Wild About South Australia’s Wildlife
Written by: Jovanka Ristich
Date: 7th September 2013
Wild About South Australia’s Wildlife.
South Australia teems with claws, paws, feathers, tails and gills and over the years I have had many wonderful wildlife encounters. They have been varied and memorable, but most importantly they have been spontaneous and natural.
The free roaming wildlife is happy to be observed and laid back about being the focus of a camera lens. Talking of which, I have no special equipment with which to capture these moments, BBC Wildlife magazine certainly won’t be beating down my door, but I think the following selection of my shots will give an inkling of why this is such a wildlife utopia:
ADELAIDE: You don’t expect to see much wildlife outside a zoo in big cities, and Adelaide after all is the state capital of South Australia, but the River Torrens which runs through the city, is a draw for birds in particular, including majestic pelicans.
GLENELG: Twenty minutes from the city centre is all it takes before you can wiggle your toes in glorious white sand at Glenelg – and this is one of four such beaches that fringe Adelaide. Apart from seabirds, you can take to the water and either swim with dolphins or observe them deck side of a sail boat.
ADELAIDE HILLS: Heading in the opposite direction, inland and upwards, takes you to the slightly cooler and shadier climes of the Adelaide Hills, a personal favourite of mine, and, if you have young children, Cleland Wildlife Park is the perfect place to introduce them to Australian animals, especially as the kangaroos, wallabies and emus can be fed, petted or cuddled.
RIVERLAND: The area close to the majestic Murray River is a wildlife haven, especially for twitchers. But there are also fantastic sights to be seen closer to ground level like this goanna that I spotted strolling through Gluepot Reserve.
Emus are also widely seen in this region, especially when close to the Coorong. When I first spotted them from afar it seemed as if these emus were walking on water.
South Australians take wildlife conservation very seriously and Monarto Zoo is just one example of an award winning sanctuary. Monarto focuses both on animals that are endangered worldwide as well as working on breeding programmes for Australian wildlife. The open range, savannah-like plains of this facility cover some 1,000 hectares and are home to both native Australian and African wildlife. Here, Research and Conservation is the name of the game, in capital letters.
KOALAS, KANGAROOS & WALLABIES: quite simply I’m spoilt for choice. As you would expect, one place you are certain to see them is on the aptly named Kangaroo Island which could just as easily be called Koala Island. In fact koalas outnumber the Island’s human population, whilst the kangaroos and wallabies outnumber the koalas.
Turning inland and away from the Southern Ocean towards the Outback and the Flinders Ranges, I am constantly amazed at how easily I can see wallabies and roos, often getting pretty close to them especially if I’m very quiet and move very slowly.
Koalas, whilst particularly prolific on Kangaroo Island, are by no means exclusive to this spot as I also found them happily munching eucalyptus leaves, or more ofter than not sleeping on the Eyre Peninsula in Coffin Bay National Park.
ECHIDNA: this is not a creature many people outside Australia are familiar with which is a shame as they are both beautiful and unusual. My first up close and personal sighting was on Kangaroo Island. Resembling a hedgehog, the echidna has been taken as South Australia’s mascot here in the UK and goes by the name of Spike – not in honour of Milligan, but because of the echidna’s piercing overcoat.
DOLPHINS, SEA LIONS & SEALS: Personally, some of my most memorable encounters have been with my family, swimming freely with dolphins and sea lions in Baird Bay on the Eyre Peninsula, as well as quietly observing seals on Seal Bay on Kangaroo Island. My daughter talks about these aquatic adventures to this day.
Despite travelling extensively throughout South Australia over a number of years, there are many more wildlife activities I have yet to do like cage shark diving and swimming with tuna from Port Lincoln on the Eyre Peninsula, and wombat mustering in the Outback. My wildlife “to do” list just keeps getting longer.