Apr 7, 2015

Top 3 things that will BLOW YOUR MIND about Australia

Our trip through Australia thus far has been filled with an expansive array of interesting characters and experiences.

"The name is Dave, Dangerous Dave, an' there i'nt a horse or a woman I couldn't ride." ~ Introduction from Dangerous Dave of Australia

We have spent the first two weeks largely catching up with old friends whom I have been promising to visit for the past several decades.

View from the top of Mount Coolum 

In Brisbane we ate Cairns crocodile, Tasmanian possum, seared kangaroo, and Marburg emu. Further north we headed into the forest west of the Sunshine Coast and amidst the spectacular rain forest scenery and bounding wallabies we also discovered a ground-dwelling leech that lies in wait to spring upon your leg and the slightest provocation. E and I spent a good deal of our trek that day inspecting our shoes in paranoid fashion and trying to flick them off before that were able to propel themselves up onto tender flesh. The hardier of our walking party weren't bothered in the least. Later, I tried to make conversation while fixated on a blob of partially coagulated blood, rife with hirudin, swinging precipitously from one of their toes, and I questioned for the first time whether I had what it takes to live through this country.

We also encountered the surprisingly more amiable strangler fig, which wraps itself around a living tree, eventually killing it and allowing its trunk to rot away leaving only a cylindrical web of tangled vines.

The Strangler's Cairn will eventually be overtaken by the vine planted atop 

The rains came down in a torrent and flooded the fords that we had to cross to progress on our quest. For some this was just an opportunity for extra excitement in a bit of canoe paddling!

Massive flooding just adds a bit of excitement to the trip

Without further ado, here are the three things of which I have taken note in Australia in order that you, our dear reader, may have your mind sufficiently blown:

1. Embracing the danger! - I'm sure you've heard tales about how everything in Australia can, and will kill you. The continent is home to the ultra-deadliest species of snakes, spiders, crocodiles, jellyfish, sharks, and chain mail-clad manifestations of Tina Turner ever encountered by humans. Perhaps because of this in some respects, there is a stronger sense of personal responsibility in taking risks. For example, on the rock cliffs of urban Kangaroo Point in Brisbane, any climbers are welcome the scale the face of stone, but are only gently reminded to wear their hard hats as they do so.

This cliff-side sign at Noosa National Park is advocating for personal responsibility

2. Public BBQs - In many of the scenic places we visited the local councils were good enough to provide barbecuing areas for public use. I'm not talking about some lowly charcoal pit in the dank corner of a park. These are shining, stainless-steel alters to the glory of grilled meat with free, push-button electric heating and integrated grease traps! Thanks to these I've been able to successfully eat kangaroo (the land-lobster) on the majority of our days in Australia so far.

Elizabeth at a public BBQ in Brisbane

 We took advantage with a full-on kangaroo barbecue!

3. Superfun water parks/playgrounds - In addition barbecuing, there are equally impressive public areas for swimming and children's playgrounds. In Brisbane's South Bank Lagoon & Aquativity area, the kids can play on a giant map that will at intervals shoot geysers of water out of the ground, then wait as they drain through a vast network of intertwined topographical streams and rivers into the main bathing pool. My words cannot do justice to how awesome of a place this would be for me to play in 20 years ago.

South Bank Lagoon in Brisbane (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Now we continue our journey driving down the east coast of the island-continent of Australia.

Dawn at Kingscliff Beach sees this fisherman reeling in a catch from where the Coral and Tasman seas meet

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