On kunanyi’s flanks, above the fence line where bush meets the fringe of suburbia, live the Moonah mob. They roam together, mostly away from human-people (who can be of danger at times), perfectly at one with their surrounds beneath the brooding ramparts of the mighty mountain. Within their number resides a very unique marsupial, the wily and wondrous Wally. Now Wally has urges not shared by other of his number, for on many days, most days, he decides to depart the communal safety of the Moonah mob – as well as for an occasional night.
Most nights see him largely content to forage and nibble on the bush grasses amidst the contented collective. He’ll check on and sweetly nuzzle his special mate, now and again, sniffing at her to gauge when she may be in season again. If the time is right, they’ll come come together to produce another offspring, a joey to perpetuate the wallaby species.
Some nights, though, the wandering urge takes control and when the moon is in a certain place in the sky, he’ll bound upward, into the forests; into the deep recesses. For up there, under the skyline, he’ll commune with the more furtive denizens of the mountain’s other world. He senses the places they’ll be, for Wally is an inquisitive soul. He’ll espy, through the moon-glow, orange-brown eyes burning in the night, hear the whisperings of a guttural language beyond his knowing. Thylas are afoot. He’ll catch a dash of stripes as the shadowy shape-shifting beasts move about in their nightly predations. Now Wally has entered the orb of these creatures and like him, they are beings that exist in, not one, but two worlds of their own.
If his urges take him further, ever upwards, into the deepest and most sacred crevasses around which the great trees abound, he knows he may sense the most discreet and scarce of human-people, the spirits of times long past; the ghosts of what should still be. Their world; their presence is the most ephemerally fleeting of all, difficult to discern, but always there nonetheless. When Wally has ventured up there he perceives only the most fragile note of their existence on faintest whiff of wind.
But Wally has another stealthy existence as well. While the remainder of his Moonah mob rest in semi-slumber from their nightly replenishments, Wally heads downwards to that fence-line and Wally becomes the urban wallaby – a very rare breed indeed.
He knows well to be wary of human-people, but intuitively understands that most of their ilk do not wish him any harm. Wally has found and developed a symbiotic relation with one such human-person. It is in his company that he spends many days, most days. With Mr Walker around he feels there is nothing to fear in the whole world. For Mr Walker possesses a patch of sunny grass for him to snack on; to flake down and yawn on. Mr Walker, a noted bon vivant, a most sociable person, will often also scatter the leavings of his culinary delights for Wally to sample and if to his liking, consume – carrot scrapings, pear and apple peel, morsels of cabbage, celery and lettuce amongst them. Wally takes it all in his stride.
His presence, in return, provides a talking point for the other human-persons who venture to his northern suburbs residence, for Mr Walker is a fine and considerate host with many friends. He has copious tales to tell and adores receiving them as well. Wally will often notice more than one head peering at him, on any given day, through the windows for he provides the fodder for some of Mr Walker’s best stories.
As dusk approaches Wally will take his leave of Mr Walker’s yard of dappled sun and return to kunanyi’s lower hills, pick up again with his crew, the Moonah mob, and he’ll prepare for nightfall. Then, perhaps, there will be more callings from his urges to take him adventuring. Wally, the urban wallaby, is a most singular furry delight.
I love seeing this beautiful animal on my own visits to Mr Walker’s abode and can only wish that all relations between humankind and the other creatures of our planet could be as benign as that between Rob and Wally.
(for Tessa Tiger and RW)