Braving the Blue Tongue.

It’s interesting to see how my decision to travel to Nepal next May and trek to Everest Base Camp has exposed me to so many new experiences.

Having to train for this trip has forced me out of the comfort of home and opened up the world of flora and fauna to me. I’ve always enjoyed trips to the country, I used to love camping when the family was young but I’ve never been one to get overly close to nature, particularly when it involves things with scales and sharp teeth. Lately though I’ve become so much more adventurous and I’m taking bigger steps outside my comfort zone.

On my hike around Bells Rapids a couple of weeks ago I came across a veritable menagerie of wildlife. Driving in on the approach road I had to slow down to avoid three turkeys strolling across the road, oblivious to the danger from the oncoming car and the Christmas season. Seconds later and a rabbit shot across in front of me while a couple of kangaroos bounded across the track half way through the hike. No partridge in a pear tree though.

None of those guys hung around for me to take a photo but this little fellow wasn’t quick enough and we managed to get a closer look. I will point out that you should never handle a snake – no matter how small – unless you know what you’re doing. I don’t, so I left it to my training partner while I played the role of photographer from a distance.

This last weekend though was one of my braver moments when we came across a couple of Blue Tongued Lizards sunning themselves on the track. They kindly obliged and allowed us to get a closer look.

Now I should point out that all things categorised as creepy or crawley generally have me in avoidance mode, but my spirit of adventure must be kicking in because I was coaxed into making this guy’s acquantance.

The Blue Tongued Lizard is generally friendly and slow moving so I figured I shouldn’t be in too much trouble. They are often found in backyards in the more bushy areas and quickly become used to humans, you generally have no trouble getting close to them but again, don’t pick them up if you don’t know how.

Posing for the camera and looking suitably viscious

They have a big head and long body with short legs and small feet. Their unique feature is their bright blue tongue and though I’ve seen quite a few lizards over the years I’ve never actually spotted their blue tongue.

And there’s that blue tongue

If you get your finger anywhere near this guy’s mouth he will latch on and it will hurt but his main defence when under threat is bluff. He’ll hiss and open his pink mouth shooting out his bright blue tongue in an attempt to intimidate.

Very impressed with myself – this was the bigger of the two!

I’m feeling very brave after that little encounter.

Close to Home

Look beyond the horizon

Here’s a test for you. How many days could you spend exploring your local area, say within a one hour radius of home, doing things that you haven’t done before? When you really think about it and start to list them, I think you’ll be surprised at the answer. I certainly was.

We are creatures of habit and most of us tend to gravitate towards the familiar. Whether it’s eating out, taking the kids to the park or beach or spending a day out with friends, we tend to choose a place that we’ve visited before. We feel comfortable with the familiar, yet when we are on holiday in an unfamiliar environment we will Google the place, find things to do and places to go. We will pick up brochures from hotels and we will head off into unknown territory to explore. Why don’t we do that at home?

But that is exactly what I did over this Easter weekend, I thought about doing something that I hadn’t done before and came up with quite a list. This list making began when my granddaughter asked if she could come and visit from interstate. Obviously the answer was yes, but then, what to do while she was here. A bored teenager is not a good thing and, although shopping is always a winner, she could do that at home and I needed something a little more touristy.

Massed jellyfish at AQWA

 

 

I live ten minutes from AQWA (the aquarium of Western Australia), one of the biggest tourist drawcards in Perth, and I have never been there. It’s at Hillary’s Boat Harbour, where I’ve been dozens of times for coffee, drinks, browsing the shops etc, but I’ve never ventured down to AQWA.

Coral at AQWA

 

 

On Easter Saturday that’s where I headed with granddaughter in tow. It’s an amazing place and well worth the price of admission.

www.aqwa.com.au

Look out above

Teaming tank AQWA

A quiet bay, Penguin Island

On Sunday we grabbed my daughter and her youngest, the eight year old, and had a girl’s day. We headed to Shoalwater, 45 minutes south of Perth, and caught the ferry to Penguin Island. Again something I had never done before, and what a brilliant place it is for family picnics. Situated in the calm waters of Shoalwater Bay, there is a shaded picnic area and sheltered little beaches that are very child friendly.

 

Fairy Penguin

Home to Western Australia’s largest colony of Fairy Penguins, with around 1000 nesting pairs, this island is managed by the Department of Conservation and Land Management and has boardwalks throughout the island to protect the wildlife. Rockingham Wild Encounters, the company that provides tourism to the area, has been recognised for its dedication to ecotourism with several local and national awards.

 

 

 

 

 

C'mon - look up for the camera

Unfortunately, you rarely get to see the penguins in the wild, as they keep well hidden during the day, but make sure you attend one of the feeding sessions at the island’s Discovery Centre. You’ll be able to see these cute little things up close and learn a bit more about them from the island’s staff.

www.penguinisland.com.au

More Fairy Penguins

Part of the extensive boardwalk on Penguin Island

Keep going

.... and keep aiming for beyond that horizon.

My list has many more activities on it, an eco tour on a catamaran, whale watching, a spa retreat weekend in the hills and a 4WD tour to the Pinnacles, are just a few. I’ll keep you updated if, or should I say when, I get to tick some of them off.