Monthly Archives: January 2014

Getting Comfy with my Boob Babies

When I started this volunteering gig at the shelter, I didn’t expect anything to be shoved down my top unless it was a hand connected to a very cute Aussie male. But, that never happened and once I got to the shelter, I quickly realized what was at stake and did my best to help out. This meant carrying joeys down my top at any given time for as long as necessary.

You see, these orphaned babies are used to the warmth and security of their mothers’ pouches. And despite all our efforts to manufacture something similar, we simply aren’t made that way. The next best thing is to snuggle them into a warm liner and shove them into your bra (I’ve found that sports bras are best). Nestled between your boobs, the babies are able to feel your warmth and hear the steady beat of your heart. It soothe them, especially when they first arrived and are suffering from shock.

I’ve been told by my nurse friend that this technique is also used on premature human babies. It’s called a kangaroo hug and helps to increase the infant’s body temperature more quickly than an incubator. Mothers (and nurses) carry the baby against them skin-to-skin and the heat transfers from mom to bub. It must be effective if it’s being used in modern medicine.

After the first few days of walking around with something wiggling in my top, I think I got over the awkwardness and self-consciousness of the situation. The pinkies, joeys so young they do not have fur yet, seemed to enjoy it and actually settled down when carried this way. It quickly became natural to walk around with a bulging top often carrying one or two babies in there.

It’s surprising how easily one adjusts to such unique circumstances. I know in any other situation I’d probably think this was weird (like I wouldn’t dream of carrying puppy around in my boobs), but somehow with wallabies it all makes perfect sense. Oh well, you live and learn I guess.

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Filed under Australia, Nature, Volunteering

All Dressed Up with Someplace to Go

Like I mentioned before, Mission Beach doesn’t offer a lot in terms of nightlife, so when the opportunity arises, you have to jump at it. Millers Beach Bar & Grill hired Sam’s band to play a few nights, so we dolled ourselves up and went out to support the guys.

I gotta admit that this was one of the few times I actually bothered to wear make up while in Mission Beach and probably the only time I actually wore a dress (or dressed up for that matter). I mean, what’s the use? On regular days, I didn’t really leave the shelter so no one saw me except for the joeys. And if it was just a quick trip to the grocery store, a t-shirt and shorts would do. Anyway, it was nice to fancy ourselves up a bit, even if it was just for the night.

I walked over to Karlie’s place and shortly afterward Wendy arrived, but Nicole and Tanya couldn’t make it. We all caught the courtesy shuttle that Millers, which I think is a great service that more bars and restaurants should have. It helps people avoid drunk driving and paying taxi fare.

Once we got to Millers, we met up with Karen, Sam’s partner. She’s also the mum of the amazing kids who have rescued so many injured wallabies. Sam, Adam and Bingil Bay Sam were already doing their thing on stage even though the crowd was pretty small. More people arrived as the night wore on, but this definitely wasn’t a huge venue. We chatted while waiting for our drinks and food to arrive. Bruce, a wildlife carer and friend of Bingil Bay Sam, also stopped by for some grub.

Meanwhile, the band played on. They played a variety of stuff, most of which I didn’t know but I was told they were Aussie classics. Karen, who’s English, said she didn’t know them either until the guys started practicing. But, they did sing some Hootie and the Blowfish and Poison, so it wasn’t a total loss for me.

It was a good few hours of entertainment. Laughs and conversation flowed along with drinks. I think we all had a great time. Bruce was nice enough to give the girls and I a ride home. On the way back, there were heaps of wallabies on the road – mostly alive. We took it slow so as not to hit any.

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Endangered Southern Cassowaries in Mission Beach

Mission Beach is home to the endangered southern cassowary, a large bird with black feathers, bluish purple head and neck and red wattles. It is an essential member of Far North Queensland and the Wet Tropics region because it helps to regenerate the rainforest by dispersing the seeds of trees and plants.

In normal circumstances, the bird is usually very shy and will run from humans. However, like the wallabies in the area, some cassowaries have developed an immunity to humans (which, despite being illegal, is probably encouraged by people feeding them). They can be found crossing the street and entering or exiting the forest near popular roads.

While it is certainly a delight to see these magnificent animals, their lack of fear toward humans also increases their risk of danger. The most frequent cause of death for cassowaries in the area is car strikes. People speeding on curving roads may not be able to stop in time when they see a cassowary on the road. Other threats to their existence include loose dogs, feral pigs and loss of habitat due to residential and agricultural development.

Community for Coastal and Cassowary Conservation, or C4, is an organization that monitors the local southern cassowary population with the help of the public. They track cassowary sightings “to help identify individual cassowaries, their movements, where they cross roads, their interactions, mating habits and dispersal  of juveniles” to learn what activities affect their existence.

I didn’t see any cassowaries on my first visit to Mission Beach, but I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a father with his chicks this time. The chicks are a brownish yellow color and followed along after their dad as he crossed the road.

Interestingly enough, the female cassowary takes no part in raising or defending her babies once she lays her clutch of eggs. It is the male of the species who sits on the nest to incubate the eggs as well as feeds and teaches them once they hatch.

I have heard that cassowaries can become dangerous to humans, especially if their young are nearby and they feel threatened. Their sheer size demands our respect, but, if that isn’t enough, they have a sharp claw on each foot that can tear you to shreds. If kicked by their powerful legs, you can sustain severe internal damage, or they can beat you up with the protrusion on their heads. You should definitely keep your distance and never approach a cassowary (plus, it is illegal to touch any endangered animal) in the wild, even for a photo. Remain in the car if you happen to spot one.

That being said, if you are in the area, then you should make it a point to visit Mission Beach and see these amazing animals for yourself. Maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see dad taking his kids out for a stroll like I did.

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Filed under Australia, Nature, Volunteering