Showing posts from July, 2009

Australia Zoo

Dear wombats,
Congratulations on confirming your spot in the top three of Michelle's Favorite Animals! It is quite a privilege to be chosen for this short list. Since securing your spot at #3 you all will now be mentioned to everyone Michelle meets. Could you please pass word onto the echidnas that they made Honorable Mention?
Sincerely, Dolphins & polar bears (#1 and #2 respectively)

We arrived at Australia Zoo an hour after they opened. I barely knew what a wombat was, but I did know: 1) I had yet to see one in the wild
2) They looked overweight (Mom thought they looked like pigs!) 3) They were "naughty" according to The Crocodile Hunter

Immediately upon entering the park, Mom & I walked to the information center to book a session for photos with a wombat. I was devastated when I saw the red, capital letters "SOLD OUT". This couldn't be right. I came across the large…

Going for the gusto!

Since we were in a large city, Mom wanted authentic Chinese food, and what better place to get it than in Chinatown? After we scoped the scene, we settled into a B.Y.O.B. restaurant that smelled a bit musty. Mom & I were greeted by a loud, but cheerful, oriental lady who immediately offered to help us decipher the menu. We wanted lo mein but that got lost in translation. Although not what we had meant to order, the food was delicious and for $30 total we left stuffed.

We checked out the markets next to Chinatown -- supposedly for up & coming fashion -- but they were pitiful! Convinced there had to be decent markets on a Sunday somewhere we rebounded to South Bank Parklands. It turned out the Scottish festival was also going on at the Cultural Centre so we heard bagpipes & saw a lot of grown men in full regalia. The South Bank Parklands markets were awesome! I've always liked markets be…


Mom & I forced ourselves to rise before dawn our last morning at Carnarvon National Park. We were in search (again) for the platypi who had eluded us at dusk the first evening in the park. We arrived at the main viewing area but didn't see any movement whatsoever. So we went to an area a few hikers told us about. As we approached the second site it sounded like something big had just fumbled into the water. We didn't see anything but continued to wait on pins & needles. Mom & I kept seeing ripples but it was from tree branches hanging in Carnarvon Creek. Then, to our left, more bubbles. Since I was sitting lower on the rock I saw the platypus first & pointed him out to Mom. It swam a little closer to where we were perched, but since it was hunting, it kept disappearing underwater. After 5 minutes of observing the platypus, it submerged for the last time. I was so happy for Mom; that she was able to see a platypus with her own two eyes! Another native Australia…


After embarking on the longest hike at Carnarvon the first full day, the second full day Mom & I decided to take it easy. We were obviously the last in the entire park to awake because people were returning from hikes as we were toting everything to the showers. We chose to explore the trails not on the main path/at other areas of the park.
FIRST STOP: BALOON CAVE Only 250 meters from the parking area, it took us an hour to get to Baloon Cave. Why? Mom & I were about to cross over a stream when I heard something rustling in the bush. This was not an uncommon experience for us, but it was louder than other times (trust me, we had been hiking for four days & I was beginning to become a pro at identifying sounds in the distance). In our experience in Australia, 6 out of 10 times the noise turned out to be a bird in the trees; 3 out of 10 times the noise turned out to be a lizard in the leaves. To our advantage, this happened to be the 1 time out of 10 that it wasn't a bir…

The world at large

A few kilometers from the main camping area at Carnarvon National Park, I slammed the brakes when I spotted the outline of a kangaroo not more than 10 feet from the roadside. The wildlife on Blackwater-Rolleston Road was great, but I fancy 'roos more than birds and reptiles. I don't think my mom or I took a breath, for fear it would disappear immediately like the emu earlier.

Now nothing could diminish our spirits! We saw Australia's icon, out in the wild, and captured a few great photographs and then... we arrived at the campgrounds. Kangaroos were everywhere: lounging on the grass, hopping across the picnic area, snacking in the weeds nearby. I threw the car into "P" and we actually got closer than I expected to. I doubt kangaroos are this relaxed in the outback, but still, we respected them as animals & didn't try to intrude (I watched a young girl try to pet a kangaroo later, until it jerked upright, stared her down, and looked ready to rock back on i…


My mother -- Stephanie -- is a trooper in every sense of the word. She left Canton, Ohio, United States of America, bogged down with two large suitcases & a heavy backpack -- the majority of which contained clothes/toiletries for me. From Canton she departed to Atlanta, Georgia, then to Los Angeles, California. After hanging around the international terminal for 11 hours in LAX she flew over the largest ocean to Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, and finally landed in Mackay, Queensland, Australia. All with minimal shut-eye, no bed, no change of clothes, no home-cooked meals, and toting around 45 pounds of luggage total. Although she was in great spirits when she walked out of the "Arrivals" gate, I knew she was relieved to be done with flying too. Unfortunately, nothing in Canton could prepare her for the intense Australian sun. She got sunburnt from sitting in the car for 10 minutes!The next day I showed Mom around Mackay & its northern beaches. I took the liberty…