Today we ventured into two national parks just north of Portland. As our Portland hosts work in the parks we got an insider’s view of the parks and their management.
Beginning in Cobboboonee National Park we slowly drove along the unsealed forest roads taking in the scenery until suddenly a grey bundle of fur launched itself out of the scrub directly in front of us. I slammed the brakes on in time to see the koala race across the road and quickly climb up a nearby tree. We took the opportunity to take some photos, as this obliging koala only climbed up to about eye level height and sat there posing for us.
Further along the road we checked out Stringy's Tree, a huge, old growth Brown Stringybark.
I will digress here for a moment to raise some awareness for an endangered species in the area. The South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoo population is declining. They are specialised feeders, only eating seeds from Buloke, Brown Stringybark and Desert Stringybark. They need these trees to produce seed reliably but due to fire and land clearing seed production by these trees is not high enough to sustain the birds. Without habitat preservation, the population will continue to decline. To learn more or donate to the conservation effort, visit the Birdlife Australia website.
Next we headed into the adjoining Lower Glenelg National Park. We stopped at Inkpot, a black waterhole in the forest, for a quick look and ended up spending about an hour quietly watching the comings and goings of all the bush creatures. Sacred Kingfishers diligently defending their territory, a male Gang-gang Cockatoo coming in to drink, as well as the many weird and wonderful invertebrates that call the water’s edge home.
For lunch we stopped by the Glenelg River in Nelson before heading west across the state border into South Australia.
Our destination was the incredible Piccaninnie Ponds. It is a place unlike any we've ever seen before. Cold, crystal clear water filters up though the limestone creating an other-worldly vista. On the surface the ponds resemble a wetland, but one look into the depths reveals that this is a special place. Fish and aquatic vegetation are clearly visible in the aqua depths.
We also did the walking trail which took us though heath vegetation to a bulrush-lined boardwalk which ended with another view of the ponds.
To finish our visit, we climbed over the sand dunes to an isolated beach. We could see for kilometres in both directions and had this beautiful stretch of untamed Australian coastline all to ourselves.