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400 Day LETS Odyssey
Copyright � James Taris

JAMES TARIS around the World- (2003-4)

The scavenging Straw-necked Ibis.

AUSTRALIA - [QLD] Caboolture, Bribie Island (Wk.1 of 1week)
Week 56 of World Tour

Blue Water Tips

It was a beautiful and sunny winter’s morning. Val, Annette and I had set off early so we could do some sight-seeing before I was due to meet up for lunch with Angie, my Caboolture host.

Our first stop was at the Little Rocky Creek Grinding Grooves, a pre-historic Aboriginal axe grinding site. The creek was barely more than a trickle, so getting across from one side to the other was an easy feat, as we discovered dozens of axe grooves on the smooth flat rock along the riverbank. With the help of Val’s binoculars, I spied a pair of Tawny Frogmouths sitting together on the crook of a eucalyptus branch across the road. And as I marveled at how much more enjoyable bird-watching was with binoculars, a strong wind suddenly developed, sending a 5 foot (1.5 m.) branch out of the tree above me and just missing my head by inches.

Next stop was at the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve. A black leather jacketed, and bearded biky gang was just leaving as we arrived. But soon our attention was drawn to the breathtaking view of the Glasshouse Mountains across the valley. Through the haze was a line of magnificent mountain peaks, the highest being Mt. Beerwah at 556 m. The atmosphere was damp and dark as we entered the reserve. Wild bush turkeys strutted amongst the tall rainforest trees and huge vines that dwarfed everything around them. The main attraction being the gigantic parasitic fig trees that twisted up for over 50 m!

Soon we were back on the road again and driving through a typically Queensland rural area with pineapple plantations, custard apple plantations and macadamia nut plantations. The occasional African Tulip trees were always a joy to see with their brilliant large red flowers.

Even though I had my doubts, Val got us to our destination right on time, and soon I was tranferinging my luggage into Angie’s car. It was just after noon, so we all went to a nearby restaurant for lunch. Christine, a friend of Angie’s was there waiting to join us.

The view from the seaside restaurant was beautiful. A lone pelican glided high above the yachts moored in the adjacent marina. And across the water was Bribie Island, our after-lunch destination.

This restaurant will remain forever memorable for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, as we joined the short queue to order our meals, I noticed a large balloon glass on the counter filled with water. A small note at its base asked for tips to be dropped inside, and sure enough, some coins lay at the bottom. Back in Melbourne we usually have shallow dishes near the cash register for customers to place their tips. Maybe at this restaurant they’d had problems with tips disappearing while their staff was busy filling orders. In fact, I’m sure this was the case, because they’d added a little tell-tale ingredient into the water. Blue dye!

My second memory was the birds. I’ve seen sparrows, starlings, pigeons, seagulls and even magpies scavenging off the scraps from finished meals. But I’ve never seen ibis in this role. The Straw Necked Ibis is a waterbird about the size of a chicken but with a long neck and a long, narrow curved beak. So you can imagine the pandemonium when a flock of about 8 of these birds swarm onto an unattended restaurant table. Fortunately the table was on the lawned area outside. Nevertheless, within minutes they had devoured the remains of a basket of chips, prawn shells and, amazingly, even the Morton Bay Bug shells. Basically, they ate everything that could be eaten, and in the process knocked over the basket, bottles, plates and cutlery onto the ground.

Shortly after the fracas, and as a show-stopper, a solitary waiter turned up to collect the debris, as if he’d been waiting all along for the birds to complete their work first!

This article is taken from the ebook,
400-Day LETS Odyssey

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