Koalas and the Outback

Today we drove. A lot. We explored some regions inland, and in doing so fulfilled two of my lifelong dreams.

We drove to Kuranda which is a neat little hippie kind of town high up past a million switchbacks (which thanks to our driver, Mario Andretti, made one of our passengers lose his lunch) nestled in the mountains, full of markets with vendors selling everything from kangaroo gonads (I’m not kidding) to local honey.

In the midst is a little wildlife park with a new addition.
Koalas.

I may have cried a little when I first spotted the precious little gray guys perched in their little gum trees. “Wake up, Gorgeous!” said the girl as she woke little Lana up from her nap in the crook of the tree to come give me a hug.

Yup. I held a koala bear today, and I can’t even tell you how excited I was. She sat right in my arms like a little baby. I held her little bottom and her front feet held my shoulder and she fell back asleep. Oh my goodness. She was so soft and sweet and cuuute!! As a little tiny girl I began loving the thought of these guys and had the stuffed animals to prove it. And I think just the thought of kangaroos and koalas are what have driven me for 30+ years to visit this place.
Then Kyrsten hugged one, too and the boys got to come see and pet Lana, too.

So, then we turned the corner and petted and fed some kangaroos and wallabies, and one little girl held my hands with her front feet while she ate from my hands and the BABY IN HER POUCH wiggled in front of my eyes!! My heart gets all poundy just remembering.

Also got to see a cute little wombat…

Then we drove to a coffee (and mango and papaya and banana) plantation near Mareeba to have a fabulous cuppa joe (Skybury Coffee). And, yes, we may have made a wrong turn and it took waaayy too long to get there and my kids are still giving me a hard time about how badly I needed that cup of coffee.
But our lunch was so bad in freaky Mareeba that the adults needed something to redeem the afternoon.
Anyway, Skybury also grows tea, cocoa, sugar cane, coconuts, macadamia nuts, pineapples and other amazingness here. Lucky them. I could almost live off of those things alone for the rest of my life.

As a side note, they are also decades ahead with things like grass-fed beef, free range chickens (and eggs) and herbal treatments here. Organic food is in every petrol (gas) station! Jealous of that, too.

And every meal is served with salad. Wouldn’t that be smart, America?

From there we drove about 200 more kilometers to a place of caves. Chillagoe. The drive there fulfilled the rest of my dream as occasionally, if you looked REALLY hard you could see kangaroos and wallabies hopping around off the sides of the road.

What you didn’t have to look hard to see were the strange cows (with bunny ears) and horses just hanging around in and alongside the roads.

Once we rolled the window down and Christian looked at one and said, “Need a ride?” and that silly cow started trotting along behind our car as if he really did!

Cracked us up! We saw strange birds as big as turkey vultures, black, with parrot faces! Weird!
And the caves were a big letdown. After all that driving, we were supposed to have paid a guide to let us in past the gates that blocked off the neat places. But, surprisingly and thankfully, they did have a port-a-potty which was pretty vital (cause I am NOT hangin’ my hiney to go potty alongside the scary road with deadly snakes and scorpions and spiders) after driving for hours without seeing any signs of life at all. I take that back. The signs of life may have been a sad little ramshackle building called a convenience store after a sign with a town name and then that was it. One “petrol station” said the next place to get petrol was 560 kilometers away. Hope ya get good gas mileage!

So, in and back out of the cave and potty and back on the road (past some more kangaroos) hoping to find somewhere to eat before everything closes since most of the gas stations and grocery stores close unusually early here–some by 6:00! Drive for hours through mountain roads, back to our cozy apartment to pack up, do some laundry and get on the road in the morning to head north–into the jungle for the next several days.

Enjoyed a hot (temps averaged around 100-104 degrees here and it was humid to boot) market in town, much like our art fairs, some famous meat pies (Christian ate kangaroo) enjoyed our new favorite Aussie treat, Lamington and left Port Douglas to head north.

Just getting warmed up!

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