Friday, July 11, 2008

Animal Confusion

Not that I want to brag or anything (cause bragging is not embraced by traditional Aussie culture--the whole Tall Poppy Syndrome) but I'm going to do it anyway.

I know a lot about Australia. I've done my studying. Well, at least I know more than the average American. Although that's not saying much. Most Americans know very little about Australia.

Well, at least they know less than the typical Australian knows about America.

There are a few things I can't quite grasp though. For example, the previously mentioned states vs. territory. And it did take me awhile to understand the term "Oppositional Leader"--although I think I got it now. Well, actually I don't. But that's okay.

I don't know much about sports. Although I don't care, so I'm really not going to try. (sorry!)

But the thing I want to understand and can't grasp is the whole animal thing. I've been wondering about it for years--even before I had this obsession/passion for Australia.

What I want to know is how common is it to see a kangaroo and koala. I now know they're not like squirrels in NYC. You don't see kangaroos rushing across the street in Sydney. Although maybe it's different in the other cities?

Where I live (Texas) I divide animals into two groups

a) See them everyday. No big deal. At most, I might point it out to my son. "Look! A squirrel!"

b) Rare animals that we get excited about. We point it out excitedly to everyone....other adults, strangers, etc. An example of this would be the fox we saw in a park one day.

In Port Stephens, a small coastal town in New South Wales, a koala was spotted near the pool. A little girl walked around the pool area and told everyone that there was a koala. People got off their butts and walked over to see the koala--which you could barely see by the way. It was way up in the tree.

Now most of the people at this holiday park were from New South Wales. So, I came to the conclusion that seeing a koala is a rare treat. It's NOT like our squirrels. There was a few more koala sightings that week and each one attracted a group of excited children and adults.

We saw no wild kangaroos or wallabies on our trip/holiday. I also don't remember seeing any kangaroo warning signs on the roads, and we did see koala signs. So maybe Port Stephens is just not a kangaroo hangout.

But what about other places? I've seen pictures with a whole team of kangaroos hanging out at a golf course. Are scenes like this common? I know they cause enough nasty car accidents that people have "roo bars" on their cars. And I know kangaroos are not endangered......

So does that mean there are places in Australia, where kangaroos are like squirrels. Everywhere, all around, and not so exciting anymore?

Although squirrels and lizards are all around here and I still find them absolutely adorable. Especially the lizards!

The lizard we see a lot outside. I completely adore them. See? I do love SOME American things.


  1. A rough rule of thumb with state vs territories is the low population in the territories vs the high pop. in the states.
    One day cricket is waaaay more exciting than the usual 100 days of men slowly moving around a cricket pitch!
    The Opposition Leader is basically just the leader of the party that's not in power; this is the same as the title Shadow Minister for... means the minister for... but they're from the party not in power.
    Roos and koalas aren't common, in built up or suburban areas, but it depends. New housing/shopping developments can encroach on their territory but they soon either get killed or move away.
    Roos are moving closer to human populations with this drought, looking for food; large numbers of car accidents are from roos eating on sides of roads and jumping into traffic.Mainly farming areas are where they're hanging out at the moment ;)
    Many mainland koala populations have a chlamydia infection which effects it's fertility, breathing and can cause death. Wildlife workers are forever monitoring different family groups, moving healthy ones in from other areas (like French Island) to keep the gene pool strong and to boost numbers if the colony is flagging.
    So to find one close by is a bonus ;)

  2. Koala= RARE... more common in some areas but not seen often, the only place ive seen them are in koala parks.
    Kangaroos= Common in certain places. In my home town and local caravan park their are roos everywhere! They eat/live on peoples front lawns and jump around the carvan park... but you wont see them in the big city, you could however see them in the outskirts of canberra. I mean obviouly there are lots of them in Australia as we recently had a Kangroo Cull (is that how u spell it?) where they killed a whole heap of them...
    hope this helps!

  3. Jayne. soon as you mention cricket, my eyes glaze over. I'm hopeless with sports. Although I have heard of Donald Bradman--so I'm not that bad. And I know who Phar Lap was. Does horse-racing count as a sport?

    I talked to Tim about the opposition leader and asked if we had a similar thing in the United States. He started to explain it to me and I just got incredibly confused.

    Maybe to understand Australian politics, I first need to understand the politics of my own country. Although that seems impossible.

    Maybe I can learn Australian first and that will help me understand American.

    I guess we were blessed in seeing the koalas.

    How do people in Australia generally feel about Kangaroos? I know they are an icon so there must be SOME love there. But are they also seen as annoying? How do you feel about eating them? Do you think that's okay? Not okay?

  4. Rinniez,

    I heard about the kangaroo cull. How did you feel about it? I thought it was sad, but from what I read, it seemed like it was the best thing to do. ?????

    It's tragic though. I can see why it would upset people, but I don't think I'd equate it to killing endangered whales.

    So, do you see kangaroos a lot where you live then? How often do you see a wild one? Is it common for you?

    I'm so intrigued by this.

    I'm probably just going to have to travel to every inch of Australia to figure it out for myself.

  5. I hate Florida lizards-- especially the ginormous ones that seemed to take over in recent years! Yuck.

  6. Laura,

    You have gone too far. I can handle the difference in opinion regarding moving to Australia. And I can handle your weird Labradoodle thing.

    But you don't like LIZARDS??????????

    How in the world can you not love lizards?????????

    What is wrong with you??????



    They're so cute!!!!!!!!!!

    I'm in total shock right now. I'll need some time to recover.

  7. I know other people have commented, but I may as well also explain my answers to your last questions.

    What I want to know is how common is it to see a kangaroo and koala. I now know they're not like squirrels in NYC. You don't see kangaroos rushing across the street in Sydney. Although maybe it's different in the other cities?

    I don't live in a city so I can't comment on them. Where I live kangaroos aren't that common. You can see wallabies if you cross the river around 300meters away but if you want to see kangaroos you would have to either drive (they love hitting cars and putting dents in them) or go around 25k's to a state forest where you can see large groups of them. (You could see them closer but your not allowed to cross farmers fences into a lot of land)

    I don't really see koalas. The world capital of kolas is around 50km's away and there's lots of watch out for koala crossing the road signs but most stick to the trees.

  8. Half Rabbit,

    Thanks for answering!!!!

    I think the more people who comment on this, the better perspective I'll get.

    I think I'm getting a better picture now.

    I'm starting to feel really lucky for seeing Koalas in the wild.

    There was a Koala sanctuary in Port Stephens, so I guess they're somewhat known for Koalas? We had thought of visiting the sanctuary, but ended up just seeing them at our holiday park.

    Where in Australia do you live?

  9. Wait until you come over and Tyrone and I will set you straight on the Australian political system. It will involve a lovely dinner and some wine and our children playing secret games in the bedroom and we shall have a robust discussion/lesson in Australian politics (something DH and I have a good grasp of and are passionate about)...hint. DON'T learn about your own political system first, it will only confuse you even more.

    The house we used to live in had lots of wallabies visit as it was close to the edge of bushland. But here not at all. When we go for a drive you will see lots and lots of roadkill in Tasmania. It's EVEYRWHERE. Meaning there are lots and lots of native animals in abundance here (although no koalas). It is not common to see native animals in a normal suburban or town situation unless you were to live on the outskirts of a town that had them in abundance.

    ps...speaking of Labradoodle's we want to buy a Cavoodle :-)

  10. Hi, Dina

    Further to Jayne's comments:
    States were self-governing "colonies" (initially for British prisons when they joined together as a Federation to form teh independent country Australia". The Territories were governed by the Federal Government, although the Northern Territory (NT)and the Aust. Capital Territory have been self-governing for several decades.

    Jayne's right - roos & koalas aren't all that common. But there are areas of koala populations, including nar Port Stephens! (I came from Newcastle, just a little south of there)

    Much warmer in Goulburn today - up from 7 deg Celcius to 10! (abt 50F)

    PS Launceston is a nice place - Mrs & I went there for honeymoon 26 yrs ago, & back for better look at all of Tassie 2 years ago.

  11. I find the kangaroo cull a little odd... i swear we are the only country that kills its national icon but it doesnt really bother me a kangroos a kangroo its kinda just like killing a cow which doesnt really bother me either.
    In my hometown (i live in canberra now)... i used to see kangaroos heaps, nothing special they are always around. At home i would have seen a wild roo prob twice a week, more if i went to the beach alot (they hang out at the local caravan park at the beach). I was home a couple of weekends ago and their were 3 on the sand dunes at the beach and then they ran down to the sea (which is a really rare thing to see!).
    Most of the roos ive seen in my life are wild but many have become used to people especially ate the caravan park where many tourists like to feed them.
    If you want to see kangaroos (and LOTS of them... my mum has hit 3 travelling home from work of a late afternoon) visit Pambula Beach... i guarantee a roo sighting!
    I personally am not excited by them having been around them for as long as i can remember and so i always find it funny when Americans are interested in them, but i guess Australians who live in cities also tend to be intrigued as they dont see them very often at all.
    And NO noone rides them haha.
    Anymore questions send them my way i love answering them!

  12. Rinniez,

    What???? No one rides kangaroos?

    I am so disappointed!!! My delusions are shattered.

    Well, I think no one rides kangaroos because they just have not tried hard enough.

    Next time I come to Australia, I'm going to ride one. Then I will prove to all of Australia, that it IS possible.

    Our national icon is the bald eagle. They were endangered. I think they're okay now...maybe? But I'm sure if there was a surplus and things got out of hand, we'd do a cull.

  13. John,

    Thanks for the info about the states and territories.

    This is probably a really dumb question, but when you say federal government, do you mean British or Australian?

    Okay, I'm guessing you mean Australian.

    So, you have the five states...Victoria, NSW, Tasmania, Queensland, and Westen Australia. They're part of Australia, but also a separate state--like our states. Each of the 50 states is a separate entity, but we're also part of the whole country.

    But then the territories would NOT be separate?? They'd have only one government--federal and not a local one.

    But now they are indepedent?

    Am I even close to getting this right?

    I've read a little about Newcastle and have met a few people from there. It sounds like a great place to live. Do you like it? How long have you lived there?

    I'm very excited to go to Tasmania. It sounds beautiful!!!

  14. Tracey,

    Not you too!!!!! You guys and your weird dogs.

    I'm going to have to get you and my cousin together so you can start a club.

    My sister tried to get a goldendoodle....half golden retriever and half poodle. But they either tricked her or the genetics went weird. We see 100% retriever and no poodle. The dog is huge!!

    So, what is a Cavoodle? It sounds like something one of us Jewish people would say when we're complaining.

    I can't wait for the political discussions. Tim will especially have fun. He loves to talk about politics. I do too. But Tim loves it even more than me.

    It will be weird discussing it with people who are not the opposite of us. Usually, our political discussions are political DEBATES. We have such huge differences in our family.

    From what I've seen you say in the past, I'm pretty sure we're on the same page. I mean there might be some differences, but I don't think we're opposites.

    I don't imagine the scenario with wine and kids doing crazy things in the other room will include us screaming at each other and THROWING the wine.

    Although that would make for an interesting holiday.

    That's so awesome that you used to see wallabies!!!!

    I don't know what it is with Americans and Australian animals. Or maybe it's just me? I get excited seeing a wallaby or kangaroo at the zoo.

  15. Cavoodle = Cavalier King Charles Spaniel x Poodle Toy/Mini

    They're very cute and have minimal shedding.

    And yes, we are on the same page I think too :-)


  16. Dina

    "...but when you say federal government, ... I'm guessing you mean Australian."

    "So, you have the five states...Victoria, NSW, Tasmania, Queensland, and Westen Australia. They're part of Australia, but also a separate state--like our states."
    SIX STATES!! ADD TASMANIA (Taswegians - people from Tasmania - would be most offended if we left them off)

    But then the territories would NOT be separate?? They'd have only one government--federal and not a local one.

    But now they are indepedent?
    TERRITORIES ARE COMPLEX: NT and ACT have self-Government, similar to states, but to make them states would need a referendum of all Australians to change the Constitution (I think)

    Am I even close to getting this right? YES


    PS we have hosted 3 World Youth Day people before they go to Sydney, but we had a very cold July week last week. Some, from Europe, did not bring enough warm clothes.

  17. John,

    Hey! I HAD Tasmania in there!!!!!!!!

    Read my original comment.

    I'd feel so guilty if I forgot that state.

    It was actually South Australia I forgot. That's not so bad because I don't have a friend from there.

    My favorite TV show was filmed there though, so it IS embarrassing that I forgot it.

    But still....better than forgetting the state where your friend is living.

    Did the WYD kids think it would be summer in Australia. Here is something else embarrassing....I didn't know until recently that you guys had opposite seasons. Maybe they didn't know either? Or maybe they expected a more mild winter?

    Or was it just really unseasonably cold?

  18. In Australia, most of us live in cities along the coastal strips so we don't see many kangaroos as they prefer semi arid and more remote parts of all the mainland States.

    However, the big drought has brought a lot of them in closer and they're to be seen on golf courses and school grounds in the outskirts of cities.

    I live on a creek 6 km from the central business district of Melbourne and have possums & fruitbats for neighbours. We have a platypus family and native water rats in the creek (just outside my back gate) but to see koalas I would go a little further out of the city to the Wildlife Reserves and National Parks.

  19. Susannah,

    Thank you so much for your response. It makes a lot of sense--about the coastal living.

    I would be so excited to have fruitbats as neighbors. I was amazed/excited when we went to Royal Botanical gardens and saw all the bats in the trees.

    I wonder if I'd ever take it for granted. I suppose so.

    I'd also be excited about the platypus.

    My cousin asked me to list reasons to move to Australia. Honestly, I think the animals themselves would be enough reason for me.

    Although I might miss our animals here. I guess we could keep in touch via email.

  20. "Did the WYD kids think it would be summer in Australia?"
    Many thought that Aus is always warm! There were about 10 taken to hospital in Goulburn with varying degrees (pun intended) of hypothermia. St Vincent de Paul took blankets, sweaters, coats, etc to teh basketball stadiumm were they met.

    They left for Sydney this morning ... and it's much warmer today - about 15 deg C (59 F)


    "Or was it just really unseasonably cold?"
    It was colder than usual for July, but August winds off the snow can make it colder.

  21. John,

    There is an American song about Australia that refers to Australia as having "Summer all year round."

    I'm guessing it's a commen misconception. Maybe because images of the beaches and the outback? It might give off the idea that Australia is always warm.

  22. Deens-- did you notice that's my new nickname for you?

    #1. I agree that Cavoodle sounds like something our parents would say. And I can't believe Melissa's Goldendoodle has no doodle in it. And yes, I'm still all about getting the labradoodle.

    #2. Yuck, lizards.

    #3. I'm family, and we agree on I think like almost everything political-- and ditto for Jill. Right?

    #4. I was totally baffled about the whole thing with World Youth WEEK (cause we know it's not a day) people going to the hospital from the cold-- it was almost 70 degrees here today! And if they were able to get to Sydney, you'd think they wouldn't be like sleeping on the street-- I so confused.

    #5. Don't be mad, but there's a koala in the big tree behind our house right now-- I almost didn't want to tell you, cause I knew you'd be hatin'. Oh ha,ha,ha-- I am so evil. There's no koala, just those damn bats squeaking their bat brains out and making orange poop on everything! Jealous now?

  23. Laura,

    I'm very gullible. I believed the koala thing. How sad is that????????

    I'll just use the excuse that I woke up too early this morning.

    I'm honored you have given me a nickname. I'm so sick of my name. I think I should change it--maybe to something Australian. Maybe "Woolloomooloo."

    I'm still in shock that you don't like lizards.

    I'm terrified of WYD. And it's nothing against Catholics. Probably more against youth. And youth are okay. Really. In small doses. I just don't think I could deal with crowds of them. Hell, I can't deal with crowds of any type of people.

    Jill never talks to me anymore. And you know....since I'm paranoid, I assume she's mad at me.

  24. Oh no, I know she's not-- she's just very wrapped up in sticking people with needles and stuff.

    And if you are sick of your name-- why don't you use your REAL name? omigod you don't have to post this comment if you don't want to. But I love it.

    And guess who's knocking at my door right now-- ugh, don't they know the kids are sleeping-- why, it's a kangaroo!

    hee hee.

  25. No fair!!!!

    Why didn't the kangaroo knock on the door when I was there???

    Were you guys holding out on me??????

  26. I live about 40 kilometres from the sydney central district and i had a koala wondering down my street today, no use beeping my car horn either cos they just lazily walk along without a care.

    Oh and i know kangaroos are around too, the police spent a few hours trying to catch one that wondered into a supermarket . . .

  27. Matt,

    Wow. I love the image of the police going after a kangaroo in a supermarket.