The day will come when I will die. So the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.--Richard Bode

Friday, October 23, 2015

Hi from the edge of the Australian Outback

After long days of driving, Jessica and I found our way as far north as the road goes in Queensland, Australia. It is a beautiful area up there with lots of wildlife and mile after mile of rainforest.

Not all the animals up here are warm and cuddly. Look at this giant "Bird Eating" spider.

Here she is again, just waiting for a good meal.

And what do you think of this saltwater crocodile? Gotta watch out for those guys if you go swimming.

Jessica and I took a boat ride to look for those mean crocs.

We also hiked up into the rainforest with a native "aboriginal" guide who believed that a picture of him would steal his sole.

I liked this lizard we saw along the way. There were dozens of them hanging in the trees.

Our guide showed us how they use rainforest clays to paint their bodies, and what the body paintings mean.

Of course Jessica, who is always ready to try  new things, had to get painted too. I told her it looked like she had a disease.

I liked the tree ferns in the forest. This rain forest is the oldest on earth, and the tree ferns date back to the Carboniferous Period, way before the dinosaurs.

The Australian rainforest is filled with large and beautiful butterflies. Here are a few of them---

We drove up to Cairns, the northernmost city in Queensland, so that Jessica could spend a week SCUBA diving on the Great Barrier Reef, something that my ears will no long allow me to do. I hope she stays away from the jellyfish. She has a special wet suit to protect herself.

After I dropped Jessica off at her dive boat, I began my long drive back to Brisbane. I decided to drive back along the edge of the Great Outback. It is a boring drive, I can tell you, but I stayed wide awake looking out for kangaroos. I saw hundreds of them, all dead having been hit by giant trucks called road trains.


Gotta watch out for those guys because they can't stop for kangaroos or tourists.

Almost back to Brisbane. More later.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015


After a five hour flight from St. Louis to Los Angeles, a long layover there, a 15 hour flight to Sydney, followed by another long layover, and a third flight, this time to Brisbane, I finally arrived in Australia. My friend, Dave, and my daughter, Jessica, were at the airport to meet me. Jessica had arrived the day before after several long flights of her own from Holland. We were both very, very tired, but never too tired to explore a little. One of the first things we did was go spot some wallaby. Those guys are everywhere. Here, Jessica is trying to make friends with one, a female.

They are quite the friendly animal and don't scare easily ---

There are several species of wallaby in Australia, none as big as kangaroos. I think their faces look a lot like deer.

Dave and Jessica were good at spotting animals as we walked some of the trails near Brisbane.

Here are some Australian turkeys they found. These are apparently a different species than our North American turkey.

I was better at spotting things that didn't move, like these giant termite mounds. Almost every tree has one.

Dave has to work on the water pump on the BMW motorcycle he is loaning me. Jessica and I will ride it south toward Sydney next week. But first, I have to get her up to the Great Barrier Reef where she is going to spend several days SCUBA diving. It is a long way from Brisbane to Cairn where her dive boat is waiting. There are lots of things to see along the way, but we will need a rental car to get her there. 

The first thing I wanted to do was drive up to the Glasshouse Mountains just outside Brisbane. They are on our way.

There are several ranges of mountains between the Coral Sea just off the east coast of Australia and the Outback desert in the center of the continent. Every chance we got we  drove up into them. They are much wetter than the dry coastal areas, and we often had to drive through streams on our way up into the mountains.

In the rain forests up in the mountains is where the wild platypus lives. We spent a long time watching them feed.

                           Platypus  Photo: EHP

This is the sort of stream or small lake they like.

Platypus feed just at dusk and again just after daybreak. We decided to camp up there and get up early to catch the daybreak feeding.

As we were exploring after dark, we came across this beautiful owl. Unfortunately he does not photograph well.

We got up early in the morning to watch the platypuses feed. As we were walking along the trail I started thinking about all the different kinds of snakes they have in Australia. The country has more deadly poisonous snakes than any other. I guess thinking about snakes made me hyper-aware of them because, just then, I spotted this guy curled up right next to where I was about to step.

He was a about 7 or 8 feet long. I showed this picture to a man later, and he said he thought it was a harmless python. I sure don't know, and I wasn't about to pick it up to examine it more carefully.

Here is an Australian rain forest reptile that is not scary at all. He was lazily sunning himself on a log while a platypus busily swam all around him, catching good food for breakfast.

The rain forest plants were interesting too. Look at this vine growing on a tree. It went way up, climbing  30 feet or more.

In the State called North Queensland where we were is one of the few places where the giant Cassowary bird lives. They are six feet or better tall. Apparently a lot of them get hit by cars.

We didn't see any Cassowary birds,  but we did see some cormorants sunning themselves.

Australia is also home to very mean, very large salt-water crocodiles. Gotta avoid those guys.

After three days of driving, hoping no kangaroos would jump in front of our car, we made it to Cairns. There is still a lot to do and see before Jessica has to meet her dive boat the day after tomorrow, but now it is too late at night for me to concentrate. Time for bed for this old guy.

Talk with you later.