This is the second installment by Eva de Feber, who is doing a magnificent job writing articles for the Living at La Trobe Blog. We are all so proud of her efforts and hope she can continue to excel in her writing. To read her first article, click here.

Twilight Tour at the La Trobe Wildlife Sanctuary

Ask someone to tell you something about Australia, and I’m quite sure the wildlife will be mentioned. Especially for international students like myself, the idea of seeing kangaroos in the wild is a very attractive one. Well guess what: they’re right here on campus.

The La Trobe Wildlife Sanctuary takes care of a large amount of indigenous plants and animals and you can take a walk around to spot some of these interesting creatures. What’s even more exciting however, are the Twilight Tours. Just last week I joined one of these and they give you the chance to not just walk around at the Sanctuary, but to see the animals, which are mostly nocturnal, while they are active in their own habitat. As a bonus you also get a fun tour guide showing you the best spots in the area and explaining what it actually is you’re looking at (which is good if like me you know little to nothing about Australian nature).

Just as the sun was setting and the campus bathed in pink and orange light, I walked towards the Wildlife Sanctuary, where the tour started just after sundown. One of the staff gave us some general information about the history and the purpose of the Sanctuary and then we started our ‘safari by night’.

It took a while at first to spot any animals, since you cannot be sure where and when they’ll turn up, but there was still plenty to see, such as the abundant nature, the lake and many nesting boxes in the trees for different species. Once we proceeded further into the Sanctuary, we suddenly found our first animal and it was a big one straight away: the emu. It was quite special to stand so close to a wild animal like that all of a sudden, while it walked around us and scavenged the ground for food.

The emu moved on and so did our group. We walked past the lake again and heard some more about the mosquitofish that lives in it. We then moved past a plant that I’d love to have in the garden at home, because it smells like curry. It’s why the helichrysum italicum is more commonly known as the currybush. After rubbing some of the leaves between our hands to release the lovely smell, we walked on and saw a tawny frogmouth in one of the trees. We also spotted the first possums and later on even had two of the bushtail possums sitting on some branches right above our heads.

We also saw Australia’s most famous animal: the kangaroo. I have to admit I was pretty excited about this and I loved that we got to see some more of them further on. The atmosphere grew tense however when we were on our way back and almost ran into an enormous spiderweb spanning over the path between two trees. The large spider in the middle was still working on it and while a few people took the opportunity to take some closeup photographs, a few others were less enthusiastic.

 

One person in the group had a bad case of arachnophobia (if that goes for you as well: be careful where you walk in Australia!) and walked around the trees instead of ducking to pass beneath the spiderweb. To be honest, I’m not that big on spiders either, so I’m glad we had the guide to point out the web, instead of having walked into it by myself. Nonetheless, I do plan to visit the Sanctuary again for a walk during the day and I can advise a visit (at daytime or on a Twilight Tour) to everyone, as there’s a lot to learn and it’s a beautiful and special part of out campus.

By: Eva de Feber