Monday, May 28, 2007

Critters in the Wild

A week ago Sunday, we drove about two hours south to Lamington National Park, a subtropical rain forest on the escarpment that acts as the divide between Queensland and New South Wales.

Our first day it rained. What more might one expect from the rain forest? We camped out in our room, shared all kinds of stories, took naps, played sudoku, read, and what else? ate! The meals were scrumptous and well presented. A fine Australian merlot added just the right accent to our evening meal.

Is this beginning to sound like a bad ad? Well, it was a lovely respite from life in the city.

The coup de grace of the entire three days, however, occurred on our 9 mile tramp through the beech forest of the upper elevations of the park. As we rounded a long slow uphill curve, there in the midst of one long ray of sunlight lay a meter long red bellied black snake.

Doesn't mean much to my American readers, I know, so let me add a little more information about this beautiful creature. First of all, he was as broad around as my wrist. Second of all, his haemotoxic poison would kill any one of us unless we were able to find help almost immediately...and that is hardly likely along the rain forest tracks where motorized vehicles find it very difficult to travel.

We stood about two meters away watching the sleeping snake and talking quietly about how large and lovely he was. Of course, we were both thinking, ' deadly'. By some transmission of energy, the snake slowly slipped off into the underbrush and we, we gingerly moved up the trail with silent thanks for his hospitality.

Later, on the return portion of the circuit, we were once again blessed. This time with a pair of lyre birds..the critters whose male partner has a lyre shaped filigree tail..off in the bush above the track the two were scratching among the debris of the ancient forest.

Two discoveries in one trip and that is enough to take us back later in the winter to see whom else we might encounter among the patemelons, Lamington crays, the ever present leeches along with the bromedliads, the wait-a-while vines, the stinging trees, the hoop pine, the satinwoods, and the various and sundry 89 species of eucalyptus trees .

Yeah..abundance is the right word..and thankfulness the right attitude!