Wednesday, October 12, 2011


We arrived at our South West Rocks campsite and a group of kookaburras watched us unpack. We would find out why later.

We walked about 20 metres and watched humpback whales breach, which is when they leap out of the water, and tail slap while making their way back south.

This happened every day and you could hear them loudly and clearly. If you've never heard a whale before, which I hadn't, it sounds something like a low, incredibly loud, long lion roar. Definitely not the pretty underwater whale-song stuff. They actually woke The Husband one night.

We swam. This beach was about a minute's walk from our tent.

We ate well - and so did the kookaburras. I wish I had a photo to show you how well they ate on one particular evening but it happened too fast. We were sitting around putting together our barbecued hamburgers when I moved away from the table to get something. Clearly this was the moment the kookaburras, who were sitting around watching us, had been waiting for. Our circle had been broken. One swooped down, briefly hovered like a helicopter and pulled the meat out from between a bun. And these birds are big. The sheer audacity and skill required to pull this move off in a small space was immensely impressive. Any one of us at the table could easily have reached out and touched it. That's the element of surprise for you.

It then flew up to its mates who were waiting in the trees and they all went into the grass and, in clear view, split the meat between the four of them. The swoop was magnificent and exactly why they are kingfishers was made abundantly obvious.

Still from the comfort of our campsite, we watched kangaroos box.

Was worried we were witnessing bush violence but it became clear these were just friendly practice sessions.

Kangaroos, many with joeys, were everywhere, and weren't bothered by us whatsoever. In fact, one night, I was making my way to a toilet block by the ocean, which is creepy enough in the dark with the sound of waves cancelling most other sounds out, when I came across a rather large kangaroo blocking the path. Not sure that an 'excuse me' would cut it, I stopped not really knowing what to do. I decided to turn back just as it leapt off into the bush.

It's a weird experience wandering around at night in a National Park as kangaroos are often just standing around in the dark doing nothing. After all, it's their territory, and they're comfortable. Several times I walked within a metre of one, standing completely still, before I even knew it was there. It's a bit like being the only moving piece on a nocturnal chessboard.

No dithering about what to do for this mother. A quick check of her watch was all that was needed to know that it was baby's bedtime.

The school holidays are now over. Sniff.

NB: I didn't do any fiddling to the top photo. The sky really was that blue that day.


  1. Great pictures and stories of all the wildlife.

  2. The top photo is beautiful Vera, the outline of the kookaburra and banksia tree so sharp against that incredible blue sky.
    A similar thing happened to my husband a couple of years ago...we were eating pies from a famous South-West bakery in a strip of bushland on the edge of a beach, when a kookaburra flew down and SNATCHED the pie from my husband's hands and flew off with it! I kid you not. We couldn't believe it. What a resourceful birdy.

  3. Must have been pretty awesome with those humpbacks. We camped down in Eden, which is an old whaling town. But we didn't see any whales. Perhaps they were all still up further north where you were. Nice cake tin.

  4. This article brings back fond memories of our visit to South West Rocks 2 years ago. Great photography Vera

  5. What a relaxing break you've all had. How nice to drop everything and head to where there's the sound of the ocean to lull you to sleep. Lovely pictures Vera.

  6. I love a good wildlife post .. but I'll have you know we paid a small fortune to watch whales in Canada this summer so I'm a bit envious you saw all that for free.
    Love the cake tin too!

  7. What a beautiful place to camp! Looks like you had a wonderful holiday! Always enjoy reading your blog. thanks

  8. Loved reading about your camping holiday.
    The pic of the kingfisher was superb with every picture wonderfully embelishing the story.
    The South West Rocks tourism board owes you!
    The Mother In Law

  9. Wish you were here now. We've got a baby magpie in the shed that was found on the side of the road. Am waiting for the wildlfe carers to call back. Poor little thing. great pics btw.