We had a slow morning in Stockton, and decided to explore the peninsula we were on – it’s kind of a long upside-down T shape, with the town of Stockton on the SW end and Nelson Bay on the NE end, about 50 km apart. Or something along that line.
We made it to Nelson Bay by noon, passing farms with fields of cows, sheep, horses, a llama or two, and occasionally several wallabies munching grass or watching the cars go by. The wallabies usually weren’t in with the farm animals, they seemed to prefer empty fields and pastures with forest nearby. But they definitely were out.
We also drove by sign after sign about slow down for koalas, and where to take injured wildlife – all with drawings of koalas. This truly is koala country, this little peninsula with national parks and eucalyptus forest. Woohooo and yay, and of course I spent half my time looking up into the trees as we drove along!
Nelson Bay is a nice little town, with marinas full of fishing boats, nice seafood cafés, and some of the largest white pelicans I’ve ever seen! Truly huge birds! They were very good about posing for pictures.
We talked to a nice woman at the info center, who suggested staying at Koala Shores Holiday Park (camping and cabins) – there are koalas in the forest here, as well as a trail to the Tilligerry Reserve, a tract of land fenced off to keep the koalas safe. So we made our way out here, and set up the van. Which means moving excess luggage and the picnic table and chairs OUT of the “house” part of the van and into the cab for overnight storage, as well as plugging in for electricity.
And I was off, down to the boardwalk that meanders through the forest, looking for my koala buddies.
Unfortunately, we’re still feeling the tail end of the storm system that hit Sydney last weekend. There isn’t much wind, but there’s still continuous rain, mostly light to moderate but sometimes heavy. And chilly. And grey. And damp.
So the koalas are all huddling into their nooks and crannies in the trees, trying to stay warm and dry, keeping their babies close and snuggled in. They aren’t coming down out of the trees the way they normally do in the evening, foraging for better leaves or trees. They’re just staying put and trying to not get too wet or chilled.
Which meant I didn’t see any koalas. Twilight came and went, the forest grew dark, the purple-headed parrots and crested cockatoos set up a ferocious racket, and the koalas stayed hidden. The boardwalk grew slick with rain, I got colder and wetter, my shoes got soggy, and the koalas stayed hidden. It was just like the time I walked through the paths and bridges of Monteverde Cloud Forest, dripping wet and cold and positive that the monkeys were watching me and laughing. I knew they were out there, I could even occasionally hear them – I just couldn’t see them.
I’m POSITIVE there were koalas out there.
They were just hidden.
(I’ll try again tomorrow.)