Kangaroos that is. Unfortunately all but about 50 were dead – typically on one- or two-lane roads 100km from any town.
The dinosaur dig was 66 km (40 miles) west of Winton, Queensland (population 900) on the way to Middleton (Population 3 – yes that is a 3) – more than 1,400 km (840 miles) west of Brisbane. Once we got more than a couple hundred miles from Brisbane, you couldn’t drive a mile without seeing a dead kangaroo by the side of the road. We (I went on the trip with Graeme Potter, the Director of the Queensland Museum) almost hit two kangaroos in his four-wheel Toyota Land Cruiser. One jumped across the road about 30 feet in front the car. The other headed directly at us from the right. I was sure it was going to hit us – but it bounded across the road just behind the car. I couldn’t tell if it was oblivious to our presence or was “pacing itself” to cross right behind us.
The dead animals were a boon for the kite hawks and crows that scavenged on the carcasses.
The best view we had of kangaroos was a mob (that’s what they call a grouping of kangaroos) of about 10 kangaroos near the Australian Age of Dinosaur fossil storage and preparation facility. I couldn’t get a photo of the kangaroos, but they looked much like the kangaroos on the masthead of this blog site.
There was other wildlife to see — a number of emus, including one that came to see what all these people were doing digging in the middle of a sheep and cattle paddock. The cattle stopped to see what we were doing. For a time it seemed they wanted to use the dunny – what Australians call a port-a-potty. Saw many gray and pink galahs (a parrot looking bird) and a bustard, a bird about half the size of an emu with long neck and large head.
And then there were the insects. Not as many flies as I expected since the dig site leaders said they had fly nets for our hats if we needed them. But we did uncover many spiders – one carrying its egg sack – and a six-inch poisonous centipede.
I drove for about 800km (480 miles) of the trip, so got plenty of practice driving on the left side of the road. That experience — and the Road Trains — I’ll save for another post – along with what it was like to play in the dirt for three days hunting for dinosaurs.
Update on the election – it is three weeks and counting since election day and there is still not a new government. The tally is now 74 in support of Labor and 73 in support of the Coalition party (76 are needed to form a government). Three independents who have yet to declare the party they will support went home for the weekend to “think.” The claim is they will make a final decision this coming week.