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December 4, 2014

We’ve been outside on our deck, watching the koala as the night approaches and a white moon – very slightly lopsided – rises. At first just a dark blob in the tree, the languid movements coalesce through the binoculars into a koala shape, white fluffy ears the first clear evidence. Then it turns to face me, and I see the black nose, the triangle forming with its eyes. It seems to be darker than the first time we saw it, with greater differentiation between a dark grey back and a very light chin, tummy, bottom. It raises its head, swaying up and down, and I hear the deep snorting rumble that keeps on alerting me to its presence.

Last week the moment of surprise and beauty came as we left the rainforest. We’d gone up there to finalise our fire management plan with John from the Rural Fire Service, panting up the hill as the morning heated up. Once through the lantana barrier we were immediately into the relief of cool shade. The ground was damp – recent light falls of rain captured by the forest – and the moist air surrounded us. We walked up to the photo point, pleased to see that the pink ribbon trail had survived to guide us in. The track was easy – so much easier than that first time, when I had no sense of where I was going, and the close forest kept out all landmarks for orientation.

We turned back at the photo point. The RFS man had seen enough to know what sort of forest it is – dry rainforest – and to see what types of habitats it supports. Ferns, orchids, turpentine, giant stinging tree – no palms. We walked back down the hill and through the lantana, out to the heat and the dry paddock. We were making our way towards a clump of wattle when Rachel noticed something blue in the massive fig tree that sits in the corner of the paddock. Bright blue, turquoise, teal – it was the tail of a large bird with a very pale green head, a darker green body and – suddenly we see the flash of yellow under its wings as it takes fright and moves a few branches further away. A Wompoo fruit dove, possibly a young one as we didn’t see any sign of the other unlikely colour – pink – that is on the adult bird. We have heard its call – a series of low, bubbling wom-poo, wom-poos that seem to fill the forest with something more tangible than sound – but, as with the koala, it is the sight of it that captivates me, holds me transfixed, unable to let go of the magic of the vision.