Thursday, June 18, 2009

Leeches cross borders - Lamington National Park

'One and all, we got horribly infested with leeches, having a frill of them round our necks like astra-chan collars, and our hands covered with them' Mary Kingsley.

During my first stroll in the Australian rain forest of southern Queensland on a New Year's Day, my friend and I stop for lunch at the Southern Ramparts, a high spot on the Lamington Track where one can look south over the caldera of Mt. Warning. While I gaze over farmlands, sugar cane plantations, and gum tree forests through which wend the Clarence and Tweed Rivers, Rosellas, King Parrots, and Lorikeets fill the air with colour and screeches.

The scene, framed by low lying coastal clouds meeting the blues of the Pacific Ocean, is softly front lit by the sun above the rain forest canopy.

Graham suddenly insists, 'Stand up.'

Looking in his direction, I do as I am told, a bit perplexed about why he would want me on my feet.

He strides over, turns me around, and plucks two black pencil-lead leeches, wiggling fellows, off my shoulders. Dangling from the palm fronds overhanging my bench were several black devils, waiting for some unsuspecting tourist to stop. Dinner for a month.

They may be only two centimetres long as they begin their attack, but they have the ability to attach and grow to nine centimetres, full on human blood syringes.

Eeeyuuu! Thanks, Graham, for rescuing me from the wiggles.