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July 17th 2010
Published: July 17th 2010
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Me petting a kangaroo named Bob.
Hello, all! I'm sorry it took me so long to post anything, but some of you got a sneak peek on facebook. And for those of you who didn't, I don't really have an excuse, except that AustraLearn and La Trobe have kept me pretty busy. It's been a crazy but fabulous couple of weeks, and I have now officially spent more time in Australia than any other place outside the U.S. So there you go--some trivia about my worldly travels.

But what you're probably more interested in is what I've been up to, and whether I've gotten killed by any of the numerous poisonous plants or animals that populate this fine country. The second question is easier, so I'll address it first: no, I am not a literal ghost writer. The only injury I've sustained was actually on the La Trobe welcome cruise last night when I got hit in the head by one of the boat's doors falling right off its frame, probably from someone bumping into it too hard. (It was the second time this happened, so I think that boat needs to invest in some better doors.) But my head feels fine, so no worries.

Proof that birds and dinosaurs are related--the cassowary.

Anyway, on a cheerier note, AustraLearn's orientation week in Cairns was amazing. I learned how to play cricket, which was actually really fun, despite the fact that it resembles baseball in a lot of ways. I won't hold that against it. I also got up close and personal with a lot of iconic Aussie animals at Rainforestation. This included being creeped out by a spider several inches long, holding an adorable little koala named Pavlova (named after the yummy dessert), petting some kangaroos, not licking a green ant's bum (though other people did), and learning that there is actually a bird that makes turkeys look normal. (The cassowary seriously looks like it's part dinosaur, and sounds like it too.) There were also some dingoes, a 5 meter long croc named Jack the Ripper (evidently he killed all 12 of his girlfriends, what a great guy), and a talking cockatoo. Oh, and something I love about kangaroos? If you scratch them under the chin, they react just like my chinchilla does and tilt their head back so you can scratch them more easily. It's so cute! Of course, you're only supposed to try that with the females, because the males take

Part of the Aboriginal dance performance.
that to mean you want a fight. I don't have that much confidence in my karate skills, so I took the guide's word for it.

Rainforestation also included an "Aboriginal Walk" during which a native guide taught us how to throw a boomerang. I'm not bad, though I didn't get it to come all the way back. We also got a demonstration of spear throwing, though they didn't let us try our hand at that one. (Wonder why.) I also learned that you can make a ton of different sounds on a didgeridoo, from droning to boing-boing sounds to imitating the sound of a kookaburra and actually saying the word "didgeridoo." I also learned that I find the taste of Vegemite disgusting, which was a less welcome revelation. It's edible as long as you use barely any, but I'll be quite content if I never taste it again. (And I'm not alone. There was a Vegemite eating contest today, and there was only a winner because all the contestants except one decided it wasn't worth it and sat back down.)

I don't want to talk your ears off (or your eyes out, I suppose, seeing as you're reading this) so I'll wrap up for today. Plus I'm going to watch The Princess Bride later this evening with one of the girls from AustraLearn and a girl from Korea who we met here. So I hope this has been entertaining. I don't know how much detail to include, cuz I don't want to bore you, but there's so much I could talk about! I still didn't even mention Sydney or the Great Barrier Reef, so those will have to be for next time.

Till then, I shall say an un-Australian adios.


17th July 2010

Keep it coming
We enjoyed reading your account. It brought back memories of our trip in 1995. We hope you find Australia as friendly as we did.

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