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Tuesday, August 22, 2000

Report from Couran Cove!


I'm here at the business centre at Couran Cove, the island resort a few miles from Brisbane, Australia. It's awful nice here with so much to do and see and we've had quite a good time already. Coach Pena, Jefferson Perez and Tim Seaman arrive today, sometime this afternoon, so perhaps it won't be quite as relaxing as it has been thus far. The training has been going well, though, as we become adjusted to the new time zone and weather conditions.

When we stepped on to the island from the Big Cat ferry ride, there were "agile" wallabies there to greet us. The island is just off shore from southern Brisbane, about an hour's drive from the airport, but it feels like it's in the middle of the tropics somewhere.

On our first full day here, I got up early for one of the resort's "Guided Nature Walks". We were bird watching... and there were so many birds. The coolest named bird was the Willy Wagtail, a small black and white bird with a long black tail that it wags back and forth in order to stir up insects. The resort mascot, a large bird of prey called a Whistling Kite, was sitting on a big dead tree overlooking the mangrove swamps that encircle two-thirds of the island. It then took off and soared over the gum trees to a more secluded spot. Then there was the pair of sulfur-crested cockatoos that are huge and noisy. While we were walking, we also saw a Golden Swamp Wallaby, larger and more scarce than the ubiquitous Agile Wallaby that can be seen all over the island, even next to the swimming pool.

But the coolest things I saw yesterday were during our two training walks. Just as we started the first walk, we saw a large white king-fisher... except it wasn't really a king fisher because it was HUGE. When we got back to the room, we looked it up and it's a Kookabura, one of the Olympic mascots.

Then while we were wandering off the main trail, we heard a large rustling in the bushes and saw a huge, and I mean six-feet long, scaly and split-tongue flicking all over, LIZARD! It's called a Goanna and looks like an over-sized iguana. It was a bit startled and climbed straight up a tree, straight up like a squirrel, until it was ten or fifteen feet off the ground. Very cool.

During the afternoon workout, we heard more rustling in the bushes and stopped to dig around a bit and found a little spiny anteater, also known as an Echidnea, our second Olympic mascot of the day. It looked just like a porcupine with long quills all over its back. Now all we have to find is the duck-billed platypus.

The weather has been great, sunny and mild. In the mornings, the sun rises around 5:30am or so and it sets quite early at 6pm. I'm adjusting to the jet lag pretty quickly, partly because it is easy to stay up during the day with all of the activities around the resort.

They have a sports center with basketball hoops, shuffle board, lawn bowling, ping pong, and numerous other fun stuffs. There is also a watersports area that offers kayaking, sailing, and hydrobiking. We have yet to try most of the activities, but they offer rental bikes that make getting around the island or out to the ocean side very easy. The food is also excellent. The rooms are large, clean, and offer gorgeous views of either the mangrove swamps or the open bay between the island and the mainland.

Perhaps today I will see a duck-billed platypus, if I keep my eyes open.

Talk to you soon,


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