From Upover to Downunder and Back Again...

August-September 2007 From time to time some of us are let out from under our dank, stone bridges and let fly about the mundane planes. Sometimes we stop and linger here and there to smell beverages, taste the air or even buy souvenirs like plush toys, placemats or fudge. Although, fudge makes a poor souvenir since it never seems to make it home. The original plan was to go to Leeds in what used to be called Yorkshire. We didn't go so far astray because they reorganised the British counties (although it certainly didn't help... I'm pretty old fashioned in some ways). A trip downunder to New Zealand and Australia may have been our second choice (well third choice actually) but it could never be something to regret. I am reasonably convinced that people are pretty much the same, kind, helpful, wonderfully eccentric, generous and hospitable just about everywhere, but damn... some of them certainly do talk funny!

Flighty and Flightless...

Australia is one of the largest countries on Terra, and there is a goodly chunk of sky just lying around on top of it, so it baffles me that two of the three largest flightless birds come from Oz. On the other hand, there is quite a lot about Aussie fauna that I find Emusing...

The Lone Pine Koala sanctuary has several avian raptors who are trained to fly here and there around the place. They are magnificently menacing to watch, but the real joy is watching the smaller critters while the raptors are in flight. Does this make me a bad person?

The Southern Cassowary (lower left) is endangered there are only about 1500 on the planet. Looking at it, one wonders why.

Photo: S.MacLeod ©2007

Not of a Feather

Apparently Lorikeets eat poridge, I don't know if this is an adaptation to domestic life or if there is some weird gruel tree in the outback. Come to think of it, I don't really know if Lorikeets are native to wherever I happen to be.

Scrub turkeys are the pariahs of the sanctuary. They go around looking for french fried potatoes and tomato sauce in which to dip them. Failure to bus one's dishes may result in a large bird using its large foot to rearrange the napkins. Sometimes they sneak up behind innocent tourists. Their intent is probably to help eat tourist-lunch, but the evil turkey eye glint might give us pause. Fortunately, having companions to keep a constant eye over one's shoulders can prevent us having to find out.

A peacock is a peacock, typically very shy about it's wossname... fan. One day, I want to show a peacock a big mirror... that could be fun... do they ever explode?

Photo: S.MacLeod ©2007

Jill & Ted & Widdle Wambs...

This is the story of Jill and Ted and their friends/victims all of whom live at Lone Pine, some longer than others.

Jill is a border collie. Her Job is to run around frantically to help sheep decide where they want to be. She makes them walk up ramps and jump off platforms and get into humourous predicaments. She does this by running about a lot and looking evil. This proves fairly persuasive to sheep, but it can't convince of them to wedge themselves into a space that three lambs would find cramped... That is Ted's job. Ted is an Australian Kelpie. His modus is more dramatic and involves a complicated regimen of barking, biting and running and jumping on the backs of worried-looking sheep.

The sheep only come to Lone Pine for a week. After that, they get moved out and replaced by new sheep. That's show business.

Photo: S.MacLeod ©2007

The World's Laziest Creature

Turns out they do have koalas at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.

This is the most energetic Koala we saw all day, he managed to move from one end of the branch to the other in less than ten minutes. We had a movie camera with us, but no one needs a movie camera for koalas.

Apparently eucalyptus trees are not narcotic, so that excuse is out the window. Despite (or because of) the overwhelming lethargy of the worlds cuddliest creatures, I could have sat and watched them for hours... they are nothing if not restful.

Photo: S.MacLeod ©2007

Hooves, Howls and Hugs...

It is hard to take a bad picture of a critter in a zoo, because everyone seems willing to pose. The Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary is not just about cuddly marsupials. These are the kinds of picture you go out of your way to get.

Some kind of ponies... no one talked about them, they were no signs, and no runny-nosed rug-rats riding them... these were some kind of stealth-pony (probably used by little-known tiny ninjas). The whole idea of them seemed a bit incongruous in a Koala sanctuary.

The Dingo seemed quite stubborn about being unusually white. He was eager to pose, although I expect he wanted to be let out as his fee. My dogs are quite talkative, but this critter managed to express his preference to be off in the Outback somewhere eating babies and whatnot.

Wombats are amazing. Apparently they live in logs, although two of them were able to construct a little plywood bungallo and put up a sign saying 'love shack'. I felt guilty watching them... for hours.

Photographing the Croc posed a bit of a quandry. His demeanor almost argued that the best idea would involve getting into the enclosure and going for a tight shot from the front end... 'after all, I'm only a little crok' he seemed to say.

Photos: S.MacLeod ©2007


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