|Hand feeding the magpies at Tony's house|
Just to warn you, every single photo in this post contain animals!
We stopped in Yeppoon again on our way south, to visit Tony and his wife Katie and hopefully do some fishing. Once again, the fishing was cursed and the weather went sour. Despite the rain, Sam and I enjoyed our time at Tony's place. His deck overlooks a small nature reserve and we were visited by lots of different birds. Some of them walked right into the house to look for scraps until Tony's dog Snoop chased them away.
Birds weren't our only visitors on the deck. I was startled to see a large shape moving down a drainpipe as I sat by the fire, but it was just a tree frog. He and his friends were moving down for the evening, and they were surprisingly tame. One in particular seemed happy to let Sam hold him for as long as he wanted.
We had been throwing around the idea of visiting a zoo or wildlife park while in Australia, but the expense, along with the commercial aspect of many zoos, was a turn off. While I was eager to see more wildlife, it seemed like a lot of money to spend on an institution that I don't entirely support. Enter the Rockhampton Zoo, a small collection of native animals (with a few rescued chimps thrown in just to be random) living in the Botanical Gardens. The quiet setting, as well as the fact that the animals are here to provide research for improving their habitat and population, both made me feel better about visiting. Oh, and did I mention it's free?
The star of the show was definitely Squirt, the young koala that stole my heart. Unlike every other koala at the zoo, he was up and actively moving around for a snack. Koalas sleep most of the day because of their eucalyptus-only diet. Eucalyptus is very hard to digest and provides very little nutrition. Luckily, koalas were designed for eating eucalyptus and napping. Their butts even have padding built in so they can sleep comfortably in the forks of trees for long hours.
You might be wondering how I know the names of some of the more obscure animals on the blog. It's not because I'm a whiz or because I'm carrying around a book bag of field guides. I ask the locals, and when that fails I ask my good friend Google. The latter led me to an interesting site where I found a lot of good articles about Australian birds and animals. The website owner, Mark, has been very helpful in identifying some of the animals I've been seeing. He's also a photographer and cartoonist, so check out his site. It's full of goodies.
When I was a kid, one of my favorite cartoons was The Rescuers Down Under, so I was happy to see my first goanna. If you've seen the film you'll know the villain's side kick is a much-abused goanna named Joanna. The term goanna is a catch-all term for the large monitor lizards living in the Australian outback, and the species below is a perentie monitor, the fourth largest lizard in the world. I don't know about you, I'd be pretty startled to come across a 6 foot lizard if I was camping in the outback.
Next up: Brisbane!