In my last travelpod entry I was leaving Sydney up the East Coast with a final destination of Cairns (gateway to the largest living thing on earth: Great Barrier Reef). I planned to spend about 3 weeks in total getting to Cairns. Well guess what? I spent about 2 months and made it farther than Cairns (up to Cooktown to be precise). That should not surprise any of you who know how Ave can get excited, distracted and sometimes obsessed about the little things...such as Green tree frogs, crème filled hot dog looking donuts in Cooktown, mile long ant colonies, interesting road kill (including 12 foot python snake), rescuing bird life along the road, examining rainforest moss and bark (and then photographing it), Green tree frogs, photographing rusting cars in junkyards, killing cane toads (poisonous pest in Australia), meeting random travelers and locals, eating lots of mangoes, did I mention playing with Green tree frogs.....yada yada yada
. My trip of course included most of the important stops and activities of the East Coast: seeing the Big Banana in Coffs Harbor (way too touristy for me), learning how to play Lawn Bowls (game for old people where you try to get a ball close to a central white ball by rolling it straight along a well groomed lawn) in Broomshead, Byron Bay for a quick browse (too touristy for me but well situated along the coast), strolling along the hippy street of Nimbin and talking to the locals (one guy in particular named Steve was quite an interesting fellow...he was a hippie mineral collector who believed that minerals ward off electromagnetic fields that tv watchers and city goers are exposed to...I wasn't quite convinced but could have been had I been there longer and taken some of the "magic cookies" that the locals were selling), several markets along the way including good ones in Marybourough and Byron Bay where I bought a couple interesting souvenirs (one for my dad which I cannot mention or it will spoil the fun), Mt. Garnet Rodeo, Fraser Island (very cool...largest sand island in the world...it even has more sand than the Sahara Desert due to the depth of Fraser's sand...I went on a 2 day 4wd bus tour here which was quite interesting...the best parts were when we got bogged in the sand twice, spotted sharks and manta rays atop Indian Point, floating down Eli Creek in the crystal clear water, taking a bath in Champagne Pools (natural sea spa with crashing waves behia large rock wall), losing my sunglasses on one of the tracks and then begging the manager of the tour company to take me back to look for them stating "they are my favorite pair of sunglasses...I have never found a pair like them....I am willing to miss the next activity to find them...it will really mean a lot to me..with several smiles and puppy dog eyes I convinced him and this time we got to go 4wd driving in his wrangler as opposed to a massive bus to look for them...quite fun....luckily I found them in the middle of the track...and because the group had gone on to the next activity I had time to spare on the beach where I learned how to catch blood worms in the sand from a couple locals....really good bait but damn hard to catch....very fast little buggers who only peek their little head up from their 5 ft long body under the sand)), white water rafting the famous Tully River, several national parks full of cool rainforest walks, driving around the hilly Atherton Tablelands and stopping at several beautiful waterfalls, red claw(type of crayfish) potting at Lake Tinaroo in the Atherton Tablelands (followed by several feasts of the red claw), diving the Yongala Shipwreck off Ayr, exploring Cairns and the quaint rainforest town of Kuranda, a week long diving trip out on the Ribbon Reefs and Osprey Reef (one dive was a shark feed where we witnessed several reef sharks voraciously eating tuna just meters in front of us...note: reef sharks are not a threat to humans like tiger or great white sharks are so it was quite safe and well monitored), playing and feeding my 7 temporary green tree frog pets in Cooktown (see photoshoots of them...there are heaps), Cape Tribulation and Daintree (one of my favorite spots because of its lush tropical rainforests, cool critters (including frogs, cassowaries(very large dangerous endangered flightless bird), boyd's forest dragons), hikes, fishing, and friendly locals)
So those are the major points of interest of my East Coast Trip...I hope you could understand that giant run on sentence of a paragraph....(I don't like to use periods rather just lots of dots..........). So if I had to rate my 4 favorite activities/places they would be: rafting the Tully River (I did it twice!) Cape Tribulation/Daintree Rainforest, Cooktown (because of my frogs), Scuba Diving the great barrier reef. Check out my pictures for a better idea of my trip...there some awesome pictures and of course several pics of frogs. For those of you who don't know frogs are my FAVORITE animal and this East Coast trip just solidified my love for them. I in fact found about a frog hospital in Cairns where I delivered one dead frog and one sick frog (both white lipped green tree frogs) for inspection. These frogs were from the Daintree Rainforest, an area that had not been studied too much with regard to frogs. The dead frog is still to undergo a basic autopsy (but unfortunately cannot be sent off to a lab for thorough testing because it was not found within minutes of death). The live frog was suffering from a respiratory problem and a fungal disease (caused by local toxins) and has since been put on medication. Call me crazy but I love frogs and so should everyone else because not only are they cute (note how I kiss them in my pictures....with eyes closed too...haha) but they are very important environmental indicators
. They are very sensitive to changes in water quality, air quality etc and help us to understand changes in the natural environment that can be deadly. And did you know that much research is being done on frogs with regard to human cancer research. Yes these little buggers have medicinal qualities. So love them like I do. FYI: there are no poisonous frogs in Australia. So when you see me kissing my frogs in the pictures, don't fret.
So enough of this entry...you get the gist of my east coast trip. I am tired of writing. And guess what? I am already in New Zealand (for one week now) and am excited to write about my time here so far. (So much for updating this travelpod thing on time so people can actually vicariously travel with you...oops...but I must tell you its not easy to find time or cheap internet...and you need to be in the mood to write and reflect...blah blah blah...) Yes so stay tuned for a New Zealand update...this place is very cool and full of natural wonders. For those of you wondering I will be here in NZ for 4 more weeks then fiji for a week, cali for 1.5 wks and then home to NY on Aug. 20. These next few months are all going to happen super fast. Ta ta for now.