Darwin's Turtle Lives 9th Life in Queensland, Australia

Wednesday, October 30, 2002
Well, after only a year since I last visited Australia, I don’t know how I did it, but I forgot about the Tim Tam and the electric tea pot. They go together – you can bite the corners off a Tim Tam and suck the tea right through it. It’s the best! Maybe if I can’t find work when I go back home I can try importing these two things. Americans are missing out!!

Visited the National Museum of Erotica in Canberra... we had to go to a government sponsored museum like that! It turned out to be more of a little shop rather than a large government museum, but it was fun hyping it up. I also saw my first dead kangaroo alongside the road on our way to Orange. Kangaroos come out at dawn and dusk and are sometimes they are hard to see. They can be really big, so watch out for them on the road, I tell you.

Also on the way to Orange (for Carla’s birthday!) we saw a short hologram film for the Japanese Memorial. I learned a little history about the area and saw a really bizarre hologram film. There was this mini stage (puppet show size) and a mini girl hologram telling the story. It was very intriguing – and Liam’s favorite thing to do when he drives through this little town.

Are purple M&Ms the new thing at home too?? I was craving M&Ms last week when I saw the color purple on the package. Apparently the whole world came to a consensus on this new color? Where was I? The package I bought had ONLY purple ones inside. It was like an early pastel Easter.

We spent Carla’s 29th birthday in Orange visiting one of her old friends Debby and her husband Mike. We had a great time celebrating – having dinner, meeting their friends, and frequenting the local bar scene. We also discovered the “lock down”. Bars close at 2 or 3am, but you must be inside the bar before 12:30am when they lock the doors. So the bar remains open, but they won’t let anyone in after 12:30. And, as we discovered, 12:31 really is past 12:30, and they won’t let you in!

At the Australia Zoo in Brisbane we saw the Geriatric Ward for the Koalas. Well, they don’t really call it that, but that’s really what it was. In the wild koalas live to be 8 to 10 years old, but in captivity they can live to be as old as their early twenties. The oldest koala lived to be 24 and I met one that was 23! When they get to be older than 10ish though, their teeth start to dull and fall out and they have a hard time eating the eucalyptus leaves, which is mainly all they eat. I found out all this stuff because the zookeeper was feeding the geriatrics with a little bottle and putting ointment onto their little paws.

Also at the Australia Zoo I saw the oldest living creature. Her name is Harriet and she turned 172 last year! She hails from the Galapagos Islands and it was this very tortoise that Darwin used to come up with his theory of evolution. Eventually, he got bored of the poor little guy though, and he sold it to a boat that was bound for Australia. Tortoises were often brought onto ships embarking onto long voyages because they provide lots of fresh meat without having to refrigerate anything at all. Harriet lucked out: the passengers on board her ship never ate her and she arrived at the Brisbane Botanical Gardens where she roamed about until they also got sick of her! She continued to eat all the plants and ruined the gardens, so they gave her to the Australia Zoo in 1970 where she now has her happy home.

The Australia Zoo is, by the way, Steve Irwin’s Zoo. You know, that kooky crocodile guy from TV?? I think he even has a movie coming out right about now, too. At the Zoo we watched two crocodile shows – they egg on the crocs and feed them while all us tourists ogle at them. It was great! Highly recommended if you are in the neighborhood.

We have been staying with Liam and Ann in Sandgate, near Brisbane. They are the parents of Carla’s lifelong pen pal, Sarah. They have taken us everywhere! They had a BBQ for Carla last night (where she had her third birthday cake) and today they drove us all over the Gold Coast where we introduced them to a few friends we met in India… that happen to live in the Gold Coast. It was a great lunch and a great reunion! Thanks to all the Kearns family - Liam, Ann, Sarah, Sean, Kate and Ross!

Love from Sandgate (Home of the Penpal),


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