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Australia: The Third Island (September 2, 2001)

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Australia is the only place in the world that marsupials can live in (marsupials are animals that keep their babies in pouches; e.g., kangaroos and koalas). It is also the home of monotremes: the platypus and the echidna, the only two monotremes in existence. Along the north east coast is the Great Barrier Reef. It is the largest coral reef on earth--1,400 miles (2,300 km) long! It is almost the size of Texas and is visible from space.

Sydney: Part I: the Opera House:
Staying put on the Opera House took a lot more effort than climbing the steps to it. The wind was so strong up there that my sweatshirt kept bulging out. I was surprised that we all didn't all go flying into the ocean.

Part II: the Aquarium:
After a bit of poking around in shops (Joss got a little stuffed wombat), we went to the Sydney Aquarium. We walked along, looking at fish, crocodiles, fish, sharks, fish, seals, fish, penguins, fish, crabs and more fish. Joss and I had fun moving a camera around with a joystick trying to find a frog. Then we went through the underwater tunnels, which is a walkway with a half dome of glass overhead. It is fun because the giant stingrays, sharks and fish can swim next to you and over you, and it feels like you are underwater. Then we went to the touch-the-fish section, Joss getting his fingers burned by the salt water. None of us were successful in touching one. We left the aquarium, enjoying ice cream. Joss was in distress because he had lost his wombat.

Western Plains Zoo:
The Western Plains Zoo is different from any other zoo because the animals are not in cages. Instead, they are in pits were the edges are very steep, and the animals cannot get out (sometimes there are also electric wires). The zoo is divided into sections: the African Savannah, Africa, Eurasia, North America, Australia, and South America. We saw Black Rhinoceros, Barbary sheep, Camels, Scimitar Oryx, Ostriches, Giraffe, Grants Zebra, White Rhinoceros, Eland, Cheetahs, African Elephants, Persian Onager, Banteng, Sambar deer, Water Buffalo, Asiatic lions, Nilagai, Wapiti, Fallow deer, Siamang monkeys, Indian Antelope, Bison, Chital deer, Przewalski horses (the last species of wild horses), Dingo, Red-Necked Wallaby, Koalas, Kangaroos, Wallaroos, Maned Wolf and Galapagos tortoises.

The trade:
There are a few problems with our motor home. Let me name them:

So we decided to trade our motor home for a minivan.

Whale Watching:
The first half of whale watching (Humpback whales) was getting on a boat and sitting, watching the water intently. Nothing happened, because, according to Mom, we weren't in deep enough water. After lunch, we went out on deck to get a better view. Somebody shouted. We all ran over (not just us, but everyone on the deck), hoping to catch a glimpse of a whale. We did. Mom pointed out a flipper waving back and forth in the distance. After a while it disappeared, so we went back in. Then the captain said that there were whales right on the side of the boat. We hurried out again, and then we saw a tail wiggling and a flipper flopping. Suddenly a head popped up. We were even able to see their underside!

Gem Country: Part I: Thunder Egg Hunting:
Thunder Eggs are similar to geodes (geodes are rocks that when you smash them with a hammer, there are crystals inside; geodes are hollow, thunder eggs aren't). Our weapons were picks and shovels; our mission: rescue the thunder egg hostages. Thunk, whap, smash, crunch, oops, whap, whap, plop, yay. Those were pretty much the sounds we were making, except for 'Water, need water…' We came back with a half bucket load of what we thought were thunder eggs. We took them in to be cut. Half of what we found were thunder eggs, the other half just potato shaped rocks. We each got to have on get cut open, and I chose the first one I found.


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