Here in Australia, hiking is called bush-walking. It seems everything that is not urban is classified as “bush”. Yesterday, since my teaching responsibilities were done by the afternoon, I decided to take a walk in the bush above the training center where I have been staying. It was a nice warm day, and I needed the exercise. I was having a nice walk until about 20 minutes up the trail, when the trail was narrowing and the bush getting decidedly thicker, I suddenly heard a rustling to the left of the trail, and caught, out of the corner of my eye, some creature dart REALLY FAST along the trail and dive into a thicket. Need I say that I jumped straight up and let out a yelp? And turned around and started walking straight back from whence I had come? About 50 yards ahead, the same thing happened, only this time on the other side of the trail. Either the critter was circling in for the kill or he had called in for reinforcements and the the ambush was being set. Another yelp on my part and I was practically running out of the bush. It’s important to keep in mind here that I had just finished reading Bill Bryson’s book, In a Sunburned Country, in which he takes great pains to point out that Australia has one of the world’s highest concentrations of deadly creatures. I have no idea what it was, and am quite sure that it was NOT one of those deadly creatures, but it spooked me nonetheless. When I got back to the campus and told my Aussie friends about this close encounter with a mystery creature they all howled. Dumb foreigner!
Today a local friend took me to Cradle Mountain for a hike. In 2 hours we encountered all manner of weather–sunshine, rain, sleet — in several cycles. And walked through all manner of terrain from tundra-like to rain forest. Stunning.
Apparantly road-kill is a problem in Tasmania. Here’s a sign reminding drivers not to hit the kangaroos!