Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Great Ocean Road, Australia
The Great Ocean Road winds up, over and around the corrugated Victoria coast. I was on a mission, which as usual meant I was driving too fast through lovely country to arrive ten minutes too late at my destination. But a mission nonetheless, and I was not to be distracted.
Then I saw the koalas.
There might be something cuter than a koala, somewhere, but in the absence of seal pups or unicorns, they would do. While rounding a corner along a winding stretch of narrow two-lane, I nearly drove into rear of a line of cars, stopped, and onlookers, gawking upwards. Like children at the zoo, they were spellbound by a gathering of herbivorous cuddliness.
I need to state for the record that Koalas are not bears. A real bear, a proper American Bear, raised on the Protestant work ethic and a steady diet of Fox News, gets up early each morning and goes out to hunt and eat and kill.
Koalas are instead marsupials, whose life mission is to sleep, chew on eucalyptus leaves, sleep, mate, and then take a much needed nap. If there was ever a vision of contentment, it can be found in the crook of a tree, dozing in the sun with a full belly and brain half-baked on eucalyptus fumes.
A local peered up as one nipper dozed off with a mouthful of leaves in mid-chew and grinned proudly, “That’s the Aussie spirit.”