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Posts Tagged ‘Oz Animals’

As many of you may or may not know I do not contribute a great deal to this blog and this fault is mine alone. Of course I am part of this amazing journey with the best partner anyone could ever wish for but I do feel like I can’t live up to her amazing blogging abilities. This wont keep me from giving it a go every once in a while so let me take you on a journey deep into the world’s oldest rainforest.

Laura and I spent 4 hours in the rainforest and were informed by our guide that we were 1 in a handful of couples a year that journey that deep into the rainforest ever year. To put this in perspective we were 2 of like a dozen people that year that got to experience the awesomeness of the Daintree World Heritage Rain Forest. Yes I am bragging because this is a chance for us to say that we have done something that very little people do.

We experienced cassowaries, dinosaurs, snakes, spiders the size of my hand or others that were completely unseen until our guide nearly poked them due to their amazing camouflage capabilities and a multitude of fauna species.

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Walking through the forest with our guide, Neil, we were not only stimulated by everything the forest had to offer visually but also through sounds and Neil’s amazing intellect.

He spoke of how everything was tied together in one big chain. Everything had a purpose, minus the cane toads and wild pigs because they either were food for something else, helped pollinate the plants, or simply added to the constant recycling of the organic material that kept the forest growing.

The plants and trees in the rainforest have very shallow roots and this is due to the fact that all of the nutrient rich material is coming from the living animals and plants above ground. The trees are not strengthened by deep roots but by being interconnected by massive vines that intertwine the canopy into a giant rug of green. The plants below the massive canopy have developed over the many years to live in a low light environment and although they are small they could have been around for several 100s of years.

Like I said everything in the rainforest had a purpose; case in point, the plant below if touched by an animal would cause the animal stinging pains for 3-4 months and that is only if you were dumb enough to ignore its strong chemical signals like us humans telling us to stay away this part of the rainforest is under repair. This plant’s purpose is to help heal the canopy above that had been damaged by the most recent hurricane Yasi by keeping animals and insects away allowing the new plants and trees to grow and fill the space.

Laura and I have both agreed that this was by far our favorite part of the trip and I could go on for several more pages but alas this is a blog and is meant for short stories and not novels, so Laura tells me. 🙂  I hope you have enjoyed my rambling, our amazing photos and that this whets your appetites for adventure and exploring the unknown / little known about the world around us, only please do it with a knowledgeable guide like Neil!

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To kick off our Anniversary extravaganza we spent two days and one night on a sailboat (yes, sailboat, you heard right) at the Great Barrier Reef.  We booked with Vagabond Dive ‘n Sail per a recommendation from a fellow ex-pat blogger who had done the same during her family’s visit to Australia.

The Great Barrier Reef is one of over 900 places in the world to be deemed a World Heritage Site, in other words, “part of the cultural and natural heritage which the World Heritage Committee considers as having outstanding universal value.”  We were beyond excited for this stop on the trip.

We ran into a few hiccups and without dwelling here let me just say that a torn sail, rough waters, a bit of seasickness, and sunburned feet did not get in the way of this amazing adventure.  That attitude is the only way to approach trips of this nature.  They are once in a lifetime for a reason and we chose to focus on everything incredible and inspiring from the journey.  After all, we were two of only a million people who get to snorkel the reef each year…that’s out of the over 7 billion people in the world.  WOW.

We left Cairns on the Vagabond early in the morning and departed for Fitzroy Island (due to the poor weather).  We snorkeled for a bit, took a nap on a nearby beach, had a lovely conversation with other guests and the crew — Skipper Paul, Bel, and dive instructor Jannick — ate dinner, watched the sunset, and then headed to bed.

On another major positive note, my dear husband has changed his mind about the necessity of buying a sailboat upon our return to the US.  Let’s just say that sleeping on a boat is not our thing and the smile is still on my face for dodging that bullet.

Snorkeling was, of course, awesome.  I laughed at myself several times thinking that we were swimming with the fishies, in a non-mafia-movie-sort-of-way. *Sorry about the poor photo quality.  Our underwater cover for our little digi-camera worked okay but those darn fish move around making it really hard to capture the awesomeness.

The tropical fish were expected but I was not at all prepared for the other incredible marine life, aka the reef.  Some of the reef looked like things you’d see under a microscope in a biology class but with more vibrant colors.

Each time I popped my head out of the water I couldn’t fathom that all of that life was just under my toes.  It’s a little unsettling but in a good way.  The next morning we woke up for brekkie, did another round of snorkeling, and then headed back to Cairns.  Because the Reef is a World Heritage Area no one is allowed to take pieces of the reef home for souvenirs even though there are tons of pieces and shells on the shore.  We as law abiding citizens left the reef intact for the many future generations and who knows, maybe we’ll be back for our 25th anniversary.

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We cannot say enough about the 3-hour Tasman Island Eco-Cruise we took from Port Arthur in Tasmania.  It was one of the pricier things we did while we were in Tassy but it was SOOOO worth it.  And you know, we’re cheap-as (as they say here in Oz).  🙂

During this cruise we saw beautiful cliffs, caves, and the bluest waters you can imagine.  We were nearly face to face with wildlife, including; a bird-feeding frenzy, seals, and dolphins.  Dolphins!  We saw dolphins totally unexpectedly.  They came and swam and jumped right near the boat.

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And most importantly we were well taken care of by the crew, warm and dry in the provided warm/dry suits, not a moment seasick, and we learned a ton about the Tasmanian environment and nature, in general.  Did you know, for example, that phytoplankton, tiny floating algae, produce half of the world’s oxygen?  I didn’t.

We HIGHLY recommend this eco-tour to anyone.  For other Tasmania ideas, check out the recent post of our Top Five Things To Do in Tasmania.

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We recently spent an afternoon at the Royal Melbourne Zoo as part of another Scoopon deal.  Neither of us are regular zoo-goers, subscribing to the philosophy ‘a zoo is a zoo’, but I’ve always enjoyed Omaha’s great Henry Dorley Zoo and have experienced the San Diego zoo a couple of times so I was anxious do a comparison.

The Melbourne zoo didn’t disappoint.  It’s full of shaded walking paths, informative placards of animal info, and, of course, animals from many different countries and landscapes.  Unique highlights included the Butterfly house, the baby orangutan and the  little penguins.

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We enjoyed our experience and are glad we visited the zoo at least once but our non-zoo-lover adage gained even more cred.  A zoo is a zoo.  I guess that’s true no matter what side of the world you’re on.

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There is so much to do and see in Melbourne I’m starting to think that we won’t get it all done before we head for home.  Maybe that’s okay but it’s an unsettling feeling for two planners like ourselves.  Daily deal sites like Scoopon, Living Social, Spreets, etc, have been great ways for us to explore Melbourne as they’re constantly offering deals to restaurants and attractions across the city.

One of the latest deals we picked up was for 3 hot attractions at a very discounted rate.  First on the list was the Melbourne Aquarium.  I should mention that I’m not much of an aquarium go-er.  My trip to the Shedd Aquarium several years ago in Chicago with a dear friend was a blast but was my first and last fish-fest that I can remember.

At the Melbourne aquarium there we were with hundreds of families and little kiddoes running amuck among the displays (it should be mentioned that I love kids…when they’re quiet…or when they’re still babies) but I could understand their excitement.  The first display was a bunch of Gentoo Penguins.  You could watch them on the ice and in the water.  “Cheeky and feisty” so said the sign but truly adorable.

If you’ve read or heard much about Australia, you’ll know that it’s lands and waters are home to some of the deadliest creatures (spiders, snakes, crabs)  known to man, like the box jellyfish.  Think of the worst unimaginable pain, multiply it times 100 and by the time you’ve done that, you’d be dead, or wishing you were.

The aquarium had some great tanks with a ton of different underwater species.  The displays were interactive and educational.  You could feed and touch fish in certain sections. The aforementioned kiddoes were loving it.  (Have I mentioned before how kid-friendly Melbourne is?)  The most interesting display (for me) was the Seahorses.  I just find them so funny and cute and majestic at the same time.

And The Weird award goes to the Axolotl which comes from Mexico where it’s known as the Mexican Walking Fish.  According to the oh-so-informative display, axolotls aren’t fish but amphibians.  What makes them an oddity–besides the obvious creepy appearance–they can regenerate their gills, heart, tail, liver, kidneys, parts of their nervous system, and their arms and legs.  These little guys are critically endangered worldwide.  SAVE THE AXOLOTL!

Ryan is the same way I am about aquariums so I’m not sure we would’ve felt that the steep admission fee at the aquarium was worth it if we didn’t have the killer discount but for those with kids I reckon it’s a great outing, especially with the family discount…an alternative to the “Ryan-and-Laura-are-frugal-aka-cheap”  rate.

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True story – Ryan and I can now say that we’ve pet kangaroos!

The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane had way more than koalas.  There were kangaroos, wallabies, birds, and reptiles of all shapes and sizes.

Here is our proof of Ryan petting a red kangaroo.

Look at the way this emu twisted its neck.   They’re not the most attractive animals.  A ‘lil creepy if you ask me.

We also saw a kangaroo with a baby joey (sorry for the blurry pic)

This ‘roo was just chillin’…

Ok, check out this guy’s claws.  Ummm, that was as close as I got.

At the sanctuary we also saw a multitude of birds and reptiles, including: a family of turtles, an iguana, and even a cassowary.  Eat your heart out, Bill Bryson!  We also saw the world’s deadliest snake, the Taipan.  Even with a thick sheet of glass in between us, I can’t say I felt the safest.

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