After visiting Kelly and her charming family we headed further north.
We stayed at a campsite in a National Park an hour north of Townsville. There was a barbecue, so we put some kangaroo on the "barby". It was the first time we ate pure kangaroo meat, we had only had kangaroo-burgers earlier. The meat is tender and amazingly good, we should really sell more of that in Europe. Kangaroo- farming is better for the environment than keeping cows.
It was a bit strange, but there was a huge difference in temperature from Townsville. The tent got very cold overnight and we were freezing. None of us had sleeping bags, or blankets, only thin silk-liners . At one point in the night I had to go into the car and turn on the heat just to warm up slightly. We were happy to move on the next morning.
The meeting with platypuses in Eungella
In a small village called Marion near Mackay, we stayed with a Filipino lady named Rebecca. She did not talk much to us, but she gave us a nice room to stay in and had ready dinner every night. Can not complain about that!
We had planned to find another archetypal Australian animal. Now that we had seen koalas, lots of kangaroos, possums, parrots and snakes, we only missed the Cassowary, wombat and obviously the platypus (.). The platypus is not easy to find as there are not too many of them left, but we had heard that Eungella National Park was one of the best places to see them, so thats where we went.
After only 10 minutes of searching in the local river, we found the whimsical little egg laying mammal. It was so busy swimming around and diving for plankton and little shrimp that it did not even notice us there. It was much smaller than I had imagined, but I would still not go anywhere near them as they have a very poisonous claw. The pain of being scratched has been described by many as the most excruciating pain in the world that lasts for a week and does not improve even with strong painkillers.
We saw several platypuses in the same river, but when we returned a little later there was none. Just a group of disappointed tourists. Since we were in the National Park we went to explore the jungle a bit. We walked along a river to a huge waterfall where we swam in icy water while we hoped that no creepy little poisonous platypuses would show up.
We had lunch packed at a small picnic area along the road. There we met a very sweet, but relatively large bird- a Kookaburra. They are white, have slightly puffed feathers and a big and long beak. It came very close to us and seemed quite social, so we gave it some bread, which it seemed to appreciate. Eventually it disappeared into the jungle.
Afterwards, when I had made a delicious slice of bread with nutella and was just about to put it in my mouth, one of the flying beasts arrive and tried to take the bread out of my hands!
This time I noticed that it was not alone, I was surrounded by 4 Kookaburras with bad intentions. Every time I turned my head towards a bird, there was an attack coming in from another direction. They are the rudest birds I've met. Even when I went over to the tree to try to chase them away, they chose to attack my head instead of leaving. We eventually had to take our food and flee to a safer area for lunch.
The day after Eungella we continued the trip north, past a backpacker's paradise called Airlie beach where we enjoyed ourselves on the grass for a couple of hours before continuing further north.. When we got to Mission Beach we pitched our tent outside a nice hostel, and made a game plan for how to find the next animal on the list; the cassowary. Mission beach apparently has the world's highest concentration of cassowaries. A cassowary is a large bird which is related to the ostrich and emu. They can not fly, and they have a huge purple knob on the head. When we drove around Mission beach, there was about 3 signs every km saying that we had to avoid running over cassowaries. I got the impression that this place had to be full of cassowaries.
We went on walks to all the places where the cassowaries had most recently been seen, but had no luck. We were there at the perfect time; just before sunset, and just after sunrise in the morning, but without any luck. When we got to the one forest at sunrise we found plenty of cassowary tracks and cassowary-poop which was fresh, but no sign of the sneaky bird. It was certainly not from lack of effort.
We did not give up, but decided to leave Mission beach after 2 days. We went to a protected rainforest north of Cairns called Daintree rainforest.