They sit quietly, eyes focused on possible spotting sites, ready to pounce at any moment. SNAP! Got one! Inch a little closer…
SNA… Damn! The target’s eyes glance towards the snappers and, diverting their faces from the camera lens, off they dash. This last photo, the one that should be the money shot, is of the target’s back.
It’s a scene straight from the streets of Hollywood, except for a couple of big differences: we’re in the Victorian bush – Wilson’s Promontory National Park, to be exact – and the celebrities in question are the animals. This puts me in the role of a paparazzo. How unfortunate.
Our family trip to the southernmost tip of the Australian mainland was defined by wildlife. The park’s natives are so accustomed to visitors that they are neither keenly interested nor scared, instead acting nonchalant about the whole affair.
It all began when we arrived at the Tidal River campground. It’s the only place to stay on the Prom itself (I don’t mean to sound over-enthusiastic; I mean it’s literally the only place you can stay here) and prides itself on being friendly to the critters. By dusk there were little cuddly-looking animals crawling everywhere, sniffing out campers’ food.
This is the one time they’re interested in humans: when they leave food lying around. There are signs everywhere, and many reported stories, warning of a wombat’s ability to get into anything if they smell food – so whatever you do, don’t keep food lying around. Unless you’re safely tucked in one of Tidal River’s beautiful (wombat-proof) cabins, that is.
By nightfall they were hard to spot. After one near-catastrophic visit to the loo, my husband came back to our campsite laughing. ‘Take a torch when you go,’ he advised. ‘I just tripped over a wombat.’ (A pearl of wisdom that should have warned us against all night-time Prom activity. No, not like that, it was all very innocent… oh, just read on to hear the story.)