Did you know that there is a colony of 50,000 bats in Melbourne? The smallest penguin in the world calls a Melbourne breakwater its home, and along with many species of native birds, Melbourne is heaving with all kinds of wildlife from within the city.
Let’s take a moment to stop and marvel at this great city of ours, with wonderful parks, creeks, rivers and a beach at our doorstep, it offers us human’s fantastic natural resources and beautiful spaces to relax away from the hustle of the CBD. Our tree lined streets and reserves are also habitat to unique wildlife, living right beside us. Finding a way to live amongst the buildings, houses and roads, seeking out hideaways to nest in, Melbourne’s wildlife is flourishing.
From the moment you arrive into Tullamarine airport you may be fortunate enough to spot Australia’s most iconic animal hopping in a paddock right by the freeway. Kangaroos tend to stay in mobs, so if you spot one, there are bound to be more. Any grassland for grazing with tree cover is popular, and they are best spotted at dawn or dusk. Many live on the fringes of the city and are slowly being pushed further out as more developments are built and suburbs expand.
A creature that doesn’t seem to want to move out is the Common Brushtail and Ringtail Possum. Seen as a pest to many, as they seek out nests in the roofs of people’s homes. Being a nocturnal animal, their main activity is at night and this can mean lots of noise for inhabitants. Installing a nest box on a tree in your garden is a good way of diverting the problem and creating a cosy home for these gorgeous furry little creatures. I love going for a walk around Carlton or Flagstaff Gardens at dusk to see them peeping out of holes in trees as they wake up. A recent study counted 42 possums per hectare, cementing them as part of the footprint here in Melbourne.
Another love hate relationship we have is with the Flying Fox Fruit Bat. A huge colony live at Yarra Bend park, near Abbotsford, and a visit here is not to be missed. You’ll smell and hear them first as you walk down the Bellbird picnic area, setting what is undoubtedly an eerie scene by the creek. Along the viewpoints and walkway, thousands of them hang upside down from the trees; they jostle for branches and swoop down to drink water. Take a look at their furry little heads and huge eyes looking back at you and you’ll be smitten in no time.
Perhaps a more popular choice for people is the Fairy Penguin, the smallest penguin in the world at only 30cm tall. Though Phillip Island has a larger number, 1400 of them call St Kilda home. Returning from sea into Port Phillip Bay every night to rest and breed, these little penguins waddle up along the rocks after sunset with the backdrop of the city behind them. They have prime real estate, but no doubt are a huge attraction for visitors and locals alike.
One species of animal you will see in abundance are birds, the trees in Melbourne are home to a variety of bright winged friends. Rainbow Lorikeets, Crimson Rosellas, Little Wattlebirds, Sulphur-crested cockatoos, Galahs, even the Crested Pigeon has an exotic look to it. They bring colour to our streets and bird song to our ears, the only thing to watch out for is the odd swooping Magpie.
This city is thriving and teeming with life and our native creatures are a large part of that. Proving that Melbourne truly is the world’s most liveable city, for creatures great and small.
Words by Netta Justice
Images courtesy of Pixabay
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