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Leave Only Footprints

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Just south-west of Happy Valley there is a rarely-traversed sand dune called Mellong.

David Anderson accompanied FIDO’s Chris Breitenbach while he checked the boundary of the unallocated State Land (USL) so we could determine whether weeds from the township had spread south-west into the National Park. (They hadn’t).

Which of K’gari’s animals left these tracks in the sand? Photo: David Anderson

While there, it was evident that they were not the only ones leaving footprints in the sand, with easily recognised prints that belonged to birds and lizards. Then there was this intriguing set of prints (pictured) of some unidentified creature. It was not a dingo pup.

David thought it might have been an echidna off on an early morning walk, or more likely, a midnight stroll to avoid predators. Whatever it was, it seemed to have had a purpose in mind.

It had walked its way up and over the dune.

There is some debate about the origin of the advice to those who venture into environmentally sensitive areas: “Take only photographs; leave only footprints”.  A variation of that is to “Take only memories”. Whatever the origin, whatever the variation, it’s relevant advice for those who venture on to the World Heritage-listed Fraser Island.

David confesses he left his footprints on Mellong dune while he took this and other photographs.  However, he was confident that the winds that formed the sand blow would have quickly erased the footprints leaving no evidence of his passing.

“The photos I took though will help with my memories of the adventure for years to come.  I have been left to wonder what creature had ventured so determinedly across the open dune. Perhaps someone knowledgeable might recognise the footprints?”

Article contributed  by David Anderson

Mystery solved: There was some debate about the owner of the prints – including one suggestion that it could be a red fox! After having a closer look at the original photos. Neil Chay, Land Management Officer at DNRME in Maryborough, was able to identify a more likely suspect from the Tracks and Scats publication as being either a brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) or ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus).

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