Dan and Justy Down Under


February 3, 2005

Dan or Justy

It's every travelers chief worry: getting sick on the road. Fortunately, I'm in Australia. A stop in the hospital and for a mere $120 I got my very own doctor. Actually about 1.5 doctors as I got a student doctor first. We all had a great talk about my mildly infected ear. Then they asked about diving and wrecks (quite innocently). I talked too much as usual and the treatment phase was over.

Shops close at 5 sharp around most of Australia (there are some that advertise 24-hour, but that is quite exceptional), so we sped around at 4:55 looking for the chemist to get my scrips filled.

We were headed to Eungella National Park, west of Mackey, in north central Queensland. Mackey is pronounced "MA key" and Eungella, "young gehlah" (although in Aboriginal it's "doon gehl a"). The word means cloud and refers to the dominant climatic factor here.

The mountains funnel warm, moist air in from the coast, where it forms clouds. The cloudcover is so prevelant, there are whole species of moss that drink from it directly. It's a wet place and although cooler than the lowlands, not by much. Our night here was essentially just as sweltering.

There are many species found only in Eungella, due to the parks isolation and the hotter nature of the surrounding lands (similar to the sky-island concept in the desert southwest). These species are primarily amphibians.

We came to see the duck-billed platypus. And incidentally the many other things that live here, but the platy was the main attraction. They are active at dawn, so it was early to bed for us.

While cooking we kept the lights off to minimize the bugs. You can't really escape them, but we do what we can. The mosquitos ("mozzies") here are definitely a different species. These blighters are incredibly quick, almost like flies. Like flies, they are incredibly bold as well. The flies, meanwhile, have grown to Jurassic proportion. They are an epidemic and threaten our meals in the sense of carrying them off, not just landing on them. It's a problem.

So, there we were cooking and trying not to bump into anything. Justine is preparing the meal and I'm on "animal watch". I spot a cat-sized shadow move under the van. Red Alert! We turn on the lights and out scoots the cutest little wombat. He was adorable, if feral. He nosed around and soon got the idea that there was no food forthcoming. Off he went.

Ok, maybe I am a bit harsh on the man. He does a lot of great things, but once in a while I swear I want to .... oh you know. He's working hard to make up for it: bringing cold drinks, running the a/c before i get into the car, washing the dishes with minimal huffing. It does make a difference!

So, we've left Rocky onto the next adventure in Airlie Beach and sailing aboard Salway Lass, a tall ship. The drive is nice and takes us through 2 sister towns named Mirani and Marian. One known for the largest sugar refinery in Queensland. Surprisingly, on the late evening drive to the Park we did come across a strange smoke. It turned out to be one of these sugar fields being burned. Real freaky to see a field lit up like that without any fire trucks on their way.

Eungalla Park is up on the peak, a tall 'dangerous' drive up with many a blind turn, dips and rolls, switchbacks and sheer climbs. I was driving. Not without fear and terror, Id even bite my nails If I didn't have to shift ! Made up without a problem, and continued onto the Broken River campsite where at dawn we could hunt the famous platypus! The best digital pic I have is of a rock mural from the ground, the rest are on film.

Here, along the path I found some uncanny rocks that were trying to pass off as a man.

Itinerary Highlights
January 20: Winery Tour
21-23: Moreton Bay Diving
25: Australia Zoo
26-30: Lady Elliot Island
February 13: Diving the Yongala
15-17: Cape Tribulation + Daintree Rain Forest
17-20: Atherton Tablelands
22-28: Coral Sea Diving Liveaboard
March 11-13: OzTek Dive Conference: Sydney
14: Fly to New Zealand
20: Poor Knights Islands Diving
31: Mt. Cook
April 2-4: Queenstown
TBD: To Be Dreamed

Digital Pix Courtesy of Shimmivision.com
More Digital and Film Pix Coming Soon.