers in intensity as the culprit makes a silent get-away. Politicians, corporate dudes, mining execs make way! Bull ants rule this land.

6.23pm
Splooooosh! Splaaaash! Spliiiish! White bellies shine in the sun as 35 tonne beasts leap clear of the shimmering water. Am I the luckiest girl alive?

7.29pm

Croak croak, bwaaaark, bur bur, croak, bwaaark, pop!

And we circle the sun again.