To access my parents' farm house, you need to drive a short distance on a rough dirt track through National Park. Over the years I've got used to a few places that echidnas are likely to be spotted and I always keep an eye out.
Here's one I saw in December 2007. I'm not sure if it was hiding from me or trying to eat ants inside the log.
This summer, when my mum was driving us, I spotted an echidna snuffling around the forest floor. I asked her to stop the car and the kids and I went for a closer look.
The echidna's first reaction to the sound of my feet thundering through the bush was to curl up and "hide", though obviously still in plain view!
But I stood very still and cautioned the kids to keep quiet and in no time he pulled his head out and continued to lick ants from the end of a log (you can just make out his pink tongue in the photo above).
When the kids caught up with me the echidna pulled his head in under his spikes again.
Patience is the key, and after we waited a but longer the echidna emerged to show us his snout...
And eventualy his eyes! Well, just the one!
Years ago, on another part of the property, I was with the farm dog when it found an echidna. On that occasion the echidna quickly dug down into the leaf litter and disappeared from sight. Since then, and without dogs present, any time I've seen an echidna it has simply stopped it's activity and huddled under it's spikes or quickly ambled away. This echidna must have decided that we posed no threat as he allowed quite a few photos to be taken before he toddled away.
My mum's version of this story is that after she stopped the car, I bounded off into the forest, far further than she expected. She couldn't believe I had spotted an echidna at that distance. It's true that the echidna's colour helps it blend in to the forest floor but there's something about the sight of a fat little bundle of spikes that is unmistakeable to the trained eye!
Maybe the skill is hereditary because when my son was only three he found an echidna all by himself. We were wood gathering at the time and the children were playing at a distance so their ears would not be damaged by the sound of the chainsaw. Here is video footage of that event:
"Lucky he didn't touch it":