The following are a few of the questions that I've regularly been asked About how it all started.
How did The Land Down Under start?
The Land Down Under was accidentally founded in 2009 by me (Ros Plunkett), after receiving my first digital camera. I have always had a love of Australia, travel and its wildlife. So when I received my camera, I started taking photos around our property of our local wildlife. The photography interest grew more during our travels within Australia, especially to the Top End. Many photos were taken and The Land Down Under website was made to simply showcase the photos. Over time, many queries, suggestions and praise for my photography and love of Australia persuaded me to not only continue with the photos, but to make The Land Down Under even bigger.
How did you become interested in wildlife?
That’s easy, Mum and Dad. We were always outside learning about the land and creatures around us, spent a lot of family times at the beach fossicking, visiting zoos, aquariums etc, as well as given many amazing travel opportunities which fostered a deep love and appreciation for our incredible native wildlife and this amazing country.
We lived on an acre just to the east of Ballarat. The acre of land wasn’t a huge block of land, but it did have a lot of seedy plants that the finches loved. Every day we would watch goldfinches fluttering about through the docks. Brush-tail possums would launch themselves from the large Cypress trees that shaded our house onto our tin roof at night and launch us out of bed in fright.
Next door to our place was a swamp that had all manner of bird life living either in it or around it. Many birds of prey would soar over the swamp looking for prey in the swamp below. Snakes, mostly the red bellied blacks would make their presence known from the swamps every Spring and Summer.
Evening would often give us a magical opportunity to watch the sunset behind the horizon. This has become my favourite time of day. The night would begin to draw it's dark veil over the land and as the day time birds and animals settled in for the night, the creatures of the night would begin to stir.
Tall eucalypts in pockets scattered throughout the nearby farmlands that would house many species of parrot as well as other bird species. Small micro bats would be heard calling in the night as well as the boobook owl or mopoke as I knew it then, could also be heard calling in the night. Possums and koalas were very regular visitors as well.
How did you become so hooked on travel within Australia? The distances can be huge!
That’s easy. I'm sure it started way back when I was a kid.
I was fortunate enough to be shown the beauty of Australia and it's wildlife from a lot of travel early in life. The respect, appreciation and admiration for this beautiful and rugged land and its unique wildlife I'm sure started back then.
I was around 5 years old when my family headed off from central Victoria, across the Nullarbor Plain for Kalgoorlie in Western Australia in an old Holden station wagon. At that time, the road across the Nullarbor itself was still dirt in a lot of places and was 'rough' to say the least at times.
We had spare tyres on the roof rack and jerry cans with extra fuel and water, vinyl seats, no air conditioning (unless we wound the windows down!), Grandparents, parents, 2 kids and the entire luggage in the car as well.
It really was an adventure!
I can still remember some parts of the trip even though I was so young. I remember - when it was still permitted - sitting in with the luggage in the back of the station wagon (it was actually quite comfortable!) crossing the Nullarbor while it was flooded. Being a little kid, I remember pretending I was in a boat and I was having a great time! Cars (what there were of them at that time) were being pulled across fast flowing areas with tractors.
Traffic at that time was pretty scarce. I know when we did see another car or truck heading our way, we would all be hanging out the windows waving to them - but the funny thing was, so would the people in the other vehicles!
When we would stop for a break on the side of the road, usually a truckie would stop to check that we were ok, only to find that we were ok and just having a 'cuppa'. Often the truckie would pull out his cup and have one with us!
It was terrific; we would all sit for ages talking about the road ahead, what we'd seen, what we could see and more.
The wildlife at that time was amazing! You didn't dare drive at night for the kangaroos - hundreds of them, even a few camels made an appearance. Eagles soaring above us in the thermals during the day were great to watch too.
We met a truckie who had stopped for dinner at the same truck stop as us, but he had a special friend with him, a joey red kangaroo! I had to get closer to have a better look. The truckie gave me the joey to look after while he ate his dinner. The truckie saved the joey after he'd hit and killed the mother kangaroo - he was taking it to get it some help. He named the joey 'hamburger'. Why hamburger? He said if he left the joey behind that it would be hit by another truck and flattened like a hamburger. That was an amazing experience for me - a big tough truckie saved this tiny little roo.
I was hooked on wildlife from that moment on. I'll never forget little hamburger.
As for the wildflowers, they're just brilliant. The Sturt Desert Pea was my favourite. It was in such masses that it was like a brilliant red carpet, spread out across the sands.
I remember a large above-ground pipe that carried water (and still carries water to this day) across the country. No matter how long we had been driving, that pipe was always there - right alongside us.
We had to eat cereal with frozen milk at the motels across the Nullarbor. I can tell you; Cornflakes have never been so crunchy! Milk had to be frozen because of the distances between places and it could be a long time between deliveries.
I can still remember in Kalgoorlie, most of the roads then were dirt, not many were bitumen.
A lot has changed on that road since then.
Since that trip, I have travelled many, many thousands of kilometres on holidays and even just weekends when we can get away from it all. Travel is now a big part of me and my family.
What changed to make The Land Down Under what it is today?
Over a fairly short period of time, I received many compliments about my hobby (as it was then) and many more suggestions that I could do more. I asked for suggestions, compiled them together, put in a LOT of thought and then the ideas began to roll……….and they’re still rolling!
The main thing that pushed me to make The Land Down Under what it is today, is the gap between people and wildlife, but at the same time, the increasing interest in wildlife.
I also found through my own interests in wildlife, that it was extremely difficult to find the many and varied places that work with wildlife in its many capacities.
So in the end, or the beginning depending on which way you look at it, I found that there is a void between people and wildlife that I could do something about, so with that The Land Down Under – Australia and Wild Wonders of The Land Down Under came to be.
What is Wild Wonders?
The mission of Wild Wonders is - Conservation through Education via Interaction.
Through Wild Wonders, we can connect people and wildlife through many avenues such as wildlife artists, help for injured wildlife, places where people can stay among nature and wildlife, tours, wildlife parks, aquariums and more.
I believe that when people have close contact with wildlife, they learn and the more they learn - often leads these people onto wanting to help and the more they help, the more people we have working in conservation.
Conservation through Education via Interaction.
I hope you'll join in with me and the mates of The Land Down Under to help bring people and wildlife together. Together - we do make a difference.