Our Australian Wildlife
In the recent years we have been fortunate to have had the support of the Australian Dingo Foundation who kindly shared their intimate knowledge of this fascinating breed of indigenous Australian wildlife with us as well as provided us with our four incredibly beautiful Dingoes.
For us, it has been a wonderful learning curve ever since. Here are a few facts:
It is misconception to believe that Dingoes have arrived on the continent on with early immigration and have subsequently become “wild”. We have evidence that the Dingo has been here for thousands of years, and is therefore not a dog and never has been domesticated. He is much rather what we would call the Australian Wolf. A pure bred Dingo can never be domesticated and will always retain his intrinsic ‘wildness’. Nevertheless, growing up in an environment shared with humans and being in social interaction with them constantly will build relationships of trust which can be very fulfilling for both sides. They are by nature not aggressive, but will defend themselves when threatened, as will free born creatures.
We have had our Dingoes since they were pups and have so been able to bond closely. I cannot express what an exciting experience it has been to learn to love and respect them and earn their full trust.
Guided entry and close up encounter
About a year ago we have decided to make meeting the Dingoes one of the main features of our Park. For a small additional charge we accompany interested visitors into the enclosure, recently renovated and expanded, enabling them to interact with them. As expected, the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
The emu is native to Australia, and is the second largest existing bird after the ostrich. Unlike much of Australia’s wildlife, the emu is diurnal, meaning it is active by day. Despite its wings, the emu cannot fly. Instead it uses its wings for stability and balance while running. The emu’s speed is one of its defences in the wild, often reaching speeds faster than 50 km/h. Other defences include knife-like nails on its feet, and incredible eyesight, which allows the emu to spot predators from a great distance.
The emu has a simple diet of plants, grains and insects, depending on habitat and seasonal availability. Strangely, included in the emu’s menu are small rocks and pebbles. An emu will eat a lot of them to help with the digestion of plant material.
The emu breeding season is generally in the summer. The female will lay up to 20 large green eggs, each one being the size of 12 chicken eggs combined. The male, however, will devote 8 weeks without food or water, to incubate the eggs. For the first 9 weeks of their lives, the little emu chicks will be cared for by their father. In the wild, emus are known to have a lifespan of between 10 and 20 years long.
Eastern Grey Kangaroo
The Eastern Grey Kangaroo is one of Australia’s native marsupials. This family of kangaroos is found across the continent’s eastern mainland, usually in high rainfall areas, where there are both grazing plains and forest for shelter. As a nocturnal animal the eastern grey kangaroo is mostly active by night. Males are larger than females, and bare more muscle. The kangaroo has very powerful hind legs, and, supported by its strong tail for balance, can reach travelling speeds of about 60 km/h. Kangaroos are also known to be good swimmers.
The eastern grey kangaroo is one of the more social of the large kangaroos. They are often found in mobs of more than 20 males, females and joeys, usually where there is grazing. Kangaroos nourish themselves with grasses, herbs, leaves and shrub.
At breeding time, which is usually in summer, adult males engage themselves in ritual fight with each other, for respect and their chance to breed with the female kangaroos of the mob. When a joey is born, it is still at an early stage of development. This occurs after 36 days of pregnancy. The newborn is blind as it makes its way through its mother’s fur and into her pouch, where it attaches itself to a teat and continues developing. Eastern grey kangaroos take longer to mature than other kangaroos. The joey will first explore out of the pouch after approximately 280 days, and after about 320 days since birth, it will permanently leave its mothers pouch, and will mature and continue the cycle. Eastern grey kangaroos may live up to 25 years.
The wombat is found in the southern and eastern states of Australia. After the larger kangaroos, it is the largest marsupial, reaching an average length of 1m and a weight of 25 kg. The world’s largest burrowing animal, they are widely known for their incredible digging strength, and live in burrows of up to 30m long. Their forelegs are the strongest part of their body, and are equipped with large claws to help them dig through tough earth. Wombats normally live alone and are nocturnal. They have very poor eyesight but their keen sense of smell and excellent hearing keeps them alert and wary of any predators. Wombats feed on grasses and roots. The female wombat has an upside down pouch, which prevents dirt from getting in while she is digging.
Red-necked Wallabies are a common species of wallaby, found on the east coast of Australia, including Tasmania. This marsupial’s habitats include scrubland as well as open forests and coastal heath areas. They are mostly brown in colour, but their main physical distinction is the reddish fur on the back of their necks. During the day Red-necked wallabies shelter in dense undergrowth, spending most of their time alone, and only coming out at dusk to graze. Unlike during the day, red-necked wallabies like to graze communally, normally feeding on grasses and herbs.
Red-necked wallabies breed all year round. Males reach maturity at 19 months and females at 14, after which a female will almost always have young in her pouch. The joey will permanently leave his mother’s pouch about 240 days after birth, but will continue suckling from her teat until the age of 17 months,
Swamp wallabies are marsupials generally found in woodlands and swamp areas. As nocturnal animals, they rest by day in the shelter of dense bush, and come out at night to feed in the open. They are mostly solitary, except at feeding times. As a family member to the kangaroos and may other wallabies, they, too, feed on grasses and other shrubbery. However, the swamp wallaby, prefers to nourish itself with the leaves of many different plant species. It even has slightly different teeth to help chew tougher leaves. It naturally can also digest a few wild leaves which are otherwise poisonous to other animals and humans. Like other marsupials of the same species the young of the swamp wallaby are born extremely small and spend 8 – 9 months developing in their mother’s pouch.
We at the Great Ocean Road Wildlife Park are principally opposed to keeping birds in a caged in environment. We have therefore held by the principle that only birds who need rescue who would otherwise face death or extremely inhuman imprisonment will be taken in.
However, the extremely rich and varied bird life in our region can be admired by our visitors by enjoying them roaming freely, in our fields and enclosures, in the trees and by the lake. So, keep your eyes (and ears) open, and you will be rewarded...