Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hunting For Numbats

Oh! How I wanted to go to Monkey Mia, but our previous trip to Western Australia had taught me that 700+ km was just too far. So I hit the tourist office and tried to find something a little closer. As I perused the pamphlets of day excursions, one donning a striped chipmunk-like critter caught my eye. I read through the brochure I could barely contain my excitement.  Less than 2 hours from Perth was Dryandra Woodland--home of the numbat. I made up my mind and the following Sunday we were going on a numbat hunt.
As we sat on the portico of a local cafe eating a big brekkie we knew the day was gonna be a hottie.  The sun was still low on the horizon, but the temperature in the shade was already becoming unbearable. But I wasn't going to let a little heat deter me; I was determined to see a numbat.
We found relief from the heat in the air-conditioned car as we followed the Great Southern Highway south.  We slowly made our way out of one of the world's most isolated cities and began to cross the wheat belt.  For miles on end we passed through the fields of heavy-headed, golden, sun-dried wheat stalks. As I looked out the window at the horizon it was hard to believe that somewhere in the distance we would find a magnificent wandoo forest--the remnant of a time before farming. Fortunately, the brochure didn't lie and about 1.5 hours outside of Perth a forest appeared on the horizon.  
The final approach to the trail we had planned to hike, was on an unsealed road.  As we turned off the air-con and rolled down the windows we were greeted with a blast of hot air.  It was well into the upper 30's.  We weren't too worried since the trail we were going to walk was short--only 5.5 km--and we had our hats, sunnies, sunblock and plenty of water.  

As we hit the trail I was taken back by the beauty that surrounded me. The variety and contrast of the trees was extraordinary. We passed through groves of powderbarks (with their powder skin cover), rock sheoak (with their dense weeping foliage), salmon gum (with their creamy orange trunks), and banksia (with their twisted and gnarled trunks). The meandering trail slowly climbed the laterite breakaways--rocky, flat-topped hills. Eventually, we re-entered the open woodland. Here amongst the hollow fallen trees I searched for the small marsupial found only in this part of the world. Unfortunately, probably due to the heat, this normally diurnal animal was nowhere to be found.  I couldn't help but feel disappointed as the circular trail returned us to our car. However, with the national park's proximity to Perth I new that we would one day return.


  1. Fortunately you had a good and beautiful walk, which is never wasted. I would also love to see a numbat in its own habitat. Seeing unique creatures or places always reminds me again what a fun place our world can be.

    Now, your story made me instantly think of the bizarre trek I made to see the leatherback turtles lay their eggs on the beach in Ghana, West Africa. I've heard it is not PC to offer up links to your own posts, but I'm thinking you might just enjoy this tale. It's here:

    I hope you have more luck seeing your marsupial next time!

  2. I had not heard of the numbat. It would have been cool to see one and I can see why you drove out to find one.

  3. Miss Footloose, I've yet to see a numbat, but the search continues! Thanks for sharing your turtle tale.

    Marta, I knew that they existed but didn't know in which part of Australia. Hopefully one of these days I'll get a glimpse of one in their natural habitat.