Friday, July 6, 2007

It's Alive and it's Wild (Australia: Brisbane: 6 July 2007, Written 6 July 2007)

Throughout the past year working with Australians in Japan, I've come to the perhaps stereotypical perception that Queenslanders have peculiar happenings that would be so outrageous and ridiculous that the only other place they could occur is...America.

This morning we headed off towards Binna Burra, in Lamington National Park. We opted for the motorway and arrived at about noon at Binna Burra, and decided to go on the Tullawallal Track, a 6km easy walk. What I found most striking about this forest was that it seemed to combine vegetation that in other places, would never be together. Tall strangler figs next to gum trees that would normally be in drier climates, but with palm trees (indicative of tropical jungle weather) scattered throughout; ferns and moss scattered about. It was comfortably chilly and I enjoyed every minute of it. I was doubtful of seeing any wildlife, but sure enough, just a few minutes into our walk there was a small animal coming down the track towards us - a 'pademelon.' I'd never heard of this, but it's one of the 8 types of marsupials found in Australia, and basically, it's a mini-kangaroo. And it's damn cute. Unfortunately, it bounded off the path as we approached so I couldn't get a good look at it.

The forest was full of birds of all sizes and colors, and at one point there was a strange birdcall, because it seemed like lots of different birds calling at once. A lyrebird, on Australian coins. Now this animal is really crazy. It's a large bird on the ground, like a bush turkey (by the way why are there large turkeys randomly wandering around everywhere?) - it's brown though, but it's got a fan like a peacock, with traily beautiful feathers. What the lyrebird does is mimic everything; it wants to impress the female, apparently. So you hear calls of wagtails, parrots, creepers, honeyeaters, etc etc etc, and then a random opossum call, or, in a YouTube video Graeme found, chainsaws or a car alarm. It sounds astonishingly accurate and it just makes you's Australia.

We also did indeed see a pademelon, up close, it stared back at us, probably wondering if it should be afraid of us or if we were too stupid/slow to get it anyway - bounded away quickly. We also spotted some burrows which I proclaimed were from echidnas, which would make me happy because I could then claim that I saw the trail of this very illogical mammal with spikes that lays eggs. Another highlight was the small grove of Antarctic beeches that we saw, a very peaceful ring of trees - first time I'd ever seen them before.

After, we changed our plan for the day yet again and headed to the beach. Took about 40 minutes to get to the Gold Coast, which appeared, as I had been forewarned by other Australians, to be a horrific high-rise establishment on the Pacific Coast. However, we headed to a beach a few kms north of Surfers Paradise and it was marvelous. Barely touched, barely established, just some fences to keep natural vegetation separate from the sand, and the water was gorgeous. Very little surf, the dark blue water was rolling in, with turqouise touches as it came closer to the shore. The sand was a white gold, so fine it was remarkable. Cold though! Makes you wonder why anyone would ever want to leave Australia.

We headed back to Bellbowrie and I had my first Roast in over a year and a half, beef and 3 veg, as some have described the typical Australian meal to me. Random snippets of conversation; a little while ago a white woman gave birth to a black baby, and they did some checks and fonud that the father was legitimate. According to doctors, this can happen very very rarely when the random genes that usually don't get selected DO get selected from both parents. Then there was talk about farm animals and Fiona shared her thoughts on how cows were evil, then they were talking about how sometimes cows have a problem of some sort so they inject this blue medicine in their teat, which makes them have blue milk, so you know you can't drink it. Smurf Milk. Queensland.

No comments: