A Wild Night with the Locals

- part one -

after three days of being cooped-up in a room with about thirty other people, last evening a few of us decided to 'go bush', and by that i don't mean to switch our support to the republican candidate for president. a few miles out of town there is a little nature preserve called bonorong park which a local bus company offered twilight excursions to which for a relatively modest fee included a sampling of 'bush tucker', 'bush damper' and 'billy tea'.

i have to admit that at first i was a bit reluctant to go along on the trip thinking that it was going to be such a 'touristy' thing to do...but i was tired of meetings, had pretty much walked around almost every single inch of hobart and besides, realized that i would never be able to face the folks at home if i had traveled all the way to tasmania and not seen at least one tasmanian devil. so, i swallowed my pride along with a quick bottle of local cider as we waited for the bus and let myself be swept up in the experience.

we boarded a very large bus, picked up a group of japanese tourists along the way who seemed to be carrying enough camera gear to film a major motion picture and headed out of town. we drove along the river, all the while being treated to a very colo(u)rful running narrative by the driver about all the finer points of life down here in tassie (almost nobody calls it tasmania).

when we arrived at bonorong, we were greeted by one of the three local 'guides' who boarded the bus and proceeded to tell us about the potential pitfalls of interacting with the little devils. pound for pound, they have got to be one of the nastiest, noisiest, and strongest little beasts on the face of the earth. growing only to be the size of a small dog (like a little terrier), they nevertheless have jaws that are about 7-10 times stronger than a doberman putting them on par with many sharks. also, i learned that the main item in the tasmanian devil's diet is roadkill. i just had to wonder what the poor little devils did before cars? all i know is that after hearing about their feeding habits, and then actually coming face to face with them (more on that later), i was more convinced that i made the right choice in NOT renting a car during my stay.

upon entering the park i saw what at first glance appeared to me to be a scene right out of the movie 'jurassic park', the one in which those little two legged dinosaurs are running across the plain. i was so enthralled with the scene that i failed to notice that one of these little dinosaurs (aka kanagaroo) had moved right alongside me and had for want of a better term 'claimed' me. never having been this close to a kangaroo before and noticing some very, very long nails on his paws, i was a little nervous about making the first move but curiousity overcame concern and i reached out and we literally petted each other. of course, i later realized that the kangaroo was hoping that i had some food to give it but he seemed perfectly satisfied to be touched, at least until he realized that this was not going to lead to his being fed. kangaroos were everywhere. wherever we walked, they were there. on the hills, on the paths, everywhere. and wherever kangaroos are, you can be sure there was plenty of kangaroo poo (as they call it down here) as well. in fact, there was so much of it that they package it in little paper bags, and sell it to the visitors as souvenirs to take home. i had to ask the owner of the place how it is possible that the quarantine laws are so strict for people coming IN TO australia that they have dogs at the airport who sniff each and every passenger and their luggage looking for food items of any sort (i mean you can't even bring in one of those little wrapped packages of crakers off the airplane without risking a substantial fine) but that they are more than happy to have visitors export little bags of kangaroo and koala poo. he looked at me and just smiled.

Go on to Part 2 -->

gene carl feldman