Mt Edward Summit, Lake Moogerah – Horrible or Not

Lake Moogerah sunset

I had to wonder if mountains have ears and Mt Edward decided to reward my loyalty. There’s a wildlife encounter I’ve always longed for and in March, 2018, it finally came to pass, although not in a way I’d ever envisaged. Initially, it evoked terror rather than delight.

It all started six months ago when I decided to build my fitness on steep terrain by frequent repetitions of the Mt Edward summit walk at Lake Moogerah, near Boonah.

Mt Edward

The walk to the top may only be three kilometres, but the path is often overgrown and in many places, rocky and steep.

Rocky path Mt Edward

Rough track Mt Edward

Overgrown path Mt Edward

Views from the dam wall and the picnic grounds help to ease the pain though

Lake Moogerah

Lake Moogerah sunset

To keep me motivated, I planned to record as many arachnid and reptile species as possible. This was encouraged by the purchase of a magnificent new reference book, A Field Guide of Australian Spiders (Robert Whyte and Greg Anderson).

I didn’t think it was possible to increase my passion for spiders and then this guide arrived on my doorstep, or should I say, was thrown on my doorstep.  I suppose if I wanted my parcels gently placed rather than tossed, I should remove the giant golden orb weaver web spanning the path.  More than one burly courier has been intimidated by Charlotte’s impressive architecture.

After ogling its glossy photographs in rapture, my infatuation soared to dizzying new heights. I became even more fascinated by the incredible variation in behaviour and physical appearance of these eight legged creatures. How can one not be entranced by their multiple eyes, their amazing web building skills, and glistening, iridescent, patterned, hairy bodies?

Ochrogaster lunifer

Northern Silver Orb-weaver, Leucauge granulata

“Are you mad?” I hear you ask.  If it means I love spiders, then definitely.

Perhaps I need to defend my passion with a childhood flashback. In the 1980s, I spent a memorable year sharing a cramped workers’ cottage on a cattle property north-west of Rockhampton with my parents and younger twin brothers.  We did not have mains electricity and due to fuel costs, could only use a generator for two hours in the morning and evening. My narrow camp stretcher bed sat on an unscreened verandah. While reading for hours by kerosene lantern, I was kept company by a huge hairy huntsman spider feasting on insects drawn to the flickering light.  Rather than frighten me, her regular presence was a comfort and a form of simple entertainment to a sometimes lonely twelve year old. I saw her as a friend, not a foe. No doubt, reading the charming Charlotte’s Web (E.B.White) several years earlier encouraged this relationship also.

If you are a spider fan, the Mt Edward summit walk is the place to go. Stop just about anywhere on the path and you’ll  find one. Here are a few examples of the many species I’ve seen there.

Graeff's leafcurling spider

Graeff’s leafcurling spider, Phonognatha graeffei

Davies' Ant Spider, Subasteron daviesae

Davies’ Ant Spider, Subasteron daviesae

Golden orb weaver

Golden Orb Weaver

Wattle Jumping Spider - Sandalodes scopifer

Wattle Jumping Spider – Sandalodes scopifer

Given that microscopic examination of genitalia is one of the most important ways to identify species, I hope you’ll forgive me for not being exact. I thought I’d be more adept at identification once I had the field guide, but sadly, I am even more overwhelmed. I have a great deal to learn.

Spider 5

orb weaver spider

Australian Jewel Spider, Austracantha minax

Australian Jewel Spider, Austracantha minax

Hairy spider

Jumping Spider

Spider

Spider over water

Spider

spider

Many Scorpion-tailed Spiders (Arachnura higginsi) can  be found at the summit of Mt Edward.

Scorpion tailed spider

The much larger female stays on the web during the daytime. Juveniles or recently moulted adults can be bright red or yellow but most adults are usually dull coloured.  When startled, the female’s tail can be flexed towards its head like a scorpion’s attack position.

Scorpion tailed spider

Scorpion tailed spider

Scorpion tailed spider in web

Most of my interesting wildlife observations have occurred while I’ve stopped to catch my breath, so I guess I should be thankful for increasing age and bodily deterioration.  It’s often when quietly resting that curious wildlife reappear, or I actually take time to notice them.

While resting on the ascent to Mt Edward summit, this young Yellow-faced Whip Snake ( Demansia psammophis) slid out of a crack right near my feet.

Yellow-faced whip snake

While they are often mistaken for eastern brown snakes, the distinctive black comma below the eye is a distinguishing feature.  They are venomous, but not regarded as highly dangerous and like most snakes will not bite unless provoked. Bites can cause intense pain and swelling.

yellow-faced whip snake

While on another rest stop I witnessed a Robust Rainbow Skink (Carlia schmeltzii ) catching and devouring  juicy green prey.

Robust rainbow skink

Robust rainbow skink eating

Despite the distinct lack of water on this walk, powdery  dragonflies are a frequent sight, and if you venture down to the spillway in the lower sections of the Moogerah picnic grounds, more species along with damselflies can be spotted.

Dragonflies mating

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Common bluetail

Dragonfly in web

Robber flies, butterflies and moths are also common, as well as their larvae.

Robber Fly

Butterfly

Moth

And there is always fungi to find if you look hard enough.

“But what made you scream, and why do you think mountains have ears?” I hear you ask impatiently.  Well, it wasn’t a spider, or even a snake, even though I saw many of these.  We’ll come to that terrifying incident soon.

Five sweaty ascents later, I was on the verge of giving up further Mt Edward walks. After completing what was meant to be my final ascent, I dropped by a tourist information centre in the region  to search for maps. I apologised for my disheveled, red-faced appearance and explained I had just finished the Mt Edward walk. I wasn’t expecting the following response. Most information centre staff are bursting with positivity.

“You didn’t do that walk by yourself, did you? It’s so hot and steep. The view isn’t worth it. It’s a horrible walk.”

Now in the past, when I’ve heard people defending the delights of a particular walk to a harsh critic, I’ve been amused, and I admit, a little judgemental.  Why bother to argue about it? After all, like book and film choices, walking can be very subjective. I am usually happy to accept that people don’t find all my walks appealing. However, on this occasion, I found myself defending the walk as though it was my child or a best friend.

After all the exciting wildlife sightings I had made, I was feeling extremely protective of Mt Edward and Lake Moogerah.  I also had a lot of emotional investment in the area. After spending most of my life living in dry, flat regions, my first view of the peaks across the lake about ten years ago reminded me of scenes from more mountainous countries – places I’ve dreamed of and may never see in person.

Lake Moogerah scene

Lake Moogerah scene

Sunrise Lake Moogerah

During week days and non-holiday season, Lake Moogerah is a calming retreat. I have also camped there on a few occasions, and marvelled at the sunsets and sunrises over its still waters.

Sunset Lake Moogerah

My reaction to her words led me to ponder the nature of our relationships with various walks. In some ways they are similar to our human relationships. Given my barely existent social life, you could even argue that specific walks are my replacement friends.

Some walks we just keep repeating mainly due to their convenient location.  Even though they don’t challenge us or seem to offer something new, you can rely on them to be comfortable and safe. They are reassuringly predictable.

Some walks are long and physically arduous but the effort is worth it for the guaranteed magnificent views and wildlife sightings, or the satisfaction of persevering to the end.  The great effort required is always rewarded.

Some walks are enjoyable but offer no incentive to return. There is no desire to repeat them even though there was nothing particularly unpleasant about them. They are once only fond encounters.

Some walks you want to abandon because they seem to require far too much effort for so little return. Sometimes, though, when you revisit them many years later after a significant break, you may notice aspects you missed the first time, or the walk itself has changed. Or maybe, you have changed.

Like when meeting people for the first time, the initial experience of a walk may not show you all it has to offer.  The conditions of the day – the season, the weather, your fitness and mood, your companions, or whether it is a popular holiday time – can all affect the first impression of a walk. People and walks hold potential that we can only sometimes discover by repeated exploration.

Some walks we never want to end; some, we can’t wait to be over.

Yes, the Mt Edwards summit walk is exposed and hot. Yes, it’s steep and there are sections of scrub where the views are monotonous. Yes, it is often overgrown, but after hearing the negative response of the information centre person, I felt compelled to return the very next day to further prove how rewarding this walk can be.  It was on this occasion that I received the much desired wildlife encounter, so I really do need to thank the lovely woman who dubbed Mt Edward Summit “The Horrible Walk” for renewed motivation.

So, what was this terrifying beast that had me temporarily shaking?

After a dizzying ascent in humid heat, I was relieved to pass through the final  grass tree grove and reach the summit. Some days it really is a horrible walk.

grass trees Mt Edward

Summit view

I stripped off my sweat-soaked, long-sleeved shirt and hung it over a branch to dry, collapsed on a rock, guzzled water, and berated myself for being so stubborn.

Mt Edward Summit rocks

Through my dehydration haze, I heard a rustling sound coming from over the cliff edge. Thinking it was probably a goanna, I stayed sprawled on my rock. I already had hundreds of goanna pictures, and anyway, based on past experience it would probably be gone by the time I unpacked my camera.

The rustling and scrambling  became louder though, and a musky waft entered my nostrils. Perhaps it wasn’t a goanna after all? My interest was piqued.  Out came the camera.

It was then I saw the terrifying sight – a marauding marsupial, a killer koala – heading straight for me!

Koala running

Now before you start judging me for fearing a cute and furry Australian icon, let me attempt a little defence.  Koalas may look benign and cuddly, but they have strong muscular bodies and powerful claws.  Why was it running straight at me? Wild possibilities raced through my mind.

I’ve known a few relatives and friends who turn into Godzilla when woken suddenly from a lazy nap (including myself) – sweet, mild mannered people who wouldn’t normally harm a fly.  Had I disturbed Conan the Koala’s beauty sleep and he’d woken up cranky?

Then I noticed his eye infection and realised he was probably sight-impaired. This did not ease my nerves though. If he couldn’t see me in his path, what would he do when he finally realised I was right in front of him – defend himself with those powerful sharp claws?   I shrieked and scrambled away.

What did Conan do next? Did he follow me and attack? No, it seems I terrified him just as much as he surprised me and he clambered straight back over the cliff edge.

My fear quickly turned to horror. Had I murdered Conan? Had my screech sent him plummeting to his death? Initially, I’d  feared he might be a killer koala, but maybe the truth was that I was a koala killer? Tentatively, I peeked over the edge. Luckily, poor misunderstood Conan was still hanging onto the rocky face with those powerful claws.

Koala climbing rock

It was then I thought about those news reports where parched wild koalas have approached humans for water bottle drinks during heatwaves or bushfires. Was he attracted to the smell of the water I was drinking? Just in case, I poured the last dregs from my water bottle into a rock depression above him.   I removed myself from the path and from a distant vantage point watched through my camera zoom. Within a few minutes, Conan was back up on the summit and following the same trail.

koala climbing rock

koala walking

I watched him sniff the base of various trees before launching himself up a trunk. I realised that Conan was probably just following his regular scent trail back to favourite trees and I had just happened to be in his way.

koala walking through scrub

koala in tree

Then began a long session of koala scratching and stretching.  Safe from his strong claws, I now had more time to observe his poor coat condition and advanced age. I wondered how many times he’d made this same journey up the steep cliff.

Later I checked with my national parks ranger friend (thanks, Robert, for patiently putting up with my questions) to ask if there was an animal rescue clinic I should contact. However, given Conan was still very strong and active and it would be difficult to locate and catch him in this environment (a traumatic experience in itself that would stress him further) he was probably not a candidate for rescue.  It is usually in urban areas where injured or sick koalas are able to be helped. I was naturally concerned at his condition, but sadly that is the way with wild animals. You can’t save them all.  Conan was an old koala that had probably lived successfully in the area for many years already.

koala scratching

Before this close encounter, I had only seen three koalas in the wild. One high in a tree on a relative’s farm, one up a tree at a pit stop while on a driving trip, and one splattered across the road. However, I’d never seen one on an official bush walk before and certainly didn’t expect to see one climb up a rocky cliff face and run towards me.

For years I’ve scanned trunks for claw marks and the base of trees for their distinctive scats. I’ve strained my neck in vain searching  for their fluffy round bottoms. I like to imagine the mountain heard my words of defence and rewarded my loyalty with this heart pumping close encounter – an experience I’ll remember for many years to come, albeit with some sadness and a tinge of embarrassment.

Lake Moogerah view

62 thoughts on “Mt Edward Summit, Lake Moogerah – Horrible or Not

  1. I don’t usually like thrillers but this one had me on the edge of my seat. A horrible walk with a delightful ending. Sad though that the koala was in poor condition. Eye infections (conjunctivitis) are a serious problem among koalas, Google tells me.

    • This was my first “thriller” so I’m glad you enjoyed it. 😉 Thank you! Yes, unfortunately chlamydia is common in koalas and causes quite a few nasty conditions – conjunctivitis, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, reproductive problems etc. “Conan” seemed to have a dirty rear end as well as an eye infection so I assume it is a result of chlamydia. It must be quite distressing for them. I wish I could have helped him in some way. He seemed to be quite agile and strong despite his sickness though. It’s surprising what animals can deal with that would completely incapacitate us. 🙂

    • Oh, don’t talk to me about emus! Shudder! Haha. When I was a kid on the property I mentioned in my blog post, there was a tame adult emu called Goofy (must have been raised from a chick I guess). He would come running at me and just the sight of those beady eyes and his beak would have me running in the other direction. They also have no road sense at all. One ran into the side of my car when I was going 20km/hr over a grid, leaving a property. A big repair bill but the emu ran off unhurt. Sigh. These Australian icons can be scary… 😉

    • Thanks, Susan. It was one of those situations where many different thoughts and emotions are experienced within a short space of time – shock, fear, excitement, horror, relief, delight, amusement, sadness, and gratitude. I thought it ironic that I spent a great deal of time photographing and observing snakes and spiders without fear and it was a cute and furry koala that had me shaking. 🙂

    • Thanks very much, Marina. I haven’t been back to Mt Edward summit in many months but may do so again when my back injury has healed. It’s certainly a favourite place of mine. Lake Moogerah is very tranquil on days when the speed boat and jet ski fans are missing. 🙂

  2. How wonderful to hear someone speak with such enthusiasm about spiders instead of the usual “KILL THEM WITH FIRE”. Thanks also for the excellent photos.

    With all your outdoor activities it’s surprising you’ve only seen one koala in the wild. They are around if you know where to look. The Bulimba Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee (B4C) organises easy walks at White Hills Reserve on Sunday mornings twice a month and we almost always see koalas there. All welcome.

    B4C also hosts an open day at their sustainability centre on the first Saturday of each month, where they have a different guest speaker talk about their field. The topics are varied and interesting: Fungi; The challenges of the monitoring bird species; Orangutang conservation in Indonesia; The many psychological and physical benefits of the planting trees; etc.

    See the B4C website or Facebook page for details.

    • Thanks, Daniel. I’m very sensitive to pesticides and I’m also concerned about their long term effects on the environment and human health, so my garden and house are an arachnophobic’s nightmare!
      Thank you very much for the information about the Bulimba group’s walks and open days. I will certainly think about doing that, although I am a little shy in groups. I know I have probably passed under plenty of koalas in my time walking. One of my problems is a crook neck exacerbated by staring straight up. This limits my bird watching activities as well. I would love to get action shots of birds of prey soaring, but it doesn’t take long for me to give up. I tend to look at things at my own height (which is short) or below me. However, if I am with knowledgeable guides who can point out where koalas are, I can eliminate some of the neck discomfort.
      I’ve seen a couple of koalas in the wild as I wrote in the blog, but they were on a farm and at a rest stop so seeing one on my solo bushwalks and in such close proximity was incredibly special. Thanks again for the B4C information. It sounds like the group does some wonderful things. 🙂

      • Yes, B4C does a lot of good environmental work and education.

        Don’t worry about being shy. There are usually only about 10 like-minded people on the walks, ranging from chatty to very quiet. You can walk along looking at your own shoes if you’re not comfortable looking at someone else’s 🙂

        When I say ‘we almost always see koalas’, the truth is that one of the excellent spotters who are usually on the walks sees them and then points them out to the rest of us.

        Hope to see you on one of the walks sometime

        • Thanks for all the information and the encouragement to attend, Daniel. Yes, perhaps you will see me on a walk in the future! Best wishes. 🙂

  3. An excellent reward for understandable stubbornness. And lovely pictures for us to enjoy.

    I sympathise with your feeling of slight helplessness when confronted with the mountain of information in your spider book. I have often found that the more I want to learn about something interesting, the more I find out how ignorant I am and how much i would need to know before I could start learning. This accounts for my outstanding ignorance about almost everything. You are an inspiration to me to try to do better.

    • Thank you, Tom. Sometimes my stubbornness gets me into trouble, but on this occasion I was glad of it. It did surprise me how defensive I felt about the walk, when really it is quite unpleasant in warm weather (which is most of the year). I’m extremely fond of the Lake Moogerah area though. It’s given me much needed respite. I suppose I was emotionally invested.
      I would really like to be more knowledgeable about so many things, but as you say, when confronted with the sheer volume required to even have a base level, it can feel very overwhelming. I have always wanted to be able to identify the hundreds of eucalypt species in Australia, but it’s proving a difficult task just to confidently recognise a small number. There are so many similarities. The common names are rather confusing as well. They often include a colour such as red, blue or grey, but this doesn’t mean those colours are actually apparent on the trunk, leaves or flowers. I am very fond of glossy field guides, but whether I can use them correctly is another thing. Taxonomy is not my strength, or technology for that matter. I keep trying though in the hope that one day the information will stick. I’m better at just enjoying what I see. I still haven’t managed to learn a second language to reasonable proficiency, but have regular bouts of short-lived enthusiasm. 🙂

        • Hi Steve! Sometimes you are a man of very few words but they still manage to make me laugh! 😀 Yes, it certainly feels like that sometimes. I get very enthusiastic about identifying a plant or creature but often end up with a headache in the process. Then I remember that the creature doesn’t give a hoot whether I know its scientific name or not and so I just try to enjoy what I see. I am relieved and happy to have others do the work for me in the end. Thanks for the smiles. Best wishes. 🙂

    • P.S. I would never call you ignorant about anything, Tom. It’s evident from your blog how knowledgeable you are about many fields. You are being very modest as usual. I know what you mean though about the more you know, the more you realise there is to know. 🙂

    • Oh Ginny, thank you for taking the time to write an encouraging comment when you’ve been facing such health struggles. I would be the lucky one if I could walk with you! Sending you thoughts of love, hope and strength in your current journey which is much more challenging than any of my walks! You are a very special person. x

    • Thanks very much, Caro. It’s great to hear from you. I love what you’ve written about my paths mirroring Conan’s. I didn’t think about it from that angle. Maybe he and I will meet again one day. Next time I’ll be more prepared I think! No embarrassing screeching! Best wishes with all your hiking and travelling adventures. 🙂

    • Thanks very much for patiently answering all my wildife questions (no matter how silly) with such detail and despite your busy schedule. I really do appreciate the encouragement and practical help, Rob. Your own enthusiasm for the natural world and dedication to your work inspire me. 🙂

  4. This post was a real thriller when it comes to koala sightings, but you can keep the spiders thank you very much. Sad to see such a wonderful wild critter with poor health, but as you say, you can’t save them all.

    As to spiders, I’ve had a few close encounters with Redbacks and having no knowledge of other spiders tend to steer a wide course around them.

    Give me a native bird to watch any day 🙂

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the little wildlife thriller, Vicki. Thank you for the encouraging words. Yes, while I was excited to have such an encounter, it was tinged with some sadness at his poor health. He was surprisingly strong still, so I hope he will be ok for a good while yet.
      It’s quite ok not to share a passion for spiders. After researching my family tree it appears I have spider and reptile loving genes, so it’s in the blood. I do go a little overboard in my descriptions of them. You are wise to avoid redbacks. I think the scary thing about them is that they really thrive in human environments (sheds, pot plants, toilets, verandah etc) but may not be seen until you pick something up. Back on the Roma farm, they were everywhere it seemed. The bites can be extremely painful and in some cases, deadly. Strangely, I’ve not seen a single redback spider in my current yard and home – plenty of other less harmful ones like orb weavers and daddy long legs though.
      I love my birds too but am dreading magpie breeding season…they are particularly vicious around here. I assume it’s from past harrassment. Best wishes. 🙂

  5. Fabulous shots, especially love the last photo! I am, however, happy to be viewing these spider shots from the safety of my home haha. Must have been wonderful to see a koala in the wild, looks like a big one! 🙂 xx

    • Thanks very much, Mikki. I’m glad you enjoyed photos of an area that is very special to me. Many times I’ve grabbed snacks, a thermos, and a book and headed out for some quiet time by the lake. The Mt Edward walk may be a little hot and arduous, but there is always the beautiful lake to refresh me at the carpark on my return. It’s so uplifting to the soul. Yes, Conan was a big and old specimen. I’m wondering if I’ll ever see him again. Best wishes and safe travels! You’ve had an eventful past year or two! 🙂

  6. Always love your adventures Jane. Know the quest about seeing your native icon in the wild. Recently ran across a Florida alligator–that scary excited thrill mixed together. Love the photographs and our long-distance walks together.

    • Wow, your first wild Florida alligator, John! Now that’s an icon that you don’t have to feel too embarrassed about feeling some fear of. I’m not sure my furry koala is in the same league. Haha. I’ve never seen a crocodile in the wild here so that’s something that I could put on my wildlife “to do” list. You’ve given me an idea. Thanks for your enthusiasm as always, John. It’s much appreciated. I love sharing my walks with you too. 🙂

  7. Great story Jane, sadly chlamydia is an infection affecting and causing death to many Koala, and is checked in urban Koala areas, difficult in the wild though. Your intrepid exploits blessed you with an amazing host of arachnid species. Good to hear from you again Jane, all the best😊

    • Thank you very much, Ashley. Yes, chlamydia is such an awful disease which is easier to control in urban areas than places like rugged national parks. I can’t imagine catching Conan the koala on Mt Edward summit and being able to transport him easily down the mountain. Despite his poor condition, I still felt grateful for the exciting close encounter. I’ll remember it for a long time. In a few weeks I should be back to walking with a backpack again (after my injury has healed) and may revisit the area to see if I can spot him. It’s been a chillier winter than usual so I wonder how he’s fared. It’s certainly reduced the insect activity in my garden. It will be interesting to see if the spider numbers have decreased at Mt Edward. Lovely to hear from you again. I hope you are still able to get out often to enjoy your bird watching. Best wishes. 🙂

      • Yes Jane I am trying to cut my work hours to part time so I can write my second book and work as a bird guide for an adventure company, we will see how it pans out in the next few weeks as I finish work as senior scientist. Hope your injury heals fast, enjoy the week😊

        • That sounds very exciting. I do hope you’ll be able to cut back your hours. I have some dreams/plans of doing both those things. A kind of nature reflections/hiking book is in the works and I would love to be involved in some sort of nature guide role. These things do take some working out though, don’t they? If you hear of any job opportunities you think might suit me in that regard, I’d be grateful of some useful links. I am currently looking for work alternatives. All the best. 🙂

  8. What a quality blog post, thank you! I love the varieties in nature. My daughter and I were recently talking about apples and dogs and how there are so many different kinds…and then there are spiders, and mushrooms, and plants, and ….. and …. etc!! The Koala story made me smile. I also feel sorry for wild creatures who suffer with ailments. You just want to take them to the vet to get all better, don’t you? Keep walking!! And thanks again for sharing the great photos and thoughts!

    • So lovely to hear from you again, Shanda. It makes me smile to read that a parent chats to her child with such enthusiasm about the natural world. I’m happiest being close to nature and feel very grateful to have had the chance to be immersed in it from a young age. My family may have been financially poor, but the locations we lived enabled me to spend much of my childhood outdoors so I was rich in that aspect. I think I would have been a very different person had I grown up in a crowded block of flats in the city. My family’s circumstances would have been much more difficult to cope with. Yes, I get a little distressed seeing injured or sick wildlife and often rescued small creatures, particularly birds as a child. Originally, I wanted to be a wildlife vet but circumstances didn’t pan out. Thanks very much for reading and commenting. All the best. 🙂

  9. So sorry to hear about an injury! Hope you’re feeling chipper again soon!

    This post was such fun! I truly enjoyed the suspense. Spiders don’t generally spook me, but I tend to prefer them outside. I can just imagine all of the confused emotions you described. Around here I have a hope/dread mixture for meeting or seeing a bear or a cougar. We do have them in the area, but generally they try to avoid humans.

    • Thank you very much. 🙂 It’s just a lower back injury from a couple of years ago that I exacerbated from overdoing things…I am a little extreme sometimes. At my age and with my joint problems I really should know better! Actually, it was the Mt Edwards walks that probably contributed.
      Yes, I can imagine the mixed feelings you would have about seeing bears and cougars. Our biggest land predator is probably the dingo and depending on how much human contact they’ve had and how much interbreeding they’ve done with stray domestic dogs, they can sometimes attack children or people walking alone. All the dingoes I’ve come across are usually shy and run away, but in places such as Fraser Island where there has been a lot of contact and people have fed them, they are less nervous and can be aggressive if hungry. There is the high profile case of the death of the baby, Azaria Chamberlain of course. I have a healthy respect for our water predators, sharks and crocodiles. They fascinate and frighten me at the same time. I was a little worried that people would think my reaction to the koala silly, but it appears that others experience similar mixed emotions! All the best. 🙂

      • Your reaction wasn’t at all silly. I suspect it’s a completely instinctive reaction to something with claws coming at you!

        We have much the same problems with people feeding the wild critters. They tend to get used to people and cause trouble. Quite often the authorities feel that the only solution is euthanizing them. Even our deer who are normally shy of folks, can get aggressive once fed by humans.

        Know that problem of overdoing all too well. Hoping you feel better soon!

  10. Hi Jane. Your blog posts really are an art form these days — superb storytelling and magical photos. I’m always happy to answer any of your questions, when I can — and none of them could ever be classed as silly. Fantastic spider images!! And aren’t whip snakes such beautiful reptiles – love that streak of red-brown?

    I thought about your question on the koala and whether we could have done more to help it. However, I know that Government agencies are flat out trying to manage the big picture on the land they are challenged with looking after (fire, pest species, clearing, recreation, climate change, alien invasion etc), and resources for rescuing wildlife have dwindled — with koalas any efforts are largely now focused on urban edges (like Redland Bay), not in wild reserves like national parks as much. Private groups (like Australia Zoo) and individuals (e.g., my local friends doing an amazing job: https://jarowairourpatch.blogspot.com/ ) put a lot of their time and money into helping koalas where they can — these people are to be greatly admired.

    The reality is sadly, that if we are seeing them ill in places like Mt Edwards then it’s probably an indication that things are pretty grim with the species. Mind you, animals get sick and grow old in natural areas, so you may just have met a local doing it tough. Anyway, your encounter was a memorable one, and as you are one of those who care about wildlife, it was a meeting in good faith. I think we need to cherish the times we have these wild encounters, they are always of value on many levels. In this case, you expressed such a range of thoughts and emotions so well, and in such fine images, that it was joy for us all to read this shared narrative.

    Cheers and all the best! Rob.

    • Hi Rob,
      Thanks very much for all your help and encouragement. It’s wonderful to get advice and information from someone so experienced in the field. I know how very busy you all are in Nat Parks and Wildlife so I really appreciate the help. I have hundreds of spider photos, but thought I should hold back a little since I know most people don’t enjoy them like I do. Yes, yellow-faced whip snakes are so beautiful with the different shades of colouring. I saw a much bigger one on my next visit but it was too fast for me. I suspect that I have often mistaken the tail end disappearing into the grass for a deadly brown snake. I do have a “friend” who had a nasty reaction to a whip snake bite though, so I know I need to be a little careful. 😉 The young one had such beautiful smooth and shiny skin/scales there was a momentary temptation to touch it…
      Thanks for giving my readers the context of how challenging it is for government agencies to manage the current complex problems. Many are understaffed and underfunded and having to struggle with competing demands. Thanks also for the link. It looks great. Thank goodness for volunteer and privately funded groups and individuals who help out in this regard. They are such a wonderful help.
      “Conan” looked quite old so I assume he’s had quite a few good years before illness has taken hold. I just hope that chlamydia hasn’t affected too many of the koalas in the Moogerah Peaks area. It’s definitely a concern. Despite his illness, I was still thankful to have the encounter and will remember it for a long time.
      Thanks again for your help and for all the fantastic work you and your colleagues do to help protect our wild places and give visitors an informative experience. I hope anyone reading this checks out your beautiful nature shots on your blog. It’s such a wonderful resource. All the best! 🙂

  11. What a fantastic post, Jane! I love all your wonderful shots of the wildlife you spotted on your walk – the Northern Silver Orb-weaver is such a beauty! I, like Tom, have found that the more I try to learn about anything, the more I realise my ignorance and how much more there is to learn than I had thought!
    I think I would also have yelled if I’d seen a large koala running towards me! What a shame that koalas are susceptible to chlamydia – I had no idea!
    I hope the pain in your back is lessening and your health is giving you no real problems at the moment. Best wishes, Clare xx

    • Thank you very much, Clare. Silver orb-weavers are one of my favourites (although I seem to have so many favourites that perhaps it’s not the right word!) I’ve taken far too many pictures of them really, but can’t help myself. 🙂 Yes, like you and Tom, I feel that learning more just seems to make me realise how much more there is I still need to know. I guess life is a never-ending education. The natural world holds so much mystery. I suppose for me that is part of its appeal. There is so much to discover on a walk. Well, I’m glad you understand my initial fear of poor old Conan. I debated for a long time whether to share my true reactions to the encounter. What would people think if I admitted to screeching at a fluffy koala?! Haha. Yes, chlamydia has been a problem in koalas for a long while. Fortunately, there are groups and organisations working to help reduce its spread and effects, as Robert wrote in his comment, It’s a nasty condition.
      My lower back injury is improving, thank you. I have yet to test it with a proper walk and a backpack. I will need to be more sensible in the future with flatter walks and less uneven ground. The time for being too extreme is most likely over. No matter, though. Enjoying the wildlife is what I most enjoy. It’s not really about the physical challenge for me. It probably never was, if I am honest. Trying to keep my heart healthy and my weight down has motivated me to push myself a bit too hard sometimes. My joints are not really suited to steep rocky terrain really. It’s always so lovely to hear from you, Clare. Do take good care of yourself. All the best. xx 🙂

      • Thank you, Jane. I know from my own experience how difficult it is to keep the balance right when trying to keep fit and healthy but also protect damaged and weak joints and muscles. I am dieting, trying to lose 15 or 16 kilos ( I have lost 6 kilos so far) but it is taking so long because I can’t use up calories very quickly. I love walking but there are no decent hills where I live and don’t manage to walk as often as I’d like because of time and opportunity constraints. Ah well! I do what I can 😀 With love, C xx

        • Well done on the weight loss so far, Clare. I’m in a similar situation here. I am slowly (and I mean slowly) losing excess weight at the moment. My joints certainly don’t like all the extra kilograms. I look at my very slim daughter and marvel that I was ever that size! It is so much harder in middle age as the metabolism and hormones change and at the same time we need to be more careful of joint damage so shouldn’t overdo things. It can be tricky to find that balance (and the time!) With all your responsibilities and the strain you are under, I think you are doing marvelously well to achieve what you can, Clare. My life is much easier in that regard. Take good care of yourself. xx

  12. Ah, Jane, another fascinating, sitting-on-the-edge-of-my-seat adventure to read! I’m embarrassed to say that I get all excited when I see you’ve written about another hike – my morbid sense of humor gets satisfaction reading about the faux pas and blunders along the path. This place looks like one must be part goat to traverse many sections!
    I love spiders too, though I can’t say that I started out admiring them. My love and appreciation for reptiles and arachnids has grown over time, being exposed to them often and realizing I needed to share space with them, because it isn’t all about me.
    I love that you see the “little things” like fungus and insects. Like you, I’m sad to know I cannot help wildlife suffering or injured in some way. Telling the koala story brings awareness to all of us, to at least do our part in becoming educated and doing what we can to help make our world a better place for all living things.

    • Thanks very much, Lori. I always love hearing from you. You’ll be happy to know there are a couple of embarrassing blog posts from very old walks coming up eventually. In one I was persuaded to do some rock scrambling in an iconic region of another state by a much more experienced walker. It was not my finest moment, I can tell you, but I did survive! In another I make a few mistakes that result in some pain and Lycra Man gets another mention. You may remember him? I just have to get my old brain to compose the story. It just doesn’t like forming sentences much these days. 😉
      Arachnid and reptile appreciation is very much dependent on what kind of exposure we’ve had to them I think. One or two frightening experiences as a young child or the way they are represented in the media and talked about by those around us can have a huge impact. It’s often just a cultural thing too. It’s interesting how in many cultures people regularly eat insects, arachnids and reptiles in their main diet whereas many non-indigenous Australians would never eat them. Because there are so many annoying insects in my yard like biting midges and mosquitoes or ones that devour or spoil my fruit, I love to see spiders in my garden that help control them. I wish spiders could control the paralysis tick problem here though! They are my nemesis. I am terribly allergic to them now. Apparently, guinea fowl can help in that regard, or so I am told.
      Yes, it’s so hard to watch an animal (or human) suffer. As you say, education goes a long way in helping improve many situations. I had not realised that the chlamydia problem was not widely known overseas. It’s something that has been a problem here for a long time. I probably should have described it more in my blog and included a link. I may update this blog post in the future with more details. You’ve given me something to think about there. I think I often assume that out wildlife problems are well-known but that is obviously not the case. I guess the koala is promoted overseas in a tourism way which doesn’t include details about chlamydia (which is not the prettiest of diseases.) Your comments always make me think further. Thanks, Lori! 🙂

  13. Reading your stories is such a joy, Jane. I can sense in your writings the same genuine enthusiasm and deep connection with Nature that I also feel. All the best, Marcus.

    • Thank you very much, Marcus. Your words were exactly the encouragement I needed to read this morning. I have been very blessed to receive so much positive feedback. Thank you for your kindness. Spending time in the natural world really lifts my spirits. Your writing expresses your deep relationship with nature and touches others. Best wishes. 🙂

  14. Oh Jane, you had me laughing out loud this morning! Your pictures, the spiders, the defense of the mountain and trail, the suspense all leading up to your “encounter”. It is clear in your writing that you love this site.

    The snake was beautiful, and I couldn’t tell by looking at it that it was venomous. Not so obvious as our venomous beauties here. Spiders? Well, not so much. Though I find both snakes and spiders quite interesting I, too, might shy and squeak just a bit if surprised by one. So when you said you screamed at a charging Koala I understood the element of surprise and your reaction. I was surprised that the seemingly benign little fella could also be dangerous!

    I always enjoy your posts, but this one was one of your best, IMHO. I think it had a lot to do with your wanting to defend that mountain walk. And yes, I believe she was listening.
    ~*~*~*~*~
    Why am I reading and answering so late? Because I always save your posts for when I am ready to sit quietly and drink them in. ❤

    • Hi Lynda! It is wonderful to hear from you and thank you very much for those kind words of encouragement. I feel privileged to be able to share my enjoyment of nature, and although I don’t expect or need comments, they are very much appreciated and always bring a smile to my face. When I started this blog over 5 years ago, I never expected to make such rewarding connections with people from all over the world. It’s been such a joy. I don’t have much time to blog these days or read blogs, but I’ll never forget the positive experiences my blog reading friends have given me.
      Haha…I still laugh when I remember my encounter with Conan the koala. To think I spent so many hours in close proximity to spiders and snakes without fear, and then it was a cuddly marsupial that had me squealing. I do love the Moogerah Peaks area, but I was thinking the other day how often I use the word “favourite.” It seems to be that just about EVERY place ends up being called one of my favourites! I get gently teased about this by my children actually. It’s hard to really dislike any hiking destination. There are usually surprises to be found if we take our time. Having dodgy joints can be a blessing sometimes. I used to rush about too much in my youth. Thanks again for your enthusiastic words, Lynda. It made my day. All the best. xx

  15. Love your photos Jane. You’ve done well to get such close-up, clear photos of the wildlife. When I was school age I would gladly bushwalk in the middle of summer in the hope of finding a snake but now I leave my bushwalking to the colder months where I can 🙂 We have a lot of koalas around Adelaide and last summer had one in the tree in our front yard – they are often in the local school yards (despite all the noise). I always love seeing them.

    • Thanks very much, Sarina. I am a big fan of my Canon Powershot SX60. It’s a great little camera, especially for non-technical minded people like me. The zoom is fantastic. I’m not much of a fan of hot weather these days and tend to save my longer walks for winter too. How lucky you are to have a lot of koalas around Adelaide and especially one in your backyard! How thrilling. I’ve never been to South Australia but hope to make it there in the next couple of years. There are quite a few walks I’d love to do there. The Flinders Ranges look great in photos. Great to hear from you. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Much appreciated. Happy walking! 🙂

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