The Rainforest Journal: Outing #19 – Days 8-10

(Friday 30-January-2015)

Day 8

Beautiful one day, crawling with leeches the next.

Beautiful one day, crawling with leeches the next.

I was going to simply append this section onto yesterday’s post, but I guess – since it happened post-midnight – it’s technically today anyhow. To be honest, I’m not sure which days belong where – just that it all happened at some point in the past two days.

Pardon any typos too; I write all this on my phone and though the Samsung Continuous-Writing keyboard is like magic it’s so fast to type with, it still predicts the wrong words regularly.

I’ve run out of powdered milk, and am down to black coffee with sugar. While in town the other day, I reasoned, that if I only take one kilo of milk powder – and just have less in each coffee – I’ll have more room for other food which, of course, I did. But the aforementioned food (buiscuts, crackers, more cheese and a shitload of dried fruit), is gone now and thus I am somewhat regretful of the decision to omit the second kilo of milk. I’ve plenty of sugar of course, so I still at least have the makings for sweetened black coffee. Good sugar too; unrefined, dried sugar-cane juice.

Food is also running low, and it’ll be a stretch to still have dinners for me and the Possums for the last few days, but alas; nobody will be starving to death or anything quite so drastic as that. We just shan’t be snacking.

Supplies running low aside, I’ve given the camp a bit of a tidy-up today, since we were accumulating wind-blown plastic bags, pasta sauce bottle tops etc,.


Last nights action started the usual way: cook pasta at about sunset, then spoon some out for the ravenously hungry omnivores and, like most nights Bobby and Guido came down first to monopolize said food by the best means they know; eating everything they can, as quickly as possible. Once food is in ones stomach, there’s nothing left to argue about.

Mm hang on I think I have a leech. Nope. No leeches, but I did find something else stuck to the outside of my pants.

For the umpteenth time I find myself wondering out loud, "WTF is that? "

For the umpteenth time I find myself wondering out loud, “WTF is that?

The underbelly of the beast.

The underbelly of the beast.

Yeah the Possums sorry, I got distracted by the small weird green thing. You wouldn’t believe how bizarre some of the bugs I’ve seen out here are: Creatures that don’t look anything like any other type of insect group you’ve ever seen.

Yeah, so I didn’t take any photos of this first possum pig-out because, quite frankly I’m so accustomed to the Brushtails swarming the tent after sunset that it’s no longer a Kodak moment. I usually check now, however – to see who’s eating the first serving – just so I know who’s already had their suck of the sav for that night, and that’s usually Bobby or Guido. Once I know who scoffs the first bowl I try to not let that possum have anymore for the night because there’s half a dozen to feed, and I have to *try* to make it go around.

Seems so very strange now I think about it, that only a few months ago I was fed-up feeding these “no-show” Marsupials; every night I would put out a big bowls-worth of pasta for them and every night, they’d sneak in, eat it and leave.  Any time I sat-up to even try and look at them, they’d bolt for the trees.

Now, I’m neck-deep in em.

I asked for Possums, I got Possums; small ones, big ones, males, females and babies. All at my tent, all night, every night.

Anyway, I put out some pasta, the sun sets and the usual mayhem ensues; Everyone grunting and chattering and charging at one another, even though there’s pasta flicked all around the place: everyone wants the stuff outside the tent door.

I ignore them while I post yesterday’s entry, then lay back and commence reading the last third of Dracula. Bla-bla, bla-bla, several hours of the usual Possum shenanigans.

Fast forward to one in the morning, and I start getting the now-common pawing at the door.


After a few pawings, I open the zip and see – who I assumed at once to be Guido – that it’s Bobby who wants in this time. I acquiesce, and opening the door tell him, “Come on Bro, in ya come”. Moments later he’s walking around the tent, sheepishly sniffing bags for what might be good. Fortunately for him it’s early evening, so I still have a half-pot of pasta and let him have a go at the pot but it’s not long before he gets a bit claustrophobic and wants out of the tent.

Now, I’m not sure whether he knew what he was doing, but upon turning and making his way to the open slit in the door, he decides that climbing the tent door from the inside would be a good idea and so – pushing his claws right through the fabric with a ‘pok-pok-pok’ he starts climbing up the tent door.

I shouldn’t have to emphasize, that a 3kg animal, (~6.5lbs Imperial), hanging from the thin fabric of a tent inner is not the kind of “reasonable use” warrantees are made to cover but even more importantly, it’s just not very good for the longevity of the – admittedly already rat-fucked – tent, and here is a male Brushtail, heavy as a large adult tom-cat, now up the top just hanging from the mesh; loud ripping, popping noises can clearly be heard every second that passes, as nylon loses its fight against sharp claws and gravity, and Bobby, well he seems to lack any intention of coming back down of his own accord.

So I reach up and grab him under the armpits with both hands, to take the weight off the mesh for the moment, when no sooner had I lifted him, I instantly – and painfully – realized the mistake I’d just made; as his back feet flailed and kicked around a second before finding my hand and locking shut – needle-sharp claws puncturing my skin like raw sausage.

“Owwwwww!! Fuck!”


I surmised the other day, you see, that Brushtail Possums do not like to be lifted like cats. I learnt this while evicting Guido from the tent although he didn’t puncture or scratch me in the process.

Back a few nights ago, it’s getting late, Guido’s inside the tent just having himself a proper Possum picnic, and I decide I want him out. I didn’t want to *scare* him out – absurd as that sounds in retrospect – and he wasn’t in any hurry to leave so I figure I’ll dive-in and have a bash at Possum-handling for the first time ever; he sits on my lap and let’s me pat him now, he’ll be fine, I figured. If he goes feral and starts scratching shit outta me and fanging my hands I’ll just chuck the little fucker out and zip the door. It’s just a Possum right? Can’t be any worse than shoving an angry cat in the tub for a bath, and we’ve all done that.

So I reach down and grab on, carefully holding him behind the armpits with both hands, then gently pull him up of the ground.

Much to my amazement he just sits there and let’s me – doesn’t bite, scratch or struggle at all – but as I lift him by the chest I see that his back-end is still on the ground, it hasn’t gone anywhere and he appears to be getting uncomfortable. I think this while still lifting him, until I see that the little fucker is stretching like a slinky: I’ve lifted his chest half a foot from where it was while his hindquarters are still just sitting there.

I feel the weight of his rump but continue to lift, and just as his back legs are finally leaving the ground, he starts kicking and flailing his back feet around getting agitated and cracking the shits, so I set him back down a moment and ponder the problem.

Oddly, he doesn’t run away or do anything, just sits there like he’s waiting for me to get it right.

The crux of the issue with the above method of Possum-grabbing, you see, is that a Possums lower half is substantially heavier than their upper half: their chest and head weigh nothing compared to their butts. Whether this’s an adaptation for superior balance in their arboreal gymnastics or they are simply fat, I know not, but it didn’t take more than a second attempt to rectify the mode of lifting so both Guido and I were comfortable.

So for the record, the best way to lift a Brushtail Possum – and the way that seems evidently most comfortable for them – is as follows: Cup one hand and, with fingers splayed open, place up and under the possums rump: right between their back legs, don’t be shy now, then slide your other hand behind the armpits of the front legs, and lift, keeping both arms locked in position.

Comfortable for the Possum, comfortable for you.

Of course it has to be stated that wild Possums – for the most part – probably won’t have any inclination to let you just grab them, and will most likely start and end very quickly with hugely painful, deep bites and scratches up and down your arms, because – quite unlike cats – Possums have hands like a monkey and a ludicrously powerful grip, with claws that’re as thick as a dog’s but pointy as needles.

The Possums who so graciously tolerate my handling, pats and close-range sniffing of their fur have not only been plied over a two month period with regular feedings, but gradual, incremental building of trust. They sold me their docility like the dumb, innocent, poor, trusting animals they are. Or so I thought.

So having grabbed Bobby the right way, I finally get him down off the tent door and increase the aperture of the opening sufficient to allow his stupid little brain no doubt in regard the location of the exit, and he leaves the tent.

Less than one minute later he wants back in again, but I zip the door in his face, telling him, “You’re off your fucken head Dood.”, and that as they say, was that.

Little Daisy: Only one of the three who come inside the tent who's never even looked like fanging me.

Little Daisy: Only one of the three who come inside the tent who’s never even looked like fanging me.

I also have to add here – while I remember – that for the entire length of the night I didn’t hear a single rat chewing at the tent. That punching them in the guts thing might’ve worked – at least temporarily. There were Rats outside of course, and – as the following photo illustrates – Possums aren’t really all that perturbed by the presence of vermin. In fact, in the scene that bookended the photo below I watched that little vermin sonabitch hop right up to the food, right in front of Guidos nose, grab a dried cranberry, then sit just inches away from Guido while eating it. He did it over and over.

Each time the Rat walked right under Guidos nose, all Guido did was sniff it then carry on eating.

Yeah I read on Wikipedia that Brushtails eat Rats. Pfft. More bullshit, that is.

Yeah I read on Wikipedia that Brushtails eat Rats. Wikipedia is full of shit.

So I finish-up with the usual post-feeding proclamations, like “get out that’s enough”, “It’s all gone Bro, you ate it.” and “don’t you fuckin bite me!”, then finally zip my tent up and settle back down for some well-earned ye olde vampire action.

Both Possum and Rat make nary a sound.


Fast forward another few hours; I’ve put my phone down and submitted to sleep, and I’m just starting to get into this excellent dream.

I’m at the movies with this hot young chicklet and her over-protective parents. They are there as chaperones and I honestly don’t mind: The way I figure it, if the parents feel the need to go along on dates with their daughter I must have a proper Princess, and that’s worth a bit of premeditated effort. She’s about nineteen or twenty, but could be a bit younger, while I – as in all my dreams – have no age at all; I’m just the raw essence of my awesome self, effortlessly charming my way to scoring with this creature of beauty.

Anyhoo, the chicklet and I are standing there, waiting outside an old-fashioned, gatsby-esque, art-deco theater; soft light illuminating the sidewalk, cars silently passing behind us. I can’t remember now, exactly what she was wearing but I remember it was floral, pretty and refreshingly modest. No cleavage being shoved in my face, no eye-watering, nose-bleed inducing excess of perfume. She smelled like freshly washed clothes and clean skin.Perfect.

So we’re both just standing there together, feeling the chemistry, the sparks are flying, and both her and I know that this is all just a formality. Once the parents like me it’s straight-on to the good stuff, oh-ho yessir. Ah! Here they are now. Her parents walk over and greet me in a manner much warmer than I expected, considering they know, and I know they know, and every man and his dog on earth knows that all I want to do is get my beast on with their daughter. Surprising friendly, really.

Then again, they also know nothing’s gunna happen until all this preliminary crap is over with, and I meet their approval. For once,  I’m made to set the table before eating the meal! Wow, just wow! Right on! Class, that is.

Having dispensed with the welcomes and other socially lubricating niceties, we’ve just begun discussing which film we would collectively like to see when out of nowhere I am distracted by a muffled noise.



My eyes snap open, and my perfect dream girl vanishes to be replaced, just like that, by a Possum. Ughhh! I roll over and close my eyes again. Gotta get back to that dream! Only just started goddammit!



I open my eyes again, a bit pissed off you might say, and notice the slightest tinge of blue light all around the outside of the tent’s thin fabric. Dawn.

“Guido I.. Are you kidding me? It’s almost fucking daylight mother FUCKER what are you even *DOING* up at this time? Go to fucken bed or something. Gawwd.”.



At this, he begins sticking his sharp, nasty little devil claws into the tent and starts climbing. Loud, popping noises cut through the silence of the forest as they hook into the fabric, puncturing it again and again.

Resigned in the knowledge no sleep will continue until I’ve dealt with him and that I’ll never see that dream reach its natural conclusion, I begrudgingly sit up, move some stuff away from the door, then open the zip. He immediately dives headfirst into the tent. And bites me. “Oh ho you’re on fucking thin ice Bro, *reaaaally* thin ice.”

Now, I’ve made a habit the past few nights of keeping a small amount of pasta in the bottom of the pot so that – if one of the Possums misses out earlier in the evening – I’ve still got a small amount of “leftovers”. It also gives them something of a distraction from the numerous other bags of food I have sprawled-out inside the tent and so I don’t need to continually shove them away from that which they cannot have.

Now inside, he continues nipping at my hands and arms until I’d grabbed the pot with the leftovers at the bottom and shove it in his face. Not at all hard mind you; just very gentle nipping, much similar to how some cats do when excited during bouts of affection or as it’s owner spoons dinner into it’s bowl.

Once his head was in the pasta the nipping was put on hold, since he had other fish to fry, and – as I’m pondering just who is taming who, he pulls his head back out of the pot and bites me again. I growl at him.

The Devilspawn, cheeky hellcat.. from hell, just walks right-on in.

The Devilspawn, cheeky hellcat.. from hell, just walks right-on in.

Straight into it - no time to waste.

Straight into it – no time to waste.

Making certain there's not a scrap left; wouldn't want to leave any for anybody else.

Making certain there’s not a scrap left; wouldn’t want to leave any for anybody else.

Demonstratively evil swivel head.

Demonstratively evil swivel head.

Once in the tent, Guido no longer wishes to go outside to guard against or chase other Possums away, nono, he just looks outside; only getting out if there is sufficient reason to, when the food is gone or when I pick him up and put him outside.

Once in the tent, Guido no longer wishes to go outside to guard against or chase other Possums away, nono, he just looks outside; only getting out if there is sufficient reason to, when the food is gone or when I pick him up and put him outside.

Earlier in the night, much earlier, after Bobby and his tent-climbing fiasco, Daisy – who hasn’t once bitten me for any reason – stopped by and ate from the same pot we all share. It was down to about one inch from the bottom with pasta, but not being a greedy pig like Bobby and Guido she didn’t eat very much before making her way back outside, where I heard her cop a beating from one of the males.

Awww there ya gooo.

Awww there ya gooo.

Even earlier still – at 8:25pm right on sunset to be exact – I found out where Guido lives. Of all the coincidences in all the world, he just happens to live in the dead, hollow tree right next to the tent. Imagine that.

That's right Guido: I know where you life! .. He still looks a bit sleepy too.

Good morning Guido, still a bit sleepy there? That’s right: I know where you live.

I first heard the scratching of bark nearby and, looking out at the dead tree in question saw one of the Possums – at that moment unidentified – outside the hollow, perched atop just sitting there waiting for dusk to give way to darkness.

I have him a “Oi!”, then asked, “You Bobby or Guido?”, at which he climbed down the trunk from the top, walked over to the tent and, once I saw those beady little mongoloid eyes and confirmed the back feet were chocolate, knew at once that it was indeed Guido, and which hollow is his.

I’ve a mind to go bash at the little bastards tree with a big chunk of wood, randomly throughout the day; see how he likes being woken so rudely.

It’s a funny thing, but out here I’m having trouble remembering on which days, which events happened. I’ve looked at the days and dates, and they’re just not adding-up. By rights – and in accordance with the chronological order of things – today should be Day 10 and yet it is not. Guido and his antics were over the past three nights, and yet I cannot for the life of me determine which night belongs to which event. I *think* the first instance of Guidos dawn visit was on the morning of Day 7, but that’s really Day 8 since it happened at – dawn.

Out here, time and day really count for nothing at all: There’s day-time, and night-time, and that’s it. That’s all there is. There’s nothing whatsoever to differentiate a weekday from the weekend. No busy Saturday shopping or peak-hour traffic, no mid-week quiet while everyone is at work. No television or news at 6:00pm that confirms that it’s a weekday, and no weekend movie mayhem on SBS.

I can tell just by looking at the sun, the current time of day accurate to within the hour and yet it serves no purpose. If the sun is up, then it’s daytime and that’s the only information I need to know; as long as I get my daily tasks done before it sets, all is good.

I know it’s Saturday today, but just like the time of day that knowledge has absolutely no value at all within nature; it’s just a word. A word that only has application within human society.

These aren’t particularly original or profound thoughts, but they illustrate how easily I can find myself mixing-up the days, whereupon such a simple thing as knowing which day of the outing I’m at, becomes an utterly mind-boggling headfuck.


Ah yes, the huge trees. Lace Monitors actually climb to the very top of trees like this, then walk along those upper-canopy branches in search of birds nests and other food. Just mind-boggling there aren't a bunch of dead lizards at the base of these trees.

Ah yes, the huge trees. Lace Monitors actually climb to the very top of trees like this, then walk along those upper-canopy branches in search of birds nests and other food. Just mind-boggling there aren’t a bunch of dead lizards at the base of these trees.

Yesterdays hike up to the creek was pretty sub-standard with no killer pythons, wallabies, not even the usual stray lizard could be seen. Like the other day I scowled most of the way at the disgusting mess tractors have made all over the fire trail, but nothing can be done about it.

The positive aspect to the walk was the later time I chose to go. It was about 3:00pm when I started-out, and unlike the usual midday departure – with the sun beating down from directly overhead – the sun was well too the west, and shade had already swallowed most of the forest, so the walk both there and back was nice and cool.

I did pass some manner of humanoid on the way back down, but that was nothing to get excited about. I told him what an outrage it is they could ruin the trail like they had, to which he mumbled some incoherent shit, and we kept on our seperate ways. Tall lanky fucker. Looked like someone had taken an already tall, skinny person then stretched him into some weird, plasticine, gumbi-looking construct then dressed it in a stupid looking safari outfit – Crocodile Dundee hat and all. Had a voice like Goofy, what little I heard of it.

That was that for the walk, I got back here barely sweating at all and made a mental note, that it pays to wait until later in the afternoon to walk or at least, to not walk at midday.

Anyway that’s enough writing for now. I should’ve finished Dracula two days ago but have neglected the reading in favor of writing.

I’ll say one thing though. As much as I like having a real, actual paper book, the fact that you can now buy an entire library of books, never have to worry about them being damaged and have em all right there on your phone – weighing nothing at all, and taking up no space at all – is just superior add far as I’m concerned.


(Saturday 31-January-2015)

Day 9


Well, after several nights running of increasingly aggressive behavior from overconfident, cat-sized critters who seem to have completely forgotten their place in the food chain, I have been forced to remind them that *I* am the apex predator here.

Last night – just prior to dawn – Guido starts bashing and pawing the tent as is becoming the norm for him. I ignored it for just a moment, since that was all the time it took him to start pushing his claws through the fabric yet again and scaling the tent door. Sick of the bullshit and adamant that there would be no more of this calling-at-dawn inconveniences, I lift my food and punt him off the tent.

And now tonight, as what would seem the result of last nights punting, Guido hasn’t even tried to enter the tent; digging around outside the tent is all I’ve seen him do since sunset.

Just a while ago Bobby entered the tent. He’s always been a little less pushy than Guido – and indeed, the only time he has bitten me was gently, and right after a fight – so I let him in and placed the pasta pot in front of him and he started munching away.

While he’s eating, Guido appears outside the door of the tent and just stands out there. He wouldn’t come in, but wouldn’t leave and several times Bobby turned and saw Guido on the other side on the door, then simply sick his head back in the pot and resumed eating. I don’t know whether Guido was more appalled by the fact Bobby was in the tent blocking the door, or that he was eating the pasta that Guido had taken for granted on previous nights but eventually Bobby finished the pasta and the inevitable stand-off happened.

Bobby right in front of me, Guido outside: Just like sumo wrestlers, they stand still - waiting for the other to pounce first.

Bobby right in front of me, Guido outside: Just like sumo wrestlers, they stand still – waiting for the other to pounce first.

This Possum-on-Possum confrontation didn’t last long of course – as it never does. They stand upright on hind legs, raise their little paws right up beside their head and then hold that position. They hold that position, waiting for the other to “blink first” if you will, but instead of blinking they pounce at one another – all claws and teeth – then whichever Possum pussies-out first has the dishonor thrust upon them of being chased up a nearby tree by the triumphant one.

And that’s exactly what happened this time, but whereas Guido usually triumphs, this time it was Bobby chasing Guido up the tree. For minutes they were up there – each in their own tree sapling just a foot away from one another – before finally Guido came back down first.

I was kneeling out the tent emptying my bladder when he came down, and – as he approached the tent quickly – it just so happened I had a bit left to go, and so, as soon as he was within range I pissed on his head. I must say, it was very satisfying indeed, to piss in the face of HE that thinks himself such an alpha, that he claws my tent, bites my hand and keeps me from my much needed sleep. Several times I got him as he moved to avoid the stream of hot urine smattering his face. That’ll set shit straight for you, pushy little motherfucker.

He just looks up at me, of course, with a look of shocked disgust and starts cleaning his head off with his paws.

I shake, zip up and kneel closer to him to inspect the awesome job I’ve done, but realize as soon as I see the eyes; That’s not Guido, that’s Bobby!

“Fuck! Sorry Bro I thought you were Guido!”

See now, of Bobby and Guido, Bobby has always been the ‘good’ Possum. He’s never clawed the tent, rarely ever climbed it, and was the first of the two males to start taking food out my hand. He has – for all intents and purposes – been a model marsupial; well behaved the whole time I’ve known him.

I confess, I felt a little guilty at this point. Very amused mind you, but a *little* bad for poor Bobby.

Guido, shifty little fucking snake that he is, was still up in the nearest tree the whole time watching down as the incident unfolded below.

Sneaky little bastard, I’ll get you too.

(Sunday 1-February-2015)

Day 10


–still happening, will append later–

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