8.00 pm While Amiram is reading the last (of the 4) bedtime stories for the kids in the tent, I finish off washing the dishes, locking the bikes and covering the chariot (bicycle trailer) with the raincover for the night. Then I already start thinking about those possums, that have haunted us the last couple of nights, whenever we are camping on these beautiful (almost) free campsites in national parks or other protected nature reserves.
Do I need to “camouflage” the chariot again? After one nightly visit from a mother possum with her young, who I surprised climbing on the trailer and trying to get inside it, where all our food bags were, I had started to put branches on top of the chariot. Since then I call it camouflage.
And what shall I do with our rubbish? That same couple of mother and joey had also managed to find our rubbish, which was (too) loosely dug under the outer tent, and had happily munched on orange peels and avocado skin. After taking some pictures of the cute pair, I managed to make them disappear by clapping and running after them.
Mother Possum & Young
Tonight I decide to again camouflage the chariot and to bury the rubbish deep under the bags under the outer tent, in the abciss. Unlike people travelling in a car, we don’t have the possibility to enclose food and rubbish in a metal hull.
9.00 pm Amiram and the children are sleeping deeply. I am still writing diary, when I hear the first screeching sound. The familiar sound of possums scaring each other away. I sigh and listen, but no further sound.
9.10 pm I switch on the laptop, when I hear a nearby rustling sound, just besides the tent. I immediately start clapping, as this usually has an effect (on the possums of course, luckily not on my sleeping family :-)). How many possums have I chased so far over how many nights? 12 or even 13? Or more?
9.20 pm I clearly hear a rumbling sound again, just besides me and the bags. I climb over Amiram and Amaya and out of the tent, trying to avoid any mosquitoes coming inside. Outside I hear and see 2 possums climbing up 2 opposite trees. It looks like a mother and her young again. With big reflecting and shiny eyes they look down on me. As if silently mocking me. No further move. On another night I had managed to scare some possums down from a bush and away from the tent. But tonight is different. They are on a big enough coastal tree, where I cant reach up… And the clapping seems not to disturb them.
I bury the rubbish a bit deeper under our bags in the abciss and park the bicycles in front it. With a last look at the 2 animals, I go back inside the tent. Hoping I had made enough fuss…
9.30 pm No sound. I try to concentrate on writing a blog on the laptop and hope that they have left.
9.35 pm I shortly pause, when hearing some jumping sounds, but they don’t disturb me very long, as these are the friendly wallabies and pademelons bouncing past.
9.40 pm Now I hear the 2 possums moving again on the nearby tree. I hope they just move onto the next campsite.
9.45 pm Clearly I hear one again! As if right besides me, rummaging around. I look out of the inner tent and straight into a pair of disinterested possums eyes. I can’t believe it. About 15 cms away from me. It is peeking from under the outer tent layer, into the abciss where the bags and the rubbish are. There is now only the gaze between us. I jump up – as much as is possible in a 3 person tent, with 3 sleeping persons. Shout and run outside. This time not even switching wifi or laptop off (to save electricity on this remote camp), not taking my camera and not caring about mosquitos…
One of the possums is still sitting on the tree, but the other one is sitting right in front of me, about 1 m away, near the tent and does not move. I throw some big seashells at it, but it does not care. Then it slowly starts to crawl even towards me. What’s going on? I grab a stick and gently try to push/move it away from the tent. It seems to not care at all! It walks – not even runs – past me and climbs on a small wooden fence. Possums really do not move swift or quick like most other wild animals do, when surprised. I again use the stick to move the animal away from the tent. It feels heavy. It IS heavy, bigger then a cat. It again does not move much. Maybe I was to gentle? I push it a bit harder with the stick. The fur feels thick and wholly. It does not even hiss or growl, not even a squeaking sound… What a strange animal. Then it finally scrambles into a bush and climbs up another tree nearer to the tree with the other possum. I am wondering, whether it is the young trying to get to its mother? Or the other way around? As they are almost the same size, it is difficult to tell them apart in the darkness, with just a headlight. And with the moon hidden behind the clouds. Thinking, that this for sure has taught it a lesson, I am going back into the tent. Feeling a bit agitated and slowly getting angry at these not so cute animals anymore. I still think, that this must be it for the night and that I surely do not have to put the rubbish inside the tent (yuk).
9.50 pm I hear no sound and my thoughts are drawn back into my blog, where I am uploading some pics onto the most recent one. My heart beat calms down a little.
10.00 pm I can”t believe my eyes. I look out of the innergaze of the tent and again look straight into the eyes of that annoying animal. I am getting very angry now. But no other choice, then to succumb. Sighing I make space at the foot of my sleeping matres for the rubbish and take it inside. Not wanting to think about all our accumulated rubbish over the last 2 days (there are no rubbish bins on national park campsites)… Will it leek? Smell?
10.10 pm Another screeching sound. Must be from another possum trying to approach my pair… But a bit further away.
10.15 pm Now I hear sounds everywhere again and all the time. Still? Are they still here? I again jump out of the tent, and see a pair of eyes again. A possum is sitting on the tree above the neighbouring tent. Is that a sign that the pair is moving on? Or is it just the next one, the one that was screeching further away? Amiram mumbles something sleepily to soothe me. Now I am also angry with him, as he is peacefully sleeping (unlike me) and not helping me to get rid of those pests….. It seems to be always only me, finding them rummaging through our things and having to chase them away. I silently swear to myself to overcome my shame and find a friendly car tourist for the next night, to take our rubbish….
Tent Abciss with the peek through hole for the possum
10.30 pm I am trying to sleep, but can’t. They are back. I am covering my ears to not hear them anymore. The rubbish is inside now anyway. They can’t get it. I am hoping that they just don’t bite into our food bags or tent (which they have done to other campers before…) or step onto Tayanika’s head, who is sleeping peacefully in the corner of the tent near the abciss….
10.40 pm In my half awake half asleep state I see 2 shiny eyes staring at me from under the outer tent layer, peeking over my bags, just 15 cms away from my nose. I do not even switch on the light anymore, nor clap. I just want to sleep. I lay down again in my sleeping bag, cover my ears and try to sleep. I know they will come back….. In my dreams I continue my nightly battle with the possum, its glaring, shiny eyes directed to me.