Ok so I haven’t mentioned a really difficult part of moving to Australia. No no it’s not the cultural adjustment, getting used to things being more expensive, nor figuring out when to say “mate”.
It’s being on the opposite side of the world from puffins.
Puffins are located throughout the northern Atlantic Ocean. A quick perusal of antipodesmap.com will show that Australia is basically on the other side of the world from the northern Atlantic.
So what would happen, would my love of puffins diminish? I don’t really think that’s possible. But is there an animal that is as cute and cantankerous as the puffin in my new homeland?
It was time to start finding out.
I decided to visit a small town called Kangaroo Valley, about two hours south of Sydney. The journey involved renting a car and driving on the left side of the road, which I am decent enough at doing. Thankfully I was able to secure a Tesla for my rental so the driving was much easier. A combination of me and the car drove down to Kangaroo Valley, an adorable little hamlet with shops and eateries nestled in a valley between two high-ish hills.
Sure it was an adorable town, but I was going to Kangaroo Valley to see a very specific animal, and it wasn’t the kangaroo (although I did see MANY of them). It was to see the wombats.
Seeing my first wombat
The wombat area is also a popular campground called Bendeela. Amongst the tents and campfires were roving photographers, ready to see the adorable little wombats.
Around dusk, I saw my first. It was in some thick brush, munching on some of the greenery.
WHAT?! HOW CUTE IS THAT?!
Ok why was I interested in seeing wombats? What makes them unique?
Ok so wombats are smallish, dense marsupials that are crepuscular in nature and love eating roots and stems. They’re about a meter long and weigh upwards of 30kg (75ish pounds). These wombats are docile in nature, though I tried to keep a respectful distance (I was using my Sony a7rV and 400mm f2.8 lens so I wasn’t worried about having to crop in). The wombats are known for having the toughest butt in the animal kingdom. It’s actually their defense mechanism, and it’s hypothesized that their main method of defending themselves is, and I’m not making this up, twerking. (note: that link is SFW).
The wombats seemed unique and adorable enough to potentially be my spiritual land puffin while I’m in Australia. I wanted to see more.
As I walked around the campground I started to see more and more of the wombats, which largely resemble boulders more than anything else.
It was funny, I’d be sitting there taking pictures of one of them and then turn slightly to realize that one of them was almost right next to me, not caring about anything but its food.
They’re not really fast movers, more plodding along as they ate. Same, honestly.
I captured some good eating footage on Instagram, with plenty more to come.
The wombats seemed to only stop eating to do one of three things: paw at the dirt to expose the roots, scratch their necks with their hind legs, and reach back like people to SCRATCH THEIR BUTTS LOL
They were just so adorable.
There were kangaroos too
I saw a kangaroo with a little joey in its pouch.
Back to wombats
I mean are they not the most photogenic little things ever?!
Now now I know what you’re thinking: “Andy, did they really just have their face stuffed into the ground the entire time?” Well, yeah. They’re kind of singularly focused in that regard. But that’s part of what made them so cute! And apparently pretty terrible to camp around, if you’re camping at the site.
So, did the wombat become my Australian Land Puffin?
It made a pretty strong case. Ease of seeing them, adorableness, kind of lacking on the personality side but I could sense some cantankerousness, they made a compelling case for sure.
I can’t say they won the battle quite yet though. There is another animal that is known the world over for its cuteness. I must visit it.
Stay tuned for more adventures of me finding adorable animals.