Dan and Justy Down Under


February 4, 2005

Dan or Justy

I'm sitting in the tiny parking lot that is the trailhead for the Sky Window circuit trail in Eungella NP. We are bedazzled by butterflys and bedeviled by bugs. Truly this place is heaven and hell. Or perhaps a refutation of the dichotomy.

We started the morning at dawn stumbing out of the van laden with photo/video gear. Our objective: platypus! We were alone with them for a while until another couple appeared. They are much smaller than I imagined, but quite agile (not the other couple). I don't know what predators they fear, but they must be fast.

The other couple jumped a fence to get better photos. We did not respect this behavior and shunned them when they returned to the perfectly-fine observing platform. It was a small platform. I think they got the message.

Back at the van and a short nap later, we had brecky. Joining us this morning was a vulture. Or at least so he looked, but I've only seen cartoon vultures. He was a cheeky bastard and when frustrated with what he found on the ground, he started pecking at the bumper of the van.

The parking lot at Broken River is a small one. Maybe 15 cars, but very overhanging with trees. It seems smaller than it is. Good desgin for a natural park.

This did make the screeching seem all that much louder and omnipresent, however. Those white parrots or cockatoos or whatever they were. Damn, but they're loud. Bunches of them chase each other around and simply drown out all sound in their vicinity. Maybe the local animals are used to it, like Manhattanites no longer hear fire engine sirens. Mother nature's work is always close at hand.

Not that these were the only birds. Far from it. The park is a highly-prized attraction for birders and I can see/hear why. There were all manner of weird bird calls. Boomerarnging whoops that appear to be call-and-response. Coughs, whistles and of course, the Kookaburra, whose call defies easy categorization.

The problem with all this heaven is the hell of bugs. Everywhere, in everything. Eyes, hair, bed, pants, legs, cameras. My god they were a plague, however natural. We withstood the assault in true hardy traveler style until we looked at each other in horror mid-way down a one-way track and fled back to the van. For reference: we are in Airlie Beach as I write this and the computer is crawling with ants.

A quick comparison: Airlie Beach is Ibiza with an Aussie accent. I've never been to Ibiza, but I saw that MTV special once at a friend's house. Lots of young people widening their horizons and experiencing everything another culture can offer them, late at night with high-BPM music and litres upon litres of alcohol. We could hear/feel the vibe across the bay.

Dusk found us settling in to a a comfy spot on the beach, when I looked into the sky and saw it was dark not with the fall of the sun, but the rising of the bats. Flying foxes they call them here, in a rare moment of utterly truthful description. They are enormous bats, with a classic bat shape. Tens of thousands had apparently just roused and were making their way to the city center for some Friday night life.

The Park, the heat, the sweat. There's no escape! We tried to follow one of the roads into the Flinch Hatton Gorge, where a walk to a spectacular waterfalls awaits us, but were stopped in our tracks. The road lost its paving, and then was being run over by the river underneath it. If it wasnt the heart of wet season, and/or we had a 4WD, we'd go right through. But we don't, and it is. So we didn't.

Off to Airlie and the harbor for our sailing trip! So exciting! Airlie promises to be a bit more built up, a tourist spot with the likes of all-night clubbing, foam parties, and booze-cruising. Not exactly my cuppa in this heat.

Dan and I have a latest mantra: We'll be back! In winter time!

Too hot for dinner. Went to bed on sweat alone.

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
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