Sunshine At Last!

Trip Start Aug 16, 2003
Trip End Apr 21, 2004

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Flag of Australia  ,
Friday, October 10, 2003

The rain continued to lash the windscreen as we headed off in the van after checking out of Main Beach, Surfers Paradise. Intending to visit Australia Zoo, home of Steve Irwin - crocodile hunter, we travelled past the Glasshouse Mountains just north of Brisbane. However, upon reaching our destination, we decided to abandon the idea and drive a little further to Underwater World in Mooloolaba - where at least the inclement weather wouldn't bother us.

Feeling full of confidence, Dan decided that he was going to do a shark dive (we'd read in the guide book that this was possible "for a few brave souls"). So I left him to get kitted out in his diving gear while I checked out the seal show (slightly more my style!). It was really interesting to learn how they get these really clever animals to perform for, and entertain, the public. All the tricks and poses are triggered by very subtle visual cues from the trainer so that during a performance it looks as if the seal is actually responding to a verbal request.

Soon the time had come to go down to the shark tunnel to see Dan's big moment. The large aquarium contained a travelator running all the way around a huge tube of transparent acrylic, which allowed for fantastic viewing of all sorts of sea creatures - most notably an impressive collection of nurse sharks and sting rays. It was fascinating to watch these animals swimming gracefully right over your head.

After dodging pushchairs and screaming kids for over 20mins, I was beginning to think that Dan had come to his senses and decided he wasn't feeling quite so brave after all. At that moment a few pairs of legs appeared on the rocks above me and then seconds later Dan was the first to completely submerge himself in the shark infested tank...

The crowd around me began to jostle to get a look at these 'crazy young men' who were putting themselves right in the firing line of the mean and hungry looking sharks! Standing as still as a statue, as far back against the wall as possible, eyes wide, with hands clasped tightly together (I'm told they were instructed to adopt this position!) I swear that Dan didn't take a breath for a couple of minutes! The crowd watched with baited breath as the sharks inquisitively inspected the latest tasty additions to their territory. After 20 mins or so of sharks weaving around Dan and the other divers, much to the disappointment of the viewing public and to my relief, there had been no unfortunate incidents!

Once reunited with the 'fearless explorer' (he hasn't stopped going on about it since!), we spent the remainder of the afternoon looking around the rest of the exhibits and shows. We especially enjoyed the chance to touch rays, sea cucumbers, urchins and other creatures who were housed in 'interactive' tanks.

By the time we left Underwater World, it had finally stopped raining and the miserable day had turned into a pleasant evening. So with no camp kitchen at our site, we decided to eat out in the pretty holiday resort of Mooloolaba. After checking out a number of restaurants along the beach front we chose Montezuma's, a Mexican resturant, where we ate one of the best meals we've had in a while.

Delighted to wake up to the sun flooding through the van windows, we headed a few miles back down the road to Australia Zoo again. Much of the day was spent watching a selection of animal demonstrations. This included informative talks about, and sometimes the feeding of, animals such as crocodiles, birds of prey, snakes and dingoes. For us the highlight of the day was our stroll through the kangaroo enclosure where we were able to pet the roos who were quite happy to receive the attention. In particular, the dominant male roo lapped up the admiring glances from the public as he reclined in the sun with a look on his face that left you in no uncertain terms who was king of the castle! Having spent the whole day in glorious sunshine as we wandered around, we were both really glad we'd decided to put the zoo trip off a day.

Andrea and Dan
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