Dan and Justy Down Under


February 14, 2005

Dan or Justy

We're in traveling mode. A bit of internet and the macabre Australian Nature Display are the only highlights of the day. The latter was described in our guidebook as a place with tremendous displays of butterflies and other insects, but leaving one with the impression that they had missed the point.

The "Nature Display" is the type of place people had to go to learn about nature before we started preserving it. Everything is dead, and there are lots and lots and lots of them. There are so many dead butterflies, they are used to make wall-sized mosaics depicting other animals. To say it's creepy is an understatement.

But the place is tended to by a sweet old lady. Her (late, I gather) husband did all the collecting. There are many gems (as in rocks) and quite a lot of marine creatures. All are arranged in diorama style, with the taste owing more to an 80s screen-saver than any biological theme.

She really is a nice old lady, but she watches us like a hawk. I'm sure she suspects Justine will snap a picture using her flash, if she is left unmonitored. I try to reassure her, but then catch sight of the hundreds of glass jars containing specimins preserved in formaldehyde. I was a bit entranced for a bit and then, out of the corner of my eye, I realized she was watching me.

With a benign smile, it's true. She offered to show us the clippings she and her husband had accumulated since they opened the "Display" back in 1966. As she was pointing them out, I noticed high on the wall, the 8 foot saw from an obviously prehistoric sawfish. Then I saw the newspaper clipping of the 17 foot sawfish it came from. Caught in 1966. She was smiling at me, patiently waiting for me.

Her husband was an ace birder. He discovered new species. He documented known, but undocumented species. He was self-taught, however, and "never really got anywhere with the boys at uni" as she explained in a mild manner.

Australia is for Lovers! What a bunch of crock...nothing can challenge a relationship more than some serious heat, humidity, living in a van, trying to stay in budget, but also pushing to see as much as possible without dropping dead...you know what I mean?

But we manage. Our v-day present to ourselves was the sailing trip, so we're tickled pink that was grand. Now, we're off North. the farthest were going is Cape Tribulation, where the sealed road end and the dirt track begins. I'm full of anticipation of what'll be at the end of the road?

Before leaving Ayr we had to visit the Nature preserve where (the pictures should tell a story here) a couple has preserved thousands of butterflies, crabs, snakes and Australian fauna. They have arranged each into mosaic displays. The size of some of these things is incredible.

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.