After our amazing adventures in the Daintree and Chillagoe, we were whisked away to our next adventure with our homestay hosts. While I am sure that everyone had a phenomenal weekend with their host families traveling around the Atherton tablelands, creating pottery, and going to spas, I believe that my homestay experience topped everyone else’s.
Three of us were graciously accepted into the home of Karin and Horst for our homestay. There we encountered a Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo (Dendrolagus lumholtzi) named Nelson. The Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo is one of two native tree kangaroos in Australia and the smallest of all tree kangaroos. They are only found within the Wet Tropics area. The couple are professional wildlife rehabilitators and have been taking care of the one-year-old tree kangaroo since he was a small joey after his mother was hit by a car. They are slowly in the process of releasing him back to the wild. We were also able to assist in releasing him in the forest and tracking him with the radio collar in the afternoon. Nelson showed us everything unique about a tree kangaroo. They have long claws to help grab on to trees and climb and a tail twice their torso length that serves as a counterbalance. Sometimes, instead of hopping around, tree kangaroos will move their feet independently from each other to walk. Nelson was quite mischievous during our visit as he proved to be a bit of a picky eater, caused a bit of trouble, and climbed all over us as if we were trees.
We were provided marvelous home-cooked meals during our weekend: wonderful pork roast, steamed choko, pumpkin and sweet potato salad, avocado toast (every millennial’s dream), stuffed capsicum, fried potatoes, and so much more. By the end of the weekend I’m sure I’ve gained quite a few pounds. After each meal, we had a collection of wildlife peering into the windows. While many people throw away their cooking scraps or maybe even compost (a great and easy way to help reduce waste) our host family would lay out their vegetable peels in front of their kitchen window and a huge crowd of bush turkeys, pandemelons, and possums (not an opssosum!) would come right up and munch on a few scraps.
Karin’s sister is also a wildlife rehabilitator, and they share the beautiful 160 acres of old growth rainforest property. For an afternoon we went to visit her and learn about the animals she is currently taking care of. Currently she is taking care of another young male Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo, named Dobby, a little pandemelon, named Hamish, and an echidna, named Niffler. (Did you know that baby echidnas are called puggles?) One of her past rehabilitated tree kangaroo, Kimberly, also likes to visit and we were able to glimpse her little joey in the pouch.
I would like to thank Karin and Horst for the fantastic experience they have given us. It was once-in-a-lifetime, and I am thankful to them for providing such a delightful time.