Australia

Campervans and Kangaroos in Yamba, Australia


 

S29°
E153°

Ahhhhh, the campervan life.

Who knew about grey water, or sullage, as they call it here. Or as they may call it in Canada too. I don’t know. We aren’t campervan people. And the overview and walk-through they give you before you hit the road is not very comprehensive. Hmmmmm…..

Campervan touring in Australia

We clean up our breakfast dishes this morning and are packing up the van to ready it for our departure when we detect a distinct odour from the van…or more importantly, from the shower stall/toilet. I immediately say “John!!” It smells of rotten eggs and we quickly realize that the smell is coming, in fact, from the shower/toilet. I open the door and see this putrid ooze coming up the shower drain. The grey water is at its capacity and is backing up in the van. I then spend a half hour trying to drain the thing. It’s not something that you just open up the valve and let drain on the lawn. Although you could, you’d be dealing with steely looks from your neighbouring campervans or caravans, or the knowing, judgmental looks of conservationists. It really comes down to a choice. You could choose to pollute the local wild and bird life at the animal sanctuary (where you are camping) or wait until you get to a city or town, and unceremoniously open your waste water drain locally at lunch, dumping your left over pasta and toothpaste into the city sewer system. (This is what the management of our rental company suggested.) There is a clandestine feeling of right and wrong here. The moment and the weather affect all of this.

Campervan or caravan life is really a big thing here in Oz. There are many caravan clubs that people join. There is an unofficial “hand wave” hello to all Maui or Britz campervans that pass you on the highway, which in most parts is similar to our TransCanada Highway—small and slow. Unlike the TransCanada (at least in Ontario), this is the major north/south route – it is Highway 1. There are some days that you get a wave, “I’m a campervan person too”; but if they don’t respond, I wonder if they have been properly debriefed before setting off. So I wave, being a good Canadian, to all campervans and work-a-day vehicles that look like campers that drive by, mostly to my embarrassment.

On the Look-Out for ‘Roos

We arrive at the Clarence River Resort after some rural driving, and find a pristine, organized camp ground that speaks to you about not feeding the birds or other wildlife and to not disturb the comings and goings of wildlife in your camping area. This is by far the most beautiful caravan park we’ve stopped at. We do our usual…hook up our electrical, make sure we have water and get down our camping chairs, which is where we have our first cocktail of the evening. I immediately see a group of kangaroos and I call to John, still inside, to get the camera. We spray ourselves with bug repellent and make our way, ever so cautiously over to where the ‘roos are feeding. They are catching the end of day feeding of succulent grasses before the sun goes down. One has her joey in her, his or her feet spilling out of her pouch. There is also another adult there, and farther off, there are 3 others, feeding. We don’t know whether we should move forward or back, but of course, John wants to move forward, the camera fast-clicking as we go.

We don’t go far enough to make them move – I make sure of that. They acknowledge our presence, and we are respectful (we hope) of theirs. (We see the same mother the next morning, this time her joey is still in her pouch, but is facing out , and they are both munching on the grasses, happy as cla…kangaroos.)

Mom and Joey: Retreat!

We go walking, and see another mother and her joey feeding down near the Clarence River. The joey is not in-pouch, it is old enough to be out. Another couple (we peg them as Germans) is just ahead of us, video camera blazing, and they have no compunction about approaching the ‘roos. Time after time, the Germans get just inside their comfort zone and the kangaroos retreat another 10 metres. We watch with fascination – and with our zoom lens, I catch their retreats. Kangaroo tails are amazing things – they look (from as close as we get) to be as thick as a human leg, and they use them to support themselves when sitting. We learn from one of our neighbours that the males also use them as support when they fight each other – they stand on their tails, and kick at each other with their back feet. You wouldn’t want to get in the way of a kangaroo’s back feet – they have long, sharp nails and strong leg muscles. She said that when she lived in the outback she raised a number of orphan joeys from infancy, and that forever after they would come back to her house and announce their presence just before dawn by jumping up and down on her veranda.

Our evening closes with chicken brochette and cole slaw and another Wolf Blass Chardonnay (sorry Flick and Ruth—have asked for the silver label but to no avail!).

We look at the Milky Way and the Southern Cross, and as the mosquitoes attack, we head for bed and a good night’s sleep.

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