Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ribbet

Our frog is growing up. He's an Australian green and golden bell frog, a type of tree frog, and he appeared in our pond one day about three weeks before Christmas last year.

It was so lovely to see him there, our unexpected guest who came out of nowhere, and he gave us a huge amount of pleasure just sitting there on the rim, or plopping into the water to rest on the weed. I googled him, naturally, and found that his sort aren't uncommon in the top half of the North Island, having been introduced here in the 1860s. A true Aussie, he loves the sun, and bakes all day in the sunshine.

He disappeared as suddenly as he'd come one day in early autumn, and I hoped he'd be back again when the weather warmed up - and so he was, reappearing about a month ago. I was enormously pleased. But he's not the same frog: he's an adolescent now, as I realised one morning lying in bed listening to the dawn chorus and suddenly realising that the unfamiliar, odd call I could hear wasn't some new sort of bird, but the frog trying out his new croak like a boy whose voice has broken.

He sits by the pond now with his throat swelling, croaking hesitantly; some days he's missing, and I wonder if he's wandering around the garden looking for a girlfriend. It would be nice if he found one, but the goldfish would eat the eggs and tadpoles, so I'd have to net the frogspawn and hope to hatch the eggs in a bucket or somewhere. That would be fun - although Google tells me that lots of bell frogs calling together can sound like motorbikes, which would be ironic, as the boy next door has only just grown out of revving his.

Frogs can be remarkably noisy...

>>> Further down the coast we see what else the current has attracted: from the top of the Cape Naturaliste light-house, a 100 year-old classic in white-painted stone, we are watching big red kangaroos grazing in the scrub directly below when someone spots whales cruising around the point. People flock to nearby Dunsborough to watch humpbacked and right whales migrating past in spring, and the town has plenty to keep holiday-makers happy the rest of the year; but we find all we need at Quay West Resort Bunker Bay tucked into a secluded bay.

There’s a range of chalets and apartments here set in gardens behind the dunes, and at first I covet one of the villas where guests are enjoying drinks on their decks over a big pond, but when I go past again at dusk after watching the sunset from the lovely beach, I am astonished by the creaks, croaks, pops and peeps produced by the frogs living here, and am glad of the peace in my swish apartment up the slope.

Breakfast by the pool overlooking the bay is made even better by the world’s best muesli, but we have to shift ourselves: Sean is picking us up for a tour of the area. He’s a local, and bubbling with enthusiasm as he drives us in his luxury Land Rover to show us its secret gems. We bump off-road past mobs of sunbathing grey roos down to the actual Margaret River, where we glide in a canoe along its still waters, spotting birds and ancient rocks. A short drive away, where the river meets the sea, things are a lot livelier: the surf is up at one of the coast’s best breaks, and the waves are busy. Out beyond we see more whales, and later, when we have walked along part of the Cape to Cape track and are resting on 60 million year-old rocks, one breaches and its tail is black against the sun-gold water. We pause under peppermint gums to taste honey made from its flowers; we hear Aboriginal legends by a mossy waterfall; we stop again and again to admire the drifts of wildflowers: white, pink, blue, yellow. Sean takes us for a picnic lunch in the barrel room of the Fraser Gallop Estate, not open to the public, and we eat fresh local produce and try some of the wines contained in the huge wooden barrels behind us...

[Pub. TravelTrade 8/5/09]

1 comment:

Twenty Four At Heart said...

I have a little lake behind my house. It never ceases to amaze me how LOUD frogs can be! But ... I like them too. They seem to be brimming over with personality.

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