Probably my most wanted Australian mammal over the past couple of years has been the Long-footed Potoroo – a secretive denizen of remote forest locations in the North-East and far East of Victoria. I have had a couple of attempts to find this over the past couple of years and recently got close but no cigar. Having previously tried in East Gippsland and on hearing of some recent success stories in Northern Victoria I decided to have a crack up there. I was spending a few days in Mount Beauty and my mate Jim Wright was in Bright so we met up and headed out on a bit of an expedition. It was a fair drive through some magnificent country to get to a likely area. Jim has a fully kitted out 4wd which is quite a useful tool in this area.
We arrived in the general area I wanted to explore and did a bit of recce – it was an area of Mountain and Alpine Ash with Snow Gums up high with some very nice old trees in the gullies. It looked as if it had avoided much of the fires over the past 20 years or so. We started spotlighting at about 1200m ASAL on foot right on zero dark thirty and within 10 minutes I had eyeshine on the ground on a small embankment above the road. Lifting binoculars I immediately saw it was a potoroo! We had perhaps 15 seconds of excellent binocular views before the animal melted away silently into the undergrowth. Needless to say I was ecstatic!! The animal was larger and more upright than I remember Long-nosed Potoroo’s being and was also darker – in some ways reminded me more of a Bettong. We did not see the feet on this view but the rest of the animal was seen very well. Further spotlighting in the immediate area got us Yellow-bellied and Sugar Glider and Bush Rat.
We drove a bit and spotlit other areas on foot getting more Yellow-bellied Gliders but not much else. Right on midnight we were thinking of calling it a night and were driving somewhere to setup the swags when we saw an animal on the road which in the distance I took for a Brush-tailed Possum – then it started hopping! We drove up and got excellent views of a large Long-footed Potoroo as it struggled to get up an embankment – its large feet and dark tail very evident. Eventually it made it up the embankment and hopped into the night. All in all a very successful night as we rolled out the swags. Up early and back – it was a very successful jaunt – maybe photos next time.