The main thing I wanted to see were animals. Koalas, kangaroos, mostly. Although Columbia, SC's (not inconsiderable) zoo has koalas, I wanted to see them in Australia.
There's direct flight from Guam to Cairns, Queensland twice a week. After the job in Guam was finished up, I hung out with my coworker for a few days, hiking, snorkeling, sightseeing. Then I headed south. First to Cairns, where it was bloody hot and humid. I went walking along the beach park where the wind was coming off the Coral Sea, but it was a hot wind and a humid one! No one was swimming -- maybe cos of the jellyfish. They had a little seashell sculpture and a skate park there.
From there, I headed south to Townsville, another coastal city.
"That place is too pretty to have a name like 'Townsville,'" said my girlfriend when I showed her the photos.
Went as far south as the town of Charters Towers -- about 20 degrees south -- a record for me! Whoo-hoo!
Charters Towers is somewhat inland -- it wasn't humid, but it was just as hot. On my way out, I saw lots of warning signs for kangaroo crossing -- and I saw a couple of kangaroo roadkills! But no live kangaroos.
Went to a museum in the town that was pretty nice -- they had a mechanical kangaroo:
Apparently manufactured to spin off an Australian kid's TV show Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. A kangaroo who could, among other things, play the piano. Or so the DVD description says online, I've never seen the show.
Anyway, I took a walk around the town, walked up to the overlook:
At the top, I talked with a couple, in their 50's or 60's, I guess. He was Australian, she was too, but having immigrated from New Zealand. The man talked about going to see his brother in Ohio once a year or so. I mentioned Cleveland and he said that he'd been there, that it had the highest percentage of aboriginals in the U.S. I had to kind of think about that -- I first assumed he'd meant American Indians, but I hadn't really thought of Cleveland being full of Indians (despite the baseball team). He then corrected himself and said "blacks." I dunno, maybe Cleveland is top in Ohio, but not the US. According to Wikipedia, Detroit kicks Cleveland's ass in that regard.
Anyway, the guy and his wife in Chartwell Towers gave me a ride back in to town. I had lunch and headed back to Townsville.
I only spent two nights in Townsville, the other five in Cairns. On the way back to Cairns, stopped in Gordonvale to see their cane toad park.
Australians have a tough time with cane toads. They were brought in deliberately to control some beetle that had been eating crops. According to a documentary I saw on TV in Townsville, the cane toads ate just about everything except the beetle.
So around Cairns, there's a nice museum westward on the "tablelands" -- which are good farmlands. The museum could have been just a farm junk museum, except that some sculptor had made some pretty nice stuff out of the junk. First, some aboriginals:
then some cows:
The mechanical equipment was fairly interesting, but the sculpture really made the museum special.
This is from another farm museum actually in Atherton:
The area used to have a thriving tobacco-growing business, but that went under in the early 1970's.
After driving driving driving, I finally gave up and went to the zoo.
Finally saw my kangaroos. And other stuff a wombat, a red panda, a kukaburo, a cassowary, and of course, koalas.