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September 14, 2001
Tangalooma: see ya later (Russell)

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Playing snooker at the Tangalooma clubhouse

During our month in Australia, we discovered very quickly that Australians don't really say "G'day" much anymore.  Instead, the typical greeting is "How ya goin'?"

Here in Tangalooma, we are going as well as can be expected.  We have spent much of the last two days in front of the television -- Australia has devoted non-stop coverage to the US story, switching between America's three major networks and CNN.  The coverage is excellent and we are very up-to-date on the situation back home.  In addition, we are receiving Australia's two national daily newspapers.

Even so, we have taken time away from the news to get out and do thing while we are here.  Moreton Island, off the coast of Brisbane, is the third-largest sand island in the world.  The Tangalooma Resort is one of the only man-made structures here, and it offers numerous activities.

The beach, right outside our door, goes on forever and has ideal sand.  Because there is no rock foundation underneath, our feet sink as we walk on it.  In addition, they had just dumped several tons of sand onto the beach to replenish it right before we arrived.  Between the morning lowtide surf, the beach, and these hilly mounds of sand, the boys have enjoyed themselves immensely.

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Joss on a sand mound in front of our villa

On the morning of September 13, we took a half-hour walk  to visit the Tangalooma Wrecks, where a dozen old Australian sea vessels have been scuttled to create a natural breakwater.  The beach was full of starfish, jellyfish, pufferfish swimming in the surf, and a huge crab that beached itself.  In the afternoon, we took a guided tour to the 42-hectare Tangalooma Desert.  After an adventure in itself in a four-wheel-drive bus over steep sand roads, we were able to toboggan at 40 kpm down the 50 metre sand dunes on waxed masonite boards.  Unfortunately, on the last run Russell and Joss (riding on dad's back) were subjected to a major faceful of sand.

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Gail at the Tangalooma Wrecks
Russell and Joss just before their 40 kph wipeout

After dark, we participated in Tangalooma's major attraction, the wild dolphin feeding.  (The brochure shows people feeding the dolphins in wonderful sunny settings, but we could barely see in the dark.)  Each of us is given a couple of fish and walked into the surf, where one of eight wild dolphins eagerly feeds out of our hands.  (Special care is taken to ensure that the dolphins remain wild, independent, and unsullied by human contact.)  We got Freddy, a 40-year old nine-foot-long male and the leader of the pod.  The boys enjoyed the experience, although Joss had just climbed a wooden fence and had stinging cuts on his legs, and Cameron was squeamish about picking up dead fish out of a bucket.

September 14 was a much slower, overcast day, with much of our non-news time devoted to doing the laundry and repacking the bags.  This is the fourth time we've had to pack our belongings and leave a country, and it is still stressful.  (We are leaving behind the snorkels and masks, water shoes, the boys' heavy jackets, and our faithful Styrofoam "eski.")  The boys still found time for archery, tennis, and croquet.  Tomorrow looks to be a very long day, with us leaving Tangalooma, returning to the mainland, and spending much of the day at the Brisbane Airport (our flight will not leave until after midnight on the 16th).

The standard Australian farewell is "See ya later," and we will undoubtedly be back.  After more than a month in this vast country, we have only touched a small portion of the east coast.  But for now, we are looking ahead to our next destination with both excitement and trepidation.  China will be our first truly "foreign" country.


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