The Wallaby Colony


In the Delaney Gorge, as the Savannahlander is on its final approach to Forsayth, the drivers often stop where a small colony of Mareeba Rock Wallabies live.  The wallabies, normally shy creatures, are tempted from their hiding places with treats in the form of  ‘horse pellets’ – these closely resemble the make up of their natural diet.  The wallabies are a small species where the male typically grows to 4.5 kg and the female to around 3.8 kg. Closely related to the Unadorned Rock Wallaby, the Sharmans Rock Wallaby and the Allied Rock Wallaby, they are difficult to tell apart. In fact for many years, we were describing them as the Unadorned Wallabies.

When the Savannahlander first started up in the mid ’90’s it only ran between Mt Surprise and Forsayth, and it ran twice a week. The driver from those days established the feeding routine with them until they were nearly tame – but only to someone in a ‘Savannahlander’ uniform.  When the service began running from Cairns, it was cut back to a weekly service, but the Wallabies adapted to this, and at one stage there would be eleven members of the colony waiting patiently trackside for the train to show up.  It was a great spectical for the passengers.

In 2002, a flood took out the Copperfield River Bridge which meant there were no trains through the Delaney Gorge for two and a half years. With the bridge rebuilt in mid 2004, the first crew over the section wondered if there would be any of the Wallabies left at all, or had they gone wild again.

There was only one of the colony prepared to come up and greet the train, and he was getting a little battle scared by the time we returned. Christened ‘Rastus’ he would meet each train until the end of the 2006 season, but he was not sited after that.  However, the colony still maintained a healthy population, and food treats were left for them from each passing train.

Before too much longer other members of the colony started appearing, although not as reliably as in the ‘old days’.

During a recent charter through the Delaney,  a large black feral pig was spotted on the opposite side of the river which might explain why such a low profile is being kept by the wallabies.  (The things you see when you don’t have a gun) However, on one of the trips, we had a little time to kill so we spent a patient 15 minutes at the site and were rewarded with some of the photos in the Gallery below. Another group of American Student teachers were rewarded by the appearance of one of the Wallabies feeding in close proximity to our driver Rob.  Enjoy the pictures – Each of them are captioned and you can view these when you open the image in the gallery.