One of our recent late last year travels took us up into the high alpine region of Victoria.
Yes we do have an alpine region here in Australia, which may be hard to believe, considering at the moment the top end of Australia is experiencing a number of high category cyclones and extensive flooding, whilst down here in Victoria we are experiencing our yearly outbreak of bushfires.
I recall my younger days hiking,camping and fishing all up throughout the Upper Yarra mountain range, the beautiful ferns basking beneath the tall mountain ash trees, the vibrant colours of the abundant birds that inhabited this beautiful area,the sight of the occassional Lyrebird and listening to its mating call. The beauty of experiencing nature in her morning pristine glory, crystal clear mountain streams, the home of the beautiful rainbow trout and the occassional sight of the Platypus cavorting with her young near the creek bank,all this a veritable glimpse into the very soul of mother nature.
Back in the days of my youth, the roads into the mountains were mainly constructed of gravel or dirt, roads with sheer drops into the valleys below on one side and the other side, a high mountain with the everpresent threat of rockfalls.
Today the roads are bitumanised and well cared for, they still have to be driven with care as they twist and turn and snake their way into the mountains.
The purpose of this story is to introduce you to one of Australia;s beautiful animals that inhabit this region, the Wombat.
The Wombat inhabits the mountain areas around Australia and in some cases is becoming extinct due to human intervention, cattle grazing etc.
He is a short legged animal with a short stubby tail, he grows to a length of approximately 1 metre. They dig an extensive burrow system, and a distinct adaption of the Wombat is that they have a backward facing pouch for their young, backward facing so as not to throw dirt back into the pouch as they burrow. Their colouring ranges from sandy to brown,and grey to black.
They are a nocturnal animal and only come out at night or dark cloudy days, they are virtually blind in sunlight.
To experience the sight of this animal in its natural environment, you have to travel or camp out during the night in the high mountains.
The mountain people know that when driving the roads at night, in all probability, you will come across a Wombat on the road during its nocturnal travels, and as such they are well aware of their cars speed, driving cautiously with lights on high.
However the tourists and suburbanites are a problem, even though the roads are signed as to the Wombats presence, they fail to adjust their speed accordingly, and thus the Wombat becomes a victim to speed.
The following picture may be distressing to some,I wasn;t originally going to include it but on reflection changed my mind.
I came across this fellow during daylight hours in the middle of the road, I was warned of his presence by the flashing of an oncoming cars headlights, I slowed down and decided to drag him off the road, but had forgotten how heavy and huge they are, the highway patrol will remove him as it would take about 4 men to do the job.
I included the picture to show the Wombats size when compared to the white line in the middle of the road, also to show you his claws that is used for burrowing.
Sadly a lot of Australian wildlife are more prevalent on the roads at night and as such fall prey to mans presence, although unintentional , it is an accepted fact of life.