While staying in the City of Gold Coast near Brisbane (pronounced Briz’-bun) we went on our first Australian outback safari. But first we need to explore the City of Gold Coast itself.
Gold Coast, Australia
Gold Coast is not a region of Australia, but a modern city. All of the buildings seemed new. Numerous large cranes were visible indicating more are under construction. If this were the USA I would lean toward saying they are in the overbuilding stage of the cycle, but I have no idea of the economics of Australia.
We would have much preferred an ocean view from our rental unit, but instead got this inland waterway view. Every building was of a modern design and recently constructed.
Birds of the Gold Coast
We were greeted some mornings by birds which seemed as if they belonged in an amusement park like Bush Gardens in Tampa, Florida. That is the last place I saw these types of birds flying around. What kind of a country has flocks of such colorful birds flying around town? They did not seem too interested in my offering of high fiber cereal. Generally, they would make a brief visit to our balcony glass, squawk a bit and fly away before I could get my camera gear ready.
Not all of the birds were as beautiful as these parrots. It was a startling experience to be eating at an outdoor cafe and have a large ibis skid to a landing on the tabletop next to you, looking for food. This happens so regularly, it was the job of the restaurant employees to grab a squirt bottle and shoo the birds away. The birds returned as quickly as the employee left. The pesky ibis is also called the ‘bin bird’ or ‘tip rat’ as they root through trash bins and probe for food with their long beak.
Meter Maids of the Gold Coast
Although I saw not a single surfer, this area of the beach is known as Surfers Paradise.
However, what I did see were some of the nicest and most outwardly friendly meter maids you can imagine. Their sparkling bright matching uniforms fit right into the beach theme of the city, don’t you think? In order to not be confused with the average tourists in high heels going for a swim, they each wear a large blue and gold sash clearly stating they are meter maids. Surprisingly, they carry a small change purse in their bikini bottoms and feed the expired parking meters. What a friendly city this Gold Coast is! Unfortunately these hardworking ladies seem to only work the late night shift, so you still might get a ticket in the daylight hours. While this may seem like a bad idea financially for the city, the funds to feed the meters apparently are donated from photographer tourists such as myself. After our all-too-brief photo session, they requested $5. I only had a $10, which they gladly accepted. I think everyone reading this should give some thought to starting this service in their town. What town wouldn’t welcome such hardworking women, diligently patrolling the parking meters of the bar scene late at night? If it is daytime in the States as you read this, these ladies are probably still working the streets late at night in Australia at this very moment.
The Australian Outback Safari
Kangaroo meat can be found on the menus of many Australian restaurants, so it is not surprising that they have developed into very cagey and elusive animals (of course I tried it, three times). We were searching for them in a specially outfitted and quiet electric buggy, just big enough for four people. After taking a train from the City of Gold Coast we were picked up by Reid, our local guide, and driven further into the Australian outback. Again I was struck by the fact that every bird, plant and tree seen today would be new to me. What mysteries await on this adventure?
After some searching we finally spied our first roos in the distance. We were lucky that they had not initially heard or seen us, so I got a nice photo of them relaxing but on high alert.
Suddenly they sensed our presence and became anxious, scanning the horizon for danger. If not for my large telephoto lens and motor drive, I would never have captured photos of these elusive creatures.
Then in a flash they were gone. Our next approach would have to be much more stealthy.
Our guide said we would be extremely fortunate to see any more roos that day. However, luck was indeed on our side. Not only did we see more kangaroos, but spied a mom with a baby’s head sticking out of her pouch, or a jill with a joey. Normally just the legs are visible. But notice the worried, anxious look of this mother.
She quickly called in the rest of the troop for protection and we were told we should back off. The males are called bucks, boomers, jacks, or simply old men. The fearsome roos can rear up on their tails and deliver severe blows with their hind legs and long sharp toes to the pesky photographing tourist who ventures too close.
I’m wondering if I would sound like a local if I tell the bartender “Crikey mate! I just spied a troop of roos over the hill. There is a jill with a joey guarded by a couple of boomers.” Um, probably not.
We gently pursued this troop of roos from a distance. But we must have lost all track of time as we seem to have chased them into a populated neighborhood and a golf course… and a yacht club.
Hummm, turns out these kangaroos are actually quite friendly, once they get to know you.
In fact one seemed to be just as interested in me and my iPhone as I was in him.
Living the Dream
After a long, hot day in the outback it was great to share a local beer or two with our guide Reid. We were college roommates at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. It was a fun, relaxing day recalling old experiences and catching up on events of the last 40 years.
It would seem to be quite an idyllic life, living on a golf course, warm weather, the laid back Aussie attitude. The ability to hop in your own golf cart and drive to town is a relaxed lifestyle everyone would enjoy. Thank you Reid and Mary for the hospitality and we hope you continue to have a great retirement.