For a long time I have been wanting to visit Garden Island (HMAS Stirling) which is just off Rockingham, South of Perth. It’s a working naval base and as such access is restricted. Like Rottnest Island there is a remnant wallaby population surviving on the introduced predator-free island, with a large population of Tammar wallaby (Notamacropus eugenii). They can be found on the mainland but are quite timid and not often seen. I think both being a island and the restricted access due to naval operations has allowed fauna to flourish and much of the vegetation is as it was Pre-European settlement.
My friend Russell offered to arrange a trip as a birthday gift – asking a mutual friend Dan who is in the navy to facilitate access. They both gladly gave up a Saturday evening. Public access to the island is usually only available during daylight hours via boat – so this was a special treat. Russ and I met Dan just at the start of the causeway as you can drive onto the island. We went through the security checks and drove further into the island into some of the navy residential areas. Just as we were about to park we saw our first Tammar. I was very excited and then we just kept seeing them!
The wallabies were everywhere. They are taller than a Quokka but smaller than a kangaroo and beautifully marked. They seem quite unfazed by human presence but would dash away into thick vegetation if you go too close.
I really enjoyed photographing them – they had quite varied colouration – possibly age and gender related or perhaps just natural variation.
We saw so many wallabies and I took a lot of photos – it was pretty hard which ones to choose so there is a fair amount posted here!
I captured this short video as it allowed me to get very close.
As we completed our loop we came onto a grassed area with thick bordering vegetation and we saw more wallabies than ever.
This video (sorry its a little shaky) gives an idea of how many there are in some locations and also how they blend into the vegetation.
As we completed the loop more were seen in amongst paths and car parks.
Our last couple were sitting in the car park for some reason near a motorbike!
It was a great evening with many, many Tammars seen. It’s wonderful to know there is a good sized population of this wonderful macropod on a protected island which is much less known than its famous Quokka cousin.