morning by the riverNattai National Park, Australia - November 2019
Having only been in Australia for two days, I went for my first hike in the rainforest. The bushfires crisis had already been going on for months and it was getting stronger by the day. The forest I ventured in was still safe and untouched by the threatening distant blazes. As I wandered alongside a river, my ears slowly tuned to the wonders of the Austral acoustic marks. I could hear dozens of birds disrupting the forest’ stillness and each of their calls was an entirely new sonic experience for me. After meeting countless eastern water dragons, I found a clear spot on the riverbank and stopped to record the surrounding soundscape. A moment passed when suddenly a flock of sulphur-crested cockatoos began to cry and flutter in unison. Their screeching cheer tor and drowned out the delicate morning ambience for a while. As they gradually settled down, something moved in the bushes next to me. A two-meter long lace monitor appeared and looked at me. I was sitting on the ground with my headphones on and had never seen such a big reptile this close to me before. We gazed at each other for an instant, both gauging the intention of the other. As I remained there perfectly still, the varanid slowly approached and passed right in front of the microphones before continuing its journey - and so did I. A little further on, I hauled myself on an overhanging rock and listened to the river’s underwater sonic ensemble formed by water bugs and amphibians. On my way back, I stumbled on another monitor lizard - I had the feeling it was the same one - and again we acknowledged our presence but this time it was I who gently walked past the reptile while it was lying on the ground. To my surprise, it stood up and kindly followed me for some time before disappearing in the dense vegetation.