Hi all, g'day from Oz, we hope all is well with everyone.
We have spent the last week in lovely Port Douglas and we did get to see more of the local wildlife in the rainforest. We took a sedate trip on a paddle steamer up the creek spotting crocodiles. It reminded me of the film The African Queen, with dense mangrove trees hemming us in, the inlet getting increasingly narrow, a crocodile heaven. We saw four, the largest about four metres long, quite a sight. I then had an eco day in the Daintree rainforest, getting very close to nature, hugging trees and everything. We saw snakes and Cassowaries, the third largest bird in the world. We saw kingfishers and insects and lots more crocodlies. The tour I went on had an eco guide pointing out all sorts of natural wonders, like a strangler tree that literally strangles a host tree over a period of fifty or so years until only the strangler tree remains, a slow demise for the unfortunate host tree. The competition among the rainforest growth is for light and the competition is fierce, Darwinian survival of the fittest. There is an over-supply of rain here, and together with the heat and humidity it creates massive diversity of growth in plants, trees and of course animals and insects, I was bitten mercilessly. It is impossible to walk off piste in a rainforest, so walkways and viewing platforms have been provided. Our tour went off piste a little, we would not have dared to do it without an experienced guide.
The news here, just like at home with very similar concerns centres with elections in the next year on politics. Australia appears to have done well in surviving the world economic turmoil, the current labour government take all the credit. They have introduced economic stimulus packages, but just like any government spending it has been spent poorly. The opposition have had easy targets on money wasted in improving schools (schools that don't need it getting grants and those in desperate need getting nothing for example) and insulating homes (poor workmanship, accounting fraud, house fires from inept installations). More interestingly there are gems of items just like Gordon's gaffe and that wonderful memo for the Pope's visit that made my day. We have here the state minister who was forced to resign after having an affair with an opposition MP and abusing his privileges as a minister to conduct the affair. He may have got away with it but he had a previous history of inappropriate behaviour. I was thrilled to discover that he had been reported previously for chair sniffing. Apparently when a female colleague got up from her chair he sniffed it and rolled on the floor in feigned ecstacy. It got better as old tv footage showed him apologizing for his behaviour, which also included a bra strap snapping incident, he was in tears, absolutely priceless. So you see the news is just like at home, with Oz variations.
We got down to some serious organization of what we are going to do for the rest of our trip. We have decided to stay in North Queensland for the next two weeks, you would also if you saw the beaches here, we love them. Then we are making our way east via Ayers Rock, which is now called Uluru apparently, for an expensive (ouch) three days tour of the rock and surrounds. For the last three weeks of our time here, we will be in and around Perth, before flying home in mid June. We will let you know how we get on, love Liz and Andy.