For this month’s blog post, we are extremely excited to have Sir David Attenborough* as guest narrator, as he describes one of Australia’s most impressive seasonal migrations. *May or may not be fact.
(For maximum effect, please read out loud in your best David Attenborough voice)
“June. And as bitter cold fronts sweep across the southern half of this huge continent, members of a special and unique species – the Grey-Flecked-Grandparent – are faced with a choice: to nestle into their burrow and hibernate through the freezing southern winter, or to make a brave bid for the warmer northern latitudes, where comfort, freedom and much social interaction (crucially important for this species) are to be found in abundance.
“As winter takes Australia’s southern states in an increasingly icy grip, a trickle becomes a flood as Grey-Flecked-Grandparents of all descriptions begin their majestic, unstoppable migration north. Though a few will hitch a ride inside a large metal bird, most will make their way along the established trail that winds up the east coast of this vast continent, known as the ‘M1’: some drag their elaborate home-shells behind them, known as ‘caravans’; others travel inside their home-shells (known as ‘mind-numbingly expensive motorhomes’); but most drive in their well-appointed SUVs … and, like birds of a feather, all call regularly into well-defined waypoints called ‘service centres’ en route, where the female of the species will perch cautiously on lavatories of questionable hygiene, and her male counterpart will become ruffled and irritable, growling in protest about the outrageous price of petroleum.
“After days of tireless northward migration (with sensible Stop Revive Survive breaks every two hours, and perhaps several detours to sites of historical quaint significance) Grey-Flecked-Grandparents with the sharpest instincts grow excited as they reach the Clarence River, knowing that their journey is nearing a happy end.
“Using their highly developed homing instinct, the Grey-Flecked-Grandparents make their way directly to the burrows of their mature offspring, the Common (or Lesser) Parents, who have made the glorious Clarence Valley home year-round.
“It is truly one of the most wondrous sights in all of nature to see three generations of this species re-unite.
“Yes! Three generations! The Grey-Flecked Grandparent; the Common (or Lesser) Parents; and finally, the hatchlings, whose increased size, pleasing appearance and cleverness appear to take The Grey-Flecked-Grandparent completely by surprise every year.
“Despite the warmth of this reunion, The Grey-Flecked-Grandparent generally knows better than to cohabitate with their offspring for more than a week or so, as both parties quickly become resentful, and bickering begins. And so the canny Grey-Flecked-Grandparent often finds a suitable alternative accommodation burrow – there are countless options in this land of plenty. This course of action optimises the brood’s times of togetherness over a longer time period.
“Unencumbered by the deep southern chill, the Grey-Flecked-Grandparent is at last able to shed its unsightly puffer jacket and roam with freedom around the Clarence Valley, where delights await around every corner in cafés, restaurants and bars, shops and galleries, beaches, national parks and state forests.
“In fact, so ideally suited is the Clarence Valley’s winter environment to the Grey-Flecked-Grandparent that every year, several members of the species delay their return southward migration … indefinitely.”