Friday, 8 May 2009

Rain, Cassowaries, big spiders and more rain

I went to Cassowary House for three days, which was quite nice and I am now back in Cairns. I havent got any lists to hand, as I'm in a dingy city-centre internet cafe and everything is back at the hostel I'm staying at (Castaways in Sheridan Street - a dear little place, highly recommended). I'm in Cairns for another week before flying to Sydney.

I did manage to - easily - see the Southern Cassowaries, both the male and the much larger female (she's a big bird, standing head high to me, and I am not short) plus Victoria's Riflebird, Helmeted Friarbird, Red-necked Crake, Macleay's Honeyeater, Spotted Catbird (makes a sound like a catfight), and others which I can't remember off the top of my head.
I had two geckos in my room, a little one which lived on the ceiling and a much larger, foot long one, which lived behind the fridge. Unfortunately I didn't see much of the bigger one, he preferred to remain mostly out of sight. I had the misfortune to be visited by a large black huntsman spider the first night, it took me ages to gather the courage to evict it, using a large glass. It wasn't a big one, as hunstmen go, but at three inches across, plenty (too) big for me. It was duly turfed out.

Went for a walk down Black Mountain Road (dropped off 3km up the road from Cassowary House) and walked back. Unfortunately the heavens opened and I got both soaking wet, then boiled when the sun came out, and plastered in mud. I saw very little and was not happy when I got back. The sole addition to the list was a Barred Cuckoo-shrike.

I don't know if this is the tail-end of the Wet season or not, but Queensland isn't living up to its Sunshine State tag - it's done nothing but chuck it down for days.

I have been stung for $164 to change my Qantas ticket. Austravel told me that it would be GBP50 (why can't foreign keyboards have a pound sign on them? Ours in the UK have $ signs and even, in some cases, Euro signs!) or $100 to change the ticket but what they didn't say was that Qantas would relieve me of another $64 for the privilege. The reason I changed my ticket is that I am burning through dosh quicker than if I'd chucked it on a fire. I knew Australia had got more expensive since my visit in 1997, but what I didn't realise was just HOW expensive - I bought some groceries the other day, just a few items, and it came to an outrageous $23. In some cases it's even worse than rip-off Britain - and the Aussies are rightly complaining.
So, I am leaving Australia on 26th May instead of 12th June. However, because of Thailand's visa rules my flight to London  has also had to be brought forward so, unless I can be bothered to change it again, I'll probably be going home a couple of weeks early. No bad thing, as I want some money left to get my car back on the road (needs MOT) to look for a job - what jobs are left after the latest round of redundancies, the Isle of Wight has had a real hammering recently, I'm told.

[caption id="attachment_157" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Southern Cassowary"]Southern Cassowary[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_158" align="alignnone" width="479" caption="Male Victoria's Riflebird - my first ever Bird of Paradise"]Male Victoria's Riflebird - my first ever Bird of Paradise[/caption]

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