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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Isle of Attractions

AUSTRALIA | Wednesday, 7 July 2021 | Views [46] | Comments [2]

Of all aspects of travel, the people I meet are what I appreciate most. A stand-out tourist site or a beautiful beach will always be there but it's the people who often alter the course of your travels, and that happened to me the other day. Outside of Airlie Beach I was picked up by a lovely lady named Cate with her two children and their dog. She is doing something that I wish my parents had done with us as kids, and that's a big road journey around a country. She was off to Townsville the other night, and that's exactly where I was heading to meet up with Jo (like Cate, she is on her own big journey around Australia). Cate invited me to stay with her and her children at their accommodation when I visited Magnetic Island, which was on my radar for my time in Townsville.

Aboard the ferry I was to "Maggie" and then Cate greeted me at the ferry terminal. It's only a short hop from the mainland, so the ferry is a short and smooth ride. Some people I've spoken to have said Magnetic Island is a lot like Norfolk Island but I could tell straight away it's not. Magnetic Island is a lot bigger and has enough people that it has a public transport system. Furthermore, you won't find any snakes, koalas, wallabies, or cane toads on Norfolk (and I'll get to that part later). Before long, Cate was doing another cool thing to help somebody out. Four backpackers had been waiting for more than an hour for a taxi which would never come. We drove to the apartment, dropped some gear, came back, and we eventually took two of them to their accommodation and then came back for the other two. For all of us, that was a really fun experience. We decided on doing the walk to the Forts afterward. A wonderful view greeted me only a few minutes into the walk.

Other walkers told us they had seen koalas up ahead. Before long, we saw a koala! Sound asleep it was: unsurprising since they sleep for about 18 hours a day.

About five minutes ahead, I spotted a group of people up in the bush, and there was another koala. However, this one was awake.

These creatures are so beautiful; I just love them. Australia, you will forever hold a place in my heart. It was the wildlife that really drew me to travel to Australia for the first time, and when you see some of the flora and fauna it truly feels more like another planet than another continent. In all the time I've spent in Australia I had only seen two wild koalas. One was in asleep in a tree in Noosa and the other was crossing outside of Portland, Victoria. Today I saw two in one day. We didn't make it all the way to the Forts because the kids were getting tired but it was a truly fantastic walk.

On the way back we stopped to feed the wallabies. Like the squirrels in Yosemite, these guys are very used to people and will come right up to you.

Although it isn't recommended to feed the wallabies, there are guidelines detailing what you shouldn't feed them and why. 

From walking to see the koalas to feeding wallabies to helping out other backpackers, it was time to have a nice dinner and a few glasses of wine. Cate's brother is here with his family and we all had a nice dinner together. I had a wood-fired pizza with a glass of wine. Pizza and beer-battered chips were amazing but I felt full after only a bit. It looks like I'll have leftovers for tomorrow. After our full-on day we weren't done yet. Up next was the cane toad race. Whilst these annoying amphibians are very much maligned in Australia, some positive uses have been made from there. In addition to races, the cane toad is the local mascot in some areas. The bets and the stakes were high this evening, with one of the latter of eight toads having a bet of $350 placed on it. The introductions and betting took nearly an hour, the race, a la the Kentucky Derby or Melbourne Cup, lasted only a few seconds.

A grand prize of $500 was awarded to the winner. After all we did today, we were all buggered. A few glasses of wine whilst Cate and I chatted were in order. What a day it was. Talk about full-on! This evening, and the other day when Cate picked up me, I shared some of my favourite travel quotes...

"Because in the end, you won't remember that time working in an office or mowing your lawn. Climb that damn mountain." -Jack Kerouac



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