‘Roos, Moos, Maggies & Gums in Adelaide Hills
One of the delight of revisiting Adelaide Hills was getting reacquainted with Steve and Bev Paech, who hosted us in ’12 on their cattle farm about 6 km from Mt. Barker, a growing community for commuters from Adelaide who want to get a taste of rural lifestyle. Our time in Mt. Barker was spent relaxing and hiking around the farm, enjoying meals with Steve and Bev, with visits from their sons Robert, David and daughter Wendy and her two children, Ethan and Ava.
One of the most appealing parts of staying on the Paech farm is experiencing daily farm life. We hiked on dirt roads and on trails through paddocks, the grass burned from the blistering heat of summer. It had been 43 C before we arrived, and we had several days where the heat forced you inside after an hour or so.
Australian gum trees
I’m fascinated by Australian gum trees, alive or dead. They’re in the eucalyptus family, called eucalypts Down Under. They have such a beauty and serenity to them, tall, majestic, distinctive — and all different. I had admired them hiking on the trails or walking along rural roads around Mt. Barker. Gum trees are everywhere in Australia — in the bush, urban centers, parks, and in the tropics. There are many varieties and are the most common tree in Australia.
Head ’em out!
I joined Steve one morning when he was moving his cattle from a paddock where they’d eaten the grass to nubs into another tall with grass. They could also reach a pond for water and rest in shade from the fierce heat.
Steve raises black Angus, buying calves in the spring, feeding them through the summer, then selling them in the fall.
As soon as his cattle saw Steve drive into the paddock on his tractor, the cattle stopped grazing and headed to the gate where they knew he was a moving them.
‘Roos at sunset
One evening after dinner, we sat outside, enjoying the cooling night air. Across a paddock where sheep grazed, we’d seen kangaroos in the evenings. But the ‘roos had been evasive; you’d see them for a minute or two, then they’d disappear, heading back into the trees where they spent the day in the shade. ‘Roos are nocturnal and only move early in the morning or dusk.
One night, we spotted two ‘roos who seemed to be grazing at leisure. I’d tried to get photos of them before, but hadn’t had much luck. I took a chance, got my cameras, and headed across the paddock toward them. I was determined to get some photos of those magnificent creatures.
Kangaroos have excellent hearing and vision. They spotted me approaching from 200 meters away, slowing making my way across the dry paddock to a fence, crossing it, and moving closer. I used the zoom cameras, trying to get close shots of them. They watched me every step of the way. It was exciting, seeing how close I could get.
Apparently the larger ‘roo felt I was getting too close. Eyeball to eyeball, she took one hop to the fence, leaped across, and bounded away, graceful and fast. I was following her on my video camera as she hopped, then my battery died. But I got great shots of both, thrilled that I was able to get as close as I did to them.
Maggies on the paddock
Australian magpies are more interesting than their American cousins; they’re solid black and white, with no two looking alike. That coloring is distinctive, you can spot familiar ones in the neighborhood. They screech in the morning, roosting in trees to let you know they’re around.
You can get close to them, then they fly off, making a racket, telling their mates that somebody’s getting too close.
Odds and ends from Mt. Barker
During our time on Mt. Barker we saw other interesting sights. Hiking around farm, Steve showed me the remains of a small brick building that had been a stop over point for pioneers traveling between Adelaide and early settlements around Mt. Barker.
The hut was small, the chimney crumbling, with remnants of the stone foundation. Steve pointed through the trees to show the dirt path where pioneers had taken wagons or horses into the hills from Adelaide. The narrow path was visible and met the paved country road at a junction that led to their farm.
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