“Holy Cow Batman!” Yesterday February 29, 2020 was Sadie Hawkins Day and today March 1, 2020 is the 15th anniversary of the founding of World Friendship Day by Friendship Force International. Let the celebrating begin! The theme of this year’s celebration of World Friendship Day is “Make a friend and make a difference.” Making friends around the world is something each individual can do and collectively we can head off wars of both words and destruction, what a novel idea that it’s hard to fight and kill our friends. Sadie Hawkins is a reference to a character by the same name in the popular Li’l Abner comic strip. It was a day when unmarried women could pursue and marry bachelors. While a date was never specified in the comic, popular culture adopted the leap year date of February 29 as Sadie Hawkins Day when girls would ask boys to out on dates and school dances. Being an old guy, I don’t know if this is even a thing any more, maybe just an interesting memory from my youth.
Now on to the fourth installment of my adventures in the Tweed Valley, New South Wales, Australia. This week we’ll makes stops at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, the Tugen Life Saving Club, Point Danger, the Natural Bridge section of Springbrook National Park, and the Tweed Regional Art Gallery in Murwillumbah. It’s a lot to see and do so let’s get started.
The Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Gold Coast town of Currumbin just over the border into Queensland from Tweed Heads. It opened in 1947 as a bird sanctuary as a way to stop the large lorikeet (a small to medium sized colorful parrot) population from destroying the local flower plantations as the birds fed for pollen and nectar. From that beginning, the Sanctuary has grown to be the home to the largest collection of native Australian species in the world.
Our hosts recommended that we begin our visit with a ride on the train that circulates around the 44 acre grounds.
After our train ride, about 20-25 minutes, we headed off to see the Free Flight Bird Show in one of the open air amphitheaters. The trainers and birds were amazing, I had one swoop over my head and could feel the draft of it’s wings as he made his flight.
After the bird show, I wandered through the park taking in the animals. There were plenty of koala’s and kangaroos, both well known symbols of Australia.
This Tasmanian Devil doesn’t look so scary just laying around sunning itself. It got it’s name from early European settlers in Tasmania who would hear these loud screams and growls. Upon inspection the found a dark colored dog like critter with long, sharp teeth, hence named The Devil.
There were a lot of these turkey vultures and assorted lizards around the Sanctuary sometimes popping up in the most unexpected places.
This isn’t a lizard but a very large salt water crocodile, I was glad to be looking at him from above.
As I was leaving on of the bird enclosures, this lemur was sitting near the exit and a sign warning visitors to be careful about escaping animals. So I kept my eye on him as I quickly opened and closed the door.
One of the demonstrations I was interested in attending was the Australian Sheep Shearing Show. I’ve seen sheep shearing before but the Australians and New Zealanders take it to a whole new whole level. The guy doing the demonstration was tall, thin and muscular and had a couple of teeth missing. He also had quite a good line of lingo about sheep and sheep shearing. He told the crowd that an Australian shearer set a world record by shearing 497 Merino ewes in 8 hours! That’s a lot of sheep shearing. His trusty Australian Shepard was standing by in the event he was needed. A very enjoyable show.
The sheep demo was followed by more wandering around the park, at this large pond the pelicans were roosting across the way.
I was totally fascinated with the animal hospital that treats both the animals from within the Sanctuary but also those injured and sick wild animals brought in from the community. In the bottom photo, the staff anesthetized a bird and were providing some kind of treatment include giving it a shot of medication. I stood there for at least a half hour watching them work on the critters.
Towards the end of stay at the Sanctuary, we attended the Aboriginal Culture Show. The didgeridoo was the featured instrument throughout the show. It’s a wind instrument developed by the Australian Aboriginal peoples over 1000 years ago, now used around the world. The dances all had symbolic meanings, click here to see a link to a youtube video of their performance at the Sanctuary.
Twice a day, early morning and late afternoon, there is a public feeding of the lorikeets. The staff and volunteers fill tin plates with a fruit nectar and ask the audience members to hold the plates high in the air. Soon the air is filled with the colorful, squawking lorikeets coming in from all directions to get their fill. The lorikeets are equipped with a specialized tongue for feeding on nectar and pollen. It was fun to watch and photograph. When the lorikeets had their fill of nectar, they quit coming to feed.
All in all a very fun day at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Another day we went to the Tugen Surf Life Saving Club located in Tugen, Queensland. We were met by Bob, a past president and life member of the club, who showed us around before we had lunch in the dining room. Bob told us the not-for-profit club has been in existence since 1925 and patrols about four miles of beach with about 120 volunteers. He showed us some of the equipment used by the emergency crews. Like most of the life saving clubs in Australia, they also provide educational programs for youth and adults such as surfing and swimming lessons.
After lunch, we traveled to Point Danger located right on the border between New South Wales and Queensland. Here’s a photo with one foot in each state.
Point Danger was named by Captain Cook when he had to turn his ship to the east to avoid the rocky lava reefs. Below are some scenes from the Overlook and at the beach level. On the Overlook is a modern light house and rescue station to warn boaters of the impending doom should they get too close to the rocks. The wind surfers were having a great day as it was very windy on the Overlook, it looked like someone was doing a training course for novice windsurfers.
This guy was found sunning himself on a rock overlooking Point Danger. I didn’t see him at first as he blended with the color of the rocks.
We also stopped at Point Danger one moonless, windy night. I did manage to get at least one decent photo while fighting the stiff westerly wind.
On our free day, we traveled out to the Natural Bridge section of Springbrook National Park just over the line into Queensland.
The walking track to the Natural Bridge was well done making about a one mile circle around the park. There was water running down the falls and through the Bridge, it was nice to see despite the severe drought gripping the nation.
We had a pleasant, relaxing picnic lunch at the Park prepared by our host Fay. On our return trip, we drove through the small village of Chillingham where the old butcher shop is now a pottery gallery. Unfortunately, it was closed but we peeked in the window to see the nice assortment of locally made pottery and gifts.
Further down the road, we spent a lovely hour plus in the Tweed Regional Art Gallery in Murwillumbah. There is a permanent exhibit of the still life of Margaret Olley, who was born in nearby Lismore, New South Wales but lived most of her adult life in Sydney. The Tweed Gallery has recreated a couple of rooms of her Sydney home that contain some of the objects she used in creating her still life paintings. If you are in the area this free gallery is well worth the time.
From the balcony overlooking the Tweed River, the day became very smoky from the bush fires to the west. It cleared some as we got closer to the ocean but the smell of smoke hung in the air.
That does for this week. Join me next week for the Trail Home.
Until then, happy travels!