The Outback and Other Information – for Battalion Bloggers

In the comments of their poster entitled "Welcome to Grade THREE!", the Battalion Bloggers asked some questions. For their original post...

Welcome to Grade THREE!

Monitor Lizards

Perentie Lizards

This graphic has been sourced through Wikimedia Commons and is listed as in the public domain.

This graphic has been sourced through Wikimedia Commons and is listed as in the public domain.

The Perentie tend to live in central Australia across to Western Australia but are not native to my area. Their patterning is very attractive but I have only seen them in zoos and not in the wild. They are one of the monitor lizards.

 Lace Monitors

 The photo below shows a local lace monitor (goanna) I photographed while hiking. It was about 1.5m long and was seen eating an animal killed on the road. I have seen them a number of times.

Lace monitors are our second largest monitor lizards after the perentie. The perentie and lace monitor are thought to be slightly venomous but they are generally shy and run away if surprised. I have read fossils have been found in Australia showing komodo dragons, the largest of the monitors once also roamed Australia but are now only found in Indonesia.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Kangaroo, Koalas and Echidnas

I have seen kangaroos (and wallabies), koalas and echidnas in zoos and in the wild a number of times. There has been an echidna in my garden and kangaroos on the sports oval across the road. While wild koalas aren't common in my area, my local animal sanctuary has had them. Potoroo Palace has a female named Sapphire who was born in their sanctuary. I have known her since birth.

All of the video clips shown below were filmed by me at Potoroo Palace.

Kangaroo

The most common kangaroo in my area is the eastern grey kangaroo. The males can be up to around 2m tall and are common in my area. The pictured male was as tall as me. He watched me as I took his photo them he hopped away. They are only dangerous if they feel trapped.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Here is one of my short video clips showing eastern grey kangaroos.

Koala

The photo shows Sapphire when she was younger but had left her mother's pouch.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The first of my video clips shows one of the first times Sapphire looked out from her mother's pouch after about 26 weeks inside the pouch.

The second clip shows Sapphire with her mother, Suzie. Too big, Sapphire stayed out of the pouch but with her mother.

With the loss of Blinky (father) and Suzie (mother), Sapphire is now the only koala at Potoroo Palace. I am certain the staff will be hoping for a suitable mate for her to continue their koala breeding.

Echidna

 I have seen echidna when hiking, in a park in my town and even in my own backyard. Their eyesight isn't good and they can't bite. If threatened, they dig their strong claws into the ground, hold on, and show only their spines.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

This is what they look like when they dig in.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 

 Below is a video clip of Potoroo Palace's Spike.

The Outback.

There was an old saying, "Out back of Bourke". Others have talked about the outback starting at the dingo fence or  beyond the  "black stump", or a number of other areas but, mostly, outback refers to isolated inland areas of Australia. Unlike Canada, much of Australia is arid or semi-arid (deserts or near deserts) where rainfall is low and the soil is often reddish from iron oxides (rust). I'll share some photos, a number just scanned into the computer from old 35mm film slides, so you'll be the first to see them since many were taken back in 1985.

In 1981 and 1982 I was the Teacher in Charge of a one teacher school. It was very isolated and ranked number 6 in our state. Town was 100km away. The school was there for children from sheep and cattle stations. I lived 20km distant in a shearer's quarters on a 100,000 acre sheep station. We did have a computer on loan for about six weeks each year but the internet was still many years away for schools.

Below is a picture from 1982. Does it look isolated?

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

1985 - A Trip to Uluru (Ayers Rock)

By 1985, I was a teacher in an 850 student school in western Sydney. In 1983, I had organised a trip for some families to New Zealand but, for 1985, organised a trip through the centre of Australia. I was the 20 seater bus driver for most of the trip of over 7000km. Our first night was spent in the schoolroom of my old school pictured above. From there, we took dirt roads and a main highway until we reached Bourke. From there, we could have said we were in the outback.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Here are some photos from back then...

This is the Darling River in the town of Bourke. The Darling River is part of an inland water system stretching from Queensland through New South Wales (N.S.W.), Victoria and out to sea in South Australia(S.A.). In times of severe drought it can run dry or overflow in flood during big rain.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Heading north from Bourke along the Mitchell Highway, we stopped at the state border between N.S.W. and Queensland. The countryside was very flat but green as we had some rain the week before our trip.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 We came to the mining town of Mt. Isa in Queensland. Mt. Isa is in the tropical but dry north of Australia. The red colouring of the soil is caused by iron oxide (rust) in the soil. Lead, silver, copper and zinc is mined there.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

From Mt. Isa, we headed west and crossed into the Northern Territory, heading about half way across N.T.. before heading south to the Red Centre (the middle of Australia). One of our stops was at Karlu Karlu (Devil's Marbles) where there are many large rocks seemingly balanced on their ends. They are important in traditional Aboriginal beliefs.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Along the way, we crossed from the tropics back into the sub-tropics. A sign marked the line of the Tropic of Capricorn but I liked what someone had painted on the road. (The man in the photo was one of the dads and you can see we had some rain.)

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Finally, we arrived in Alice Springs, the town close to the middle of Australia if not really then in our minds. Again, as you can see in the photo, we were travelling in a wet period. The Todd River passes through Alice Springs but flowing water is rarely seen so, when they hold the Henley-on-Todd Regatta, it's more a running race holding something looking like a sailing boat. If the river is flowing with water, they have to cancel their boat races. 🙂

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

The MacDonnell Ranges are the mountains around Alice Springs. There are many gorges and beautiful rock formations to visit. Below is a photo of Standley Chasm. The people in the photo will give you an idea of the size of the chasm.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Heading south out of Alice Springs, we stopped at the Henbury Meteorite Craters. The twelve craters were formed when a meteorite broke into pieces before hitting the ground it's estimated about 4,700 years back.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Finally, we came to our main aim for our tour, Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). Like Karlu Karlu, the sites have special significance to the local Aboriginal people who are the caretakers of the land. The first photo shows Uluru at sunset. It is the visible part of a huge monolith (single stone). The second photo shows the position where it's possible for visitors to climb the rock. The Aboriginal people wouldn't climb to the top of Uluru because of its cultural importance but they allow visitors if they choose to do so.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

As you walk or drive around the base of Uluru, there are many places with simple barriers and signs asking people to respect special places for Aboriginal people. There are sacred places for Aborginal men and women they ask visitors not to enter. The photo below shows some Aboriginal artwork on Uluru in a place where visitors can visit.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Approximately west of Uluru is Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). You can see them in the distance in the first photo taken from Uluru and part of them up close in the second and third.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Heading south from Uluru, we crossed into South Australia (S.A.).

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

...and eventually reached the opal mining town of Coober Pedy where many people have built their homes underground to protect them from summer heat. The area is dotted with opal mines.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

We started to see salt lakes. Water flowing all the way from Queensland during high rainfall, has nowhere to go when reaching the lakes. As the water evaporates, salt is left behind. The next photo, taken from our bus, shows a salt lake in the distance.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Upon reaching the town of Port Augusta, we headed north-east through the Flinders Ranges.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

We crossed the border into N.S.W. and travelled 1200km to reach home.

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Schools and students have permission to use this graphic for non-commercial, educational purposes.

 

2 thoughts on “The Outback and Other Information – for Battalion Bloggers

  1. The Battalion Bloggers

    Hi Ross!

    Sorry that it took us SO long to respond to your AMAZING blog post! We’ve been working on our Rocks and Minerals Inquiry … and we JUST finished our ROCK Museum yesterday! We had lots and lots of fun at our Rock Museum, sharing our rock and mineral collections! Our parents came and so did the other Grade Three Classes! Mrs. Renton told us that YOU know a ton about rocks and minerals too. One day we are going to check out some of the rocks and mineral posts you have on your blog!

    We are glad that the perentie and lace monitors are only slightly venomous and that they are shy and will run away when they see people. Can the perentie and lace monitor venom kill a person if they bite them? We wonder why the komodo dragon is only found in Indonesia now and not in Australia anymore? HOW could they get to Indonesia when they once roamed Australia? We wonder if they lived in both places but then they died out in Australia. Why would they die out?

    We have the Grade Six teacher in our school … and he is our referent for two metres. He is about as tall as a male gray kangaroo can be! That’s pretty TALL!

    Sapphire is SO adorable! We thought it was SO cute when she started to peek out of her mama’s pouch. We LOVED the video footage you shared with us from the Potoroo Palace! We felt like we were RIGHT there, at the zoo alongside you! It’s too bad that Sapphire’s mom and dad died. We hope she finds a good mate so that there can be MORE koalas at the Potoroo Palace! 🙂

    Spike is SO cute! We think that the picture of the echidna digging his claws into the grown and curling into a ball to protect himself was SO cute! Do echidnas get frightened easily? We wonder if they do much damage to gardens like voles can do? We wonder what they like to eat … besides ants! We wonder how small an echidna’s egg would be. We STILL think it’s SO cool that they are egg-laying MAMMALS like platypuses! How BIG to echidnas grow … we wonder if our Grade Six teacher would be a GOOD referent for measuring an echidna! 😉

    We really enjoyed seeing all the pictures of your fieldtrip to the Outback! It looks like hardly anybody lives there. It would probably be a hard place to live because it looks like there aren’t any stores around to get food or water. It looks SO hot too!

    We loved Ayer’s Rock and the Devil’s Marbles at Karlu Karlu. We wonder how those rocks got stacked like that. They look like they could fall off at any moment! We wonder how long they’ve been stacked like that … and also how old Ayer’s Rock is! It just looks like a place where tons of poisonous snakes and spiders would live. Do armadillos live in the outback? How long and how tall is Ayer’s Rock?

    We LOVED all your pictures of the outback. We loved how you told us that people would build their houses underground to stay cooler. How would they get to their houses? What would happen if a rainstorm came … would those houses get flooded? Do the houses leak when there is a rainstorm? Wouldn’t it be hard to dig into the ground to build a house? Couldn’t it cave in? We wonder, if they go out, how do they find their houses again, if they are underground. Do they mark an x on the roof?
    We wonder what kinds of animals live in the outback.

    Thank you for sharing your pictures and sharing your journey with us, Ross!

    The Battalion Bloggers 🙂

    Reply
    1. rossmannell

      Post author

      Hello Battalion Bloggers,

      We all seem to be having busy times meaning our posts and comments can take weeks but I always enjoy what you share. Your comment on this blog led to thoughts and you know that can mean a new post so here is a link to a post I prepared while trying to answer your questions and curiosities…

      http://rossmannellcomments.edublogs.org/2013/11/29/more-on-australia-the-outback-and-its-animals-for-battalion-bloggers/

      Ross Mannell
      Teacher (retired), N.S.W., Australia

      Reply

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