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Two Love Birds Head Out To Spoil Their Wedding With An Early Honeymoon

Playing with Sharks and Dingos

AUSTRALIA | Thursday, 10 February 2011 | Views [462]

So there are both some benefits to being in a civilized country again, and also drawbacks. The good parts are many in number and range from things like normal-sized TP rolls, menus without misspellings, food options OTHER than rice, and the list goes on.  On the other hand, prices are just down-right absurd, particularly when living on $14 per day for food for 2 of us was the norm and now that MIGHT get us a sandwich made with day-old bread.  Going to a grocery store and buying a single beer is almost the cost of buying a whole 6-pack back in the States and even a staple such as milk is 4 times the cost.  This is all to say that we have gotten way behind on our blog and we would like to blame it on the sticker-shock of paying $6-12 for an hour of computer time.  That, and we haven't really stopped to come up for air since getting to Ozzie.  So in the interest of keeping us off the street begging for internet money, we are going to give you the abridged version of what we have been up to:

After leaving our friendly hosts on the Sunshine Coast, we began a 5 day package to see two popular and stunning natural attractions.  One is the world's largest living organism and the other is the world's largest sand island.  Any guesses...?  They are the Great Barrier Reef and Fraser Island.  

Off we went first to the farthest south island that is still a part of the reef, a coral cay with lots snorkeling, sun, and turtles.  The only way to get there is a flight on a single engine plane which lands on the grass runway that is literally the entire length of the island.  To make matters more exciting, the island is a rookery (bird nesting grounds, more on this later) and as we just about landed, the plane stirred up no fewer than a thousand birds all trying to play with the loud shinny "bird." Somehow we avoided clobbering the feathery devils and then were immediately reminded about how bad large quantities of bird poo smelled.  The whole resort was just covered in white and only 3 days later as we were leaving did we start to become used to the fowl smell.  In fact, Victoria had the amazing good luck of being on the receiving end of Avian Hersey Squirts 4 times. To say they have a bird problem is putting it mildly!

But all of that couldn't keep us from having a great time.  The snorkeling was very good as all you had to do was jump in the water and coral was all around.  But this was Australia after all and not all things play nicely.  We were briefed on some of the more INTERESTING specimens we might see out there, such as: the deadly stone fish, highly venomous sea snakes, sting rays, and the subtle cone shell (yes, a small shell that can kill you). And then sometimes you see things in the water you had not quite anticipated or studied up on and leaves you looking for the nearest laundry facilities. Although we have done a good bit of snorkeling before, neither of us had seen a shark but why not now right?  And we saw lots.  They were Black Tip Reef Sharks and most were in the 4-5ft range.  A staff member informed us they are quite harmless but might give a good bit on the leg if you encounter one in the shallows.  And that is what led us to our last snorkeling before flying back out.  I say last not because we didn't have time to go back in the water, but because we liked our legs too much.  While coming back to shore we were going over a shallow, sandy area and happened upon Mr. Shark who was much larger than any we had seen yet (bigger than Travis for sure)  cruising in about 3ft of water and was way to to close for our comfort.  Damn if Victoria wasn't walking on water getting away.  Back on shore safety we sat looking into the water for some time and could see our old friend still cruising around...Back to the pool for us!

But we also had some cuddly moments too as large sea turtles used the island as nesting grounds.  Each night females would emerge from the water and start digging really deep holes to lay their eggs.  We were lucky enough to see 2 turtles all the way through the process and even held the eggs.  As if that wasn't enough, at the same time other nests were ready for hatching and baby turtles were making their dash for the water. Sharks couldn't ruin that experience.

Back on mainland, we switch gears and loaded up for Fraser Island on huge all-terrain buses that was just as impressive as the scenery.  This island was huge (as in days to walk across) and it is said that all the sand in Australia makes its way there.  But what we didn't expect is how lush a sand island could be.  We drove through rain forests with trees 12 feet in diameter and ferns growing like weeds, the sand hidden most of the time.  We also swam in gorgeous freshwater lakes with sand beaches that were as white as snow.  One lake has a pH level of around 4 and while safe for us to swim in, doesn't support life (which meant no sharks!)  The real highlight however turned out to be these buses as we were blasting into tough spots no land cruiser could go.  The eastern coast of the island was made into an official highway and had posted speed limits (around 50 mph) and we were whizzing along dodging the surf and dingos all the way along it.  

The dingo is yet another one of Australia's friendly creatures and is quite prevalent on the island.  While they look like skinny dogs, we were warmed many times to not under estimate them as many small children have been killed by them!  But they where cute...

Oh and let us mention here about the wonderful buffet we had on Fraser Island.  Upon finding out that the package dinner was  Mexican, many of our Australian companions groaned, hoping instead for fish and chips probably.  But we were grinning ear-to-ear as since leaving Colorado have been hankering for something South of the Border.  Suffice to say we cleaned the place up, taking more than our fair share and our disgruntled friend's too.

After an action-packed few days, it was off to see some of the wonderful cities Australia has to offer.



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