. You might similarly discommoded by a fire fish or jellyfish called snottie. And then, there is the dreaded saltwater crocodile, which lurks in tropical lagoons, estuaries and bays, leaping from the waters to snatch and devour unsuspecting passers-by.
Well, to Hervey Bay we went but we skipped Fraser island due to costs and not being able to plan independent trips. In HB, we stayed with servas hosts Don and Barbara who took us kangaroo sightseeing in Woodgate. We got to see quit a few Eastern Grey roos and it was free and we didn't have to share the moment with tourists, just us and them. We decided to head to Great Keppel Island for 2 days; best decision we made so far. WE stayed at the Great Keppel island YHA and met a bunch of fun people to hang out with. The beaches were pristine, the hikes lovely, we saw a manatee, wild goats and a bunch of wild peacocks near an abandoned homestead. We met up with Rusty, a local fellow who comes to GKI to go boating or diving. The second night we went to watch some karaoke had a jolly good time there. We would have liked to stay longer but there is so much more to see and so little time. So, off we went to return to Rocky from where we catched a bus to Emerald
. Here, our servas host Julienne picked us up and we headed to her home in Capella, 30 minutes from Emerald. This area, called Peak Downs Shire, is known for sapphire mining. In Capella, we stayed with David and Julienne who are farmers tending to a 6000 acre (2375ha) farm. Farming consists of a herd of 230 draught master cattle (breeders and replacement cattle)and dry farming of different crops. Dry farming means that there is no water irrigation in place and the crop needs to grow on the stored moisture in the ground. David grows mainly wheat which is rotated with other crops such as sunflower, chickpeas and sorghum. He uses minimum tillage meaning the soil is not cultivated before sowing
. We made friends with the family's cattle dog, Nugget who probably misses us already. Cruising through the farm was a wonderful experience as we got to see roos, plain turkeys and the neighbors cattle and goat herds. Farm and equipment sharing with neighbors and family is common. David took us to his brothers farm where we got to ride in a huge harvester harvesting sorghum. It was quit impressive to see modern technology out in the field. We also learned that Australian farmer plant about 10 million hectares of wheat each year, 75% of wheat in Oz is exported to more than 40 countries around the world. The second day at the farm, Julienne took us to the gem mining town of Sapphire (or Rubyvale, I can't remember). Here, we took a underground mining tour and then watched a NZ couple fossicking for sapphires. They are hard to detect if you don't know what you are looking for but we got the hang of it and could spot a couple of small pieces in her tray. The farm stay was wonderful and in stark contrast to the beach life we had come to known before. The sunrises, sunsets and starts where just breathtaking. This is how I imagine Africa to be; endless sunsets in the most vivid orange glowing colors, endless steppe and a few trees. I was sad to leave this place and head back to the coast.
Now, we are in Airlie beach, the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands
. The place is beaming with young folks, most of the sailing tours are either expensive or booked. So, we are planning a one day island and reef tour and we will rent a kayak the other day.
We are in Queensland and according to Bill Bryson (author of Donw Under), there are more things that will kill you in Queensland than anywhere else in Australia. In Queensland, the height of the box jellyfish season is from October to may. During this time, when the jellyfish come inshore to breed, they render the beaches of the tropics useless to humans. This is mindboggeling when you look at the bay as serene and inviting as you would find anywhere, and yet there was no environment on earth more likely to offer instant death. Another example is the cassowary, the flightless man-sized bird that lives in the rainforests, with a razor claw on each foot with which it can slice you open in a deft and appalling manner. And the green tree snakes that dangle from branches and so blend into the foliage that you don't see them until they are clamped onto a facial extremity. And then, there is the small but fearsomely poisonous blue-ringed octopus, whose caress is instant death, and the elegant but irritable numb ray, which moves through the water like a flying carpet discharging 220 volts of electricity into anything that troubles its progress; and the loathsome, sluggish stone fish, so called because it is indistinguishable from a rock but with the difference that it has twelve spines on its back that are sharp enough to pierce the sole of a sneaker, injecting the hapless sufferer with a myotoxin bearing a molecular weight of 150,000 which translates into pains beyond description followed by muscular paralysis, respiratory depression, cardiac palpitations and a severe disinclination to boogie