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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Furry, cuddly, scaly, scary!

New Zealand has its nearly endangered living fossil, the tuatara; its namesake, the nocturnally elusive kiwi, and 35 million sheep. All impressive, no question, but let’s just face it… How many people oooh and ahhhh over scaly dinosaur ancestors, spotted little birds that are never seen, or mutton on the dinner plate? Move over New Zealand, Australia is putting up some power in the “cute” department! Cuddly koalas, boxing kangaroos and rainbowed lorikeets, oh my!

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary plays wonderful home to over 130 koalas, as the name suggests, but also a host of other creatures from kangaroos galore, wallabies, tasmanian devils, and even a few saltwater crocodiles! I stayed away from the dingos, devils and crocs, but I did get up close (and cuddly) with the other furries. I just cannot express how enchanted I was / have become with these creatures of Down Under, particularly the kangaroo. I took pictures of them at every angle, lied down with them, hopped along… I have had the opportunity to get to know some remarkable animals, and hope you can appreciate them too!

Pix Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Rock wallaby

Cassowary - world's most dangerous bird

Grey kangaroo

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Gimme the blue stuff

Well folks, I have found the true meaning of procrastination, and I have 200% embraced it. According to this email "blog," I am still in Australia. Based on those details, it is only March 2009 too... whoa. In truth, at least geographically, this email is not too much of a stretch! I departed the South Pacific on April 15th, went back to Georgia Tech for Summer and Fall semesters (to graduate!!), and on January 2, 2010, I departed again for the South Pacific! As mentioned, geographically Australia is not that far away, considering this email is being typed in New Zealand.
--> I have made a pact with myself: Finish this "2009" email trip to each of you (i.e. share pictures and stories), and if I can keep up with my 2010 tirp in a --timely-- manner, restart it all! I've been here a week; you'll know the outcome soon enough ! :)
Hugs, Jessie

In the mean time, let's talk Australia!
Add one part mie scattering by UV radiation, add millions of parts curious travelers, explorers, and aborigines, and finally add sheer beauty. Voila, I present to you The beautiful Blue Mountains, which border metropolitan Sydney, Australia!

Friday, January 1, 2010

It started with sand

One tiny sand particle started it all, and Fraser Island, a World Heritage is considered the largest sand island in the world.

My camping abilities have been in a dormant state for several years now. By ‘several years,’ I mean at least 7 or 8 years of suppressed hardcore overnight roughing it. However, somehow, some way, I was persuaded to resurrect my bathe-in-a-lake skills.
A 5:30am departure on Friday morning had 15 of us piled into three 4-wheel drive LandCruisers on our way to Fraser Island off the coast of Australia.

Fraser Island is one of 2 islands off the Northeastern coast of Australia, and is only accessible by 4wd vehicles ferried across the sea for a small price. The island is World Heritage listed, and is the largest sand island in the world. The place has a huge population – 360, 11 of which are Aboriginal. We’re talking major social events!

We traversed the ferry and landed on “The 75 mile beach,” which doubles as the main highway on the island, as well an airport landing strip. “All vehicles must yield to any landing aircraft.” Whoa! After a beach picnic everyone was in the Cruisers ready to roll, while I was standing at one driver door with map to help determine our route. I hear, “Dingo! Wow, there’s a dingo!” Huh? What? There’s a dingo??!! Mind you, I am the ONLY person NOT securely in a vehicle. I nearly jumped onto the hood in fright, and scampered into the truck, of course searching for my camera (first) and my safety (second). Let’s put it this way, dingoes are the equivalent of wolves… nice to look at from afar, but you don’t want to encounter a wild one face-to-face. They are ancestral of domestic dogs, but have reverted back to the wild.
The weekend passed through large freshwater perched lakes (i.e. lake sitting on top of compact sand and vegetable matter, above sea level), lots of bush-driving and a beached shipwreck exploration. Oh, and being waken up every morning by a kookaburra laughing loudly. Thanks to the lack of inhabitants and no light pollution, the night sky afforded visibility of every star, dot, poke, sattellite, constellation, and the entire Milky Way! Could have been the wine though too. I couldn’t have imagined a better back-to-camping expedition.

Pictures Fraser Island