Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

The Best Job on Earth!!

This is the amazing place that I get to work at. Seriously, how lucky am I!

Can you spot me and my hubby? 🙂

Holding Crocodiles

This is my second post (first one here) from our adventures in the Australian outback while visiting my SIL, Deb.

Today we went with Deb’s housemate fishing in a tinny (tin boat) out on the Norman River.

The plan was to catch some fish, preferably Barramundi, and maybe spot a croc or two if we were lucky. The tide was high so we didn’t like our chances as crocs need somewhere to rest their bellies on the sand. The actual outcome was no fish biting while we were out but we saw some crocodiles – we even got to hold a wild one! Yes, a wild crocodile!

We went up a little off-shoot part of the Norman River and there on the bank was this Freshwater beauty:

As we got closer, it scooted into the murky brown water and just disappeared….eerie…..

Then just up a little further our guide found two baby crocs – a Freshwater crocodile and a Saltwater crocodile hanging out together with their mini-heads sticky out of the water.

Then our guide grabbed his net so we could have a MUCH closer look –

Once all this was over, we started back to the boat ramp and on the way I spotted a Saltwater crocodile on the edge of the bank. He had a white patch on his back, which I thought was a leaf, but as we got closer we noticed that the white patch was in fact a rather big gash in it’s side. Croc flesh is white (and yes, if you have ever tasted cooked crocodile meat it does in fact taste just like chicken).

And for a final shot – here is my very own Crocodile Dundee:

June Lunar Eclipse

16th June 2011 - Photo by hubby

The bonus of having a husband who is photography-mad is that when there is a lunar eclipse which requires you to get out of bed at 3:30am to go and take pics of, you can stay in bed to snooze and enjoy the photos when your husband returns at 6am.

This morning there was a stunning lunar eclipse display in the heavens (well, from what I could see from the photos 🙂 ). This eclipse was visible over Europe and South America after sunset, over Africa and most of Asia, and Australia before sunrise. It was the longest lunar eclipse in a decade and lasted over 2 hours.

According to Wikipedia, a lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes behind the earth so that the earth blocks the sun’s rays from striking the moon. This can occur only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are aligned exactly, or very closely so, with the Earth in the middle. Hence, a lunar eclipse can only occur the night of a full moon.

Here are hubby’s photos from this morning:

16th June 2011 - Photo by hubby

16th June 2011 - Photo by hubby

16th June 2011 - Photo by hubby

16th June 2011 - Photo by hubby

16th June 2011 - Photo by hubby

16th June 2011 - Photo by hubby

Did anyone else get up to see it?

Brisbane Day 4: Are Goodbyes Always This Hard?

Our final day in Brisbane.  My husband decided to break with tradition and get up before me to get our coffee and breakfast. We are going to miss this place.  The hotel we stayed at, iStay River City, is so perfect.  Very central, coffee shops and restaurants spotted all along the street.  Very close to the beautiful and relaxing Botanical Gardens, and then less than a minutes walk to the Queen Street Mall (which I mentioned here and here and here).  We originally planned to stay for just two nights thinking that would be enough, but we extended our stay an extra night.  So glad we did.

Here are some shots we took of our apartment before we took it over with all our stuff.

Our balcony looking towards Kangaroo Point and the Botanical Gardens.

The Living Room and Kitchen Bench.

The bedroom

The kitchen

It’s a positive thing when you leave somewhere and wish you could stay longer.  Much better than getting sick of the place and hanging out to get home.  It really was a holiday and we will definitely be back for more.

Brisbane Day 1: Lovers Lighting Lesson

For my 30th birthday my husband took me away for a few nights into the heart of beautiful Brisbane (for those subscribers who are overseas, this is in Queensland, Down Under).  He also gave me my very own DSLR and prime lens (D90 with Nikkor 24mm 2.8 for the techies) as a gift and Brissy was the perfect playground to learn all about my new toy. We spent the first night of our holiday playing silly-buggers and took way too many photos of ourselves as we played with the lighting from shop signs and fancy spot lights in the Queen Street Mall.  We got plenty of stares, but we were having a cracker of a time and it felt like we were ‘young’ again (haha!).

I learnt a fair bit about ISO, aperture and shutter speed-thinga-ma-gig, so now I can take a few pics that look pretty okay (but it takes me a few shots to get it right!).

Here are SOME of the photos we took in Queen Street Mall, just up the road from where we stayed.

Trying to be unsuccessfully secretive while a tour group are being told ghost stories on the bridge above us.

The Queen Street Mall

My dream 'Biggest Loser' outfit 😉 All the contestants seem to have one in a special glass box.

A pretty rainbow for my next lighting experiment!

While hubby is testing the camera versus the purple lights above us, I do a spot of Facebooking.

A purple light shot...and it is getting late.

We found a red light that we could use, but we were a bit over smiling now so the sillies decided to come out instead. Kirk can't seem to find any original faces poses. Ever since he has had his beard like this he is too cool to smile in photos. The beard has a be revealed in another post, at another time.

Back at the apartment after our adventures, it is movie and Turkish pizza time with a beer and a glass of wine.

Unbeloved Cane Toad

I was on Facebook reading a friend’s status which went something like this: so-and-so “dreams of a better world…where chickens can cross the road without having their motives questioned.” Then someone commented underneath with: “where cane toads are free to roam without being mistaken for being a golf ball.”

Cane Toad killing is quite a controversial topic. Australians loath these amphibians and their destructive nature on our unique Australian biodiversity. Fueling that anger is the quick spread of this species. From being introduced in Far North Queensland, to then crossing over to the Northern Territory and now popping up all over Western Australia and trickling down into New South Wales.

The great cane toad debate usually rears its head when you spot one and autopilot switches on and you go to dispose of it in front of someone who was perhaps not born in Australia and is absolutely horrified by what you are about to do (although I also know some people who are Australian-born and don’t agree with killing them either). “How could you even think about killing an animal?” I don’t like killing animals at all, but for some strange reason, cane toads feel so very different. They feel like the enemy in a battle for my beloved Australia. A battle we seem to be losing!

Multiplying like rabbits....I mean cane toads!

Australia is a continent with no native toad species. Other countries have toads that are harmless and therefore people from overseas can not see why Australians get so fired up over a toad sighting…and don’t get me started on their reaction to Toad Day Out. It could be a cultural thing, or an animal rights thing, or an educational thing, or even a reason to just disagree with others thing. Feel free to comment with your opinion. I’m interested and I know some of my subscribers would be as well. It is always helpful to get an understanding of other people’s viewpoints on something so controversial.

I admit I have always been pro-cane toad eradication. I remember watching a film in high school during Science class about the massive outbreak of cane toads in Northern Queensland (I think this was before we dissected one….probably so we wouldn’t feel so bad?). I can vividly recall the footage of a man driving his jeep down a road COMPLETELY covered with cane toads….and he was doing his very best to swerve and skid across the entire road to squash as many as he could in his path. He was so angry about the outbreak. It was actually quite glorious once we understood the facts concerning cane toads and I could think of a few great backing tracks for that clip (Chariots of Fire anyone?).

Here are some fair-dinkum reasons why most Aussies hate canies –

In the early years (up to the 1960’s or so), the toad invasion front advanced fairly slowly – about 10 km each year. But then it began to speed up, and has kept accelerating. The front now moves at about 40 to 60 km per year, and our radio-tracking shows that this is because individual toads at the front travel long distances (sometimes more than a kilometre) each night – and do so every night. This is an incredible rate for an amphibian: cane toads at the Aussie invasion front travel much much faster and further than any other frogs or toads that have been studied elsewhere in the world.

1. 101 cane toads were deliberately introduced in 1935 from Hawaii to help get rid of the Cane Beetle, which was eating our QLD sugar cane. They had huge success in Hawaii with the cane toad as a form of cane beetle control, so thought they would try it over here. Unfortunately it didn’t work and the cane toad has become Australia’s most invasive species which occupies over 500,000km2 of Australia with 2,000 toads per hectare.

2. Cane Toads are extremely poisonous. Our natural fauna become very sick and die when they come in contact with the poison and pets can also die if they tamper with the toad. People have also died (not in Australia) when they have eaten the cane toad or made it into a stew. Some Australians have gotten very sick when they have gotten the poison into their system. When Cane Toads are threatened, they release a toxin (bufotoxin) from the glands behind the eyes and across their back. All stages of the Cane Toad’s life-cycle are poisonous, including the tadpole stage. This means that Cane Toads may negatively impact a wide diversity of wildlife. While it has been very difficult to quantify the losses to native animals as a result of Cane Toad invasion, evidence suggests that Northern Quolls, goannas, frogs, snakes, fish, Freshwater Crocodiles and egrets are particularly affected by the invasion. The Cane Toad has been nominated for listing as a key threatening process under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

3. They eat our native frogs, tadpoles and frog eggs, wiping out some species. They also eat major amounts of honey bees (if you have seen the Bee Movie, you would know what can happen when we get rid of bees).

4. They multiply and spread like there is not tomorrow. Female cane toads can lay up to 35,000 eggs in one go, so the ones that are eliminated are replaced very quickly, plus a few more thousand. That is why a lot of people focus on getting rid of the eggs.

5. Because there are so many cane toads covering the northern half of Australia (at the moment), our native animals, reptiles and insects have to compete with them when finding food.

So, what can you do to help minimise the impact of Cane Toads in Australia?

Before you go out and buy your golf club or begin to cane proof your home, you must educate yourself on the difference between an actual cane toad and a native frog (some frogs look like cane toads and are endangered).

The easiest way to identify a cane toad is by its size. Cane toads are much larger than frogs and are one of the largest toads in the world. If the cane toad is large enough, you can see its poisonous shoulder glands and warty skin. It is a bit harder to tell the difference though if the frog or toad is small and young. Even scientists and biologists can sometimes have trouble telling the two apart. The best idea is to search pictures on the Internet.

Young Cane Toad

Old Cane Toad

Native Australian Frogs

My husbands opinion: ‘you can’t be passive about this. There is no opting out. If you decide not to kill cane toads, you have chosen instead to contribute to the destruction of Australia’s unique and native wildlife.’