NQ – Where the Men Are Men and the Cows Are Nervous

Queensland, and North Queensland in particular, is to Australia what the deep south is the US – the butt of every joke. “Banana-benders” is one of the milder nicknames bestowed upon the inhabitants of this tropical state. (The worse ones generally include cows and some form of sexual conduct. Let your imagination run wild.) Queenslanders also have a reputation for drinking a lot – not an easy reputation to get in Australia – and for getting up early. You’d think those two would contradict themselves but they do have a lot of drinking to get through. So far we can attest to both stereotypes so they must be true.

Our drive down from Cairns to the Whitsunday Islands was rather uneventful and punctuated, literally, by torrential rains. I suppose it’s foolish to travel through an area classified as tropical rainforest and expect it to be dry and sunny. But the wet season wasn’t supposed to begin until early December and yet we’ve been pounded by rainstorms pretty much every day since our arrival in mid-November. The rain doesn’t just drip from the sky, it drives down with a vengeance as if it had some personal business to take care off with this state. At several points we were ready to pull over onto the side of the road because our wipers couldn’t swish back and forth fast enough to clear all the water being hurled down from the dark-grey sky hanging not more than three meters above us. Still, we got some lovely pictures from the inside of the car:

Not really sure what this is a tribute to...or what he is doing to that cow?

In some parts of the bush they installed wildlife bridges so that possums, tree kangaroos, koalas, etc. don't have to cross the road. Genius!

When the bad weather also blew out our diving trip to the Yongala, we were pretty disappointed. The dive operator promises daily departures yet failed to add “unlikely”. (At least we’d spent only two nights at the hostel out in the middle of nowhere waiting for the good news from the dive shop below – a fellow diver staying there had spent his entire holiday week waiting and he didn’t get to dive one single time. It was a bit sad watching him pack his pristine, high-tech and completely dry gear on the last day.) Luckily we had a car and were able to get out of Alba Beach for some alternative entertainment instead of the endless re-runs of “Foursome” and old copies of ‘DiveGo’ magazine offered at the hostel.

We backtracked north towards Townsville because the previous day we had seen, through sheets of rain, signs for a zoo called the “Billabong Sanctuary”. They all showed a perky woman in a tight singlet cradling a koala. (From all the pictures we can only assume Koalas are attracted to breasts; much like our friend Luis. Maybe it gives them something to hold on to?) Subtle advertising indeed but obviously it works since here we were, with some tentative sunshine hovering behind the scattering clouds.

If you’re ever looking for some good entertainment in this part of the world, you could do worse than the Billabong Sanctuary. We arrived just in time for the morning round of animal shows and over the next 2½ hours we learned more about koalas, wombats, snakes, lizards and salt-water crocodiles than we could ever have hoped or wanted to. Did you know that wombats have a thick plate of cartilage in their backside which they use to barricade the entrance of their burrow when they feel threatened? Butt armor, what a brilliant idea. Or did you know that crocodiles are ‘opportunistic eaters’ meaning even if they’ve just eaten a whole cow and are bursting at every seam, they will still take a nibble out of you if you happen to splash by. Also interesting but rather sad: the natural death of Koalas in the wild is starvation because their teeth become too worn down and they can’t grind the eucalyptus leaves any longer so they die of hunger. 🙁

Clearly though, an animal with a single food source is not the most evolved of animals. They are even picky about the type of eucalyptus tree and the branches and leaves they will eat from that tree. Contrast with the crocodile who will eat anything anywhere and has been around forever. Regardless, here are some cute and cuddly pictures, one of the few thing Koalas excel at:

Yep, that's a joey in the pouch. Doesn't look all that comfortable, does it?!

More photos in the gallery

4 Responses to “NQ – Where the Men Are Men and the Cows Are Nervous”

  1. Curt says:

    Paws rock.

  2. Kuru says:

    We want a wombat please.

  3. Alex says:

    I was going to complain to the proper authorities that you were in Billabong and didn’t surf, because everyone knows about the Billabong Pipe Masters: http://www.billabong.com/pipelinemasters08/

    Then I looked at my friend google maps and noticed Billabong is landlocked. Hmm… something fishy going on here. Even fishier, the Billabong Pipe Masters takes place in Hawaii, WTF? Oh well, at least you got to shake a kangaroo’s paw.

  4. Alex says:

    Damn, just saw the pictures in the apple gallery, love those snakes pics. I want me some snakes. Not to mention the jumping croc. Awesome. I wish Barcelona Zoo let you drape some snake all over you. Bastards.

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