Our number one resident

Locals chill at Cobbler Hill

Locals chill at Cobbler Hill

 

If there is one thing that is synonymous with Deep Creek Conservation Park,

apart from the breath taking scenery, it’s the abundance

of western grey kangaroos (macropus fulginosus).

In some parts of the Park such as Goondooloo Ridge

mobs of several hundred can be seen at any time.

 

Western Grey Kangaroos getting acquainted in front of Goondooloo Cottage

Western Grey Kangaroos getting acquainted in front of Goondooloo Cottage

 

A fully grown male can weigh up to 54 kg, leap close to 12m in a

single hop and reach speeds of up to 60kph.

They feed mainly on grasses but can also be found foraging

amongst leafy shrubs using their fore-arms to reach higher foliage.

The sometimes comical ‘boxing’ contests that can be seen in mobs

help establish the dominance hierarchy among males and the right to mate.

 

 

 

Gestation is typically 30-31 days after which the incomplete foetus

resembling a jelly bean crawls to the teat in the pouch.

Here it suckles for a further 130-150 days.  Joeys  leave the pouch

after about 9 months but continue to suckle for a further 9 months.

And the reference to curry?  Well, adult males have a distinct ‘curry-like’

odour giving them the nick name of stinker.

 

Kangaroos at Glenburn Cottage

Glenburn Cottage official welcoming committee

The Short Beaked Echidna – a mammal like no other

Echidna, Deep Creek Conservation Park

Echidnas are regularly sighted in Deep Creek Conservation Park.

 

International visitors often comment on the unusual features of our wildlife

and with just cause; it is like no other.  The echidna is a prime example and

a frequently sighted resident of Deep Creek Conservation Park.

What makes it so special apart from its spines, bird-like beak and a pouch similar

to a kangaroo?  It is one of only a handful of egg laying mammals known as a monotreme.

The short beaked echidna lays a single egg and places it in their small

backward facing pouch where it hatches after 10 days to become a puggle.

 

New born Echidna

A newborn puggle. (Image courtesy Paul Fahy)

 

The puggle continues to grow inside the pouch until it develops spines.

At this point it is asked to vacate the premises and goes to live in a burrow

that the mother has built for a further 6 months.

The diet of the short beaked echidna typically includes ants,

termites, grubs, larvae and worms.  They can detect tiny electrical signals

from the insect’s body and use their sharp claws to dig up nests to reveal

invertebrates.  Once exposed the echidna licks them up with its tongue.

Echidnas are unable to perspire and in order to cope with summer

heat they avoid day time activities.  Their main threats are dogs and foxes.

 

short beaked echidna

Echidna Spines | by Evan Pickett

 

The Southern Grass Tree

Anyone who has visited Deep Creek Conservation Park would know

that it is synonymous with the Southern Grass Tree (Xanthorrehoea Australis)

The District Council of Yankalilla has used it as its logo for many years.

But did you know that these grass trees are slow growing and long lived with

some estimated to be 450 years old.

 

Yaccas in Stringybark Forest

A feast of Yaccas in the Stringybark Forest

  In fact, the rough trunk only develops after many

years of growth.  Its typical black appearance is the result of exposure to bushfires over decades.

The reason the tree usually survives a fire is that its living growth-point

is buried underground, protected by a tightly packed leaf base.

 

Growth rates, although hard to quantify, have been estimated at between 1-3 cm per year.

Flowering takes several years and does not happen annually.

However, after bushfires up to 80% of grass trees will flower producing

a single spear-like cream coloured stem that can reach up to 3m in height.

 

Flowering Yaccas at Cobbler Hill with Kangaroo Island in the background

Flowering Yaccas at Cobbler Hill with Kangaroo Island in the background

The Southern grasstree was an important plant for Aborigines, both as a source

of food and drink as well as for fibre and materials for tool and weapon construction.

The flowering stem, when soaked in water, produces a sweet drink

while it also releases a resin that was used as a glue when making tools.

Stems could also be used as part of a spear or as a base for fire making

implements and the tough seed pods were used as cutting implements.

 

The distinctive leaves of grass trees are captivating

The distinctive leaves of grass trees are captivating

 

European settlers used the resin to produce a lacquer for furniture.

Grass trees are also known as ‘yacca’, which is likely derived from

a South Australian Aboriginal language, mostly likely Kaurna.

Today you can marvel at the majesty of these great survivors

from the comfort of your patio at the Ridgetop Retreats.

 

Xanthorrehoea at Ridgetop Retreats

Watch the leaves of the Yacca dance to the tune of the wind from your patio

The Big Slow Moving Skink

Shingleback

Dappled sun and shadows show the value of camouflage for this shingleback

Known by a variety of names including stumpy tail, sleepy lizard,

shingleback and pinecone lizard the Tiliqua Rugosa is widespread

in low rainfall areas as well as coastal parts of Western & South Australia.

They favour coastal heath and sclerophyll forests which

are abundant in Deep Creek Conservation Park.

Although omnivorous their diet usually consists of flowers and leaves.

However, they don’t mind a broader palette that includes snails, beetles and other insects.

Did you know shinglebacks mate for life?  They are strictly monogamous

and will seek out the same partner year after year.

 

Shinglebacks

Marital bliss? Shinglebacks mate for life.

According to extensive research undertaken by Michael Bull

from Flinders University, they can live in excess of 50 years

and during drought years can skip parenthood to focus on survival.

 Typically, a litter consists of 2 live young which together make up ⅓ of

the female’s body weight.  This has been compared to a woman

giving birth to a 7-year-old child….     Respect!

 

Shingleback

Tongue & cheek

They are ectothermic meaning they can’t generate their own

body heat and must rely on warmth from their surroundings.

Although shinglebacks seem sluggish it is surprising how

they just disappear if you take your eyes off them for a moment!

During springtime the male will follow the female within a few centimetres for

many days before they get to mate.  According to Prof. Michael Bull it’s like a little train.

 

 

Shingle back in Deep Creek Conservation park

Shingle back in Deep Creek Conservation park

Southern Brown Bandicoot (aka ‘Bruce’)

'Bruce' the bandicoot at the Ridgetop Retreats

‘Bruce’ the bandicoot at the Ridgetop Retreats

 

Prior to European settlement the Southern Brown Bandicoot was wide spread

throughout the Mount Lofty Ranges but it is now a fairly rare sighting.

Indeed, of the eight species of Bilby and Bandicoot that could be found in South Australia

the Southern Brown Bandicoot is now the only one remaining.

Fortunately, Deep Creek Conservation Park provides an important refuge for this marsupial.

They are predominantly solitary and nocturnal although day time sightings are not uncommon.

Typical life expectancy is between 3 and 5 years.

 

 

'Bruce' on the scrounge at the Ridgetop Retreats

‘Bruce’ calling in to say hello on his morning walk at the Ridgetop Retreats

Bandicoots are omnivorous but principally eat anything that crawls or flies in the insect world.

Their diet is further supplemented by plant matter such as grasses, fungi, fruits, and seeds.

Dense ground cover such as that found in Deep Creek is essential for their survival

with threats primarily coming from birds of prey, dogs, foxes, and cats.

During the past three years, the Ridgetop Retreats have become ‘home’ to

several bandicoots who live in the native vegetation that surrounds them.

Guests are frequently welcomed on their patio by ‘Bruce’ who is very inquisitive.

Check out this short video of him ‘on the scrounge’ here

Fungi – the beautiful mould

Flaming fungus - Deep Creek Conservation Park

Flaming fungus – Deep Creek Conservation Park

 

Ok, yes its true. Fungi don’t quite have the same magnetic appeal of

say a furry animal but that does not make them any less interesting.

Did you know that fungi are neither plant nor animal.

They play a vital role in the breakdown of other organisms

and are the great recyclers of our ecosystem.

Put simply, plants produce, animals consume but fungi recycle.

 

Fungus on the Stringybark trail in Deep Creek Conservation Park

Equally less well known is the fact the Deep Creek Conservation Park

is a mecca for different fungi.  The Stringybark Walking Trail in particular

is somewhat of a fungal hot spot due to the type of vegetation

and favourable conditions that have prevailed for many years.

To fully appreciate the sheer diversity in shape, colour and size

a visit to this trail during June and July is a must.

 

Fungus in Deep Creek Conservation Park

 

The trail is suitable for the whole family and can be easily completed

in 20-30 minutes but allow time to marvel at what lies at your feet.

For a more extensive account of this amazing living organism see the

Fungi section on our nature page at http://southernoceanretreats.com.au/nature/

 

Fungi emerge in many shapes, sizes and colours along the Stringybark trail

Fungi emerge in many shapes, sizes and colours along the Stringybark trail