Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

Amid sunshine and winds, we reluctantly left Tangalooma. It was an uneventful ferry ride to Brisbane where we arrived along with @100 PTP student ambassadors. Collecting luggage took a bit of time but then we were off to Lone Pine Koala sanctuary.

Of course, the big draw there was the chance to hold a koala so we went to them “straight away”! Koalas are very docile marsupials who tolerate being placed in the hands of countless visitors all wanting a photo for posterity. Me, too! We all lined up and smiled as our photo was taken by the staff and the rest of us took photos, as well. Holding a koala is not unlike holding a human baby. After being placed in your cupped hands, they sink comfortably into your chest with its arms up on your shoulders. They are furry with a unique eucalyptus scent and because of their size and weight, you might even tend to rock back and forth like you do when you hold a baby! While koalas are the main attraction, there are lots of other animals that live there, too. There are those large bats the size of cats, platypus, reptiles, wombats, cassowary, emus, dingoes, and, of course, kangaroos and wallabies. Since Australia has lots of birds native to the country, there were lorikeets, cockatoos, cockatiels, budgie birds, a number of different parrots and more. We went into the kangaroo enclosure where we were treated to free wandering emu, wallaby, and red and grey kangaroo. Since it was late morning/early afternoon the kangaroo were pretty lazy and very easily approachable. Most of us bought kangaroo food so had something to entice them to interact but so did every other visitor and some of the roos were in a virtual food coma! But they did take food from our hands, allow us to pet them, and sit while we took photos and photos and more photos! Some were jumping and hopping around giving us the true kangaroo experience!

Koalas were everywhere and easy to see as they, too, are passive and sleepy. Koalas eat only eucalyptus leaves and therefore smell like the plant. They eat and sleep, with very little wandering about and they cling to the trunks of the eucalyptus while their babies cling to them. So darn cute…just couldn’t get enough!

As you leave Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, there is a pair of cockatoos that say “good bye” in a voice eerily similar to human beings! Every person that passed laughed and stopped to "talk" to the birds trying to get them to say other things...not all appropriate, I might add! :)

Update: Ken has had a number of “incidents” this trip! Remember his encounter with a fish at the reef resulting in his finger being bitten? Well, while sand surfing, Ken took the most dramatic spill and managed to get a bruise onhis arm the size of a small coconut…ok…a very small coconut…maybe a kiwi sized coconut… but he was still the only one with this honor! Then today at Lone Pine while holding the koala to have his photo taken, his
koala reached out and grabbed his lip scraping his cheek in the process! I'll let you be the judge but that’s three times, Ken! May I suggest you steer clear of the volcano on White Island?

As we head to Sydney, we are coming into the worst rain they have had for 61 years! The
surfers are pretty happy although some beaches have banned them from the water with waves over 12 ft. We are hopeful that this storm will break and give us some drier weather. Sunday looks like our best bet.

FYI: Our snack on the plane from Brisbane to Sydney was sea salt grissini with spiced pumpkin dip - quite delicious! And an apple. Apparently, pumpkins are pretty big in Australia, too! In Goomeria, Queensland there is the Annual Goomeri Pumpkin Festival, including the Great Australian Pumpkin roll! and Check out for more about this little snack! I forgot to mention that on our Qantas flights, passengers are given a bag to help them recycle. Of course, one might muse that the extra bag is just more garbage but hey…it’s the thought, really! I’m just sayin’…

Saw a guy in Brisbane airport with a Superman shirt on and had to introduce him to Mater. I explained that Liam just had a Superhero party and that his shirt would be perfect to join Mater in a photo. Luca was so excited to meet Liam's traveling tow truck and happily posed for a super picture with him, too. Yet another friendly and life-loving Aussie!

At our gate was an arriving flight filled with students who had gone on a trip to Sydney and Canberra. Their families were all waiting at the gate - anyone old enough to remember when we used to do that, too? A group of younger brothers and sisters were squealing with delight at the thought of their siblings returning from such an adventure so far away. Many had not been on a plane before this trip and would surely bring home exciting tales of their week away from home and supervision. The children formed a receiving line of sorts and there was much revelry as their brothers and sisters, sons and daughters deplaned welcomed by hugs and kisses and even awkward adolescent joy as they saw their families once again. After all, how could they act excited at their age just to see Mom and Dad and annoying little brothers and sisters? But their delight was impossible to hide and smiles sneaked onto their lips as they happily walked with their families to return to the comfort of home and their own pillows tonight. One little boy, probably about 18 months old, refused to let go of his sister as he buried his little head in her neck and had a shameless, blissful smile on his face as they walked away. If you are fortunate enough to have one, love your family a little bit more tonight.

I sat next to a young man on the flight to Sydney whose name was Darrel. He was 25 and an engineer of sorts traveling around the world for his company. He has been to NYC, Boston, and New Jersey, to name a few of the places he has seen! He is not opposed to a quick stop in Las Vegas, either, or of relocating if anyone wants to offer him a job! Then, Stewart sat between us and he also works for an insurance company as an engineer so they really had an interesting conversation. But, not before I told them the tale of Mater’s travels and they wanted their picture to be added to the collection!

I managed to get a few pictures up but now must go off for the day! Check back later, mates!


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