Ah, Austraaaaalia! The land of ultra violet rays, sunshine, draught, flatness, bogans*, and marsupial road kill. I’ve so far only experienced the last. My first kangaroo sighting was a gruesome and sad mess, followed shortly by a living, breathing roo laying peacefully in the grass. I frantically screamed at Tom to stop the ute**, camera at the ready, thinking how lucky I was to finally see one… Within moments I had scared it off.
However, this initial “lucky” encounter was followed by several hundred more along one stretch of road alone, of all shapes and sizes and varying colors of brown, dark brown, grey and dark grey, mostly resembling crosses between a gigantic mouse and a deer. I had heard of their suicidal tendencies prior to arrival, but was still startled each and every time one would bound along effortlessly next to the car, then suddenly dart at a 90 degree angle towards the bonnet*** of our speeding ute. In one field alone, I counted a family of 50, not including the little Joey’s hanging out in their warm pouches. Tom’s brother refers to them as “sheep on springs”, and Tom believes this may be the only country where people actually eat their national animal.
So far, Australia has been nothing short of stunning. The Blue Mountains outside of Sydney are beautifully wooded, with pockets of dense rain forest and waterfalls nestled in the valleys. As I hike through these lush pre-historic looking jungles, I can’t help but wonder where the raptors and t-rexes are hiding. And the koalas. So far no sightings of any of those, but I did find my own personal petting zoo replete with kangaroo, wallabies, tropical looking birds and wombats*****
And let’s not forget the cave with the glowing worms, a real highlight so far. A little creepy if you start thinking too much about the movie The Descent, part one and two.
I’m writing from the most chic bed and breakfast I’ve ever had the fortune of staying in (Yes, even nicer than that amazing French farmhouse I stumbled across at midnight while lost in the French countryside on a motorcycle making terrifying cr-CLUNK-CLUNK-CLUNKING sounds, after hours andhours of riding, major fatigue, and a serious lack of engine oil). For $85 of Tom’s hard earned Australian dollars, we have a private two-bedroom “cottage” with granite countertop kitchen, gigantic bathroom with a spa tub, flat screen tv (which hasn’t been turned on), hardwood floors, antique furniture, and a huge old wooden farm house style dining room table, all overlooking rolling green meadows. Ah, this beats camping in the rain again! The wet sleeping bags are currently taking up most of the couch space, in an attempt to dry out before our last night in the outback.
The sun is finally coming out, and I have wallabies to chase.
*Term for an Australian hillbilly.
**Ute: Australian word for a grotesque mix of pickup truck and car. Ugly, yet practical.
***Silly word for the hood of a vehicle.
*****Cross between a guinea pig and a South American capybara, but far more mangy.
******How do you use these asterisks, anyway?