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Bidjar Ngoulin: the prettiest little spot in the known universe, almost

Thursday December 30, 2010 | 36 km | Munda Biddi total so far: 253 km

I’ve been giving the local marsupials an early morning, or evening, workout in recent days.

Usually first notification of their presence is the thudding sound of a large tail whacking the ground and some rustling in the shrubbery as they bound away.

You don’t get much of a look but it seems there’s the two main types represented: wallabies and, now, kangaroos. Generally they are alone but sometimes it’s mum with a miniature hopping bundle trailing.

The wallabies are small, compact and have distinctive ears, much like a cat’s, but more heavily set features. Their face looks somewhat like a possum, squat, stocky. When they skedaddle, they’re outta here, at great pace immediately, swerving, sometimes, to avoid the undergrowth. All you see, often, is an extraordinarily long tail with the last half almost black, prehensile, it looks as if it could be used to climb trees. Must investigate.

The roos are larger and more elegant, their face and ears more deer-like, their movement more graceful and they sometime stop a short distance away and have another look at what disturbed their repose.

I like the roos but this local species is nowhere near as big as the great greys or reds that are more popular further east, probably the elegant Euro.

Another wonderful day, still not a cloud in the sky, probably around 35°C.

A swim in the Murray River, no, not that one, at lunch, tan quickly dissolved, and an afternoon following up the river, and, once past Nanga, onto the best riding surface of the trip, packed, smooth clay, along an old timber tramline called the Northern Formation.

Went to see the colossal King Jarrah, not quite Tane Mahuta, (that astonishingly large 1000 year old Kauri tree north of Auckland), but inspiring none the less. I did wonder why this solitary specimen was retained, maybe the loggers couldn’t be bothered hacking their way through that one, or, in less politically correct times left a statement, we cut this giant forest down and we are giants ourselves.

Some tough occupation. Jarrah is an immensely durable timber, nail bending, you have to drill holes, heavy as a rock, even when dry, with a deep red colour.

Once it was used for floors, furniture or anything really, now it’s being harvested from “plantations”, and used for flooring, furniture or anything.

It’s great they left The King. Logged in the 1930s the rest of the trees are matchsticks in comparison.