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Australia, 2010!
Part 1
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Part 3
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Part 5
Part 6

Part IV: Lara and More in the Tablelands
     We headed back down towards the Tablelands in the morning, getting an early start to the long drive south.  Along the way, RobRoy spotted a few herps, including a coastal taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus), a Tommy Roundhead (Diporiphora australis), a two-lined dragon (Diporiphora bilineata), and a small skink.  RobRoy danced a bit with the taipan, but he couldn't keep it on the road long enough for us to see as we caught up with the first vehicle.  We did get a shot of the small, red-headed agamid as he climbed up a tree. 
Tommy roundhead in
     We stopped in Lara for a bit of herping, mainly with the hope of finding some Nephrurus asper.  We stopped at the pub in Lara, where the boys enjoyed a long overdue cold beverage.  The birds around the town were very cool as well, and included rainbow lorikeets, galahs, and a medium sized dark bird with a blue mask that I hadn't seen before.  It was fun to watch the galahs eating some seed that was thrown to them by a local.  We set up camp at the roadhouse and headed out for some herping.  We started looking around dusk at a rocky area close to a large panel of Aboriginal drawings.  We searched into the night, seeing only a couple Gehyra geckos.
     We also took a look at the rock art by torch light, which was pretty amazing.  There were many cool animal figures, including an echidna and some fruit bats, and some interesting friendly spirit figures.  As we headed back to the car, walking through the parking lot, I found a nice pair of northern velvet geckos (Oedura castelnaui), which I didn't get a chance to photograph.  We headed back to the roadhouse, and RobRoy and I went back out to look for some geckos.  Roadcruising was a little slow, but we found a box-patterned gecko (Diplodactylus steindachneri) and a fat tailed gecko (Diplodactylus conspicillatus).  I was a little disappointed at not having found an asper, but the weather was not really cooperative and everything was bone dry.  We could see the lightning and thunder on the other side of the mountain range, but it didn't make it over to Lara.  With no immediate changes in the weather in sight, it was time to move on again down to the tablelands.
Aboriginal art at

Box patterned gecko

Fat tailed gecko
     First stop was the Melaleuca Crocodile farm, run by Steve Slark.  Steve showed us around all the pens and we got to see the whole operation.  It was amazing seeing so many crocodiles in one spot.  It is amazing to see a breeding business at such a scale.  Steve was a personal, entertaining, and just exuded passion for his work and reptiles in general.  Steve invited us back the next day to help move a big problem croc, which invitation we eagerly accepted.
     We found a place to stay in the tablelands and set up camp.  The jungle right next to our camp looked pretty promising, so Rico, RobRoy, and I checked it out.  I, of course, was hoping to find a carpet python, but again, no luck.  We did find a nice Boyd's (Hypsilurus boydii), which was a nice example of the species with some nice blues on the head.  Other than that, there were not any more herps to be found in the small fragmented patch of forest.
     After checking out the forest, we headed out for some road cruising.  Lake Tinaroo is a good spot for jungle carpets, so we made our way for the loop road that makes it way around the lake.  Shortly after beginning the drive along this road, I spotted a robust snake on the side.  I don't think I have ever flipped a b so quickly.  Sure enough, a feisty jungle was waiting for me on the side of the road!  Finding a jungle in the wild had been a dream, which was now a reality.  It was fairly cold, and we had just been discussing the fact that we weren't going to find any snakes with it being around 72˚F.  Glad we were wrong!  The 4 foot python struck repeatedly as we took picture after picture.  It was not the bright yellow and black of the selectively bred jungles in the US, but it was a nice looking snake.  I was just so excited and thrilled to be able to see at least one carpet, which would turn out to be the only one I was able to see in the wild.  Well, check one off the bucket list for me.
     Shortly after the jungle, a slatey gray (Stegonotus cucullata) crossed the road and posed for a couple pictures before moving the rest of the way off the road.  After that, things were slow aside from a couple frogs.  We next headed for the Curtain fig tree boardwalk to have a look.
jungle carpet
                python, lake tinaroo

Slatey gray
     We didn't find any herps along the boardwalk, so we headed out to go back to camp, thinking things were done for the night.  As I drove, I noticed a black and white striped leaf which looked a little strange on the road.  I turned around to check it out, and to our surprise and dismay, a recently hit chameleon gecko was there before us on the road.  What a shame!  Our first Carphodactylus and it was a DOR.  I didn't even realize they went on the road.  Well, needless to say, this fueled our herp energy and we spent the next hour or two walking up and down the road looking for more chameleon geckos (Carphodactylus laevis).  Although no living individuals were located, we did find a very nice leaf-tailed gecko (Saltuarius cornutus) and a juvenile Boyd's forest dragon (Hypsilurus boydii).  Happy with the nights finds, we headed back to camp.  This would be a night that would be ingrained in my memory forever.
                gecko, saltuarus cornutus

Boyds juvenile
      The next day, we headed for a drive through Kuranda, which wound around and along tall hills and plateaus, which made for some dramatic views.  We spotted several lace monitors (Varanus varius) along the road, which climbed high into the trees by the time we arrived on the scene.  The first car spotted a large male water dragon, which of course disappeared into the dense undergrowth before our car pulled up.  The same thing happened with a coastal taipan.  Growing tired of missing out as the following car, we quickly made our move to pass as the lead car was pulled off the side of the road.  Around a few bends, directly in the road, was a huge male lace monitor.  He knew he was tough and even stuck around for a few pictures.  He was an impressive specimen!
Lace monitor
     After the drive through Kuranda, we headed out to the croc farm to help move the rogue male that kept killing females he was set to breed with.  It was a blast pulling the giant reptile out of his pen and into a giant crate for moving.  The strength of that animal was so impressive!  After the move, Steve and his wife Lavina invited us out to their place for a barbecue (no, they didn't put any shrimp on the barbie, haha).  We got to check out their amazing collection and eat some amazing food.  They are great people, and we had a blast. 
After dinner, a few of us headed out for some road cruising.  Things were a bit slow, but we did find a gravid Tommy roundhead on the road, soaking up some heat, a nice velvet gecko, a Burton's snakelizard, a large White's treefrog, and an ornate burrowing frog (Ophisthodon ornata).  I was a little sad that we didn't see any jungle carpets or stimsons pythons, but on the way home, we came to a rapid halt for a huge scrub python (Morelia kinghorni) across the road.  Luckily it was in the other lane, or it could have been bad.  I imagine Rico would have been torn between killing us all or running over the snake.  It was nice to see a big wild scrub.  I love Australia!!!
Gravid agamid

Velvet gecko (Oedura castelnaui)


Whites treefrog


Scrub python (Morelia kinghornii)
     We headed back down to Cairns to the hotel for the symposium.  It was a great day of meetings and I met some great people, including some Australian herping legends.  The meetings were fantastic, and the Australian Herpetological Symposium was a big hit.  Next years meeting should be great as well, and I am looking forward to it!
     At the conclusion of the symposium, a group of us headed out to a secret spot, where we found a treasure trove of chameleon geckos (Carphodactylus laevis) geckos.  Between the two cars, we saw a total of 10 of these bizarre geckos.  Cool stuff!  Along the way, our car made a trip to the Curtain Fig tree, my third exploration of this area, where we found another leaf-tail gecko (right on the curtain fig) and another Boyd's.  This also ended our time in the Cairns area. 
Chameleon gecko,
                Carphodactylus laevis

Chameleon gecko, Carphodactylus laevis

leaftail gecko Saltuarus cornutus

Boyds forest dragon, Hypsilurus boydii'
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