Crikey! A bonza day at the zoo...

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December 13th 2011
Published: December 15th 2011
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It transpires that one of the girls in my room got the wrong day for her trip to Fraser Island. She woke up (the dorm) at 5.30am and was a day too early for her trip, so is now going to Australia Zoo for the day. So is Anna, another girl in my dorm. And so am I - although I'm the only one with the car, I'm driving one way and then onwards to Brisbane, so the girls will be getting the coach. Still it will be nice to have company on the way round the zoo.

I'm really excited to go - last time, it was cagoule weather (and I didn't own one). Today is glorious sunshine - can't wait to see what the zoo looks like when you're not having to scuttle around under cover, slipping and sliding as your flipflops have the grip levels in water of walking on sheet ice.

The drive to Steve Irwin Way (yes, the Zoo is really located on the road named after the place's legendary father figure) is short, so I'm there at 9.30, sunscreened up to the max. The girls arrived on a coach shortly after, with another girl, Laura, in tow. Transpires we're all similar ages although the girls look much younger. Maybe it's the Australian air that's making us look 10 years younger? Certainly not the sun, which is doing its level best to fry us like sausages in a pan.

We watched the tortoise feeding, fed the elephants (the photo tends to indicate that I'm a little scared of Samu's sloppy trunk heading towards the carrots in my hand), watched the croc show (less spectacular than last time, although the warm-up act - tons of birds doing a choreographed fly by inches from my face - scared the living hell out of me), and saw the new area of the zoo which is themed on Africa. It's an amazing place - so much space for the animals, and truly based on conservation and conservation messages rather than human entertainment. I loved it.

At 4pm it was time to stock up on Bindi Irwin DVDs for my nephew, and then hit the road to Brisbane. Looks like there are a few toll roads on the way yet I didn't see any evidence of them. Worrying. Mum, if you get some dodgy looking letters arriving at home for me, they're probably the fine letters.

At the hostel, and the first person I see is Emma, my friend that I met last at Monkey Mia in Western Australia. Really lovely to see her again - we cracked open a bottle of red wine (much to her disgust, she still managed to polish off half the bottle), caught up and made plans for Christmas and New Year. We've arranged to go to the Field Day festival for New Year's Day which I'm really looking forward to. Also we'll now travel together for the next week to Surfers Paradise, Byron Bay and then overnight to Sydney on the Greyhound bus as I'm bored to pieces of driving. I'll hire a car in Sydney for a couple of day trips but that's it. This also means that I'll be missing out stops that I wanted to visit on the way, like Coffs Harbour, however I've worked out that the only reason I want to go back there is to try to correct some of the unhappy memories I have of the place from last time. These things are better left in the past I've decided - life's moved on, I've moved on, and I'm in a much happier place this time around than I was then. Long may that continue!

The weirdest thing about today however is that it turns out that Emma (Monkey Mia friend) spent the days before my Australia Zoo trip on Fraser Island with Laura (friend from the Zoo). It's a small world, this travelling lark....

A final thought for the day - today is the second anniversary of my Grandad's death. I know he'd be proud, if worried sick, about my travels, wondering at the marvels of Skype, the bravery of his eldest grandchild driving such a ridiculous distance and wanting to hear all about the people I've met and the stories I've heard along the way. I spent such a long time just getting on with my job and the mundane day to day life that I just wish he could see what I'm getting up to these days. From marathon running to snorkelling the great barrier reef - I'm sure he's watching somewhere, at least I hope so. Love you Grandad - although you might want to close those eyes if I decide to go ahead with the 14,000ft skydive I've been looking at....x


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