Saturday, 5 May 2007

Happy as Nancy

As I spoke, my eyes trained upwards and, to my utter astonishment and delight, there she was: Ellenborough Nancy, in the flesh! She was perched in the very same tree she hightailed it up a week ago. "And here's a koala I prepared earlier..."
Last Saturday we enjoyed breakfast out at Port's newish café/restaurant, The Corner. Today we planned to do the same, but it was such a glorious morning here in the Hastings that we decided to travel further afield and to enjoy brunch at one of our favourite haunts, the Blue Poles Café & Gallery. It's a 40-odd-minute drive along the Oxley Highway to Byabarra from Port. There's a quaint nineteenth-century church across the road from Blue Poles and not much else; but if you continue through Byabarra on Comboyne Road you reach the picturesque Ellenborough Falls.

Back where the Comboyne Road meets the Oxley Highway is a good three quarters of the way from Port Macquarie to Ellenborough proper, the leafy locale where Pete and I released Ellenborough Nancy a week ago. I'd planned that the next time we made it out this way, we'd continue on through Long Flat to Ellenborough so that I could show D____ exactly where we released Nancy.

Ellenborough
Ellenborough campsite
From koalawrangler's gallery.

From the Comboyne turn-off, Oxley Highway winds through plunging cow-speckled valleys and soaring green mountains. It was gloriously sunlit today, in contrast to the hanging mist and chilling rain when we set Nancy free. It was near a campsite, which today was full of holiday-makers soaking up the sun. One woman was seated on a barbecue table, seemingly transfixed by the burble of the river below.

I pointed out the nicholli and tallowwood, two trees that Pete first considered as Nancy's designated "release tree", before circling over to the cluster of trees nearer the river. As I toured around the reserve, I related the course of events:

"...and at first we picked this tree, but Nancy bounded out of the basket and scampered over to this one...".

As I spoke, my eyes trained upwards and, to my utter astonishment and delight, there she was: Ellenborough Nancy, in the flesh! She was perched in the very same tree she hightailed it up a week ago. "And here's a koala I prepared earlier..."

Ellenborough Nancy
Ellenborough Nancy
From koalawrangler's gallery.

She was very high up in the tree, parked in a tree fork, and clearly awake. It had to be Nancy; I could see her turning her head and looking around her and her ears were very round and fluffy like Nancy's. She obviously had an itch or two to; she flipped her arm down in that characteristic koala way and scratched at her bottom a few times. Hopefully she hasn't got ticks.

I called out her name and half-imagined that she looked down towards me...and then promptly climbed even higher! A bunch of campers were about and they started pointing up at her. I told them her name and how she had wet bottom. One of the mothers commented derisively, referring to a nearby child, "Narelle had that this morning". Hmmm, not that kind of wet bottom.

Ellenborough Nancy
Ellenborough Nancy
From koalawrangler's gallery.

It was such a pleasure to see Nancy still happy and healthy in her new (old) home. It made me worry a bit about whether she was getting enough food though. Did she fossick about the other eucalypts at night? Were there other koalas nearby for her to mate with when the time came?

It seemed remarkable that she was in the very same tree we'd left her in. Does she think that it's her new gunyah and she has to stay there? Is she waiting for her handlers to bring her leaf-pots? No. She looked very happy there. Very much a real, wild koala. Happy as Nancy.

Click here to view more of today's Ellenborough snaps.