Wild koalas and a venomous adder – Tuesday 15th November 2011


I find it really exciting planning to wake very early. We want to set off at 6am to benefit from the cool air. Just down the road from Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island we were amazed to see a dead wallaby, stiff but not obviously a road kill. It looks so complete, just lying on its side, although rather gross as it is already puffing up. What had happened?

Not more than two meters away was a tightly coiled pink and grey striped adder, curled in a pinwheel. My first thought was to push it with my foot to see if it was really dead. Was this road kill too? Impossible, look at the shape!

We walked on talking about what might have happened. John rightly telling me that it was NEVER wise to kick a snake, alive or dead, and me laughing.

We were heading for Forts Walk, a recognized bus stop, but easy enough to walk from Horseshoe. I knew we stood a very good chance of seeing a wild koala there. On arrival we read the usual notices, a history of the place and it’s use in World War Two, ‘keep on the path’ and DON’T touch the pink and grey short, big headed adder, which is highly venomous.

Could it be that the poor wallaby had ‘nosed’ the sleeping adder, who was trying to warm up on the tarmac road ready for the day? Did the adder nip him and kill him? Well of course I will never know but it seemed likely and I was very glad I had NOT nudged the snake!

So we tread carefully on our walk and it is very pleasant with not a soul about yet. When my daughter had taken me on this walk 13 years ago, we had been lucky to see one koala.

The hillsides are covered with eucalyptus, it must be koala paradise! They certainly don’t move much and I’ve never heard any kind of noise from one. They can be so frequent in the same place, so that sometimes people out twigs in the shape of an arrow to indicate which tree might house a koala!

Other signs to find your Koala: look down for droppings, when you find them look up- you may well see a koala. They seem quite happy near the path and are not over anxious by quiet talking. We go very slowly, regularly checking the trees. For what seems like hours, nothing at all, but trees! We get distracted by sea views and begin to quicken our pace.

“Right, just one more try!” I announce looking straight up into a ball of grey fluff that soon evolves into a koala wedged into the fork of the tree, head down, eyes closed, long claws lazily attached to the bark. We watch in awe!

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The fort itself affords fantastic panoramas over the sea. Just below us is Horseshoe Bay, Arthur Bay and Florence Bay.

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Gradually a few more people appear on a koala hunt of their own. A Cardiff couple have seen one in a different place, so we go to explore. To our delight we see a total of 5 adults and three of these have babies!

It’s not always easy to see the babies as they hide well in the arms of the curled mother. Watch out for extra legs sticking out and take your time.

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Good luck in your own hunt!

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