Thursday, May 21, 2009

Leeches, Bandicoots, and Flooding

Wednesday started pretty mellow, with a morning walk and workout in Nambucca Heads. This coastal town is nice and even quite scenic during stormy weather. We decided to head inland to the rain forests of Dorrigo, a World Heritage listed National Park since the weather was forecasted to be incredibly stormy for the next 4-5 days. As the day progressed, so did the intensity of the rain. We managed to get a couple of hikes in, and found our first hike to be an amazing display of vines and massive rain forest trees. We also discovered our disdain for leeches. During our second hike, we stopped at our destination (a large waterfall) and noticed the small leeches all over our clothes. I made the mistake of taking my shoes off to get rid of the leeches only to discover more attaching to my clothes, socks, shoes, etc. These leeches are much smaller than the "Stand By Me" ones, so they can burrow through holes in shoes/clothing much easier. The one shoe I took off had at least 10 small leeches inside. I had 2 pairs of socks on so I decided to "let it be" and get the hell back to the van. When we returned to the van, we discovered only one of our headlamps had enough juice. With one small LED headlamp, we de-clothed and de-leeched in a massive wood/stone picnic shelter while the storm raged around us. A small leech had burrowed through 2 pairs of socks and I had a small bleeding wound for hours. As the rain continued to pound, I cooked dinner in the shelter on our stove and Scott built a fire. Since we only had one headlamp, the entire process was a bit belabored and dim. After I chopped into a big butternut squash, I left it on the picnic table as I stepped away from the stove. When I stepped back to the stove, a large marsupial face was there to greet me in the dim light of the headlamp that Scott was wearing. Of course I over-reacted and ran away, while Scott grabbed his weapon -- our dinner plates. After he told me it was a bandicoot, I came back to check it out. We thought he would run away but he grabbed our butternut! I screamed "HEY!" and as he turned his back to us, Scott slapped his bum with our dinner plates and he went soaring off the picnic table.

The heavy rain continued all night. Being in the van was like being in a Jiffy popper. Luckily, we had earplugs. In the morning, we half-joked that we may not make it out of the park since they were predicting major floods. We made it out, but not without a big leech attaching to the top of Scott's foot after he had stepped out of the van for a few moments in the morning. I have to admit, it's kinda fun to put a little salt on the leech and see it detach (as long as it's not attached to me).

Skipping the morning coffee routine, we drove along the 10km dirt road through dense and gorgeous rainforest in the pounding rain. After some rough spots in the road, Scott happened to look out his window enough to see that the roof rack with 2 surfboards and a FULL rocketbox, had come completely off and was just resting on the van roof. OMG, this could have been horrible, but the only casualties were a few dents in the roof and Scott's very wet clothing.

The longer we drove, the more we realized that flooding was a very real possibility and that we needed to get out of the bush and into a town as quick as possible. As we drove down the mountain, two waterfalls that had been small the day before were now raging out of control. Both of them were pouring water onto the roadway but not enough to prevent us from driving past them. After we arrived into the valley, we learned that the waterfall was over the road. We had narrowly escaped being marooned in a small mountain town for days.

We are 2 days into the flooding and it is the worst they've seen in 30 years--over 8 inches of rain in 24 hours with more on the way! We are trying to ride the storm out in Coffs Harbour, a town of around 60,000 (much bigger than anything we've come across in the past month) -- I don't know how long I can do the library-aquatic center-shopping mall-laundromat routine!


Unknown said...

G'day from Vancouver. Tom P forwarded me your blog link. I am so glad to hear you are making the most of your Oz adventure, and I very much enjoyed following your trip. The jumping video is amazing. Since it appears to be an unusually wet winter, I'd suggest heading to Cairns. The best month for diving off the Great Barrier Reef is September/October. You'll love it (assume you can the van out to the reef). I look forward to reading more....Dave Pink.

mrazekan said...

Same here, Tom P got me hooked. This is so stinking cool. I hope you continue to have an incredibly great time!


P.S. I hate leeches too. I was hiking in Thailand when I got mine. 5 attached to each foot. Two sucking through socks. The other wiggled their way through my shoes, and socks. If you let them suck long enough, They'll get to be the size of lima beans. YUK!

mrazekan said...

SWEET!!! It's tomorrow there!