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 https://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

Wedgetail eagle a frequent flyer in Deep Creek Conservation Park


The wedge tail eagle (Aquila Audax) is the largest bird of prey in Australia.

Although they are found across the continent they favour lightly timbered and open country.

The wedge tail is a common sight in Deep Creek with healthy numbers throughout the Park.

 Females are bigger than males with wingspans typically between 180-230 cm.

 Some historical records have even shown wingspans of just under 3 metres.



Nests are usually built in the fork of a tree or sometimes on cliff edges.

Typically they are between 2 to 5 metres wide with similar depths.

Usually two eggs are laid which take about 45 days to hatch.

During that period the female broods while the male hunts for food.

Once the chick is about 1 month old both parents hunt for food.

Offspring can be dependent for food for up to six months after hatching

but leave the nest once the next breeding season commences.

Juveniles are mid brown in colour but darken with age to a dark brown to black colour.



Wedge tail eagles can often fly at heights of up to 6000ft (2000 metres)

and have vision which extends in to ultraviolet wavelengths.

Native prey typically includes wallabies, possums, small kangaroos and bandicoots.

However, with the introduction of European animals their prey now predominantly

consists of rabbits and to a lesser extent hares, foxes and feral cats.

Under ideal conditions a wedge tail eagle can lift approximately half its body weight.

Carrion, especially road kill, forms a major part of the eagle’s diet.

Their superb eye sight can spot other scavengers such as crows

feeding on a carcass from a great distance.



The introduction of the calicivirus has resulted in a decline of rabbits in

many parts of Australia.  As it is the principle food source for eagles it remains

to be seen if this will have an adverse impact on eagle population numbers.

Their home range can vary from just 9m2 to over 100m2.  Occasionally, wedge tail eagles

are known to defend their territory against hang gliders and paragliders as shown in this video

Dolphins call Deep Creek home

Did you know there is a thriving dolphin population along the coastal waters of

Deep Creek Conservation Park?  The Bottlenose dolphin is a common sight and

a good indicator of the health of our marine life.

On a recent outing to Boat Harbour we encountered a pod of in excess of 40

dolphins mulling around the Cove. Whilst looking for food they were putting on a

surfing show that would put Kelly Slater to shame.



The Boat Harbour Cove is a particularly promising venue to spot dolphins.  The

bench overlooking it on the Heysen Trail is a fantastic vantage point to take in

the panoramic views towards the Pages Islands.



Volunteers and scientists have formed effective alliances at Victor Harbour and

Kangaroo Island to collect valuable information on dolphins.  However, there is a

bit of a gap along the South West Fleurieu Coast from Tunkalilla Beach and

Deep Creek through to Fisheries Beach.


Whilst there is plenty of general knowledge available on the Bottlenose dolphin

which appears in many parts of the world less is known about their presence in

South Australian waters.  Marine scientists from Flinders University have

examined DNA samples which suggest that there may be a sub-specie of the

Bottlenose dolphin living in the Southern waters of Australia.



If you have the pleasure of encountering dolphins during a walk in Deep Creek

why not pause for a moment. Take note of the size of the group, their behaviour

and perhaps pass the information on together with any images to Kangaroo

Island Victor Harbour dolphin watch.


 This volunteer project is based on the

citizen science concept.  Information collected can contribute to forming a more

comprehensive picture of this fascinating marine mammal.


Creature Feature

Creature Feature

Yellow footed Antechinus

One of the many smaller creatures living in Deep Creek Conservation Park is the Yellow-footed Antechinus. It is sometimes mistaken for a rodent but is distinctly different.
This carnivorous marsupial is indigenous to Australia and is primarily found along the east coast of Australia, the south-western part of Western Australia and the Mount Lofty Ranges in South Australia.
Its diet consists mainly of spiders, beetles and other invertebrates such as cockroaches although they are also known to eat eggs, small birds and house mice. One of the peculiar traits of the antechinus is that it likes to turn its prey inside out to get to the flesh, leaving the skin behind.
Measured from head to tail females typically grow up to 80mm with males reaching 120mm.
Perhaps the most startling aspect of this diminutive animal is its mating behaviour. Mating season is triggered by an increase in day light hours and is aimed to coincide with the abundance of insects during summer once the litter is born. The antechinus is semelparous, meaning it will generally only live long enough to breed once in its short life. This is particularly so for males who, according to some studies, do not live past 11 & 1/2 months. That said, they do compensate by copulating for up to 12-14 hours.
Some females can live 2 to 3 years enabling them to have more than one litter. They can store sperm for up to 3 days and do not ovulate until the end of the breeding season. Since they mate with multiple partners the net effect of this is that litters often have several fathers (known as multiple paternity). The litter size is largely determined by the number of teats and typically consists of 8 babies.
The extended copulation takes its toll on the males who use all their stored fat and protein to fuel their mating frenzy during this period and effectively die of stress after a breakdown of their immune system after 2 weeks.
Cute as it is, this marsupial is constantly on the lookout for new hideouts and is particularly attracted to our sheds and also Goondooloo Cottage. With the use of Elliot traps we are able to safely re-locate them to other parts of the Park without harm although some seem to be able to find their way home again very successfully!


Principal reference: Dr Diana Fisher, School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland