June 20, 2004
Keppell Bay Marina, Rosslyn Bay, Queensland

Crocs and Critters
By Lois Joy

This story is dedicated to Cody, Brett, Manuel, Trey, Kaitlyn, Leone and all of the children who read our website. It tells you only little bit about the land animals that inhabit this vast Land Down Under. There’s much more to come—especially when we sail to the Great Barrier Reef and learn about all the life underneath the ocean here.  

Everything seems upside down in Australia. It is winter here now, not summer. Tomorrow will be the shortest day of the year. The stars look different. We see the Southern Cross first in the sky—not the Big Dipper.
And we see Orion early in the morning before the sun comes up.

God even created the animals here differently from what you may be used to.
They don’t run or gallop across the land—they bounce. Which animal does that? You’re right! The kangaroo. Or ‘roo as they say here. Australia
has about 100 million kangaroos. But then, it is a big land. It is as big
as the United States (without Hawaii or Alaska). And most of it is empty of people. There are only six people per square mile, on the average, but really, most of the people live on the coasts near the sea, and the middle of the country is almost empty—except for animals and birds. Australia has about 20 million people. How many does the U.S. have? How many people are in Germany?

Did you know that Australia also has a fish that can climb trees, a fox that flies (it is really a bat with a fox-like face), and there are crustaceons so big that a man could climb inside? Some animals, like ‘roos and koalas, carry their babies in a pouch. And, Ugh! this country has more kinds of poisonous snakes than any other place in the world.

Yesterday, we went to Cooberrie Park near Yeppon and today we went to the Koorana Crocodile Farm. This is a story of what we saw:

My favorite animal at Cooberrie Park was the koala. The park keeper brought out a koala and let us hold her. You cannot drop her because she is used to living in branches of eucalypt trees since she was a baby. She holds on tight to you with her head looking over your shoulder. She eats the young tender leaves in the high branches, then goes further down the tree to sleep. She sleeps 20 hours out of a 24-hour day.

Next the keeper passed around a python—no kidding! First a large one, then a baby. A python does not have a dangerous bite. It kills by wrapping around and squeezing. So if you don’t squeeze it, and handle it loosely, it will just wind around. Even so, I did not feel very comfortable with the big one. Gunter took a video of me with it.

After the demonstration, we were free to walk around the animal park on our own. There were ‘roos all over. They were tame and they followed us. One tried to get into Gunter’s bum bag as he was trying to take a video!
Another stood up and scratched her tummy. We saw a kangaroo with her joey (baby ‘roo). We loved the kangaroos.

Then we went to the emus. They were strutting behind a fence. One gave me the evil eye when I tried to get close for a photo, as if to say, “Don’t mess with me!” When startled, emus can stride at speeds up to fifty miles per hour. I would not want to be chased by one. I went to the cassawaries, also behind a fence. They are pretty, but not to be messed with either.

Australia has many strange road signs. Driving along the road to Emu Park on the way back to the marina, we saw two road crossing signs for Emus.
Yes, a few of them still live in these parts—in the wild.

Go to Part II



Stories in this section... Australia Voyage 4
Crocs and Critters I
Crocs and Critters II
Log and Journal
The Town that Wasn’t
Messing with Boats - Part V
Barnacle Bliss