Brushtail possum-spotting is becoming an evening past-time: they are also in the Fitzroy Gardens, though there they are more elusive than the ones in the nearby Carlton Gardens, and are far warier towards humans, alert. Easy to see why: scant evening foot traffic, dimmer park lighting, and greater seclusion of their tree nooks and dens from city roads have meant less exposure to human gawkers -- their Carlton cousins, in contrast, have the nonchalance of campus squirrels, and frolick on the moonlit grass in plain view of the shutter-happy with their camera phones; most let me get as close as a metre away without seeming unduly perturbed, though had I lunged at one it would have bounded away nimbly enough and whipped up the nearest tree -- fast climbers they were, racing an upward spiral path around tree trunks. That all this a 7 minute walk from our CBD apartment astonished me most: urban animals do.

Six previous trips down under and I have never seen them before -- like hares on their haunches from afar, was my first thought, but with short, perked ears - half bat half cat; and bushy, curved tails, very much like that of a raccoon sans rings (not at all like the skinny, tapering rat-tail of the American opossum, which is confusingly also called a possum (the o- lexical distribution is regional in the US, I expect, and would hazard the o- is non-Southern?) -- the eyes were most surprising -- round and large and unflinching (recalling Sebald and the uncanny gaze of animals in the Antwerp nocturama) but wore an expression that was shy, lightly surprised and mildly curious.

(backlogged 29 November 2017)

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