World weather.

Saturday 10th December, AUSTRALIA ZOO, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Crikey! This little beauty's got me by the leg!


Well, I wonder if you can guess where these photos were taken? No? Well, we spent today at Australia Zoo, home of the one and only Steve Irwin a.k.a The Crocodile Hunter. Australia Zoo is just north of Brisbane, and I must have driven past there a hundred times over the years, always wishing for an excuse to go in, an excuse such as a Spanish girlfriend, perhaps.

Terry forgave me for the damage to his car, grovelling not even necessary. He drove Maria and I across to Albion to pick up our bright yellow Hyundai rental car from Ace Car Rentals, just next to one of Brisbane's most famous landmarks, the Breakfast Creek Hotel. A couple of signatures later, the boys at Ace tossed me the car keys and a street directory, and Maria and I were northbound to the beautiful Glasshouse Mountains.

It's along the scenic Glasshouse Mountains Tourist Drive that Steve Irwin has built his father's once modest wildlife park into the world famous Australia Zoo, a massive sprawling complex of wetlands, forests and gardens. Australia Zoo is most famous for snakes and crocodiles (and for its eccentric owner), but we were impressed to find a whole range of native Australian wildlife, from Tasmanian Devils to cuddly koalas and everything in between. They even have some exotic animals like elephants and tigers.

After wandering the grounds for a while, and patting wombats, koalas and kangaroos, Maria and I grabbed two good seats in the new crocusseum for the 11:00 show. The show was quite a spectacle, consisting of four half hour segments. The first was a snake display; a guy talking about snakes while his mate swam around with a huge python. Next came the tigers, wrestling with their handlers and jumping for pieces of meat. After the tigers, a bird display was the next act, and I expected it to be a bit of a dull routine sandwiched between the more exciting tigers and the grand finale, the crocodiles. But I was stunned. Two giant brightly coloured South American macaws were released into the open air stadium and flew from side to side just centimetres above our heads, to receive treats from their handlers, who roamed around through the mesmerized (nervous) crowd. The macaws were joined by a pair of Major Mitchell parrots and a group of fast moving Rainbow Lorikeets. After that exhibit, the crocodiles would almost be an anticlimax. Well, no. Not really. When you hear the sound of a three-thousand-pounds-per-square-inch pair of crocodile jaws snap shut, you kind of forget everything else.

We had hoped that the charismatic Mr Irwin would be onsite hand feeding his one tonne babies, but it was not to be. He's a busy man these days, I suppose, what with a television series to make, and appearances on Oprah. Nevertheless, there was another croc feeding display in the afternoon and this time it was Acco, the park's largest beast. The rechargeable batteries in my camera had gone flat (Maria's camera died just a few days before we left Spain!) but I reckoned I already had enough photos for one day. Just then, I looked across a fence and what did I see? Steve Irwin hand feeding a croc for the private and personal viewing pleasure of his mate Russell Crowe. Crikey! What a time to have no batteries!

If you have a look at the photo below, you'll see that it shows how far an adult Red Kangaroo can jump at full speed. From where I am standing in the right hand side of the pic to where I am standing in the left hand side is twelve metres. A good roo can cover this distance in a single bound, so to speak, and would jump so high that in mid leap, only his feet would be visible in the top of this photograph. How about one more "Crikey!" for the mighty kangaroo.

P.S. News from the taxi company is that they will not contest the responsibility for the accident. Their insurance will pay all costs, and neither Terry or I will be out of pocket. It's just a pain that Terry now has to waste his time having the car repaired. I bet he won't bother having it fixed until I am safely out of the country!

The day at the zoo has been amazing. I have seen animals I had never seen in my life before. If I had to choose one I think it would be the koalas, what a beautiful and peaceful creature. If I could choose what I would like to be in my next life I would definitely be a koala. Did you know they spend up to 19 hours a day sleeping? Bugger!!!.