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THE AGE, Saturday January 29, 2005
Kathy Evans

But to get the real thrill of the place, I recommend the ECO Spotlight Walk at Halls Gap. This is not cheap; we paid $39 for the privilege of creeping through the forest after dark, led by our guide, Noel, and a fat, white moon. The evening began with an outdoor slide show in the car park behind the Brambuk Living Cultural Centre. Here we were introduced to all the animals we might see; owls, possums, sugar gliders, plus your more run-of-the-mill Kangaroo. Who can tell me what this animal is, asked Noel as he pressed the mouse (on his PC, that is) to reveal Australia best-known bird. A bright young eight-year-old at the front pipes up, its the laughing Kookaburra! right says Noel nodding approvingly at the boys ability to distinguish between the laughing kind and the more solemn blue-winged variety.

Now, who can tell me what this is? He flicks the button and a sort of mouse-cum-possum creature with big ears and a tapered snout appears on the screen. Its a yellow-footed antechinus, says the boy confidently, and Noel nearly falls off his fold-away seat. Never in ten years has anyone guessed this creature correctly. There was a ripple of applause among to 10 or 12 night walkers and one is heard to ask: Which school does your young one go? It is with high expectations that we trudge across a moonlit field where dark shapes morph into kangaroos, and then we are in the forest, eyes peeled in excitement for that elusive yellow-footed antechinus, or at least a tawny frogmouth. After almost an hour, we have almost given up when Noel stops and shines his torch halfway up a tree. Sugar glider? Barking Owl? We hold our breath and follow the white beam as it lights up a giant cobweb. While we all ooh and aah at the intricate design, the lack of wildlife is a tad disappointing. One expects the forested slopes to be brimming with it, and maybe they are. I could not help but feel a thousand pairs of eyes were silently watching us pass by. Staring through the trees at the huge mountains poking holes in the black night sky is a memory that will stay for a long, long time.

Elizabeth & Malcolm
NZ
A thorough and informative walk. Listening and seeing nocturnal animals. Thanks Noel.

Joe Parsons
UK

The fact that Koalas are not nocturnal. We had a fun time taking in the forest at night.

John Bellingham
UK

Very informative, the atmosphere was special.

Nuriel
Israel

The guide was fun, the balance of nature and the eco systems.

Sandra & Elizabeth
NSW

A fabulous expedition, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Learning about the environment and nocturnal the wild life of the area.


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