Oct 7, 2016

Kangaroos, Wallaroos, Wallabies, Pademelons, and Water Willies

Once upon a time is now

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Rainbow Beach on our way to Fraser Island
One week to play with the kids and grandkids before their return home.

Steve Irwin Australia Zoo - www.australiazoo.com.au
Started by the famous crocodile ‘hunter’, his family is keeping the tradition alive after his passing.  Great for the grandkids.  We are not much for zoos in general but this one felt right.  The animals had lots of room and looked clean, in great spirit and health with many interactive activities to enhance the experience.  Money from the zoo helps purchase more land to preserve wild areas and educate people about environmental impacts and wildlife.


You cannot take Liam away from 'dinosaurs" - Ok it's a croc but what a large one...
Mia helping... By Adam Knapp

Their food is so low in nutrition they need to sleep 20 hours/day.
This is where we learned there are only approximately 43,000-80,000 koalas left in the wild, that they need anywhere from 15 to 750 acres to live on depending on the density of food, and that they are expected to be gone within the next 10 years if humans continue to take away their territories.


Considered a real pest here in Australia - Very tame at the zoo
In the 'wild' Kanga and Roo by Adam or Sam Knapp
Here we saw and petted our first kangaroos, sulfur crested cockatoo, blue tongue skink, etc.  In terms of largest to smallest there are kangaroos, wallaroos, wallabies, and pademelons...

Tail to tail

Curious lizard
Roaming around where people eat and gather
Asian area of zoo - many sculptures and bamboo
Don't mess with this floss silk tree (kapok family)
Name doesn't represent the plants' dangerous spines...
Scaly breasted lorikeet and emerald dove
We also saw the famous Cassowary, the emblem bird of Australia…

Cassowary in zoo
Near rainforest - despite their colorfulness, they blend in well
The majestic southern cassowary lives only in the rainforests of far north Queensland and Papua New Guinea.  Feeding on more than 150 varieties of native fruit, cassowaries are our rainforest gardeners.  Cassowaries fertilize and spread seeds as they wander and feed in the forest. 

Clever females pair only to mate. The cassowary is a loner.  After laying four or five beautiful blue/green eggs, the female departs, leaving her mate to take complete charge of the family.  She moves on the mate and lay again, often producing many clutches of eggs each year.  Meanwhile he remains a single parent for up to two years, incubating the eggs and minding the chicks until they are fully independent.
The cassowary belongs to an ancient group of birds called ratites.  They are flightless birds.  Believed to be one of the first bird groups to evolve millions of years ago, they include emus, ostriches, rheas, and kiwis.  They are the heaviest bird, emu being taller but not as heavy.
There are only about 1200 cassowaries left in the wild in Australia today.  They need large areas of rainforest to forage, locate a mate, nest and raise their young.  New roads, land cleared for farming and new subdivisions mean that the rainforest and food supply for them is shrinking.  This forces many to cross roads and large areas of cleared land in search of food, leading to often fatal encounters with dogs, humans and cars.  To cap it all off, feral pigs compete for their food. 
The Australian Rainforest Foundation is working with landowners and government agencies to create a 250km corridor of forest, stretching from Cairns to Cardwell, to help save the cassowary from extinction and provide habitat for other rainforest species. 
A cassowary is strong enough to kill a human by kicking his legs forward towards one…  Beware.
Humpback Whale Day.


Calm waters of the bay before heading out - By Adam Knapp


Humpback with Mooloolaba in background - rougher waters by Adam

Beautiful creature - by Adam Knapp
Another shared experience with the kids and grandkids.  We had already seen many while sailing.  This experience was different from Mexico’s numerous sightings for us.  First, it was more interesting and fun to watch the expression on their faces when they saw whales, a turtle, and dolphins.  Second, the four (I think that’s how many there were in total) humpback whales stayed around the boat frolicking, talking to one another, playing, watching us, etc for over two hours.  You know the show is amazing when even the captain of the boat, who does this daily and has been for years, takes his camera out and snaps pictures.  We almost didn’t leave the dock, the boat was having electrical problems which meant no bathrooms or PA system for the whole trip.  It was also pretty rough out there so they offered our money back or to go on another day if we wanted.  We decided to go anyway – and it was sure worthwhile. 



Eumundi Market - www.eumundimarkets.com.au
Australia’s premier artisan market from 1979 that has become so popular it takes longer to find a parking space than walking the whole market.  OK, I exaggerate a little, but it is a big deal in this area.  Found a few nifty ideas and items to bring back home: dresses made from men’s dress shirts, bees wax soaked organic cotton in lieu of plastic bags, balloons sewn of cloth instead of plastic, great protein mixes for camping, etc.

Entrance to glow worm cave
Waiting room inside cave - picture from their website as we were not allowed to take any
Glow worms make sticky 'snares' from silk and droplets
And they glow like stars in a dark sky - beautiful
Glow Worm Cave - www.glowwormcavetamborinemountain.com.au

Only TWO places in the world have glow worms: NZ and OZ…  Even though it meant a nearly three hour drive we had to go see these magical little creatures.  We were raised with fireflies which can move around and glow on and off buried in grassy areas.  These tiny worms don’t move and live in very damp caves.  Their glow is to attract small insects into their sticky droplets that look like precious diamond necklaces.  The intensity of their glow is based on gender, how old they are and how hungry they are.  There are about 5 levels of intensity.  The cave we visited had approximately 5,000 worms and it took the owner over 13 years to get from 300 worms to 5,000.  They are hoping to get to 12,000 before building another cave and colonizing a few wild areas.  The worms in the wild have been dying due to folks using lights to see them, by their touch, and habitat loss. 
Rainforest Skywalk - www.rainforestskywalk.com.au
Skywalk from below - - -
From side
From above
High above the median tree canopy, the elevated boardwalk allowed us to (somewhat like a slow zip line) see what it looks like up close and personal with tree tops, lianas, palms, epiphytes, orchids, ferns, birds, etc

Glass House Mountains
Moonlight over Glass House Mountains - A tad hazy

Who is who...
Surrounded by plantations / greenery
The steepest one, Mt. Coonowrin
The mountains were named by Lieutenant James Cook in 1770.  It is believed that Cook thought  the peaks resembled the glass furnaces in his hometown in Yorkshire, England.  The Glass House Mountains were once lava plugs within volcanic cones.  The volcanic cones and surrounding sandstones were eroded by wind and water over 25 million years to reveal the much harder lava plugs which you can see today.
For generations, the Glass House Mountains have held a great significance for Aboriginal people.  Their creation stories and beliefs are reflected in the strong links that remain today.  These mountains are of high spiritual significance to the local indigenous people to be treated with reverence and respect.
Kanu Kapers - www.kanukapersaustralia.com  
12-15 knots of wind - makes for an interesting paddling experience. 
In only 1-3 feet of water most of the way
As Liam likes to call them - Water Willies!
Kayak designed to hold Esky for cold food.
No competitiveness between these two: Adam and Sam with Mia and Liam
Australian white pelicans are much larger than US and Mexico brown pelicans
Liam always interested in sticks
There are only TWO everglades in the world:  Queensland and in Florida.  They have fresh and salty waterways mingling and surrounded by mangroves with numerous birds and reptiles to see and hear.  We just had to visit this rare place, so for ½ day, we kayaked through some of the waterways of the Noosa Everglades, in the heart of the Cooloola Section of the Great Sandy National Park / Biosphere. On a blustery and cloudy day, we immersed ourselves in this gorgeous and remote environment starting at Elanda Point, paddling across Lake Cootharaba to Kinaba. From there, we explored the Noosa Everglades from the lesser-paddled waters of Kin Kin Creek. 

Rainbow Beach and Fraser Island
The many sand colors of Rainbow Beach (looking south)
Erosion showing lighter colors underneath
Boys must climb and throw things down or they wouldn't be boys
Fraser (K’gari) Island, the LARGEST sand island in the world became part of the World Heritage List in 1992 after a bitter struggle between conservationists, sand mining and logging interests.  Because it includes exceptional natural features and formations and boasts magnificent vegetated sand dunes – representing significant ongoing geological and biological evolution.  The massive sand deposits that make up the island are a continuous record of climatic and sea level changes over the past 720,000 years.  It forms the oldest recorded sequence of coastal dunes in the world, measuring 123km (75 miles) by 15km (10 miles).  Even wet rainforest is growing on sand here.  So old it is home to the prehistoric King Fern which appeared about 300 million years ago.  It has hollow stems somewhat like straws and lives where water is abundant. 


Our pimped up and very comfortable ride... 
Manta Ray cable driven ferry
Before we reached the island by ferry we traveled another beach aptly named Rainbow Beach or Colored Sands (search dream story on line as well as Princess Eliza Fraser?) for it is lined by hills layered with sands going from black to white with shades of orange, ochre, yellow, pink, peach, beige, and light brown in between.

We drove the beach in a specialized 4x4, going North on the East side of the island, right tires in the sunlit blue ocean edged with pure white foam bordered waves, left tires on the sand, going approximately 60 miles an hour, ignoring road signs stating a speed of only 50, even passing the well known local cop (Rolland today but sometimes Ronald) waving at us.  We only had to slow down for ‘amateurs’ (said under the breath of our driver) aka tourists who don’t know which side of the road to stay on or folks too scared to drive the sandy beach with its soft patches (called melon heads here) and people fishing from the edge of the ocean, sitting on beach chairs with a bucket and drinks by their side not worrying a bit about vehicles coming around them at such a speed. 
The island is accessed by cable barge crossing the Noosa River leaving and arriving on a sand beach with no ramp but the sand itself.  The barges are called Manta Rays for their particular shapes. 
Vines intertwined
Human vs epiphytes - they are huge!
Even under rainy clouds, the water is crystal clear and a tad cold
Home of 42 lakes and 200 creeks, water makes its presence nearly everywhere even when you can barely see it.  One creek in particular is called Disappearing (Wanggoolba) Creek and you cannot see nor hear its gin clear water.  The lakes here are called perch dune lakes and we visited Lake McKenzie.  Like all perched lakes, it is full of raindrops.  No stream or underground aquifer feeds into or flows out of the lake.  It can be reduced by evaporation in dry times and fills again when good rainfall occurs.  Its water is slightly acidic with a pH level of 4.3 to 5.2.  A hard-pan of decaying plant matter has settled over thousands of years on the lake floor.  This natural, almost waterproof, lining holds the water as would a dish.  Few live here:  Musk ducks, freshwater turtles, acid frogs, purple-spotted gudgeons (fish).  Around the lake you will find southern-spotted geckos, pythons, swamp wallabies, bush rats, bandicoots and squirrel gliders.  There are some wild pigs and wild horses and perhaps a few kangaroos but people have only seen signs of them, no one has come across one yet.


Can you see it?
How about here?
Water so clear that without the sun reflecting on it you would not believe me...
Home of the purest and oldest dingo dog line that the aboriginals used to hunt with, they are not pets and can seriously hurt or take away small children.  All cooking on the island is done within barricaded areas or kept inside closed vehicles.

Unfortunately heavily logged about 70 years ago, but the island is slowly recovering.  It is where the Fraser Satinay or Turpentine tree (Syncarpia Hillii) comes from.  Extremely durable and rot resistant wood full of silica, the wood was used to build London Piers, Egypt’s Suez Canal, and the Sydney Opera House.
Sand mining for rutile and zircon deposits began in 1950 but was stopped soon after as it was too disruptive.
The Butchulla people lived here for more than 5000 to perhaps 50,000 years.  They live by 3 laws: 
  • Whatever is good for the land comes first. 
  • If you have plenty, you must share.
  • Do not take or touch anything that does not belong to you.
It was everyone’s responsibility to live the ‘proper way’ according to Law.
 
Fox sedge - delicate and soft plant near Lake McKenzie
Even though they were driven off the island a long time ago, some families take their newborns to K’gari for a naming ceremony, and introduce them to the “Old People”, keeping a strong bond to the culture and the land.  Many of the rangers are Butchulla descendants. Aboriginal people are involved in managing public lands and they are allowed to use special campgrounds.  A research station is also located here.  Otherwise many campgrounds have been closed around the island due to the “Island being loved to death” by too many visitors.  Most are now welcome as day guests. 


Body paintings relate to their name.

“Wanya nyin yangu, wanai djinang djaa”
or
Wherever you go.  Leave only footprints.

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