We got into Australia on Saturday afternoon after leaving the States on Thursday evening. After relaxing and walking around Cairns a little bit, we decided that the best way to make the most with our remaining day in Cairns would be to book an excursion. We ended up going with the Wait-a-While Rainforest Spotlighting Tour because I wanted to see some Australian animals in their natural habitats as opposed to going to a zoo to hold a koala (as tempting and adorable as that would have been). There were only two others on our tour besides me, Kevin, and the tour guide which was pretty awesome.
The tour didn’t start until around 1pm because 80% of animals in Australia are nocturnal or more active at night.We saw a lot of cool things:two different kinds of kangaroos–one land, one tree kangaroo, lizards, a cane toad that can make you high if you lick it, fox bats, tons of cool trees and plants, glowing mushrooms (total Avatar-like stuff), and we searched for the elusive platypus in the river. I learned a lot of cool things about the animals too. One cool thing I learned about the kangaroo is that the Joey stays in their pouch for about 9 months. The female can still get pregnant during that time but she can actually pause the pregnancy/development of the fetus until the Joey is old enough. How crazy!
Searching for the platypus was one of my favorite things. We walked down the river with our eyes fixed on the river. Did you know that a platypus is only about the size of a large rat? I thought they were much larger. They also have to breath air every 45 seconds, so even though the river was murky with all the rainfall, we tried finding them by looking on the surface for bubbles. Just when we were about to give up and there were only minutes left of daylight, I spotted not one but two. We all ran down the river slipping and sliding on the muddy trail to follow the little guys for a while longer. Even though I destroyed my shoes, it was totally worth it. I now understand why they call platypi elusive little creatures. My second favorite part of the trip was the night tour portion. You can’t see a thing in the rainforest other than the stars over the tall branchy trees. Our guide had a special light on that catches the glare of animals eyes. That way he was able to shine his spotlight and show us some animals like different kinds of opossums. During the night tour we also saw some glow in the dark mushrooms. We got to see where James Cameron got the inspiration for the film Avatar.
Besides the animals, the plants and trees were unlike anything I’ve seen…probably because I’ve never been in a rainforest, but still. The Wait-a-While Tour company we went with is actually named after a vine that is covered in prickles that can wrap around things and makes it difficult to get out, and we saw a few of those throughout the day. We also saw some really thick vines like the ones Tarzan swings from in the movie. I thought the coolest tree was the Curtain Fig Tree. The figsgerminate on top of another tree and try to grow roots into the ground. The fig then grows vigorously and eventually kills the host tree. Its curtain of aerial roots drops around 49feet to the ground!
Kev and I had a great time on the tour and got to see almost all of the animals the guide told us we might see. Onething that we couldn’t control was the rain. We didn’t care about getting a little wet, what we weren’t anticipating were the little leaches that would cling to our ankles during our afternoon hike through the rainforest. I guess it was only a small price to pay for an amazingly fun day.]]>