Day 25-26: Booderee National Park
Updated: Jan 6
Moments before some locals walked up behind us, Elias spotted a pitch black snake at the edge of a lake. It was the perfect opportunity to turn to them and ask, “What the **** is that?!”
They leaned over the railing with curiosity, took one look, and casually responded, “Oh, that’s just a red-bellied black snake.”
”Are they venomous?”
Again, why are Australians so relaxed? No matter. We were already fumbling through our field guides to glean more information. One of the most commonly encountered endemic species in Australia, these snakes typically get up to four feet long and are recognizable by their pink (or dull red) belly. As we watched the snake look around for food, a second one appeared out of nowhere and began foraging alongside the first. We’ve never seen two snakes working side by side. Whether it was a joint effort, or a sheer coincidence, it was interesting behavior nonetheless. They are strong swimmers and can stay submerged for 20+ minutes. See video below for foraging behavior. (Note the second snake!)
Red-bellied black snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus)
Booderee National Park is situated on a peninsula that juts out into the ocean. Originally started as Jervis Bay National Park in the early 70s, the local Aborigines were offered seats on the Board, but declined due to protests over land rights. It took several more years, but the land was transferred back to the Aboriginal community, and subsequently renamed “Booderee,” or “bay of plenty.”
We explored the mosaic of habitats inside the park, including heath (coastal scrub), cliffs, sandy beaches, mangroves, swamps, eucalyptus forest, and ocean. A couple of white-bellied sea eagles were playing off the edge of Bowen Island, to the north.
One of the best surprises of the entire trip so far was finding an echidna along the trail to the ocean. We weren’t prepared for the cuteness. Echidnas are quill-covered monotremes (egg-laying mammal), also known as spiny anteaters. They probe their snout into soil to gain access to ants, termites, and larvae. This little one was busy foraging and didn’t know I was sitting that close with my camera, but it soon saw me and scurried off.
Short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus)
The view from the trail out to the ocean lookout at Booderee National Park.
And of course, the much-anticipated kangaroos! We stopped at a place called Hidden Camp outside of Vicentia, New South Wales. Kangaroos were feeding in the nearest field across from camp property. They were curious at first, but concluded we were not a threat, and went back to their business.
When you gotta itch, you’ve gotta itch…..
Rainbow lorikeets tried out their courtship displays of various acrobatics, hanging upside down, bowing, bobbing, and even prancing. All to impress a female.
Onward down the coast, we encountered some more great sea watching spots. Starting with “One Tree Point.” Another one of the protected beaches had a couple of hooded plovers with chicks.