This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

1999 Travels June 29

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TUESDAY 29 JUNE     ALICE SPRINGS

I did three loads of washing this morning. I used every peg I had when hanging it out – that is a most unusual occurrence. I also cooked rice for tonight’s dinner. The washing dries quickly here and I was able to pick it in before we went out.

After an early lunch, we went to the Desert Park, just out on the western edge of town. This has the same sort of approach as our local Healesville Sanctuary – to display wildlife in settings that approximate the natural environment. But the Desert Park is able to show several different environments of the arid Centre – like sand country, woodland. It is quite extensive.

06-29-1999 mural at desert park

A mural at the Desert Park

It cost us $24 to enter the Park. We got there at 2.30pm and left at 5.45pm and were fully engrossed the whole time. We could, in fact, have done with longer. The various bird enclosures – each a different ecosystem – were excellent. We watched a pair of bush thick knees for ages.

06-29-1999 Bush thick knee.jpg

Bush thick knees

The Nocturnal House had lots of little marsupials being active. One does not realize how many of these little critters inhabit the arid lands. I am more than ever convinced that the “mice” that put on a display in the bush at our Cactus Beach camp in 1993, were actually these little marsupial items – but no idea which ones!

We also watched a pair of banded bettongs for a while. Cute fellows. They eat termites.

06-29-1999 numbat

A numbat

But the real highlight was the bird of prey low flying display, for 20 minutes. This included the showing of a hobby that swoops and kills little birds in flight – they displayed her skills using a “bait”. The finale was the Australian buzzard (black breasted kite) that uses a stone or rock to break open other birds’ eggs. Here it was presented with an emu’s egg, and it broke it open with a small rock. They obviously make the “egg” and put a snack inside to reward the effort – but the bird uses the rock tool instinctively. Another indication that birds are more intelligent than they are given credit for.

06-29-1999 buzzard

The buzzard has a stone in its beak to use to break the egg

It was getting nearly dark by the time we left the Park. This is certainly a place that all visitors to Alice Springs should visit.

Tea was fried rice.

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