A regular feature of our early days of driving through Tassie has been the fruitless pursuit of a decent photograph of an echidna. The normal sequence of events is as follows:
- We drive along rural roads, generally enjoying the view and scanning near and far for interesting wildlife
- Julie yells “Echidna, echidna!” while pointing at a small spiny object vaguely reminiscent of an overweight hedgehog that she has spotted on the roadside verge quietly minding its own business
- I screech to a halt in a cloud of dust, gravel and random obscenities
- Julie leaps out of the car, opens the rear passenger door to grab her camera and hurtles off in the direction of said echidna, wailing plaintively “Wait, wait, please don’t run away.”
- The echidna, which has heard the commotion, makes a run for it with Julie in hot pursuit.
- Doing a passable impersonation of Lewis Hamilton with his foot down, the echidna dives into the nearest echidna-sized hole leaving only the spines on its back visible.
- Julie utters words that she didn’t learn in Sunday School.
- The echidna replies with a waggle of its rear quarters and a waving of its spines, which translated into English means something like “Photograph that you miserable pommie bastards” (in our experience echidnas are not the most chilled out of critters.)
But today our luck has changed. We spot the echidna from some distance off and I’m able to pull off the road and on to a soft grass verge long before we reach him. Julie grabs her camera and stealthily circles around the critter to approach him from the rear and downwind. Meanwhile the echidna is distracted by a rotten branch, which he is alternately ripping apart with his powerful front limbs and probing with his long pointy snout in search of the southern hemisphere’s tastiest ants.
We stand watching him for maybe 15 minutes while Julie takes snap and snap. At last, after days of effort she takes her first decent echidna photograph.