I know I am not alone in loving living in the bush capital. Most of us enjoy taking a short walk and finding ourselves in Canberra Nature Park. I feel very fortunate in Kurrajong, where we host Mount Majura, Mount Ainslie, Redhill and Black Mountain (shared with Ginninderra!).
Part of this love is sharing our home with native species. While most of us are familiar with our marsupial and feathered neighbours, I was surprised to learn that we also share our city with reptiles like the Rosenberg Goanna. Rosenberg Goannas are large monitor lizards found across southern Australia. While we used to think that they lived in the Naas Valley in Namadgi National Park, the ACT National Parks Association has been leading a project that includes tracking populations on Mount Ainslie and Mount Majura.
Just before Christmas, I joined team leader Don Fletcher and other citizen scientists on an expedition to meet Rex - an elusive fella that likes to sleep in, travels long distances across Canberra Nature Park and doesn't like coming out in the rain! It was a joy to join the team as we scrambled up the sides of Mount Ainslie with radio trackers in hand, following Rex's GPS monitor. While I only briefly glimpsed him as he darted into a long burrow deep in the bush, it was wonderful learning more about Rosenberg Goannas and the research project exploring how we can make sure the places where they live and visit can help them thrive. Last year it was wonderful to announce funding support for the project through an ACT Environment Group.
I'm excited to continue my encounters with our reptile friends in the coming months. Soon I will be confronting a wee snake phobia (awkward as an Environment Minister!) as I join Gavin Smith and the Canberra Snake Tracking Project out at Jerrabomberra wetlands - I'll let you know how I go!