[Sunday, 26 September 2004]

Writing’s been spotty, mostly of course because I’m no longer alone. I’m sitting on the veranda of my room in a very luxurious suite at O’Reilly’s Guesthouse, and Australia is waking a bit earlier than the Bird family. I’m in a rainforest, but they haven’t seen any rain in Too Long. Another reason I’ve not written much is that I’m undergoing a sensory overload. The jungle sounds I’m hearing all around me at the moment, I can deal with, but all the animals I’ve seen, fed, and touched over the past couple days just blow a guy away.

A King parrot just flew to a nearby bush, and is busy discussing something with an interloper, and it reminds me of a story they told. An American bird watcher had come to Oz for the birds, and with his trusty binoculars, had spotted one of these gorgeous creatures up in a tree. He called his wife over to see, and as he watched with his binoculars, the bird began to fly toward him. His heart raced—a King parrot filling the viewing area of his very own binoculars. But the bird kept coming! In a second or two, the parrot landed on the birdwatcher’s head. I guess he lived through this experience but had a story to tell. Personally, I’ve had as many as three on me at once. A flock of Roselle parrots is feeding just over the veranda now.

The guesthouse concept apparently started during the depression. I think they ran some cattle here, too, but it doesn’t look like ideal ranching territory. This place owes its fame to a rescue effort from the mid-1930s, where the folks here joined together to find and rescue a couple survivors of a downed Stinson, and the resulting publicity allowed O’Reilly’s to grab a foothold in the early days of guesthouses. It’s still a trek, even in a modern automobile. Nearest civilization is 45 minutes by car, but you’ve got plenty here, so don’t bother. Neither phones or televisions are provided, but of course in this modern age you can do what you like on your own. Good meals in a community dining room, and various activities throughout the day. An especially interesting activity was taking a safari bus to a creek nearby, and looking at glowworms embedded there. Because we have a song about them (“Glow little glowworm, glimmer, glimmer”), we must have them, too, but unless you’re walking around creeks in the dark of night, you’d never see them.

I’ve now seen and interacted with nearly every animal we associate with Australia. At a winery on the way up here, we tried finding the duckbill platypus, but they were shy (as folks say they always are). But as you’ll see from pictures, I’ve held a koala (very much loved here, and in need of protection), walked among and petted kangaroos, nearly tripped over paddymellons (sp?—which is a tiny kangaroo and are all over this place), petted a wombat, and in general seen somewhat more than I can absorb. Oh, and don’t forget the Carpet Python we watched as it decided to wait for our tour bus to pass before crossing the dirt road. About six feet long, and we didn’t find out whether it was hungry.

We go home to Brisbane, today. At some point after that (and some clothes washing, I suspect), we’ll head on up to the Sunshine Coast, which is north of us, we being a bit south of Brisbane here. I’m here in Australia in the company of Australians, and being shown their country by same. You should be so lucky...