A Travellerspoint blog

In Search of the Wild Platypus

OUR VISIT TO BROKEN RIVER RESORT IN EUNGELLA

by: Madeline

In Eungella we stayed overnight at the Broken River Resort. The Broken River area is one of the best places in the world to see wild platypuses. Platypuses are monotremes; this means they are mammals which lay eggs. Another monotreme is the echidna. After checking-in to the resort we went off in search of the platypuses. When we got to a platform overlooking the river, we waited for them to come. We waited, and waited, and waited, until finally after about an hour of waiting we saw a brown blob in the water. It was hard to tell if it was just another turtle or lizard. As it came closer we realized that it was not just a brown blob, nor was it a turtle, it was a platypus. Suddenly the platypus dived down into the murky water and after a few minutes it resurfaced. For an hour or so, until it got too dark to really see anything, we watched the platypus dive over and over again. On the way back to the resort we saw a few more platypuses hunting for food in the river under a bridge. It was very interesting to observe the platypuses in their natural environment.

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After watching the platypuses, we went to eat dinner. Just outside the resort dining room a platform is set up where the chef feeds the local possums with fresh fruits. The possum that came that night had only one eye. After eating dinner we went to sleep and in the morning we drove off to Gladstone to prepare for our visit to Heron Island. All in all our short stay in the Broken River area really was nice.

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Posted by RTMM 22:35 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Bats and Crocodiles in the Daintree Rainforest

PORT DOUGLAS, NORTHERN QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA

by: Tami
Sorry, the posts are a little out of order due to our lack of decent internet connections.

We, or perhaps I should say I, decided to head up north to Port Douglas, Cape Tribulation, and the Daintree Rainforest. I don't actually think my traveling companions were too hip on the idea of a 1,700 km drive up the coast of Queensland, but as I was navigating they didn't really have a choice in the matter. Besides, I plied them with the promise of a swim-up apartment in the heart of Port Douglas. And, really, what kind of person wouldn't want to visit such a welcoming place?

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In all seriousness, it turned out to be a good stop for everyone. The girls enjoyed swimming in our own private (due to low tourist numbers) pool, which was located just outside our sliding glass door. Ryan had to suffice with wireless internet, cable tv and the best abondigas (a mexican meatball dish) in the southern hemisphere. While I enjoyed a day in the Daintree, which included: a crocodile cruise, a cable crossing ferry ride, a visit to the Bat House where we petted a basket of baby bats and fed apples to an adult bat (Oddly, after driving far into the rainforest to find the Bat House, we found a large group of flying foxes in the trees a few blocks away from our apartment! Oh well, the up close encounter at the Bat House was still worth it.), and the day finished up with lunch and quick stroll along a lovely beach. There were heaps of tiny crabs on the beach, each one excavating an underground den. The designs the crabs made with the unwanted sand were amazing.

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(Click on the bottom left thumbnail and enlarge to see the tiny crab in the upper center of the picture.)

Posted by RTMM 12:55 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

The Goods and the Bads in the Bunyas

sunny

by: Madeline

A few days ago we left New Zealand and got on a three and a half hour plane flight to Queensland, Australia. The plane flight left at 7am, so we had to get up really early. The flight was uneventful; all we did was sleep. From the airport we got a rental car and set off to Kingaroy to get groceries and other supplies. When we got there it was really hot so we hurriedly got our supplies and drove to the Bunya Mountains. When we were in Australia about three years ago we stayed in the Bunya Mountains for three days and it was awesome, so my mom booked a five day stay there in a cabin called “Currawong.” (A currawong is a large black and white bird, kind of like a magpie, but with a black head.)

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When we got to our cabin we started regretting the five day decision. We were thinking, “What in the world are we going to do here for five days, it's really hot? The last time we were here it was freezing and the nearest town is a hours drive away.” Little did we know what surprises lay ahead. After a hour or two of laying on the furniture in a hot house, I looked out the window to see three king parrots. Soon after, we had the parrots sitting on our arms and we were feeding them a variety of nuts that we had. So far, numerous times a day, many birds come to eat the nuts, fruits, and seeds that we have for them. Not only do the king parrots come, but also ravens, currawongs, magpies, crimson rosellas, brush turkeys and the occasional satin bowerbird. Also around the area that we are staying there are wallabies and kookaburras.

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three wallabies

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a male bowerbird
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a bowerbirds bower

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a kookabura
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a scarlet rosella
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a female king parrot
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a male king parrot
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a currawong
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One morning we went on a walk through the rainforest that covers most of the Bunya mountains. The walk was a 4 kilometer route on zigzagging dirt paths through the forest. The walk itself was cool. We saw a bowerbird's bower (nest) and around it was a collection of blue things like a mint mento wrapper, milk rings, soda caps, feathers, and just about anything else that was blue. What really ruined the day for us were the events that came afterward. We had just gotten back and my dad called for us to come look at something “cool.” What we ended up seeing was a tick attached to his leg, which wasn't at all “cool.” We then did a quick tick check on the rest of us. In the end, Maya had a tick attached to her hip, but after a lot of screaming the tick was off and squished. We also found a tick in the collar of her shirt and another in my clothing. By now the ticks are gone but we still shudder whenever we think of them.

Posted by RTMM 20:17 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Queenstown and Fox Glacier

FINISHING UP WITH THE SOUTH ISLAND

by: Tami

We haven't posted anything in a while, so I decided I'd post a quick update.

Queenstown was not only scenic but also a lot of fun with the downhill luge, zoom bungy and jet boating.

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We also stopped by the Minus 5 Ice Bar - interesting but highly overpriced.

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After a week in Queenstown, we headed north to Fox Glacier. Unfortunately the weather turned horribly cold and rainy, but we still made the hour long trek out to the glacier terminal.

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Despite all the signs warning of impending doom, it actually turned out to be a fun walk.

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We then made a quick stop at Puzzling World and had fun in their maze and illusion rooms.

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Even with having allotted two months for visiting New Zealand, we were still running out of time. The west coast was much more remote than the east coast, and the sand flies were extremely irritating, so we decided to skip the rest of the coastal journey. Instead we've been enjoying a relaxing couple of weeks revisiting our favorite spots - Kaikoura on the South Island and Mt. Manganui on the North Island.

We're heading back to Auckland and in less than 48 hours we'll have departed New Zealand and will be continuing our adventure in Australia.

Posted by RTMM 19:48 Archived in New Zealand Comments (5)

Te Anau and Milford Sound

by: Madeline

For three nights we stayed in a small city called Te Anau. We went to Te Anau so we could visit either Milford or Doubtful Sound. We ended up going on a Nature Cruise around Milford Sound. My mom was scared that she would get seasick when we found out that we would be spending 10 minutes out on the Tasman Sea. As it turned out, there was nothing for her to worry about. The sea wasn't exactly smooth but it didn't make her sick. The cruise wasn't exactly amazing. We saw a few seals, a Fiordland Crested Penguin and a lot of waterfalls.

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The highlight (for me) of all of Te Anau was seeing the Kea on the drive to and from Milford Sound. To learn about Kea continue reading.

The Truth About Kea
The Clowns of the Mountains

A Kea is a bird in the parrot family. The Kea is closely related to the Kākā, the Norfolk Island Kākā, the Chathamis Island Kākā, and the Kākāpō. Kea are the only alpine parrot. They are cheeky birds who are full of a curiosity and have a great intelligence which gives them the ability of solve problems they encounter, as a human might.

Kea are mainly olive green. Each of their feathers have black edges. Kea have a blue-green tail and lower wing feathers, and their lower backs and under-wings have yellow, orange, and red feathers, making them very vibrantly colored while in flight. The Kea's top part of its beak is long and curved ending in a sharp point. This they use for tearing food.

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Kea are omnivores like humans. They eat roots, leaves, berries, nectar, insects, and sometimes other birds and mammals. Occasionally Kea eat sheep by either eating the dead or attacking the live. They fly onto a sheep's back and tear into the flesh to consume the fat. The assault isn't always fatal for the sheep but it may die of disease or blood loss. This earns the Kea its less cheerful nickname of “the feathered wolf.” Farmers used to kill the Kea for attacking their sheep but in 1986 the Kea received full protection.

Kea breed from July to January. They nest in holes in trees, on the ground, in burrows, and in crevices in rocks. The females lay 2 to 4 eggs that have to be incubated for about 29 days. A female Kea is ready for reproduction by the age of 3 and males at 4 to 5 years.

Kea earned their nick name “the clowns of the mountains” because they are comical birds and they love to destroy things. Kea will rip up sleeping bags, the rubber parts of cars, shoes, back packs, and just about anything else they can get their beaks on. Campers in 'Kea Zones' have to be careful about what they leave out at night otherwise they may wake up and find that their shoes don't fit any more or the food seemed to have a party outside!

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Like I said Kea love to rip up cars!
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This kea decided to hide under our car! Thankfully he didn't damage anything.

Kea are amazing birds that love to have fun. No matter if you like the Kea or not you have to admit they are one of a kind! Those naughty little birds!

Posted by RTMM 20:21 Archived in New Zealand Comments (3)

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