Environment

Walking with wombats is a perk of bush capital

Only one in five members of the Australian public ever see a wombat in the wild.

And by venturing just 25 minutes from the city centre, Canberrans have the opportunity to be in that 20 per cent.

Ranger Colin Schofield took 12 people on a nighttime wombat walk along the Googong Foreshores south of Queanbeyan during the school holidays, as part of the ACT Territory and Municipal Services' new holiday program, Explore.

After half an hour, the group was within touching distance of the short-legged furry friend, which was surprisingly unfazed by human presence.

Mr Schofield said there is a thriving wombat population along the Burrow Creek, as the water and luscious grassland make for an ideal habitat.

It's "like a resort for them inside the reserve", except for disease, drought, and natural predators like eagles and foxes.

Advertisement

But it's a different story closer to Queanbeyan, where the new Googong township "hugely affects" wombat numbers.

"We see regularly wombats hit by cars all the time from the traffic that has increased," Mr Schofield said.

"The threat is machinery, really, and the dogs that come along and move into the urban areas, and the wombats move out from their natural places of habitat and into urban infil.

"There is also the issue of illegal hunting outside the park … wombats aren't farmers' best friends."

He said they rate higher than kangaroos and most other native wildlife as a drawcard as they are less commonly seen.

Jane Sheperd and Barry Bain from Crace said they were surprised to learn that the nocturnal creatures unintentionally save other animals from bushfires.

Because each wombat builds multiple borrows up to 30 metres deep, animals such as wallabies and lizards hide down the empty ones until danger passes.

"I wondered whether wombats did much good, because I've always seen them as a little bit of an obstacle because I do a lot of night driving," Mr Bain said.

"But there's more to them than that."

Michael Robens, who went on the the walk with his wife and children, said the walk was proof of the "bush capital's" perks.

"It's really something special, it's not something you get anywhere else in the world I don't think," the Isaacs man said.

"It's too easy to get stuck into a game or a movie and waste the night, instead you could be out here enjoying all this."

For future wombat walk dates and other activities, visit tams.act.gov.au

Advertisement