April 4 - "Crikey!"
After today, Gene is going to spend some time birding with his best friend from college, Peter Rothlisberg. Liz and Juli and Mark will fly North to Darwin tomorrow. Rather than just sit around in Brisbane waiting for tomorrow's flight, we headed North up the Bruce highway. Juli and Liz are intent on visiting the Australia Zoo (owned and operated by none other than Steve Irwin (a.k.a. "Crocodile Hunter"). The zoo is a menagerie of Australian and foreign critters, catering mostly to the mythology that Irwin has so carefully cultivated over the years. Even going so far as running a video of the birth of his daughter Bindi for all to see. While three of the leech team roam the grounds of the zoo, Mark, refuses to partake, his contention being that anyone who teases 16' crocodiles with flank steak and crawls up nose to nose with death adders can't simultaneously pretent that he has a sensible respect for wildlife. Though admittedly a bit of a spoil-sport, Mark is very sensitive about this, having lost a friend and fellow scientist for related behaviour. Joe Slowinski, notorious for his cowboy attitude toward the snakes that he loved, was nailed by the back-fangs of a kriat while trying to grab it out of a bag. This all happened in Burma in the middle of the monsoon season. The weather meant the helicopters could not get in, and after 8 hours of A.R. and C.P.R., Joe was gone.
Mark spent the day looking in vain for leeches in the dry scrub in what's left of the region of Woombye. The town is now a sprawling suburb of Nambour so there wasn't much left. Still, there were turtles in a stream; yet no leeches.
Driving back to Brisbane, as though just to thumb its nose at us, the sky darkened, thunder heads formed over the mountains to the West of town, and all unleashed a torrent of water on the landscape... too late for us to take advantage of it. We have a flght to catch in the morning. Micobdella gloriosi will have to wait for anther trip. (Mind you, we did leave vials of ethanol with the proprieters of Mount Glorious Getaway Cabins. Intrigued, they promised they'd send any they find. We are often met with great generosity by complete strangers no matter where we go to do this hard to justify work. It feels good to to have others be a part of it and have them engage in the scienctific process).