Jul 09

Kangas, Koalas and Dingos…Oh My!

by in Australia

As we rumble down sand tracks through the rain forest on Fraser Island, our guide cheerily tells us about the prolific wildlife indigenous to the region.  Seems everyone here is particularly proud of the wide range of deadly snakes who call Australia home, but as he points out, it’s winter now, so the only snake we’re likely to encounter is the “harmless python” common to the region.  Harmless python:  two words I never suspected could be meaningfully connected. This is, indeed, a wild and wonderful place.

We’ve had several days of bush adventure, starting back in Sydney with a day trip into the Blue Mountains just a couple of hours west of the city.  Truly spectacular, the Blue Mountains are often called Australia’s Grand Canyon . . . vast, diverse, imposing and breathtaking.  From rock ledges, we looked out across incredible vistas to the forest below, and mountain ranges in all directions.  We took a cable car down into a spectacular gorge, then rode an old coal train — vertically! — out of the gorge.  Known to be the steepest train incline on the planet, they get no argument from us…what a wild ride!  At the end of our day, we trekked a short distance into the bush and watched in utter awe as a family of kangaroos enjoyed dinner with us a few short feet away.

Now a thousand or so kilometers north, we’ve explored the magical wonder of Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world, and perhaps one of the most fascinating ecosystems we’ve ever experienced.  Fraser Island has no roads, only sand tracks over which experienced rangers and adventurous backpackers navigate oversized 4WD vehicles through rain forests, bush country, miles of rugged beaches, and sand dunes the size of small communities.  Wild dingos — considered the purest, and potentially most deadly, in the country — casually loped along side us as we trek down the beach to the shipwreck Maheno.  Spiders the size of mice and ants the size of cockroaches dot the landscape.  Eels that look like nature wasn’t quite sure what to call them — part lizard, part snake, part fish — swim up the crystal clear creeks that run through a spectacular rain forest.  It’s wilderness unplugged, and we’re soaking up every morsel of it.

We’ve come to understand that it’s a special breed of Aussie bloke who call this bush country home.  Their spirit of adventure, their passion for the land — and sea and air around it — is infectious.  Such was the case of the wild-eyed pilot, who’s single engine plane sat on the beach, just in case some visitor wanted a bird’s eye view.  Dundee and Sacagawea were immediately captivated, and reminded of the many planes I jumped from at another time in my life, I relented.  Down the beach we roared, lifting off over capping waves, swooping back over rain forests, sand dunes, and crystal lakes . . . their eyes wide with amazement and awe.  

Exhausted from our adventures, we settled into our cabin as the full moon rose into the night sky, and munching on cheese and crackers, PB&J and cookies, we compared notes, shared pictures, and laughed at our many adventures already.  Definitely, family (vaga) bonding. DSC03810Blue MountainsKangaroos in the Blue Mountains

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