Only Planet

One Child, One Year, One Planet. A family of three traveling around the world...

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Melbourne Australia: Hanging out with the D-minus crowd

No, we’re not talking about the Australians. With the exception of the bloody idiots engaging in racial bashing in Sydney, many of the Australians we’ve met have been lovely, friendly and ever so helpful people. The D-minus crowd in this case are the koalas. Behind that cute black nose, those tufted ears and the vacant stare off into never-never land, these animals are not exactly the brainiacs of the animal kingdom. Seems koalas spend 20 hours a day sleeping off the effects of eating gum leaves, which are so toxic that they have to use 1/5 of their energy just detoxifying their meals.

Here’s what the Lonely Planet says about koalas: “Several years ago biologists announced that the koalas are the only living creatures that have brains that don’t fit their skulls. Instead they have a shriveled walnut of a brain that rattles around in a fluid filled cranium. Other researchers have contested this finding, however, pointing out that the brains of the koalas examined for the study may have shrunk because these organs are so soft. Whether soft-brained or empty-headed, there is no doubt that the koala is not the Einstein of the animal world.”

Stupid or not, we’ve loved hugging the koalas, and only hope that to them we are just one more tree to hang out on. Watching kangaroos hopping about and gently eating food from our hands,

and gaping in amazement at the wombats, who look like hamsters on steroids, have thus far been the highlights of our Australian visit. While in Brisbane we went to the Australian Zoo, home of Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter. While we didn’t see Steve breathlessly swinging a venomous snake by its tail, we got to watch crocodiles lunge for their lunch and camels who seem to have adapted quite well to the Australian climate.

It’s hard to believe we’ve been in Australia for over two weeks. I managed to stay sick throughout Sydney and Brisbane, but with a nice cocktail of antibiotics, prednisone and valium, the days kind of float by in a haze and I’m feeling well on the road to recovery. We have another week in the Melbourne area, where we plan to drive the Great Coast Highway and visit some Servas families.

The weather here is perfect, sunny, but not too hot. Then off to Sydney for Christmas--and the sightseeing we missed out on while I was sick in bed--before hopping on over to New Zealand for a kiwi New Year.


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