Our readers have had some pretty incredible run-ins with members of the animal kingdom. From dodging dingoes and falling frogs to witnessing spectacular whale breaches, nursing native critters back to health and many more, each of these encounters is more memorable and rewarding than the last. Enjoy.
“My most memorable wildlife encounter was holidaying in Albany, Western Australia. We were out in the bay in a small tinny when a whale and her calf began to get close to our boat. We moved away, and just a moment later the whale breached completely out of the water in the wake of our boat. It was one of the best things I have ever had the privilege to see.” – Amy Motherwell
“I was going out to my car one night when I found the strangest moth moving on the ground. It was flapping about strangely so I bent down and, when I picked it up, I found it was a tiny micro bat. Its mother must have dropped him when catching bugs around the light. I then spent the whole night researching about bats and food and whatever else I could. Seeing as I live in the middle of nowhere, there aren’t a lot of people about that can help – but I had spoken to wildlife groups and had formula ordered and was already madly in love with my guest. He was fed from the tip of a super-fine paintbrush and washed and toileted with cotton balls. To help keep him warm he spent much time down my top next to my skin. He grew bigger and stronger and would respond to my little chitter calls to him.
Sadly, not long before I was due to release him back to the wild, he passed away. But he taught me and so many people in my small town about just how important his kind are in this world. We never knew how many insects they ate helping to keep the bugs down, and where so many hated the bats, they now enjoy them and take a moment to stop and watch them fluttering in and out of the streetlights as they hunt. For such a tiny bit of my life, he left a big mark on my heart.” – Rosie Rose
“This was memorable for not so good reasons. We were camping on Fraser Island. I was 16 at the time and had decided to go for a nature walk from camp over to the beach. After walking for some time I decided I should turn around and head back to camp. On doing this I met with an overly friendly Dingo.
Not thinking much about it at the time and being my first encounter with them, I was intrigued – but kept on walking. But the Dingo kept on walking too! I tried telling it to get lost; no reaction from the Dingo. I then decided to try and move around the Dingo; it kept moving with me, almost mirroring what I was doing. I then tried going into the water, thinking surely the Dingo wouldn’t want to come in. I walked in until the water was over my ankles and the Dingo walked right on in too. It didn’t want me going anywhere!
At this point I became a little distressed but luckily at that exact moment a car driving by saw what was happening and beeped the horn, both in order to get my attention and to scare off the Dingo. I jumped onto the step and held on while the car drove me back up to camp. Safe to say that was the last time I went walking on my own.” – Carla Walker
“My most memorable wildlife encounter was when I was at work doing a clean-up along the edge of a stream on our property. It was 30°C+ day and I saw something bobbing up and down coming across the stream. As it got closer I saw it was an echidna. Before that day I hadn’t seen an echidna swimming and didn’t know they did. It was such an exciting and educational experience watching how he swam.” – Hayley Angus
“When I first moved into my semi-rural property, I had tree frogs falling out of the evaporation cooler ceiling vents. Fixing the hole in the ducting solved the problem; now they come in through the toilets. Much more civilised! I think of them as house frogs and even set up a little ‘garden’ for them in the room. Bit noisy when it’s about to rain, but adds atmosphere!” – Sonia Langlais
“Some years ago I found a baby kookaburra in our paddock. He was looking very bedraggled and sorry for himself, and there was no parent around. I thought he had been attacked by magpies. So I made a big box ‘house’ for him, filled with some grass and branches, and a water bowl. He was very quiet for the first day, but then he came out and sat on my shoulder as I walked about the yard. He ate some of the dog’s meat and some insects I managed to find. He stayed with me for about two weeks, and then one day just decided to fly off on his own! I was glad he had recovered and was able to live his life as he should.
About one year later, I was in the yard again, this time hanging out some washing, when this big kookaburra flew down and landed on my shoulder! He was not a bit afraid, and I knew it was him. He sat there for quite a while, and then just flew off up into the trees. That was the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me. A wild bird came back to say, ‘Thank you for rescuing me.’ Fantastic!” – Averill Robinson
“I once had the magic moment, in the wild, to be within 20 feet of a pair of magnificent, fully grown, dancing brolgas at Katherine in the Northern Territory. It is a memory I will never forget.” – Amanda Faux
“My most memorable moment is when I saved a baby kingfisher from a murder of crows. I was working security at the mines and it stayed on my shoulders all day.” – Brad Payne
“I had a cockatoo some years ago that was a great mimic. One day some workmen walked down the side of my house to access the neighbour’s yard and my cockatoo, called Pompey, called out, ‘What do you think you’re doing?” The men could not see his aviary due to a tree being by the side of it. They were very perplexed for some time until I told them who was calling out. Then they saw the funny side. He was a smart cockatoo.” – Terri Bradley
“I just lost my best friend Plume, a beautiful hand-raise cockatiel. I was crying in the garden near his resting place when I had company – a butcher bird was a step away from me, just looking at me. I was so surprised I didn’t move. He kept on looking at me, then decided to fly onto my magnolia tree, just on top of Plume’s grave, and stay there. We were looking at each other and I talked to him for quite a while. The following day he was back. I left some water and food, and my little friend was not afraid of me at all. On the third day he was in front of my glass door waiting for me. As I opened the door he flew inside, into my kitchen, and allowed me to hand-feed him. This went on for a month. Then he didn’t come back but another butcher bird took his place. This was repeated four times. Now only once in a while I have a visitor, but I do believe Plume sent me these friendly birds to make my pain more bearable.” – Gigi Jensen
“I feed kookaburras, magpies and a butcher bird. They all trust me and take the pet mince right out of my hand. I invited two kookaburras round nearly 32 years ago and the next day there were 10 there – and they all knew why they were there: free food. The word got around overnight; they have a language and use a lot of different vocalisations. I’ve come to understand a few of them. Kookaburras don’t just laugh; I know their call for ‘eagle’ and ‘danger’. I know when the babies have hatched because they cluck like chickens that have just laid an egg. The magpies do a double scream if an eagle is flying high overhead, and all the birds take cover. I’ve had kookaburras land on my head and shoulder and I feed them there. Kookaburras definitely are Kings of the Bush.” – Carole Jackson
“July 2017 in Moditlo Private Reserve, South Africa, I was on an evening safari when we came upon a herd of elephants on the road. The guide/driver parked so we could sit, watch and photograph them. Next thing, a young bull elephant came charging towards the jeep and attempted to push an umbrella tree (which has massive and dangerous thorns) onto the back of the jeep where a young couple sat. This was the signal for us to get out of there. While scary, I didn’t feel my life was in danger.” – Penny Auld
“I went to Uganda to track gorillas in Bwindi National Park. I struggled to get up the mountainside after many hours of hiking (due to altitude), so two guides carried me up the last mountainside. At the top were a family of gorillas. I could not stop the tears from flowing. I got to be within two metres of these majestic animals and all thanks to the Ugandan guides.” – Maggie Karner
“Our son is a Country Fire Authority member, and has been since he was 17. He is now 37. On many occasions he would come home with a native baby animal he rescued while out fire-fighting. He would pop it in his pocket, then deliver it to the local wildlife shelter. Except one! A baby wood duck – he brought it home in his pocket as usual, but the dear little thing became quite attached to him and would climb up his leg to sit in his lap, and he couldn’t bear to part with it. On a few occasions it did give me a scare, as it climbed up my jeans, me thinking it was a spider until I came to my senses! It did eventually return to the wild.” – Jan King
“Having willy wagtails come and tell us when a threat (feral cat) was in the paddock, and then for the willy wagtail to keep overhead of the cat while we moved into position to shoot it when it crossed the firebreak. The same family of wagtails have nested around our farmhouse for over four generations and come to us for most of the threats they encounter, including snakes, ferals and politicians.” – Des Bromilow
“Two years ago my son and I went to South Australia to do shark diving with Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions. They put you in a cage in the water so you can observe the Great White Sharks and other fish. It is absolutely awesome; Great White Sharks are magnificent in their natural environment. It is one of the most wonderful things I have done in my life, and what made it even more special was that I did it with my son.” – Kel Gardiner
“Out walking one day while visiting a relative’s property, I decided to stop under a big, shady tree to have a snack and a rest. I’d left quite early in the morning and dozed off leaning against the tree. I woke to the sound of squawking crows quite close by. They were on the branch above me! About 20 of them I reckon. Gee, that did wake me up quickly. I moved so fast from the shock that I scared the donkeys that had gathered to check me out. I’m not sure where they came from as I saw no donkeys on my earlier travels – there were five of them in various sizes and colours. I knew that none of them would bite me or even hurt me in any way but I was shaking like a leaf as a result. I did enjoy that morning immensely. Being at one with nature and having the ‘friends of the forest’ paying me an inquisitive visit. This memory will remain with me forever.” – Jeanine Richards
“I back onto Cooper’s Creek [northwest NSW] and regularly whistle to call the wild ducks during the mating season. They will come to my call and I feed them brown bread. There are also Red Bellied Black snakes and Water Dragons, which also cross from the other side of the creek to be fed. One day when I was feeding the mother and her six half-grown ducklings, plus three Water Dragons average length 60cm, there was an almighty splash and ducks and Water Dragons all scattered – as the cause of the splash was a Water Dragon more than a metre in length who also wanted to be fed. This was the only time I ever saw him. Also in the creek are a tortoise and the occasional eel, and we get a yearly visit in the backyard from a Brush Turkey and sometimes a pair of foxes. – Barrett Carr
“My late husband and I once owned a farm with an old house on it. While a new home was being built, we lived in the old one. One night we were sitting in the house when there was a knock at the door. I opened the door but there was no-one there. Back to sitting down and another knock. Thinking someone was playing jokes, I opened the door again, happened to look down – and there was an old wombat wanting to enter. What a welcome surprise, but I didn’t invite him in.” – Lorraine McNeair
“Hand-raising a Fairy Wren with hardly any feathers, to releasing him in the wild … and then he would visit us in our pergola or sit outside on the windowsill of the room I was in. That was very special.” – Kathy Moran
“I will never forget the first time I saw a ‘wild’ animal actually in the wild and not in a zoo. Our dog was barking, so I went outside to see what all the fuss was about – and there, curled up near the clothesline, was an echidna. I was absolutely amazed. I had only ever seen them in the wildlife centres, in books and on TV. I thought it was probably out of its area, so I rang our local zoo and told them I had an echidna in the backyard. He thought it was quite amusing, but said just leave it be and it will make its way back home by itself. So I brought the dog in, then went out to check an hour or so later and it was gone. My experience with the local wildlife was over but what a great experience it was.” – Janet Smith
“I once picked up a bundle of grass clippings and put it into a wheelbarrow, took it to another location and picked it up again in a bundle out of the wheelbarrow and placed it on the garden as mulch. As I was putting it on the garden, a large red-belly black snake dropped out of the bundle of grass and slithered away. I hope he liked the new location!” – Dianne Cliffe
“One day, as I was walking past a very tall building with a lot of windows, I heard heaps of crazy whistling and screeching. When I looked up I discovered a bunch of rainbow lorikeets flying crazily above my head. Unfortunately, several of them weren’t looking where they were going and, instead of concentrating on their flight paths, they hit the windows with a big loud SMACK! SMACK! SMACK!
“They fell down next to where I was standing. Two of them shook off the shock and got up and flew off, but the third one was laying there looking for all the world as if it were dead, so I picked it up. I was determined to give it a proper burial.
“Moments after I picked it up, it shook once and bit my hand as hard as it could! Then it started to flap its wings as if it was going to take off … which would have worked if it had actually let go of my hand, instead of trying to fly off while still holding on to me! It was a split second before it realised this and then off it took, back into the sky and off with its buddies.” – Rachel Bishop
“I was in the Masai Mara game reserve on the border of Kenya and Tanzania, with views to Mt Kilimanjaro, when our group went on a dusk safari. We saw a Hyena loitering under a tree, and lo and behold on top of the tree was a Leopard, trapped and avoiding being that night’s dinner. It was a stand-off that lasted way into the night.” – Robert Nicolle
“I was driving a 4WD track between tightly packed trees on one side and an embankment on the other. As I reached a crest a wedgetail eagle was coming the other way at about 120cm high. As he neared me he flared his wings and made two huge flaps to get more height and went over my windscreen, missing me by about 10cm.” – Robert Warren
“Hoppy the one-legged magpie called our garden home for 11 years, trusted us with her life, and found shelter when she was weak. She taught our family to treasure and protect the environment and our wildlife.” – Judy Caine
“I was lucky enough to meet the beautiful elephant Raja, the very same elephant that Steve Irwin always rode whenever he visited the Elephant Safari Park in Bali. I felt privileged and chuffed, because Steve was an Aussie Hero of mine.” – Micki Zito
“I got to witness an eagle-owl swooping down on his prey… unfortunately his prey was my white cat, Happy! Luckily for Happy, Sebastian the Pomeranian was quick to defend her. Thankfully, no fur or feathered creatures were injured.” – Leanne Westerling