Australia Zoo Journal-PART 1--PART 2--PART 3--PART 4--PART 5--PART 6-
-PART 7--PART 8--PART 9--PART 10-Australia Zoo Journal - Part 7
After the adventure on Fraser Island, we arrived back in Noosa. We had an extra day there before we shifted to Caloundra for our time at the zoo so we decided to take a trek through a nature area adjacent to the town.
The nature area is a popular destination among both locals and tourists. It consists of hilly forested terrain and coastline ranging from sandy shore to dangerous, sharp rocks. There is also the prospect of seeing a wild koala, though they can be difficult to spot high in the trees for the unacquainted.
We felt like it was an agreeable consolation for not being able to spend another day on Fraser so we made our way to its fringes in the early afternoon. As with the rainforest trek, we took our time walking the latticework of paths in the nature area and were none too concerned getting lost. We saw all manner of strange trees and plants and, of course, indulged in delightfully immature behavior with said plants...
We enjoyed the hilltop vistas over the trees where one could see the town and ocean and traversed the diverse coastline. One particularly impressive sight was what the locals call 'boiling pot' where the waves hitting the shoreline of rocks evoke an aggressive, surging boil. At times, the wind heaving up the rocks from the sea was so strong that I had to make a hardy effort to retain control of both my hat and camera.
As the afternoon acquiesced to early evening we made our slow return. While walking one of the hilltop paths, my brother ahead of me, I spotted a brown snake darting a few feet in front of us. I made a feeble attempt to warn my brother, but it was already disappearing into the bushes. We stopped and I pointed to where it had made its escape in the hope that he would be able to spot it. Standing and carefully trying to discern stick from potential snake, my brother failed to notice that the snake had returned out of the bushes and was taking a route on the path between his feet. Again, my attempts to warn him were unsuccessful and I only managed to sputter "Snake!" while pointing frantically at where it was headed. By the time he processed this information, dancing deliriously away from where I had pointed, the snake was again darting into the grass and was soon long gone. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to identify it.
Once again having a close encounter with Australia's wildlife, I could appreciate how misrepresented snakes are in society. Granted, I only had one encounter to speak of, but I could gather that the snake never meant us any harm and that it was merely trying to avoid conflict. The potential for injury to itself was far greater than it was to us and if any aggression would have been showed, it would have been out of due fear. According to the Australia Zoo, in 90% of cases where people have been bitten by snakes people were either trying to catch or kill the snake. Dangerous wildlife generally want to get out of our way and I can't blame them...after all, we are by far the most dangerous animal in this world.
After continuing our walk, we found ourselves within minutes of Noosa. Trying to make the best of those remaining minutes, I desperately attempted to take in as much as I could. In addition for keeping an eye out for more snakes, I was also looking up the trees we passed by in the hopes of spotting a koala. As fate would have it, I managed to discern a lumpy little fellow enjoying the setting evening sun in a cliff-side tree overlooking the ocean.
Like our previous encounters, it was a wonderful experience. The koala was perhaps the most active koala we could have hoped for; we observed it climbing down one branch before making an impressive leap to another, something I wouldn't have expected out of these normally lethargic marsupials. It climbed to a high spot above the ocean and with its lovely old-man face, scanned the horizon perhaps philosophizing the meaning of life beneath those fluffy ears. I made sure to spend some time watching the koala and taking photos, which attracted more tourists who saw my attention fixed on the forest canopy.
Satisfied, we departed back to Noosa and decided to use the remaining hours of sunlight to swim at one of the tamer beaches in the area. Surfers zigzagged across the waves, families played on the beach and a few simply watched the sunset on the rocks. My brother and I enjoyed wrestling and flopping around aimlessly in the surf until night set in at which point we dried off and began hunting for a meal amidst the town. We settled on a nice restaurant which provided beef, beer and a second-floor view of the street below.
When the hours grew later, we found ourselves back at our lodge, shuffling about, taking record of our belongings to pack and dwelling on the Australia Zoo which we were to visit the next day. It was a personal Mecca, the reason why I made the pilgrimage and was the result of many months of highs and lows. The zoo itself was the result of over 40 years of hard work by Bob and Lynn Irwin and later, Steve and Terri to create a facility that entertained, informed and acted as a safe haven for a diversity of native and non-native animals. This made it all the more difficult to quell my mind so that I could get much needed rest!
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The next day dawned with a lovely stroll under a clear sky, which beguiled the mild panic I had felt. Arriving at an unassuming bus stop with our luggage waiting for the bus that would take us to the zoo, I had wondered if we had gone to the right place or if we had been late. After an agonizing wait, my anxiety was crushed by a bright yellow bus bearing Steve Irwin's familiar, excited visage.
We boarded the rumbling bus, our belongings stowed away, and admired the decor, which the Australia Zoo had made all its own. This was no normal bus, this was an Australia Zoo bus. Aside from the paint job on the exterior, the seats had silhouettes of various animals like koalas, kangaroos and crocodiles as well as television screens to showcase to travelers Steve Irwin's "The Crocodile Hunter" documentaries.
The bus picked up a handful of other passengers at another stop before we made our way once again to Steve Irwin Way. Steve's voice played over the speakers as he described the 'dragons of Komodo' while we made our way. Eventually, we pulled into the parking lot, auspiciously passing the main sign for the zoo which had both Steve and a tiger.
I had arrived. -PART 1--PART 2--PART 3--PART 4--PART 5--PART 6-
-PART 7--PART 8--PART 9--PART 10-