Monday, October 24, 2016

Koala sits in an old gum tree - Alrica

We arrived onto our fifth continent last week at the start of a three-day rain storm. We are housesitting for a friend at their lovely home in Sale, Australia and after five weeks with spotty internet in Vietnam, three days was just about right to get caught up on our research projects, homeschool, and just bond with our friend’s dog and relax. Monday morning arrived with sunshine and blue skies and it was time to explore. We headed about an hour and a half east to a place called Raymond Island with the hopes of our first marsupial sighting. We weren’t disappointed.

Syarra with our new friend Pepsi!
The drive out was lovely and it was really fun to get back in a car after many months of public transportation. There is just a different level of freedom. And the road was quiet and peaceful which was a nice change from the constant noise and congestion in streets in Southeast Asia. Arriving into the quiet town of Paynesville, we followed the signs to the ferry landing where we parked the car and walked over to the ferry. We have done ferries before but this one was a bit different. For one thing, it only travels about 200 meters or 660 feet. This ferry is also a chain ferry meaning that it uses a chain as a guide to get it from one landing to another. Also, we didn’t actually recognize it as a ferry at first. It seemed to be just an extension of road since it was there when we got there. Cars just pulled onto it and parked and then waited until it crossed before pulling off. There was a small waiting room for pedestrians on the side and we liked that pedestrians were free.  We sat and enjoyed the cool air and the clean waters with birds swooping in to catch fish. Ten minutes later, we disembarked.
Ferry coming in to dock.
Prices are perfect if you are willing to walk.
Pedestrian waiting room.

Raymond Island is known for koala bears that were introduced/cultivated in 1953. The island is well covered with eucalyptus trees, otherwise known as gum trees, and hiding amidst this flora are around 600 koala bears. We saw our first one within moments of stepping off the ferry. It was way up in the tree tops so we didn’t get a great view. The kids had already made a beeline for the park across the street. We joined them and were excited to see this one:
This guy was just a few feet away from us.
We played Where's Waldo to find this guy in the upper right corner.

After watching this guy for a while, we walked over to a picnic table and got out the sandwiches that we had brought along. Several birds hopped nearby looking for a handout but were disappointed. After finishing her lunch, Syarra went back to the playground equipment and called to us that our koala friend was now down out of the tree and crossing the street. We put our food down to see the koala walking bowlegged across the street. With our backs turned for just a moment, one of the magpies grabbed hold of Carver’s sandwich and tried to fly off. The sandwich weighed almost as much as the bird did and with both kids chasing it, it was bound to lose. It dropped the food and hopped away. Carver grabbed the sandwich but was disappointed to find that it was no longer edible. Well, lesson learned, don’t turn your back on these tricky birds.
He's the thief!
We put on jackets to ward off the cool weather and the mosquitos and followed the Koala Trail which lead us around the island. We saw several koalas, lots of gorgeous birds including eastern parrots and lorikeets - and even a few kookaburras, and several locals who were delightful to chat with. I have no doubt that we will do more of this kind of exploration while in Australia, but this was an ideal first outing. Stay tuned for more!
Hard to take a picture of these lorikeets but the colors were amazing!

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