After a month with Annita and Barry, and the mango season starting to seem further and further away, I decided it might be in my best interest to look for alternative regional work. Don’t get me wrong, they have been great hosts, and I love their dogs and their house and the orchard, but there really isn’t as much work as I expected during the day, and I’m so isolated out here, I’m fully dependent on their transport. Tolerable for short term, but with the mango season stopping them from hiring any more backpackers, I’m actually craving some more social life outside of dogs.
So last weekend, I went scanning on Gumtree and HelpX as per usual, and sent off a few messages to places that looked interesting, and then came across a very unique regional opportunity. A parrot sanctuary in the Glasshouse Mountains.
Sent off an email not expecting to hear anything back (my experience with HelpX has not been steller communication wise), yet that evening got a reply. They would love to take me so long as I could arrive as soon as possible. Discussed it with my hosts, and sent off the confirmation that I’d be there in 3 days.
Come the 21st October, and with a teary eyed farewell to Honey, Abby, Izzy and Brandy (who I dearly hope Annita and Barry will continue to train when they can), I set off for the airport, singing along to Shania Twain with Annita one last time – a quick but sad goodbye for her too. I fully intend to come back to Ayr on my trip – there’s a really great shipwreck for diving that I never managed to get to – and hopefully I’ll be able to stay or at the very least catch up with them again.
I’d been worried we wouldn’t make it to the airport in time for the morning flight, so I’d booked in for the 11:20 one. A decision I came to regret since we made it to Townsville with time to spare, and had to spend 3 hours in a very quiet and dull airport with nothing to do (thankfully, the place had pretty good WiFi so I at least managed to talk to everyone back home via Facebook for the first 2 hours).
In order to get from Brisbane to the Glasshouse mountains, I had to take 2 trains and a bus – and was relying heavily on the Translink Journey Planner to tell me where and when to go. Thankfully leaving the airport is fairly easy – the Airtrain is pretty well marked and hard to miss – I just had to make sure I got off at the right stop, and then hop on the Caboolture train before swapping to a replacement bus service for the last 25 minutes.
My newest host is Dail Malins. who runs the non-profit sanctuary ‘Parrots in Paradise’ with her husband, And she made sure I understood how things would be right from the moment she picked me up – and revealed the 2 parrots sitting on a stick between the 2 front seats.
I’d put my bags in the boot so don’t have any photos. But they were a pair of red and green Eclectus parrots called Leaf and Beauty, and Dail often brings birds with her on pickups to help the birds get acquainted with new arrivals. I thought dogs were distracting in the car, but Dail was completely at ease with Leaf crawing all over her in a quest for attention.
Parrots in Paradise hosts nearly 400 birds, ranging from the tiny finch to the giant maccaw. Some were bought by Dail, while others have been rescued from shelters or abusive owners, and others brought here when their owners decided they could no longer care for them. The sanctuary is completely non-profit, and is run on donations, admissions to the Parrot Show held several times a week depending on demand, boarding fees for pet birds, a handful of consultation fees and from selling the hand reared baby parrots.
As such, the place is dependant on volunteers and helpx workers to keep it running, and there’s a lot for me to learn. Thankfully I’m not alone, another girl (Jade, from Taiwan) just arrived yesterday so is learning more or less at the same pace. We also have Fabian, a Frenchman whose time is almost up, and a couple (Amanda and Jessica from England) who will be leaving at the end of November.
My work here starts tomorrow, but before I crashed for bed, got to enjoy an added perk, cuddling and playing with baby parrots to help them grow accustomed to humans! Cuddling adorable babies and letting them nibble your fingers – definitely the right choice coming here.