Dec 032013
 

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.

Kangaroo-skewers on the grill

Kangaroo skewers on the grill

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.

Finally platypus !!

Finally platypus !!

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.

Lunch in the forest

Lunch in the forest

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.

Feeding the devious bird

Feeding the devious bird

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.

devilish Kookaburras

Devilish kookaburras

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.

Cassowary sign

Cassowary sign

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.

 Posted by at 12:54 pm
Dec 022013
 

In Townsville we stayed with Anja and her husband Troy. Anja is a veterinary student, and all too willing to tell us every little detail about her life. She complained about how bad her course was, although for us it sounded absolutely brilliant compared to what we had to go through in Hungary. It just shows that students always find something to complain about, even in a near-perfect program. We left them the next day to go to an island off Townsville with the appealing name "Magnetic Island". We bought an air mattress and a tent to avoid paying too much for ridiculously expensive hostels from then on. We began to run out of couchsurfers, so had decided to do camping for the rest of Australia.

Torunn relaxing on Magnetic island
Torunn relaxing on Magnetic island

Magnetic island was a well deserved beach holiday. None of us dared to swim in the sea, but we were perfectly happy just by lying by the pool drinking beer. The people there told us that there could be deadly jellyfish in the sea. We also got to see a bit of the island in the 2 days we spent there.

our pool

our pool

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We visited a place where we found a group of "rock wallabies" which is a special type of mini-kangaroo jumping around between boulders. It was pretty cool to sit among them and watch them eat. Several of the female kangaroos had little babies in pouches. The only thing we saw was a pair of eyes and 2 large ears that popped up, and occasionally a hand came out to grab some greenery nearby.

Kangaroo eats vegetables
Kangaroo eats vegetables

 

Torunn playing with rock-kangaroo

Torunn playing with rock-kangaroo

Stig meets Wallaby

Stig meets Wallaby

Close to the kangaroo colony there was a long, shallow beach. We waded a few meters into the water and stood on a rock. Eventually quite a few sharks started to appear around us. It was just like Jaws- all we saw was some dorsalfins that appeared from time to time. There were at least 5-6 sharks. It seemed like they were more concerned with catching small fish, so we took a chance and jumped into the water and got onto dry ground. On the way we almost stepped on several small stingrays, which can also be quite aggressive. Later we went to a huge forest right nearby. It was a forest that apparently had quite a few koalas. There was one thing we really wanted to experience in Australia - see a real wild koala.

A wild koala!! !
A wild koala!! !

After an hour of wandering it did not look like we would find any cuddly bears. Luckily Torunn used her super-vision (which she has had ever since an operation in England) and saw a hairball that laid curled up on top of a twig. There was not much life in the bear because they sleep most of the day (22 hours a day), but we did come pretty close without it being bothered. On the way back to our tent the sun was well on its way down and thousands of parrots and other birds circled around all the trees in the area. The Kookaburras are particularly strange birds that make many weird noises.

Our campsite..
Our campsite..

The night in the tent was a little too eventful for my taste. At first I had trouble sleeping because some teenagers in the cottage next to our tent turned 20 and had a loud birthday party. When they finally stopped singing I was dead tired and ready to fall asleep. It did not last for long… When the area was quiet I could hear something rustling around in the soil around our tent

Annoying marsupial
Annoying marsupial

…I ignored it for a while, but it kept coming. Suddenly I saw a pair of big eyes that was INSIDE our outer tent and worked hard to get into the inner tent. I chased the animal away and ran after it until it was far up into a palm tree, But a few minutes later I woke up to two medium-sized fur animals inside our outer tent that were well on their way to get up onto our air mattress. I found out that we actually had some biscuits and other foods in one of the bags, so that was probably what they were looking for. Since the kitchen was closed, we had no place to put the food. I thought about putting it outside the tent as an offering to these animals, but Torunn thought that probably would attract more of them. So we ended up sleeping with the bag right between us, where they did not dare to go…it actually worked. I found out the next day that it was a marsupial that had bothered us. We met a confused marsupial at breakfast, outside in the sunlight when it should have been sleeping. The last day we were lying by the pool drinking beers. One pitcher after the next, costs ignored considering how much enjoyment we got from all the beers! We went back to Townsville and spent an evening together with Anja and Troy. The next day we went for a hike up to a peak in Townsville, where we had a view over the area and the sea. After that we went and visited Torunns old work colleague, Kelly, her husband and their two children. Kelly is from Australia but lived many years in England where she worked as a veterinary nurse with Torunn for a few months. She and her family decided to go to Australia to live there, something which is fully understandable. Townsville is one of the places in Australia with the best weather and the least rain. Kelly served up some lunch and we had a few hours of reminiscing and chatting. Kelly loved being back in Australia, but a few months earlier, she had a stroke. She was in the middle of her 30s, and she is lucky to have survived. When we visited her she was not yet back to work and she felt weak, but gradually improving. It was good to talk with her and share her traumatic experience. These kind of stories can make anyone appreciative their life more and focus more on the stuff that really matters, because before you know it something like this could happen.

 Posted by at 5:08 in the morning