Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Lurking

It's funny how much of an outsider I feel, standing on the other side of the wire wearing clean clothes and without my koala smock and customary haze Aeroguard.
Today I'm volunteering at Roto House, a restored 19th century homestead on the same grounds as the koala hospital. I can't resist popping in to the koala hospital to see how the koalas are. I'm immediately bowled over by the The heady eucalyptus odour that hits me as soon as I get out of the car. It's humid today. I already feel inadequately dressed and out of place with my non-koalawrangling clothes on.

I see Peter and Geoff in yard 3 replacing a gunyah (not the koalas Macquarie Peter and Condon Geoff, but the human, wrangler variety). Apparently it was infested with ants. O'Briens Fiona has been temporarily shifted to yard 1 while they install the new beam. I ask Peter what else is new. They managed to recapture Bellevue Bill who was AWOL up a tree in yard 10. He's now in ICU again. I also ask whether Fiona has been behaving herself. The answer is "no": they found her next door in Innes Wonga's yard that morning! She's a wiley critter! Fiona is fine, but Wonga needs a Bex and a lie-down.

I walk over to yard 10. Ross is there. He says it's his last day (again) as he's starting a job. He'll miss the koalas. I'm chatting to him over Warrego Martin's yard, but there's no sign of the koala. Ross points upward. Martin has crawled up the umbrella and is sitting in the spokes like it's an elaborate tree-fork. Ross gently removes the umbrella from its slot and tilts it to the ground. Martin clings on regardless then finally crawls free.

It's funny how much of an outsider I feel, standing on the other side of the wire wearing clean clothes and without my koala smock and customary haze of Aeroguard. I peer down towards yard 9 and see a koala roaming around on the ground. I wander down for a closer look. It's Wiruna Lucky again. She's wandering around the graves of Perch Miracle and Cloud that occupy a corner of the yard. The gothic romantic in me wonders if she's paying some sort of ritual tribute. Emma's suggestion is that she's lonely now that the Old Girls' network has diminished. Ocean Therese, a long-term inhabitant of yard 9 only recently moved to yard 10a. Of course, it can't be that: koalas are lone creatures, but it's hard not to imprint their behaviour with our own values.

Wiruna Lucky visiting Perch Miracle's grave

Click here to view more of today's koala hospital photos.